Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another ‘Jackass’

The day started with clear blue sky however by the time I got out of town the weather changed with clouds rolling in to sit above the border ranges.

A chance for a small ride and a little bit of photography.

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I was reading Fuzzy Galore’s blog and her comment of being a ‘reformed jackass’ struck a chord with me. I used to be a jackass on a motorcycle (and in general) and  used to think I needed to ride fast. As Fuzzy says if someone had told me when I was young I would later enjoy more just riding regular and stopping to take in the sights I would have scoffed at them and said something like ‘sure thanks gran-pa’ Just the idea of riding anything other than a sports bike seemed illogical to me. Funny now as I view sports bikes as the least desirable motorcycle to own. 

And so today cruising comfortably I thought I was being pulled over by a highway patrol but no, not interested in me, instead after other faster rider up yonder and just wanting to pass me. Sorry for the other rider but sure made my day not to be the target I used to be. Felt like I had won the lottery, which given the price of speeding fines is not an exaggeration.   

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Whilst still some blue sky at Lake Moogerah the weather closed in shortly thereafter.

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By Maroon dam I could see the rain on the hills.

I had intended to do some photography on the Barney View road which has some spectacular views over the ranges. I knew light from days change in weather was rotten for taking photos but since I was already nearby I went anyway. There is an abandoned old cottage that I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in away from the rude city people and office work life that I so very much dislike.

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Not long there and rain started to lightly fall. I was in my full winter gear which is waterproof so no rush. The weather radar on my iPhone showed just small scattering of rain so I could have easy ridden through but just the same it was looking bleak all round so I decided to call it a day.

Next ride will be USA.

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“Why can’t you let it be - a tree stump twists”

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

North America Tour Preview

After a few false starts I am still heading there this year. Actually I am going next month but for a smaller ride than first planned.

Originally I was going to ride around or across North America. Not to say I’d done it but rather because shipping my bike there for an extended ride was appealing cost wise compared to renting and making two or three smaller trips.

However after I started planning the trip in earnest a few doubts entered my mind. I came to the conclusion it would be smarter to experience in smaller dose at first.

Another thing was it appeared that the best riding is on either side and much less in the middle so I have decided to ride a selection of roads on the Western side from California to British Columbia only this trip. A longer ride on the East coast to follow next year if I enjoy this.

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I have a BMW R1200RT like above booked with Eagle Rider for this tour. I am going to start in San Francisco and have strung together some recommended roads there and in the North West states and into Canada. While planning I tried to add as many good roads as I could to my route but naturally cannot do all. Some famous riding roads involved considerable highway riding so I have decided to skip them.

My route is going to follow this more or less. Many people have said I must go to Colorado, but it is too far away for this trip. In Canada I have skipped the Banff national park as already been to that area.

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Many of the ‘motorcycle roads’ were sourced from internet sites of similar name and style. Motorcycle Roads .com and Motorcycle Roads .us . Additional information came from Backroads magazine, the AMA printed books ‘Ride Guide to the USA volumes 1 & 2’, Rider Magazine and Best Biking Roads.

Having a one way motorcycle rental is more flexible but makes luggage difficult. You can either throw away your suitcase and buy another at the other end or try bring a large sports bag along with you. I am trying the later, I found a cricket bag on eBay with wheels but no fixed internal frame just braces that can be removed so the bag can be folded down a certain amount. I plan to fold this into another smaller bag and strap to rear of bike and place most belongings into the panniers.

I had been planning to not take my helmet and this would have let me use a much smaller bag but Eagle rider have advised me they only supply skull cap 1/2 helmets with rentals – this seemed rather odd choice of safety equipment to offer but anyway I will take my own now and thus trigger the need for a large bag.

Despite new models coming out I see no leap forward in GPS tech so I am taking my old Garmin nuvi and my external battery power system. It has worked mostly ok so far and saves trying to wire things up. As per the photo, 6000mAh battery sits behind, GPS in front, long velcro straps lets you fit to anything, waterproof zips plus rain cover. Charge via USB at night.

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The climate forecast for this ride is mostly hot, yet I am told to expect some cool weather in the later part. I am not able to take my usual Alpinestars two piece outfit as this would be too hot so I am going to take my BMW pants and First Gear Scout leather jacket which has good venting yet when closed still has some shielding from cool air. I will take a mid layer micro fleece and siting behind a large fairing like that on the R1200RT I think this will cover cooler mornings.

My desire with this trip beside experiencing the places and people where I am going is to find more enjoyable (to me) roads than the alpine type roads in Europe. Don’t get me wrong the alps were spectacular but switchbacks whilst great to look at are not much fun to ride. Real life experience is like riding along and executing a tight U-turn, maybe with oncoming cars cutting the corner, then gassing it 200 metres before repeating. And then same all the way up and down a 2000m mountain. I like to feel a motorcycle leaning over through longer sweeping corners. I will ride Europe again, independently and in more depth, but I will likely look at riding more in the valleys than the high peaks. Until then I am excited to soon be riding North America.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Beautiful Day

What a nice warm winter’s day. Beautiful day for a ride.

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Numinbah Valley