Monday, 29 October 2012

Nearly The Big Red Ride

Saturday 27th of October is a day I've been waiting for a while to arrive. A couple of months ago I read a ride report on a forum about a ride that had been put on by someone with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service in Queensland, the blood bank. The idea had been to get riders to donate but it had turned into a bit of a shamozel when they had huge waiting times for them to donate and then people who fainted then had to wait round for a couple more hours to be sure they were safe to ride.

I thought at the time that a ride to raise awareness of the need for donated blood was a great idea but wondered at the wisdom of getting people to donate blood then hop on a bike. We get regular donors who do that but they are regular donors and they know they feel OK after donating, I didn't like the thought of having a lot of new donors, who are always an unknown factor, then wanting to jump on bikes and ride to where ever home is. So I wanted to do a ride like that locally, but I was already having trouble working out what would be the most useful way to do it.

I talked to people about it, then talked to some other people about it and eventually it came about that we would join in on a ride already being organised to raise funds for an organisation called Can Assist at Peak Hill, a place not to far from Dubbo. It wasn't exactly what we wanted but it was a way to see what we needed to do, and to get the message out there. Basically all we would be doing is riding along and trying to pass on the message of the need to donate blood. I even came up with a name for the ride, Big Red Ride, and I'm hoping it can be done again next year under that name.

We met up with some of the guys that donate blood who agreed to come along to lend us a voice and a roar of their engines, at a service station in Dubbo at bout 8am.

One of those blokes is the guy who helped us to get involved with this ride and led us to the start of the ride at Tomingley.
Already there was a great selection of bikes turning up, there were our two Shadows, a couple of Harleys, a V Star. Another Honda, VFR something (yeah I know I'm not great at the sportsbike stuff).

The guy riding the VFR is the partner of one of my workmates and hasn't been on the bike in a while so he said he'd be taking it easy today ... yay was looking like I'd get a riding buddy for the day.

I was pretty impressed with this when it pulled up just before we took off for Tomingley.

So seven of us on bikes headed out of Dubbo towards Tomingley, with a 4WD full of some of the girls from work trailing behind us. I was already excited!!

We got to Tomingley pretty much on time. The plan that had been relayed to us was that we would have breakfast at Tomingley (put on by the pub) at 9am then head on the road towards Parkes -Bogan Gate - Trundle - Albert- Trangie - Narromine - Tomingley. There was a big night planned for that night as well at the Tomingley pub but we'd already decided that after riding all day we weren't going to feel much like partying on then riding home in the dark late at night so we were going straight home to Dubbo from Narromine.

The pub had a few more riders than us, I think there were bout 20 all together, and we did pick up another donor at Tomingley who'd ridden down from near Collie to meet us with his wife.

The bikes lined up at Tomingley, I was the only one with a dressed up bike but that's OK cause there were plenty of people already dressed up for the Halloween theme they were running with for the nights entertainment.

Breakfast was a BBQ .. bacon and egg rolls, which even the Mario Bros. enjoyed.

More bike pics

Was a pretty impressive sight all those bikes lined up in along the front of the Hotel.
We left Tomingley at roughly 10am and headed along the road towards Parkes. I kept thinking that we were getting to Parkes at every drop in the speed limit and it was just the villages along the way, for some reason it seemed like a long ride. A lot of the the riders took off ahead and we didn't see them on the road at all unless it was to be overtaken by them if they left behind us, riding in our little group was Me and Terry, my workmates partner and the donor who came down from Collie way with his wife on the back. We pretty much sat on the speed limit the whole way.

The first stop was at Parkes for fuel and to catch up. Actually I don't think the group ever rode as a group at any time, there were a lot who just took off ahead and the other thing I would have liked to have seen was some kind of corner marking. There weren't a lot of corners but if you had no idea where you were going and got left behind you would have been completely lost at times. I think they just assumed that everyone was a local and would know these roads like they did.

Right so that stop wasn't worth taking pics, but the next one was. We stopped at Bogan Gate next.

And this is where we found out that it was also a Poker Run, we would be stopping at every little town between here and Albert.

At the pub ...

Railway Hotel, Bogan Gate NSW

Yay I like stopping often, I had been starting to worry bout doing another long run with no stops.

For the last couple of weeks my boss had been talking about riding on the back of one of the bikes, so I loaned her my old helmet and she borrowed some boots and gloves from someone else. At Tomingley she jumped on the back of this ...

