Working from home?

With half the world in lockdown, and NSW having spent the last two months “working from home” today was the first day I actually got a chance to “work from home”.

I feel pretty at home on my bike, so I planned to interpret it differently and planned a long ride around some roads to the north of Sydney.

Just over the Mooney Mooney Bridge

After clearing the family out of the house, checking work emails and having some breakfast I hit the road. I intended to go up the Old Pac and then back down Wiseman’s. Leaving a little later meant that the early morning sun wasn’t quite in my eyes. But it did mean crossing many school zones on my way out of the city.

Not a bad day to be stuck working from home….. emphasis on from home 😉

I got up to the Old Pac in good time, and after a couple of laps I returned to Pie in the Sky. I wasn’t hungry I decided, but the location (top of the hill) meant I would be able to get a signal and log into work. You know, just in case anything had actually happened (it had not).

Selfie time!

I decided I didn’t really want to ride past lunch time. So I did a couple more laps and headed back home. I made it back home, and had picked up some packages (and lunch) from the shops and even eaten most of lunch before 12. The Old Pac really isn’t that far from home here. Any of the other roads and it’s an hour just to get to the start point (Wiseman’s, Putty, Nasho’s etc). Whereas the Old Pac (depending on traffic on Pennant Hills Rd) I can be halfway through a lap within an hour.

So Lockdown day 1? I think Friday I will be working from home too, and maybe a couple of days next week…. hmmm..

Not staying at home..

Um, yeah, 2020….. well – not a good year so far.

The virus has meant a lot of people are at home. I’m not, work has me involved in their COVID working group, so I’m actually busy again. Similar to when the bushfires were on. I’m back to commuting to the city again, possibly for months? So far this year I’ve spent more time away from my regular desk than at it. Not a good sign I suppose.

However the commute through the city is a little lighter. Look at the difference here.

Before COVID-19 (This was only about a month ago, maybe 6 weeks)
After (and yes, it’s not such a nice day)
Before again
And after. But the weather is starting to clear up.

So far, my family is safe, healthy and Mrs and I still have jobs. Seems like that’s becoming a lot to have these days. I hope your families are well and safe too.

oooh, it’s so nice….

You might recall, back when I was shopping for bikes to replace the Daytona there were a couple of things I really wanted to get. Of course, then I got the Ninja, which had a few of them.

I wanted: longer range (tick), more upright (tick), ability to mount top box (tick), ABS (tick), LED headlights (nope). So not bad actually.

At the time I was offered the Ninja I was concerned as I had tested the 2017(?) and found it excellent, but uncomfortable. Happily that was not the case on the 2012 that I ended up with.

And now, there is this.

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX (I like this green version, more than the black/grey)

So take the engine and the rest of the stuff from the previous generations and refine it. From my perspective add the following (some of which was in earlier versions, between my 2012 and this 2020) traction control; LED headlights (in fact all lights); better economy. Good so far.

Now add electronic throttle, so they can add cruise control. Full TFT dash, and bluetooth (not sure this is a plus, lol). Refine the ride and suspension further and make everything super smooth, light and easy.

Some will say get rid of those dual “shark tooth” exhausts, but to be honest, I kinda like them, certainly compared to this can.

I may have test ridden it now as well.

Ok, so it’s still not “pretty” but it’s so nice to ride….

And someone is interested in my bike.

I just need to come up with the difference, which is a measly $7k. Well it’s kinda tight, money wise, at the moment… but we’ll see. If you wish to donate, feel free to contact me 😉

Best thing is that I have a bike I’d like to get, where as before, there kind of wasn’t.

Kawasaki, I really appreciate that you are continuing with the sport tourer, even if all of your competitors are not. Still have no interest in those semi adventure tourer things.

Big Bikes do commute

I spent the rest of Jan and all of Feb commuting to the city. This made for an interesting experience for me on the largish Ninja. I’ve always commuted by bike, but almost always I’ve travelled either against the main flow or at weird times, so have generally avoided most heavy peak hour traffic. That’s not to say I’m not confident in riding in this amount of traffic or of filtering through lines of stuck cars, its just not my usual commute.

For almost two months, it was my daily ride. Taking about 50mins each way and costing $32 in tolls per day I was still glad not to be driving. I think that would have added at least 20-30mins every day. (I checked public transport, it would have taken around 2 hours).

I’ve actually managed to make a video, so check that out. BBB 41 – A new commute, which will give you some idea of what it was like.

Overall I found the Ninja very capable in the city. Of course there were times when I was just too wide to fit through. To be honest, I think there are times when it doesn’t matter how small you are, you’d be stuck. Having the top box was excellent. I was impressed with one rider splitting with a pannier (though it was a narrow bike and only the right hand pannier).

