Sunday, 23 September 2012

Work In Progress

My riding is a work in progress, and I think it always will be. I start to feel comfortable with something then realise there's another thing I need to work on. Then just to make it all interesting I realise I've picked up a bad habit or reverted to an old one.

I went for a ride yesterday just for the hell of it. I got up pretty late, standard Saturday morning, and Terry asked what I was doing today. I wasn't sure, I didn't feel like spending all day doing housework so I decided to go for a ride. 'Where to ... ?' asked Terry. I wasn't sure, it was one of those days when you had nothing pressing you had to do and nothing you really wanted to do, so I said I thought I might check out the ride to Yeoval. I've been going to do that ride since I bought the bike 10 months ago and still haven't done it! The next response from Terry was one that I hadn't thought about ...'On your own ... ?' Hmm I haven't really done a ride on my own 'cept round town, it used to make me feel sick with nerves just thinking about those country highways and byways without Terry along for moral support. Today it didn't worry me, seems like now's the time to do it!! And one last comment to boost my budding confidence 'Just don't drop it ...' Ugh thanks for that ... 'I have my phone just in case .. you may have to pick up a pack of smokes for me if it gets that bad though'

Time for a side note here ... I don't smoke anymore. Well I'm trying to quit again anyways. I officially quit 41 days ago, though I cant honestly say I haven't had a smoke in 41 days cause there have been moments when I've cheated a little bit. But I can say it's been about 2 weeks since my last slip up and for the first time I really don't feel like a smoke. So I think I'm winning the battle here, we'll see eh.

So I went and unlocked the bike and Terry opened the gate and took her out the front for me while I went and geared up. All ready to go with nowhere to be ... I was dying to get out there and ride and for once the fact that I didn't really have a destination in mind didn't daunt me. I looked at a clock for the first time that day just as I was getting on the bike and realised that Yeoval wasn't such a great idea. It was getting late, oh well just get going and we'll see where I end up.

So I rode, I went through town and traffic. I had a lot of stops and starts, and rode down along the river and thought about stopping and seeing if there was anything worth taking pics of. Meh I was just getting in the zone, I thought briefly then of going out of town a bit further and decided against it just because of the time (and I wonder if that jibe of Terry's bout not dropping the bike was playing a bit on my mind). It was going good, I was just riding and not thinking of anything but my riding, I don't think I've really done that in a while. It meant I was noticing the things I do. I thought I was doing really good with my stops but I did notice that I've reverted to putting both feet down when I stop again, I concentrated really hard on not doing that and managed it maybe twice. I had to stop suddenly at one set of lights when the car in front of me decided to hit the brakes at one stage, that went well and I feel pretty comfortable with my emergency stops. Round abouts are pretty much as good as they will ever get, I don't think I'll ever like turning right on them, but going straight through them I love. I actually thought I was going to scape a peg or something while going straight through one the other day, but damn it was fun and I've never felt so comfortable leaning that far before. And I really thought about counter steering yesterday, yes I think I do it and have since I was a wee tike learning to ride my pushbike. It's interesting to find that out but when I think about it I think that's when I start mucking up corners, I think I'll just let my reflexes take this one on and try to keep an eye on it every now and then to see that I haven't picked up bad habits.

I ended up on a road that would take me out to the local Bunnings store so decided to head out there and have a look at pots in their garden centre. I've never been in their garden centre cause I'm not really a garden person. I love plants and nature and stuff but I shouldn't be put in charge of looking after plants, I can kill them with a look (poor things). So I bought Terry a lemon tree the other day, I've wanted one for a while and I saw some on special so I bought it for Terry to grow for me. We have decided to grow it in a pot, so we are going to need a big one, found just the thing at Bunnings, unfortunately it wasn't going to fit in the saddlebags so I'll go back today and get it with the car. I also had a good look around at what plants they have. They have a great selection of native Australian plants with low water needs. That's just the stuff we want, Terry has been working on his native garden for a couple of years now, he's getting there, we just never mention the south African bushes in the front garden ....

Well I took off from there, and hey I did a U-Turn to get out of the parking space, and did it pretty well considering I was being watched by a Bunnings guy sitting in his car opposite me. I hate an audience when I'm doing tricky things. Terry has been making me do U-Turns though, even when I say to him 'you lead the way, just don't make me do a U-Turn', he finds one .. or two. I am getting the hang of them though, and I think the control of brake and clutch thingy while moving slowly has finally clicked, I feel much more in control at low speeds.

