Sunday, October 31, 2021

Charity, Shoot, Gear, Ride

It's been quite some while since I've posted here, mostly in part due to that virus keeping us locked away in prison err..... at home. We finally opened the doors of Sydney last week to the double vaxxed so we could get out and about, but regional travel is still restricted until the 1st November. Vaxx rates are now over 80% so it's about time this happened. International borders also open on Nov 1st without mandatory quarantine so tourism should now start to boom again, hopefully kick starting our economy. 

I've been working from home since 26th June and haven't really been out much except to go to food shopping and for a few bicycle rides here and there for exercise. In late September I decided that I would sign up for the Great Cycle Challenge to 

  1. Raise funds for children's cancer research
  2. Improve my fitness.
Why not? I thought to myself as we couldn't do anything else but stay at home. So starting on the 1st October I started out on my goal of raising $500 for children's cancer research and ride 400km's in the month of October. Day1 of the ride I was just about to ride out my driveway when a huge Hale/Lightning storm blew in. I only managed 9kms before it got dark and had to call it a day.

The next 2 weeks were patches of rain and storms but I managed to get into a bit of a rhythm and started punching out some decent kms. My biggest ride was just under 40km's so I was pretty happy with that seeing I haven't ridden push bikes since I was in high school some 30+ years ago. 

M7 cycleway

Pemulwuy Pond

Today was the last day of the challenge and I completed my km's earlier in the week and had raised $1303.09. Pretty happy with that effort. I was hoping to do a few more km's but this last week my knee's have been really sore after each ride and need a rest. I guess going from no fitness to tackling 400km in one month wasn't going to be easy. Thats 13km everyday, miss one day and the next day is 26kms......

The last day I was joined by my 2 daughters, had to convince em with a trip to macca's thrown in which is the only reason they came if I'm honest. Still it was great to have them accompany me for a short 7km ride.

You can see my page here. Great Cycle Challenge

On wednesday last week St George motorcycle club had restarted their night racing events, and seeing I was double vaxxed and nothing to do I jumped at the chance to go see the bikes racing under lights. As it rained 80% of the day only about half of the field turned up to race. Nevertheless the racing was still good. It's been so long since we got to do any of this that it makes it all the more special.

Here's a few photos I got out at the track. I nearly forgotten how to use the camera it had been so long since I'd used it. Couldn't remember how to change all my focus settings, but got there in the end.

I managed to capture this cool long exposure shot of the bikes coming onto the main straight. Would have been better if there were more bikes on the grid, but still I liked it.

Yannis Shaw

Our annual snowy ride is fast approaching, so I ordered some luggage last back in september. I was initially looking at soft saddle bags, but decided against it at the last minute and went with a top box instead. I thought that the saddle bags will just make the bike to wide. I'd hate to break a downpipe off someones house with those things......

The rack and mounting plate is on back order unfortunately, but the topbox is in stock. I ordered a Shad 48 Litre top box. Looks like its stuck on a ship off Singapore and is due mid next month, so I know that it will turn up the week after our ride has finished.

I picked up a Givi tank bag on thursday for the Twin and plan on putting a dry bag on the back to see me through this one ride. I think when the topbox arrives I won't need it again but I have it just incase and the tank bag will become a permanent accessory I think. Should be able to carry a camera in it easily. A z9 would be nice.......

The SW motech dry bag looks the go. It's pretty cheap and water proof and the Aussie distributor is less than 5 minutes from my house.

Finally since we opened up and were allowed back out on the streets we managed to get out for a ride  or two, happy days. Some sort of record for me this year, two rides in a row. Minor miracles and all that.

First one was a short trip out to Nattai and the Oaks with a stop at Burragorang lookout. The water levels in the catchment area are high at the moment which is great coming into summer.

Lake Burragorang

Heading back home we stopped in at Wallacia Hotel for a quick beer. There were plenty of people out enjoying their new found freedoms, just like us. I was a fantastic day to be out on the bikes in perfect riding weather.

Yesterday's ride was to head up to Colo Heights via some roads I'd not been on before. The guys stopped in a McGraths hills maccas. I said what's up? They said we will get some lunch. I said what at the worst place in Australia? Geoff points to KFC next door and said or there, I said "what the second worst food place in Australia?" I convinced them to stop at the Stonehouse cafe up on Wisemans ferry road. Real food, a locally owned  aussie cafe putting money back into local aussies pockets not some corporate with shithouse food. Plus we also could have a beer with lunch. Fantastic steak sammich washed down with a JD. Love this place.

After lunch we went down via river road and across the Portland ferry and then up through the hills via some tasty gravel across to Colo Heights on the Putty road and stopped at Debz mobile food van for a coffee. Nice coffee but it could have been a bit hotter.

Portland Ferry

After the cafe it was back down through the good twisties at Colo and across the river where we turned right and went up the road along the river. That soon turned to gravel and went up steeply into the bottom of the Blue mountains that eventually came out at Kurrajong. 

