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 2, 2016. I had a few things to do today, so had to decline the offer of a ride with some friends. I did finally get out for a short run though, leaving home about 3.30 this afternoon. I decided to ride up Jamberoo Pass and to the famous Robertson Pie Shop. It turned out to be a most enjoyable run! The first pleasant surprise was that the Jamberoo Pass road has been entirely re-surfaced and is now a good smooth ride all the way from Jamberoo to the end at Robertson Pie Shop. It's not too long ago that I rode along here but I don't remember it being so totally smooth as this. (I remember years ago riding it on a trailbike when it was all dirt!). It's a nice ride – if a bit tight around some of the corners etc – but still a nice ride with the road being a smooth ride now. Just after I pulled up, a group of about 6 bikes rode in and parked next to me, so it looked like I was on the end of the row of bikes. Parked right next to me was a big Honda Goldwing. Massive thing! Made my bike look small! I was sitting in the Pie Shop having a cuppa, when a riding friend from Nowra on the south coast rode in. He got a coffee and we had a good catch-up and chat. I then rode with him down Macquarie Pass to Albion Park where we went our separate ways. That was a pleasant ride too. He might have been on a scooter (a fairly new Vespa), but he is a very experienced rider and set a good pace; not too fast, but enjoyable and safe. I got home a bit after 6pm.
JANUARY 7, 2016. With almost a week of rain, (and alternating heat and rain before that), the riding has been a bit restricted. I have managed a couple of short runs (like the one I mentioned above), but any thoughts I had of touring (which I ha dintended doing!) have been put on hold. I had considered going for a short trip on the bike over these holidays, but it hasn’t happened, and next week my wife and I are going away in the car. Oh well, another time, maybe.
JANUARY 9, 2016. Another short, but enjoyable ride: to the same destination as on the 5th above. Not by Jamberoo Pass this time though, just up and down Macquarie Pass. The highlight of the trip was probably following a car up Macquarie Pass. Yes, you read that correctly! When a car is driven as superbly as this one was, it’s a joy to watch. I saw the red Ford Focus in the distance as I approached the Pass, and caught up with him not far from the bottom. Because I caught him up I must have been going faster than he was, but not by much, and he maintained a good pace. And his driving, as I mentioned, was superb! I think he only touched the brakes three times during the whole way; for the rest of the corners he just eased off the throttle and let the engine-braking slow the car slightly, then drove it through the corners. It might not be quite as fast as the boy-racer style of rushing up to the corners, hitting the brakes and charging through, but it’s much smoother, and the way I like to ride (or drive). The lines he was using through the corners were the classic “safe motorcycling” lines (they’re good for cars too) of wide entry and tight exit. And he didn’t put a wheel out of place the whole way. It really was a joy to watch! I tried to get a look at the driver, but caught just a glimpse on a tight corner: looked to be a young bloke.
JANUARY 14, 2016. The year has started off with recalls from some surprising brands. Honda, Suzuki, and BMW are generally considered to be well-built machines, but there have been problems. Honda is recalling the VFR1200 to replace the drive-shaft bearings. Apparently there is a danger of them collapsing and locking up the back wheel! (Last year they had to recall Goldwings due to brake faults that could cause them to over-heat and even catch fire!). Suzuki are recalling several models, including long-time reliable machines like the V-Strom, Bandit and Burgman, among others, for defective valve shims. Apparently they could cause premature wear to the camshaft, which could end up being a very expensive problem. The new V-Strom 1000 is being recalled due to a wiring connector that could suffer damage from exposure to the weather. If affected, it could result in the engine not being able to be turned off! And BMW is recalling its scooters because the front brake-line could suffer abrasion causing it to rub through and not work. Oh there is an abrasion protector on it, but apparently they’ve been putting it in the wrong place. For further details, check the recall web-site, at www.recalls.gov.au. Even if you don’t think your bike is affected, the site makes for some interesting reading! JANUARY 14, 2016. Harley Davidson have finally done it – they have become the best-selling brand of bike in Australia! Honda previously held that mantle, partly due to their sales of bikes to Australia Post, but Harley has topped the sales charts for 2015 by a fair margin. This will be, as Mick Matheson described in Australian Road Rider, “much to the delight of many and the horror of others.” It’s certainly a big achievement for a manufacturer that commands a high retail price for at least most of its product. Of course the Street 500 has to take credit for a lot of the success. This not only brought Harley to a new, cheaper market, but also made the iconic brand accessible to learner riders. It doesn’t hurt that it’s actually quite a good bike too. Mick went a bit further in his article, working through Harley’s history (remember they almost went broke at one point!), and working out why they were suddenly so much in demand. The outlaw element selecting them as their motorcycle-of-choice helped, but Mick sees something else too, something he described as, “A century of sameness.” That’s a bit unfair really, as the bikes of today are nothing like the bikes of 100 years ago, but it is the only motorcycle brand that can boast of 100 years of unbroken manufacture. Mick sums it up thus: “A century of sameness meant they could legitimately consider themselves to be the real McCoy. Original. Authentic. So when popular culture looked for something everlasting and strong in an increasingly superficial world, there was Harley Davidson. It stood alone. Ready.” I think that’s a pretty good descrfiption of the basic appeal of Harley, and the lifestyle / culture that goes with it. He ended by saying, “Persistence and luck had paid off.”
