July 24, 2013

A kata of steel and stillness...


The moon hung low and heavy in the morning sky, a silvery beacon amidst an inky expanse of darkness.  The wind moaned and howled like some distant wolf song across an arctic tundra, while the road stetched before me, a velvety darkness edged in white, dotted with the ocassional red tail light like winking eyes, as the tarmac raced and blurred beneath me.

I know why they often refer to a motorcyclist as a pilot, because it was if I was flying, cocooned in darkness, a part of teh world, yet alone, reflective, at peace.  Mindfulness and motion, a place of stillness as the world spins by, its turmoil, its pain, its confusion all fogotten for a time as it and I become one - a single mote that is an intrinsic part of all, and perspective, that precious gift, is regained anew.

Life is short.  Live.

March 28, 2013

And time goes by...

Well, it has definitely been a while, and more than a few milestones have passed by, but while I've popped small status updates on facebook pretty frequently I have been lamentably recalcitrent in updating this blog.

I've passed the 25,000 km mark a week or two ago, and will have been riding for a year come Monday, and I've been commuting into the city every day for quite some time now.  No major scares or incidents yet thankfully, but it pays to always be alert, aware, and cautious.  Defensive riding - something I will always strive to be better at...

Not a big update, but I do plan to be a bit more proactive in blogging again if I can.  :)

Keep on riding folks...

September 19, 2012

A meditation in motion...

I arise, a little weary, to face the day.  Dawn is breaking as I do, though the days are growing longer, and ever so slowly warmer as the year wears on.

Several hours later I reflect on my morning, in equal parts wonder and appreciation.  :)

As I left home this morning the sun was a pale gibbous light wavering through a misty shroud, dew gleaming on the grass and a faint fog rising off the dips and hollows.  Calm, peaceful, serene.

By Woodend I was riding through a shroud of fog, wiping the visor repeatedly, sound muffled, sailing through a cocoon of isolation.

Past Macedon the fog lifted, the sun broke through the cloud, and shafts of golden light speared down to set the dewy grass aflame, and the moment felt truly precious.

By Gisborne the sky was a leaden grey, heavy and low, the wind a triksy imp, tussling this way and that, laughing gleefully as I passed a truck or large SUV (or was passed by more oft than not).

Four shades of Central Victorian morning on one ride, and every one of them beautiful in its own way. 

For that hour and a bit I am transformed, alone, serene, totally at peace.  In a very zen-like way I am in the moment. Focussed on my bike, the road around me, the road.  Nothing else matters.  It is like doing Kata, finding perfection in the movement, totally absorbed in the flow.  The sense of self seems to fade.  Or maybe expand.  Hard to describe, but tose who meditate will know what I mean I think.  A moving meditation, at 110 kilometers per hour.

Who'd take the train?

August 22, 2012

Street Legal

Well, time has flown by, and there have been a few milestones and achievements go past uncommented.  To summarise though, I'm making progress, and I'm still enjoying the bike immensely.

Some time back now I did the Stay Upraight Learner Roadcraft course.  It was a cold and wet Sunday, blustery with pretty steady rain.  It was also a fantastic day, and one that taught me quite a bit.  Slow riding work was valuable, and the emergency braking practice was really valuable.  In my learners we e-braked frmo about 25kph.  This time I was going at up to 80kph on a wet road in the rain.  I appreciate that ABS is not the be-all and end-all, and that folks can in fact use it as a crutch, but I'm still grateful my bike has it.

There was really only 2 negatives to that day all told, neither of which was a fault of the course at all.  The first was when I dropped the bike (stationary drop) in the car park before the course began.  That slow riding stuff, just a few hours too late.

The second negative; another flat tyre.  I must have picked up a nail just as I got home, because when I went back out to ride the bike a few days later I discovered a slow leak in the (500km old) rear tyre.  Bugger.

Since then I've been commuting more regularly by bike, and I've done my license course and lost my Ls.  That was heaps of fun as well, and pretty simple in the end.  So now I'm street legal and on the countdown to lose my LAMS restrictions.

Let the good times roll...

June 17, 2012

New Tyre

Well, after my adventures on the Queen's Birthday I wasn't really too comfortable with my double-plugged rear tyre.  The fact that it was (slowly) losing air only really confirmed that discomfort, and it was time for a new rear tyre.

