Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why Bother?

On the ride on Sunday I had the opportunity to talk to Simon (my observer) in some detail.  I wondered what would inspire a man, or anybody for that matter, to give up there time freely to educate others bikers.  To put time and effort into teaching with no possible financial reward.

I have spent a few days since Sunday thinking about this very thing. 

In the end I came to several conclusions.

All over NZ, and obviously many other countries, countless individuals will give there time and commitment to helping others, or promoting some thing that they consider important.  They do this because they are passionate about it. They do it cause they love to do it, and they do it because the results far out way the time they put in.  Weather it be couching a girls soccer team, or a boys rugby team, weather it be meals on wheels, or collecting for the blind.  There is some thing very rewarding about doing such activities.

But...........what motivates people to do such things?

Which brings me back to IAM, and the conversation I had with Simon on Sunday.  I asked him why he did what he was doing.  Mainly because it was clear to me that he is a busy man and I am sure he probably had better things to do with his time than follow a chubby guy around behind a red triple.

He went on to tell me about a recent motorway accident involving a biker.  With out going into detail, the biker lost control while entering a on ramp, slid across three lanes and into the wire rope barrier  (or as we call them over here "Cheese cutters") He was picked up in four pieces.   This alone is motivation for encouraging better riding.  Seeing the consequences of some body's riding and knowing that you can teach and help people to ad void such tragedy's would be very motivating.  It would be for me.

When he stops a biker  for reckless or dangerous driving he always promotes IAM and encourage's them to seek out and get some better training.   Not one single rider has ever taken him up on his offer. 

Which brings me to a point which applies to every sport or exercise where training is required.


and here lies the problem.

The single and most motivating factor for me in  getting some training was not my stupidity or lack of was some else's. Some one who, if I could of I should been able to offer some commonsense and some up skilling. But if you are blind you can not tell a blind man what you don't see.

I have long given up on the government doing anything sensible about such things.  If I want to make a differenc then only I can do so.  In your chosen field what ever it maybe, if you are passionate about it then you can make a difference.

I look at like this.  If I and Geoff get to a position where we can train just two people, and those two people go on and train another two people each, and those four train two each, and those eight train two each....... you can see where this is going. 

Thanks for reading everyone..............and or all the Kiwi Fathers out ther, Happy Fathers day on Sunday!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It is a challenge

I joined IAM  again on Sunday for another ride.  This time I was to meet my newly appointed mentor, Simon.  A UK trained, and now serving in New Zealand motorcycle police officer.  We had exchanged a few brief emails earlier in the week, and it was decided to meet on Sunday as that suited both of us.   I was very much looking forward to meeting him, and learning from some one with a wealth of experience.  

The weather in Auckland this weekend has been fantastic, and even though I was prepared with thermals and linings in my jacket there was really no need.  I got to Deaus ex Machina nice and early and enjoyed a coffee while waiting for some others to turn up.

In no time there was about 8 of us, but only two observers.  None the less this was no problem as Geoff,( who made the trip from Coromandel, now thats dedication). myself and another guy went off with Simon and the others went there way.  As Simon is my mentor I drew the short straw and had the radio, with the other three following.  Just when I get use to being followed by one I now have three watching my every move.

I will say this, Simon is a very UN pretentious, humble and neat guy.   I instantly felt at home with him and discussing the finer art of motorcycle control.  He put me at ease and I can see that I will learn a lot from this fellow.  His willingness to put some time and effort into training others, is a reflection on the carnage he sees on our roads on a daily basis.  I have a great deal of admiration for men ( and women) who do this job.  especially those who are prepared to give up their time to contribute to safer biking here in NZ.

We set off for the ride, which as usual included some motorway, urban and open road riding.  Stopping after about an hour to review my progress and have a very healthy discussing between all four of us on some aspects that we were unsure off.

We continued on and I remained in front.  I swapped the lead with Simon on a couple of occasions and it is a great  delight to watch what  is obviously a very technical and experienced rider show me how it is done.