The bike never seemed to get super warm, often a problem (the VFR was always doing this, though never hot enough to be a problem) for big faired bikes in city traffic. Basically, if my mirrors fit, then the rest of me did too.

So what happened this year – 2019

About Bikes

Really happy with my decision to change over.

Well the Ninja has been out and about. I’ve put almost 16,000km on her this year and sees me in to the 3rd service since I picked her up, only about this time last year. I really enjoy the bike, and have been slowly tinkering to clean her up and set her up for me (like the awesome top box). I have been to Canberra twice and Newcastle once, but apart from work or commutes, there has been little in the way of fun only rides. Still she suits me well, is much better for what I do than the Daytona.

The Daytona is missed, but would likely have seen a fraction of the kms this year. I hear that almost without being ridden the new owner has sold it to a person down in Melbourne. Hopefully they will use her more.

I also rode a VFR during the year and was totally disappointed. I guess I’m now a 100kW or more rider.

I found this a disappointing ride

I would certainly love a 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 to replace this one, but I’m happy for now.

About Babes

Well I have one in High School now. A few hiccups at first, learning lessons about being responsible and planning your assignments but she seems to have settled in well, making good friends and doing well. The other is in Year 5 in 2020, which means High School too in 2022!

About Bytes

Well of course, there is the recently posted completion of BattleTech. Yay. I did enjoy that.

Lady Arano gets her throne back.

My degree is finished. I am waiting for the official results from the school, but to the best of my information, I’ve passed. I am now a fully qualified but not completely registered Primary School Teacher. Huh. That’s a bit different. (and the lack of study in no small way has contributed to the completion of Battletech!)

Just waiting for the official results

About Other Stuff

Dungeons and Dragons flashed back into my life. After a 30 year hiatus, suddenly I find myself Dungeon Master once a fortnight and ad hoc DM’ing for my daughter through an adventure. I am enjoying the distraction and my players seem to be enjoying my management. The accessibility and the ease of the current rules do help that.

And I think that’s a good summary of my year.

I am not sure where 2020 and especially 2021 will take me. I intend to slowly transition from my current employment into teaching through part time (at work) mixed with casual (at teaching) to ease into it. With the plan to switch completely in 2022. Let’s see what happens.

Just a couple of hours

With Mrs filling in for her boss for a few weeks, she has not been working the past few weekends. This is a confusing time for our family as ever since she went back to work after our eldest was born (who’s now in high school), she’s been working weekends and having Wednesday and Thursday’s off. So I look after chores and cooking in the weekend, she does it mid week and that’s a nice even split and things get done. When she doesn’t work weekends we seem to get to Wednesday and there’s no milk left or the food has runout or the washing needs doing as we’re all out of routine.

ANYWAY. Because of her not working, I headed out for a couple of hours up the OldPac as she could mind the girls. I had also noticed a couple of Instagram folks that I follow had headed up that way, so I was seeing if I might run into them.

It was a pleasant afternoon, so there were a lot of bikes out. I am not as confident, yet, on this Ninja as I was on the Daytona. So I’m back to Captain Ridiculously Slow sometimes, not just Captain Slow. There were also a LOT of police about, so behaving yourself was the order of the day.

Came back after a couple of hours having enjoyed the bike and the weather, so it was a good afternoon. I did see a photographer, but haven’t tracked who it was this time. No photos this time from them. But a couple from me.

Didn’t see any bike drama, but there was a car broken down at the end of the freeway offramp. The ramp goes up and around a blind hard left. The car was stopped just around the corner. I pulled up and suggested (firmly) that they should have someone around the corner slowing people down so they don’t cause an accident. As I was pulled up, a couple of cars came around the turn and managed to stop, but it was close. It made my point.

Short trip – Canberra

IMG_5766
I think this is near Silverdale, south of Penrith. You wouldn’t think you were just a few minutes out of the suburbs (and this is looking east, towards the city).

Work needed me to head to Canberra for a couple of days. Even though they were happy to let me use a work car – why on earth would I want to do that? Two nights, leaving mid afternoon the first day, a full day in Canberra and then finish after lunch and head home. Sounds like bike time to me. Sure, it’s winter, it’ll be cold in Canberra, but I get to cruise down in work time whichever way I choose. And I shouldn’t need to travel at night.

I did plan to leave around midday or a little after, but an unexpected turn in the weather predicted snow* and such later, so I headed off around 10am. I headed south from my work near Penrith directly towards the Hume. This took me down some more winding roads, eventually to pass through Thirlmere and onto the Hume.

