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…
On my commuter bike (to the shops and around the way)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
I was poking about on Google Maps and it looks like the route from Corryong direct to Omeo is dirt. I found a local council YouTube video talking about tree felling along that way after last year’s fires. It was clearly dirt and that was only 6 months ago, I’m fairly confident that they wouldn’t have sealed the whole road in that time.
I’m not having any of that gravel/dirt if I can avoid it, so I worked through some options. I changed my route down to head over towards Tallangatta after I cross the Snowies. Stay here I think, before heading up over the Alps. This might even shorten that day slightly, which is good as it was one of the longer ones..
I’ll probably stay in Tallangatta rather than Corryong/Colac Colac both ways then. That means the day out of Melbourne is not quite so long and the next day isn’t too much longer, and it was one of the shorter ones anyway. More even across the days now.
I’ve booked my Melbourne accommodation. Something with a washing machine. I booked to arrive on Friday, which gives me Saturday to rest or head to the track, or get my gear sorted or whatever. I have free cancellation too, in case it all gets turned off due COVID or work.
I’ve picked up a sleeping mat (R3 self inflating) and a couple of extra dry bags (to keep my sleeping bag dry if I put my tent away wet). I think I still need to get a small mallet. Think that’s about it. Any further purchases will be bike maintenance related.
After messing about most of the Easter weekend with chores and other unexpected things, I headed out Sunday morning. I planned to head up to Colo and have a look through Windsor and other areas affected by the floods.
As I headed west, it was clear that there was fog about. Having spent a couple of hours on Good Friday giving the bike a thorough clean and polish, I just didn’t want it to get wet and dirty straight away. So I turned around and headed for the coast and the Old Pac.
It turned into my first chance in the new tunnel that links the M7/M2 with the freeway going north. For the first time, travellers can cut around Sydney and stay on freeway the whole way. Can’t believe it has taken so long.
The tunnel was nothing special, though long at about 7:30mins (at 80kmph). So soon I was up to the Berowa exit and the Old Pac.
I’m not sure when I last headed up this way during what might be a busy period. And it was busy (well I thought so, regulars might not). Dozens of cyclists were the main thing I hadn’t dealt with.
So I cruised down, took some photos across the Mooney Mooney bridge and dawdled up the hill. Busy, cyclists and double demerits, it wasn’t the weekend for time attacks!
I had a pie at the top, coming finally to the conclusion that their pies aren’t actually that great. Robinson Pie shop is a lot better, and I suspect there are other better ones nearby as well. But its handy and bike friendly.
I headed home, but as I rode through the tunnel I was surprised when a voice spoke over my Scala headset….
“Police, Fire or Ambulance?”
Wait, what…..? I was very confused and stammered out “Sorry, my phone has dialled this by accident, I’m fine.” They thanked me and hung up.
Shortly after my wife rang.
“Are you ok?”
“Yes, why?” I was getting more confused. My phone seemed to have launched into I’m in an emergency mode for some reason.
“Because I just got a message saying you had called emergency and your location.”
Again… “I’m fine, my phone is doing something weird. I’ll be home in about 20 minutes anyway.”
Once I was home I took a look at my devices. My watch had an alert that I had initiated Call Emergency mode. It was providing updates to my wife at about 15 minute intervals with my location, as she was my Emergency Contact. I cancelled the alert mode.
I poked about in the settings for the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Seems the watch had the option “Call Emergnecy Services if the crown (the rotating button) is held down”. So that explained why the watch had called emergency, but not what started it….
I realised that just before the Emergency people had started speaking I had felt a couple of alerts from my wrist. I had assumed that they were messages, and had tapped my phone (on its QuadLock holder) to see. But there was nothing there.
I think that my watch, my jacket cuff combined with a very still position (cruising through the tunnel) had held the crown down long enough to kick it into panic mode. I disabled that option.
One of the next modifications I am considering is to have a way to charge via USB installed on the bike somewhere. But the problem is where?
Option one – Up front. This would serve to charge anything on the phone mount. I could also run a cord into, say, a jacket pocket, to charge something else. Or, and it’s a big or, run a cord, if needed, all the way back to the top box to charge something there. Don’t know what that would be like while riding?
Option two – Down the back, maybe even into the top box. This gives me a weather proof place to charge things. Its nice and tidy, keeps any cables away from all over the bike.