The feed back I received afterwards was great, a lot of positives and a few negatives.  The most glaring was my over taking maneuver.  Technically I did it well, but my choice of where I did it was wrong.  Some thing I knew but didn't really comprehend till afterwards.  I felt as the day progressed I was riding smoother and getting more and more relaxed.  

Some thing that I find hard to explain to some people is how much more I am enjoying my riding since I have embarked on this journey.  There is some thing very satisfying about getting your cornering and riding technically right.  Far more satisfying than just honing through corners and hoping for the best.  Knowing the bike is going where you want it to go, and knowing you are controling it is a one of the great joys of biking.  I feel more confident, yet it is tappered with  healthy restraint.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

For Nikos and Sonja!.....and the foodies amongst us.

Since we have moved into our new home I have discovered  a passion for cooking that has not been there for a few years.  Living in a rented house that was always to small, I have never been comfortable to invite people over or even get into cooking in a big way.  That has all changed and here are a few dishes I have prepared of late, as well as a couple I didn't do.........I was thinking of Nikos and Sonja and there food pics and decided I would try and compete!

Duck Breasts, with various Indian herbs.

Malabar Duck Curry


Crab Meat Linguine

It was Yummy

Tk's Chicken Dish, hot but extremely tasty, the flavours just explode in your mouth.

Marinating the chicken with all sorts of stuff.

Lamb Bryrani, The lamb is underneath the Rice and there are various layers of other stuff, all slow cooked.

Yogurt with carrots etc.
Tk is a friend of Terry's from work, he came over cooked three very authentic Indian dishes, which I have to say were superb!  The house smelled like a Indian restaurant for a day or two, but it was quite the experience to see how it was done, and the boxes of various herbs and spices he brought over.  No such things as measurements, you just through in handfuls of  the stuff!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Football, Air pistols and bikes.

After the week that was, with snow storms and the like, we were greeted to some great weather for the weekend.    Saturday the sun was shining. I had to take Taylor out west for her soccer game.  We, or rather I decided that we  should go on the bike, Taylor considered this an excellent idea.  So off went for a nice ride to Waitakere where Taylor's team  played one of the best games of the year.

Waitakere had beaten us previously 8-0, and 6-2 so I was not confident, and neither were the other parents, and was sure that a thrashing was on the cards.   30 seconds into the game we were one -Nil down, and I had began to worry.   What happened next was not only astonishing but bloody amazing.  The girls played there hearts out, got right into the opposition faces, and fought like there lives depended on it.  Just before half time Taylor scored a cracking equalizer.  With our team having only just the 11 players required, so no subs I was worried that tiredness would get the better of them.  The girls continued to throw every thing at the opposition.

The game finished a draw, but what a great draw it was, and if you could have seen the faces of the opposition, you would of been in no doubt who was the more disappointed team.  The parents of the Waitakere girls looked a bit glum also.

So Sunday it was Nat's turn, Taylor had gone for a friends for the day, honestly she has a busier social life than I have ever had.  Nat wanted to go for a ride, and he also wanted a go at shooting a air pistol.  I remember a place we had ridden past often on our way to mum and dads, so we headed off there.  It was still fine but a little more chilly.  Still Nat was happy, I was on the bike, the sun was shining, I was with my son, I was happy.

We got to the Golf/rifle/baseball/cricket range, and proceeded to have a great time trying to shoot moving ducks, cats, dogs and pigs.......with out much success I would add.  Into Warkworth and a great lunch before taking the long way home through Woodcocks road and Old North rd.   Getting home mid afternoon.

Two small but great trips on the bike for the weekend.  So I a sitting here, writing my blog, having a glass of lovely vino, with a few cheese nibbles thinking that life is indeed good.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Snowed in Auckland!!!!

All right no smart remarks from you  northern types!!