I had been going to get Bolton's to do it here in Kyneton, and organised to work Friday from home so I could get it seen to, but saw a providential post on NetRiders by MMMTS (Metro Mobile Motorcycle Tyre Service: https://www.facebook.com/MetroMobileMotorcycleTyreService) about having done a tyre at Lancefield. 

A quick message or three later and MMMTS were teed up to come sort my rear tyre for me, and sort it they did.  Top service, friendly, helpful, and I have a new rear tyre that should keep me motoring happily for quite some time.  Replaced the OEM Dunlop Sportsmax RoadSmarts with a Michelin P3 that by all accounts should give me good touring life with better grip and confidence than the Dunlops.

I've only really started to scrub it in - about 60kms worth yesterday (Saturday) so it really still needs a bit more working in, but already I'm pretty happy with it.  I started off pretty gingerly, and while I'll certainly still have wider chicken strips than my brothers I've had it leaning over quite a bit on Cobb and Co road, Chevelley's Lane and the Woodend-Tylden and Tylden-Kyneton Roads, all of which have some fun sweeping bends that I took probably as fast as I ever have without the tyre giving so much as a wobble.

A run in to work and back at some stage this week and she'll be well and truly ready for anything I think, and definitely up to scratch for my Stay Upright course weekend after next.  So I'm back on the road again, and happy to be there.  Now if I can just avoid any more nails for more than a couple of thousand kms please...

Deflated...

Well, my ride with my brothers on the Queen's Birthday Monday didn't quite go as planned.

The first inkling that trouble was brewing was a text from Ali saying that he was having electrical problems with his bike.  Ouch.  The hope was that he would be able to get that sorted and still join us.  So off I set, on what was a very brisk cold morning, to make my way over to the initial rendezvous point at Romsey.

Well, the road was clear, it was a nice enough ride over, but the thick frost on the paddocks highlighted that my choice of leather jacket over textile might have been suspect.  Arrival at Romsey saw me changing the Hellfire's, as I was definitely needing the heavier winter gloves.

Then, with Ross arriving it was off to Whittlesea, where, the plan was, we would meet up with Ali and have a coffee.

Hmmm.  Fog.  Where the heck did that come from???  And not just any fog, but london-style pea soup fog.  Wipe your visor frequently and repeatedly fog.  Lovely road out towards Wallan, and it would have been fantastic if we could see far enough ahead to actually enjoy all those glorious bends.  Ah well...

Rightio, into Whittlesea, stop for coffee.  And notice my rear tyre has a puncture.  Crap.  Ali's electrical issues were still ongpoing.  Double crap.  Oh, and Ali had the puncture repair kit.  You get the picture...  The culprit; a 4" masonry nail of all things.  Thanks a lot to whoever thoughtfully left that lying on the road.  There were a group of cyclists at the same cafe who had also had a member get a puncture, so I guess I wasn't alone.

Enter stage left a pair of guys on cruisers who came to the rescue and helped me get the rear type plugged.  This is probably one of the most endearing thing about the biker community, they really do stick together a bit and help out in situations like this, and I deeply appreciated their help.  I'll be paying that forward any and every time I can.

Another rider had a comressor in his truck, so the tire was re-inflated, and we were good to go, although now the plan was modified to be a quick return back home again alas.

So, return journey, the fog has lifted (mostly) and back we head, only for me to notice the rear felt pretty slushy over the recent roadworks we'd passed without incident on our way in.  Ross confirmed a few seconds later that 'I don't like the look of that rear tyre again mate'.  Double crap.  So, find a place we can pull off safely and yep, tire flat again.

Oh, and Ross also starting to succumb to a gastric upset.  I guess that was our third unlucky thing.  About 5 mins out of Romsey, spotty phone reception and a flat.  My folks came to the rescue with a trailer, and a repair kit.  Re-patched the puncture and found a staple (from a staple gun type staple) in the tyre as well.  Patched that too.  Pumped it up again, and continued homw under escort in case it deflated again...

Finally made it home.

It was an interesting ride, and pretty educational, if not the unalloyed fun I had been anticipating....  I guess that is just the joys of motorcycling.  :)

So, tyre repair kit very much on my to-get list now, as well as an angle adapter given my wheels make may attachments damn difficult to fit to the valve.  Some sort of bike friendly compressor would be an awesome find too I suspect.

C'est la vie.