Muddy Waters

Another Sunday means another ride to Canberra. The weather was warm with some scattered clouds. A pleasant, if dull ride ahead.

I was about forty five minutes from home when I noticed all the cars headed the other way had their lights on. At five in the evening, that wasn’t a good sign. About five or so minutes later the road ahead seemed to disappear into a cloud.

I quickly pulled over… rain ahead. As I pulled my rain pants from the top box it started to rain a little. Big drops, but not much. Pants on, I hit the road as it really started to rain. Then about 1km up the road was the petrol station I had planned to pull over at anyway! Ah, well. at least I was dry.

And a fellow VFR rider was just pulling up as well. Not only was it a fellow VFR rider, but a mate from Sydney who has also moved to Canberra. We chatted as we filled our bikes up and geared up for the rain. We decided to ride together, as heading out together was a lot safer into the heavy downpour that the rain had turned into.

The ride, though heavy rain was fairly uneventful for about another half an hour. As we started to clear the heavy rain, the traffic in both lanes ahead started slowing and clearly stopping.

Not wanting to get caught at the end of a line of stopped highway traffic in poor visibility I decided to split up the middle – the main reason so that we wouldn’t get flattened when someone didn’t pay attention and squeezed at the back of the queue. I also hoped to split right past whatever accident was ahead (conditions as they were, it was pretty likely someone had gone off the road or tapped another car).

At the front was something else… water. Lots of muddy rising water.

The highway was flooding. My buddy came up… “We have to keep going, it’s only going to get deeper”

At this point it was over the sole of my boots. And rising quickly. I remembered all those images of cars floating away on flooded highways. “Are you sure?”.

“Yes” He headed forwards.

We split some way up the road until we were past all of the cars and the flooded highway stretched out ahead of us. But we could also see clear road.

“Keep going, otherwise we’re stuck here” he said, just as a semi trailer crept past. “follow him, he’ll clear any debris”

So we did. The bow wave of the truck kept tugging at the front wheel trying to turn the bike. Sometimes we’d ride over the centreline that we couldn’t see, but we could feel the cats eyes. A few hundred metres up the road we were out of the water.

Looking back down the freeway

Looking back down the freeway

Made it.

Made it. And even a rainbow, awwww.

We pulled over to check nothing was caught in the bikes. The water had gotten to mid calf, not quite over the tops of my waterproof boots when I was on tiptoe. Riding, it was lapping at my boots on the pegs and the bow wave as we rode through it was at least twice that. We looked back just as the police arrived and shut the road. They wouldn’t have let us through I’m sure. Good choice. (or lucky??)

Not long after that the rain stopped and eventually the roads dried. More than an hour late I rolled into my garage to get dry and warm.

Safe.

Living with a Supersport

 

Parked at the top of Corin Dam. Sexy :)

Parked at the top of Corin Dam. Sexy :)

My trusty VFR is in the shop, it needs a new water pump. Thankfully I discovered the trouble before it overheated or ran dry. But it’s in the shop and waiting for the part from Japan. A positive of them still (basically) making the same bike ten years on, you can still get parts.

As long as you can wait.

So the Daytona is doing everything. Its been very wet here in Canberra and the Daytona has broken her cherry of riding (and being left out) in the rain. I’m having to travel to and from Sydney on it, at least 3 trips there and back before the VFR is ready. Which means the tyres will be trashed and it will be up for it’s first 10,000 service.

And I’ll be up for the repair costs on the VFR at the same time… there goes my savings (though that is what my savings are for)  along with rego and insurance renewal as well.

So living with the Daytona. Well the back country part of my trip to Sydney is awesome fun  :) but the rest is annoying (but not uncomfortable). The commute to work is also trouble… the Daytona is a very tempting bike. And my new commute is a short 14km of open road, no lights, not much traffic and some nice flowing curves…. like I said, trouble.

Rain was ok, the tyres were a lot more capable than I imagined, so that was a relief. Fuel consumption, really it gets about the same as the VFR, its a fraction shorter ranged, due to the smaller tank, but if pushed I could probably make Sydney Canberra in one hit.

But there are some downsides, and really they relate to carry space! The VFR has a 35L (?) lockable, top box. That makes travelling (like stuffing all the home cooking my wonderful wife sends me back to Canberra with) and also grocery shopping annoying.

It also means that my poor Daytona looks like this sometimes.

Check out the rear area. Rode through some road works in the rain. Not so secy.

