Sunday, January 22, 2012

Somedays you are just shit outta luck

The weather around here has been extremely poor on most weekends and this one was looking to be much of the same. Went to go for a ride this morning but looked like it was going to rain cats and dogs. Then nothing. So this afternoon I had organised for Geoff and Brad to go for a short ride. It was only around 120kms or so, not very far. We headed up Castlereagh road and up to the lookout at Hawksbury Heights.

On the way home we were on the free way about 1 km from the off ramp, I had just moved over into the slow lane so I could get ready to exit, it was then I took a quick look in the mirror and notice the VTR had pulled into the breakdown lane. Ah crap whats gone wrong now. So I pulled into the break down lane as well.

He's not sure if its out of petrol or what. Good luck as the M4 service station is only about 200 metres ahead, if its just fuel we will be going again in no time. So I towed him into the station. When he went to fill the tank the lady from the shop comes out and says that they are closed. ??? This is a 24 Hr petrol station what gives??  So no fuel to try in the VTR.

Brad says he'll come back and get it with the trailer as its only about 5 min from home. So I double him home and drop him off.

When he gets back to the servo about an hour later with the trailer in case it wasn't a fuel issue the lady comes back out of the servo and says that they are open again. D'OH.

The VTR was filled and then restarted all good, but had to be trailered back home. Sometimes luck just isn't on your side.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Safety Equipment - How long does it last?

Over the years I have spent a fair amount of money on motorcycle safety gear.  I usually buy the best gear I can afford because at the end of the day when it's all said and done if I can walk away from an accident and live to ride another day then paying for all the gear was money well spent.
The equipment I normally ride in is helmet, gloves, boots, two piece leathers, back protector, neck warmer when needed, rain suit etc. Also have winter riding suit to keep warm but since moving to Sydney I haven't used it due to the year round riding conditions. The cost of this stuff in my case has been easily in the thousands of dollars.

After a recent discussion with my brother who is returning to riding after a 6 year time out due to raising a family he needed to buy new gear as most of his gear was either worn out or in some cases falling apart.

Just how long does this stuff last? Well some of my gear is pretty old but has lasted probably due to purchasing good gear to start with. Looking after it also helps a lot too. What lifespan is everyone else getting from their gear? Leave a comment or a link to your blog, i'd be interested to know and see if others are getting similar numbers.

Just last year I got myself some new SIDI boots and Alpinestar gloves as the old one's had worn out.The old alpinestar boots had lasted about 8-9 years before the soles started falling off them. The previous alpinestars I had before this did exactly the same thing but they only lasted 5 years. Also my brothers alpinestars only lasted about 2 years before the same thing happened. The gloves lasted me for 11 years, not bad for $69 gloves.
I haven't had an update on the boots since the week after I got them, so here's my take on them.
The fit at first was tight, but after a few rides they are now just right nice and comfortable, and I can now change gears ok as they have loosened up a bit and are a bit more flexible. You really can notice the air vents on these boots especially on a hot day. When you stop and sweat in them then get going again you can feel the air being pushed around the side of your foot and around the heal, cooling you down until that sweat evaporates. Nice free cooling.

My shoei helmet is now 7 years old and I just noticed when I was cleaning it after the last ride that the leather around the neck strap was starting to crack due to age. My 2 previous helmets before this were Arai's a doohan replica and a Kenny Robert Jr replica. The first arai lasted about 8 years before I had to throw it away as the inside lining crumbled into dust. I still have the KR Jr one I got it in 1999, but looking at it now and all the leather/plastic parts are falling apart. Time to throw it out as well, it's just been sitting there as a spare if needed(which it hasn't).Might need a new helmet again in the next year or two.

My leather's are now my next major consideration for replacement as they have started to fade and looks like it is starting to get some small cracks in lots of places. Not to mention the crash damage on the back of them from going down the road at Eastern Creek one time. I bought these back in either 1995 or 96 I can't remember exactly which. That means they are 17 years old which is around about a $100 per year of ownership. Seems pretty reasonable to me.
Cracking and fading

Crash Damage

Seems to be that you only get what you pay for and if you pay for good quality gear instead of the cheapest thing you can find then it will last you a good length of time. I'll be looking around for a bit to find some new leathers. I've seen some friends Tiger Angel leathers and they look like it's quality gear, Australian made as well. Probably not cheap but that's not my main concern just as long as it's good quality and will last.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Look who's got himself a new bike.....

Looks like after reading about all my recent trips it's gotten the better of my brother. He's gone and bought himself a new bike.....

You can see what he's gone and done here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Taralga Loop

The weather was fantastic on Tuesday so I thought I'd go for the first ride of 2012. I had loaded up the gopro and my camera, now just to select a route. I had wanted to do the road from Oberon down through Taralga to Goulburn for a while now. It is fully sealed now however there are some good and bad sections along here.

I initially headed out over Bells Line to Lithgow, then down to Oberon. It was a nice cool start to the day but was starting to warm up by the time I got to Oberon. These 2 wind farms are located at Hampton on the Jenolan Caves road.

The road from Lithgow to Oberon is a good one. There are lots of 75kmh sweeping bends around here that wind there way around the pine forests. The road is quite well surveyed and wide however watch out for the occasional rough patch. Its not long before I get to Oberon and time for some fuel before hitting the Goulburn Road. Its about 148km from Oberon to Goulburn and about 104km to Taralga. 

Heading south out of Oberon along the Goulburn - Black Springs road towards Taralga the road skirts around Lake Oberon then on into Black Spring which has a sharp left turn towards Taralga. After this the road flows across the tops of the hills with pine forests on both sides of the road. Be careful around here of timber trucks during week days. There are many un-sign posted corners that are on blind crests of hills here which you will need to take care on, as some of these can be quite challenging.

