Welcome to The Old Bloke’s Blog! Well, it's more than just a blog actually; it's a blog combined with general news, things of interest, and smaller items etc. It is, basically, a traditional type blog of things that I've been doing that will, hopefully, be of some interest to the reader. But, as I said, it's more than that; it's also where I put items of interest that I've come across that aren't big enough for a separate article. So don't think that it's all about me! Some of it is, but it's also a newsy kind of thing, relating stories of interest, products I've discovered and so on. It's set out month by month, going down the page - so for the latest entries, scroll down to the bottom. For previous installments in this Blog, just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the button there. I hope you find it interesting!
JANUARY 5, 2015. This item doesn’t really concern motorcycles; and in fact I wasn’t going to include it. It’s a personal thing and not necessary, (perhaps even not appropriate) to include on this web-site. And, as the first entry for the year, it also makes for a pretty depressing way to begin this year’s Blog. But I did finally decide to include it. (I’m actually writing the entry in late January, just before I published this on the web-site). Part of the reason I decided to mention it was because, as you may have noticed, there have been periods over the past year where I have been distracted from regular up-dates on the site and writing articles and tests etc, and this will explain why. Also, there will be further reference to it in coming months as the reason for a charity ride I am planning to organise. And the subject of the item, my grandson Joshua, has been mentioned briefly, and appeared in a couple of photos, on the web-site in the past.
On this day, my grandson Joshua passed away, from a brain-tumour. He was just 8 years old. I won’t go into the whole story, but briefly, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February last year. He was taken to Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick, where he was operated on to have the tumour removed. Upon release from hospital he then underwent a couple of months of daily chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In June, an MRI showed that the tumour, already diagnosed as a very aggressive type, had grown back. Having shown itself resistant to the treatment to prevent it returning, the medical team advised that there was nothing they could do. At that stage they predicted he would have “a few weeks” left to live. Medication, wonderful care and support from medical teams, and an incredible amount of bravery and determination from the little boy, resulted in him out-lasting all predictions and living on for almost 7 months. In my Blog on November 1 last year I commented on the Snowy Ride (which raises money for Children’s Cancer) and said that the cause had, “recently touched my family in a much closer way.” Now you know what that meant. Joshua, more than any of the other grandkids, has been with me on certain motorcycling events. And at other times that weren’t actual events; such as in the photo on the left, when he came with me one day when I went to visit a bike shop. (He had good fun sitting on some of the bikes and having me take his photo). In my Blog, on September 2010, in the article on Big Al’s Clubhouse, I mentioned taking “my grandson” along with me: that was Joshua. In my Blog on December 4, 2011, I described going to the end-point of a Toy Run in the car, rather than on the bike, because of bad weather. I didn’t mention it then, but my wife, one daughter and her kids, were all going to come down and meet me at the end and have lunch together. When the weather turned out as it did, and I decided to go in the car, everyone else pulled out – except Joshua, who wanted to come with me. He was actually standing beside me, huddling together under an umbrella, when I took the photos you see there. And speaking of photos, Joshua, and a couple of other grandkids, posed for photos in the article I did a few years ago on Pillions. (Joshua is the one in the red T-shirt). During the last 6 months of his life he had some awesome experiences, thanks to organisations like the Cancer Council etc, and was an inspiration to everyone he met. He will be much missed!
JANUARY 6, 2015. I noticed today that BMW are claiming that 2014 was their best year ever, in terms of motorcycle sales. They do have some very good bikes in their range.
JANUARY 6, 2015. On December 7, 2014 I mentioned the Newcastle Toy Run having 10,000 bikes entered. That figure was hard to believe, even for the local riders, but it seems to be confirmed in the latest edition of Cycle Torque, which I picked up from a bike-friendly café today. The article said that there was an electronic counter ticking off the number of bikes. And if you’re wondering about the logistics of having 10,000 bikes in a Toy Run, the article said that when the first bikes started rolling in to the Newcastle foreshore, there was still a quarter of the bikes waiting to begin their ride at the starting point – some 25km back down the line! So maybe it was true after all!
JANUARY 8, 2015. My first time on the bike this year. Although on my usual Christmas / New Year break from work, I haven’t been able to get out on the bike. With my grandson in hospital, and my daughter and her husband staying with him 24/7, their other kids have been staying with us, which has kept my wife and I pretty busy, especially with running back and forth to the hospital. So not much chance to get out on the bike. The other factor was the heat: it’s been too hot and humid for riding! Today I had an opportunity to go for a ride though. It was still hot in coastal areas, but cooler over the mountains; so a ride into the Southern Highlands seemed like the thing to do!
