Monday, 21 May 2012

Nearly ready for the big trip, and a new bit of bling for Terry

We're all ready for our big trip. Just need to tidy up a few lose ends, finish a bit of last minute packing and chuck it all on the bikes then we're off!!

Terry had a new bit of bling too, a new back rack made specially for the New Shadow by Tony (yep he who put my baby's bags and rack together for me).

Tony's been working on our little project for a while now, and even though he had to work right up the last minute before we left for Queensland (well the day before) he did the job and did it well!!

The rack being firmly bolted into place.
Terry looking pleased as punch, while Tony does his stuff.

Terry and Tony for the obligatory posed pic, I got them both to smile!!

So once again a huge thanks to Tony! Our bikes wouldn't be what they are without him, and his sense of style and perfectionism suits us down to a tee.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Getting Ready

Today was my first day of my holidays, yay!! I had plans, the house needs to be spotless as we have a workmate staying here and house/puppy sitting.
The puppy who is being sitted .. Gizmo. She looks so gentle and loving doesn't she?
Tesla never thought so!! I think I might have to warn my workmate bout how unstoppable Gizmo can be.

I don't want her to see the squalor I live in day to day. I don't think of myself as a dirty person, more untidy. But as I looked at the place with a critical eye, instead of the 'oh the suns shining and the bikes begging gotta get this done fast' eye that I normally look with, I realised my idea of cleaning is pretty ordinary. Right so today was to be a flurry of cleaning, got the bathroom spotless, then noticed the drip marks down the back of the door ... Then went to switch off the light, feeling pretty happy that one room in the house looked good, ugh the light switch plates are filthy ... OK round the house with a cloth and some heavy duty cleaner .. fixed. Open the back sliding door to dry the kitchen floor, which is now spotless, and notice the dirt that has built up over the last couple of years in the rail .. so run round the house looking at all the rails to windows, yep they're all the same. I swear there's some dirt gremlin following me this morning. OK they are clean and I can settle into getting our bedroom into order in case she opens the door while we're away, I don't want anything jumping out at her.

So I had a cup of coffee to work up the energy, and looked at my baby bike. There's so much I still have to do to get ready for the big trip. Little things that I need to make sure we have, I started a list there and then. Then hubby decided we needed lunch and we deserved it somewhere not here ... yay lets do it. Then I'm going to shop for the stuff on my list. The house work can wait!

So to Bunnings for earplugs, first thing on my list. I haven't used earplugs before but have seen in forums and so on that they are a good idea. Makes sense to me I know the few trips that I've done that have involved more than half hour of riding I get off with ringing in my ears sometimes. I don't have great hearing as it is, I was born with some kind of nerve damage which has given me a degenerative hearing loss, so I want to preserve what I have left. When I got home with all my shopping bags from the day those plugs were the first thing I tried out. Rolled it up and shoved it in, just like it said in the instructions .... ouch! They hurt!! I know I have small ear canals but should they hurt like that? So I tried again, maybe I wasn't rolling them up tight enough or pushing them in properly or holding them long enough, nope they still hurt, and when they do expand in my ears they cause a horrible pressure that makes my head feel like it's going to explode.

Well I did get some other useful things though, a vacuum sealed bag for my winter woollies. I had been wanting to take my dressing gown and a thick winter jumper and cardigan, and I was whining that I wouldn't be able to fit that stuff in when someone mentioned those vacuum sealed bags. So one of those was bought today. Just tested it out on a pillow ... my husband was perplexed as to what it was. Yay I'm going to be warm while I'm up there.

Then to the camping store and found a fantastic little clothes line, folds up into the tiniest little bag you've ever seen and includes pegs. Wet ones are something I've been meaning to get and travel tissues .. oh I love the camping store they have all these little things. A packet of Bungey straps went in there as well and I was getting full bags by now. I looked at the Leatherman tools again, I really want to get one they are just so handy, and it means less tools in the toolbag.