*The snow was predicted for the Blue Mountains, which I wasn’t travelling over, but I knew that meant there was likely a band of bad weather stretching across my route. I wanted to get ahead of it. In the end, it moved more slowly than predicted and the snow fell during the night, when I was already in Canberra.

I did plan to then cut off and head through Sutton Forrest and the Highland Way, but it was starting to darken and cool down. I thought better to make up time.

Along the road from Marulan to Queenbeyan

I did still leave the Hume at Marulan like I normally do. By part way along this road, I was really enjoying the bike. Plenty of go, and not as harsh a ride as the Daytona was. As I passed through Tarago I stopped and swapped my summer gloves for my warmer winter gloves. Immediately I felt more comfortable – I hadn’t realised that I had been feeling the cold that much.

Just as I arrived into Canberra it was getting dark due to the clouds (it was only about 4pm), and a little damp. That was okay, as it was into the hotel, take a rest then over to a friends for dinner. They filled my belly and gave me leftovers for breakfast!

The next day, though cold, was pretty routine. The following day after the meeting there was a group lunch and then it was time for me to head home.

As per my old routine I headed back through Queanbeyan, Tarago and on to Marulan. I now felt quite competent on this bike (I haven’t had a lot of spirited rides in the months that I’ve owned it) and there was several moments that I slowed significantly for a corner, only to glance down and realise that, after slowing, I was only now doing the posted limit…..

The trip home was uneventful. Enjoyable, but uneventful.

Stopped at Pheasants Nest for a break on the return.

There was a plan…

So the day started out with a plan. Vote early and then go to Avengers (as it was starting to get hard to avoid spoilers – even Miss 9 tried to spoil it and she doesn’t even know the story!)

But of course that isn’t entirely how it went. Voting was over with almost no wait and I decided to catch the midday movie as that showing had the giant screen. So I had about 3 hours to kill.

Aimlessly riding about, changing my mind every other minute, I ended up sitting at the desk of the Kawasaki salesman asking him how much trade in on the Ninja to get a new Ninja. So they took a look at it.

And overall they thought it was in good shape with one concern. A sort of rattle at high rpm that I hadn’t really identified as a concern. They listed a couple of things it might be (from tensioners to something deep in the engine) but we’re happy to spend a half hour to check it out in case it was something simple. Though they couldn’t do it straight away they could certainly do it today.

So two problems. I couldn’t hang around all day, I did have a movie to get to. And they had already handed out the loaner bikes.

I must have made a good impression on the salesman. He poked about in the second hand bikes and selected one to loan me.

A VFR800. A 2008ish VFR mostly stock with Staintune pipes.

I was worried that I would get quite attached to this. I felt I had somehow won the loan bike lottery. I had so many good memories from my one and this would be the first sixth generation I had ridden since hitting the roo.

So I started up and headed out.

The first thing I noticed was the aggressive seating position. I’ve just spent six months on the Ninja which is quite upright.

The next thing I noticed was the loud noise from the pipes. I had kept mine stock the entire time so it was different to hear this bike.

The most interesting thing I noticed was that it seemed really sluggish. I would open the throttle and not much would happen and it would rev up to the VTEC and get louder but didn’t really seem to get going.

This was the single factor that had me sitting there thinking “Wow, I’ve moved past this bike.” The Daytona and the Ninja have similar power (about 100kW) to the VFR’s 80. The Daytona was significantly lighter but the Ninja is a similar weight and from memory the torque is similar for all. The Daytona feels like it gets away a lot quicker than the Ninja, but both feel like they leave the VFR far behind.

I felt kinda disappointed. I sort of wanted to feel that passion I had for the VFR again. I was also thinking now I’m stuck with 1000cc up from now on. Would I want to go backwards?

On the positive it was a case of thinking that I really did make a good choice with the Ninja. And I was already thinking that any way. The most recent jaunt to Newcastle was good fun on the way home and the ride up Wisemans since was great.

Eventually it was time to return the VFR. And it was without any lingering doubt that I returned the keys and asked after the Ninja.

I will have to call back as I am unclear what they did, but the rattle is gone and they have no qualms about taking the bike as trade. I think a sticky tensioner, probably a symptom of having sat for so long before I got it. I will wait until they call back with an offer though I really am not sure I am able to any offer up.

I rode home – instantly happy on the Ninja. I realise part of that is familiarity but I twisted the throttle and left the afternoon traffic behind thinking how much fun this was.

Oh and Avengers was good. Worth seeing, funny in parts. Not the greatest movie ever, but a finish to the whole saga.

Double Demerits…. so what!

It is so rare that I can get a chance to get out for a ride that even when it’s NSW double demerits I’ll take the opportunity. With the weather a fine 25C it was apparently too cold for the planned trip (with our overseas family visiting) to Wet’n’Wild, so I disappeared out the door.