The conditions were beautiful when I left – warm-ish, but a wind blowing that just put more cooling air blowing through the jacket. A nice lunch at a club in Mittagong, and then back on the road. I rode back to Bowral and had a browse through a bike shop, then over to Berrima, where I stopped to take the photo you see here. It was quite hot now, so I was getting sweaty when I stopped. Out onto the highway where I enjoyed cruising along at around 120kph with bursts to 125 – 130kph. The highway run seemed to go quickly, so I went a bit further before turning off onto a back road and winding my way back to the main road home. It was good to go for a decent ride again!
JANUARY 8, 2015. There’s an unwritten law that says every simple 10-minute job will be much harder and take much longer than you could ever expect! It’s one of Mr. Murphy’s laws I think. I had an example of that today. I have a Givi top-box mounted on a Ventura rack. The mounting bolts under the box are very close to the bodywork, so I have little rubber pads to stop the heads hammering into the bike. I noticed today, after coming back from my ride, that the pads had broken up and the bolts had chipped into the body. So, replace the pads. Remove the top-box (easy). Still hard to get at the pads, so remove the Ventura rack. Should've been easy, but ... The little holes in the knurled nuts, that are supposed to be undone with a small rod provided with the rack, were rounded off on a couple of them. Pliers got them undone.
With the rack removed I replaced the pads, and started putting it back together. But the rack wouldn't go into the tubes. It was very stiff, so l just pushed it a bit harder. No. The upright tubes seemed too wide apart, so I squeezed them inwards. That was better: it went half way in and then wouldn’t budge – in or out! Grrr! I had to get a rubber mallet to tap the rack back out again. Liberally coat the rack and the inside of the tubes with WD40 and try again. Finally it went in and I tightened up the nuts – with pliers. And that was another 15-minute job that took almost an hour!
JANUARY 17, 2015. Another thing that has been happening over recent months is that we have been having car trouble. Yesterday the exhaust broke off at the manifold, and I drove 35km home with the car sounding like there were a couple of un-muffled Harleys under the bonnet. Today I wanted to have a look at a car in a nearby suburb. No problem, I’ll go on the bike. It was a hot day, but I wasn’t going far, so it’d be okay. By the time I got back, with slow riding through traffic, stopping at lights and so on, I was a lather of sweat! When I got home I checked the weather with my phone – 35 degrees. No wonder I was hot!
JANUARY 31, 2015. Well, this is incredible! A state government doing something for motorcyclists that makes sense! Yes, NSW introduced lane-filtering, so they are moving in the right direction, but this goes further and includes some sensible changes. Thanks to “Daggy” who posted this link on my Facebook page.
JANUARY 31, 2015. As I write this, the votes are being counted in the Queensland election. Campbell Newman is already out – having lost his seat to the previous incumbent, Kate Jones. I’d reckon a few motorcyclists’ votes might have had something to do with that, and the swing away from his government, which now looks like losing. But before the voting began, Labour leader Annastacia Palaszczuk promised to repeal the notorious “anti-bikie” laws introduced by Newman. She didn’t say what she would replace them with, but she did at least recognise that the pre-existing laws were sufficient for prosecuting criminals. If she does win, it will be interesting to see what she does. In any case, things are looking up for motorcyclists in Queensland – and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that!
FEBRUARY 1, 2015. I went for my first ride in just over 3 weeks today. Other commitments and bad weather had stopped me getting out, but today I had the day free, and the weather, although a bit iffy, looked okay. So off I went. And I got rained on! It began after my lunch stop and about half way through my ride. At first I didn’t mind (although it meant I’d have to wash the bike!); it was just a bit of added interest to the day. When it began I thought I’d probably ride out of it, and waited too long before I stopped and put the wet-weather gear on. So my jacket got wet. From there on it alternated between rain and sloshy roads, to dry road and no rain, to dry road and light rain, and then to very heavy rain – heavy enough that I could feel the impact of the rain on my arms through my wet-gear and riding jacket! Rainbow-coloured patches shining through the water on the road removed any remaining fun-factor, and had me carefully eyeing the road surface to avoid any extra-slippery bits. About 40km from home the rain stopped and the road was dry. My gear is now hanging in the laundry to dry out and the bike needs a wash. But it was still good to get out on the bike again!