JANUARY 16, 2016. Somewhere I would like to be today is the famous Grey Gum Café on the even more famous Putty Rd. Today a local group, of which I am a member, is having a “Raising The Flag” ceremony there. If you know anything about the café, it gets about 80% of its business from bikers, and pays recognition to this by installing flag-poles and inviting groups to fly their flags from these poles. It’s a great sight! Another group I’m a meber of, the Christian Motorcycle Association, had a similar flag-raising there a while ago. I couldn’t be at that either. (It’s too far from where I live to do it in one day, and so there’d be the problem of getting accommodation etc).
The particular group that’s there today is the Slow & Easy Riders. Now, you’d think that a group calling themselves “Slow & Easy” wouldn’t attract many people, but there are currently well over 900 members. And it is a great group! I’ve only been on a couple of rides with them, but am in contact with them through Facebook. They’re all about enjoying the ride and enjoying each other’s company. Boy-racers and show-offs are not welcome! And that’s what makes it so good. There’s no riders showing off, everyone gets on fine, and the rides are always at a sensible speed, with consideration to anyone who might be on restricted licence (L or P plates) or have slower bikes. The group is run by a woman, Sharon, who sets out the rules and has a way of making sure that people who join the group are going to abide by its intentions. She has a way of maintaining this easy-going culture within the group. The members all refer to her affectionately (and respectfully) as “Boss”. (That's her raising the flag). She wrote this on the Facebook page just prior to setting out on the ride (they’re staying overnight up there). “I must admit sometimes over the last year and a half it’s been difficult to keep things rolling so that we have a ride every single week, and we have certainly had our challenges along the way - but the time has come to celebrate the fact that we are here to stay and so with this in mind I have arranged a Slow and Easy Riders flag to be made and we will be having our little ceremony up there on Saturday 16th January at 12.00pm.” Well done, Sharon! I hope it goes well!
JANUARY 17, 2016
I had a lot of things to do – get things ready for starting back to work tomorrow, wash the car – which got filthy with road grime from a week away on holidays, and a wet dirty road yesterday especially – and.... But the sun was shining, temps were low 20s.... I can wash the car later, do the other stuff tomorrow before I start – I'm going for a ride! So I went for a ride around the Southern Highlands for a while. Then back home and at least do some of the stuff I had to do. But the ride was good!
FEBRUARY 3, 2016. When they say that “motorcycling is a lifestyle” I don't think this is what they mean! A photo from my brother-in-law, who is holidaying in the Philippines. He says that all this is attached to the bike. The guy lives on the bike, along with his 3-year old daughter and a dog. (It's a bike and sidecar).
The second photo shows the whole massive complex packed up and mobile. Incredible!!
