Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Three Things I've Never Done Before

Today I did three things that I've never done before. One good, two not so good.

I decided that I need to commute on the bike to work more. I need more of that town riding experience as when we go for rides it tends to be out in the countryside. Today was my first day back to work after holidays and today I had to get the bike out of a new parking spot. We have a new carport which both bikes have been snuggled up in for the last week. Terry was getting my bike out for me before this but today it was nicely backed into a spot between the wall and Terry's bike. It was a bit of a squeeze and I realised that I wouldn't be able to even swing a leg over to ride her forwards, I'd have to push her past Terry's bike. So with Terry watching me like a hawk while he leaned his bike out of Roxy's way, I gently pushed Rox forward. It was the first time I've pushed her without being on her, I used to push the scooter around like he was a little brother, but he was much lighter. I've always been a bit scared to try and push Roxy, today I just did it without even thinking about it and I was pretty pleased that I wasn't that hard. OK I didn't push her far but it was a first for me, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Then I got all my gear on and packed my backpack for work, double checking that I had everything, then set off to work. I was practising just using the back brake to stop with, and keeping my foot on the brake while stopped, with mixed success. I can stop with the back brake but I still feel unsteady when I'm stopped and end up putting both feet down. I was almost to work, stopped at a round about when I did the next thing that I've never done before, as I went to take off my hand slipped off the clutch and I stalled. Ooops, it wasn't that bad, she stayed nice and steady, I dread that thing happening and making me lurch forwards like a stall often does and then Rox having a bit of sleep. She didn't but when my hand slipped it made realise the third thing I did that I've never done before ... I forgot my gloves. I don't know why unless it's because the gloves weren't where they normally are, in my helmet. Why that is I have no idea, all I can guess is that I put them away in a tidying frenzy while we had visitors and then I just forgot them.

I am so feral about ATGATT that I'm just plain ashamed that I can forget something so basic so easily, and once I'd realised I didn't have them I felt so uncomfortable. Ugh, I'm just going to put this all down as a learning experience and promise myself that I will do better. More commuting to work for me.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Ride Safe SRA

SRA Eastern States Meet 2013 (photo curtesy of Ant from SRA)

Now we're coming to the end of our adventure. An adventure at home .. that sounds weird. But it was an adventure for both Terry and I. We got to do things we'd never done before and meet so many wonderful people.

After the boat ride the crew jumped on their bikes and followed Terry on a short ride before lunch. I didn't go on the ride so I could stand with my camera and catch a few pics of people doing what they do best. Riding.

This is the token Kawasaki, he left Dubbo swearing he was going to trade in the Kwaka for a Shadow!!

More people .. I'm not gonna name them .. mainly cause I don't know who they are with their gear on.

Terry took the guys around the route that I showed you in this post

Not everyone went on this ride, and it seems they didn't stop either .. well it's a short ride so they didn't need to stop.

So these are the only pics I have of that adventure. I did ask how the ride was afterwards tho, and everyone enjoyed it.

Terry did a good job of leading them.

Pretty well everyone gave the camera a wave as they went past me, but I guess my button finger was tired too, I missed a lot of the waves.

Nearly all gone.

Terry late as usual.

And then they were gone.

I was all alone sitting under a tree, savouring the quietness by the river on a perfect day. All I had to do was jump on my bike and make my way home for a couple of hours rest before I had to go out for lunch.

Lunch was another fun affair. There were awards handed out, you know the kind of thing .. longest journey to get here that sort of thing .. Pete won the 'Iron Arse' award for making the trip on his now famous Jack Danial's bobber seat (poor Pete ;-D). I got flowers and stuff and all embarrassed, you can read all about that on Random Thoughts and Ramblings if your interested. I had a cake made for this event too....

It was yummy!

Then it was back home for another relax before dinner. Told you this day was going to be more relaxing :) Of course we still had company, Pete and Louie were there to keep us entertained in the gap between lunch and dinner. Louie got along like a house on fire with our amazing staffy, Gizmo.

I even came out one morning while Louie was still asleep trying very hard to not wake him, Gizmo was trying to be quiet too, but she was keeping a close eye on him and as soon as he woke up ...

Louie is famous in SRA for being the human companion of our mascot, Mooch.

Photo posted with kind permission of Louie.
Sadly Mooch passed away late last year, but he's still in all our hearts and I imagine he's still having fun riding a Shadow :)

We said our seeya laters that night at dinner, everyone was leaving early the next morning for home. The weekend was over and all we had left to do was see Pete and Louie off.

