Lockdown – Week 12?

So the lockdown here in Sydney continues. The numbers have started to drop again and vaccination rates are way higher than before. Small freedoms are starting to be handed down. The even tighter restrictions on where I live have been dropped, so now we are on the same as the rest of Sydney.

Work continues to provide an opportunity to get on my bike and get out of the house. The kids have been stuck in for two school holidays and a whole term now. My youngest had her most recent birthday stuck at home. We had our 17th Wedding Anniversary as well.

Anniversary lunch (a mini boodlefight and churros)

My wife and I are vaccinated. I’m having massive problems with my second dose as it isn’t showing up on my health register, so it’s almost impossible to prove that I’ve done it. This will cause issues soon as many of the “new freedoms” are for people who can provide proof of having both vaccinations. Been trying to sort it for 6 weeks now, gotta love bureaucracy! The girls have also had their first dose and should be protected by the time face to face school restarts in November.

November! That will be 4 months in total. Since it started back in June, the only time we have gone anywhere as a family is to go get COVID tests after I was a close contact at work.

And that meant I spent two weeks locked in the spare room at home, having my meals brought to me. I think having access to work from home was actually part of being able to keep busy that week. Or it was a bummer as I couldn’t just sleep and watch Netflix! Can’t decide which would have been better.

We did further expand our home gym with a half squat rack. It’s really good actually – it means I can do heavy lifts again. We’re just waiting for some additional dumbbells. Don’t see any need to go back to a gym after this.

(We already had the barbells)

A GIANT decision

Well, yesterday I took a huge step and submitted my resignation to my current employer of the past 27 years.

The main reason for the decision at this time is that they wanted us to move to Melbourne from next year. While we quite like Melbourne, we’re settled here. And have a life here etc.

So yesterday I submitted the paperwork and as of January 2022 I will be leaving. This gives me time to finish up my current position before I go.

And so from January 2022 I will be a full-time casual Primary Teacher. Hopefully I can get something steady, like a class contract for a term or year. And I will get good experience and look towards a permanent position.

Onwards to the new life….

Lockdown Week umm 8?

Sydney is in the throws of its biggest lockdown since COVID started. I live in one of the most affected suburbs, with extra strict rules about where we can go and what we can do. So what have I been doing. And what has been keeping me sane?

Well work carries on. I’ve even had a few teaching days. But the main thing is that I’ve been getting as much two wheels as I can…

On my bike to work…

Commuting doesn’t have to be rubbish…

On my commuter bike (to the shops and around the way)…

Round the neighbourhood

I even broke out the mountain bike. I took it to work one day and tried the trails around there. It was epically terrible, I have not ridden MTB on any trails for probably 6 years and it showed…. I will have to go back again.

No one to see my failures….

D&D has also helped, with all my regular games running and a new crawl filling in for a face to face that one of the other DMs has started.

Family wise, we’ve tried to have a cheat meal once a week of ordering something in. Mostly its been nice, but unsurprisingly, the times we’ve gone to “fast food chains” they’ve been rubbish.

And we’ve built up our home gym some as well.

New Bench.

I also slept in my tent in the backyard one night. With the most recent extension, I don’t expect to get out for a trip this year, maybe just before Christmas? It will likely just be in NSW too.

More sloped than it looks made for an uncomfortable night

I hope you are all staying safe as well.

Dungeons & Dragons Catch up

I’ve gotten really far behind and I’m sorry about that. So here’s a catch up of both games I’m running.

Divine Contention – The Leilon gang

This game is still going strong. The party secured the Gnomegarden Grenade and support from Lord Neverember (they returned by teleport, so no naval episodes on the return) with little difficulty, and then I moved into the Siege stages. The party repulsed the first attackers, but of course the town was overwhelmed anyway. They fought a battle at the docks and turned to hunt the drummers. This went awry when the dragon appeared.

Once again, a dragon made little headway against this group and it was quickly pushed off. The party followed the dragon and fought it alongside the Swords of Leilon at the tower. Here again, the dragon was quickly in a critical way, the possessing Ebondeath fled empty handed and the dragon crashed into the town. (The mysterious shop that the village didn’t know what the players were on about was a cool touch).

Saviours of Leilon… rejoicing in the streets. But some loose ends. Ebondeath’s ghost was still there and it wasn’t long before the party headed off to resolve this issue.

The party found the entrance with help from their friendly Lizardfolk villagers (from an early foray into the Mere) and descended into the outhouse (the small building over the entrance really reminded us Australians of the old outhouse.

The moved through the crypt with little real difficulty. Even the ghost didn’t really faze them. Ebondeath was dropping quickly, with an AC of 15 he was reasonably able to hit – the ranger was doing 30-60 damage per round. Even his possession wasn’t working well, he tried it twice without success and even as I increased his hit points to push a couple more rounds it didn’t help. Ebondeath was down. And a pile of treasure secured.

