Saturday, 31 May 2014

Looking for Photo Opportunities

Even though I've become a traitor and changed from the Shadow to a Kwaka, I am still a member of SRA even after writing a heartfelt email to the Pres in which I told him I'd understand if I had to hand in my badge. His response said it all .. something along the lines of it will be a cold day in hell when I tell you to leave SRA. Aww I was touched :)

Recently I was excited to see that they have posted up a new photo competition. I love these comps and they had been let slide over the last couple of months. Probably due to all the planning that had to be done to get the AGM perfect. Now that they have accomplished that .. it's all a go again .. yay!

This months theme was your bike with a bridge, and there was some pretty good pictures being posted. Australia doesn't have the lovely covered bridges that I've seen on Trobairitz's blog but we do have some that are more than photo worthy. It was going to be hard to beat, but I'm up for the challenge.

Then I realised that well, since I don't ride a Shadow, then perhaps I shouldn't enter. I went all frowny face for a while, then decided that meh, even if they didn't wanna accept my pics as an entry for the competition I could just post up them anyway.

Terry and I went for lunch today, then afterwards I thought I might just go find a place to take some photos. With a bridge. That was photo worthy. Hmmm. We thought about it for a while, then decided on this one.

It was built in 1881, it has survived numerous floods. Terry even walked across it when he was a wee tike once during a flood. It was the only bridge that wasn't under the river and the only link between the two sides of town. Actually he didn't walk, he was carried across on his fathers' shoulders. That's the kind of memory that sticks isn't it. They had to walk along a plank that was just wide enough to walk on and between the two tracks. The trains were still running too, so you had to keep a keen ear out for the sounds of an approaching train and hope you'd be able to run for it if one came.

So we went over to the bridge, and I had to do a few different angles. Great practise on the new baby. I did U-Turns, they are much easier now! I also got to test out how the bike likes being lowered, last Monday I got him lowered 2 inches. Wow it makes a difference for me when stopped, I can touch the ground with both feet flat. I can comfortably stop with one foot up on the brake now too. I can back him into a parking spot with ease (unless it's uphill, still just don't have the strength for that). I love my Huck!!

I still don't have any bags for him, so I was taking photos with my phone. I played with them a bit in Paintshop Pro and do like the effects. Even so the phone didn't take terrible photos.

I just like these effects, especially with that old rusty bridge. Actually bit more history bout the bridge, a lot of the red that you can see isn't rust as I thought at first. Apparently when it was first built it was painted in Red Oxide as an undercoat and stayed like that for ages, it soon earned the name The Red Bridge, and that name has stuck for over 100 years. Yes the trains still run along here regularly and they aren't planning to change that anytime soon. The bridge is as structurally sound as the day it was built.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

New Toys to go with the New Bike

Well as I said in the last post Terry and I both got new helmets. My old helmet was starting to see a bit of wear, mainly around the chin guard where I carry it when not wearing it, the lining was starting to come undone. The whole helmet was also starting to get a bit too loose on my head, so that if I turned my head a little bit while riding it would move just enough to not be straight, and really annoy me. I was starting to think that I'd gotten a size too big. Not to mention the old helmet, while I love the design on it, just doesn't go with the new bike! So while we were in Newcastle, we stopped into a new bike store that I'd never seen before. It had a good range of helmets, but none that I really liked. Terry, on the other hand, found just the ticket.

He chose this Shark Evo-line series 3

The main reason he chose it was because he hates full face helmets, but also sees that he needs one for highway riding. So he has two helmets, one open for round town and one full faced for highways. The open face is standing up to the test of time quite well, but the full face one is starting to show some wear, mainly in the lining. This little beauty does both!

As you can the chin part that folds up, actually clicks into place way back on the helmet, so it's safe to ride with it like that.

He seems to like it, it's just taking a bit of getting used to how to unclip the swivel bits, and while the first trip he said it was quiet, the ride the other day he said it was so noisy he couldn't even hear me over the Sena. We think that the visor isn't closing properly, I guess it's just one of those things you have to get used to, it is a touch awkward to adjust things just because nothing is where he's used to it being. Other than that he's loving the convenience of it all. And of course he loves the red! It also has a handy sun visor inside that's great for us glasses wearers.