It snowed in Auckland for the first time in 80......yes that is 80 years.  OK I admit it was not much, and it seemed to disappear as quickly as it fell.  But for us Aucklanders it was quite the buzz of the day on Monday.  The southerly blast that came up from Antarctica was brutal and covered most of the south and some of the North Island in snow.  If the is one thing us Aucklanders don't like it is a cold latte.

Of course you hard nose Pommies, Scotsman, Canadians, and North Americans will just laugh at all this, but it is very very very very unusual for snow to come to these here parts.  I mean the Temp got down to 3degress.  (37f).  Any way I am off to put on my electric blanket, light the fire, and watch a replay of the moto GP, oh I might pour myself a double malt whiskey as well, that will warm me up.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just big kids at Heart.

The is something magical about a restless nights sleep, because you know when you do get up you are going riding.

There is something almost hypnotic as the wheels circle beneath you eating up the tarmac.

There is some thing heart warming when you are riding, and a biker waves, you are sharing a common bond, a bond non bikers not only don't understand but never will no matter how you explain it.

Their is something so very satisfying that after a great ride on some of the best roads our country has to offer, and a entertaining lunch, and sharing some great company, that you collapse into the chair on arrival home, knowing that today you have indeed lived.

I contacted Geoff James on Monday, after his arrival home from Thailand, "lets go riding on the weekend" my email said, "weather permitting of course".    So on Friday we  touched base again, and it was put in motion and we arranged to meet on Saturday morning in Thames.  Giving both of us a early solitary ride to our destination.  

For me I encountered a fair amount of heavy fog, seems to be the thing when I am meeting Geoff....I am sure there is a anagram in there some where.  Still I arrive in Thames nice and early, found a cafe, had a coffee and the sun was streaming on my back...lovely.

Cafe Rossi?

I arrived at our meeting point, still early by the way, and next minute Geoff is pulling up also.  Obviously some one else was eager to get out, or it  must have been all the Thai food!  Normal banter ensured, before we headed off to Whangamata for lunch.  I lead this part of the ride.  As always it was great fun, a fantastic piece of road.  It took a bit for me to get comfortable with the fact that I was still being "watched", but I got into the groove and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  At lunch we continued a healthy discussion about all sorts of things.  I will say this, when Geoff and I get together there seems to be no shortage of things to talk about.

Geoff lead from Whangamata through to Paeroa where we stopped out side the famous bottle.  One thing that is clearly obvious from riding behind Geoff, is that our riding styles are very similar, we both noticed it and both made practical observations about it.

From there we headed our separate ways, a great days riding almost complete...

But before I finish, while we were at the "bottle" a mother came over with her two kids.  The young boy wanted to sit on our bikes, which we both agreed to..  As I watched this young fellow sitting on my bike, twisting the throttle, making the brmmm  brmmm noises, I realised something.......Geoff and I , we are really just big kids at heart!

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

A win and .....A WIn!

A momentous event happened to day in our house hold.   An event that has been long in the making and long in the waiting, and event that I thought I would never ever get to blog about.

Taylor's football team,( Fencibles G13 red), scored  there first victory of the season, over mid table Eastern Suburbs.   Proudly inspired by my daughters hat trick of goals to record a stunning, (and for the parents) a shock 3-0 victory.

It was a long time coming, but was very exciting for for all the girls in the team, they have improved heaps from where they started, and I have to admit the coach has shown amazing patience.  Don't know how he does it.

Now the other win......

Taylor with All Black Corey Jane.

Early in the week I was able to get some tickets to The All Blacks & Wallabies rugby Tri Nations test at Eden park.  For those not familiar with rugby it is our national game, and a some what biased crowd of 55000 turned up to watch it.   I had never been to a AB VS Australia test before so with Terry and Nathan organised to go to the movies , Taylor, my mate Mark and myself headed down to Pakuranga to catch the free bus to Eden Park.

