Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Cardo Packtalk Slim

I've never actually wanted to buy a comms system, I've never really seen the need for one to be honest. So you might be surprised I finally bought one. I'm as shocked as you. 

Whilst at my bro's for christmas he asked if I wanted one, my typical response was something like "Why the f*ck would I waste 5 or 6 hungy on something I don't want and never needed?"

He said what if it only cost about $250. Ok I'm listening now but still not convinced. He showed me the chromeburner website were they have some PACTALK slim Cardo units. I considered it for a day or two and said ok. It was a tough sell at half price. I looked at local prices and they are $999 here in oz, we got it for $540.

Chromeburner are in the Netherlands, it was air freighted on friday and was in Brisbane on Sunday. Due to christmas shutdown it sat at the warehouse for a week. Before our dodgy postal service took another week.

I thought I'd watch a youtube install video on my helmet. Yep there was a 12 minute video. Sweet as, I'll have this done in no time, let me just crack a beer open and get this done.

4 beers and several hours of frustration later and voila, she's fitted. My Airoh commander has been a little tight around the ears since day one so was skeptical this will work whacking speakers in there. I carved a little foam out to make sure they didn't protrude further than the foam, the helmet had spots for the speakers already I just made them slightly larger. Gee helmet foam is really hard, its unlike any foam i've ever seen before, very hard to cut. I think a dremel would have worked well but didn't have one.

Now to give it a try out. Message Scotty for a ride. He said he's got to be home by 12pm as he is expecting a parcel. All good a short ride today as its going to be 37°C here. A quick ride up into the Blue mountains and back.

On the way to meet Scotty it was quite good listening to some spotify. I connected it up through the Africa Twin dash so had android auto and maps and music. We headed up towards Comleroy Road and followed that along until it turned to dirt. It was quite cool up in the mountains today and when we dropped down to the river the temp must have dropped by 5 degrees. It was quite pleasant.

I noticed that the helmet seemed to be pressing uncomfortably on my left ear. I'll have to look at what I can adjust when I get home. I noticed I'd lost signal along here and my spotify dropped. out. I actually prefer riding the gravel without music to be honest. I think I'll only use the music when riding along the highways. I didn't seem to think it was that loud when on the highway either. I wear earplugs and I could hear it, it was just a bit soft but still audible. I think wireless earbuds would probably be better.

We turned along Mountain Lagoon Trail to Bilpin. This is quite an easy ride, just gravel road running along a ridge line, not much in the way of elevation changes.

We got to Bilpin about 10am and turn back onto the Bells Line and headed for home. I was glad we were going home so I could get out of the helmet and see what was wrong. I noticed the left earpiece wasn't as low down as the right one, so I took a bit more foam out. I will see how it goes on the next ride.

Still haven't decided if I like it or hate it yet. Time will tell.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Where have I been? Malaysian MotoGP

I've been slack, real slack but I have my reasons. I only had 7 posts all year last year my most lackluster effort to date. Last year wasn't a great year for me personally with dad passing away back in April, that kinda took the wind out of my sails. I started a new job about a month after that happened and Flyboy and I were busy with cleaning out dad's house from a collection of 54 years worth of er..... how would you say it "crap". Yeah that's what it was. Between the new job and preparations' to sell the house there wasn't a lot of time for much and my enthusiasm to do anything was at an all time low and probably the least amount of riding I've done for some time.

So in July 2023 when I was visiting my brother he asked what I was going to do for my 50th birthday which I'd missed earlier for the above reasons. Dave suggested something a bit more extravagant than the usual pissup, "How about we do the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang?"









Wait, what?

"Oh Hell yeah, this is going to be epic". Wait.........the missus won't want to go to Malaysia. Go without her was his response. I told Kate what I wanted to do. I got that sceptical look, raised eyebrows and eye rolling but she didn't say no straight up like she normally does so I'm taking it as a yes. When I showed her the accommodation she caved and it was a real yes, so strike while the iron is hot and we booked the flights and accomodation straight away before she could change her mind.

