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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Bula, bula from Fiji

Bula is Fijian for Hello/Greetings and it gets said about 500 times a day when you're there!

Our 44th wedding anniversary rolls around at the end of the month and although we've visited a good number of the Pacific Islands, Fiji hasn't been one of them.  A good time to rectify that!  We told our adult kids that we were taking a break and received the predictable sarcastic response, "A break from what, exactly?"  We'd booked in at a small resort mainly staffed by residents of a local village on the south-west corner of the main island.  With flying time only 3 hours from Auckland, plus a 45 minute drive to the resort, we could hit the ground running, so to speak.

Air NZ's splendid silver fern logo and tail koru

Land ho!  Arty first shot of Fiji

Upon arrival, the receptionist and Jennie were chatting away and Jennie mentioned that it was our 44th anniversary so on the spot, we were upgraded to a lagoon front property - nice score honey!!!  Huge apartment, massive bed you could have an orgy on (Jennie says, "in your dreams, boy") with a spa bath out on the deck.  Shell necklaces on the bed shaped to say "Bula" along with fresh hibiscus flowers - nice touch!


Step straight off the deck onto the lawn and this is what you see (and you could hear the clunk of my jaw hitting the deck).  The other person on this trip was far more refined than her less cultured husband and took it all in her stride.

I suppose it'll have to do......

The rest of the day was spent exploring all the facilities and planning adventures for the coming days. Oh, and quietly sipping the odd beer and cocktails!

Tough day at the office

Fijians, like most Pacific Islanders, are incredibly friendly and really go the extra mile to make sure that visitors to their shores enjoy the experience.  The service isn't the formal type that you would expect perhaps in Europe or Asia, it's low key and laid back but totally on the ball - love it!

Every evening, there was a local cultural performance of some kind and beautifully done, followed by dinner under the stars and a stroll back to our room...... magic.

Jennie seemed to be taking an exceptionally keen interest.....

Curved swimming pool lit from under water - spectacular

An encounter with a local villager at the lagoon ended with us being taken for a boat tour round a nearby island where they keep their goats and pigs, even dropping us off on a deserted beach to walk the length of it and picking us up at the other end.  Really doesn't get better than that.

Village boats at the lagoon entrance

Off we go......

One of the island deserted beaches - well, apart from.....

Never let it be said that that our holidays don't lack variety.  Just before we arrived, it was reported in the international press that a tourist had found a human body part on a beach not far from us.  The Fijian navy divers were brought in to search the reef  and we saw them heading out on several mornings.  Apparently, it involved a Russian couple who were living on the island so who knows what the investigation will reveal!

Back to more relaxing parts of the break, we love visiting produce markets to see what is grown and to chat with locals.  Fiji grows the usual range of gorgeous tropical fruits and the range of vegetables was pretty impressive.  We were particularly impressed with taro root chips seasoned with fiery local chilli powder - made quite a change from normal potato chips.  A little less keen to try fish that had been sitting in the sun for a couple of hours though.

Beautiful fresh produce at amazingly low prices by western standards

A trip to an eco reserve area to look at some local wildlife showed various bird species with the most amazing colours, as well as all sorts of reptiles.  Jennie didn't seem at all fazed handling a snake!  Here's an interesting factoid...... Fiji imported mongooses (mongeese?) to control snakes which live in their sugar cane plantations.  You see them trotting about all over the place.

Unbelievable colours


Snakes alive.......


Wild ginger


Bright colours weren't just restricted to land animals and plants, with the reef fish also having spectacular colours, as well as starfish the size of dinner plates having the most amazing electric blue colour.

Fiji must be called the land of sunsets as every night was stunning and quite different - here's a selection which were an utter privilege to see....



Locals in traditional grass skirts silhouetted at sunset

No self-respecting moto blog avoids food porn and on our last night, we had dinner at their award-winning top restaurant.  My word, the service and food quality were equal to the best food we've had anywhere.  Amuse-bouche to start, then wonderful palate-cleaners such as homemade mango sorbet between courses....... doing it in style!

Dinner under the stars

Exquisite presentation - sure beats the normal biker meat pie at a gas station!

At the end of the meal, the staff sprang a lovely surprise on us with an extra dessert of fresh mango cheesecake with coconut ice cream and anniversary greetings piped in dark chocolate.  The only downer was that Jennie wouldn't let me lick the chocolate off the plate, but there again, she's always had a sight more class than me.

Yummmmm......

In a recent post, Aussie moto-blogger Chillertek took the mickey by asking what sort of a busy social life was possible for a 68 year old (i.e. me) to have.  Well Steve, now you know - one with no debt and kids who have left home *grin* .

Wonder where the next adventure will take us?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Service time and other stuff!

It's hard typing with Annie cat on my lap demanding attention......

It was the winter solstice yesterday in the Southern Hemisphere - days get longer from now.  In a recent post, fellow moto-blogger Sonja asked what was wrong with the weather.  That applied to Europe and Germany in particular but the same applies down south.  Torrential rain and floods on the eastern seaboard of Australia and New Zealand has had its fair share of rain too.  However, on the positive side, the weather has been unseasonably warm for the last few days and temperature records are being set in many parts of the country.  Our village peaked at 18 degrees C yesterday - not bad for mid-winter!

