Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas..

Well it is Christmas eve here in the land of the long white cloud, in just a few hours Christmas day will be upon us.  

I made fudge for you all......but I ate it before I could post it.

So this short blog is just to say I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas, and some special times with your loved ones....because that is what is important....not the fudge!

So all the best my lovelies!


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Observer Test

A couple of weeks ago I completed the last of the requirements for me to move ahead and sit the observer test.  Morne has proven to be an excellent teacher and was brilliant  to work with. I had set myself a goal to complete the Observer training and do the test before Christmas.  December 17th was to be the day.

I organised to set the test with Phillip  yesterday at 4:00.   Work suddenly decided to  get busy the week before christmas  which required a four Am start.  I was determined not to cancel my test appointment though.

We actually started a little bit later than that.  First part was to complete the theory questions on Road-craft as well as the New Zealand road code.  I was pleased to get past this point with 100% right.

Next an associate from the club arrived and he was to be my test victim.   Ian, who rides a very cool 800 tiger is a great bloke, a very smooth and accomplished open road rider I knew I would have my work cut out keeping tabs on him.  This part of the ride was about 45 mins and and then a debrief on the side of the road. To be fair to Ian he didn't do much wrong but I managed t scrape up a few things for him to look at.

Then it was my turn to be "Re-Checked" ensure I am still riding to a high standard.

With that complete and some more roadside discussions I was delighted to be informed that I had passed, and had officially become an observer.  I actually don't think I rode my best, in fact I  know I can and have ridden better. Still I was very pleased to have passed.

It has been 18 months from when I went on my first Observed ride with Phillip.  There has been many ups and a few downs.  A few times I had wanted to give up.  But I do believe that what we learn,  and now teach, saves lives.   The skills learnt are a necessity to stay alive on our roads.  It is great to feel that finally I am able to put some thing back into a sport and hobbie I so love.

Through all this I become a better rider, but even better than that, I actually enjoy my riding so much more. I now feel like I control the bike.  I am where I want to be on the road..and better still I have reasons for being there.  I have learnt restraint, patience, understanding of motorcycle control...the list is endless.

Phillip, Morne, Simon have all played a big part in helping through this journey. To the two coolest kids in the world, for letting me "abandon" them while I went t out training.    Geoff, Andy, Richard, and Bruce have been great friends, believing in me when I didn't believe in myself.  Encouraging me every step of the way and riding the waves of self doubt that came with it.   I am very very grateful to all of these people and others who I have not mentioned for there time.  I look forward now to paying it forward.

I still believe I have a lot of skills to learn and sharpen up on, so time now to consolidate where I am at. Then it will be time to set new goals and continue to challenge myself.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

In Shape...

I have never been the fittest of people, there have been lucid moments of physical activity and where weight loss has come easy...Although I had to get divorced for that to happen.

So I thought to myself that since I am heading to the states at christmas and would like to explore the taste of "BBQ"..that I should at least make some attempt at dropping a few pounds.  So I took myself off to "my" gym.  You know, the place I have been a member of for the last 8 years and been to  twice.  (Once was Christmas day..and unbelievably it was closed)

Thankfully the car park is close to the front door so I am not completely buggered before I actually get in. Of course once inside I can feel the nausea starting as I peruse the mass of hot sweaty, and in most cases great bodies.  You see, I am the before photo..I am the inspiration that keeps all the other gym goers working so hard.   As I walk pass one of the trainers I casually mention if they know where the defibrillator is, just in case the 19 year old cheer leader that walked in the same time as me requires it.

This is where I start coming up with the excuses.  I mean if some one says the inevitable "we haven't seen you for a while", I need to be prepared with an excuse.  Of course theses excuses can vary from the sublime to the unbelievable.  My favorite of course is that I have been on work transfer to the forests of  Borneo and was unable to join the local gym due to it''s "Anti chubby white guy "policy.  I also consider that my unofficial job as "Vodka Reviewer" can have a detrimental effect on my physique, although from experience this particular excuse is met with disdain.