FEBRUARY 13, 2015. The road-tests listed in the Bikes section were all (well, almost all) put there when I rode the bikes when they were new. Some of the tests go back a fair way now – there’s a couple that are going on for 10 years old. But I’ve left them all there. Where possible I put up-dates every couple of years or so, allowing the test to still be relevant: read what I thought at the time I rode the original one and then factor in any changes or up-dates that are listed at the bottom of the test. But even when the model has been discontinued, which is the case in several instances, I don’t remove them from the list. Having these bikes there I think still provides a good resource for anyone buying 2nd-hand. This approach has proven to be worthwhile, and was again confirmed by a couple of people recently who found road-tests and articles helpful when searching for 2nd-hand bikes. In particular, the comparison on Sports-tourers that I initially did back in 2007 (I did an up-dated feature in 2010) has attracted a couple of people recently, in the course of looking for information and opinions on 2nd-hand bikes in that category. Both were appreciative of this information being there, and both found it helpful when choosing their bike. That is very gratifying to hear, and I thank these people for their feedback. It’s nice to know that these articles, and my old-bloke opinions, have been helpful to people.
FEBRUARY 15, 2015. While there are a lot of things I don’t like about the area I live in, I have to say that it is a great area for riding! Not only are there some great riding roads (including some of the most iconic motorcycle roads in the state!), but you don’t have to go far to enjoy some fabulous scenery.
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Today there was a group ride organised by the local CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association). Lunch was at a club in a picturesque location over-looking the sea. What a great view to enjoy as we ate some hearty meals, washed down with a couple of beers (or orange-juices in my case). After lunch and chatting the others rode directly home, but a took a scenic detour, down the coast a bit further and returning via some highway then a flowing road through some rural countryside.
FEBRUARY 21, 2015. Today the local Harley dealer had a launch day for the new Street 500. This is a bike I particularly want to ride. But I didn’t go to the launch – because I didn’t know it was on! It was probably advertised on the radio, but not the station I listen to. And not in that day’s newspaper, which it usually is. And I didn’t get an email from them (I used to get emails, but must’ve dropped off their email-list). My wife knew it was on though. She was listening to the radio in her art studio all day, but only mentioned it to me late in the afternoon, after it was all over. “Why didn’t you tell me?!?” I asked. “I thought you’d know, you usually know about these things.” Well if I’d known I would’ve gone!! It was a rainy sort of day, and apparently that did affect the ride schedule a bit, but it would still have been good to go, even if I ended up not getting a ride on the day. Anyway, a demo model is there ready for me to take for a ride, so I will do that as soon as I can.
FEBRUARY 24, 2015. I’ve just been reading about the new Yamaha R1. No, I’m not going to buy one! But it is, from all I’ve read, a very impressive bike. For intended purpose anyway.
Yamaha apparently put a lot of development work into the new bike, making it a new bike, not just a tweaked 2014 job. To do this they flew in company test-riders from all over the world to gain their input into the development of the bike. Plus they enlisted the help of some top racers, such as Valentino Rossi. The design brief was to create a bike that was more focused on track-work than street-work. Yamaha apparently felt they’d been focusing a bit too much on road use over the past couple of models, and they wanted to steer it back more towards a track bike again. The result of all this is what Yamaha describe as, “A motoGP bike for every rider.” It has a more aggressive riding-position and a thinner (read “harder”) seat. The front features a big blank space for a racing number, and air-scoop straight off the M1 race-bike. Oh yes, there are a couple of little headlights, just to make it legal, you understand. It’s lighter than the old one, at just under 200kg ready to ride, and the revised engine puts out around 148kW. It comes loaded with all sorts of electronic aids to help the rider keep the rubber on the road while riding the track. And as if all that isn’t enough, there’s also an “M” version with even more electronic aids than the standard one, a polished alloy tank and Ohlins suspension. Motorcyclist web-site says, “The 2015 R1 is the new standard for how good a motorcycle can feel on a racetrack, and most impressively it accomplishes that without being a standout in any one category. It doesn’t have the most power in the class, it’s not the lightest, but it is so incredibly capable that none of the statistics matter. In the past we have imagined the perfect 1000cc bike: the telepathic handling of Aprilia’s RSV4, the components of Ducati’s Panigale R, and the refinement of BMW’s S1000RR. Yamaha has created that bike in the new R1.” FEBRUARY 27, 2015. As I mentioned recently in my Blog page, I was told by a prominent Yamaha dealer that the new Yamaha XJR1300 wouldn't be released in Australia until next year. But today a reader told me that a group of about 8 of them were spotted on a suburban road south of Sydney. Strange! I wondered what was happening. A media-launch perhaps? Yes, it was. Deus Ex-Machina helped inspire the new design, so I suppose it was appropriate to have a launch here. But then to not put the bike on the market here seems a bit of an insult! Tonight I read a road-report on the bike – with a couple of photos that put it in the area our reader saw them. Click here for the report.