I must say even on the road oriented tyres the Africa Twin was confidence inspiring in the dirt. Trying to get my head into changing how I've ridden the last 20 years on tar, back to dirt riding isn't exactly easy. I was taking it tentatively as its a big heavy beast of a thing and I'm still getting used to it. But so far I'm really enjoying this bike. It handles tar better than it should and goes good in the gravel. Bring on the snowy ride.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

5Km Beer Challenge

So we are in lockdown here in Sydney at COVID central and not allowed out of our Local Government area or 5km from our house. Sounds a bit like Germany 1942 but worse. So what's one to do when your only allowed out for exercise and essential supplies and I have a brand new bike that needs some riding, but can't go more than 5 kms, hmmmmmm. What to do, what to do?

Well then seeing as liquor stores are deemed as essential services and I essentially need some essential service myself I've devised a devious plan. 

So here is my challenge.

I have to ride my bike to every liquor store within 5kms from my home and within my LGA(shopping centres excluded) and buy one can of craft beer at each store, then drink, review once home and tell you about the new bike. 

I also bought beers I haven't tried before except 2. Shouldn't be too hard, how many can there be anyways 4 or 5? Well let me consult the map. Below the blue line is out of LGA and out of red line is out of 5kms. Purple line is LGA.

Yikes! Well if there's one thing this lockdown has taught me is the fact I'll never go thirsty for a beer with this many bottle shops around, and this doesn't include pubs either because most of them are closed due to the plague otherwise there would be twice as many.

So off we go to the shops for "essential" supplies on the new Africa Twin. This should give me a good feel for how the bike will go around town in traffic(or lack thereof)...........

Arndell Park Bottlo

BWS Prospect

Harry's Liquor Blacktown

Prospect Village Cellars

Toongabbie Liquor Barn

I notice that at low speed maneuvering the AT is pretty top heavy and awkward especially on any sort of slope but once on the move it handles quite well and has plenty of low down punch. Very comfortable too.

C&L Liquor Lalor Park

Oscars Liquor Seven Hills

Dan Murphys Blacktown

Adams Tavern

Now the last bottle shop was Blacktown Tavern. They actually had the second largest bottlo of all of these but not one single can of any type of craft beer, and they only had coopers pale ale in bottles, no other types of craft beer. If you want garden variety bottom of the barrel VB and New this is the place for you. This place has never changed in 20 years. No wonder I only ever visited this place once. So I picked up a second can of beer at one of the previously visited shops to cover this dumps lack of quality beer.

So now it's time to check out my haul of essential supplies to tide me over during this lockdown. Who am I kidding, I'm going to drink them this afternoon.........

Presented In no Particular order
Note: Ratings are just my opinion and you know what opinions are like, yeah just like ass*****.

BentSpoke Crankshaft IPA: 
Rating:          9.5/10
ABV:             5.8%
Taste:            Strong malty, hoppy flavour with citrus/pine after taste. Great beer, will be buying more of this one. I've also had this on tap and it's top notch.

Young Henrys Newtowner Pale Ale:
Rating:          8.5/10
ABV:             4.9%
Taste:            Fruity, Hoppy, smooth. Very Nice, another one I'd buy more of this.

Hawke's Patio Pale:
Rating:          8/10
ABV:             4.5%
Taste:            Fruity, Hoppy citrus aftertaste. First time trying this, was surprised how good it was with the gimmicky ex Prime Minister Logo. Very Nice. I'd buy this again too.

Fox Hat Phat Mongrel Oatmeal Stout:
Rating:           3.5/10
ABV:              6.5%  
Taste:           Dark beer, Very strong malty chocolatey taste is a bit overpowering, very heavy. Not my cup of tea. I wouldn't buy this one again. I'm not a huge stout fan.       

Goat :
Rating:            4.5/10
ABV:               4.2%
Taste:            Quite a tasteless beer. No citrus/fruit or hop flavours of any kind. Quite plain. Easy to drink. I wouldn't buy this beer again.  Beer needs to have a beer like taste people.

Young Henrys Motorcycle Oil:
Rating:               6.5/10
ABV:                 5.5%   
Taste:           Dark Stout beer. Light stout with a mild bitterness taste, much better than the Phat Mongrel.  Not to heavy on the chocolate or after bitter taste of other stouts.     

Balter XPA:
Rating:             5.5/10
ABV:                5%
Taste:                Light on taste, easy drinking. Very light Floral flavours. There are better beers to get. Kind of expect this from a QLD beer, just drink Great Northern and you'll know what I mean, completely tasteless beer. What's the point?  

India Pale Ale:
Rating:              6/10
ABV:                 6%
Taste:              Citrusy/pine flavours first assaults your palette, followed by a bitter after taste. Nice beer, but probably wouldn't get this again, there are better pale ales.