FEBRUARY 18, 2016. I snicked the bitumen with the toe of my boot today. I went for a short ride to a town not far away. I swung into the tight turn on the exit-ramp off the highway. The road surface was good, there was no traffic coming the other way, so I leaned it over a bit more and powered out. Good fun! And as I did, the toe of my boot just touched the road. It was a surprise because I didn't think I was leaning over that far. Like most people I suppose, my normal relaxed riding position has my feet pointing downwards (because my legs are angled back). But if I get at all serious in corners, I move my feet back, resting the ball of my foot on the peg, or angle my foot up so that if it does touch it would be knocked backwards off the peg, not bent underneath it. But on this occasion ... well, I just didn't think I was over far enough to bother. Lesson learnt for today – just a bit too relaxed!
FEBRUARY 20, 2106. I’ve done a couple of test-rides lately. Today was on the MV Agusta Brutale 1090. It was probably the most enjoyable test-ride I've done in a long time – either solo or in a group. I’ll leave the details for the test-report, but I ended up going out with a young sports-bike-riding type salesman who had been itching to take a group out all day (the owner of the dealership had led previous rides) and a young guy who was considering trading his CBR 1000 on a MV Agusta Dragster 800RR. Notice anything about the group? Yeah, as I said to them before we left, “I'll be the old Grandad toddling along behind”. And I was, but as I said, it was one of the most enjoyable test rides I've done in a long time.
Once we got onto some back roads they put the hammer down and were soon out of sight. Next we came down a narrow winding mountain pass, and the sporty young-uns were really hammering – both wanting to see just how good their mounts were compared to their own sports bikes. Not surprisingly they again left me way behind. But at each point they waited and gave me a cheery smile and thumbs up as I arrived. It was very enjoyable – partly because of the bike (yes, it impressed me!), but also because I felt no embarrassment at not keeping up. They knew, and I knew, that I wasn't going to keep up with their full-on race-pace, but there was a kind of understanding between us, that I didn’t mind them racing ahead and having fun, and they didn’t mind me riding much slower behind them. Just how much fun they'd been having was revealed when excitedly chatting about their exploits when we got back. I'd had a good ride, and their enjoyment was so infectious it just added to my enjoyment of the day.
FEBRUARY 27, 2016. On January 14th I mentioned recalls coming from factories including Honda, BMW and Suzuki – all brands that usually turn out well-made well-sorted machines. Well, there’s been another one, this time from Yamaha. Although it isn’t officially a “recall” here in Australia. A couple of readers brought this to my attention, knowing that I own one of the bikes affected. The problem relates to an oil nozzle positioned above the primary chain. The end of the nozzle has insufficient clearance to the primary chain, raising the possibility that the chain may hit the nozzle, breaking it. And if a broken piece of nozzle gets caught in the primary chain that could “Cause the primary chain to fail.” Models affected range from 2007 up to the present day. 2007? It’s taken almost 9 years to discover this fault? Well yes. You see, it apparently is a problem that mostly will only occur at high mileages. What happens is that as the chain wears it becomes looser, allowing it to flex more, which could cause it to hit the oil nozzle. The fix is to replace the nozzle with a shorter one. Pretty easy. In the U.K. this has been an official recall, but Yamaha Australia haven’t done that. Thus current owners aren’t being notified, and the recall doesn’t appear on the Australian recall page. Instead, Yamaha says that they have, “implemented a service campaign to install the new Oil Nozzle Kit to XJR1300. Please arrange with your dealer to have the new Oil Nozzle kit installed.” I presume this means that dealers are being advised to carry out the modification at a regular service – although they haven’t confirmed this is how it is being done. But if, like me, you don’t get your bike serviced at a dealer, you would never know. Thanks to the internet and user clubs for spreading the word!
FEBRUARY 28, 2016. I use the weather radar quite a lot. Especially the BOM radar, you can see at one glance what the weather is doing in various places within a good radius: what the temperature is, if it’s raining, and so on. Today it threw me though!
Some riding friends were going for a ride into the Southern Highlands. I couldn’t go with them, but thought I might be able to leave in time to catch up with them for lunch. It was a nice sunny morning, but then it started to get a bit overcast. So I checked the radar, and there was rain up in the highlands, with a band of rain virtually tracing the route they were going. By the time I was ready to leave it had fined up outside. I checked the radar again and the rain was showing in the same place. Odd, because it didn't look black towards the mountains from what I could see from home. Also, the forecast had said almost nil chance of rain – and yet there it was! But of course we know that forecasts aren't always right. South looked clear, so eventually I decided I would go for a ride south. While I was having lunch I got a text from my friend saying there was no sign of rain where they were.