Terry found this website and I've just now printed out our personal checklist for the trip, now to start ticking stuff off.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Fair Weather Rider

Yep that's me, I've just decided. OMG it's turned cold!! I took all my warm gear when I went to work today, I knew it would get colder as night hit, and it's been getting dark earlier. But wow it really did turn tonight, Autumn is over :( I got to test out the gear tonight, thermal liners in the summer gloves, nope not good enough. My hands weren't freezing I'll give them that, but the gloves with liners are tight and hard to move in, the trip home is only about 8 minutes and my hands were starting to get cold already. The jacket, which has always kept me warm travelling round town, even on the scooter in the dead of winter, let in the cold tonight. And I decided today to take my old open face helmet, the idea being that my full face has the tinted visor on it so I'd have to ride with it up anyway when I came home, and then I didn't have to try to take off the Senna as well ... bad idea, I'd forgotten how much wind I got with that helmet! If I do have to ride tomorrow I'm taking all the stuff off the Shark and wearing that .. my face is only now starting to thaw.

I walked in the door tonight and said to hubby, I'm not riding the bike tomorrow. Am I a fair weather rider? Hell yeah, it was just too cold tonight for me to think. My ride home didn't feel good, I felt like I wasn't concentrating properly. I'm not sure if it was the cold starting to seep in, or I was just tired, but I felt wrong. Taking corners, something I'm still cautious about, felt wrong, and I found myself doing an interesting thing. I was looking where my headlight was going instead of through the corner like I normally do. I don't really like riding at night as it is, but I think battling the cold as well just sapped all the joy out of it.

My husbands response to my flippant comment as I walked into the warmth was, well in a week you're going to be riding in it all day. Yep we're going to be riding in cold, I understand that, but I'm hoping the thermal stuff I'll have underneath will help. I didn't wear the thermal understuff or I would have died at work. The other factor is, even early morning rides aren't going to be as cold as it was tonight, I hope, and at least it'll warm up as the day goes on. I'm going to have to work out the gloves though, the set of winter gloves I have are a touch too big, the main problem is that they gradually slip off my hands as I ride, I mentioned that to my boss, who is an awesome sewer, and she came up with putting more Velcro on so that I can do the wrist straps up tighter. I'm going to try that and if it doesn't work I may just have to go for a flying trip to Orange to the only bike shop that has a pair of winter gloves I've tried on that fit and see if I can get someone to serve me. My feet and legs were warm as toast though, yay.

I really don't know if I will continue to ride to work when I have to ride home at night, at least during winter. I love the ride to work, it's a chance to ride (always a bonus) and it's a bit of a chance to just kinda veg out before I get down to a stressful day at work. I have come to love that ride, but I don't get to do it as often as I'd like to lately, getting up early in the morning after having no sleep (due to insomnia) means I'm just not comfortable attempting to ride on three days of the week, and on the two days when I start work later in the day I'm finishing in the dark now that winter has hit, and cold. So maybe as far as commuting on the bike for work it's going to be a summer thing, ah well I'll just have to make sure I get more weekend riding in :D

But ... I still love my bike !!!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Such A Nice Day!!

 Yep it was such a nice day today, weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, I love autumn! But then everything about today just seemed to be nice. I haven't ridden the bike in about a week or so, and never with my sexy new P plate on it. I was dying to get on her, but every morning I've woken up tireder than I went to bed, so I wasnt keen to ride to work and since the car was available I decided not to take the risk. So all week I've been griping about it to Terry, and becoming more insistant than normal that we had to go for a ride this weekend. Having still not done the Yeoval run Terry suggested that for this weekend .. as usual I didn't care where we went so I agreed.

 I slept in this morning, as usual :) So as we sat at the kitchen bench eating our brekky, we were chatting about our big trip and the things we still needed to get ready for it. The subject of the sun came up, we both wear glasses to see so we've both been hit with the sun in the afternoon, we needed a solution to that. I've tried perscription sunglasses, and they suck, I'm not sure if it's my particular prescription reacting with the polorisation on the lenses, or if the glasses actually have the wrong prescription in them (I got them from one of those budget glasses shops and I'm not convinced that was a good idea) but they make me dizzy and give me eyestrain. So I had decided I was going to see what a tinted visor was like. Terry thought he'd like to have a look too so he suggested we head to the local bike shop for a look this morning. We jumped in the car, helmets in hand, to check it out. No parking spots anywhere to be seen, and heaps of bikes. Ah the local was having a bike show this weekend I remembered. Cool lets go check 'em out!!