Mine is another Shark, I wanted Shark because I loved my old helmet so much. I was looking and looking, and while at Robertson's (where I bought the bike) I had looked at a few over a couple of visits. There was one that I kept going back to, but I wasn't really sure about it because it was an extra small. Now I knew in my head that if the last helmet was a small, and is too big for me, then the extra small would be right, but I just wasn't sure.

So the last time I was in there the guy spotted me eyeing it off again, try it on again he said. Then he helped me to decide by telling me he'd give me a deal on it. Oh I just cant pass up a bargain, either that or I'm a sucker!

It has the things I want, it's a smaller size, and while that felt a bit too tight at first, I have to admit that after only a couple of short rides it's already feeling very comfortable. It also has the sun visor that I was really after, no more being caught at night with a tinted visor that I had to lift up so I could see, and freezing my face off at the same time.

Plus I really loved the design. I don't know if I'm imagining it, but I also think it's quieter than my old helmet was, I was always impressed with that in the old one.

Both helmets have spots for you put on the Sena easily, they also both have sections cut out for you put on your glasses easily, which was just a bonus. The lining doesn't go round the chin guard like my old one, so I'm hoping that means it wont fall apart like the old one did. Oh yeah and it has a little clip that lifts the visor up just a touch, to help un-fog you on cold mornings, haven't tried that yet.

Now I'm just working on finding a way to take my stuff with me on the bike. I have ordered a backrest/rack and expect that to arrive sometime in the middle of next month from USA. I haven't been able to ride to work as I cant take all the stuff I need, like lunch.

And then the solution presented itself a little while ago, I saw a post on Theo's blog where he reviewed a bag from a place I'd never heard of before. I checked out the site, and was pretty impressed with the prices and the range. Before I'd had much of a chance to really think about it, I was asked if I'd like to do a review for them. I've never been approached to do a review for anything before, I'd seen a few on other blogs though. I am not really sure that it's something I'd do, I am not really a promotion type of person, and I knew that I couldn't lie about something .. so I told the contact that. And got a good response, please tell it like it is was the gist of the response. Well if they are that confident in their product well why not.

I do like the looks of their stuff, and I've already spotted just the bag that I like. I should receive it soon, and the review will come along just as soon as I can get it on the bike to test out. Oh and they have an Australian site too which is great, no more waiting months to get things from America.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

New Bike, Same Adventure

I guess it's time to introduce the new bike to you properly now. Everyone please meet Huckleberry, Huckleberry .. everyone.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. First he is a Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom, and he has a few very cool features that made me fall for him, the colour would be the first thing I guess. Isn't that just the greatest green you've ever seen?!?! I also love the blacked out bits, and the streamlined features of him, it's a big change from the chrome and the large guards that I'm used to.

OK that's the looks, then there's the other things, well he has certainly got more grunt than the baby 400 had, the first time I went to overtake I almost forgot how much more power he had, and he pulled me back on the seat when he took off.

Handling is something that I've been very pleasantly surprised with, he just seems to love corners .. either that or all the practise I got on those mountains recently did some good. I also wonder if the wider rear tire has something to do with it, he just seems so much more stable then I'm used to.

He is a bit taller then Roxy was, about 20mm, so not that much. But I did have Roxy's seat modified to make me closer to the ground so it's probably a bit more. When I stop I am ballerina tippy toeing if with both feet, but here's the wonder for me, I can flat foot if a stop with one foot down, and I can do that with Huck and he just stays there! I used to feel when I tried that on the shadow as if I would topple at the slightest provocation. Not now, sometimes I even wonder if he'd just stay up if I put both feet up .. nah don't think I'll try that.

He also has a very handy petrol gauge, love that! The instruments are a bit lower on the tank though, one thing that annoyed me a bit before, now it's kinda worse having to look down to see things, and you cant see any of the lights, like indicator light, without feeling like you are trying to look at your belly button. I've left the blinker on a few times, lucky Terry is there to tell me.

He is also a bit beefier, at about 30kg heavier than the shadow. At the moment I do have to give it two tries to get him off the stand sometimes, and if I park wrong I have had to get Terry to give me a little push as well. I've worked out the parking on roads now, I just back him in straighter so that he's not leaning too much on the stand.