They returned to town and have just set out to sink the Stormlord cultists galleon. Divine Contention is almost complete.

Saltmarsh crew.

Not so far behind on this game. The Mariners Guild has hired the party to clear cultists, pirates and undead from an island so they can safely build a lighthouse.

They managed to get onto the island with very little trouble, the random number generator got them almost all the way across the skeleton beach safely. Once on the island they quickly found, then descended into the undamaged basement.

Here they fought the surviving cultist in a large brawl across the main open room. This went on for several terms, but some crowd control by the party kept the enemy numbers manageable. And cleared the entire floor, except for a single prisoner, a mercenary who traded his way for a lift off the island.

He revealed the existence of a treasure hoard, though he wasn’t exactly sure what. He did know how to start looking.

The party headed off to find this treasure. At the same time it would satisfy the “clear the island” direction…. just doing their job.

Their first opponents included a Bodak, an undead that radiates necro damage. This had much of the party backing away for the fight. They hadn’t tried healing or resting since the first fight.

But they got through and began exploring the small passageways, uncovering trap after trap. A room with a Crystal Minotaur Statue had them in trouble. The backed the party down a passage, hoping to lure the Statue into one of the traps. It would have worked except they managed to kill it before it got to the trap. In other luck, a Turned undead ogre tripped a trap for them as well.

They uncovered the fake treasure and were quite disappointed by the note in the empty chest. The session ended with the party about to fight the guardians in the real treasure room………

More Lockdown.. more planning

The lockdown continues into its fourth week. I expect it to last at least another four. Good chance of more…

So what better time to plan a ride.

This is my alternate to the MotoGP, with the idea that travelling between states isn’t permissible, but the lockdown eases enough by late October to actually travel a bit. (Hmm, I feel like I’ve been down this road before). This will also save a bunch of roads to do for next years MotoGP (or Supers???)

So thinking North. Thinking roads I’ve heard of and not ridden. Roads like Thunderbolt’s Way, Oxley Highway and Bucketts Way. I’ve travelled to Singleton and also from Wollombi up to Newcastle. But even driving, that’s as far as I’ve been in that direction. I am much more familiar with the space between Sydney and Melbourne.

So Day one. Leave home, head up Putty to Broke, then Gloucester (Thunderbolts Way)

Day two. Gloucester to Walcha to Grafton.

Day three. Grafton to Coffs Harbour, to Walcha (Waterfall Way).

Day four. Walcha to Port Macquarie (Oxley Highway) to Gloucester then Singleton.

Day five. Singleton to home. This could be via Putty, Wiseman’s or even through Bylong.

Leave Thursday, back by Monday. Seems to tick all the “good roads” boxes along the way. Could slide it with weather reports… Saturday to Wednesday. Heck, Monday to Friday (that probably wouldn’t work as Mrs isn’t on leave then).

Looking at Google Street View it looks sealed all the way. Fuel stops are common enough, and in most cases I should only need one stop along the way. Most days are short, only 400km or so and about 5-6hours of riding. Adding time for stops, lunch etc so maybe up to 8 hours. So I could push on to “the next town”. Or I could take it easy, set up camp in the daylight, rest up, sleep in. The four towns I’ve currently planned seem to have caravan parks where I can get a tent site.

So that’s a couple of hours of lockdown used up….

Not MotoGP planning

Well I’m pretty disappointed about the MotoGP being cancelled, again. Though as I’m currently in a lockdown that we don’t know when it will end… maybe I would have missed it at any rate.

So the alternative plan is being considered. At the moment, it’s pretty close to the original, but without the days in Melbourne. So instead of eight days away, it will be six.

Roughly

  • Down Kangaroo Pass then to Merimbula
  • Merimbula, over the hills to Cooma, then across the Snowies via Cabramura, through to Tallangata
  • Tallangata over the Alps, then through Gippsland to Healesville
  • Healesville through Black Spur to Eildon, Mansfield and Khancoban
  • Khancoban over the Alpine Way to Canberra
  • Leaving Canberra decide whether to go my usual way or through Abercrombie.

Four nights camping. One night at friends (or maybe not, I’m likely to be a bit smelly by then!).

There are options along the way to reroute if weather looks particularly bad on any legs, such as taking the coast road on the first day, or heading to Canberra if the coast is miserable etc.

(I’m not saying I won’t be showering or changing clothes, but it will still be 5 days on the road by then).

As a different what if…. what if I went North. Tried ummm… I don’t really know what’s up there past Newcastle.. My ancient (2009) Hema motorcycle atlas talks about Thunderbolts Way, Bucketts Way and the Oxley. All those I’ve heard of. I could head up Putty to Singleton way, then carry on northwards. Wouldn’t be crossing any state borders (which I hope would no longer be an issue by then) and is likely to be warmer.

It would all be new that way….