Once in the gym I am all ready sweating, not from actually doing anything but from knowing that I am about to torture myself.  The treadmill is my tool for warm up, but often my heart rate is all ready above 95 the time I get to it and I consider that the walk alone is adequate.   (Actually playing Sudoku on my IPAD can see my heart rate above 110) After all I don't want to be completely exhausted before I try the circuit.  I have  splashed water on my face before leaving the mens room as this gives gives me that sweaty look...( I also find standing in the means steam room fully clothed has the same desired effect).

And then there is the circuit, thoughtfully invented by a  torture specialist during the middle ages.  Here I am put through a series of tortures especially designed to ensure I never walk like a normal human being again and that when I try to drink my afternoon vodka that I spill most of it  from muscle spasms and shaking hand syndrome.

After all the torture is complete I crawl awkwardly back to the changing room, where I slip into the handicapped shower as I find this is a great place to shower while lying down.

As I leave I am disillusioned to discover that I am actually a kilo heavier than what I was when I walked in. Oh well, I can only hope next months work out has a better result....

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Update Observer Training

It has been a while since I updated my progress on my observer  training with IAM.

I think it is important at this stage to remember why I wanted to do all this in the first place.  I know for Geoff it was to up skill, as well as continuing his riding years.  For me it was a bit of that , but  the over riding factor was a desire to put some thing back into motorcycling, and to be in a position where I could offer advice on being a safer and better biker.  IAM is the perfect platform for me to do that.  If I was ever in situation like this again I would like to think I can be pro active and not passive about motorbike safety.

Since  our training weekend back in  late July  (read about it here) ,  I am been trying to get out with Morne for some regular training and feedback  Back in March I met a young fellow who came around to see my BMW, we got to talking and he showed an interest in IAM.  Long story short, he joined up and became the perfect guinea pig for me to practice on.  So I have been able to get out with Jarrod, and Morne following me, it has proved to be very beneficial to all concerned.  Morne has been brilliant in making himself available to me for training.  I considered it important that I take control of my training and push on, not leaving it to others to organize   It is my responsibility to organize it and get it completed and Morne has been very willing and giving of his time unconditionally. At times I have had to go to great depths to get to the monthly Sunday rides and fit other training in between.

I have spent a lot of time on my own as well, riding along practicing my commentary skills has been a fun exercise.  (Although do feel like a bit of a loony talking to myself inside my helmet).

At first I found it all very hard, following and observing an  associate as well as concentrating on my own riding and safety.  But the stuff I learnt to become a member in the first place is now well ingrained in my riding and I don't really have to think about it as much as I first did.  Safety still remains an over riding factor in all we do.  Being an observer is not just about watching the rider in front, you are thinking of his safety too and this reflects on how you follow and where I position my bike.

One of the biggest things I have had to struggle with is my 'recall", so when debriefing and going back through the ride and remembering the very things that are important and that I want to relay.  This skill has slowly been developing and I think will continue to improve as I progress.

I have managed to get most of my "Training card" signed off, just a couple more to complete and I think I will be getting  very close to sitting the observer test.  Personally and with out sounding  like I am tooting my own horn, but I think I will make a great observer.  I am relaxed, I think I make my associate feel at ease, I am  seeing stuff that once upon a time I wouldn't have even noticed.  I think my commentary and observation skills are really good, and I am relating well what I have seen back to the associate.   It is of course not  for  me to say.  It is important to me to maintain the standards that are all ready set.  But I have thoroughly enjoyed all the observer training, and certainly haven't found it as stressful as going from associate to full member.

IAM provides the perfect opportunity to those that want to up skill  and I have found those that come along to learn are a pleasure to teach and impart knowledge to.  The first chapter of Motorcycle road craft covers the mental aspects and I have become a firm believer that if you don't have the right attitude you wont get to chapter two.  What we learn and teach saves lives  and promotes safer riding, this still remain's my driving force behind all the hard work.

It is not always easy to get to the Sunday rides, I have my kids every second week and for the last few months there weekend falls on the same weekend as the rides. But I am lucky that I have two great kids who see what I am doing as beneficial and continue to support me, as well as my sister who watches them for me.
I hope that in the years to come they will see me as a roll model, and that doing stuff voluntarily and with out payment for a cause you believe in is a rewarding and productive use of time.  Life is not always about what you is about what you give.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cape Reinga...Part 2

We left Opononi, but not before enjoying a great breakfast. I really do love those continental hotel brekkies, not great for the waste line but who cares when you are away.  A short drive to Rawene where we caught the ferry over to Kohukohu.   I think Fei was really enjoying seeing some scenery and  generally having a good time.  