Our carport had just been finished the week before (that's what Terry was working on Friday when he couldn't come to the BBQ til late), it was exciting seeing it filled with bikes all weekend. But now Pete was packing his saddlebags .. and doing a few running repairs.

His left bag lock had broken on the first ride, a strap and some tape kept it together all the way back to Tasmania.

Pete it was fun having you here for the weekend, I hope that one day we can return the favour and go down to Tassie for a week .. or two :)

Seeya Pete, ride safe!

Louie had to get new tires before he could set off on his return trip to Western Australia so we took him out for breakfast while his bike was in the shop. It wasn't long before he was connecting his trailer up to the Shadow.

With Gizmo's help of course.

Louie it was a blast having you to entertain us for the weekend, I never knew all that about Western Australia! Who knows one day Terry and I might just drop over the west coast to visit, til then ...

Ride safe Louie!

It's been kinda quiet here, but I have been buzzing for the last week from all the excitement of that weekend. The event has been slated as an annual event, with the location rotating around the states of Australia to give everyone a chance to attend. Next year it's Victoria's turn and I cant wait!! I cant wait to meet up with all the wonderful people I have just met, I also cant wait to meet a few new faces ( I reckon there's a lot of people who have looked at the fun we had and are already planning to attend next year). I also cant wait to go for a ride!! I wouldn't be surprised it ends up being in Mildura, which is one of the stops on the ride I had all planned out for later this year. So I've edited my ride a bit, I'll just do Broken Hill and White Cliffs sometime this year and save the southern part of the run for the SRA Meet 2014. Cant wait!!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bikers in Boats

Sunday .. a day for relaxing. Lucky it was, I woke up that morning feeling pretty bad. Tired mainly but there was a short ride planned for today as well, I talked to Terry that morning and we decided that it probably wouldn't be a good idea for me to lead the ride that day. Don't get me wrong I loved leading the ride the day before, and I was keen for more riding but I just didn't think I could concentrate enough to do more than just getting from A to B that day. Terry suggested I talk to Rusty about it at breakfast.

But before the ride I had planned a bit of a diversion for the guys. Boating Dubbo Style. As I've mentioned in another post, I organised to take the Shadow Riders in a Dragon Boat with the help of the Outback Dragons.

We all arrived at the River beside the big orange container that holds the boats. Photo op!!

The girls were there ready for us to fill in the necessary paperwork

and give us some much needed training before we headed down to the water. Here's how you paddle ....

No not that kind of paddling!!! Like this guys ...

That's Suzy at the side keeping a close eye on us, she was a great leader who sat at the front of the boat and kept us all in line. Well as much as anyone could!

Right so now all we need is a boat and some water.

The boat had to be taken on it's trailer to the water first and the boat crew did that while the Shadow Riders got together for a team photo ...

There are two people missing from this photo, I don't know where they were but I guess they were off playing round somewhere close by cause they were definitely in the boat.
Terry had already agreed to hang out with the bikes during the paddle even though it meant he would to miss out on some fun. He didn't mind as he was going on the next adventure, Terry had by now decided to lead the next ride, yay!! So cause Terry was taking all the photos today I didn't get any photos of the boat on the water, Pete has kindly given me some photos to post, the next few pics are all his .. thanks Pete :)

First of all we had to find the water ...

Water found and people loaded .. lets get this show on the road.

The guy up the back (who's name I have forgotten) was absolutely fantastic with us. He gave us the nickname 'boofheads' and I have to say coming from him it didn't sting at all .. we were the team to beat!!

We made our way down the river, with direction from Susy and the guy at the back steering and telling us what to do.

We made our leisurely way down the calm river while the rest of the Riders hung out on the beach waiting for us...

By the time we got to the turn round point, I don't know bout anyone else, but I was starting to feel a tinge of pain ... now we just had to get back up to the beach .. against the current .. oooh.

The boat crew then took it in turns with the Shadow Riders to take us back home ... first the Outback Dragons paddled for 20 strokes .. 1.. 2... 3... ... 10... 9...8... then the 'boofheads' had a go ... 1...2...3... ... 10... 9... 8... hmmm lets see who is the best team. Outback Dragons .... paddle like a close nit team that has wins under their belt ... now the Shadow Riders ... paddle like there's no tomorrow .. we will win this thing! Wow that was close, don't know who the winner is, lets do it again!! Outback Dragons .. go!! 'Boofheads' .... wheeee we will win!!!