Terry thinks this old Norton is the same as the one his 80 something y.o. uncle used to race in the good ole days

 There were heaps of bikes of all kinds, but my eye seemed to be drawn to the older ones every time. There were a couple of Nortons which won my heart, and even a pretty red Triumph.

Cant remember what this was, but it looked so well loved I fell in love with it too.

 Not good photos I know, I only had my phone with me. So we wandered around a bit more, spotted the bike that Terry wanted to show me ... Honda Valkyrie, he'd never seen one before, neither had I though I thought I'd heard it mentioned somewhere before, might have to google it. And opposite the Valkyrie was the chopper style postie bike !!!

My first thought on seeing this was .. OMG it's got a jet engine!!
Postie bike ....?

 I got myself a tinted visor, Terry was going to have to order one in, but he's debating whether he can just get the clip on sunnies he's used all his life so he didnt order. We had a good time at the bike shop today and Terry didnt even drag me out as soon as we got there like he normally does.

 We went home and Terry fitted his Senna BT thingy onto his helmet, I'd fitted mine ages ago. Then we were going riding, as much as I wanted to go for a ride, as I've already stated I really don't care where I go and it was getting late in the day so I suggested we just go somewhere in town for lunch and a bit of a ride round instead of Yeoval (we will get there one day ...)

 So we headed off, and instead of me stopping just up the road and asking where we were going, I just spoke into the mic of the Senna and told him to lead on. So the Senna ... yep it's great, just what we wanted. Easy to use, but I still havent got the VOX to work on it, I'd tried it in the house one night last week and had to scream into the mic with the cover off it to get it to activate, and today again I went blue in the face to get it to voice activate, so we just hit the little jog dial once to talk and once to put it in standby. One of the best things about this unit is the easy to use controls, all you have is one large 'jog dial', controls the volume by turning it and pushing controls the intercom, the other button is on the side of it and the only use it has for us will be to hold it with the jog dial to turn the unit on/off.

You can see the Senna isnt large on the helmet, Ted likes it too!

 The other use for that button is mainly for other BT appliances like phone, navigation or MP3 player. Personally I dont need it for any of those things, I'm a bit of a hater of mobile phones, and have mine firmly out of reach if I'm out of reach, I hate the way society has become slaves to mobile phones and feel they need to be contactable at all times of the day. Navigation, well I figure getting lost is just one more part of the adventure of being somewhere new! And the little navigation man annoys me, he sends me in circles and if he doesnt like where I'm going he gets too repetative. Well yeah I love music, but I have to agree with Geoff from Confessions of an Ageing Motorcyclist who did a nice review of the Senna Here , I don't feel the need to listen to music while riding, there's plenty of stuff happening in my head and in my surrounds to keep me more than busy.

 The only reason we wanted the Senna, actually felt it was a need was we have noticed when we are riding longer distances that it's handy to be able to communicate a bit, like the time Terry pulled in for petrol and I kept going merrily on my way with no idea where he was, cause I'd forgotten his small tank. Oh yeah and the other use that was utilised today .. Terry can tell me when I've left my blinker on .. he has tried all sorts of hand signals to which I'm ussually sitting behind him trying to work out what the hell he's on about .. I've even wondered if he was being attacked by bees. So the Senna fits the bill perfectly for us and will get use on the trip to Queensland.

That trip is coming up fast and I'm getting more excited every day. I loved my ride today, and getting on the baby bike was very comfortable for me, I had wondered if I would feel different since the last bike I rode was the little CB250 when I did my training day, but no my baby bike is feeling more and more like a glove every time I get on her. I did a few tricky things in car parks today that I wouldn't have even tried a couple of months ago, just parking in tight corners and getting her back out of those corners again, it all went well. Oh yeah and I tried out my new kevlars as well .. well now I'm decked out with all the gear when I ride, I feel as though I could survive an explosion! It feels good, the kevlars were uncomfortable at first, they're stiff, and the knee guards are hard and don't seem to bend where they should, but I'm hoping with wear I'll train them. They are a bit adjustable so I'll try moving them to see if there's a better place for them. And the jeans are lose around my back, not my tummy they just gape at the back .. weird. I'm just hoping I dont look like this when I'm riding ...