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I checked the radar again and it was still showing the same thing. My mate then worked out that it was stuck on yesterday's images – even though the date and time were correct. Great!! So, following his text, I thought I'd come back through the Highlands. There was a lot of traffic heading north too, so that way would avoid the traffic and be more interesting. I still rode down to Nowra, having a look at the river near the boat ramp. (You can see the bike enjoying the view of the river in the photo here). It was a good ride, but would’ve been better if I’d gone with the other guys, or even went where they were and caught up for lunch. Technology!!!
MARCH 5, 2016. Today I joined a ride organised by a group called “Loud Pipes & Big Hearts”. The ride was to donate goods and money to a family that lost everything in a house fire recently. I always enjoy combining my love of motorcycling with doing some good in the community, so this was another opportunity to do that.
It’s a great thing to do. It helps project a positive image of motorcycling, which is always a good thing, and of course gives a bit of assistance to people in need. I know from the wonderful support our family has been shown during tough times, that it means so much to people in these situations when others do things like this to help! It's not just a material thing you do – you give items or money to these people – but in the face of tragedy you give them the knowledge that people care about them; and it is that, just as much as the goods and money in a way, that gives them the strength to get on their feet and start again. So well done to Carla, the woman who heads up this group, for organising it, and to all the guys and gals who supported it! MARCH 12, 2106. Murphy's law, and the law of averages, says it had to happen eventually – although I'd prefer it didn't! I've been attending bike-shop ride days for around 15 years, and been taking bikes out for test-rides (mainly for the web-site), for a ride day with Aprilia and Moto Guzzi test bikes today. I rode an Aprilia Shiver 750. A good ride south along some highway, then back along some flowing back-roads. The bike was impressive. All was good – until the very end, when I fell over! In the parking area! Most bikes were parking in jumbled fashion to the right. I decided to follow another rider to the left where there was lots of room in front of the workshop. I swung left and decided to park nose outwardsp. I turned left and with the bike feeling so light and stable, I put my feet on the pegs – a feet up U-turn on this would be easy. I began the turn, but then needing a tighter turn, I leaned in and turned the bars – but the bars didn’t turn! I was out of lock. So the bike tipped over. The footpegs are quite high and I couldn't get my leg out quick enough to save it so the bike went down, with me basically still sitting on it, with my leg under the bike. I put my hand out to break my fall (as you do!) and landed on my hip, knee and then shoulder. Also my head hit the ground. Of course I had all the gear on, so didn't sustain any serious injury. My hand / wrist was jarred pretty badly, and my knee and hip were sore, but okay. I didn’t even feel the impact on my shoulder (armour in the jacket doing its job!), and my helmet did its job absorbing the impact to my head. I was aware of my head hitting the concrete driveway but I felt the cushioning of the helmet. Hardly felt the impact, and no soreness there. It did scratch my visor a bit though. People came running over as I scrambled up. They picked the bike up. (And asked if I was okay, too). The bike sustained some very small scratches to the end of the handlebar, and bent the gear lever in against the motor. The Aprilia guy looked at the bike closely but said it was only very minor marks so wouldn't worry about it. Yes, embarrassing! And probably silly putting my feet up, but it was easy to ride feet-up – well, it would've been if the steering had more lock!
MARCH 18. In January I mentioned recalls from some surprising manufacturers – ones you’d normally associate with high-quality production, like Honda, Suzuki and BMW. Then on February 14 I mentioned a recall from Yamaha. (Even though it wasn’t being treated as an actual recall by Yamaha Australia). Well, to that we can now add, again from Yamaha, their latest and greatest R1. Apparently it could possibly catch fire, which would not be a good thing to happen to your new super-sports. Even worse is that it might suddenly stop and throw you off! The fire could happen because, Yamaha say, “It is possible for an oil leak to occur, from the O-Ring on the Oil Delivery Pipe where it enters the engine case, because of improper assembly of the components. If a leak occurs, oil could leak onto the exhaust and in extreme circumstances the oil could catch fire.”