As we were paddling I was being given instruction from the Outback dragon crew member sitting behind me, and those instructions were passed up the line, so when I told MRC in front of me to keep his elbow in the boat when we aren't paddling I really brought home the message on the next stretch of paddling .. ouch I reckon he's gonna have a bruise.

I dunno who won, all I know is I was puffed by the time we got to the beach, actually we got to the beach a lot sooner than any of us thought we would, and as I stumbled out of the boat the crew from Outback Dragons complemented the whole lot of us on such a good job, we were the best group they had ever had along and would welcome us back for another paddle any day. Well done SRA!!

And no one got wet .. well 'cept the one person who fell out of the boat when we were getting out on the beach, but she's a pro at falling I reckon, she just kinda did a roll and was back on her feet before we even knew it!

I think this photo says it all ... we had ball!!

Now we had to help get the boat back up the hill ...

Not a problem, the SRA guys are always ready to help :)

The next thing on the agenda was the short ride before lunch with Terry leading. More about that in the next post.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Leading SRA up the Garden Path .. or the Country Road

The first full day for the Meet was booked full of fun. First there was breakfast at a local bakery.

SRA meets for breakfast.
Then we headed to the zoo for the Inaugural Annual General Meeting. Seriously that was actually fun, sorta, it was good to actually hear people's points of view and get a real dialogue going on. On the way into the zoo grounds we all stopped outside at the big orange sign for a photo shoot .. that's the photo I used on the first post here so I wont post it again. Every stop was just a chance to have more fun and get to know each other better. I was starting to relax about the event now .. there was no chance of anything going wrong as it was all organised and these guys are just so well trained :-D

What I was nervous about was riding with them, I had to lead a ride with a bunch of very experienced riders behind me, I have read about what a ride leader is supposed to do but I stressed a fair bit about losing people or going too fast or too slow ... I never once thought about how much trouble I sometimes have parking my baby. We pulled into the car park at the zoo which has a loose surface, I was aware that I have trouble with this type of surface but I took it easy and was doing alright backing into the parking spot when I noticed the person next to me's foot slip on the gravelly surface. I thought to myself  ''eeek I hope I don't do that or the bike's going over" just as my foot slipped and the bike went over. I did my normal self preservation act and jumped off the bike before I could land on the ground under her but then my next thought was "ugh how am I gonna get her upright". Before I could even get my hands back on her my knight in shining leather was there, (nope not Terry this time, he was across the other side of the car park) t'was Rusty who was beside me, he had Roxy upright in a jiffy and even helped me back her the rest of the way in. Nothing really wrong with Rox, just a couple of scratches on the mirror that I'll buff out easily, but my bruised ego was ready for the bashing. No one said anything. Oh that was so nice :)

Now that I'd gotten that out of the way, I just had a whole ride to go on ... ugh. I decided to go with the flow, take it as it comes and enjoy the company and the ride. And I did manage to do that eventually.

As we left the Zoo there was a line of bikes as far as the eye could see. Actually I soon realised that I couldn't see many of the people behind me after the first four or five. How was I going to make sure I didn't lose anyone?? Nerves were setting in.

Thank heavens someone had thought to tell the group to use corner marking, it's something that I'd thought of over the last couple of weeks constantly, Terry also thought to tell them a bit about the roads we were travelling, when the time came I was so nervous I forgot everything. Not to mention shy .. talking to individuals all weekend was actually easy, but talking to the whole group at once, oh I hate that and the thought made me sick.

So the group made it through town and we headed up the highway to our first stop at Geurie. I thought I was taking it easy, trying to be aware that I had a group behind me and that the last person would probably have to go faster than me to catch up. As well as being aware that we were spread out along a highway that has a 110km/h speed limit which I know not many car drivers like to do .. that's way to slow for the cagers. I didn't want some silly cager to try to overtake the group and cause issues.

How do I find that balance, I'm still not sure because when we arrived at Geurie a few people came up to me and said how fast they had to go to keep up .. eeek. Not to mention that I'd actually forgotten poor Casper, OMG and I'd thought to myself over the past couple of weeks that I needed to be aware that we had an inexperienced rider with us and I wanted to make it as enjoyable for him as the Queensland mob had made it for me last year. Oh I was screwing this up, I promised the next part of the ride would be much better, this was the back roads, single lane with no lines on the road, blind corners and crests. This was going to be single file for the next 50 or so kilometres so I knew there was no way that I would have many people in view, I was really trusting Terry to keep the group together.