Both could access a spare connection on the loom for heated hand grips. Obviously, this would be much simpler for the front mount idea, than rerouting that power down the back. There might be a more convenient connection towards the back I could use instead?
I don’t need to see my phone most of the time. It could happily live in the back charging away for most of a leg, or most of a day. Or I could charge a power bank down the back while riding, and use the charge of that overnight.
Isn’t it funny when you write down ideas, the choice becomes much clearer?
One of the things that’s been knocking about in my head is how do I set up, take down and pack the tent when it’s raining or if the tent is wet. Obviously I want to minimise the amount of water that gets into the inside of the tent.
So it was raining during a recent weekend (again, been a warm, not hot, moist summer here) and I thought I’d have a go.
Most YouTube videos on the topic have tents where the poles and fly can be set up before the inside goes up. This is excellent as then you can put that up, then put up the inside and attach them. This won’t work in my tent as the poles fit into the inner tent, then the fly is thrown over the top.
Basically I figure this,
Lay out the inner tent. Lay out the fly over the top. Connect the fly to the inner (it has a set of plastic clips for this). Then unfold the poles and push them through. Finally push up the tent. Peg it out and run the guy ropes.
The inner tent is going to get wet. Depending on the rain, it may get very wet.
In my experiment, the rain had died to a misty drizzle by the time I got started. The process kinda worked.
Packing it down was a bit simpler. Take out the pegs and ropes. Pull out and fold the poles. The tent with the fly on top is now resting on the ground.
Fold up the fly. Fold up the tent. Pack these away. They will likely get wet at this point.
Probably, if its only wet from dew, the fly could happily find an waterproof bag to go in. Something to look into. This would also work if it had been rained on.
A mate at work had a pair of extra Quad Lock brackets he was happy to let go for cheap. There wasn’t anywhere spare on the clip ons that would let me fit the handlebar mount he had, and I wasn’t going to entertain the mirror stalk mount. Partly aesthetics, partly practicality and partly security to have it hanging out there in the breeze. It got me interested in the brand and I looked into the stem mount, but it would not fit on the hex stem that is common to Ninjas.
That was about six months ago. Now the other day, I was poking about on a Ninja 1000 discussion board when someone suggested a 1” ball stem mount they used, something specifically designed for the hex stem mount on Kawasaki. Something off eBay. They combined this item with a RAM 1” ball adjustable short arm. Then lastly, a Quad Lock 1” ball mount. I thought, I have one of those arms from my old Sony Actioncam set up. A search in eBay turned up a few of these stem mounts, so I’ve ordered one. I guess it will be a couple of weeks before it turns up.
In the meantime, I looked through the Quad Lock website (again). I bought the 1” ball mount and the case for my phone (with the “poncho” – a water proof cover). I also bought the car mount, I figured I could use it as well. The Quad Lock gear turned up within a couple of days. I’d barely had time to dig out the RAM arm. Fitted perfectly. Roughing it out, it looks like it should sit really nicely between the bar risers. I’ll just have to make sure I can access the ignition.
The case fits very nicely on the phone. It’s very slim and is less protection than my current Otterbox (another recommended brand), but I think it will be okay. The poncho slips on easily and looks to provide good weather protection. And the TouchID works through it as well.
So back to the mounting. The stem part arrived within a couple of weeks. Not bad I thought, as it came from the UK. It’s pretty simple. A 1″ ball with a hex driven bolt down the middle. There is a hex shaped nut on the other end. This has some petals coming from it and along the shaft is a washer (?) that expands the petal. Slide the shaft into the hole in the stem bolt. Tighten the hex bolt and the nut moves up the shaft. This pushes the petals against the washer, which forces them outwards and they grab the shaft of the slot. Done.
Then, connect the RAM arm and the Quad Lock mount and adjust to the desired angle. Job complete.
I haven’t had a test run, so will have to report on it separately.
Of course, the next step is to get power to the mount.
Well I may have something on that. Turns out there is a pair of connectors just under the left front fairing that have been provided for the factory heated handgrips. If they aren’t fitted (not fitted on my bike) there is a convenient, factory switched (so no battery drain) power supply right near the front of the bike. And would you believe Amazon has more goodies….
Like this dual USB and voltmeter. From what I’ve seen, people mount this into the dash on the bike. “Simply” cut a round hole in the plastic. I have seen a handlebar one that’s similar, but then I end up back in the same problem I had with the Quad Lock!
I swear, it’s not all because of the MotoGP trip planning!