Done, and we didn't even bother to look at anything to do there until the night before we flew out. It's going to be relaxing and MotoGP, I don't care if we don't do anything else. Next thing you know we we getting some cheap liquor and were on the plane pronto. It was one of Singapore Airlines A380's. That plane is massive and it didn't feel like you were even flying.

We had to change flights at Singapore for a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur. 1 Hour should be enough time between flights right? Yeah won't do that again. 15 minutes to get off the plane and it was a mad dash to find the next flight in a huge airport I've never been in before. We made it to the gate with about 5 minutes to spare. Flyboy and his missus were there waiting for us and we were the last 4 to board the flight.

Also couldn't believe how big KL airport was compared with Sydney's little airport. It was about a 40 min trip from KL airport to our accommodation, we checked in after 10pm had some diner then went to bed as we were completely knackered from doing nothing all day.

Next morning we wandered down to get some breakfast before taking a walk around to check out the lay of the land. We stayed at the Avani Gold Coast resort, one of the places recommended on the MotoGP website. It wasn't the cheapest place nor was it the 5 star resort advertised, more like 4 stars but was quite pleasant none the the less.

A big storm was brewing today, we wandered around the nearby beach and local shops. Other than the handful of shop there's nothing much here. You need a vehicle to drive around.

Holy heck everything is written in freaky deaky dutch and we can't read anything. Makes for ordering meals interesting. But whatever those meals were it was cheap. $2 Aus for lunch of rice and some animal bits with assorted bone fragments. I wasn't hungry so waited, then we wandered back to the resort and had some afternoon drinks.

Many, many drinks later  back in our room things became a bit messy and a bit blurry just like the photography. We had a cracking diner at the resorts chinese restaurant. Our waitress was chilled and funny and made for a great night and the food was excellent.

Bit hung over on Friday so we didn't go to the track today, but relaxed and had a swim and a high tea with the girls before having a few more beers later in the afternoon. Beautiful mornings here in Malaysia.

I was pretty impressed with the high tea, the small cakes and pastries were delicious however the coffee was a little ordinary though, it was very bitter.

Relaxing by the pool having beers, such a hard life

Saturday morning and we were up early for breakfast so we could get on the resort shuttle to the track which was picking us up at 7am. On the way to breakfast we were greeted with a swift sunrise.

It was an interesting trip to the track, it was clear to see that Malaysia was a third world country with many rambling shacks, farming fields, palm fields and the like. It only took about 35m to the track.

We got dropped at the track entrance and told we will pick you up at 5pm from the same spot. Ok sounds good, so we entered and it was a spectacle for sure. Unlike anything I've ever seen at Phillip Island. 

Funny travelling through the countryside and thinking how 3rd world Malaysia is and then getting to the Sepang circuit and looking at how modern and big the facility's are. I thought what a contrast and how third world the facility's at Phillip Island are, ironic.

Entering the front gates straight into trade alley. The trade stand at PI is a small tent about 100m long. The trade stands at Sepang are 500m long and line both sides of the entrance so at least a kilometre of trade stands. So much stuff to look at, merch, bikes, accessories, girls, beer, wheelie machines and more merch. I had to buy my daughters some merch and got myself a new hat. The old Casey Stoner hat was getting a bit manky.

Flyboy and the Hostess

We had purchased roving grandstand tickets which meant we didn't have a dedicated seat as such but we could sit where-ever  we wanted in any of the grandstands'. Sounds great to me and it was.

We entered the circuit and head down between the main grandstands' and took at look around. The grandstands at Sepang are HUGE. The main stand must be 700m long and lines the back straight and main straight, that's 1400m of grandstand. The area in-between the two stands is the mall area which contains all the food vendors and toilet facilities. The toilet facilities were impeccably clean. There was a guy mopping the floors around your feet at the urinals. Beats Phillip island mud soaked over flowing portaloos.

There's the K1 & K2 grandstand also around at turn 1-3 and grandstand F at turn 7. To get to the F Grandstand you catch an air-conditioned coach from the front of the circuit and it you can hop off at several points including the hill grandstands, which are roofed grass areas.

We sat in the Pit side grandstand for a while and watched the goings on. Acosta went flying past the soon to be world champion.

Simon Crafar was also flying by in pit lane from interview to interview. No wonder he is so slim.