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Big Test Day

Our leaders bike came out first, the only red CB250 on the course.
I awoke Thursday morning to birds singing, not a cloud to be seen, not that you could see the sky for the fog ... At least it wasn't raining but it was damn cold!! So I took the weather proof liner out of my jacket and put in the quilted liner .. better. I was really early at the centre for the rider training, so I sat in the car and watched the instructor getting bikes and witches hats out on the bit of concrete we'd be playing on. Then a Virago pulled up next to me, just had to get a pic of that, guy had more guts than me doing his test on that, then I saw him walk over to the instructor and tell him he was hiring a bike today. Off goes our intrepid leader for the day to get another bike out.

The Virago

The day cleared pretty quickly, but before the fog lifted I got a shot of the horses shivering in the mist across the road from our play area.

And of course when everyone got there I got a shot of the bikes on the course waiting patiently for us to come and get to work. Well you cant see all the bikes but they're all lined up there waiting trust me.

So we started in a room upstairs, that had the air conditioning going full blast, umm did no one realise it was close to snowing outside? We weren't there for long, he went over some interesting stuff bout riding as well as telling us the rules and about what we were doing today, then we got to go outside to get to know our bikes. It was interesting getting on that bike, for a start I never realised you cant just jump on a bike the way I do with the shadow. If I had have tried it with the wee CB, me and bike probably would have ended up on the ground on the other side. It was so light!! It also had the heaviest clutch I have ever felt, OK so I've only ever felt the shadow's clutch, and yeah she's new and hasn't been adjusted to death like these hire bikes, but this clutch just didn't feel right from the start. We had a go on the course, doing some figure 8's and giving way, and stuff like that, I was screwing up badly and I didn't want to blame the bike, but I was finding it so hard to get the thing in gear. I told the instructor, (oh we knew his name by now so lets just call him G) I tried to show him that in order to pull that clutch in I was having to kinda twist my arm up just to get my fingers around it with enough strength to pull it in. He tried to adjust it for me but there was no adjustment left in it. Oh well I would work it out, I kinda thought it was probably a lot to with me and not being used to any other bike besides the shadow.

We went for a road ride after morning tea, and I was feeling pretty crappy bout how I was handling the bike. But we did get to wear those sexy fluro yellow vests, I could have taken my jeans off and worn mine as a dress. The ride was to ... Mt Panorama!! I was kinda surprised, After having done that a couple of weeks ago, I thought ugh, I'm not going to love this on the mighty CB. And I was right, and I still sucked on that big corner, but on the second lap we did I was better at the esses. After lunch it was more practising on the course and he had set up some weaving, a u-turn and a hard left turn. Ending with an emergency stop. I couldn't get up to speed for the e-stop and G told me after the third time I stuffed it up that I had to change to 2nd or I wouldn't ever get it. So I once again explained to him that I couldn't pull in the bloody clutch and my hand was cramping, I think he thought I was being a gurl, then he pulled it in .... "ahhh" he said .. "do one more lap then we're going to change courses, and you are going to ride my bike." Yay, after that I suddenly had no problems with the e-stop, and I didn't hit as many witches hats in the weave either, it's amazing how you can control a bike when you can control the clutch.

We did a bit more classroom stuff, all great stuff that made me wish I had done the learners course too. Then it was time for the test. About 5-7 minutes each to do the course one at a time, and every time someone came back from doing it we all cheered. My mate on the Virago, oh yeah he couldn't handle the mighty CB and went back to his bike early in the day, went first and came back with a huge grin. Yay, if he could do it I could! So yeah I hit a couple of witches hats on the weave, but I did the u-turn even if G indicated to me that I was within a fraction of going on the line I wasn't supposed to touch, I still did it. The second last test was the e-stop, and hey I had trouble with that earlier today with the other bike, so it was awesome when I got the best stop of the day, stopping about four lines in front of where I was expected to stop. Yay, I got the hand shake and the little bit of paper that says I am now a big bad P Plater. We all passed!!

