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!

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Click here to go to the previous Blog, which covers the period of January to June.
JULY 7, 2016. It looks like the Mick Doohan TV series mentioned on June 22 is going ahead. Check out the article here.

JULY 8, 2016. A short time ago I saw a video which appeared to show police in the UK using a “stinger” for motorcycles. They were abused for so doing, (justifiably! They could kill someone doing that!), but made no response. Now, ever the sceptic (especially of things you see on Facebook!), I decided to contact the UK police to verify if they were, in fact, using stingers for bikes. While it might not directly affect local riders, I have a number of readers who live in the UK; and as riders we should be concerned about the safety of other riders no matter where they live. So, as I emailed the UK police, providing links to the video (which has since been taken down) and to my web-site. This is the reply I received:
“Stingers can be deployed by police officers after drivers fail to stop when required to do so - resulting in a pursuit.  It is our understanding that this can be used in situations involving cars and bicycles. However, their use would be by trained officers after authorisation from a senior officer managing the pursuit. The officers deploying the stinger must conduct a thorough risk assessment before beginning a pursuit, considering factors including the potential risk to road users and the seriousness of the suspect offence. As we are a national database, we don't have the exact details of the policies in place regarding the use of stingers and this can vary from force to force. If you would like a copy of the police of a particular force, you can do this by making a freedom of information request to the force.”
This would seem to indicate that police are permitted to use stingers, but the rules would vary from one branch to another. I didn’t follow this up any further, but I am concerned at the thought of stingers being used to stop errant motorcyclists! For our UK readers, some of you might like to follow this up with your local divisions.

JULY 16, 2016. Some positive coverage of motorcyclists by the local press. This isn't the whole story though. The group - Loud Pipes & Big Hearts - has been very active helping people out; with things like donations to a couple who had their house burn down, donations to various other people in similarly needy positions, and even helping a little autistic boy who was being bullied at school. A group of motorcyclists who, as the name says, have big hearts and want to help people out. They have been doing wonderful work in the community, and it’s good to see their efforts being acknowledged by the press, who only too often just report on the negative side of the motorcycling community. Read the story here.

JULY 16, 2016.
I spotted this beautiful Yamaha XJ900 today. Immaculate 1987 model, with a genuine 74,000km. I was on a run with a classic car club and one of the members rode this. (Not quite a "historic" yet). These were a great bike - super reliable and super practical. There wouldn't be many around in this condition! Loved it!
JULY 22, 2016. Despite it being a windy day, that did deter some riders, we held a planned motorcycle display day at a local nursing home - HammondCare, which is a dementia care facility - today.
There were about 15 bikes there. It was sheltered from the wind inside the courtyard of the complex, and we were served up some sausage-sizzle lunch.
A lot of the residents came out to admire the bikes, some reminiscing about their involvement with bikes in their earlier days. One lady wanted to sit on a bike and hear the motor running. So riders and staff helped her on. Brought a big smile to her face! Great to see!
Thanks to the staff there and to all those riders who joined in with me and made this visit another great success. It's great to bring a bit of enjoyment and variety to these residents, providing something a little different for them to look at.
(That's me 2nd from the right, and far right is the woman who organises our visits there).
JULY 17, 2016. Check out this Celebrity Interview with Masterchef's Gary Mehigan, an avid rider himself! Click here.
JULY 24, 2016. I had a short ride up to Robertson on the NSW Southern Highlands today to catch up with a riding friend. As he lives about 130km away I don't see him very much and we don't go riding together. So it was good to catch up with him and a few of his group. Temperature up that way when I left was 5 degrees with a “feels-like” of less than 1. Winds gusting to 37kph. Hmm, not sounding good for a ride, but I figured the coldest part would be from the top of Macquarie Pass to Robertson, which isn't too far. I was reasonably well rugged-up. The wind didn't feel that strong, but it was chilly! Good to see you again anyway, Noel!
By the time I had lunch (in a nice warm café in Robertson) and headed back it had “warmed up” to 7 with a feels-like of just 2! Yes, very wintery!
But getting out on the bike two days in a row – that was good!
JULY 30, 2016. Is this better than the all-conquering BMW? Maybe, according to this glowing report. Ducati have released an Enduro version of the Multistrada 1200. (Click here for my road-test of the road-going S model).
Yes, the normal “S” version is a kind of dual-sport bike (as I described it in my report), but this one is aimed more seriously at dirt-road / off-road riding. It still has that odd “angry-birds” look about the front, and the other changes to make it better suit it’s off-road environment don’t exactly create a flattering visual image, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about handling dirt roads / fire-trails and even off-road tracks; and at that, according to this report, it does well! (Although he did get it bogged on a beach!). Click here for the story.

