Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 A Year in Review

It's that time of year again to see what the hell happened during the last 12 months. Each year seems to be flying by now, I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and is gearing up for a bumper new year. It feels like it wasn't that long ago I penned my 2012 year in review.

Well what happened this year? That's a great question lets take a quick look.

The year started out very slow, January was so hot we hit 46.5°C(117°F) days and Feb I was working and didn't get a chance for a ride. I didn't get out for a ride until mid way through march where we hit up the Taralga Hotel for a great pub lunch with Geoff.
R1 off road action with a Wee friend

The next ride in April I managed to get out on was inspired by Gary over at Flies in your Teeth for his blog challenge of cool places to take a photo of your bike. I managed to get 3 great places. I also got down to the Royal National Park for a ride with lunch at the Scarborough Hotel with the family.

2 icons in the one pic
We got in an overnight ride in May to a little place in the lower snowy mountains called Wee Jasper. It was great riding with some beautiful country side but the female publican was eccentric as.

The weather was pretty crap in winter and didn't get a chance to ride plus my mum was sick in hospital and I missed a few weekends chances to get in some rides so the next major ride out was in August and Geoffrey had just got himself a new Triumph Tiger 1050 Sport. I didn't know he was going to do that. Of course it then duly got a right thrashing up the putty road and back just to see how it went.

I got out for a quick ride in September just before we headed to Fiji for our family holiday. It was just a quick half day ride up through Wisemans Ferry and back down the Old Pacific Hwy. I'd managed to beat most of the traffic by heading out early.

In late November I was busting to get out, as the annual snow ride trip had to be missed as I couldn't get time off work. This pissed me off no end and had to do some serious touring on my own as everyone else was busy or had already been out riding, that didn't worry me as I had a blast out on the Crookwell Road.

I managed to get myself a new lid for Christmas as the old shoei had just about worn out. I then got out for one last ride before Christmas with Geoff up the Putty and back.

That was pretty much it for the year, I didn't really get much riding in at all really especially seeing I had to cancel the annual snowies trip. Its 3 months later and I'm still shitted about that.

I've been trying to skrimp and save for a newer bike all this time but still nothing yet. The snot nosed, sandwich grabbing, curtain climbers have been eating me out of house and home, stealing from my new motorcycle fund, costing me a small fortune in diapers, clothes and shoes and they haven't even reached school yet. You did warn me Troubadour........

I started 2013 with 57,053 km's on the clock and finished with only 60,551 km's. Yep that's pretty lame even by my standards. Only 3500 km's. Still I enjoyed every minute of it and can't wait for the next ride. Bring on 2014 and the South Island of New Zealand, I have a feeling 2014 will be a good year........

See you all on the road and have a safe 2014

Monday, December 16, 2013

Last Ride Before Christmas

On Sunday Bushpig and I got one final ride in before Christmas. A quick blast up my favourite road, the Putty Road was just what the doctor ordered. I played follow the leader with Geoff blasting his way along at a good clip. I noticed that my new helmet was really, really quiet compared to the last one and the flip down sunnies were working great. I could put it up and down at will when needed if it was dark or in shadows. I also noticed that air flow through it was very good and with the visor just cracked slightly a got a nice breeze across my face. Nice in the heat.

The zipper on my leathers had been slowly coming down as we rode until it got to the bottom and my jacket filled with air, making my already bulbous body look like it had blown out to low flying weather balloon proportions. I decided to pull over to zip it back up and get a quick break, with all the extra wind pressure in my jacket my hands were getting sore just holding on. That's when I noticed something quite unusual in the burnt out bush land.

A closer inspect revealed a frame with an engine in that was still intact. It appeared to be a Yamaha but what sort was it. It still had the Vin number plate on it. Turns out it was a Yamaha FZ8. I guess the people who dumped it here couldn't read the sign.

Geoff asked if I'd like to ride the Tiger. Sure you bet, I won't thrash it at all. Just a gentle ride like going to Sunday church. Hehehe. I was really surprised with just about everything about the bike to be honest. A complete comfort machine, but it also was effortless to turn it into the bends, it was very quick steering and yes we did some tight twisties to test it on. It was very punchy getting on the throttle more so than my R1, but likely due to being fuel injected. One thing I noticed was the rear suspension was too soft on the rebound as with my huge girth aboard it was pogoing at the back in some of the bends. A couple of clicks here and there will sort that out. Geoff had already backed it off, but probably to far.