I think he needed a crowbar to get her off the back at the end of the day.
And here at Bogan Gate one of the other girls was handed a helmet and jacket and happily jumped on the back of this ...

I do have to let her know that if she's getting pics taken on the back of a Harley she has to put her visor up so there's proof it's really her .. shy girl :)

 On that stretch of road between Parkes and Bogan Gate we had come across a brand new harvester being taken to it's new owner somewhere .. it was huge and I was wishing that the Gopro was mounted on the other side when I passed it to show how huge it was. Imagine my delight when it pulled up behind us at Bogan Gate, I ran straight over for pics ...

Oh yeah I got my Gopro, I got the Hero2 mainly because it was there. I know that the Hero3 has just been released but after looking at what is new I decided the Hero2 would do me for the level of technology I can cope with, also the one I got was from a local shop and I do like to support my local businesses if I can, not to mention I wouldn't have to wait for it to be delivered, I got to play with it the day I paid for it!!

I had it mounted on the side of my helmet because I have a vent and a vent button on the top of it that seem to be in the way. I'm not sure that I liked the view it gave me and I think I had it pointed down a little too much. But anyway here's the video that I ended up with after working out how to edit, I'm sure I'll get better with practise.

Yeah I know it's a bit long too, I'll get better at that with time too I'm sure. And there's no sound, I'm trying to work out why but I haven't gotten sound on it yet for some reason. I'll fiddle with it a bit more then if I cant work it out send Gopro an email or something to see if they can help out.

We moved on from Bogan Gate to Trundle next. Which has the widest main street I've seen yet.

But I was completely fascinated by the old building that the pub was in.

Terry managed to sneak in a pic of me and Roxy. The feather boa was lasting well but my tassells were pretty much gone by now as was the P plate.
From Trundle it was a quick 35km run to Tullamore. I'm glad it was a short run cause that's when my footpeg started to come lose. I was kinda feeling something funny down there for a few minutes before I realised that it was the footpeg spinning under my foot. Eeek I stopped playing with it with my foot and tried not to put too much pressure on it, keeping the speed to a minimum too as it started to vibrate like crazy if I went too fast. We got to Tullamore and saw the service station was open and a few bikes still fuelling up so we pulled in, I got my tool kit out and was relieved to find that the Allen Keys I had with me contained one that fit the footpeg bolt. So after tightening that and checking the one on the other side I got petrol then headed up to the pub with just enough time to snap one pic of the pub.

Right the next stop was Albert, we were having lunch there at the famous Rabbit Trap Hotel. I'm not sure why it's famous but it was a cool little outback village and nice little pub.

Yes the decor was all in Rabbit Trap theme, there were rabbit trap candle holders on the tables even.
The tourist cabins across the road from the pub.
That's about all there was in town and a service station that seemed to be un-manned, credit card at the bowser when were there anyway.

What do you do if you have a blonde in a Devils outfit and a red bike? Get her to pose on it while an evil wizard takes a photoshoot of course.

The whole party, including a bus load of revellers who came across from the Tomingley pub the short way to meet the bikes here.

Proof we were there ...

Roxy and friend enjoying the shade.

We rested here for a while then people started to get ready to leave.

It was decided not to go all the way to Trangie as had been originally planned, we were to take a shorter way back along a back road that went straight to Narromine. It cut about 20km off the trip but I was told that it was actually a better road than the main one through Trangie. Eek I hope they lied, the road we took was terrible and I'm sure it's the reason my back and right shoulder are still complaining two days later. Oh well it was the only bad road we got in 370km worth of roads so not a bad days ride.

View Larger Map

And not as painful as I thought it would be, all that stopping at pubs made it much easier!

The last stop was at Narromine, where we had a last drink and said bye and thanks to everyone who was heading back to Tomingley for a night of music and an auction to raise still more funds.

Royal Hotel, Narromine NSW

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Canberra - Party - Home Again

It was a quiet Monday night a couple of weeks ago when Terry turned to me and said 'Why don't we go to Canberra this weekend for a party?' Right sounds like a great idea ... lets do it!!

So the story is that it was Terry's middle sons birthday on the Wednesday and he was planning a bit of a get together at a local place somewhere in Canberra for a celebration .. it was a milestone .. he made it to 30! So Terry thought it would be a great idea to ride the bikes to Canberra. I was up and down about the idea. Firstly it was so far, 405km from Dubbo to Canberra according to Google maps. And it was such short notice, so I checked it out on Google maps, with my boss (who grew up in Canberra I have just found out) looking on and telling me the best ways to go. OK I remembered Chillertek telling me about a dam that was worth a visit, oooh I can do that and not add many k's onto the trip at all!!

