Monday, October 26, 2020

Another Mudgee Muster

This ride was 3 weeks ago now and was the precursor ride to our upcoming Snowy Mountains ride in a few weeks time. What's been the hold up? Well I can't really say I've been busy doing anything much, But I watched an episode of Cobra Kai on Netflix one night and got instantly hooked and had to watch the whole two seasons instead of writing up this blog post.

All the regular crew had been lined up for this ride with a couple of new faces being thrown in at the last minute. I picked up Stu at his house on the way to the meet point at McGraths Hill maccas. Stu stopped for fuel on the way and asked if I was fueling up. Nope I got fuel I said. Most of the guys were waiting for us at maccas so I ordered a coffee for Stu and myself whilst we caught up with everyone.

Heading out of Sydney via Freemans reach we turned onto the Bells Line of Road. Just as we passed the petrol station I looked down at my trip meter. It said 210kms. That's odd, did I forget to reset it last time I got fuel? When did I get fuel last? I distinctly remember getting fuel on a sunday last week or was that the week before. Ah shit, I'd better pull over and take a look before we get into the middle of nowhere, then I'll be really stuffed. Looking in the tank I couldn't see anything. Haha I am that idiot who turns up for a ride with no fuel. Don't be like Steve. I think this might be the early onset of Alzheimer's disease. Whipping a u-turn into the petrol station I fueled up in record time, didn't even take my helmet off and was back under way in about 2 minutes. Ah well I'll catch up. Yeah I'm not going to hear the end of this for a while....I can hear Geoff laughing at me now.

Five minutes later about 4 bikes were pulled over, Geoff needed to water the bush scrub, what already? Hahaha 1 All. A quick stop in Bell to catch up and off we headed across the Darling Cause Way to Oberon. A pesky little magpie dive bombed Craig pecking his helmet as we took off then started eyeing me off until I waved my arm at it.

Stopping in Oberon for morning tea at the bakery and we were also waiting to pick up Dave who was coming up from Goulburn, he was only a few minutes behind. Good timing. 

Heading out of Oberon Doug took a left and I went straight, thinking he's going the wrong way, but when everyone else followed I thought I'd better get myself following too as I don't know where they are actually going. Doug took us some back ways where he proceeded to take a a wrong turn or two and we ended up on the dirt. He stopped and I had a look on the map. Its about 12km or so of dirt to Rockley or go a hell of a long way back. So off we went on the dirt, however a few turned around chickens. Geoffs new Africa twin was nicely suited for this road and he tore off into the distance.

We arrived in Bathurst and promptly topped up the tanks again and set of for Sofala. It was fantastic weather for riding today 22°C and blue skies. Perfect. I was following behind a couple of the others and  I thought to myself we are all riding well and everyone is being quite sensible, that is until I took a peek at the speedo and was a little shocked at how much we'd actually crept over the limit. Oops. Ah well no photos so it never happen right?

It was quite interesting to follow Rolfe on his hired Bagger up the twisties into Sofala. I thought he was going to run off the road several times, the sparks were flying as he fought that hippo bike around the corners and I think those side boards wore out a couple kilos of iron along the way.

We stopped at Sofala so the group could gather back together as we then headed out towards Hillend, one of New South Wales oldest gold mining towns. The gold rush hit hillend in 1850s and by the 1870's the town had 8000 population with 28 pubs. Now however the population is 80 with only 1 pub but is serves good cold beers so its not all bad. An interesting fact in 1860 they proclaimed the town as Forbes, which is actually a town about 2.5hrs further west, then in 1862 renamed it to Hillend.

Sitting out the front of that old pub with an ice cold beer and shooting the breeze was a great way to unwind from the stresses of covid 2020. Talking bikes and beers is always good especially with like minded friends.

Alas we moved on after one beer as the pub in Mudgee was calling. As we arrived the group was split up so I thought I'd fuel up ready for the next morning. Last thing I want to be fart assing around hung over trying to fuel up. So Doug pre booked the brewery for breakfast the next morning. They do a great bacon and eggs and it was much needed.

We took the road out to Rylstone this morning and then turned north along the Bylong Valley Way. It was a fantastic day to be riding out here, much like yesterday's weather and there were riders out everywhere today.

A quick we break in Bylong. There were bikes everywhere then on into Denman for fuel and then onto Broke. From here we made our way back across to the top of the Putty road. It was awesome fun following Dave through the 10 mile.

About half way along I pulled over to take a shot of the old girl. She had just ticked over 70,000km in the middle of one of my favourite local rides. This bike is still awesome.

Thanks for the great weekend away boys. Looking forward to the upcoming Snowy ride.


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.