I goes well, handles particularly well and is comfortable all in the one package. Thanks for the ride mate, and I didn't bin it on you, consider that your christmas present from me! I also noticed that my new quiet helmet was making a whistling noise when I was on the Tiger. Probably due to the different screen positions/angles and how I was sitting on the bike compared with mine, which went away again once I got back on my R1.

We stopped in at the old half way house on the way up and had some early lunch in the way of a bacon & egg roll and drinks. Chatting with the owner he was saying that the old burnt down half way house might be rebuilt next year.

We continued on for a quick blat up the 10 mile and stopped in for a refuel in Bulga and nice refreshment at the Fighting cock tavern. It was then back down the 10 mile towards home. Did I mention how fast Geoff was on his new Tiger. He wasn't holding back and I could see him laying black lines all over the road.
Geoff laying darkies to the right

Geoff laying darkies to the left
All in a great days riding just before the Christmas break. Thanks for the great day out Mate. We had a absolute ball.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Lid

I spent my Sunday morning looking around for a new lid. I had been looking on the interwebs most of the week and it had come time to start trying some on. I purchased my last lid at the Helmet Warehouse at Yagoona, but I thought I try out MCAS at Auburn and see if they'd price match.

I tried on a shoei XR-1100 in large and that was perfect for my head it felt like my current XR-11. That one ticked the boxes. Do they have the colour i want?

I then tried out the Bell RS-1 Emblem. Bell went pretty well in the Sharp helmet safety test but it still has to feel right. I tried it on and it was neither here nor there. It felt very close around the chin area. The lining didn't feel like the quality of the Arai/Shoei. Crossed that off the list.

I also wanted to try on some shark helmets. They didn't have many but I tried on the Shark Vision R. It had a internal shade visor which was a great idea. Sadly the large didn't fit my head shape as I could pull it down at the front way to far for my liking and the medium I couldn't get it on my head. Also the internal lining didn't feel as comfortable as the Arai/shoei again. Crossed that one of the list.

I guess I've been spoilt for comfort on the internal linings of the helmets I have owned as I pretty much have bought top of the line lids in the past. It seems the $500 and below helmets just aren't as comfortable.

I spoke to the lady at MCAS and asked if they had the Shoei XR-1100 in the Merciless colour in Large. The response was a bit underwhelming. "Nope that's all we have on the shelf, there on special. Have you tried the AGV carbon it's a great helmet. Very light and its only $1395"
Well fuck me I thought, that put the clamps on right there. There's no way I was even looking to spend that much on a new lid and they didn't really seem interested in selling me what I wanted, not what they wanted to sell me.  Off to the helmet warehouse where I'd previously purchased my last lid from.

I tried on the Shoei GT Air in an XL and it fit just like my Shoei XR11. It also had the internal drop down shade and one of those fang dangled pin lock visor things to stop your visor fogging up. That might come in handy when I'm in New Zealand next year. That coupled with the fact I could use the clear visor and not have to carry around a dark tinted one as well because it had the drop down shades. I hate carrying a spare visor and rarely do it.

The girls at the Helmet Warehouse couldn't have been more helpful. So here is my new shiny, or not so shiny new lid.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crookwell to Bathurst Road

Here's a little sample of the roads that I went on last weekend when I was touring on my R1. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Time to hang up the helmet.......

There comes a time in every motorcyclists life when they finally decide to hang up their helmets, this is one of those times, but not what you think.........

During my last ride on the weekend I noticed several times when I was riding at 100+Kph that my helmet seemed to be a little bit on the loose side. I hadn't really taken much notice before but did notice on this ride. I know that I've had my Shoei XR11 for quite some time now and it has been a great helmet over the years with easy, tool-less clip off visor making it easy to clean and put back together. I had previously had 2 Arai helmets before this one.