I was in several minds where to head. It was Good Friday, almost nothing is open, but when you’re only stopping for fuel and maybe a pie or something you don’t need much. I decided Putty was probably busy with holiday traffic and same for OldPac and all the roads south. The only one I thought might be light would be Wiseman’s and even then it would drop off once I crossed the river.

As I sat in standstill traffic on Richmond Rd headed north that stretched as far as I could see around the corner I was pretty sure I would be turning around and heading home shortly. And this was 10am, so most of the early traffic would have been long gone.

Around the bend, a RBT (Random Breath Testing) was set up and this was causing the traffic problems. That would end up being by far the worst traffic for the whole day.

I cruised up the road to Wiseman’s, keeping closely to the speed limit and enjoying getting to know this Ninja better. I am quite certain that practicing techniques while I had the Daytona, while not making me a super fast rider, has speed up and smoothed up my riding. I felt confident and calm throughout the ride today and am quite happy with the Ninja and its performance. Lots of go, that’s for sure (but only the same power as the Daytona, more torque and lots more kilos!) and while not as light and flickable, it’s solid and competent.

I got onto the ferry at the head of the queue and raced off as soon as it docked. And basically didn’t see a car again until I was in Mangrove. I suspect the traffic behind probably got caught upon holiday traffic, but I am sure that my improved confidence riding helped me stay ahead.

A quick ice cream at Mangrove Mountain, and it was time to decide where to head. I had loosely planned to head to Wollombi and see if there was a crowd there, but with it 45mins away and probably another 2-3 to get home from there around the Putty or back down Wiseman’s that would get me home about 4-5pm, probably a bit late. Alternatively, Pie in the Sky was about 35mins away, and home is an hour from there. That would see me home around 2-3pm.

IMG_5542.jpg
At Mangrove Mountain. Very quiet.

I also figured that the traffic would be north bound up the Old Pac and the Freeway. While there would be some headed south, not on the same scale.

I was swiftly at Pie in the Sky. There were a few others about but by comparison the traffic north was almost unimaginable. On the Freeway, it was three lanes and whilst moving at speed it was almost bumper to bumper. And the Old Pac wasn’t much better, all headed north. Headed south was about 3 bikes and me.

IMG_5544.jpg
There were a few others about, braving the double demerits.

And it was the same all the way home. Anything headed north was choked and south was empty. I am not sure I even saw any cops that weren’t involved in RBT the whole day.

A good ride out and I am really much happier on this bike. Including a trip to Canberra and to Newcastle, this is only the fourth time since getting this bike that it wasn’t just a commute. So I was still feeling very newbish on it. Most of that is gone now.

2018 in Review

I haven’t written last years review yet, so here goes.

About Bikes

Well a good year for the bikes, finishing on a dramatic change. Most of the year was commuting to work, with the odd day ride squeezed in occasionally. I managed to get my little ones out for a ride and they both enjoyed it.

Of course, there was the big adventure to the MotoGP, only 11 years since the last time. I found some fun roads, I had some great weather, I enjoyed the challenge and the solitude. The Daytona performed excellently for a bike being asked to do something the designers NEVER intended. However well it went though, it wasn’t as easy as it would have been on the VFR so I finally made the decision that was 4 years in the making.

And seemingly fate gave me the chance to swap the bike for the Ninja which I did. Though by the by the end of 2018, I was very uncertain if I had done the right thing. The Daytona was gone and the Ninja sat unridden in the garage, looking dirty and tired.

About babes

The kids… well one finished primary and is off to high school this year! They had a great year, probably they would both count the Japan trip as the highlight, I would put it a tight second after the MotoGP trip. They both enjoyed their ride around the block on the bike too.

About bytes

Well the computers this year have been almost exclusively workhorses, with my study and my girls work as well. I did tuck in to BattleTech and love that. Oh, now that study is on hold….

Oh, I did get the new iMac didn’t I – it seems like so long ago. That was like changing to a new car without even realising. It just doesn’t break down all the time like the old one, but otherwise everything looks the same. And to be honest, I don’t really notice the faster start up etc, because everything is usually open.

The Playstation got retired (faulty wireless board, still works with USB), the Wii got passed to a relative and the kids picked up a Switch. Cool little device that.

About Study

I would love to be saying I’m done, but I have one prac unit left before I graduate. And no certainty of when I will get to do it. Hopefully when I write the 2019 review I will be able say done.

BUT the main thing is that I LOVE IT. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it had it been my thing straight out of Uni, but I think that time in between and the life and experience in that time will set me on a good path to this new career, whenever it is that I actually get started.