An echidna had decided to play chicken and run across the road in front of me about 10km south of Black Springs. The road has quite a few straight sections as well but then will suddenly change back to sweepers up and down hill. I would think that around dawn and dusk there would be a great deal of kangaroos, wallaby's and wombat's around out here, so don't get caught out after dark on 2 wheels.

There is one section of road coming down hill where the road is quite wide as in the pics shown here. When you come over the blind crest of the hill on a down hill right hander the road suddenly goes from a 2 lane wide painted road to a narrow rough unpainted section not much wider than one lane. Hitting this at speed was quite a surprise.....think sphincter puckering.

The road descends down a steep hill winding its way to the bottom where it meets the Abercrombie river then winds its way back up again. This section is very rough and steep and not very well surveyed, they need to spend a bit more to upgrade this section. Much like the 15kmh bends on either Macquarie Pass or Kangaroo valley but a lot rougher.

The road then opens back up into some long straights and sweeping bends up hill and down dale until you come out at Tarlaga. After Taralga the road surface becomes a lot smoother but is also much straighter but still has some nice sweepers on it and one short twisting section. I saw about 15 other bikes on this road being a Tuesday and all, it seems quite a popular road, and I would also think police presence would be also be low.

I got into Goulburn about 12:15pm and it was getting pretty hot, it topped out at 35°C so I hit the Hiberian Hotel up for lunch and a cold beer. After lunch it was back to Sydney, with about 90km of boring free way till I could turn off the freeway at Bargo and head up through Picton and onto Warragamba then home. The camelback was a life saver again today. I don't know how I got on without it before when the temp goes into the mid thirties.

This road would be a great alternate for riders going down to the GP from Brisbane if they are looking to bypass the urban sprawl of Sydney. A couple of good choices for avoiding Sydney and still riding some good bike roads.
  1. Putty Rd, Bells Line to Lithgow, Lithgow to Oberon, then Oberon to Goulburn and continue down to Clyde Mountain and further south.
  2. Bylong Valley Way from Denman - Rylestone, then to sofala and on to Bathurst, Bathurst to Oberon and down to Goulburn.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mt Tomah Vid

Here is my first attempt at using my new GoPro Hero. I was unsure how it was going to turn out due to the fact I could see the thing shaking a lot whilst I was riding along but as it turns out it worked very well.

The section of road is from Mt Tomah to Mt Bell on the Bell's Line of road in the Blue Mountains. Traffic is always a problem on this section of road and if your lucky which I wasn't you can make a decent run through here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Whats in a good photo?

What makes a good photo. I have lots of photos, some good, some bad and some down right shitty ones. But what makes a good photo?
Having though about this for quite some time I have come to the conclusion there are usually only 2 things that make a photo good. One of these you can see and then one of them you can't.

What the hell am I talking about? Well let me explain.

In other peoples blogs there are many photos that I say, 'wow' that's a nice photo, usually with some type of fantastic landscape with either a bike or part thereof a bike in the shot. These photos usually don't have any meaning to me as I've most likely never been there before. So basically the subject matter in the pic must be very good, IE unusual landscape, bright coloured trees/fields, snow capped mountains etc. or lighting/shading effects, reflections, or angles with bikes etc in the photo.

On the other hand we have the photo that does not necessarily have any of the above in them but is a good photo. How is this possible? These are the photos that may not really have anything fantastic or unusual about them but will evoke a memory or a particular emotion of that time. This cannot be seen by the blog reader only by the blogger.

Let me show you one of my favourite photos. That's me on the left.

As you can see there's nothing really special about this photo but let me tell you why I think this is one of my favourite, therefore a good photo.

This was taken by my brother near Delegate in the NSW Snowy Mountains on the way back from Philip Island during the 2000 500cc GP. This was the first ride out on my new R1 after its first service(1000kms) with a bunch of good friends that we had been riding with for several years. We all had very similar riding styles and about the same skill levels, everyone knew what each other was going to do. There was no mucking around waiting forever for someone to get ready or catch up. We all seemed to do things in much the same way which made everything go smoothly. Bikes were 1 ZX9R, 2 x R1's, 1 x CBR1100, TL1000R and GSX750.

Just coming out of Delegate we could all see the clouds looming  closely in the distance and we all pulled over and started putting on our wet weather gear. I looked at my rear tyre and said 'HOLY SHIT' its bald, both in the centre and on the edges. Its the first time I had ever worn out a rear tyre with only 2600kms on it and also worn out the edges of the same tyre not just the centre.

After my bro took the pic we continued on towards Cooma which was about 60kms away. Not long after it started to rain and I wasn't game to continue on at the pace everyone else was riding at so I had slowed to about 100-110kmh. My friend Geoff slowed and followed me into Cooma, which I didn't expect but was very welcome. The previous year I had followed him into Mt Beauty after his rear tyre was chewed to bits coming down from Mt Hotham. My tyre wasn't as bad as his, by the time he got to Albury for a new tyre the belts were hanging out of his.

This one photo holds many memories and emotions for me it's hard to put them all down into words without boring the pants off of you. This was some of the best riding on some of Australia's premier biking roads and we thoroughly enjoyed ever minute of it. This is the reason why it is one of my favourites, it is also one of the second last rides I have been on with my brother to the GP which I must admit I miss riding with him as we are very similar in riding levels and also the best of friends. I think the last ride I went on with him was our tour of Tassie(I'll have to post a blog about that later) in 2003.  I am sure it will hold a different bunch of memories for my bro as he was having a ball at speed with the other guys, waiting for us to catch up in Cooma.

Still a very memorable picture for me, making it a great photo.