Check out the rear area. Rode through some road works in the rain. Not so secy.

But actually, I now see how people could live with a supersport (and the larger ones) everyday.

But I have two… so I don’t have to :) So there.

I haven’t ridden this far in 50 years.

IMG_5362So I’ve moved down to Canberra where I live during the week, and head home every weekend. One of the problems with this has been that whichever bike stays in Sydney won’t get ridden, and its not fair to my family to be away all week, come home late Friday and then spend all Saturday riding, before leaving for Canberra mid afternoon Sunday.

I always planned to move both bikes down here, but how do I do that. I’d really need a lift from a buddy or maybe catch the intercity bus.

My mum and dad were headed to Sydney on their way to my sisters, so my dad suggested he rides the other one down. Which was a really good idea.

Except he’s ridden my VFR for a total of about 20minutes in the suburb only (no freeway, no back roads) and not ridden this far (to quote him “furthest he’s ridden in 50 years”). We can’t leave until after 4pm as my wife doesn’t get home from work, giving us about 4 hours of daylight. If it takes us too long we can’t ride on the back roads as the kangaroos are a real hazard around dusk. Then to add to it all, we turn on a bit of a heat wave and we’re expecting about 38C, clear skies all day…. he’s from NZ so not so used to our temps.

But in the spirit of adventure… stuff all that, LETS RIDE! IMG_5363Just about to head off.IMG_5367It was warm, and it took Dad a little while to get used to the higher speeds (and glorious smooth comfort of the VFR, his normal ride is a KTM 690 Duke, he calls a tractor by comparison). I bought a set of Scala Riders several months back and they did great work on this trip. 

Our route took us down the freeway at first, partly to build his confidence and partly trading fun for time so we could do the best bit at the end.

By Moss Vale Service Centre we both needed a stop for a leg stretch, but more importantly some water. It was very hot and no clouds to relieve us. We spent a couple of minutes drinking up and chatting to a bloke doing the run on a Speed Triple.

At Marulan we’d made up enough time that I was happy and we turned off into the country roads. Dad’s first taste of the country NSW on a bike. The comms worked well and I was able to give him general tips and warn him about hazards and tighter turns coming up… I’m sure he was sick of me nattering in his ear. But I was protecting two things very important to me.

And I gotta say he did really well. He enjoyed himself but even he admitted he had the death grip on the handle bars for most of the day – part of that was the pressure of not smashing my VFR I guess. The forested roads gave us a lot of relief from the sun and evening was stretching on as the sun came down – into our eyes.

Then, about 3h15m after we left we rolled up to my garage, safe, sound, tired and thirsty. I usually take just under 3h so we made really good time. This is my Dad, pretty stoked about the whole thing (and quietly a little amazed I let him ride my VFR – so am I)

Time to put the feet up and drink lots of cold cold water. Well done Dad :)IMG_20140209_192423

How do I explain this happiness?

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I think this is probably true no matter what it is, when it’s something that you really enjoy. I’m sure some of you get this from WoW. Sometimes I do, but not as reliably as when I’m riding.

As I got into the second hour of my ride back to Canberra, and finally got off the Highway. It was as I rolled merrily through the back roads, the bike eating up the miles and us both leaning into the corners and accelerating out, that I felt that happy, peaceful contentedness come over me. I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

The miles rolled away under the wheels. I know this road reasonably well now. I know there are lots of easy corners, and only a couple that try to catch you out. I can remember these before they come up, so the bike is set up and the corner disappears quickly behind me. I know some people could ride it faster, getting their knees down, leaned right over, running the edge of the tyre ragged.

That’s not me, but I’m sure we both have the same smile when we pull up at the end. I can’t think of much I’d rather do, than cruise quickly along a back country road on my bike.

I don’t know what it is for you guys, but I hope there is something that gives you the same feeling.

Seems that wasn’t a last ride after all

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.50.21 pmUp early, beat the crowds, beat the heat, beat the cops, and be home for lunch after 5 hours of one of the best roads in Sydney. Sounds like a plan.

I was invited to join a couple of mates very early Sunday for a Breakfast at Grey Gums… and maybe a bit further after breakfast. So 6am finds us meeting up a a nearby petrol station about to head up the Putty. It would seem that my last dash up this road wasn’t to be the last. This one might be but who cares.

So we made Grey Gums in easy time. The carpark was a bit empty. Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.49.47 pmBut the lack of vehicles didn’t give us a hint of how many flies there would be. Made breakfast interesting. Ah summer, in Australia = flies.