JULY 30, 2016. The Suzuki SV650 was one of the brand’s most popular models. And now it’s back! It replaces the Gladius (which was the replacement Suzuki brought in when they stopped making the SV back in 2009). It’s a totally new package to the Gladius; and hopefully a better one – the Gladius was pretty uncomfortable in seat, and suspension especially. This report seems to think it’s good anyway. 

JULY 30, 2016. Another new bike! (I’ve been catching up on my email notifications and on-line reviews!). Back in 2009 I rode a very unusual Harley – one that I actually liked to ride and could probably live with; one that liked corners and was easy to ride in corners. It was the XR1200. Yes, I know, that report accused the big Harleys of not handling well, but I now understand that the big touring Harleys (which I haven’t ridden) actually handle quite well. But I’d never ridden a Sportster that handled – until the XR1200. Then they discontinued it. Well, Harley's new Roadster could, arguably, be regarded a replacement for that – if not in terms of image (the XR paid tribute to the XR750, which won a few races back in the day), then at least in terms of function. Read Bike Sales’ report on it here. I think I need to go back to my local Harley dealer and have a ride!

AUGUST 9, 2016. “Temporary Australians” goes to the US. I’ve just come across this: “Hirsty” (Greg Hirst, long-time motorcycling identity who hosts the said TV show) has gone to the US to film a road trip from LA to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. They are going via Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Wyoming. This will be shown as part of the 5th season of the TV show. You can follow a blog of the trip on the Temporary Australians web-site: click here to go to the road-trip page.
AUGUST 14, 2016. Today I went to the Sydney Motor Sport Park (which we all still know as Eastern Creek) for the Shannons CMC Display day. This is a huge event, the biggest display of classic vehicles in the southern hemisphere! They get up to around 1900 vehicles there. Now, most of the vehicles are cars: I don’t know why exactly, but bikes are a very small proportion of the display. But there were some. (I was in my classic car – a 1974 Triumph sedan). Below are some photos of some of the bikes.
A highlight for me was the chance to drive around the track. I’ve never driven around a racetrack before – apart from Mt Panorama at Bathurst, but that’s a public road anyway. It would’ve been great to have had a classic bike and ridden around it! But a drive was still good. Not at racing-speed, of course, but at a leisurely speed behind a pace-car. In my group was a wide variety of cars: directly in front of me was a Cadilac and a Mini, and the car immediately behind me was a Rolls Royce.
AUGUST 19, 2016. Harley Davidson is in trouble over what sounds rather similar to the VW scandal. Only not quite so bad. It’s a bit of a worry for those people who bought the devices though! I suppose HD will have to replace them with standard units at no cost to the customer (other than reduced performance!). Click here for the story.

AUGUST 28, 2016. It was good to get out on the bike and go for a ride with some good riding friends again today. We haven't ridden together much in recent times, mainly due to other commitments resulting in conflicting schedules, wet weekends and so on. The weather was great as was the company. Good people to ride with.
We encountered a group of idiots on the famous Macquarie Pass. A couple of groups that came together with us as we all followed a slow car. Some of these overtook across double-lines, around blind corners, one almost ran off the road (down a big drop!). One L-plater kept popping little wheelies and then did a big standing-on-the-pegs wheelie for about 50 m. Talking about these later, one of our group said, “Those blokes must've thought we looked like paramedics, the way they were riding!” Ha ha – I reckon that was definitely the quote of the day!

