Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Good news story

Last Sunday I attended the Sydney 5 Hour endurance event hosted by St George Motorcycle Club at Sydney Motorsport Park(SMSP). Initially this year's race was cancelled due to Covid but it was re-scheduled from June to September. 

I've been out to this race meeting for the last 2 years and it's a great event that is now attracting more attention. Ex-superbike racers are now racing in the series, with Troy and Oli Bayliss riding in last years event,  and also Glenn Allerton riding in this years event.

This years event was a little different than the last two. How's that I hear you ask? Well...... this year I applied for media access through St George Motorcycle Club. Low and behold I was accepted. I must admit I was pretty excited to be accepted as official "Media". Then I got a little worried my shots won't be good enough. Self doubt is a terrible thing. I shouldn't have been concerned as it all turned out ok on the day.

Arriving at the gate I produced my Media pass to the attendant, feeling much more important than I should. I was quickly ushered in. After parking up and getting my gear ready, it was out with the umbrella as there was a fair smattering of the wet stuff flying about this morning. I arrived at race control about 8:30 and entered with a little apprehension of whether or not that I would really be allowed in as "Media". Speaking with the lovely lady in race control I showed her my Media pass and was duly handed a safety vest and was then promptly on my way out again, just like that.

Phew, that was easier than I thought. No 20 questions, no showing insurances, business details, media credentials, nothing. I was in and out in under a minute. Wow, makes me wonder if I just pulled out a fluro vest and camera and I could have walked just about anywhere I liked. Except I'm not like that and prefer to do things the right way. Still I was a little shocked at how easy it really was.

As it was raining and there was a lot of not much happening I thought I needed a good strong coffee to kick start my day. Waiting at the cafe for my coffee I saw this young fella with a worried look on his face. 

Yeah I bet most of the guys riding today didn't want to be out in this stuff.

So I didn't really want to be out shooting pics in the rain and possibly damage my camera/lenses so I hung around the pits under shelter and captured a bunch of images of the bikes, riders and pit crews in pit lane.

The light was really quite terrible today and made shooting a bit difficult selecting the right ISO and shutter speed. Trying not to get under exposed and blurry images.

Here's a couple from pit lane, with some bikes circulating early in the morning for practise.

It stopped raining about 20 minutes before the 5 Hour race was about to start and a few patches of blue sky started to poke through the clouds. Great I might actually be able to get out around the track to get some shots in. Riders were ushered to the marshalling area and media. Oh thats "ME", lol. So I got a few shots of the riders lining up getting ready to go out and hold the bikes for the Lemans style start.

I must say the level of access afforded to media is fantastic when you are a racing fanboy like myself. I could get practically anywhere I wanted within reason. It was fantastic. Pit wall is off limits normally but not today, heh heh.

I was a bit slow in grabbing a spot on the main straight and the gaps in the fence were full nearly to the end. Lucky I have a nice zoom lense.

And just like that, off they went. It is comical to watch grown men wearing full leathers and boots run across the track and awkwardly jump on their bikes and race off.

After the start of the race I made my way around to turn 15(9 on old GP circuit) and then up to the last corner. Turn nine was a great spot for shots but we weren't allowed close to the edge of the track at 18 so I quickly left and headed down to turn 4 on both sides of the track. This is a great spot on the inside and can get very close. I did feel a little fear being on the inside of the fence that close to the circuit with the bikes zooming past at 190kph+ only meters away. That's an uneasy feeling for the first time and took me a while to adjust to it. Pics below from 3-4 over the crest aka wheelie central.

Lining up at turn 4 I noticed Nick from Halflight Photography and another photog. Chatting with those guys for a few minutes was good. Standing there in a line up it felt a bit like the paparazzi. Weird feeling that. Pics below from turn 4. I credit Nick for inspiring me to get off my ass and actually plunge head long into DSLR photography and get out of relying on my phone. Best thing I ever did.

I then decided to head around to turn 2 as its close to the track and always good for photos. Just as I was leaving 4 I saw there was yellow flags out and then the safety car came out. About 20 minutes later the careflight chopper came over and landed. That's not a good sign. Hope the rider is ok and recovers quickly.

Turn 2 action

It was now after 4pm and I was getting a bit tired buggered being on my feet all day, running here and there taking pics with the 200-500 which is quite heavy to lug around. I 'd about had enough. I didn't make it to the end of the race and ended up leaving about 20 minutes before the finish. I was done. I might have signed on as media but technically no one was paying me to be there and highly unlikely that I would sell any photos either so I was happy to call it a day. It was beginning to feel like a job, and a poorly paying one at that.

Still I had a ball out there being a "PRO" for a day. Will I do it again. Well sure why not. Bring it on.

I put up some galleries on my facebook images page, you can view them at the following links. Enjoy.

