Monday, June 25, 2012

12 Weeks...

Well today I hit 12 weeks,

12 weeks what you say?

12 weeks with out a smoke.....yep smoke free for 12 weeks.  Doesn't sound much, in fact sounds a bit average really, but for me it is an achievement.

I have smoked since I was 16, (43 now) gave up once for a few weeks but never stuck at it.  I was also quite a heavy smoker, at one time easily putting away 40 a day.  Over the last year though I have cut back.  

Now of course it is a social evil.  You are relegated to back alleys and seeking shelter from the rain in unattended bus stops.  You cant smoke in bars, malls, even out side watching Taylor's football game, all the grounds are smoke free. It is a far cry from when I grew up as a kid with two parents that smoked.  Although Mum was just casual.  Still I remember when they had friends over and the house being full with smoke.  Never thought anything of it back then. But social pressures have come to bear and it was time I took control and got rid of them.  It seems now smokers are social outcasts.  I went riding with the gravel guys one day and out of 19 riders I was the only one that smoked.  Felt a bit embarrassed really.  Kept having to hide behind the trees.

No body forced me to give it away,and the cost is irrelevant.  Ask most smokers the cost of ciggies annoys them but is not often a factor in giving up, well I should rephrase that, cost is not normally the only factor.

So I was standing outside having a smoke on April 2nd, and I decided there and then I had had enough. Mentally I just flicked a switch or something, and made a conscious decision not to smoke.  I threw  the remaining smokes I had in the bin and have just got on with it.  It hasn't been easy, but then it hasn't been as hard as I thought either.  I realize the cravings don't last for long , a few minutes and then they pass, and it is then a while before they come back.   

I dint tell many people I gave up, kept it to myself for fear of failure and embarrassment.  But 12 weeks on I have no desire to start, feel good, and firmly believe I am going to stick at it.   It has become to hard to be a smoker, and it will only get harder.  Sooner or later I was gonna have to can it.  The government is talking about making New Zealand smoke free by 2025....I am sure it will probably happen, not sure how they intend to replace the 1.5 billion they make off tobacco sales, but  they will find a way!

So here I am now making myself accountable to you. So do I feel better? Not really.  I have put on a bit of weight which has me feeling a bit lumpy,  but that has settled down now and I am back under control on that side of the appetite kicked in big time the day after I quit.

Now where did I put those MM's.......

Thursday, June 21, 2012

River Head Forest Explore - A Rogeys Gravel Rash Adventure.

Saturday morning I headed off to join 40 other riders and the Northern Gravel riders club for an explore around the threstricted access  into River Head forest.  It was  wee bit chilly, but with the linings in the paints and jacket, the heated gloves on, and wearing two pairs of thermals it felt just like summer in Oregon.....(Sorry Brad and Brandy, couldn't resist, besides I needed to pick on some one else besides Geoff for a change)

First I meet Andy at that classic American icon of gourmet food "McDonalds".   Fellow IAM rider, mate, and serious nutcase on a dirt bike, who after much encouragement from me has got himself a great little DRZ 400, which he rides with the same finesse as his K1200!  He has just added the larger tank and slip on, as well as other farkles to it, so it was a good opportunity to get together on our own and talk  about....umm.....bikes.  

Very nice slip on.

Then we headed down the road to the meeting point.  From their it was only a short ride to the entrance of the forest.  There were a lot of challenge sections organised for this ride and a lot of pure trail riders were in attendance on KTMs and small dirt bikes.   I did one challenge section, other wise stuck to the gravel roads and tracks.  Now that I have had the GS for 9 months I am beginning to realise the type of riding that I really enjoy.  

Apart from the fact the GS is a we bit big for hardcore trail riding, it is not something I feel very confident at anyway.    I am sure a more skilled rider than myself would have no trouble taking it through trails but not for me.    I do very much enjoy the gravel roads and where they take us.  

Andy ripping it up.
Allan puttig his 1200GSa through the mud.