AUGUST 29, 2016. More news from Harley Davidson! A new motor – that’s always big news! This sounds good – more power, more torque, and less vibration! Sounds good to me, but some traditionalists might not like it, as the article says. Click here to read all about it.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2016. I saw an article today about a crash on the famous (or infamous) Macquarie Pass. As you may or may not know, Maquarie Pass has steep drops off the side of the road in many places, some with no guard-rail. A woman hit a guard-rail and fell down a steep cliff. Luckily, she landed on a pile of mulch that had been discarded over the side by road-workers. (There have been a lot of road-works on the Pass in recent months). A case of being unlucky that it happened, but lucky how it turned out! Read the article here. After reading the article, one very experienced rider reckoned he had sussed out what had happened. The particular left-hand hairpin is very sharp, with the road being very narrow. As he pointed out, it is very easy to run wide when negotiating the bend. He hypothesised that she had run wide, hit the brakes, which would have stood the bike up, and thrown her over the side. That was a creditable theory, although the fact that the road was wet I thought would’ve resulted in a different outcome. Hitting the brakes (especially the front) on a wet road would’ve more likely resulted in the front wheel locking and the bike sliding out in a “low-side” crash; which would not have sent her over the side. So I thought that some other scenario was probably more likely. Soon the real story of what happened came out. Apparently as she rounded the bend, she was confronted with a Jeep coming up on the wrong side of the road. She then accelerated to the right (the Jeep’s left) to avoid the head-on, but hit the guard-rail and plunged over the side.
Now, I think there is a message here: and that is to never go onto the wrong side of the road to avoid an on-coming vehicle. I’ve heard of other people doing this, and it not ending well. In this woman’s case, staying where she was would probably have resulted in a head-on collision. But the fact that this bend is so tight that speeds are generally not much more than walking-pace (if you’re going faster then you’re going too fast!) would mean that she could almost have just stepped off the bike and ran out of the way. Accelerating onto the wrong side of the road meant that she missed the Jeep, but had her going too fast and hitting the guard-rail, and then being thrown over it. Okay, that was this case, but there is another good reason why you should never do this. When someone is on the wrong side of the road and is confronted with an on-coming vehicle, the natural reaction is to swerve back onto the correct side of the road. If they do this they end up swerving straight into the path of the on-coming vehicle that has darted across the road in an attempt to avoid the crash. I remember a story of a car many years ago that did this. Car A pulled out (probably with too little room ahead) to overtake a car. With the overtake almost completed another car (call it car B) popped into view from the other direction. A collision seemed inevitable, so car A accelerated and swerved hard right, hoping to pass the on-coming car on its left side. But Car B saw the approaching car and immediately swerved left to avoid the crash. Both cars ended up in a ditch beside the road – where they suffered a head-on collision that killed one of the drivers. Just recently I read about a guy who was suddenly in the path of an on-coming car with nowhere to go. He swerved left, resulting in the car going up a grassy embankment. He drove along the side of this embankment for a short distance then steered back onto the road. Luckily, the only damage was a few scrapes and some clumps of grass around the front end.
Being faced with the prospect of a head-on crash is always a serious and potentially fatal situation. No matter what you do, you might still end up seriously hurt (or worse); but going left, rather than right (across to the wrong side of the road) is always a better option. 

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016. Well it seems the NSW government’s “Lower the speed-limit” approach to any road that has more than the average number of crashes, has been implemented again, on another favourite biker’s road. This time it’s sections of the famed Oxley Highway that have come in for the chop. You can read all about it here. My take on this is that the bureaucrats, and their philosophy that reducing speed-limits will cure all, is misguided and done purely so that they can be “seen to be doing something” which the general public probably accepts as being “something”, rather than “nothing”. But we know that reducing the speed limit is not the answer. If there have been crashes on a section that has, say a 100kph limit, and they reduce it to 80kph, this they claim will reduce crashes. But will it? I would say that the majority of crashes that involved speed were people going way over the previous 100kph limit, so they were breaking the speed-limit anyway. Lowering the speed-limit doesn't help – it just makes the fines bigger for those who continue to treat it like a race-track and get caught. I think it can even cause crashes, because people get so frustrated at going slower than appropriate, that they either miss something through looking at the speedo instead of the road, or they become so frustrated at the person in front doing a few kph under the new speed limit that they overtake in unsafe places. And it spoils the fun for the rest of us who ride safely.