So we’d made it here. Some quick maths and we turned north, we should easily be able to head up to the top of the Putty and still make it home for lunch. This lead me up to the 10 mile Putty again. I really wish this patch was much closer to home, or I could get a day up here doing a few laps.Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.52.00 pm

It’s picturesque – but then I’m not really looking at that.

After fuel, another roll down the 10-mile and it was back to Grey Gums. What a difference a couple of hours can make. On a nice day, on a Sunday, the first Sunday after double demerits has finished and the holidays. Almost a perfect storm. Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.53.40 pmWith so many people the flies were spread much more thinly so our snack was more comfortable. It was getting warm and time was starting to run out, so we headed homewards.

And I was home in time to head out with the family for Yum Cha.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.54.32 pmOne of the bikes I rode with, a BMW HP2. Very nice and there was a fun moment as we both leapt away from the lights at high rev, quick shifters (no need for clutch with these) blipping….. then we were good boys again.

 

Wasn’t I supposed to ….

SONY DSCMrs let me out for a couple of hours ride. I wanted to take the VFR out for a serious ride in order to check out (and break in) the new suspension components. As I stood in the garage I couldn’t help but listen to the siren call of the Daytona, I could just hear it saying

“come on… I’m more fun than that one. More flickable, more power…”

But it’s double demerits until after New Years, I’d have to be a good boy.

“I can behave… come on.”

So I rolled the Daytona out and went for a ride.

And it was fun.

When I got back, the family had gone out. So I headed off to meet up with them for dinner.

I put the Daytona back in the garage and rolled out the VFR. This was weird as I have never actually swapped the two over that close together. Really highlighted the differences, both good and bad.

They actually complement each other quite well.

And more fun was had on the way to and from dinner.

 

VFR Service and some suspension work

Service time again for the VFR. This time I had some extra work to do on the bike. I have recently been considering suspension upgrades as this is almost as critical as tyres, and I haven’t done anything to it in 10 years. Discussions with knowledgable friends, lots of helpful advice and visits to a couple of specialists around the city helped a lot in understanding the options.

One of things I was scared of was changing the bike and ending up NOT liking the ride. While my Daytona is a wonderful ride, occasionally the stiffer suspension is a bit uncomfortable on some of the patches I know my VFR with its softer ride is less affected.

The other problem was of course, costs. When I first started considering my plans I had a little more spare cash that I do now, so that became a bigger and bigger factor.

So I stayed simple. A front clean and re-oil, new seals. For the rear I replaced the shock with a new Honda stock item. So both ends refreshed and I am happy that it won’t be worse. Yes, there are plenty of aftermarket options, but I am happy with the way it rides, and I don’t ask a lot from it. I have the Daytona now for that.

I’ve only ridden it home on the freeway, its first real test will be the when I head to Canberra in the new year to start at my new position. On a road I know fairly well and have ridden recently it, it will be a good comparison.

Service all done as well, with no problems to report, well done after 141,000km. Described as immaculate (I’d probably argue that, there is a few minor scratches and other normal wear and tear about), but happy to hear praise like that.

Sydney – A last ride?

Yesterday I got the Daytona out early and headed up the Putty Road. It was expected to be really hot, so I wanted to get into the shade of the bush as early as possible. By 7am I was at Windsor, fuelled and headed up the Putty.

Colo was in cloud and some of the road was a little damp. However, not wet enough to worry about and I expected the sun would burn the cloud off pretty soon.

An enjoyable ride had me at Grey Gums at 8am. Not sure I was the first there, but certainly there hadn’t been a lot of bikes on the road. A weekday and pretty early, so I guess no surprise.

After breakfast at Grey Gums I had a decision to make. I could turn around and head home, arriving about 10am. I had planned to be out until early afternoon, and heading up to Broke would only add about 2 to 2.5 hours, home by 1pm.

I headed north and was soon winding my way through the 10 Mile Putty. This is the 16km (hence 10 mile) of twisty road along the river, right at the top of the Putty, before you come out of the bush and back into the farmland. Its probably the most technical stretch of the Putty and a bike favourite. I certainly enjoyed myself.

Fuelled and rested at Broke, before heading back the way I had come. Again through 10 mile – need a lot of practice there.

I passed a snake crossing the road at one point – we both avoided each other safely :)

At Grey Gums I met another bunch of riders headed south and happened to leave at about the same time. For the first time I didn’t seem to hold other riders up so I guess I have improved a little.