Riding through this was fun.

The last challenge section proved to be the most tricky with many of the bikes having to turn around due to the mud, narrowness and  challenge of it.  Unfortunately one of the guys had a we incident and broke his ankle.   This held up our exit a we bit from the forest, but the guys got him and his bike out OK.

The exit from one of the challenge sections, it was very steep and slippery.

After we left the forest we headed to Cycle Spot Euro for a lunch they had organised which was excellent.  They also sponsor the club as well.

It was a very enjoyable day with great company.  In a few weeks time they will be having a training day in the forest which I am looking forward to attending very much.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gay Marriage?

It is very rare that my blog varies from motorcycling content, and I very rarely use if for social commentary. The main reason for that is that I tend to be a bit of a fence sitter when it comes to most topics.  It annoys me that I am like that , but most of the time I can always see both sides of the story...and therefore struggle to form a hard and fast opinion from just one view point.

And on this particular topic I am the same, I am neither for or against it.  To those that know me this may come as a surprise.  But I am afraid it just doesn't bother me one way or the other. What I do find amusing and I do have an opinion about is those who oppose it based on "the Sanctity of Marriage" argument.

Allowing gay marriage would diminish the sanctity of marriage?  Really?  I find this one a bit hard to stomach. Why?

Several reasons really and here are a few...just a few....the list could go on forever.

Britney Spears...annulled after 24hours,

That stupid Kadashian women...... don't try to tell me that was love, just a money making scheme.

That presidential candidate from a few years back that was caught with a love child while his wife dealt with cancer....

Do I need to go on.....?

Those that claim the sanctity of marriage needs to be preserved, need to take a long and hard look at what dominates the crap that is E-Channel.

A marriage is only special and sacred if the two people in it keep it that way.  Does it matter then, if both people in that loving and committed marriage are of the same sex?

 In New Zealand we have Civil Unions, where upon entering into one, all the benefits  of a normal married couple are inherited. This include issues like immigration, social welfare and matrimonial property  But it is not marriage.  It is not called marriage.  It is different.

The values that  gay couples exhibit in their daily lives are often indistinguishable from those of their straight neighbors. They're loyal to their mates, are monogamous, devoted partners. They value and participate in family life, are committed to making their neighborhoods and communities safer and better places to live, and honor and abide by the law. Many make valuable contributions to their communities, serving on school boards, volunteering in community charities, and trying to be good citizens. In doing so, they take full advantage of their relationship to make not only their own lives better, but those of their neighbors as well. ..Scott Bidstrap

OK, so that is my view for a change....normal motorcycle mayhem and gravel rash adventures will resume on the next installment.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Taranaki Tunnel Ride.

First Monday in June in NZ is always a public holiday as we celebrate Queens birthday.  Of course you have to live in a country that is part of the Commonwealth to get this, and to be sure I think some countries even celebrate it in a different day.  It is the last long weekend for a few months, and months earlier I had organised to attend the Gravel Riders club Taranaki ride, organised by Henry from BMW Experience.

Saturdays destination was to be Awakino, North of New Plymouth.  The route would take us through a series of gravel and sealed roads down the coast, missing Raglan and taking in Kawhia for lunch.  Some of the gravel roads were to familiar to me from when I had done the Waitomo Ride .  For me it is great to start to get familiar with some of this area, when the opportunity arises I will be able to go back and explore in more detail.

The weather played along all day on the Saturday, no rain but coolest temperatures.  As we got close  to Kawhia for lunch I went to brake just before a corner, when I realised I had no rear brake.  Later on inspection I discovered the link from the rear foot pedal to the brake was missing, I was to ride the rest of the weekend with no rear brake.  h well , just have to get on with it.

A tunnel leading down to the beach. 

Terrific view.

The Tarankai area is fast becoming one of my favourite places to visit and explore, littered with historical sites and numerous tunnels, all link together by some fantastic roads.