OCOTBER 3, 2016. I had a very enjoyable ride today with my son-in-law on his newly-acquired Harley and my daughter riding pillion with him.
I've often gone for a ride with my son-in-law, during the various periods of bike ownership he has had over the years, but never with my daughter along for the ride too. That was different!
He is a truck-driver by trade, so has good road-sense, and rode sensibly (at least when I was there he did!), so I wasn't too worried. It was a relatively short ride, but a very enjoyable outing!
He still had the after-market gunfighter seat on – which has a tiny rounded pad for a pillion seat. My daughter said it was like sitting on a hard log! (Someone referred to these seats as “a bum-crack enhancer”. My daughter reckons that was a pretty good description!). She was lifting herself off the seat when she saw anything that looked like a bump coming up, and had a sore backside by the half-way stop, and even more by the time we got home. Better put the standard seat back on next time!
OCTOBER 5, 2016. I received an email from with a link to this article. Amazing! Dougie Lampkin, the great trials champion, has successfully pulled off one of the biggest challenges of his career, riding an entire lap of the 37.7 mile Isle of Man TT course on the back wheel. That’s one hell of a wheelie!! Click here to go to the article. And in the article is a link to the original live telecast of it, so you can watch the whole lap (all 95 minutes of it!) if you want to. (I watched a lot of it – just amazing!).

OCTOBER 11, 2016.
I wandered around a couple of bike shops today while my wife was shopping for dress material. I saw this Triumph Thruxton R. Looks fabulous I reckon! The gold forks and yellow springs etc all set it off beautifully!
OCTOBER 11, 2106. Another thing I looked at while in one of the bike shops (see the entry above) was tyres. One shop had Michelin Pilot Road 3s and 2s in stock, as well as a few of the current 4s. I rolled out a few of the 3s and 2s and looked at the date of manufacture: all were made in 2012. So they are 4 years old. Now, it has been said that if the tyres are stored in a place that is isolated from the weather (such as a bike shop?), they don’t actually deteriorate. So these could still be a good buy – especially as they were being discounted a bit. But the important thing is that you look at these things and know what you are buying. 

OCTOBER 12, 2016. Rod sent me this link. It’s a list of helmets and how they rate in terms of protection and comfort. The results are interesting! As often happens in these sort of comparative tests, there are some cheaper brands towards the top and some big names low down on the list. It's hard to rate comfort, as that is fairly subjective, beyond a certain measurable degree anyway. (You can measure the amount of padding etc inside, but not the over-all comfort and fit, which can be different for each person). The protection provided is another matter though – that can be measured and has been with all of these helmets.
If you compare results of full-face with open-face there is an obvious difference in the level of protection offered. And the level of comfort. Wind-noise – as you’d expect – is significantly higher with open-face helmets.

OCTOBER 15, 2016. I went to a test-ride day at a local Yamaha dealer today. I had booked a ride on a Yamaha XSR700 – the baby-brother to the XSR900. It was a good day! The test-route they take you on is very generous, incorporating some heavy traffic, some open highway, then a considerable length of secondary road through rural areas before returning to the city traffic again. The staff are very friendly, and it was just a nice atmosphere. (With plenty of bikes – of various makes – to look at!). They were providing sausage sandwiches, so when I got back from my ride I had one of those while sitting out the front of the shop. Very relaxing and enjoyable! I wrote some notes on the ride in my phone's notepad while I was sitting there.
After lunch I decided to go for a further ride, and do a loop through Bomaderry, Kangaroo Valley and Robertson. An enjoyable day. Oh, and the test-report will be coming soon!  (Click here).
OCTOBER 23, 2016. I went to a meeting at the local branch of Camp Quality today. They are planning a motorbike charity ride next year, based on the concept of the Moto Cyc event run by the Newcastle branch. As this will be their first event of this type, they are starting out much smaller than the Newcastle one, which is a 4-day event run over the NSW south coast and Snowy region. Theirs will begin next year as an overnight ride with a small number of riders. But it’ll follow the same principle as the Newcastle one, and their esCARpade event, where participants have to raise a substantial donation to qualify for their entry. (That's the main way the event raises funds). They've already put a lot of planning into the event, but asked for input from people in the motorcycling community on some of the details and logistics of the event. So I said I would be happy to be involved, and went along to the meeting today. A small number of motorcyclists gathered at the office to share our thoughts.
I'm excited by this! I'm not sure how much they want shared about the event at this stage (it will be officially launched early next year), so I won't go into detail, but they've done a great job so far and I think it will be a great event. And most importantly, it will raise some serious cash for this wonderful cause!

