Monday, July 30, 2012

IAM Observer Training Weekend.

Over the last few months several riders have passed there test for IAM and want to push on and become observers.  IAM here in New Zealand  is really beginning to grow.   It was becoming a pressing matter to get some of those who seek to become observers properly trained,  We have all been aware of the pressure Phil is under and all want to do our part to help relive that pressure and grow the club. But at the same time standards need to be maintained.

This weekend those who were keen to push on met in Thames for a full on and intensive training weekend.  The goal was to cover as much of the ground work and to be aware of the skills required to become observers. There is a lot to learn and it is a bit like starting out with IAM all over again.  Different skills are needed to properly access an associate and to make the correct observations and how to deal with that information.  I will blog my way through the process so there is no need for me to go over that here in this blog.

Morne's GSX r

At Thames witing the arrival of the others.

So Saturday morning arrived and I met Phil, Morne, John and Andy for the ride down to Thames.  It had been arranged to stay at Glens place just out side of Thames.  The ride was very very fresh and even with heated grips and three layers of thermals I could not say the word warm as my teeth were chattering.  2 degress in Thames when we arrived.  We met up with the others who had made there way from other areas, including that poor retired blogger from the Coromandel, Geoff.

Andy, Me, Phillip, Morne, John, Bruce, Geoff and Richard.
These pics supplied by Geoff James

Glenns place just outside of Thames was to be our home for the next two days.  Greeted with hot soup and home made muffins one could only wonder if it could become a permanent place of residence.  The hospitality that Glen and his wife Shirley displayed was just superb and you were made to feel right at home very quickly. Boots by the fire place and motorbike jackets strewn every where, yep home away from home.

After a some food it was in to the class room stuff.  it was excellent to get down to the nitty gritty of observer training.  We covered an array of topics from positioning when following, communication, righting reports, dealing with associates, knowing the road code, as well as Motorcycle Roadcraft.  I personal felt at the end of it I was far more prepared, and knew what was to be expected of me in an observer capacity.

Food glorious food!.  Pics supplied by John Hebrink.
On Sunday morning we were able to go out and put into practice some of what we had learnt.  Richard and I paired up and it was actually very hard to ride "bad" so as to give Richard some thing to observe.  DISCLAIMER...any videos that may circulate of me riding badly is because I was pretending to be a shit rider, and it is not in fact how I ride.!

Riding opposite lines to what I was used to so as to get a good view of Richard was not as hard as I first thought.  But man there is a lot going on, between observing the rider in front as well as concentrating on my own riding it was actually very exhausting.  Practicing positioning at intersections while it teamed down with rain in Thames also had it's challenges.

Back to Glens for yet more food and class room stuff before finally leaving for home in the rain about 4.00.

It was a very productive and enjoyable weekend.  I brought away a lot of information to work through but I sense a real feeling of excitement amongst the other guys as we progress through.  It is great to be a part of something which can only be good for motorcycling.  Even though we are all keen as to become observers there will be no cutting of corners or lowering of standards.  Exciting stuff.

I personally express my sincere thanks to Phillip and Morne for organizing and the teaching.  I know Phil was up all hours getting stuff done.  Also Glen and Shirley for the use of the wonderful home and an endless supply of excellent food.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adventure Riding Techniques - A Review.

When I first got into some adventure riding I went in search of good books that would help.

Being predominantly a road rider and having never ventured far off the seal I felt it was important to at least get some bloody idea on how to ride an adventure bike.  I had of course the GS by this stage so I had done some gravel roads, but stuff like sand, thick gravel, water crossing etc I had no idea.  Where as when I am on the road  bike it is settled and planted and feels secure , when it comes to the off road riding and the like it was fairly unnerving and took a bit to get used to the bike moving all over the place.   The need to keep the throttle on to drive through what ever stuff  I was attacking at the time became apparent quickly.  I soon discovered there was a whole lot I didn't know....but then I love a challenge.  I must admit I envy those riders who have learnt riding on dirt, I think those skills carry easily over onto road riding, but road riding skills don't necessarily  carry over on to the dirt.

 There is really not a lot on the market, but one book that I did find and purchased I have found to be very good value for money.

ADVENTURE RIDING TECHNIQUES by Robert Wicks and Greg Baker, covers a whole range of topics and techniques to help you deal with different terrains and situations you find your self in when off road.  You do need to get past it's obvious biased for one  "make" of adventure bike in particular.  But that does not deter from what is an excellent read.

There are some great pics and step by step pictorials as you go through the different styles and techniques required for any off road adventure.  From adventure bike basics, to sand and river crossing it is well thought out and easy to read.

My only gripe would be it's size (hardback A4) is  not some thing you can take with and use while practicing in the field.  Still I am being picky, and for a beginner I found the book most helpful.  Compared to what other limited options are available it is brilliant.

I brought the book online from AMAZON and it arrived in just a few days, as far as I am aware it is not available in digital version.

My rating  4/5

Monday, July 2, 2012

Muriwai - Fun on the beach.

Muriwai.   About an hours ride from my home and one of Auckland's iconic and most popular beaches is located on the West Coast just north of Auckland. It's a black sand beach, derived from the iron content of the old surrounding volcanoes. It is a popular place to swim (although very dangerous), to fish and has some terrific nature walks. It also has its own Gannet colony for those that love birds.  It is also a great place to have a bit of fun on bikes!  At low tied you can drive on the beach, (4Wd  access)  only north of the entrance though and there is a posted speed limit. You can go as far as South Head forest which is about 60km's up.  A few hours either side of low tied is the best.     Judging by some of the rusting engine blocks and chassis that I saw not every one adheres to this advice. 

So on Sunday afternoon in fine but balmy temperatures  (12 Celsius, 53 F ) Andy and I decided to head off and have a bit of fun and do a bit of exploring.  I had once ventured as far as the entrance but that was when the GS was only a few days old and with the standard road tires on.  This time I was a wee bit more prepared.  ( and of course wiser, cough, cough).   The entrance onto the beach is about 70 meters long and the sand is thick and powdery.  Had to really floor it to get on and the bike was going all over the place, I half expected at any minute for  the front to dig in and off I go...but it didn't and in a few moments I had a grin from ear to ear as we began riding at a controlled speed along the beach.  What a blast!

Stopped for a few pics, mainly trying to get Andy in the frame practicing his wheelies....he was doing quite well which is more than  I was doing with the camera.  A few people out and about fishing, a few kids on dirt bikes and people out walking.  A sunny day and only a mild breeze.  Man I love wee jaunts like this. Sunday afternoon riding up and down a near deserted beach.  Heaven.

Andy in Action

All to soon our time for play was up and we headed back down the beach, my exiting wasn't as successful as my entrance and the front gave way plopping me onto the sand like some rejected lover....honestly my bike is a bitch some times.   I mean it is just sand so no damage is done except that my foot was stuck and Andy all ready having disappeared over the horizon I had to wait for a guy in a 4wd to come and lift the bike off me ( don't get me started on how that conversation went) sooner said than done though and I managed to get the rest of the way out with incident.  Whats a bit of off roading with out the odd off.

A stop at the wash world just down the road was in order as the Black iron sand and mixture of salt water can corrode you bike quicker than a Hollywood marriage....or should that be divorce.

Thanks for reading another one of Rogeys Gravel Rash Adventures.  A few more pics here if interested

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