I sat on about 80 - 90km/h for this stretch and not just because I was aware I was leading the group, this road has some corners and crests that can be a bit scary, specially when you get a farmer bearing down on you at 120 in the middle of the road. I must admit though that there were a few corners that I exited a bit faster .. I did get carried away sometimes but managed to pull myself back into line soon enough.

There are a couple of dead straight stretches along here too, and it's hard not to bump up the speed along them, specially when you get caught in that moment after you've just come over a rise and you are hit in the face by the most amazing vistas.

As you can see, I had the GoPro on backwards, this was what I wanted it for, to take pics of that line of bikes behind me. But it also meant I didn't get any shots of the view in front of me, and that was pretty breathtaking at times. I'll go out there again soon and put up some pics, it's something worth sharing.

There are also quite a few causeways along here, we haven't had any real rain recently so they were all empty, it takes a lot of rain to fill the causeways up round here and I've only ever struck one so far with a tiny amount of water in it .. that's my header photo :)

We finally made it to Balimore, the next stop on our journey.

I got off the bike looking for riders, the person next to me didn't even wait to take his helmet off before he started enthusiastically raving about how much he enjoyed that ride!! Oh, half of me was worrying bout whether everyone had made it but he truly distracted me so I lost that thought entirely, I was so chuffed that he had enjoyed it so much but also kinda embarrassed, I didn't build the road I just found it. I kinda lost track of things a for a while then, found Rusty and headed somewhere to go calm down a bit and get things organised for the next draw in the Poker hand .. Oh did I mention this was a Poker run?

Before too long I was calm enough to seek out refreshment, and Terry turned up. When I walked around the corner the whole team was relaxing with a cool drink and everyone looked happy.

 There were bikes scattered all over the place.

I honestly didn't realise that he hadn't ridden in to village with the rest of the group. It wasn't until later that I found out that Pete had had a mishap and that a few of the guys were trailing quite a ways behind us and taken one wrong turn (somehow the corner marking had gone haywire) but they did make it to Balimore and I didn't find any of this out until that evening before dinner. As it was I was feeling pretty good now, I'd enjoyed the ride and I'd had some great feedback from one of the riders, I started to relax a bit.

We just had one more stretch of back road to get to Wongarbon. This is a lovely little road, more of the single lane stuff but nice to ride. I led the way and calmly took us to our next stop. I don't know about the others but by this stage I was getting pretty tired. I think that some of my stress was finally releasing it's grip on me but that meant that I was starting to feel pretty exhausted. I somehow managed to park my bike at Wongarbon and get it out of it's park (by backing it uphill, something that until then I'd never been able to physically do) I was feeling pretty proud of myself and when the crew from Queensland started blasting their air horns (those guys are way to attached to their horns really :-D) I started to buzz.

The rest of the trip home to Dubbo Caravan Park was along the highway. It was a relaxing ride and I really was starting to feel the effects of all the excitement by the time I got into town. I was taking round abouts very sloppily and had even done the sliding up the tank trick at one red light. I just needed to sit down. When I got to the caravan park and Terry wasn't there I started to really stress .. oh 5 missed calls on my phone .. Terry 'Where are you?' Hmm ...'Where are you Terry?' He had gone home, he'd forgotten that the last stop on the Poker run was actually at the caravan park, so I drew his last card and the cheeky bugger won!!

Dinner that night was a relaxed affair at the pub up the road from the Park. I'm glad it was relaxed, I was coming down and actually feeling slightly unwell. I couldn't eat, I hadn't eaten much in the last week actually, but I had a great time getting to know more people. Sleep also wasn't coming easily for me that weekend, and my body was starting to show signs that something had to give. Only one more day and the next day was a lot more relaxed. I'll tell you all about it in the next post.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

SRA visit Dubbo .. The Journey

Where to start? I guess the beginning is a good place, as I said people from 5 states converged on Dubbo last weekend. Before they got here for the festivities though, they had to get here.

We had a bunch of bikes from Victoria, and along with them came the one member from Tasmania, Pete stayed with us for the weekend, and it's not true .. Tasmanians don't have two heads. The guys from down south had no problems getting here, they just jumped on their bikes and had a ball making their way north for weekend. But .. there's always a but eh .. there's a running joke for the guys down there not to ride with their fearless leader, apparently he's a jinx and poor Pete found that out the hard way. His seat broke a bolt on the way up and he got here using Zip Ties to hold it on. But he's such a sport, he laughed about it the whole weekend and even offered to auction off the dreaded Jack Daniels Seat!!