Here's the map I found minus the side trip to the dam which is called Wyangala.

View Larger Map

Why no dam, cause we didn't end up going that way, more bout that later. So it was starting to get exciting by about Thursday and I couldn't wait to get on the road. We woke up Friday morning to the local radio telling us about all the places that had had snow that morning .... huh .. snow in October ... noooooooo. It was OK cause so far I hadn't heard of any round Canberra, there was some a bit south I noticed on the BOM website, but none in Canberra. So I went to work only to hear that it had snowed overnight in Canberra ....noooooo. Oh well if we had to drive the car to Canberra we'd at least still get a weekend away and get to go to a party!

Saturday morning dawned bright in Dubbo, but what was it doing Canberra? As far as we could see it was cold and raining .. well I needed some experience riding in the rain .... we took the bikes!!

The first stop was Molong, normally when going in this direction we have a stop before that but we had a lot further to go today and had to be there in time for a party so we pressed on til Molong where Terry would need to have his first petrol stop.

 While Terry filled up both bikes I got out the camera and snapped pics ... of Terry ... and of the artists gallery across the road. 

This guy does funky Aussie type stuff and I like his work though I'm not sure if I'd hang any in my lounge room. I have always driven straight past this place and often said I must stop one day and go look, this time at least we stopped long enough for me to look at the outside .. from across the road. I'm getting closer.

We decided to stop in the main street, another part of Molong I've never seen, for a cuppa and bite to eat. As soon as I got off Roxy and wandered across the road to where Terry had parked a bloke started checking Roxy out, she does like the attention. It was handy though cause we got good advice bout where the best coffee in town was. 

On our return to the bikes we discovered that Roxy had made a friend, we'd seen this bike go past us while we were eating lunch and heard the rumble too .... nice to find out it was a Shadow, Roxy's big brother!

We left Molong after a bit of a chat with the owner of the 1300 Shadow that was just so shiny it was blinding, and headed on our way to our next stop, Cowra.

This is basically the halfway point and as usual when we ride we found that we were not making as good time as we would have liked. We'd already gone past the turn off to the dam that I had planned to take and we decided not to take the turn off at Cowra either, maybe we would go that way home. 

We went down the main street of a town called Canowindra, which isn't pronounced anything like you would expect it to be. I'm very proud of myself that I'm finally starting to say the names of the places out here properly. Well properly enough that locals don't look at me all confused when I say I've been somewhere and say "huh?" anymore. Canowindra is billed as a historic town and historic it is, you can bypass all the interesting stuff and just keep going past the town itself and that's what we've done in the past, so this time since we weren't going to get a dam, Terry took me to see a historic town instead. Or at least to ride though a historic town. One of these trips we will stop and poke around here as it looks fascinating.

Cowra we found petrol in the oldest petrol station to be found. Unless you go really inland I've seen pics of older ones, but this one has to hold the record for me so far.

The bowsers had Super and Regular on them so we went with Super just for the hell of it. Next we made a beeline towards the Maccas across the road with the thought of finding a drink, but we ended up (after doing scary U-Turns near the exit of the Maccas drivethru) just taking our water bottles into the park nearby and munching on chocolate bars. We pulled up behind this Ford Mustang, was such a shame that the lady who was driving it wasn't friendly at all and just glared at us as we pulled in behind her then ran like she thought we were going to attack her. Ah well you cant stop people from being people can you :)

Right we had to get moving, the day was getting on and we were only half way. Next stop was Yass for petrol, and this time we were only stopping for petrol, no coffee breaks!!!

Merging onto the main highway from the country road we'd travelled down, a severe camber and a give way sign. As I watched Terry in front of me pull up and then struggle to keep upright on the camber I forgot to concentrate on keep Roxy upright, she decided to have a little snooze. Damn it at least nothing was damaged because of the highway bars, but those highway bars also helped Roxy to roll over more than she normally would have, I'm sure if she had just a little bit more momentum she could have ended up sitting upright on the handlebars. A bit of struggling saw her on the rubber side again and I was sure needing a coffee! So the petrol station at Yass ended up being a coffee stop. Lucky it was, took us bout half an hour to work out where to find a bowser that worked, it was being renovated and half the bowsers weren't working. So after downing half a terrible road stop coffee and finding our way around the maze of the the closed bowsers we headed calmly back on our way towards Canberra.