I didn't want to go home just yet so I headed out of town, I got on the highway and was doing 100km/h which felt pretty damn good. It was hot here yesterday and the new jacket really needs some speed to get the vents to feel like they are venting, while doing town speeds I was a little puddle in a black and white jacket, it wasn't until I hit 100km/h that I finally started to cool down. The boots however felt great. There are no vents in them, and while I was wandering around Bunnings my feet felt like they were about to explode but on the bike they feel fine ... I didn't leave any soggy footprints when I got home and wandered around in just my socks either.

I debated where to go, I could head up the road to Wongarbon, but I had a horrible feeling that when I got there U-Turns were going to be a necessity, while I feel comfortable doing them I'm not going to make myself do it. I figured it was just so nice to be out riding, doing what I want, that I wasn't going to do something I didn't want. So I headed down a road that I'd accidentally taken once before that has some nice little corners and an S as well. It's a suburban street with a 60km speed limit, so I dont feel any pressure to go around them too fast and it's great practise for me, and they are fun!! That street ends up on the road that takes me home so I just went that way. Terry told me last night that the bendy street does continue on across the other side of the major road and ends up on a highway, so I think I'll have to check that out next time.

I was a great ride. Even though I didn't head out of town as I was planning, I still got a good enough ride to feel satisfied. I haven't done that in a long time, I did it a few times when I was just learning but since Terry got his bike I've just felt better with him along. At first it was that I love riding with him, but I think it's turned into a kind of security blanket for me. I tend to take more notice of my riding when I'm alone I have discovered, I think I need to take more notice when I'm with Terry so I'll work on that. I'm glad I did this little ride out, and I'm planning to do more, when Terry tells me he's working all weekend instead of staying at home and doing housework I'm gonna just jump on the bike and take off!!

Oh yeah the other thing I do when I feel like I cant go for a ride. Look at stuff online, Blogs, forums, bike accessory shops .... I shopped last week as a reward for quitting smoking. I worked out how much money I have saved and spent a bit of it on myself. Well on Roxy really. New presents to be put on!! I got new mirrors to replace the one that got scratched when I dropped her and new grips that match the footpegs I put on. I also got a pretty number plate frame. That's a bit dodgey, it's hard to find one that's the right size to fit my number plate and bike, things don't line up properly there and the holes in the number plate had to be made just to fit it on the Shadow. There's going to be a bit of adjustment needed with it and I wouldn't be surprised if I have to get someone to do some welding and stuff. It's all very exciting, so watch this space for the upcoming adventure .....

Oh how things have changed since I started this blog, in a few short months I've become addicted to it and I have developed a habit. I cant put up a post without photos, I tried and I just couldn't hit the publish button. So I checked out my phone for some pics and came up with ...

7:30am outside my workplace in Dubbo this winter on one of the coldest days in history. The ice was thick on the ground but I didn't get a pic of that unfortunately.

At Dubbo Western Plains Zoo on the morning that we went on the fun run. Yes even though we were competing I still had time to snap pics. OK so we didn't win, we didn't come in the middle of the pack either, alright we were pretty well last .. I think there was one person walking behind us ... it was still a perfect place to do a 5km walk.

Food porn from my phone!!
Last weekend we went for a ride to one of the local pubs to try out their new bistro. It was great and we'll definitely return to the Westside Pub for lunch again.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Better Late Than Never

Well a couple of weeks ago Fuzzy of Fuzzy Galore fame posted a challenge that I really enjoyed. I've seen a few challenges thrown out there and I've either been too busy, lazy or shy to have a go myself but I have enjoyed reading other bloggers efforts. The challenge was to

Post a list of 5 Pretty Awesome Posts Your Readers Might’ve Missed

Today I was sitting round not wanting to do the housework and wash the bikes like I should and I found myself looking back through some of my older posts. My first thought was that I don't have enough posts to pick 5 favourites, there aren't that many I thought were interesting enough to point out to other people.

Well the dust has settled on that challenge and when I looked back through my posts today I found there were a few that I really liked re-reading, who knows other people might enjoy them too.

So here we go, my 5 favourite posts that I think are pretty awesome and you might have missed .....

1. Christmas and Getting Courage to Ride Part 1 and Part 2 Both parts are special to me just because of all the memories they bring back to me of the new and shiny experiences I had, not all of them great, actually a lot of them were awful but I had so much fun!!

2. The Ride To Gulgong Another one of those really early posts that reminds me so much of how I felt doing new things on the bike. The day was perfect this time though, and Gulgong is a pretty little village.