MARCH 4, 2015. After a couple of weekends of not riding, due to bad weather or other commitments, I was able to go for a ride today. I turned out the driveway, and before I’d gone even 100 metres I was thinking how great it was to be on a bike! Not riding for almost 3 weeks makes you realise why you do it when you do get out again!
It was beautiful sunny weather. Lunch in Nowra, then called in for a chat with a friend who owns a wrecking-yard, then up and down the mountains through Kangaroo Valley, Moss Vale, and a stop at the famous Robertson Pie Shop for a cuppa and pick up the latest Cycle Torque magazine. I even had a good run up the mountain out of Kangaroo Valley, where I kept the XJR a gear lower than I normally would, gave it some revs and had some fun! It was a bit warm in places, and a bit cool in others, but not uncomfortably so. But fog rolled in at Robertson! (A bit cool riding through that). Down Macquarie Pass and it was all sunny on the coast again. An enjoyable ride and a great day to be out – despite this photo!
MARCH 14, 2015. There’s been some confusion in recent weeks over what is happening with the new Yamaha XJR1300, (see the entry on February 27 above). Some of our readers have been making enquiries and told me it wouldn’t be released at all, others saying it was going to be released in the next few weeks. Well, I can tell you that the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300 has been released in Australia today. Except it hasn’t been. Well, not what we know as the 2015 XJR1300.
What has been released, and what Yamaha Australia is calling the 2015 XJR1300, is a repainted (again!) version of the current bike. Nothing other than the paint has changed. And adding insult to injury, they’ve gone back to a look they had in 2010, when the bike carried a big number “1” on the tank. Back then it was to celebrate Yamaha (in the hands of Valentino Rossi) winning the MotoGP championship. Now it signifies … well, I have no idea! And Yamaha seem to have no idea when, or if, we’ll ever get the real 2015 model.
MARCH 28, 2015. I went to see the new Yamaha R1 being “unveiled” today. Not to my local dealer (which is fairly small), but to a major Yamaha dealer in south-western Sydney, On Two Wheels. It was supposed to be a big celebration, with lots happening, free sausage-sizzle etc. As it turned out, it was a bit of a fizzer. No big celebration (and no sausage-sizzle!). There were just the bikes (in 3 colours) on display.
So I took photos and sat on it. Very sporty, of course, with the low clip-ons etc, but I got the impression it would give very good control out on the track. Sometimes you sit on a bike like this and feel like it would be hard to handle, but this seemed to put you in well in control. It was still worth looking around the shop too; they have a good range of bikes! And I had a good ride in great riding conditions, so it still turned out to be a good day out on the bike.
MARCH 30, 2015. It was great to have the MotoGP back! And good to see “the old bloke” (as he is regarded – although not in exactly those words), Valentino Rossi, winning! Yes, at 36 years old, he’s one of the oldest blokes out there. Well, not “one of”, he is the oldest bloke! And he showed those young whipper-snappers a thing or two! (I’m joking!). A great race anyway. And down the straight they were doing over 350kph! That is quick!!
APRIL 2, 2015. I went for a ride this afternoon to a favourite cafe down the coast. The traffic through one town was horrendous! It’s always bad through there, but this was 1st gear crawling! Okay, time to filter! Uh, no. Firstly the gap at one point up ahead looked a bit narrow, and the other thing was there was at least one truck in the queue. Now here is where I reckon a bit of silliness comes in. (Yes, I understand their thinking behind it, but ...). In any reasonably long queue of traffic there's a pretty good chance of there being a truck or bus in the queue – which means you can't legally filter up to the front! Bit silly really.