We caught up to some traffic and I pulled over and waited for it to clear a little, allowing me to enjoy the road before catching them.

And then it was over and I was pulling into the driveway. A great day and enjoyed the Daytona again. I also now can be certain that I can go from Broke to Home on one tank. Which means I can go from Broke, do the ten mile several times and then get to Colo for fuel.

But with Christmas coming (double demerits no doubt) and the trip away followed by the move to Canberra and starting work, it might be my last time up the Putty for a while.

Daytona to Canberra

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With the moving truck on its way, I had to get down there as well. I had planned to fill the top box on the VFR and head down, but I realised two things – I didn’t need to take much as I was only going overnight, and the weather was forecast sunny.

So it was time for the Daytona to head interstate for its first away trip. I packed a couple of things (mostly chargers for my iPhone and my Bluetooth comms system) and headed off. I had most of the day, but I had to be at the agent’s office to pick up the house keys before 5pm. 

So I headed on the freeway to Picton so that I could ride out past Thirlmere and avoid some parts of the Hume. This winds back to the Hume, which I followed for some time until my normal Highlands Way, fuel at Marulon and the back way to Queanbeyan that I have done several times now. 

I found the Daytona a delight to ride on these roads. So easy to flick into corners, so much power with just a small twist of the wrist. The suspension is stiffer than the VFR though and that occasionally had me bobbing about like a bobble head on some of the rough patches. 

The Daytona proved a capable, extremely fun and comfortable over the distance that I’ll happily take away again. The VFR will still overtake it in luggage capacity and in miserable weather.

It seems like some of the roads are shorter, but I’m sure it’s a combination of being faster and more confident on them, the Daytona’s rapid acceleration up to (and over) legal speeds helped too. 

On the return trip I tried a variation of up through Berrima, but it cemented in my mind that exiting that leg on Golden Vale Rd, is the best compromise between riding fun roads and not increasing the journey time too much. I found my choice today lead me simply into some towns and just sucked time rather than adding enjoyment. At least now I know. 

I’ve also been trying some new places to break up the rides, get meals or snacks along the way. I recommend the cafe at Exeter and the Pub at Tarago (those towns aren’t big enough that you’ll be confused if you want to try them yourself).

I’ll leave you with my colour coordinated two wheels.

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The Daytona and the Giant (in my new garage)

I’ll have to buy a blue Mountain Bike next, to match the VFR!

Bike and Tech decisions…

Nothing much has happened this week in any of my usual subjects. With Mrs working the weekend, there weren’t any rides on, and with the Daytona tucked in the garage I probably would have done something else anyway.

I have been quizzing all kinds of people about the benefits of getting the VFR suspension serviced, tuned to my weight/riding and perhaps upgraded. I’ve no doubts that it needs a service (never been serviced!!) and that the ride would benefit from it. However the full treatment is about 50% or more of the remaining value of the bike, so from a cost perspective its pretty high. On the other hand, I really expect to keep it for a long time, and there is a good chance that it will be travelling from Canberra to Sydney frequently come my job change in 2014 so to help the bike safely and happily do another 100,000km it might be worth it.

On the tech side, I haven’t really sat down to play Borderlands either. I’m keen to, but have had kids and other stuff in the way. I might get into it shortly as I just put the kids to sleep.

The NAS has been running trouble free (bet I just jinxed it) for 30 days now. I’m really happy with the results, but I’m planning to reduce its power saving somewhat as I am finding the lag in response a little more than I want. Other than that…. been a great addition.

On another tech note, I am pondering what to do next year if I end up living separate from my family. I don’t plan to take either computer from home, but equally I don’t think just an iPad is going to cut it either.

I see 3 choices. First, find a second hand 27″ iMac. Second, get a Mac Mini and extras. Last option is to build a small footprint PC (like in a mini tower case or the like).

I’m leaning towards the last option. Slightly more expensive than the Mini, but probably on par with the second hand iMac prices. The big advantage is gaming. I have several games I could easily spend my weeknights playing and of them, at least 3 are PC only and the others are Mac or PC. Not worried about music or movies, as iTunes is Mac or PC as well. Besides, the whole lot are MP3 or MP4 anyway so the Windows player or VLC or the like will work fine too.

I think I lose out in ability to edit movies for YouTube, but I’m sure I can find something. Or leave those until I return home.

Any thoughts out in the wild there??