Next stop would be our last at the Motel in Kingston Canberra. This meant riding through the middle of Canberra, and that's always interesting as Canberra is just a series of circular roads, I wonder why I always get lost in Canberra. 

As we made our way towards our destination the rain that had been promised to us that morning showed it's ugly head, in the distance we could see ominous clouds and finally we spotted rain not to far ahead. When we started to get a few big drops on our visors we decided that we should put on the rubber pants. We've never actually had to wear those yet so it was interesting working them out. Putting them on at the side of the road over kevlars and big boots was fun, well that's one word for it, and after I'd succeeded Terry took heart and had a go himself. As I stood by ready to catch any men that decided to go flying down the hill past me on one foot tangled in plastic pants, I looked around us and took in our surroundings. We were parked on a widened bit of highway with paddocks all around us, across the road was a horse paddock and standing at the corner of his domain was the cheekiest horse I've ever met. He was watching us tripping and dancing round while struggling with the plastic pants from hell and laughing his silly head off!! 

We got the pants on before the heavens opened and took off down the highway with horsey laughter ringing in our ears. The rain started not too much further on but didn't last very long, maybe ten minutes. I'm not sure about that because it was my first time riding in real rain and I was concentrating so hard that the time just seemed to suddenly be gone and we were now starting to see things that looked like city.

City riding is another new thing for me, in Queensland I only got a taste of it when we got lost and ended up in Brisbane but we turned around and headed back out as quick as we could that time. This time I would have to ride straight through the middle of the Capital of Australia. I was feeling a bit apprehensive. But ... it wasn't busy, I thought it would be being a capital city and they were also just wrapping up the spring festival that they hold every year called Floriade  too, we went straight past most of it and still the traffic wasn't bad.  I like it, we did catch every red light along the way but that was OK cause in three lanes of traffic no one tried to do anything nasty to us. It was with a huge sigh of relief that we finally got to our destination with half an hour to spare before the party. Even though I was the one giving Terry directions and I have so much trouble remembering names ... so it was along the lines of  'ummm there's a funny circley bit of road that goes around a park, second left after that'. 

Terry digging for stuff at our motel.

We partied that night then got up nice and early the next morning with the hope that we would get ourselves back to Dubbo a little earlier in the day than we arrived in Canberra. So after a nice breakfast in the little shopping centre in Kingston we finally got on the road at about 10:30. I led the way back out through the city after getting us lost once and then unlost again. It's not a trip to Canberra unless you get lost and I've talked to people who grew up in Canberra who agree with that sentiment.

The trip back was pretty uneventful. As I went past the corner where Roxy had her little rest on the way down I got an attack of butterflies, I'm not sure why but I got through that feeling and even the next stretch of riding for the next 100k's or so that didn't really feel good. After a stop at Cowra and watching all the bikes that were stopping at the cafe we had lunch at, I was feeling on top of it all again! I did another U-Turn at Cowra too! It was all smooth fun riding. But again the time just seemed to disappear into a black hole, even though we were only stopping for petrol and only once for coffee at lunch time. Hmmm just have to get a move on, I finally noticed what I have heard and seen said about the 400cc Shadow, it's a little gutless in the top end. And it is a bit, I felt her slowing down on hills if I started them at 100km, then I would be full throttle and doing 90 by the time I got to the top of some of them. And I overtook a couple of times, overtaking a really slow moving vehicle like a farm machine or a learner driver is OK, Roxy can get the herbes up to pass that, but at 100km/h start she just doesn't have much extra to give. So the couple of times I did overtake were interesting and took me way too long to do. I was only glad I had Terry already in front to tell me I was safe.

As we raced along the home stretch it was starting to get late and I was watching for Kangaroos at the side of the road as Terry was too I'm sure. So when he simply said 'snake' it took a bit for me to understand what he was talking about. He'd run over a snake in the middle of the road, it was a big one too and by the time I got to it was twisting and leaping on the road like a wild thing. All I could think was ugh don't take it out on me, had to swerve to miss him.

We made it home by bout 5pm, roughly 6 hours to get home which was much better than the trip down. We were both exhausted, I really don't know how people do 500 miles per day trips. 400km per day two days running had just about killed me. Neither one of could move that night and it has seriously taken me a full week just to feel half human again. Was fun though and full of experiences that I loved.