The possibility of suddenly stopping comes from a weakness in the gearbox. To again quote Yamaha, “In affected motorcycles, both second gear wheel and pinion gears in the transmission may break as a result of extremely high stress and/or improper shifting. This is due to inadequate component strength and stress concentration at the gear teeth bottom land. In addition, the third and fourth wheel gears may be deformed or break as a result of excessive stress caused by hard usage. This is due to inadequate component strength. If gears fail, the transmission could lock up, causing loss of control that could result in a crash with injury or death.” Yes, having the gearbox lock-up at high speed would not be good! I had this happen on a new bike many years ago. The bike was (co-incidentally) a Yamaha – a DT175 road-trail. This wasn’t a manufacturing fault though, it was an assembly fault. The nut on the end of the main gearbox drive-shaft hadn’t been done up tightly enough and it allowed the shaft to move sideways, resulting in the gears getting tangled up and the back wheel suddenly locking. Luckily I wasn’t going fast at the time and came to a stop with the back wheel skidding slightly sideways. The bike was taken away and the gear-box untangled and I had no more trouble. It’d be horrific if it happened on a sports-bike healed over going into turn 1 at Eastern Creek at a couple of hundred clicks!
MARCH 26, 2016. Easter weekend. So double-demerits in place and lots of police around – well there was supposed to be. Lots of traffic too. I joined a couple of riding friends for a ride westward into the Southern Highlands, and away from coastal holiday traffic. Good to get out with these guys again. It’d been a while since I’d ridden with them – with bad weather, other commitments etc I’ve not been able to go with them. A lot of holiday traffic in places, but not too much bother to us – especially when we got onto some back roads. Only saw a couple of police – one going the other way, and one that pulled someone over on the highway. We saw it as we crossed a bridge over the highway.
MARCH 27, 2016. The local riding group with a focus on charity-type events I mentioned on March 5 above, Loud Pipes And Big Hearts, had organised a ride this morning to the local hospital to drop off some Easter eggs at the children’s ward. What a great idea! Although we had family coming around, I wanted to be a part of that! My daughter, who spent a lot of time in the Children’s Ward with her son in 2014, said how much this would be appreciated by the kids there. But the morning was wet: light rain and slushy road outside. So, that was out. Although it fined up just as the ride would’ve been starting. And the group (who were mostly coming from south of where I live) did go on the ride. So well done, everyone! ‘Tis a great thing you did!
MARCH 27, 2016. Today Honda launched a web-site spruiking the wonders of its DCT (Dual Clutch Technology) transmission. Sounds like a pretty good thing too – in short, the advantages of a manual in drivability, but the convenience and ease of an automatic. Check it out here. MARCH 28, 2106. Thanks to Rod for sending this in. An Australian company has designed what it claims to be a better system of front suspension than the time-honoured telescopic forks we all know. Of course others have tried different approaches – most notably, BMW with its Paralever system. We had hub-steering tried by a few manufacturers too – without much success. Anyway, check this out - it looks weird, but might actually work. The report seems to think so.
APRIL 9, 2016. Dubbo was the place to be today - if you're a woman anyway!
An attempt to break the world record for the most number of women on motorcycles at the same place. Apparently 1002 women rolled into the area and the record was well and truly broken. (Apparently the previous record was around 350). Congratulations every one! And especially to those (and I know there were quite a lot) who rode long distances to get there and support it and be a part of it. Great to see!!
MAY 1, 2106. Today I went to one of my favourite bike events of the year – the annual Classic Bike Display at Berry, on the south coast of NSW. It’s always a great event, with a wide selection of bikes on display. Not all were “classics”; there were a few modern bikes amongst them all too; as you can see in the photos below. Great to see anyway! By the way, that is my youngest grandson standing beside the bike. Yes, I took him along too. That meant driving there rather than riding, but that’s okay – I like spending time with my grandkids!