On arrival we were lucky to spot All Black Corey Jane, who had just completed a TV interview.  So I  got a great pic of Taylor and him together...just awesome.

We had some good seats at one end of the park, and is was a great night as the AB's demolished the Aussies 30-14.  What an awesome day , a father couldn't ask for better.  Being part of a crowd of 55000 is alwys going to be fun.

Here are a few pics of the game...

Monday, August 1, 2011

First IAM Observed Ride.

With Geoff's encouragement, and a burning desire to improve my skills, I set out on a glorious winter Sunday morning to attend the monthly  ride with IAM.  I had had a couple of emails from Phillip McDaid (Chief Examiner) previous to this, and if there were enough observers I would be able to get my first observed ride done.  This seems like a natural progression from having completed a couple of Advanced rider training courses.  I felt as if at least I know what I was getting my self into.  The knowledge I gained from these sessions has fueled a desire to learn more. By nature I am not a technical person, yet I am discovering a passion to know, why, when,what, if, and how  we do things on a bike.

Turning up at early Deus Ex Machina cafe, I wondered in and ordered a strong large coffee and strolled around the fantastic bikes that are on display.  What a little gem of a place. I won't post any pictures as I think Geoff covered that pretty well.  While I was outside a load of classic and exotic cars pulled up.  Obviously this is a meeting place for many other clubs.  I took a few pics, with the old classic porches being my favourite.

Bob turned up just before 9, all the way from Thames, now that is dedication for you.  We enjoyed a chat and more coffee as the others arrived.  In the end there was just five of us, Bob, Philip, Wayne, Morney and myself.  This meant that I would get my observed ride in, and Phillip and I set about getting ourselves organised.  The mandatory license and warrant of fitness check, and setting up the radio complete, we set off while the other's also went.  We organised to meet again later in the day.

Being followed and watched, with every thing you are doing can be a tad stressful. But I had determined before that I would relax and enjoy the ride. I know that I will not get everything right, and after all that is why I am here. If I did get everything right then I should be the one following Phillip!

Riding out of the city, up the North Western motorway, coming off at the end of the motorway, some urban riding around this area, then on to the open road.  After  about 30 Min's ( seemed longer) we stopped and Phillip offered some feedback.  I was pretty happy in myself before this as I felt I had being consistent in my riding, I stuck to the posted speed limits at all times, only failed to cancel indicator once, and generally felt positive.    The feed back from Phillip was positive.  He commented on my following distances, and keeping to the 2 second rule, altering my road position on the motorway, and how close I stop to the car in front. My urban riding seemed pretty good.

My first part of open road riding didn't seem to go well, I just seemed to struggle to get in the grove and was a bit tentative.  I admitted as much when we stopped to discuss it.  I then followed Phillip for a while, and like Geoff very much enjoyed Phillips commentary, observation skills and generally watching him.  This must of set me in the right direction , because the next part of open riding where I lead went well.  I was far smoother, carried better lines, and I was just far more relaxed.  Phillip commented on how much better this was and It was obvious that I had done some training and had read the Motorcycle Hand book.  He could see me putting into practise many aspects of this book.  I really began to enjoy myself. I fact for a moment I forgot he was behind me, and just so enjoyed the ride.

Overall I was pleased with how I had done, Phillip offered many positive comments, and some very practical advice, many of his comments were not big issues, and easily rectified with some practise. Still lots to learn and yet I felt more progress made.

We finished at Albany mall, and this is where we me up with the others. Wehad a good chat and a debreif with Phillip.  After lunch and we went our separate ways. It was just after 1.30 and I had no desire to head home so  I headed north, just very much enjoying being on the road and putting into practice some of what I had learnt during the day.

There is something very magical about being on a bike.  When I finally got home, I was pretty buggered. But what a great feeling.  I barely broke the speed limit all day, yet you couldn't wipe the grin off my face if you wanted to!!!!

Phillip & Morney

Bob & Wayne....Bob likes to be different so he is in orange