Fabio wandered up pit lane waving to fans.

Our riding mate Rick was here at the track with his son on vacation. They were in the F grandstand so we decided to catch the bus around there and say g'day and watch qualifying. It was starting to get really hot and the humidity was through the roof. The air conditioned bus was a god send. It was great to catch up with Rick again if only briefly.

Not so good for photography here at Sepang as the fences around the circuit are really high and get in the way of the shots especially F stand. Oh well. 

F Grandstand

Looking back at the circuit from F stand you could capture the scale of the stands here. At least we had sun cover so we wouldn't get burnt to a crisp. Phillip Island really need to step up their game and provide proper facilities, I don't think I can go back there now after experiencing this.

Main Grandstand and pitlane

Qualifying was interesting to say the least. Marquez didn't look at home on that Honda and it showed, he hit the deck right in front of us at T7.

After qualy was over we headed back around to the main stands to get some lunch and decide where we were going to watch the Sprint race from. So good to be on that air conditioned bus again, I jokingly said let's do another lap of the circuit just to stay cool.

I must say I was quite impressed with the food options here. I thought it was going to be some dodgy looking food and only rice dishes that was going to make us sick for a week but there was a huge variety of food on offer at great prices too. We were sucking down bottles of water it was so hot and humid.

We sat in the K2 grandstand at turn 2-3 to watch the sprint race and had lunch there with Kwoky. 

K2 Grandstand

The views from the K2 stand was great and you could see the end of straight through to turn 4.

The bike parking out the back of the K1 stand was filled with all sorts of bikes. I was surprised to see R1's, Ducati Panigale etc as I believed that asian country's only were allowed scooters. I guess I was wrong there.

Sprint Race Lap 1

We got a heavy tropical rainstorm about 15minutes after the race. Great it cooled us down and hearded us into the beer tent. I was surprised a beer only cost 18 Ringgit, which is Aus $5.80 for a Singha beer. That costs $14 at Phillip Island.

We got picked up on time at 5pm and got back to the resort about 50 minutes later. 

Sunday morning another early start and we arrive back at the circuit again so we take a look at the merch stands again. I'm under strict instructions to get daughter#2 some merch otherwise don't bother coming home. I pondered this statement for sometime.....

The Yamaha stand was full of motogp goodness, with a El Diablo and Morbidelli bikes on display.

The Suzuki stand was also good, great air conditioning, nice bikes excellent girls we hung around in here just because it was air conditioned, honest....

We chose to sit in the back straight grandstand for the Sunday race schedule. There was a large TV screen on the other side of the track, and we could see half the circuit from here. Did I mention it was hot.

The riders did a parade lap in the top of an open bus which was pretty cool.

We saw the crowning of a new world champion in Pedro Acosta. Lets see how he does next year.

The racing was over all too soon and everyone was piling out of the stands. We got the bus back to the resort, the police were directing all traffic around the airport, which was the long way. It took over 1.5 hours just to go around the airport to get to the road we we needed which was about 200m from the circuit entry and it was another hour from there, 2.5hr trip.😥

Needless to say we headed straight for some beers when we got back and then grabbed some more of that fabulous chinese we had the night before for diner. It was Dave's final night here as he was heading for Singapore after this for a week, but we stayed on for one more night to wind down our holiday.

With the sun setting in the background behind the cloud we had some spectacular views over the ocean. What a great week away, motogp included and it cost less than taking the kids to Narooma on the south coast for a week earlier this year.

My final thoughts and would I do it again. Yes, yes I would it was fantastic. The Sepang circuit has fantastic facilities, clean toilets, great food, excellent covered grandstand seating and prices are great. If I was going to do it again I think I would get the corporate ticket inside with air-conditioning and cold beer as it was so hot and humid. But otherwise this was bloody fantastic. Instead of coming back to this race again Dave and I agreed we would probably try Motegi in Japan for the next race just for something different then maybe Magello the next year. We shall see what happens.

For a gallery of images from Sepang click the link. I've also added MotoGP photos to the tabs at the top of the home page. I didn't take as many photos as usual, I was taking a break and was enjoying the racing instead.

Thanks for reading.