The Norton Fastback in the centre of the second row of photos below won Best Bike In Show. A beautiful bike! There were lots of other great bike son show – too many to mention here! If you are on Facebook, I have an album of over 40 photos posted on my page. So you can check them out there. (And if you’re not on Facebook, or haven’t “liked” my page, things like these photo albums etc is a good reason to join!).
16th May 2016. I was coming back from a classic car day at Berry this afternoon, on the road from Jamberoo to Albion Park. There was a P-plater in a Subaru Liberty toddling along in front and I caught up to him pretty quickly. Suddenly, when we got to a relatively straight piece of road, he took off like a startled rabbit! I just kept going at the same (roughly legal) speed. When we got to corners I caught up with him again. Once we were through the corners, off he went again! I don't think he liked the idea of an old car catching him up! Idiot!
Then a motorbike came up behind – I'm embarrassed to say I'm not sure what it was, but it was on historic registration; maybe a 1980s Honda? (Looked a bit like a CX650Turbo, but probably wasn't). Anyway, we came to a section that has a sharp left-hander then a long uphill stretch with a blind crest at the top. Once again I ran up close behind the Subaru through the corner. As we exited the corner and got to the unbroken line, the bike pulled out to overtake us both. Mr. P-plater was doing his usual speed-up on the straights thing, I accelerated up to about 90kph (80kph speed limit) and once again just let him go. The bike passed me (which was when I noticed the historic plate) as we exited the corner but as he got beside the Subaru, P-plater flattened it! The bike was obviously trying hard too, but couldn't get past. So they proceeded, both accelerating at full tilt, side-by-side up the hill towards the blind crest. When almost at the top, the bike swerved left towards the car, forcing him to swerve half off the road and let him in. If something had been coming the other way (especially quickly) it would've been a head-on! The P-plater in the Subaru was obviously an idiot! And obviously had some sort of complex about other vehicles being better / quicker than him. But the guy on the bike should've given up and pulled in behind him long before he got to the danger-point near the crest of the hill. That was stupid! And you really don't want idiots like that behind you anyway! The things you see!
17th May 2016. More stupidity. (See above). Not far from where I live is a bridge over an expressway. Today I went for a walk and stopped on the bridge to watch the traffic. I saw 7 bikes go past during the time I was there – 5 cruisers and 2 sports / sports-tourers. Of those, 4 of the cruiser riders were wearing T-shirt and shorts! One cruiser rider was fully kitted up, as were the two sports-bike riders. Crazy!
Yesterday on my way to the classic car show, I was driving along the highway beside a guy on a cruiser – T-shirt, shorts and thongs! All that bare skin, with his two big feet sticking out front on the forward controls, in thongs! As I said, crazy!! May 21, 2016. Today saw the running of a charity event I organised, in memory of my grandson who passed-away from a brain tumour in January last year. The inaugural Joshua Bell Cure Cancer Run was held last year, (see May 30 last year). This year it followed the same format of being an event for bikes and classic cars. Joshua would often come with me – along with one of his brothers – on car runs with my car club. He also went to bike shows with me, or even on trips to visit bike shops. So having an event centred around bikes and classic cars seemed an appropriate thing to do. There was no set run for the event, rather the event itself was a gathering at a local community-centre hall, with people making their own way to the event. (Several routes were suggested on the web-site). I made a couple of changes this year, one being to the charity: instead of the Steven Walter Found, I chose The Kids Cancer Project. That was partly because it has a higher profile in the wider community, and partly because the donation process was easier. Although in response to suggestions from people last year, most donations were received at the door, rather than having to go to the web-site as we did last year. (It was a bit of a convoluted process last year, and people donated at the door anyway). I thought our numbers of bikes might be down a bit, because a local bike group that supported us last year had another important event on the same day. They did still support mine though, by encouraging anyone who wasn’t going on the other run to come to mine. Perhaps because of that – and also because of wider publicity, with the local paper running a story on it – we had a good number of bikes – more than the cars almost. As last year, I went to local businesses (bike shops and car-accessory places) asking for donations of items we could use as prizes. That was another change – there were more prizes this year! Businesses were very generous and supportive. We also had Shannons Insurance support us. All the money isn’t in yet, but when it is, the total raised will be a bit over $1,800 – all of which goes straight to the charity! There are no overheads to come out of that at all! I’ll put a few photo (mainly of the bikes, of course) below. If you want to find out more about this, and the story behind it, click the link to the web-site highlighted above. A couple of riders escorted him to the bikes where he was given the choice of which bike to sit on to have his photo taken. He picked a shiny blue cruiser, and there were smiles all round as he sat on the bike and the cameras clicked. The mother said, “He loved seeing the bikes and sitting on it. I think all the kids wanted to know who he was after that!” As Carla said, “Hopefully this will give him some new confidence; and perhaps bullies might think twice in the future.” They are maintaining contact to make sure he continues to be okay. Carla said, “We did not go there to display threatening behaviour; instead we just made a fuss of the child, getting some pics of him with bikes and stuff.” What a wonderful story! It seriously brought me to tears to think how this little autistic boy, who had been suffering at the hands of inconsiderate bullies, had his self-esteem lifted so hugely by these caring people. The little boy who had been the subject of bullying was now the subject of envy. Now he was the cool little dude with the biker mates! It’s a great example of changing someone’s life with a positive and caring attitude: fighting negativity with positivity. Well done everyone!!