Gallery  - Pit Lane

Gallery 1 - Bikes on track

Gallery 2 - Bikes on track


Monday, August 31, 2020

Problem Sorted

 About a week ago I got a call to say that my carby manifolds had turned up and to bring the bike in. So I dropped the bike in a couple of saturdays ago to Terry 'Doc R1' Sullivan so he could inspect the carbs.

Terry was recommended by a whole bunch of people on facebook, and with a business name like Doctor R1 then I was pretty sure my bike would be in good hands.

Terry works out of his garage, which is great because it keeps costs down. Meeting him was like meeting an old mate and talking about bikes. He knows his R1's backwards, he was an ex-Yamaha Australia mechanic and worked on their race bikes. There's nothing this guy doesn't know about R1's. Great I got the right guy on the job then. Terry races 2 x 2000 R1's on the drag strip.

I told him the whole history of the bike and he told me everything that goes wrong with them. It's a bit frightening actually. Touch wood I haven't had many issues with the bike to be honest.

He pulled down the carbies and number 3 and 4 jet were blocked, the o rings had also perished and number 1 needle was replaced as it wasn't seating properly and was letting more fuel in than it should.

The o rings have gone hard and cracked so got replaced and the manifolds are all hard. They haven't perished yet but wouldn't be far away from it, they are rock hard and will probably crack very soon.

Terry also did a compression test on found that number 4 cylinder was down to 160 while the others were at 170. About normal at this age he said and he has seen worse. He tested it hot and found number 4 was down to 120.

I'll get the valves checked on the next service I think and go from there and see what happens.

He synced the carbys and all was running well again. 

I picked it up saturday as the boys were going for a ride up the Putty road. I eagerly picked up the bike and met the guys at the cafe in Windsor before departing and heading up on a glorious sunny morning. Temps were in the low 20's perfect riding weather.

Geoff and Wayne headed back home from Grey Gums cafe whilst Stu, myself and Scotty did the 10 mile and the loop through Wollombi and Peats Ridge. The bike was running superbly through the twisty sections and I started enjoying the ride. It did get a little spirited.

The fuel light came on at 261kms and 20 km's later we pulled in at Peats Ridge for fuel. It only took 14 Litres. I could have ridden another 80kms before running out, but didn't feel much like pushing.

On another note I still haven't decided on what type of bike I'm likely to get. I'm now shying away from naked bikes and either looking at a sports touring machine and also been looking at adventure bikes. Shocking I know. The wait continues........

Monday, July 27, 2020

The End is here

It's been some time since I've updated the blog and the world is a very different place than it was just 4 months ago since my last post and pre Covid drama. A lot can happen in 4 months so I thought I'd give a update. This also happens to coincide with being my 400th post in 9 years.

Just after my last ride in March (which you can see here) we went into some pretty heavy lock down restrictions due to the virus. The only people allowed out were essential workers and those that can't work from home or if you needed to go to the supermarket for essential supplies. 

Working from home does have some advantages

I'm pretty lucky with my job in that regard these days as most of my work is behind the keyboard since I gave up being on the tools and went into building automation some 12 years ago.


I don't need to be in the office to do my work as it can be done anywhere really but I still had to attend 1 day per  fortnight. The sleep in's and not having to commute were a blessing in disguise. 

Heading into work on those days and jumping on the M4 motorway was like out of one of those zombie apocalypse movies where the freeways are empty. It took 15 minutes door to door, where I'd normally spend 30 minutes commuting.

I did have to travel into the city at the start of May in the middle of the lockdown and to say the place was a ghost town would be a understatement. I took a quick short walk down in the Rocks after I finished just to see what I could see.

Looking down towards Circular Quay

Looking North towards the Bridge

Normally on a saturday these streets above have a market setup selling food and clothes with hundreds of people walking about. Eerily quiet today, it's so strange to see our biggest city like this.

International Passenger Terminal

Opera House empty of tourists

It wasn't all beer and skittles staying at home wait, yes it was all beer and skittles and chips and biscuits and crackers and whiskey and wine and cheese ah well you get the picture. So the lockdown wasn't real good for me being cooped up like that, I tend to get bored easily which leeds apparently to eating and drink to excess which gave me a sucker punch to the waistline. Damn.

Just when I was thinking that 2020 couldn't get much worse, in may news from home that mum was not well. As soon as lock down restrictions lifted I was there that night for the weekend before returning to Sydney. She wasn't well. You've probably read my brothers blog about this so I'm not going to say more about it here. Less than two weeks later she passed away. I was lucky to make it there in time before she left us. Thanks Dave, I would have missed seeing her if it wasn't for your call.

So this year has been quite shit, and I've pretty much lost motivation to do anything of late. I haven't been much interested in riding the bike or been interested in photography, I've stopped drinking large amounts of alcohol but still have no motivation to do anything.

That's not to say I haven't been out for a ride. In mid June I got out for a short ride with Geoff and Stu just around some local Sydney roads to Picton one saturday arvo which was good.

Bikes at Picton

Then we got a ride in with the normal crew to Rylstone in central NSW for an overnight trip at the end of July. It was great to catch up with everyone again and to actually get out and about. I think I needed this for a bit of a sanity check.