It was a great day, and while I was excited and happy with it all, it was still a 3 hours drive home, and I was so tired by the time I got home I didn't want to do anything. While I was away we got our Sena intercom, I really want to play with that but it's going to have to wait til I get some time off work and a chance to sleep. When I do I'll tell you all about it. Not sure if we'll get a ride in this weekend, but if we do I'd like to do it wth intercom in action to see how it all works.

The Shopping Day

Wednesday morning I headed towards Bathurst at a leisurely pace, I was going to do my rider training and test for my P's the next day, but I got the Wednesday off work as well so I could take it easy travelling down there and do some shopping on the way. I got up early in the morning ... wait I cant lie, I turned off the alarm early in the morning then slept in. I still got up early enough to leave home by 10am, more than enough time to get down there and get some serious shopping in.

I drove the car down, for a couple of reasons, one was that I didn't want to tire myself out riding solo that far then have to spend a day trying to make her do what I wanted her to do on the training course, the other was that I would have plenty of room in the car to cart shopping. On the way home the next day I thought of another reason that I was glad I'd taken the car, after a long busy day on bikes I was tired, even driving the car home at night I was feeling the need to stop more than I normally would, I hate to think what might have happened if I'd been forced to ride like that.

This is the first time I've driven the car on a trip in a long time, well a few months anyway. And I noticed some strange things. The first was when I first passed a truck going the other way, I braced for the wind ... then I found myself trying to find the lines on the road where I would miss the bumps and creating buffer zones with oncoming traffic .... I laughed to myself and then sat back and relaxed, it was nice not to be battling wind and take it easy listening to music while I travelled. As I was going through Geurie I noticed something big and red parked on the other side of the road, I figured it was one of those big trike thingys. I realised I was wrong as I got closer to the bike with the grey haired couple leaning against it eating an apple (it could have been a pear), it was a huge Goldwing with all the mod cons! Towing a matching shiny red trailer loaded up with pretty well everything and anything they could have possibly wanted on a round Australia trip. My first impulse was to turn around and go back to them to find out their story, maybe get a pic of that camper van on two wheels. But I kept going and made do with imagining that they are on the adventure of their lifetime and loving every minute of it.

Twisty windy roads, rain, and an overloaded truck in front ...

Shopping trip: I was pretty successful, stopped at Orange at a pretty standard country town bike shop and immediately found the perfect winter gloves, they fit perfectly and were toasty warm, so I waited round to see if one of the people making all the noise in the workshop through the door at the back of the shop would notice me and come to serve me. Then after about 10 minutes of stamping my feet, coughing loudly and sticking my head into promising looking doorways, I left without the gloves, sheesh I think I could have walked out of there with a bike and no one would have noticed. I visited a few other bike shops that day and they all had humans, but no gloves. I did manage to get a few other things that I was after and a couple I didn't realise I wanted or needed, one of those was a new bike cover, my original one is too small now that I've put the sissy bar on, and the freeby one I've been using has been blowing right off the bike in the wind cause it has no straps. I also scored a pair of kevlar jeans with knee pads, they're a touch too big but better that than too small on the bike I reckon. And got both of us a disc lock, they are shaped like grenades, and aren't alarmed which I really wanted, but the finances are getting tight and these were a bargain so they will do.

Even though it was rainy, Bathurst was showing off all her beautiful autumn colors.

It was a big day of shopping and driving, but a fun day, looking through bike shops all day then curling up in a warm motel room as the rainy evening sets in. The next day was the big test day and it had been raining all day, but Terry promised it wouldn't rain Thursday and it seemed to ease as the night went on. I had my wet weather gear all ready just in case though :)

I didn't get a photo of the Goldwing tourer, but I did spot this in a shopping centre car park in Bathurst ...