OCTOBER 26, 2016.
A short ride before lunch today. It involved Jamberoo Pass, where there is a great lookout at the top that is well worth stopping for a look. Then back home via Macquarie Pass. An enjoyable ride!
OCTOBER 26, 2016. Sometimes you're safer on a bike than in a car. Not often, but sometimes. During the ride I mentioned above, I was riding along a major two-lane road, with a truck coming towards me. He's not far away when suddenly a car pops out from behind to overtake. And, despite my big headlight and a bright red jacket, it keeps coming, straight towards me! Thinking back on it now, the image that is most prominent in my mind is the one first processed: the road is quite wide, the car is hugging the centre-line and there is a decent gap between the car and the side of the road that the bike will easily fit through. Plus there is a decent amount of smooth shoulder beside the road. So it wasn't a "heart-in-mouth" moment, because I had plenty of room to avoid the on-coming car, I was safe. It was more a "Are you serious???" moment. The truckie reacted by swerving onto the shoulder, giving the car some room to get back on the correct side of the road. I just braked, veered left a bit to give even more room between myself and the car, and passed on by. I shook my head at the car as it passed. (I would've shook my fist, but that was hanging onto the bars!). It occurred to me though, that had I been in a car, the danger of a head-on collision would've been much greater, and taken much more evasive action to avoid. That would've been much more scarey!

OCTOBER 28 – 30. This weekend sees the running of Australia’s first ever Harley Days event. As Harley puts it, the event is, “Set to be the country's biggest ever celebration of the world’s favourite motorcycle brand”. A few thousand Harleys will be riding into Wollongong over this weekend. They promise “An extravaganza of Harley-Davidson showcases, stunts and spectacles to ignite the senses and excite all ages.” There’s 3 days of entertainment, rides and family activities. And on Sunday there will be a “Thunder Run” led by HOG chapters. An exciting time, for Harley enthusiasts! I’m writing this mid-event, on 29th, and already I’ve seen Harleys from Victoria and other parts. I read that there are bikes from Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and even Tasmania. And of course a few (a lot!!) from NSW.

OCTOBER 29. While riding today I saw this sign. I’m not saying anything! (The jokes just write themselves, don’t they!).
Oh, I'm sorry! I just couldn't resist!

OCTOBER 30, 2016. The “Thunder Ride” as mentioned in the October 28 entry above, was a bit of a disappointment – from a spectator’s view anyway. (I’m sure the riders enjoyed it). But the ride was broken up into small groups; probably for police road-requirements reasons – bigger groups require police escorts etc. And that lessened the spectacle of the event for those of us  watching. Still, it was worth watching, and good to see the riders enjoying it, and waving to the people gathered on various vantage points to watch.
NOVEMBER 6, 2016. A shout out to all the riders in this year's The Snowy Ride, which was run today. I wish I was down there! But well done to all those who were, and helped raise more funds for research into childrens cancer. And what a great area to do it in!

NOVEMBER 7, 2016. The Snowy Ride is over for another year. I heard that numbers were down a bit on previous years. I also heard that there were a lot of police about – especially between Jindabyne and Cooma. They were doing a lot of RBT checks, but apparently weren’t too troublesome if you were doing the right thing.
I was in Queanbeyan today and saw a lot of bikes coming through; and I chatted briefly to one group.

NOVEMBER 9, 2016. Despite the numbers being down, I read today that The Snowy Ride raised $250,000 for the childrens cancer charity (Steven Walters Foundation). Well done everyone who contributed!

NOVEMBER 12, 2016. I had time for just a short ride today – but it included the famous Macquarie Pass, and I had a clear run going up for most of the way. A bit slow coming back down though. But it’s always a good ride – and cooler up on the mountains than the coast too.
I got a cuppa at the famous Robertson Pie Shop, as well as picking up the latest edition of Cycle Torque, and reading that as I had my cuppa. And looked out on the bike and car action outside.
It caught me out again! After I'd taken this photo I got back on the bike, turned the key and the ignition came on, but then it all went dead. What? Turn the ignition off, and turn it back on. All the lights came on, but then went dead. Has the battery died? It was facing downhill - as you can probably tell - so I could bump-start it, but not if the ignition is dead. .....
Ah, yes, then I remembered!! I'd put it in gear, just to make sure it didn't roll forward on the side-stand, and it doesn't like starting like that!
Rather than just not responding to the starter, it goes, “If you're that stupid I'm not playing at all, I'm going back to sleep!" Kick it into neutral, and it started up fine! (It's very forgiving once you do the right thing!).