What else to tell you, he has more fuel with a 20l tank, but it doesn't actually feel wider, must be deeper. I also love his switches, yeah I know now I'm getting picky, but I noticed on the return trip from Newcastle that we did the weekend I got him, that the high beam switch is really easy for me to reach and flick, but doesn't seem to get in the way so I'm not accidentally flicking high beam all the time when trying to turn on/off the blinker. Little things count eh.

Hmm too much writing here, time for a pic!

Terry and I went for a little ride today to Gilgandra. It's a little town about 60km from home, and just far enough for me to get up the k's for 1000km service. I'm getting the service done next week as well as having him lowered, have been waiting for the linkages. Now's a good time to talk about the place I got him, Robertson's Motorcycles here in Dubbo. The service these guys have been giving me has just been fantastic! They lowered the front of the bike when I picked it up, after seeing me sit on it and struggle a bit, since I was expecting it to already have the lowering kit on. Then when I was chatting after the Newcastle trip with them about how hard I was finding it to reach the clutch, he told me to bring it in the next day and he'd fix it for me. All this and every time I walk in I get a smile and asked how the bike's going. There's nothing like that kind of personal service.

More pics I hear you scream. .. yeah OK here ya go ...

We went for a little ride round Gilgandra after grabbing some lunch, Terry went up a dirt road to check out a job he has, I waited by the tarred road, huck's great on gravel, so much better than I'm used to, but I wanted to grab some pics too :)

Then it was time to head home, and I did not get lost, I was following the signs!!

We stopped along the back road to take more pics :)

Did you notice the new helmet? Yep Terry and I both got new helmets, but I'm saving that for another post. I did have to get something with green in it though :)

Terry took the camera for a while, and took about a million photos of me and my new baby.

At the moment I have no where to put anything so I'm loading up Terry's saddlebags. My tank bag doesn't fit him because of the longer instrument panel, and I don't have racks yet. The Kreiga bags will probably be able to be fitted to the back seat, there's nothing there for the straps to be attached to but I think that when I get the back rack I can fix at least two of the four to that somehow, at least that's what I'm hoping. The other two will just go round under the seat. And that brings me to another thing I love, the seat comes off using your key, no more undoing bolts and then having to line them all back up every time I have to get under there.

And then we just rode home, haven't managed to wipe the grin off my face yet!!

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Next 4 Days

We spent the next two days doing nothing. Well I did nothing, Terry did a whole heap of work.

First we got up kinda late, then went down to the wharf for breakfast.

We had a yummylishous breaky too.

For me, pancakes with banana and maple syrup.

For Terry, scrambled eggs and sausages with homemade tomato relish.

While that was being demolished we watched the water, and the show being put on by the locals.

Shags or Cormorants, there is a difference apparently, but I cant tell. Actually I think these are cormorants, shags have a shaggy tuft of feathers on the top of their heads, giving them the name I guess.

Then we went for an explore of the town, did a bit of essential shopping, a new pair of swimmers for me as the only pair I have were last worn about 20 years ago. Yes it's been that long since I went to the beach. I was determined to take advantage of the beach here, til I heard about the sharks! Hmm.

We struck up a conversation with the lady who lives across the road from the cottage we were staying in, she told me about the little cove that had been made near the harbour, complete with shark proof net. That was it, while Terry worked, I went and sat on the beach and swam. It was awesome, the first time I have been in the ocean in such a long time, it felt foreign but luxurious all at the same time.

I also explored the bluff, and the view was amazing, sorry I meant to go back and take some pics but never got there. While we were exploring this tiny town, we noticed all the signs for the bike show that was on the next day. It's funny how there seems to be a bike show on in the town we are holidaying in, it happened in Broken Hill too.

So the next day, Terry had finished his work, we went to town for a breakfast and found the place as busy as a bee. Finally we found a seat and had an average breakfast. Then off to the show. The town was rumbling to the sounds of bikes, it must be strange for the locals to have their quiet little haven suddenly roaring with the idling of so many machines for one day of the year. Apparently this is about the 10th year that this show has been here, and they do seem to draw in plenty of people.

This is just the show end of the street, the rest of it was just as full of bikes.

All types of bikes. The show wasn't huge but there was a good variety there.

And a few trade stands to look at, one had this outside it, shiny!!