3. Lake Burrendong By this time I was feeling better on the bike, and the things I was doing were a bit more challenging. Again when I read this I remember how it all felt and how exciting it was, Lake Burrendong was such a surprise to me too, so pretty.

4. Riding With the Shadow Riders in Queensland The whole trip to Queensland is the biggest deal for me and the memories are still quite fresh in my mind but one of the posts from that trip just has to be in my top 5. This one is my favourite cause it has some awesome pics of some awesome bikes and it was just such a great day ... that ends on a relaxing note.

5. In the Hands of a Novice No great pics or story here, but it's one of my favourites, it was a frustrating day that ended with one of the biggest feelings of satisfaction I've had yet with the bike and when I read this post I get those feelings all over again .... then go bling shopping online cause I start feeling like I want to do something else to make Roxy pretty.

So there you go, 5 awesome posts you may have missed, well I think they are awesome :) It's late I know but I still enjoyed doing it and hope you enjoy reading them if you haven't already.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A Day In The Wine Country

Well I've been a bit slack in posting lately so I thought I'd better get cracking and record for posterity the day we spent in the wine country, and also the first test run for our new presents.

New presents first .. cause I just cant contain my excitement bout them! I got boots, Alpinestars Stella Torre, that fit and feel comfy!!! I know tis amazing isn't it, after all this time of buying boots and shoes galore I've finally found some I like. Sure I had to spend a bit more to get the fit, and I did have to travel a fair distance to find a shop .. bout 900km from home. But I did it and I love them so far.

Here they are, pretty aren't they!!
When I first got them I wore them around the house for a couple of nights, they felt tight across the top of the foot and I was a touch worried about that, but other than that they were the best fit I've had so far in a riding boot. They are supposed to be waterproof but I haven't had a chance to test that, and knowing how I hate being on a wet road that test wont happen unless it's by accident, but it's nice to think that if I do get caught in the rain I shouldn't have wet feet.

The boots on the bike ... great!! OK so far I've had cheap riding shoes and boots and so I really have nothing much to compare it too, but I am now wondering why I put off getting a good pair of boots for so long. They are so much more comfortable on the bike, the tightness across the top of the foot eases as soon as I put my foot on the peg. Just goes to show they are made for riding, not walking. They were warm enough for the first half of the ride, and even when we got caught after dark and the rest of me was in danger of falling apart from the shivering, my feet weren't too cold, not toasty but not cold. I am wondering how that will transfer for comfort in summer, there doesn't appear to be any kind of vents in them anywhere. I'll soon find out, spring is here and the days are getting warmer, even if the nights aren't.

The other present we bought while in Melbourne was a helmet for Terry, I have to tell about it here cause he's never gonna tell, I think I was more excited about it than him anyway.

It's not black, I think this is a first for Terry.
It's an Arai, don't ask me too much about it cause to tell the truth I was busy drooling over boots while Terry was choosing this. And I was surprised that he came back with a silver helmet, black or black tends to be his favoured colour with bike gear for some reason. This is the superseded model apparently, so it was on special. It's a much more comfy helmet for Terry, and weighs so much less than his old full face. The Sena fitted on it in seconds, (the old full face he had, we had to slice some of the lining to get the Sena on securely) The only difference we could see between this one and the new model is that the jaw bit seems to be roomier in the new one, this doesn't seem to bother Terry for comfort, but he is having trouble doing up the chin strap cause he cant get his big man fingers in there. Even with my little fingers I found it a bit of a fumble when I had a go. All and all I think he liked it on the trip last weekend, he doesn't have a tinted visor yet but it didn't bother him that trip as we didn't ride into the sun at any stage.

OK so the ride .... We went to Mudgee. Click here for a map. Mudgee is a lovely little town with about a million wineries and vineyards that I've only really driven through in the past. It's on the way to Sydney if you want to take that route, and we have a couple of times just for a change, but the couple of times we've stopped for coffee breaks everything is closed or closing. I had decided that it was just a typical country town and not worth going to for a special trip. So the other week I used my usual method for working out where to go that weekend for a ride. I asked at work. It just so happened that one of the donors who was there at the time lives in Mudgee so I asked him if there was somewhere he'd recommend there for lunch, that stays open late enough for us to get there and have lunch on the weekend. He said yep and recommended the Blue Wren Winery.