May 28th, 2016. Today was to be a ride in memory of Martin, the former sales manager at City Coast Motorcycles, in Wollongong, who passed away suddenly a year ago. Talk about unlucky with the weather! After a couple of weeks or so of fine weather, today it rained!
The ride was to proceed up Macquarie Pass to the famous Robertson Pie Shop and then down the narrow twisty Jamberoo Pass. So they very wisely decided to postpone the ride until next Saturday. A few hopefuls still turned up outside the shop. And you wouldn’t believe it – during the afternoon it fined up! (Although the roads in the mountains would still be pretty slick! So, as I said, a wise decision to postpone it). How unlucky! I felt sorry for them, after all the effort and planning that goes into these things. Hopefully the weather will be kind next weekend.
May 26th 2016. This is such a wonderful story! There was a little boy at school who was being bullied by class-mates. Being autistic, he was not one of the popular kids. He was the one who was always left out of activities, the one who never got invited to parties. There’d been parties where the whole class, or sports-team, had been invited; but not him. Some days he’d refuse to go to school, and sometimes pretend to be sick to come home. His mother was aware of the bullying, but he wouldn’t tell her exactly what was happening; which made the situation even more difficult.
A local bike group, called Loud Pipes and Big Hearts, who have taken on the task of doing good in the community and helping out those in need, decided to step in to help. Carla, the woman who heads up the group, said she just wanted to “lift the self-esteem and spirit of the young fella who has been getting a hard time at school.” Her idea was to take some bikes to the school for him to look at and maybe sit on. She soon had some willing participants, and arranged a visit with the little boy’s mother. Before they did the visit, they found a child-size biker’s vest on sale at a bike show. It had “Biker In Training” emblazoned across the back. So they bought it for him. They gave him the vest before they did the visit. On the day of the visit, a bunch of bikes rolled up outside the school. His mother was there to meet them all. When he came out of school, wearing his new “biker vest”, his body language was very different: he had an air of confidence around his “new biker mates.”
June 1, 2016. Our Facebook page (“The Old Bloke”) is one year old today. It’s been pretty successful too, with a lot o0f followers and good feedback etc. There’s a lot of common entries between this page and the Facebook page, but some are different. Some items appear here that don’t get put on Facebook; but there are more items on Facebook that are suitable for the immediate audience that don’t get put here. And you see lots more photos there – especially of bike shows etc, as there is a limit to how many photos can be put here, and even then they are small. On Facebook they are screen-size large and I can put heaps of them there. So one is not exactly a duplication of the other, even though there is a lot content that is common to both. It’s worth checking out – especially if you are already a Facebook user. Just search for “the old bloke” and you’ll soon find it.
June 2, 2016. First road-test of the new Yamaha MT-10. I think he likes it! It sounds glorious too! So take a look – and turn the speakers up! To see the test, click here.