Breakfast @ Grey Gums Cafe

The old R1 was a bit hard to ride in the twistys with the carby problem at the moment. I have some Carby manifolds on order and it will be in for a carby clean shortly.

You're probably wondering why I'm riding the old R1 and not the new one. Well that's a good question.

You see in January this year I finally decided that this was the end of the road for my 5 year plan. It would be 5 years old in June and it currently has 38000 km's on it. It's gonna be hard to sell it with this many k's on it let alone putting more than 40k on it.

So I spent more than a day on cleaning and polishing the bike from head to toe, and then a few more hours here and there keeping it gleaming. I must admit it never looked better except the day I bought it. Yep it was up for sale. There was no way I was going to ride it out into the countryside and spend another day cleaning it so it sat home in the garage.

End of the 5 year plan

Finally about 2 weeks ago I sold it to a young guy who probably won't be hurting after every days ride. Yep it was a sad day for me personally to see the bike go but it is necessary to move on and choose something a bit more comfortable. I'm not getting any younger and Jules was right, as you get older your needs change. I was 42 when I first got it, now over 47 it's no longer bearable on multi day trips.

Some great memories riding this bike.

So where to from here? 

To be honest I have no idea what to choose next. I have only had a brief look before I lost some interest. You see every bike I've owned has been a sportsbike or dirt bike, so I am currently in uncharted waters. No longer even considering a sportsbike but either something like a naked or sports touring, can't be too heavy (GS1200 I'm looking at you). This is where I need a few suggestions from you guys and girls. What do think would make a comfortable touring/sports touring bike? Throw em at me.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

New Growth

As you would have seen from my previous posts on the bushfire crisis we finally had some unprecedented rainfalls one weekend in March that practically put out most of these fires with around 400mm falling over that weekend which had extinguished 7 of the largest fires. Four months on from the start of the bushfires that ravished our country I decided I'd head on out for a ride and see how the regrowth was going.

It also gave me a good excuse to give the old R1 a damn good thrashing. I retraced my route from the previous trip and headed up the Putty Road on friday morning as I had an RDO. I decided I'd stop at the cafe for lunch then head back down and go across the Bell's line of road.

On the ride up I noticed the throttle was hesitant at 2-3k rpm, not as bad after changing the fuel filter but must be some junk in the carbies. Hopefully a clean and balance will sort that out. I'll take it to the dealer as you need specialised tools for this. First stop was at Colo heights to grab a couple of comparison pics.

It's amazing how much the tree's have started to regrow already. All along the side of the road there are signs of regrowth with thousands of little fern growing everywhere. Looking at the tree's they looked a little comical, it looked like they were growing fur.

Next stop along the way was the Mellong Valley. This was particularly harshly hit by the fires and again such amazing life growing again. It was Fun riding along, I'd been thinking how badly out of practise I was and how ride unfit I was. For the first time ever I had the thought that riding motorcycles is a dangerous thing to do. WTF. I wasn't even doing anything dangerous or speediung, yes hard to believe but true. Man I need to get out more.

I rode to the other end of the straight you see above and took some shots back the other way. Why? only for comparison purposes with the photos I took last time back in mid December. The differences are remarkable.

Whilst standing on the roadside taking pics I looked down and saw a car battery discarded. It was melted in the fire. I don't think it's going to regrow however.

I was starting to get hungry now it was after 12pm so I put the camera away and made my way to the Grey Gums International Cafe for some lunch. Lunch more resembled breakfast with a bacon and egg roll and cappuccino to wash it down with. Sitting here in the middle of nowhere it was pure serenity, such a perfect day, weather was fantastic, road was good. What else is there?

It was nearly 1pm by the time I thought I needed to make a move if I was to ride across the Bells Line of Road and photograph that as well. There were no more stops until I got out past Mt Tomah and near Mt Bell.

The regrowth in the Blue Mountains is happening but not as quickly as on the Putty Road. That's probably because there was a couple of weeks between the fire sweeping through this area.

By the time I'd pulled up here to take these photos my butt was getting sore. Yep lack of ride fitness. It's not just the 15 R1, this bike is hurting me now as well. Seems like age is creeping up on me. Time to start looking at a more comfortable bike I think. The 5 year plan is near its end as I've said earlier in the blog.

The photo below shows the amazing contrasting landscape. Beautiful green countryside on top with fire ravished landscape below.

From here I rode out past Mt Banks and the canyons of the Blue Mountains. They are far away from the road but the 70-200mm has just enough reach to get some nice shots. Some areas are affected by the fire where other areas are not.

The ride back into Sydney along the Great Western Highway was pretty uneventful. Getting down onto the M4 and into peak hour traffic was a bit of a chore there was a 5 car pile up that slowed my travel and I was getting tired by the time I got home. Some good photos and good to see mother nature taking care of itself, as it usually does. Another good day out but some thoughts to ponder on here.