NOVEMBER 20, 2016. Without doubt, the biggest charity event in the Illwarra is the i98 Convoy. This was started way back when by a radio announcer, Marty Haines, from a local radio station, i98. From humble beginnings it has grown to be a huge event! What happens is that there is a convoy of trucks, and motorbikes, that run through the city to a charity / fun day held in the grounds of a local sporting complex. Most of the money raised comes from donations made by the entrants, and an incredible bidding-war by participants to be the leading truck and bike. This year there were over 700 trucks 900 motorbikes, with the total amount raised coming to about $2 million! The main beneficiary of this event is Camp Quality, that raises money for research and help for kids with cancer.
Last year I rode in this event. (See November 15, in last year’s blog). I’d previously not gone in it, mainly due to the huge number of bikes. (They are squashed in a bit at the start, and I’m not a fan of riding in huge groups). But last year I did – in honour of my grandson who passed-away earlier in the year from a brain-tumour.
This year I didn’t go in it. I don’t know why …. Maybe the group thing again, and the fact that it starts ridiculously early. (Well for a bloke who keeps afternoon-shift type hours it’s ridiculously early!).
My son in law, Damien, went in it though, on his Harley with his daughter, Claire, as pillion. She loved the experience! And my son-in-law was pleased to be a part of it. 
NOVEMBER 29, 2016. I saw this link about a shopping centre banning bikies on Facebook tonight. Hmm, I wonder how genuine this is? Or more to the point, what the real story is? The media have a tendency to distort the truth to suit sensationalist journalism. But, no doubt there is some truth to it. Now, I can understand why the centre – and the police – would want to ban the real outlaw bikies, but the problem is identifying who the real outlaw bikies are. Yes, there are known gangs that they target, but in the past, the police have been known to take the approach that anyone with colours or a patch is an outlaw and should be banned from associating with like-appearance people and public establishments. And therein lies the problem with these laws!

DECEMBER 4, 2016. It’s the time for Toy Runs again! And today I went in the one I usually go in: not my local one, but one that starts in a town about 70km away. It’s the South Coast (as in South Coast of NSW) one, and I just like it: it’s not too big, it’s well organised and well run, and is just a good run. It ends at one of my favourite eating-places too – which also helps get me to go on this one! My son-in-law came with me on his Harley.
The only downside was that it was a warm day, and about 2km from the end-point the traffic (and bikes) slowed to a crawl. Stop, crawl, stop, crawl. The heat of the day, combined with the heat off all the bike engines, made it very hot! Not good for an air-cooled engine! And not much good for the rider either!
Apart from that though, it was good! Here are some photos. (Yep, that's me bottom / left).
Spotted on the Toy Run today was this creation, named “Boss Hoss”. It was fitted with a V8 engine!
DECEMBER 10, 2016. Motorcycling can be dangerous! When I got home from a ride today and took my jacket off I noticed this huge scratch on my arm. I have a couple of badges on my jacket and I found that on one of them the clasp that holds it has a sharp edge. This is my summer jacket, and I didn't have the liner in, so the clasp on the inside was exposed. The badge is on the front, (it’s not on the sleeve!), but as I was putting it on, my arm obviously passed over that area and was scratched by the sharp-edged clasp.
This was after lunch: it hadn’t happened when I put the jacket on at the start of the ride, as I had a shirt on over my T-shirt then.The badge has been there for 2 years, and isn't usually a problem. That's because either I have a shirt (with sleeves) or I have the wind-liner in (which covers it), or my arm misses the front area of the jacket. It has happened a couple of times before though – a scratch on my arm would appear and I didn't know what had caused it. But now I know! (You feel things dragging on your arm – like zippers and armour etc – as you put your jacket on, and this didn’t feel much more than that). I tried filing it, but that didn’t entirely work. I'll put some tape over it.
DECEMBER 14, 2016. have just announced their “Bike Of The Year” awards. It’s the first time they’ve handed out these awards. They announced an over-all Bike of the Year, as well as giving their nod to what they consider the top bike in each of eleven categories. And the winner is …. Cue drum-roll …. The Honda Africa Twin. Despite going on sale a couple of months into the year, it finished up as the top-selling adventure-bike. Bikesales reckon it’s a good thing, putting it as top bike in that category, of course, as well as the over-all winner. Other notable winners include the Ducati Panigale as top super-sport, the Victory Octane as the best cruiser, Yamaha’s MT-09 Tracer as best sports-tourer, the KTM 690 Duke for best naked, and the Yamaha XSR900 for best retro. 