Terry and I sat down to work out the route we would take after talking about it for a while and me not having any idea where he was talking about. I said I didn't want to take the highway between Dubbo and Wellington again, every ride we do seems to start out with that stretch of road and I was getting sick of it, so we decided to take the Golden highway instead and turn off onto the Gollen Rd then head to Mudgee that way. UGH that road is the pits!!! No really, I've travelled that road before, way back before Terry got his bike and he was trailing behind me in the car, we had been on a trip to Gulgong, and I didn't remember it being that bad. I think that all my concentration was being taken up on that ride with just staying upright as it was when I was really new to riding, now I can use a bit of that concentration on just enjoying the ride, it wasn't enjoyable on that road. Oh well at least we now know.

We made it to Mudgee in plenty of time even though we'd taken the Gollen/Goolma Rd more slowly, and that was lucky too cause we got lost in Mudgee. We ended up in some suburban street that was just one big curve and I reckon if I lived in Mudgee I'd use any excuse to go on that road, it was fun. I did have to do a U-Turn to get out of it and head in the right direction, but even that wasn't too bad, I really am starting to finally feel better about U-Turns, not confident as such, but better than the stomach churning dread I used to feel.

We eventually found the right road and soon found the driveway for the winery, I turned in with Terry behind me (really he should lead, it would solve all the getting lost and maybe the thing that happened next wouldn't have happened). The driveway was bitumen, yay I was expecting it to be dirt like most of them are round here. It would have been OK, I'm feeling more comfortable on dirt now too, but the car park was actually all these very pretty white stones. Like river stones, that just had to roll and move like crazy as soon as I got onto them! Argh ... I spotted a parking spot and headed straight for it, I was half way into it when I realised there was no way the stand was going to work on these things!! I stopped and asked Terry 'What the hell do I do now?' He had seen that over the other side of the car park there was a grassy verge that we could park on and headed over there while I sat on Roxy and waited. I tried to back her up but my feel just dug into the pebbles and kinda rolled away from me and Roxy sat where she was rocking slightly. I cant move!!! It's alright, I knew my knight in shining bike leathers would come to my rescue. I waited patiently then when he came back to me wondered how he was going to replace me on the bike. Very gingerly he held the bike while I got off then I held steady for him to get on, it actually worked quite well. His bigger man feet got a better purchase on that rolling white field of pebbles and he easily moved Roxy back out of the park and took her round to the nice comfy grass to finally rest. Well that was fun.

The car park I nearly spent the rest of the day sitting on Roxy in.
We headed into the big tin shed to look for food.

The view around us was pretty spectacular, lots of grape vines with a backdrop of the surrounding hills and mountains.

Terry found a pretty spot to park the bikes.

It was a fairly basic set up inside, a long bar and a big open space with a few scattered tables.

The decorating consisted of a general theme of tin shed and rotten big wine casks, it worked. It was cold by the time we got there and although Terry had ordered a table outside when he had called the earlier that day we ended up opting for the inside table next to the wood fire. I'm sorry no food photos, I always forget until the plate is clean. It was great food though, lots of homemade stuff and the desert were just delish!! We warmed up with soup to start with and by the time we'd had coffee we were feeling refreshed and ready to head out onto the road again well fortified.

Here's some of the things we could have been looking at while we ate if we hadn't been so cold by the time we got there.

I know it's a bare tree, but I just liked it.

Spring is here and everywhere you looked in Mudgee these trees were sporting these delicate little flowers. I've asked a lot of people what the trees are lining Mudgee's main street and the best response I've gotten is 'Cherry blossom's .. I think'. They are beautiful though and they line the entire main street, there is no way you would have gotten the full effect of it in a car, on the bike it was like riding down a kind of fairy world, surrounded on all sides by such delicacy was amazing and unfortunately the photos I tried to take didn't do it justice, I needed to be in the middle of the street and Terry kept telling me to get orf the damned road!!!

The main street of Mudgee.
 Anyway that came later and I'm jumping ahead in photos. Next somehow Terry got hold of the camera and payed me back for the many shots I managed to sneak of him.

And that's the only one I'm posting, it was an interesting place to stop and not something I've seen before, every other winery I've ever been to tends to be more architectural or else they go with the log cabin look. I loved the big tin shed theme here, it suits the surrounding area perfectly.

And this was the last view we had before we left the winery with the wind and clouds starting to build up, on a mission to find petrol in Mudgee.