And on another issue …On the way back I turned off early and returned along back-roads. The first section was a B-road through a country town, which was good. But then I took some more back-roads (C-roads if there are such things!), which were mostly deserted of traffic but pretty rough in places. On one road – which used to have a lot of trucks on it – there were some vicious lumps and bumps and ridges and ruts. I avoided a lot of them, but riding into the sun with a bug-smear across my visor, there was one I didn't see. The bike dropped what seemed like 6" from under me and came back up and smacked me in the back-side. That doesn't happen hardly ever on the XJR! So it seems the “road-less-traveled” is also “the road more bumpy”! APRIL 11, 2015. Rod sent me a couple of links that make interesting reading. The first one is a follow-up to an earlier comparison on reliability of different brands. In this survey there were more bikes included, making the results more realistic. Topping the list was Yamaha, with Suzuki next, then Honda (actually on an equal figure with Suzuki). The bottom three were Ducati, BMW and Can-Am (Can-Am being the worst). That’s bad news for Can-Am owners, especially with the lack of dealers. All three of those brands are relatively expensive to service or repair, so that makes the fact that they're at the bottom even worse. Anyway, click here to see the list. As they say there, pure reliability is not the only issue when buying a bike. So it’s interesting to compare a list of what makes bring their owners most satisfaction – regardless of whether they break down or not. Topping the list here are Victory and Harley-Davidson. Ah yes, but you have to factor in the fact that the survey was conducted in USA! So ….! Honda comes next, then there’s BMW, Can-Am and Ducati. Yep, the Can-Am, almost half of which proved to be unreliable in the survey, is at position 5. The reliability-topping Yamaha is two spots further down, at position 7. Suzuki, which came a close second in reliability, is at the bottom of the top-10. Click here to see the list. As I said, the survey was done in USA, so might be very different to Australia. For example, from my experience, Suzuki owners are usually very happy with their bike and are very often repeat-customers. I'm surprised that “Comfort” was the main priority for people buying bikes. It’s a big issue for me, but not generally, I wouldn't have thought. Performance, image, the looks of the bike, etc would have all been of higher priority I would have thought. Anyway, it does make interesting reading.
APRIL 15, 2015. The forecast looked good for getting new tyres on the bike – mostly sunny with temp in the mid 20s. Perfect! I had the tyres fitted, (at a mechanic's workshop about 20km from home) then headed north along a winding suburban road. This was ideal – low speed, gentle throttle, and plenty of corners to get at least part of the sides of the tyres running on the road and wearing off that new-tyre film. I probably looked funny, weaving from side to side on straight road, and sitting upright so I could lay the bike over a bit further as I gently rounded the corners; but it achieved the goal of getting more than just the centre of the tyre touching the road.
Then the weather changed! A check of the radar confirmed a band of heavy rain approaching. Great! Just what you don’t need on new tyres! I headed for a cafe to wait while it passed, but the cafe was closed. Still not raining, so I kept going. Then some big drops, that turned to a light sprinkle. I stopped and pulled on the rain-pants before it got too heavy. I'd leave the jacket until it rained heavier. But the storm obviously broke up, and I was soon stopping again to put the pants back in the top-box. On the way home I passed through areas where it had obviously been raining fairly heavily, but I missed it. Yeah!
APRIL 25, 2015. You don't see that too often! Coming down a winding mountain pass (Macquarie Pass) and there were a couple of bikes holding up a long line of cars (and a certain “old bloke” on a bike). Yep, bikes holding up cars coming down Macquarie Pass! The lady riding the lead bike wasn’t on Ls or Ps, but seemed very lacking in confidence, so was taking it very slowly. When they came to a section where there was a sealed area off the road, they pulled over and let everyone past. I gave them an appreciative wave.
APRIL 29, 2015. I mentioned Macquarie Pass in the item above. If you live anywhere around the Sydney / south coast NSW area, you will be familiar with this road. If you live anywhere else you would’ve no doubt heard of it, as one of the iconic biking roads. This video shows just why it is such a popular ride! It’s not often you get a clean run bottom to top like this, but it certainly shows “The Pass” in all it's motorcycling glory! Thanks to Wayne for this - it's a great video! Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, he does it a bit quicker than I do! APRIL 29, 2015. Here's another video of a famous biker’s road. This is part of the road that runs from Bomaderry on the south coast of NSW, through Kangaroo Valley. This mountain (on the eastern side, starting not far from Bomaderry) is Cambewarra Mtn. A great ride! Thank you David for posting it. (If you let the video finish and continue on, you’ll get Part 2 of the video, which is a continuation of the ride – well worth watching too!).