Although we had got up to the sun shining it was evident that we were going to get a mixed bag all day.  Standing in the sun waiting for the ferry, next minute sitting in the car while it poured with rain. Still I am in a car..and the harley riders in there lovely leather gear looked really well prepared for the conditions, (cough cough.) As it turns it there was a massive bike gathering just north of Kaitaia where there were hundreds of bikes, mainly cruises , needless to say I didn't stop.  On the way to the Cape many overtook us, often in dubious circumstances, and I watched as they wobbled around the corners.  I seriously despair at the skill level of some of these guys sometimes. One  guy cut in front of us with only inches between his rear tyre and my front bumper.

We encountered fierce winds, and torrential rain on the way up.  When we go to the cape you could not see  your hand infront of your face.  And it was raining   And I felt the need for a snooze.  Typical really, drive all the way the and I want to nap.  Jase headed off towards the light house while I looked at the inside of my eye lids.  When he came back he did say it wasn't as bad down by the lighthouse as what it was here. And then it started to rain again.  I made the decision to wait it out for a while and see what happens.  15 minutes later the fog had cleared and we were able to walk down and take better and clearer pics.  Just goes to show. Being the point where the Pacific ocean and the Tasman sea collide you never really know what weather pattern you will get.

We left the cape andheaded towards our destination for the night, Kerikeri.  A lovely little town and a place I have stayed at often.

 I had booked us into a Bread and Breakfast.  I have stayed in a few BB's but this one would have to be one of the best ever.   Moongate Villa A beautiful home run by two very friendly guys.  Beautiful gardens, lovely rooms,  where the attention to detail was evident where ever you looked.  And as for the breakfast...holy shit it was good.  This place is well worth staying at if ever you vistit was worth every penny.  I could not find fault.  I am sure Fei and I wont hesitate to go back there again.

Normally I am always in a rush to leave any motel and hit the road....not the case Sunday morning, eventially leaving just before 11.  Just goes to show what a wonderful relaxing pace it is.

We took the old coast road from Russell back to Auckland....and as a testiment to the weekend felt I had been away for a week.

It was the weekend I needed.....that we both needed .

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cape Reinga...Part 1.

Now here is one for the books.....I did it in a car, yep....My partner Fei  had never been there,so I  offered to take him on the bike but considering he had actually never been on a bike   I thought the prospect of 16 hours riding over three days may have been a bit much.  So being the nice guy I am, and the fact I had no plans  (interpret that as crap social life) I decided we would go in the car.

We left Friday and our first place to stay for the night would be Opononi  on the Hokianga harbour.  We bailed out of work just after three and headed north.   Sitting in the passenger seat and actually looking at the scenery was a bit of a shock, I am normally focused on my next corner, vanishing point, while exiting under controlled throttle before the rinse and repeat process begins....

In Dargiville we stopped and had a look at th the wood turner there that uses old kauri and turns  the wood  into the most beautiful items.  Many years ago Northland was covered in giant Kauri, very few remain.  Most of the Kauri now comes from the swamps where over 4000 years a go a giant Tsunami buried the Forrest.  The kauri is preserved and is now dug up and used.  No more standing kauris are allowed  to be cut down.  It is a beautiful wood, and I personally love it.

On the road again we stopped at Tana Mahuta...of King of the Forrest.  I have shown pics of this before, but thought it wouldn't hurt to show some more.  It really is a big bloody tree and the pics just don't do it justice.

We were almost at our destination for the night.   I was so enjoying being in the car for a change and noticed stuff I had just never seen before.  Although it never compares to road trips on the bike it was a pleasant change.  As the sun set we were greeted to a magic sunset Opononi is only a small town but being located right on the harbour it has it s own magic about it.   My friend Jase went wild with the camera and I have stolen a few of the best to post here....I think the pics says it all...