Update: Maybe I’ll make two plans. One where I can travel across state borders, one where I can’t.

Any Suggestions?

As Sydney (and several parts of Australia) head into a new COVID induced lockdown, I am thinking about what if the Australian round of the MotoGP becomes NO SPECTATORS, or worse, is cancelled altogether.

So lets set the scenario, that for whatever reason, the Aus MotoGP gets cancelled. I’ve still got leave from work and a pass from the family. I can leave on the Wednesday, and have to be home by the following Wednesday.

Currently my route planned has me hitting quite a few roads between Sydney and Melbourne. Many of the “big names”. Including:

  • Kangaroo Valley
  • Snowy Mountain Hwy from Merimbula to Cooma
  • From Adaminby to Khancoban via Cabramura
  • Great Alpine Road through Omeo
  • Black Spur
  • Alpine Way up to Jindabyne
  • and my favourite out from Tarago to Marulan via Bundanoon!

Without going too far afield from that SE corner of NSW/VIC between Sydney and Melbourne (I’m not going to SA for example), where have I missed?

One that comes to mind is up through Goulburn to Oberon along Abercrombie Rd. I think I could add that in (instead of the Tarago to Marulan leg).

Any thoughts?

No pay?

For the first time in a very long time I didn’t earn any pay.

I’ve worked full-time for 26 years in one company. I’ve not taken any leave without pay during that time (plenty of paid leave though). This year I’ve been part time, so that I test the waters in my new career as a teacher. So once a week I am a casual teacher. While I have a regular gig at a school, its on the understanding that if my main job needs me, I am not available.

Well some meetings had been planned that I would have to attend, so I told the school I wasn’t available and they reorganised themselves to cover. Then late the week before, the meetings were cancelled.

I decided not to let the school now I was free again. Part of it was that I didn’t want to stuff them around again, but part of it was …

I had decided I wanted to go for a ride.

So I did.

Started out with the usual get the family out the door to school and work, then I hit the road. I was certain I wanted to head right up to Broke. I thought early lunch at Wollombi might be nice.

Passed Grey Gums, not a single bike there.

I stopped briefly somewhere north of there to have some water and a snack before getting on to Broke and refilling.

I headed on to Wollombi, but after I stopped, it just didn’t seem appealing. The kitchen was a shambles and didn’t have the vibe I recall from many years ago. I carried on.

At the decision point, I decided to head for the Old Pac and not Wisemans. I’m not entirely sure why, I think I wanted to be home before the family.

NSW Police have these sweet BMW 5 series cars now. Note the paint job leaves the front aspect unmarked…. all the better to catch you with, hehehehe.

I stopped in at Jerry’s Cafe. I think every HWP car in the area was there and a couple of bike cops turned up as I was leaving. There were a lot of bikes there as well. But I didn’t stop long. Again, a snack I had with me and headed on. Old Pac and home.

Eventually I did stop in at my local shops and bought a pile of sushi for my late lunch (about 2pm).

I had a really good day. But as I wasn’t working at the main job and I cancelled my casual teaching day, it was the first day in over 26 years that I didn’t get paid.

A ride…. with other people!?!

Turns out I joined this social online motorcycle group almost 3 years ago. While I frequently get emails as they create rides, I’ve not managed to get to a single one. Until today.

A short run across the North of the city from Berowra Ferry across to Sackville Ferry and home. 2 ferries and brunch at a cafe. It was a pretty early start, being 0730 at Berowra. That would mean about a 0630 or so leave my place. It would be dark and probably around 4-6C. So cold. At least to get to the meet. The sun would be up by the time the ride started, but it would still be cold.

I took the opportunity to experiment with some clothes and gear. Under my standard leather jacket I had a merino t-shirt, a merino long sleeve shirt and thin fleece with a long collar. I also wore my fleece neck thing. Pretty warm. Just plane Draggin Jeans on my legs. But for the first time with this bike I put my Bagster handlebar mitts on, with my summer gloves.

Look, they worked fine. But as before, best when doing some simple commuting or long distance highway work. Not so much when getting more involved. I took them off for the actual ride, using my thicker Nembo gloves till the day warmed up and I switched back to my regular gloves.

It was a nice simple ride. The lunch stop was amazing, but I was good and didn’t eat a lot. Tractor 828 is the place. Check out the food!

It was great to chat to people about bikes and also a couple about MotoGP.

Can you feel the but coming.

But I didn’t really enjoy myself except when I couldn’t see the others. I’m worried that I’m quite set in my ways now and would prefer to ride myself and then meet other riders. And eat…. but the actual riding with others not so fun. Though I did not feel the pressure to keep up or go fast, I think part of that was everyone behaving because double demerits.

I’m not sure. Maybe if I went riding with them more? I know some who were slow today are usually much faster. Maybe a smaller group who I know better? But until I ride with a few some more, I won’t know them better…

But then I don’t get to ride out much anyway.