There was cute there too.

This Harley took my fancy, we chatted with the guy for a while, he has done a beautiful job to make it original.

A lot of the things have been custom made, like he said, he's spent a lot of money on it that he will never see again, but it's worth it.

Then there was the biggest tire prize, on a Boulevard.

I have plenty more pics of course, but that will do give you the idea of how we spent that morning. The afternoon was spent doing some more lazing round.

All too soon it was time to leave, I had to be back at work in just two days. Monday morning we headed back to the first cafe at the wharf for breakfast, parking the bikes just below our balcony this time.

I guess a lot of the riders who'd been here for the show the day before had stayed over night, and not long after we got there  ...

Roxy and Growl made some friends.

After breaky I wanted to take some pics of the bikes on the wharf.

Then we went back to the cottage and packed up for our return journey. This is where I got a bit lazy, I don't have any more pics of our trip at all. We headed back up those twisties over Brown's Mountain, I have some video but we were going into the sun and with the dirty windscreen, it's just not worth editing. You'll just have to take my word for it that I was a lot better the second time around, a bit of familiarity along with uphill bends made it a lot more enjoyable.

We stopped at a place called Cooma in the mountains for lunch, which was an interesting little town, where I swore I took a bunch of pics. Cant find any so I mustn't have. Our stop for the night was Canberra, where I only got us lost once, and only slightly. We had dinner that night with Terry's son and daughter in law, very nice!

The next day was the run home, it started out a bit overcast and wasn't long before we got caught in the downpour to end all downpours. And it didn't let up, after about 100km of freezing rain we finally came to Boorowa and got to stop. We rented a cheap room and had showers and coffee to warm up. Staying wasn't an option, I had to be at work at 7:30 the next morning.

Thankfully the rain eased while we were there and we managed to make a dry run for it to home. It was another 300km or so, a long run but we were home just on dusk, not a bad effort. I have to say as the landscape became flatter, with fields of canola and cows, I started to feel a sense of relief. It was good to be home.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Twisty Ride to the Seaside

You remember how I said we always seem to get up early then don't get going til late. It happened again, but it wasn't entirely our fault really, I think Tom didn't realise just exactly how slowly I ride!

We quizzed him over breakfast about the best way to get to Bermagui from Bombala, we had crossed back over the border from Victoria, to New South Wales yesterday. We'd be crossing The Great Dividing Range today. The Great Dividing Range is a line of mountains that divides the east coast of Australia from the rest of it, it took a long time for early settlers to get across it, it's that rugged! Tom told us the best way, I'm not sure it was the easiest with my novice riding in mind, I think he was thinking that as bike riders we'd like the twisties, but it was looking like my most challenging day of riding to date.

This is the route we took...

View Larger Map

Now I don't really remember the first part of the ride, I think it must have been pretty ordinary. But it wasn't long before we got to the start of the mountain. And we found a little spot to pull in for a quick break and photos.

First Terry's bike, who seems to have earned himself a name now .. being known now as growl .. and sometimes .. grrroooowl, depends what kind of mood he's in :)

And Roxy enjoying the shade.

Then we moved on, it wasn't too bad really, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice this road was. It certainly wasn't the horrendous 25km/hr twisties I was expecting. We'd planned to stop at the top at a look out the Tom told us about. There we found another surprise.

Oh I needed a proper break before I tackled that!!

We went to look at the lookout, and this time there was stuff to look at.

While we were there Tom turned up, he was surprised to see us here, I knew he hadn't reckoned with how slowly I take it.

Then we headed down the hill!

Oh I hate down hill bends like this, but I did it, and I have to admit by the end of this bit I was feeling pretty proud of myself too.

We were passed by a couple of groups of bikes, and I really have to apologise to those guys, I was going slow down there and I'm sure a couple of them got frustrated with me. I'm not going to be pushed too far out of comfort levels though so they just had to live with it for a couple of seconds before they could overtake me and take off.

One in particular kinda freaked me out though, he was sitting right on my tail going round one of those right handers that I really hate, and he'd come up behind me so quickly that I didn't see him in my mirror til I was well into the bend, then he pulled out and overtook me before I'd finished the bend and it shook me to suddenly see him beside me, I think we're both very lucky that when I jumped I didn't swerve very much and take us both out.