I think these pictures say more than I can, as usual click on them to enlarge them....they are brilliant.
We stayed in the Copthorn Hotel.  Loved it, and the food and the cooked brekkie...,man I love hotel cooked brekkies...and then we headed north...

Part  2 looked some thing like this.........

View Larger Map

Sunday, October 28, 2012


After reading this from Richard I felt it was my turn to share our season..

Apparently summer arrived on the weekend....

The kids had friends over and spent Saturday afternoon in the pool..I knew it was hot because the ice melted very quickly in my Vodka.

Sunday was also the monthly IAM ride and the great weather stayed for the day.  9 Associates/ 9 observers and it was a great day.  Took a guy called Peter out who I had taken out last month. and it was great to see a improvement in his riding from last month.  Had a couple of great discussions on the side of the road and just really enjoyed the riding.  Feels great to be able to put something back into a sport that I have enjoyed so much.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

You better watch out....


cause I am coming over to the States at Christmas.    I must be insane, surely I should be out riding great roads in the midst of the kiwi summer.  But no, not me, why not do some thing different.  Got me ETSA today, because Kiwis are such loveley people and are highly unlikely to ever invade the USA we are actually welcome. 

So I am off to visit some bloggers and other poor unsuspecting friends in the land of eternal straight roads.  Poor Lori from Atlanta , (Had to google where it is)  will be the first victim of my kiwi humor and intelligent wit.  And she is even throwing in  a trip to Savannah..apparently we are staying in a motel that has it's own ghost, I hope the ghost likes really funny kiwi gay guys!  

Of course with the American peso almost on par with the kiwi yuan why not visit San Francisco as well which is where I will spend  six days.   There are vicious romours that a unplanned blogger convention is on the cards for the weekend  of the 5th and 6th january....I have it it on unreliable authority that Mr Bob, beautiful Brandy and hubby Brad may be floating around.....Perhaps who knows who else may turn up. Maybe even Sonja will show....  On the bright side nobody can say they couldnt come cause it was to far.....not as far as 8000miles for me!

Yes I know,  why abandon the kiwi summer for the states...well I just feel sorry for there struggling economy so thought I would contibute a small part of the recovery plan....I can assure you it will be small as I am staying budget everywhere.

So there you go holiday plans revealed......apparantly according to the very nice guy at NZ customs I am not allowed to bring the cat....bummer really I am sure he would of sorted the ghost problem.  

I am very much looking forward to meeting some great friends who i all ready feel I know well face to face.  So just an informal invite for that weekend in San Fran in case anyone else would like to join....Richard....George.....Keith.....I know I know to hey no harm in asking.....

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Small Adventure.

It was labour (public holiday here in En Zed.) day today...and it actually wasn't raining. Compared to the violent storm that swept through yesterday it was as close to a miracle if ever there was one...

So out came the Beemer for some gravel rash adventures around the northern part of Auckland. It was about time I locked into my memory some of these roads anyway. It it close enough to Auckland to get away for a few hours of gravel riding before returning home.  Knowing them like the back of my and would be a good idea.

Andy (partner in crime)  and I met up at the Shell at Westgate, and after a nutritious breakfast of a sugar drink and sausage roll we headed north to do some exploring.  We weren't really sure of where we were going but  keen to just ride some gravel roads and see where we ended up. I was confident that between the two of us we would  find our way.....but as it turns out.....

We had been riding for short while and were stopped on the side of the road to gather our bearings and decide our next direction when a guy on a KLR pulled up to check we were OK.  After a brief chat it was clear to Andy and I that he actually knew where he was going..which is more than can be said for us.

So we followed him as he took us through a awesome loop of gravel roads around Puhoi and Kaipara.  When we stopped you could not wipe the grins of our faces.  How neat and fortuitous to meet up with a guy and enjoy some great riding.  Eventually later in the day we departed.  Andy and I stopped for some food before taking a few more roads and eventually heading home.

Isn't it great how fellow bikers can meet up, enjoy some riding and then depart..richer for the whole experience.  I love biking....

here are a few pics from the day...

I stopped in the city on my way home to have coffee with a friend and then meandered doesnt matter how long or short the ride, it is always great to get out.