Upon inspection during the week after the ride I found the following. The Australian standards sticker had faded quite badly due to age, no biggy. Looking for the stamp to tell me the helmet age I couldn't find it for a bit as it wasn't on the chin strap like on the previous Arai's I owned. I finally found it under the inner lining in the top part of the helmet. It was manufactured on the 11/2004 which is well outside the recommended 5 years life span of a helmet. The following is shoei's recommended replacement guide

Helmet Replacement 
Ultimately, the useful service life of a safety helmet is dependent on the intensity and frequency of its use. Helmet replacement is recommended even if only one of the under-mentioned points applies:
  1. The helmet was subjected to an impact.
  2. The comfort padding or the retention system has become loose due to heavy use or display signs of deterioration.
  3. The synthetic foam padding displays signs of heavy use and the helmet feels too loose. Test: with the retention system fastened, the helmet turns to the side when you gently shake your head.
  4. There are indentations in the EPS liner and/or white scratches can be seen on surfaces with black paint.
  5. Even if none of these is applied, we, SHOEI, recommend replacement in 5 years after it's first purchased at retail.

I've had this helmet for almost 9 years way past what it should be replaced at. It just goes to show the quality of the helmet, it's been a bit of a motto of mine that you only get what you pay for and if you are paying top dollar for a helmet you get good quality. That's precisely what this helmet has been.

The other thing that I noticed was that the internal foam lining was now crumbling into fibre dust. Yep its had it's day and it's now time to go looking for a new helmet. This also happened with my last Arai. It's time for this helmet to go into retirement, but I'm not ready to stop anytime soon.......

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Touring on a R1

I planned to get out on Friday for a ride as it was my RDO, but no the rains gods came down upon us and then again on Saturday this time with lightning storms thrown in. Sunday rolled around to blue Sky's with not a cloud insight. I quickly suited up and got going before 7am. I have been busting to get a ride in for ages so today's effort was going to be epic. Geoff had soft c$*ed it and wanted to spend quality time with his new missus rather than get out on a ride. Hahahahahahahaha.

First stop was for some air in the tyres at the local servo as the bike wasn't handling well. When I checked, the front only had 27psi in it. The air system kept coming up with an error when I tried to fill up until I realised that it wasn't actually working. I left there in search of another servo with only 20psi in the front. Wooh the handling had become Harley like, you just just couldn't turn the bastard.  The next servo had a working pump but my tyre had become warm by then so I didn't really know what I was putting in. Not a great start to the day and about a 20 minute waste of time.

Once that was sorted I headed out over the Blue Mountains and down Victoria pass which I took quite gingerly this early in the morning. It was cool up in the mountains this early but it was soon starting to warm up as I turned off the great western hwy and headed for Jenolan Caves. With all this rain we've been having the country side was beautiful and green.

Blue Mountains in back ground

I had a little scare coming down the first bend into the twisty stuff as a kangaroo was standing right on the verge of the road within 2 metres of where I passed by. You never know what those things are going to do. I quick descended to the bottom of the steep ravine and crossed the bridge into the mouth of the Cave. This cave is bloody huge, and the bike sounds pretty awesome going through it. The road goes straight through and out the other side then on into Oberon.

Jenolan Caves Opening

Jenolan Caves
After the quick stop at the caves I continued on into Oberon for my first fuel stop of the day. It wasn't long before I retraced my route back out to shooters Hill road which winds it way through the pine forests with spectacular views. Geoffrey your poxy oil leaking triple would not have kept up with the mighty R1 on today's ride. It was still early only about 9:30am and there was nobody about so the ride was that much better for it, deserted roads, twisty tarmac, this is R1 territory.

R1 Territory

Shooters Hill Road

View towards Taralga

The ride down through the Gorge was good as usual with no traffic about and then on into Taralga. There were only 2 bikes here this morning stopped at the coffee shop, to early to hit the pub up. So I continued on into Crookwell. The road between Taralga and Crookwell still has the 5km of dirt but it was no problem and easily dispatched barely slowing down for it.

An early brunch was had in Crookwell as I wondered where I should eat. It quite easily became apparent where I should go, there were a few bikers in the one coffee lounge. They can't all be wrong, so I too indulged and I tried the ham, cheese, tomato & relish open melt washed down with a cappuccino and it was delicious. Crookwell was also my second fuel stop for the day as I cruised on out at midday. There's a group of  about 10 fantastic uphill 45kmh bends leaving Crookwell on the way to Bathurst, which I reckon with a bit of practise you could knee down them all.