The left side of the road was just heading straight down the hill, go off there and you'd roll forever before hitting bottom, but for some reason I always find left turns much more comfortable.

And then we were down.

There aren't many more shots from the GoPro after this one, they all suddenly look like this ..

I guess that low gear was all too much for the bracket, luckily it jammed just kinda behind the headlight and didn't cause any problems with my steering. I found it when we pulled up in Bega.

I didn't like Bega. The town is famous for it's cheese, I love cheese but ... the smell as soon as you got near the town was just horrible!! Not to mention it's a hilly place, and we had to do a u-turn that nearly brought me and Roxy undone.

We grabbed a quick lunch here then hit the road towards Bermagui again. This country side was so pretty. We soon got to Bermagui, but even so Tom was wondering where we were.

So when we got lost in Bermagui (we were following his directions so not our fault!) we found a message or two from him.

Once we'd found out that we had to take the first turn right after the bridge, not the first right after entering town as we had, we also found ... our home for the next few days!!

And the view from the big back window had more than a glimpse of the ocean over the roofs of the houses behind us.

This is a fishing village, and the wharves are full of fishing boats. And of course there was a great fisherman's co-op, I went for a wander and brought back the yummiest, freshest fish and chips for dinner. Perfect end to a long day. Tomorrow we'd just laze around on the beach, check out the village, and generally relax. Well I would do all of that, Terry had some work to do, and he wouldn't hear of me helping him, so he only joined me for a little bit of all that. But more about that soon.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Platypus, or not.

Bombala. Isn't that an interesting name? It's a sleepy little town, and our next destination.

Here's the map ...

View Larger Map

We'd originally planned to go via Eden and up the coast towards Bermagui, stopping somewhere that looked good overnight. But Terry's client, the whole reason for heading to Bermagui, also owns a B&B in Bombala and insisted that we come spend the night with him and his lovely wife. Who was I to argue?

We actually left Orbost pretty early this time and the road was lovely, wide and surrounded by trees, with just enough bends to keep me happy and not stressed. 

We stopped in Cann River for breakfast, passing a pretty cool looking cafe on the way into town.

Unfortunately it didn't quite deliver on it's promise once we got inside.

It did have a few interesting little things on the walls, and there was an antique shop next to it that looked full of interesting stuff, but we didn't have time to go foraging in it, you would need at least a couple of hours I think.

We hit the road again. There were a few more serious twisties along this bit, but not enough to slow me right down like the mountain had. We were still overtaken by a group on faster bikes, who we caught up with in Bombala.

This was our stop for the night, and we'd made it in time to get some lunch and spend the day wandering round.

First we met up with our host for the next few days, Tom.

And he made us coffee .. yay! Tom has restored this old building and turned it into a B&B and put in a restaurant out the back, it still has the bank in the front part though.

This was the building when it was first built, not sure what year it was but there were certainly no cars around eh.

Doesn't look much different today does it, that house next door (you can just see it in the top photo behind the horses) is even still there, it was the managers residence back in the day, and now it's where Tom and his wife live, they've put an extra story on it and redone it after it nearly burnt to the ground about 10 years ago.

Bombala is famous for one thing in particular, besides being a lovely little mountain town.


The town celebrates them, and their image can be found on all sorts of things. There is a sanctuary for them about 10 minutes out of town, but as I was quizzing Tom about the road to it (no more gravel for me if I could avoid it) he said that we didn't need to go all the way out there to see them, there was a family in the river at the end of the street.

Dusk and dawn are the best times to see them, that's when they come out to feed. You have be very quiet, they scare easily, you also have to be very patient. So that evening we went down to the river.

I cant believe how hard it is to be patient sometimes. Terry kept talking, I think he was getting bored. We changed our position a few times too. Then we stared at the river.

Then we stared a bit more.

Then we saw some bubbles that just disappeared, so ...

We sat and stared a bit more.

We moved again to a shallower part.

We found some ducks, but no amount of staring would bring the platypus. Aww.

Then we had dinner with Tom and went to bed pretty early. The next day we got up early and went looking again but alas, still no Platypus. Ah well we had a big days ride ahead of now, over Brown's Mountain and on to Bermagui.