I started out leading with Terry giving me directions from behind, lucky he was cause we'd have got completely lost again if I was given my head. Funny that .. I used to hate getting lost on the bike, it was kinda scary for me for some reason .... that day we got kinda lost a couple of times and it was not an issue. It was actually kinda fun, like an adventure, I reckon it's cause I'm more at ease with riding and can take more time to enjoy my surrounds so I can appreciate stuff more. We found petrol and just after that I told Terry I had to try to get a shot of the street with it's confectionery trees lining it so we stopped just up the road. Then Terry was in the lead again and we were on our way home.

We both decided that there was no way we were retracing our steps home along the Gollen/Goolma Rd!! And decided on taking Castlereagh Hwy to Dunedoo then along the Golden Hwy. While it's called a highway there was no way I'd have believed it. It was a good country road even though it was just a single lane with lots of interesting corners and hills. There were meadows beside us and even a few cows watching us. It was relaxing and I was really enjoying the ride home when my day was made perfect by the view that was presented to me as I went over a rise and looked down onto one of the most spectacular views I've seen out here yet. You are looking down over a flat valley of pastureland, where you seem to be able to see for miles around you. This is all surrounded by a distant mountain range, and as you watch it's all painted in a kaleidoscope of the colours of the outback by the shifting light and dark created by the moving clouds above us. I was just thinking for the umpteenth time that I wish I had some kind of helmet cam to catch photos of this stuff while we are moving when I spotted a rest area coming up and demanded that we stop for pics!

The rest area was half way down the hill we had topped, so the view had flattened out, but it still stirred a sense of awe in me at how big this world is.

We didn't have to go much further before we reached Dunedoo, was about 3:30pm and I was starting to get frozen fingers so it didn't take much to convince me to stop at the only cafe in town for a quick warming coffee. The only cafe in town was closed down, but we found another one and gratefully settled down for a quick cuppa. Terry then ran into a friend (we cant go anywhere with running into someone he knows ... ) so we had a chat while he and his wife had a cuppa too, they were on their way home from Lithgow, which is past Mudgee, so they were taking the same route as us but his wife was amazed with the fact that we were both riding our own bikes. Actually it was a nice reaction, so far the reactions I've had from most women when I've been out riding have been either 'are you crazy?' or 'you're so brave', this time the reaction was more along the lines of 'I've been on the back of bikes but never had a go myself, don't know if I could.' My normal response of 'it's fantastic you should have a go' didn't get the usual 'oh no I couldn't!' either, just a smile and a nod, I think a seed may have been planted there :D

When I next looked at the clock it was 4:30pm and I quickly gave Terry a gentle hint ...'We've got to move, I've got the tinted visor on!!!' I don't think he got it until we'd been riding for only about 10km's (after finally leaving Dunedoo at about 5pm) and it started to get dark, I was leading again and he told me to keep an eye out for kangaroos on the side of the road as it was dusk and they get more active at dusk. I replied I'd love to if only I could see the side of the road .... up went the visor ... I swore after the last time I got caught at night with the tinted visor I would never get caught again. I got caught again. It was cold, but my eyes soon stopped watering when the tears just froze in my tear ducts. The bugs added a nice touch of protein to my diet, and the one on the front of my glasses was soon swiped away easily with a finger of my glove, it did leave a lovely reminder smeared across my field of vision as a memorial though. It was bad, just as bad as I remember it being the last time I got caught at night like this, and I was wondering how people actually enjoy riding with open face helmets all the time. Even though the sunset that we were riding into was absolutely spectacular, I wasn't stopping for pics, I just wanted to get home! It really didn't spoil the ride. Sure I was freezing by the time I got home and my face was stinging from the bugs but the day as a whole had too many good points for that one bad thing to spoil it.

It's really starting to get into spring now, we've even had a few days with temperatures above 25C, and Roxy had a service done today. I took her for a bit of a run round town after I picked her up today and she's running beautifully. I think some more rides are definitely on the agenda. I mentioned once before that I was hoping to try to organise a charity type ride for work sometime soon and that's coming to fruition. It's not a raising money type thing but a raising awareness ride. We want to remind people how important blood donations are and let them know the good things that they can do for no cost 'cept a pint of blood. So a ride seems like a fun way to do that and after talking a couple of our regular donors we found someone who is doing a charity run in October for a cancer help type thingy in one of the little townships close to Dubbo. We're going to combine the two things and see if we can make a great day out of it. Tis all going to end in a pub in a town called Tomingly, so I reckon a ride out there will have to be undertaken, to check out the ride and chat with the lady out there who is putting on a meal and fund raising event at the end of the ride. I can't wait to get out there and riding again in the perfect weather again.