Image from La Rosa Design

Pete had an epic journey, he has only been riding for a short time, and like a lot of us he has caught the bug, he loves it!! He got his P plates only a week before making his journey north. Such a brave man, a longer journey than he had ever done before, riding with people he had never ridden with before, and coming to meet a bunch of people he has never met before! Not to mention staying the weekend in the house of people he has never met before. Pete you are a legend!!

The other mob that rode together was from Queensland. And more fun was had there too, they have a couple of comedians in their group (there's always one in a group but they had a few who just just kept us entertained the whole weekend) and I learnt why Happycamper got his name, a happier man you have never met in your life. So when he got a flat tire on the way South .. tis all in a days work for him.

Luckily one of that crew was towing her bike on a trailer down for the weekend so they swapped the bikes to get Happy's bike to the next town and Happy jumped on Ant's. So much more power than his bike, he admitted he was scared :)

The Victorian (and token Tasmanian) and Queensland teams all arrived in Dubbo at the Caravan Park that was to be their home for the next few days together, great timing guys!

The last two photos are posted with the kind permission on MRC, the Boss of the Queensland crew and our Vice President. That's his bike at the front and he's an awesome leader who is doing a great job organising the Qld rides. Not to mention he's just a damn nice guy ... you rule MRC!!

There were also a few people from New South Wales besides Terry and I, we had our Captain Johnboy and his partner, it was great to finally meet them. Johnboy can't get on the forums much so it was great to finally meet them both and get to know them, they are great people and I cant wait to get together with them again soon.

Now I've saved some of the best people til last.

Coming to Dubbo on his own from closer to the coast of NSW was Casper. Casper bought his bike a couple of weeks ago and got his L's then. So with a grand total of 3 weeks riding experience under his belt Casper jumped on his little 250cc Honda Rebel and made the epic journey to Dubbo. He took it easy and made the trip easily and while he was here he rode with us all with aplomb. Casper you are a legend, I know you are just going to get better! Unfortunately he's better at avoiding photos than I am so no photos of him or his Rebel :(

Then all the way from Western Australia came Louie on his incredible trip across the desert. Louie likes his Gopro so I have some videos of his to share.

 Louie stayed with us as well, he was going to camp in our backyard but the backyard is under construction at the moment so we gave him a bed on our lounge room floor. How was he going to camp you ask, the same way he camped across the Nulabor. In his camper trailer.

Louie got this little beauty last year from Canada, specially made for his bike, it's a fantastic bit of equipment and I think it's a bit of his dream coming to life, he's always talking lately bout how he's just going to take off with this set up attached to the back of his bike and spend a year or two exploring the East Coast of Australia

Louie's camper trailer set up. It all folds out to the tent, he couldn't open it all out because it was under the car port, but there's lot of room in there to pack extra stuff .. even a stove and kettle.

When I saw this neat set up I thought immediately of motoblogger Bob and wondered how the Vstrom would go towing a trailer :) What better way to go moto camping?

Louie didn't get into Dubbo til late on Friday evening, we waited for him then a few of the guys went out to the edge of town to meet him, when he rang me to tell me he was nearly here and I asked if he'd spotted a bunch of Shadows going his way he told me that he hadn't seen a thing .. hmm. I rang Rusty and told him the right directions, then headed out myself to go gather up the sheep I'd so easily lost. We found each other eventually and soon we were all happily munching on the BBQ that we'd organised for that night.

Last to arrive and furthest to travel .. Louie

 It set the tone for the rest of the weekend .. we were all there to have fun with like minded people and fun we did have!!

Last but definitely not least .. Rusty. Rusty is the head honcho of the whole shebang. He started the group in 2009 with a website and he has expanded and helped the group grow using only his love of his Honda Shadow and his commitment to making it all work smoothly. I have never met such organised man, he's unflappable and a great diplomat who did an extraordinary job getting this meet happening. Not to mention he's a wonderful soul who is gentle and just plain likable. He was tireless in his effort to make sure that everything went smoothly and seemed to know what was going on with everyone the whole time. How do you do it Rusty, you deserve a medal!!

Rusty checking everyone is OK.
Rusty ready to ride.