The accommodation at the Awakino pub for the night was excellent, and the price of just $60 including dinner and breakfast ensured no complaints from me.


The view from just north of Awakino

On Sunday we were to continue our exploring around the "Naki".  We were joined by a few more bikes and by the time we left there was a over 20 bikes.   It was just after we left that I had the incident.

My confidence for the rest of the day was well dented.  The wet roads, lack of rear brake, and general knock of confidence saw me at the back of the pack for most of the morning.  After lunch I decided to bake away with Sue and leave the others.   We set  out and explored a few back roads ourselves.  I really enjoyed this.  I was able to relax, with out the pressure of riding with a big group and just get my confidence back.  It was a most enjoyable experience.  We discovered a few back roads and even bumped into another explorer on a KTM.  Sometimes you just have to take a backward step to move forward.

Accommodation on Sunday night was superb, and all negotiated by Henry for just $80 including dinner and full brekkie.....this adventure riding sure is hard work.  The New Plymouth international is a first rate motel and well worth the stay.

Sunday morning and the others were heading off for more exploring.  It was time for me to head back to Auckland as the kids were due to arrive later in the afternoon.

The ride home was eventful in itself with plenty of fog and wet roads to contend with.  I was having real issues at one stage seeing even a hundred meters infront of me.  It wasn't till I got to Pio Pio that it all cleared and  the rest of the ride home was quiet.

Now for those that think I abandoned Terry and went riding, well that is true, but before I left I cooked him a batch of shortbread, 2 batches of chocolate chip cookies and a tray of fudge........

Monday, June 4, 2012

One of those Moments.

The weekend just gone was a long weekend here in NZ, and I went away for the weekend with the Gravel riders club.  I will post up a blog about the weekend in the next few days, but first I will share one the most scariest moment I have ever had on a motorbike.

Because we are coming into winter I wanted to replace the Tourence tyre on the back of the GS with a knobbly.  With the prospect of dealing with more mud and slush in the coming months I thought it would be a good move.  I realise of course that I will sacrifice some on road performance.

So a couple of weeks ago I did just that.  My first experience with riding on knobblies was the last weekend with Andy where we did some exploring around Tuakau and on the beach at port Waikato.  I certainly enjoyed having the knobbly on the back as well a the front as the back of the bike did not move around as much and I seemed to get more drive through in the soft stuff.

Anyway, enough waffle and fast forward to Sunday.  We pulled out of Awakino where we had been staying for the night and headed south where we would explore some of the gravel roads around New Plymouth etc.  

As we pulled out it had began to rain quite heavy, we had only travelled about ten kms when I rode over some shiny and very wet seal, I was doing about 110kms and was feeling more than comfortable.  Suddenly the bike began to rev and before I knew it the back of the bike lost traction and began to fish tail violently to the left and right.  The back end slide continued for what felt forever.   In that brief moment where time stands still I wondered how hard the tarseal was going to be when I hit it.......I was sure I was about to be high sided, in fact that was exactly what was happening.  There was really nothing I could do but hang on and wait for the inevitable dumping......and then as quickly as it happened the bike caught traction again and straightened.  

I have had moments before on a bike but this one would of been the scariest, it was not a tank slapper but a complete loss of traction.  I seriously thought my biking days were over.....

Steve who was following me said he was sure I was a gonnna and couldn't believe how I never got thrown off,  in his words "one of the scariest things I have ever seen on a bike in front of me".

My confidence took a huge hit for the rest of the day, and later after lunch I pulled away from the group with another person and rode a slow and steady ride for the rest of the day.  Conditions in the afternoon improved but the conditions in the morning as well as the roads we were riding was some of the most unnerving I had ever ridden.   Ironically the knobbly was worth its weight in gold on the gravel and mud we later rode...but I have learnt a very harsh lesson and introduction to the difference from road tyres to dirt.....

In the dry the TKC 80s are not bad, but I in the wet caution is a must....

I am off to wash my underware now.