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.
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.
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.
There was a meeting in Newcastle. Work needed me to attend and because of stuff, the video call wasn’t an option. The meeting was scheduled for after lunch (1pm) and planned to finish by 4pm. With daylight savings, it’s not dark until about 7pm. It’s a 2ish hour direct …. you know where this is going… ride. So I can leave after the family is off to school and work. Take a scenic route and arrive at the meeting. Then ride back and even make it home before sunset, or at least into the city outskirts (and therefore low probability of a kangaroo intercept).
And that’s what I did. The fam was off to work and school by 7am. The top box was filled with my work clothes, my iPad and stuff, and I packed some lunch. Ever since that slog around the Jamison to Eildon leg of the MotoGP trip (see day three), I’ve been paranoid about not having food and water with me. So I had snacks, water, a bottle of coke and two pork and salad rolls (intended for lunch and dinner).
Clear start at about 7:30am, up through the traffic to the M1. This was super annoying and probably added 30mins. Onto the M1 and it started to rain. And rain properly, not just light drizzle. I decided to skip the Old Pac. Instead I ran up the freeway a couple more exits and turned off for Wollombi.
Leaving the freeway, the rain gradually eased off over the next half hour as I headed inland. This was a fairly open road and more enjoyable as it dried. I stopped at the Kulnara Station. Only bike there.
Then it was on to Wollombi. Only bike there. Roads were basically dry now.
North from Wollombi. I have only ridden this once before, about 15 years ago, in the dark.
It was very nice in the sunshine, I hadn’t realised it was such a nice trip from Newcastle to Wollombi. Out of the hills and into the valleys, it became mundane with town after town. Still even then I arrived at Fighter World at the Airport about 1130. Time for lunch (and a quick look inside).
And then the meeting. Opened at 1:00. Closed at 1:30. Wait! What… I’ve ridden all this way, through rain and sun for 30minutes…..
Cool! An early mark, time for a new plan for the home trip. My original plan had been just to shoot down the freeway. If it was still light I would take the Old Road from Mt White to Berowa, just to break it up.
That was the plan if I was leaving at 4pm, but I was leaving before 2pm.
So, the new plan – back to Wollombi, where I would decide if I would head to Wiseman’s or Mt White. In the afternoon, traffic was lighter and I made good time. School zones were active though.
Got to Wollombi. Almost the only bike there again.
From here, it would take about 3 and a bit hours via Wiseman’s or 2 hours via the freeway (so add a bit for the Old Pac, and the inevitable rush hour traffic on Pennant Hills Rd). I rode towards the turn off for Wiseman’s, changing my mind every few kms.
In the end I decided I wanted to head home. I headed for Mt White and down the Old Pac. I stopped to eat my last roll at Pie in the Sky (I hope they weren’t too mad I had my own food). Leaving there about 5pm. Almost the only bike there too!
I was home by 6pm.
Pennant Hills Rd was like a dream.. very unexpected.
The bike performed excellently, of course.
And in some of the familiar parts, I felt I rode a lot better. I can improve, I just need to ride the road every week or two to get used to it. Actually, that’s THREE rides this month now. And all of them included the Old Road. I’m sure that this is helping my confidence.
And the other thing I wanted to talk about was these awesome gloves. For sometime I had wished for waterproof gloves that weren’t heavy winter gloves (which I do have). When shopping the other day for my normal gloves I found these Dainese Gore-tex gloves. They are probably not great in high summer, but a rainy day they should be fine. Worked fantastically today. Dianese Nembo.
Unexpectedly, Mrs Mab was home on Saturday. She was planning to go out with her friends, which I had thought dinner etc. Turned out it was shopping and lunch and home by 1pm.
Sitting on the couch as she chats to her friends, I realised that this means that she is home to look after the kids….. So without any fuss, I grabbed my helmet and rolled the bike out. Be gone, between 2-3 hours. Enough time to ride out to Mt White Cafe/Pie in the Sky and come home.
So I found myself tooling up the Old Pacific Highway on a Saturday afternoon. A lot less bikes about than I had expected. I think maybe two things, it was afternoon with most riding in the morning I presume and there was rain forecast all day (though not really doing anything).
Did see a copper, but they got busy with a car that had spun out just up from the bridge.
I shouldn’t be surprised, but the adjustments to the suspension that I talked about in the previous post really have the bike giving me a lot more confidence than previously. I felt quite comfortable… or perhaps as comfortable as my innate caution allows…
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.
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.
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).
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
The last day of the school holidays came along, and Mrs Mab had the day off. But she was sick and I think that’s why after lunch she let me out for a ride. With a couple of hours free I wasn’t able to get to the top of the Putty or Mac Pass, so I decided to head up Old Pac for a few laps south of Brooklyn Bridge. And while I actually I managed to catch one bike, I was mostly a rolling roadblock for the more skilled riders.
Even more amazing, there was a photographer out (I normally pass through the area in the week when they aren’t there). So I have photos from a rare recreational ride of mine. And I have super rare pictures of me riding AND the first photos of me on the Daytona (I’ve had this bike for 4 years).
The slowest rider on the Old Pac!
Special thanks to Gideon Motorcycle Imagery (on Facebook) for the pictures.
It’s a day off for me, exams. After they were done though, I was torn (well not really) – go and see Captain America, go for a ride on the bicycle, perhaps even a MTB ride, or take the Daytona out.
But where? Ten Mile Putty is too far, be at least 4-6 hours and I did have be home with dinner ready. Colo was an idea but I didn’t really feel like the hour plus to get there. Google tells me that Mt White on the Old Pacific Hwy is only 1 hour away. That was a real surprise as I always thought it was ages and ages away.
Well it’s not.
And I always thought it sucked as I remembered 60kmh limits and loads of traffic.
Well the part around Pie in the Sky is actually 80.
And it was Tuesday, I guessed traffic would be light.
And it was, lol.
So I rode up Old Pac, completely changed my opinion of at least the 80 part. And it really did only take an hour. I left home about 10am and after riding to Mt White, and back to Pie, having a Pie and then doing a lap in the 80 zone before heading home, I still made it home before 1pm.
I wasn’t impressed though with the guy who passed outside of me in my lane around a tight bend. If I had f’ked it up we would have both gone down. Much rather he was like his mate and just blitzed past me on a short straight on the wrong side of a solid line.