Oh yeah the dam never got a visit, we just wanted to get home by the time we hit the road to go home, maybe next time we will do a trip when we have more time.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Spring Is In The Air

And you would think that to me spring would mean more riding yes? No. I've been busy, work has been pretty flat out and tiring, so I haven't been bothered getting all geared up at ridiculous hours of the morning just to ride 5 minutes up the road to work during the week, and last weekend I had a surprise visit from my best friend from Newcastle who I haven't seen in way too long!

She had in tow her 12 year old son and his mate, so the best idea was to take them to the zoo or else they would have parked themselves in front of the Xbox all weekend and we wouldn't have gotten any sense out of them at all. So we hired bikes for the boys and my girlfriend and I drove the car around the first day, and it was fantastic!

One of the things I have always liked about this zoo is it's commitment to breeding programs, and that was in evidence last weekend with all the babies everywhere.

There's this baby Black Rhino, OK he's getting older, he turned two this year. But he's still cute!

This Greater One-Horned Rhino isn't a baby, but he was as shy as one so I was pretty happy to get such a good pic of him .. I literally had to stand in one place and snap constantly as he kept hiding behind anything he could find in his enclosure to hide behind.

 Next babies we spotted where the Meercats, who's breeding program is going so well that they may need a new home if they keep this up!!

They have two new babies but I couldn't get both of them in the same shot. I did manage to get this great shot of mum.

And one of the family on guard.

And a lovely baby portrait.

We moved on to the giraffes only to find that there was a new addition to ever expanding family there too. There seems to be a few adolescents here.

Who, like adolescents everywhere, were arguing over who gets the prize, hay in this case. So the next idea was to see if they could steal some of the grown ups hay.

Nope cant reach ....

Mum watches on ...

Yeah I liked the Giraffes, had you guessed that yet? Anyway I would like to share the cheekiness of them with you, which I managed to catch in the next two pics I think.

 They aren't just graceful and pretty to look at, they were entertaining as well...

Then we spotted the sign that said the baby in this exhibit was born only four or five days ago ... oooh where is it???

Found him right at the back of the enclosure with mum and dad.

Already trying to work out how to get into mischief.

What's next ... oh lions. Day two included a feed the lions adventure for me and my best mates son, it was exciting for him and just awe inspiring for me. No babies there but incredible to be so close to such amazing powerful animals, I'm just glad we were feeding them through the fence, I think the lioness would have had all of us for desert if she could have, the male on the other hand was very polite.

He was huge, those paws were almost the size of the child's head that was feeding him!

The lioness was more aggressive, and was ready for more food the minute she had finished inhaling the bit you had just given her. And she wasn't afraid to let you know.

She growled at me when I turned my head for an instant, scared me a bit but wow amazing to see this creature like this ... I was almost expecting them to be half tamed and they really aren't.

I'm still trying to figure out if there's a real connection between the lioness and her keeper, or if she was eyeing off the food.

She was a beautiful girl though, who watched the crowd as much as they watched her at times.

At other times they both treated the crowds as if they weren't even there.

What were they looking at? The keeper was still over there tidying up and they were keeping an eye on her to make sure there was no more food on offer :)

Well I promised you baby animals, and there were more to be seen yet. There was a baby ...

Oh I knew I should have taken a photo of the sign saying what this was, but it will grow up to be one of these ..

There were a bunch of Takhi (Prezewalski's Horse) roaming around and one of my favourite pics of the day was of this one.

The next critter that presented itself to us was the Zebra. I'd spotted a baby one of these on our walk a couple of weeks ago so we were disappointed that we couldn't pick it out of the herd on the first day as they were too far away. On the second day they were resting closer to us and yay we got to watch them sit around for quite a while.

 The baby was cute  :)

There were three critters I really wanted to see, and I didn't get to see any of them til the second day. The first was the otters, they musta been off playing in the back yard when we were there on day one, so day two we deliberately went at feeding time.

It was hard to see them this time though because of the crowds of other people who had the same brilliant idea. I did get to watch them frolic in their pool for a while before it got too crowed though, and they are so much fun to watch!

I really wanted to see the American Bison. Such huge critters, incredible to watch ...

And the other critters ... Galapagos Tortoise. Yes I like huge critters. These guys are massive and when we got there we had another lovely surprise, born about two years ago was this little guy.

Can you see him? Let me help ...

Here he is in all his close up glory ...

Barely the size of the pebbles surrounding him, yet one day he will grow up to be as big as this ...

This was my favourite creature, so it stands to reason that my favourite photo was of him too.

He even smiled for me.

Well that was the it, the best was last. I love animals and being able to see them so close but not in cages was wonderful and something that I really should do a lot more.