DECEMBER 20, 2016. Today I rotated the handlebar on my bike up a bit. So what's so spectacular about that? Well, nothing, except that I've had the bike for over 8 years now, and the bars haven't moved. Well, not since I bought it anyway. As with many nakeds, the bars were originally mounted at a fairly flat angle: I felt a bit uncomfortable with this, preferring a more downward angle. So one of the first things I did was to rotate them so the ends pointed down a bit more. For a while now though, I've been feeling that I'd prefer them to be a little higher and straighter. Strange isn't it, after being perfectly happy with the position for so long. So, a slight rotate. They feel different; it will be interesting to see how I feel with it on a ride. Can easily be changed back of course.

DECEMBER 23, 2016. Today, 3 days after writing the piece above, I got to go for a ride and try it out. I liked it better. I gave the bars a good try out on a lot of twisty roads too – up the narrow winding Jamberoo Pass, and back down Macquarie Pass. With the bars being that little bit higher (I didn't measure it, but the ends probably came up about 20mm), it gives a better feeling of control. In corners the inside bar isn't pointing down as much, which helps with that too I think.
The biggest difference I felt was coming down Macquarie Pass. I was following a light truck for a while, and he was all over the road – I suspected he might have been on the phone, but couldn't see well enough through the back window to tell. Maybe he was drunk, or drug-affected? Anyway, when we came to the slow-vehicle pull-over section, he dutifully pulled over to let me past. I went past, but I didn't want him anywhere close behind me, so I pushed on a bit. Now, I don't really like going downhill; as I’ve written about before: I'm just not as confident going downhill. But I was riding down there quicker and feeling more confident than I usually do.
It’s probably not quite back to where it was originally, but getting close. The surprising thing is how I've been quite happy with the position until recently. Well, I suppose it was more the other way around: my previous bike was a mid-size sports-tourer, and I was used to bars being angled down. I felt uncomfortable with the bars being at a straighter angle, so angled them down so that it was closer to what I was most used to. But now, after many years of riding that way (and, I must say, having recently test-ridden a couple of bikes with bars set at that straighter position) I now feel better with them back up a bit more again.

DECEMBER 27, 2106. This is bad news for bikes. (Click here). Well, it sort of is. Most bikes would use Premium 95 anyway, so wouldn't be effected. NSW has actually relaxed its ethanol laws in recent years, so there are many servos selling ULP, or both ULP and E10. Anyway, something to be aware of.

DECEMBER 31, 2016. The Eastern parts of NSW has been experiencing a heat-wave lately, with temperatures hovering above 30. That’s a bit hot for this old bloke. And if it hasn’t been belting-down hot, it’s been raining! Or I’ve had other commitments. So since the Toy Run on December 4 above, I’ve only had one decent ride, with a couple of riding mates (on December 10, above), and the short ride I mentioned on December 23. Today looked more promising, with a top temperature of 29 forecast for my area:  a couple of degrees less further down the coast and a couple of degrees more over the mountains. So I decided on going down the coast, even though the traffic is usually bedlam at this time of year. Although staying off the main highway (especially where it passes through a small town) it isn’t too bad.
When I first went outside to get the paper in, the sun was belting down and it still felt hot. But, it should be okay, I thought. By the time I was ready to leave clouds had rolled in, and the temperature had dropped a few degrees. More noticeably perhaps, there was a coolish breeze blowing. Ah, this was looking nice! And it was almost cool as the wind (which was actually quite strong) rushed through the mesh of my summer jacket. Lunch in a café not too far away (I’d left late). The clouds looked a bit threatening, but there was no rain showing on the radar. The clouds had covered the tops of the mountains in heavy mist, but I thought it might just be a band of low cloud or fog that I’d ride through – so I decided to come back via the mountains anyway.
Half way up the mountain the mist ahead was looking very heavy, and beads of water were forming on my visor and the screen on the bike. Then it turned into misty rain. So I decided to turn back. (Why ride in mist and rain when you don't have to?!). Down the mountain and onto the highway. I rode back out of the rian, but then it came down the mountain to where I was riding. Not enough to make me stop and put the wet-weather gear on (and I figured I’d be hot in that anyway), but enough to make me and my jacket feel damp, and actually quite cool with the wind of highway cruising blowing. As I said, not enough for me to put the wets on, but enough to make me damp, and make the ride a bit miserable. Still, it was good to finally get the bike out. Oh well, maybe next year the weather will  improve!
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