West Coast India Pale Ale:
Rating:              4/10
ABV:                 7%
Taste:                Cloudy asf. Punch in the face with the flavour straight up, so much pine/citrus flavour, a bit overbearing to be honest. This beer has an identity crisis, says 'West Coast' on the can, made on the East Coast in the Hunter Valley, WTF? I wouldn't buy this one again.

Algorithm Pale Ale:
Rating:              6.5/10
ABV:                5%    
Taste:                A light citrus and hop taste, no bitter after taste. Not to bad. There are better beers out there.

Ah so then the 5km beer challenge is done and dusted, what was I getting at with this post again.......?
I've no Idea but I sure had some fun.....


Steve the happy boy

The review in progress.......

PS. Bike goes good!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The wait is over, finally.

Well it's been 2 long drawn out months with Sydney still in the depths of COVID madness lockdown. It's been over 60 days in lockdown so far with no end in sight. I've been working from home as our office closed, the kids are home schooling online via their devices. Dunno what kids that don't have a computer at home do, but we are still all doing ok considering the conditions.

The only times I've been out of the house is to visit the local bakery/butcher/bottlo which is only 150m down the road from us and I've been throwing a leg over the push bike so I could get out of the house as exercise is a legitimate excuse to leave your home. 

There's a few places nearby where I can ride off the road and away from the crazy Sydney traffic, not that there is much of that right now. This has been my only view behind bars of late.

Prospect Canal

I've done a few 25Km rides on the weekend. Still i'd love to get out of here, I'm over it already. I've booked for my jab which will be in two weeks time. It looks like the only way they will open our state up is with enough people vaccinated.

There was talk that the lockdown may go until October or November. As soon as I heard that I thought I'd better get my bike shipped up as there's no way I'm going to wait 4 or 5 months to pick up my new bike. It's been 2 months already.

So yesterday I took delivery of my new bike. I had it shipped up from Albury to Sydney. And I hear you ask "What's it going to be?"

There were many moments of enlightenment in the last 12 months where I thought, 'Yep that is the bike for me' and I was 2 seconds away from buying another one of these bikes. Something stopped me and told me to wait and see. Lucky I'm a procrastinator extraordinaire. 

That bike I nearly pulled the trigger on was the MT-09 Tracer GT. Good price, good bike but there was something lingering in the back of my mind saying it won't be a good bike if I want to ride it along dirt roads. 17 inch tyres means its road biased and my experience in off road in NZ on the hire bike it wasn't great although a fantastic road tourer. So I stopped there looking for some time. 

An MT10 would be f#cking fantastic, I'd love one but sadly its a naked R1, which is much like my R1 was, which was wasted on riding on the road. I'm not going to get another bike that can do 280kmh when I reasonably ride on the road at only 100-130kmh 99% of the time. Australian Hwy patrol and the proliferation of speed cameras everywhere with no warning signs put that to the sword. Yes It would be fun, I know that. I still have the 00 R1 for sporting day rides so something else was beckoning.

My two favourite bikes on the list scratched already at the start. Who would have saw that coming? So the remaining bikes are all more or less touring off road bikes. I spent many hours reading reviews and watching hours of youtube reviews of the KTM790, Suzuki 650, Honda AT and Yamaha T700.

I looked at the Teneree 700 for a long while, both that and the KTM790. These 2 bikes are very very similar to each other in that they are both focused more so to off road riding and are perfectly capable of riding on road. The T700 lost me a bit with virtually no tech and I think it would be a bit underpowered on the road, if it was 850 or 900cc would be great. The 790 looks similar but has plenty of tech, but it was very expensive and i've seen plenty of issues with this bike and expensive european parts scratch this one too. And god the KTM is ugly as well, plus I didn't like the idea off having he fuel tank down so low which is going to take a hit when I crashed it.

So then that just leaves the Suzuki and the Honda. Looking at those bikes the Suzuki is in a similar predicament as the Teneree a bit underpowered and lack of tech. So the winner then is..................


Not my first Honda, but my first Honda since my CBR600 way back in 1995. God I am getting old now.

Addressing the issues I had with it were price, which I actually got a fantastic price as I bought a demo model and saved a bucket load on brand new, the other draw back was it is heavy. In fact after riding it today and pushing it around the driveway yeah its heavy. I'm not going to pick this up by myself, lucky I ride with friends. 

Why I chose this bike is that I can ride it anywhere. Road riding its comfortable as, I can ride it off road without any problems, as long as I'm using the right tyres for the job. It's got plenty of tech, abs, traction control, cruise control. Plenty of overtaking power. Let's face it it, I'm not going to be doing any single track on this thing, more or less road riding and dirt roads of which there are plenty in Australia which will open up many more roads for me to explore.

The bike arrived friday morning whilst I was working so besides putting it away I didnt really do anything with it. It needed a good wash so I did that today, took it for a ride within my 5km area which we are allowed to be in and then got the camera out to take some snaps whilst it is in pristine condition. Its not going to look this good again so better take some photos. So here it is.