June 5, 2016. Motor racing is dangerous: and motorcycle racing even more so. And the Isle Of Man races even more so again! Sadly, two racers, one an Australian, were killed on the same day. I read that, over the course of these races, 250 riders have been killed! Such a tragedy! I love watching it (although have to wait months for the highlights before I can!), but you’ve got to wonder about the wisdom of allowing these races to continue. Yes, I know the riders know the risks and choose to race there, but the dangers are so high!
June 8, 2016. My day off, the sun is shining, time to go for a ride! With bad weather, and other commitments, it's been over 3 weeks since I've had the bike out. Only thing is I have an appointment with a dental surgeon this morning. I have to have a tooth out, (actually one and the remains of another), and it's a tricky one so the dentist referred me to a dental surgeon. This visit is just for him to see what has to be done and then arrange to do it. So I'll go there, come back home, get on the bike and go somewhere for lunch and then a further ride. But ....
The dental surgeon has a look at the X-ray and at my tooth. “Hmm, yes, okay, that's fine, I can do that in the chair, no need for hospital. I can do it now if you like.” Umm, err, what??? And there will go another ride! But, I'm there, it needs to be done ....okay, we'll do it now. But exchanging a ride for having acouple of teeth being surgically removed was not a good swap! June 9, 2016. Speaking of City Coast Mortorcycles - which I was above - they have been busy getting a Yamaha SR400 modified to cafe-racer style. The work was done by a local firm, Rewind Motorcycles. Looks pretty cool, doesn't it! True, the seat doesn't look too comfortable, and I'm not particularlty fond of those heat-wrapped exhausts, but it looks the part of the cafe-racer, doesn't it! (And being practical is not what these exercises are about!). I do like the Kenny Roberts style paintwork. On the left below is the standard bike (stock photo) and then there's the modded one.
June 13, 2016. The long weekend. Not a good time to be on the roads, but I don’t mind so much on the bike. Head towards less populated areas; and when you encounter traffic, well, filtering is legal now isn’t it! But alas, no ride again!! Saturday was very windy; not nice for riding, and also I was concerned that the pressure of the cheek-pads against the side of my face might not be good for my extracted teeth repair. (See entry above). Sunday I had another commitment, but Monday was looking good! But Saturday night there is a sudden stab of pain in my back! All I did was get up off a chair, but probably turning slight as I did so. Now it looks like I’m in for a major episode with my back, which could take weeks to recover from! Grrrr!
JUNE 22, 2016. Rod sent me some information from an article he read on-line concerning emission laws in Europe, which are about to get a whole lot tougher, and will mean many existing air-cooled bikes will be dropped, because it will be hard to get them to pass the laws. We usually lag a bit behind Europe in how stringent our emission laws are, but if the changes come in Europe, the effects will probably be felt here, in the form of the models cut and also cuts to the more expensive equipment (which is usually left fitted for all markets if required for most). Bikes already have low emissions compared to cars, so I reckon it's pretty bad that they are getting so tough on them. Safety equipment though – like ABS – is a different matter; and I'm all for that.
JUNE 22, 2016. Another one from Rod. This would be fabulous if it gets the go-ahead. With who is involved and who they plan to get involved, it's looking promising! It’s a proposed TV series called Bike Torque (no, the one we have already is Cycle Torque), and will be headed up by Mick Doohan. The pilot show is in the making, apparently. Check out the story here.
JUNE 25, 2016. Today I joined Martin's Memorial Ride, a ride organised by Wollongong’s City Coast Motorcycles in memory of their former sales manager, Martin Van Meegan who died suddenly of a heart attack one year ago. All proceeds going to the Heart Foundation.
The ride was supposed to have been on 28th May, but had to be postponed twice due to rain. Today was cool, but sunny. It was a bit chilly up on the mountain, (they stopped at the famous Robertson Pie Shop). I checked the temperature and it was 6.7 with a feels-like of 2.7! But I was rugged up pretty well, so it wasn't too bad. I knew Martin pretty well, and he was always friendly and encouraging, always pleased to let me ride anything they had available for test. So I was pleased to be a part of the ride today. (If you’re on Facebook, check my page there – the photos are much bigger and clearer). JUNE 30, 2016. It will probably be a bit late by the time you read this, but it could still be interesting. Statements by the main political parties on their policies / attitudes to motorcycling. Click here.
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