The road out from Crookwell to Binda and beyond is quite straight and boring until you come to a short 1km section of dirt. Following the section of dirt is a couple of kilometers of roller coaster like twisties. Mostly un sign posted but still lots of fun, until you come to a second section of dirt which is about 2kms long. The road again turns to tarmac again for a good while with the country here a blend between hilly open sweepers to rolling plains.

There is another section of dirt about 8kms long to negotiate which is pretty twisty, which needs to be tarred to make this a fantastic run. It would be more like V-Strom territory than the R1 but I was still having fun. A little dirt doesn't faze me. Sports bike riders that won't do any dirt need to harden the Fn$k up and just do it. Some of the best bike roads have dirt stretches, the Bonang Hwy being one of them. There were 4 small sections of dirt along here maybe about 15km in total length between them so all in not that bad.

As I came along here I noticed a sign that said Abercrombie Caves 2km on side road, so I thought I'd check that out as I've never been here before. It had the smallest winding road I've ever been on I with rock cliff faces and sheer drops on either side. I've never been to the Abercrombie Caves before so I thought I'd check it out. Looks like you have to pay to go inside this one and you can't drive through it like you can with Jenolan Caves. Still would be worth coming out for a look at a later time. They had a large camping area at the bottom near the Creek. I stopped to clean the dust from my visor and the gopro as it was completely covered. The footage later was near unwatchable there was that much dust on the cover.

Just when you think you've just about been everywhere and seen everything there something new and different and interesting to look at. This was the view of the cave mouth from high up on the road looking down. I could see lights inside and a gate to get in. The hill above the cave was enormous. I can't help but think who the hell finds this stuff in the middle of nowhere in this rugged country side? They must have been lost.

Leaving the caves behind for a second time today I continued on towards Bathurst. The road here continued on a slow and steady decline and becomes less hilly and tends to get much straighter until you get to Bathurst. No time for a lap of the mount today as its starting to get on a bit and I still have about 3 Hours riding to go. I didn't want to spoil the fun and ride along the highway so I turned off and went through Tarana. The road through here is very narrow and its also like a roller coaster ride. I stopped in at the pub for a quick refreshment, sorry Geoff you missed out again. I guess it really wasn't your day.

It was then on past Lake Lyell just near Lithgow and over the Dam Wall and on into lithgow for my last fuel stop of the day. Rather than go straight up the Highway I decided after Mt Victoria pass that I would switch over to Bells line for some more riding fun on the way home as Sunday arvo the Highway is clogged up with cars. As usual Mt Vic was like motogp.

As I came down the set of twisties at Little Hartley my speedo clocked over 60,000 km's. Tick off another achievement and this is now the oldest bike I've owned and also the most km's I've put on the one bike. It's still going strong.

Crossing over to the Bells line of Road I noticed that on either side of the road that the recent bushfire's had come through here and burn everything to ash. It was a bit eary really with some areas completely burnt with others untouched. See below picture. It looks like they've used the road as their containment line and back burned along most of it. I remember the smoke from these fires blanketed Sydney only 2 weeks ago with smoke so thick it blocked out the sun.

I eventually arrived home at around 5pm in the afternoon. It's been a pretty epic days riding that I won't soon forget, at around 10 hours even though I was tired I still think I could have ridden for a couple more hours if I had to, but I was glad to get off and have a shower and a beer. I'd managed to cover 701km's for the day, went through 4 tanks of fuel and ridden some new bits of road. Looking at the R1 when I got off it looked more like troubdours dirt bike than the nice shiny R1 that I left on at the start of the day. Who say's you can't tour on a sport bike?

Here's the google maps link of the ride.

View Larger Map

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sydney Motorcycle Expo

There hasn't been any riding to speak of around here for a while, as its been raining the last couple of weekends and when it has been good weather we've had other things on like a wedding, birthday party etc that's kept me from getting out. Today was pretty poor weather wise, but Sydney's motorcycle expo was on so I headed in to check it out for a couple of hours.

There were lots of awesome bikes there to look at.  Charlie Boorman was doing some sit down interviews through out the day as well. Here's a few photos of the event.