MAY 2, 2015. I’ve been reading about the new Ducati Multistrada. I’ve just up-dated my report on the bike, but the main difference is with the engine, which gains variable valve-timing. Other bikes (notably Honda's VFR800), have had variable valve-timing, but only on the inlet side: the Duke gets it on inlet and exhaust valves, which, says Ducati, makes it the first production motorcycle to do so.
The result of this is an increase in power, to 112kW and 136Nm of torque. The main advantage of variable valve-timing though, is the spread of power, and the Ducati spreads those increased numbers - especially the torque - over a wider range of revs. The whole bike gets even more electronics, with traction-control, ABS, and electronic cruise-control. The stability control and ABS are highly sophisticated, and allow it to brake in a corner and not lock a wheel, thanks to sensors that tell the computer how much it is leaning etc. The S model gets bluetooth connectivity that allows the bike to talk to your mobile-phone, and then you can use your phone to control certain functions; and your bike can then read your emails or something like that. (I'm joking about the emails bit! But I reckon you'll have to watch it, it'll be hacking into your Facebook account next!). Pricing is $23,990 for the standard model, and $27,990 for the S. (So you pay more for the basic one and less for the S).
MAY 3, 2015. It looked like the perfect plan: I took my wife and her Mum out for a drive and to lunch. I suggested a favourite eating place, a bowling club in a little town a bit less than an hour away. When we arrived, lo and behold, there was an annual classic motorbike show on, with bikes being displayed in the parking area. The perfect plan! Except for a couple of things. Firstly, it wasn’t planned – I didn’t know it was on! (I know you’ll believe me, won’t you – my wife and her Mum probably didn’t!). I always go to this event, but I usually only find out about it by riding through the town a week or so before and seeing the signs advertising it. Or sometimes I get told about it by someone. This time I hadn’t seen signs, nobody had mentioned it and I didn’t know. But that was okay, I was there, right? Well, no: the other part of the not-planned attendance that didn’t work out was that it was a rainy day. There were threatening clouds with sprinkley showers.
The parking area was sectioned off for the bikes, leaving cars to park on the grass: except that after a couple of weeks of rain, the grass was water-logged so no-one was parking there. With my mother-in-law being disabled we needed to park not too far away. And instead of the predicted 100 bikes (I Googled it to confirm it was the classic show I thought it was), there were probably about 25 when we were there. I guess the rain kept a lot of the bikes away too. So I didn’t even get out of the car: we drove on to the next town and had lunch in a club there.
MAY 7, 2015. After some rainy weekends I was looking forward to a good ride today – a day off and the forecast was sunny! Hmm, they didn't forecast winds gusting to around 60kph though! I rode out of the worst of it for a while, and it even got warm and very pleasant in town.
I visited a couple of bike shops in Campbelltown, south-west of Sydney. Both shops were conveniently located next door to each other! Sydney City Motorcycles I'd been to a few times before, but not Sy's Harley Davidson, which has only been at this location for a relatively short time (a year or two?). I'd been intending to go and visit Sy's Harley shop since seeing it on an episode of Temporary Australians. It looked more impressive on TV. But wandering around bike shops is always fun! Riding during the week is different to riding on weekends. The traffic is different. I know some people prefer riding during the week (fewer idiots on the road they say), but today I found there to be more traffic in cities, and lots of trucks on the highways. Going up a 3-lane mountain road with trucks overtaking (slowly!) other trucks, which forced all the cars into the remaining lane, as they overtook the trucks that were overtaking the other trucks! At one point up ahead there was a jumble of cars as they swapped and changed lanes and almost ran into each other. Brake lights came on everywhere – I hung way back until they sorted themselves out. Traffic was horrendous around the area of the bike shops – even worse than it was in the main roads of Campbelltown (which is usually very congested and stop-start). I think I prefer weekends!
MAY 9, 2015. Today we held a motorcycle display at a local nursing-home for people suffering from dementia. We’ve been there a few times now, and it’s always a good day.
I was inspired to do this when, a few years ago, I read a story in the local newspaper about a volunteer at the facility who rode his bike to work one day and the residents were very interested in looking at the bike. So I thought if they liked one bike, they might like a bunch of them to look at! So we organised a few bikes to go out and hold a display. The staff treat us very well - tea and coffee, sausage-sizzle lunch; and we get to look at each other's bikes too. A good day for all! I don’t have photos of the actual display, because, due to privacy concerns etc, no photos were allowed there. But here are a couple I took at the meeting point a few kilometres from the home. I then led the bikes in a long procession around the back-roads and into the home. I saw this photo on the Yamaha XJR Owners Facebook page tonight. XJRs as far as the eye can see! There probably aren’t that many in all of Australia! (Well, maybe …). This was taken at the 2011 XJR Eurofest in Holland. MAY 10, 2015. We are constantly told that riding a motorcycle is dangerous. And it is. But have you ever thought that riding actually benefits your health? I have: and I’m sure you’ve also considered that riding is good for you! Well, here is the proof! An article by a Dr Pamela Reilly.
MAY 16. I now have the photos I mentioned in the item on May 9 above. Here are a couple.
MAY 28, 2015. I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Martin Van Meegen, sales manager at City Coast Motorcycles, Wollongong. I knew Martin quite well - not as a personal friend, but in his role as sales manager at the BMW / Yamaha / Triumph dealership. He was always very friendly and helpful. A true gentlemen.
And he was always more than willing to hand me the keys to the latest demo model to test-ride - in fact he encouraged it! When I last saw him, about 3 weeks ago, he told me he would have a Yamaha MT-09 Tracer as a demo in a couple of weeks, and said to come in and take it for a ride. I was just waiting to get the time to do the test and I would've been calling him. The photo here is one a friend took on a BMW ride-day. Yep, that's me on a BMW K1300, and Martin standing nearby. My friend joked that Martin looked nervous at letting me loose on the powerful Beemer! He wasn't, but it made for a great photo to go in my report on the bike. Martin was a big fan of BMW and attended BMW Safaris, as well as the occasional overseas launch. He will be much missed by his friends and loyal customers, and the motorcycling community in general.
MAY 30, 2015. I mentioned previously that I have been organising a charity event to raise funds for research into childrens cancer, in memory of my grandson, who passed away in January this year. The event involved classic cars and bikes, as I am involved in both classic cars and bikes, and my grandson came with me on several car club runs: so having an event that involved both was very appropriate. It was a lot of work, but ended up being a wonderful success! Beyond what I could ever have imagined actually – thanks to the wonderful support and generosity of the people who took part.
I’ll do a separate story on the event (it probably deserves that), but I will say here that, at this stage, we have raised well over $1500, with a couple of donations still coming in. Amazing generosity! I think people were really moved by the background to the event – the story of Joshua, my 8-year old grandson, who was sadly taken from us by this most horrible disease. And they responded accordingly. Our whole family were amazed and deeply touched by this fantastic support! The only thing to come out of that total was the hire-charge of the hall, which was $45. (Raffle prizes were donated by various businesses and individuals, and my wife and I covered the cost of providing the food and tea / coffee). A wonderful effort, which, as I said, was way beyond what I could’ve imagined!
JUNE 3, 2015. Today was the funeral of Martin Van Meegen, who I mentioned in my entry on May 28th above. At his family’s request, there was a ride from the shop to the funeral parlour, and then the bikes were to escort the hearse to his final resting place. I intended to go, but ended up not being able to.
It was a big funeral and very well attended by people from the motorcycling scene. This photo was taken by a friend who did go. That’s a lot of bikes! (And there were more!). I think Martin would be pleased with this turn-out. I hope this show of respect from his customers, associates and friends from the motorcycling industry was some encouragement and comfort for the family, who must be still reeling in shock from his sudden passing. JUNE 27, 2015. Trooper Lu’s Garage is a motorcycle shop at Moorebank, south-west of Sydney. It is one of the largest Yamaha dealers in the state, and is solely Yamaha (they don’t sell other makes, which most dealers do). Today they had a big open-day. There were discounts on all items for sale, test-rides, a show-and-shine, and a display by stunt-rider Dave McKenna – who just happens to ride a Yamaha MT-09. And, what an incredible rider he is! The things he does with a motorcycle are just incredible! Also there were a couple of bikes (which are based on Yamahas) from the new Mad Max movie. Stephen Gall, who rides some of the bikes in the movie, was on hand to talk about them (and be photographed with The Old Bloke). For me, it was an enjoyable ride there and back – an interesting look around the bikes, and of course, watching Dave McKenna strut his stuff. Oh, and meeting Stephen Gall and having a sit on one of the Mad Max bikes. Firstly, a couple of photos of the day. Now some photos of Dave McKenna. Here is some video I took (on a pocket camera, and not particularly high-resolution) of Dave doing his tricks. That boy can sure ride!
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