The Suzuki has racked up 12,000 km from new in about 6 months, (90% of it mentoring with IAM) and was due for its first significant service, With a dire weather forecast for the rest of the week, I thought it would be good to get it over and done with.  The dealer I bought it from in Auckland has a really professional and likeable sales team but when taking it back for the 1000 km check, their service team gave the impression of indifference.  That may be unfair, but it's impressions which count.

A few weekends ago, I copped a rear puncture near the city of Hamilton.  It was a relatively slow leak but being 170 km from home, I didn't want to risk a temporary fix failing and leaving me stranded miles from anywhere.  A quick call to Boyd Suzuki in Hamilton who were just open for the Saturday morning saw a really sympathetic response. They said just get the bike to them and they'll look at it straight away.  They were as good as their word, fixed the tyre and I was on my way in less than an hour.  Even better, the total cost including labour was only NZ$45 - fantastic!  They may not have made much on that repair but their excellent service has seen me switch my business to them.  A real example of the impact of good customer service.  More on this later.

Getting ready for the trip south under threatening skies

Arriving in Hamilton 2 1/4 hours after setting off, the bike was taken off to the workshop as soon as I dismounted and was told that it would be around an hour and a half to complete the service.  Felt a bit sorry for the technician as I'd cleaned the bike for him and by the time we got there, it was covered in crap again from the damp roads.

With a bit of time to kill, there was plenty of time to wander round their well-appointed accessories area and showroom.  With a fairly new bike, there was no risk of being beaten to a pulp by Jennie for putting a deposit on a new one so it was a good opportunity to cast a dispassionate eye over the Suzuki, BMW and KTM range which they stocked.  However, that didn't negate a drool over the accessories!

A small part of their accessories area

My current textile riding pants are at least 5 years old.  The term "waterproof" was clearly added to their advertising material by a marketing team who had their fingers crossed behind their collective backs.  They leaked in the crotch about 2 weeks after purchase so plastic overtrousers were always worn over the top for longer hauls.  However, it got to the stage where even regular applications of Nikwax Tech Wash and Nikwax waterproofers failed to stop me looking like I was incontinent, even on short runs.  What a great time to browse along the racks for replacement pants!

There was no way I could justify the expense of Rukka gear or similar but a browse of various websites saw owners singing the praises of mid-priced Rev'it Factor 3 pants. Lo and behold, there was a pair of my size in stock so it was off to the changing room. Lots of quality fittings on the pants and they were a perfect fit, even with armour in all the right places. One feature that I particularly like is that they are a relatively slim cut.  My old ones are quite baggy and I've always felt that I looked like the sort of rider who features in 1950's and 60's adverts for sensible 500cc British single cylinder machines.  Different story with my silver and black summer leathers - mutton dressed as lamb!

A brisk march up to the accessories counter with the impending purchase gave a nice surprise in that the person behind the counter was someone I knew.  Kat used to work at the Triumph franchise up the road and we'd always got on really well when I owned the Street Triple.  She gave me a nice discount on the pants which was completely unexpected and certainly added to the customer experience. It's instances like this which go a long way to building customer loyalty.

Rev'it Factor 3 textile pants

With that part of business concluded, it was time for a wander round the showrooms.  The first thing which struck me was that if you pulled the decals off most faired sport bikes and painted them the same colour, it would be a real challenge without closer inspection to determine what brand they were - simply not enough differentiation for any one of them to stand out above the rest.  However, the naked or semi-naked bikes did show a bit of design flair, even if some of them weren't to my particular taste (whatever that might be!)

Having (probably unjustifiably) dismissed faired bikes in a single sentence, I must say that the KTM range were particularly appealing.  With their ladder frames, sharp edges and bold colours, they were really eye-catching. The bike in the foreground of the photo below is a 200 cc learner-compliant bike and is as sexy as hell - never thought I'd be saying that about a 200!  I'd happily own one of the naked KTM 390 or 690 singles for behaving badly on in the twisties close to home.  Small fuel tanks would put me off one for longer journeys but I guess it's the old adage about fitness for purpose.

The sexy KTM range

My eye was caught by the rear view of the latest BMW 1200 GS below.  Fellow moto-blogger Nikos will probably put a contract on me for saying it but I wondered who had sneaked a main battle tank into the line-up of bikes - bloody hell, it's a wide beast!  The designer was probably a military vehicle or agricultural equipment designer in a past life.  Being towards the end of the queue when long legs were handed out, I'd be looking in the accessories catalogue for retractable trainer wheels.  Having gently taken the mickey, I'll freely admit that it was a 1200 GS that had little trouble in keeping up with my Street Triple on our local and bumpy twisties when I was trying hard to shake it off.  And of course, for pan-continental journeys, they are almost without peer.

A sturdy Bavarian ummm... motorcycle

The BMW XR1000 shown below looks anything but agricultural.  Tall but slim, it defies any normal label of adventure, sports or touring with a modified 4 cylinder motor from the flagship superbike chucking out 160 bhp. Not really sure how well it will sell in NZ as buyers of adventure bikes over here generally use them at least in part for genuine off-roading.  How well the XR would handle anything other than a bit of fairly smooth gravel would be interesting to see. 

Very stylish XR 1000

There were two BMW's which really caught my eye.  I almost missed the first one as it was wedged between some other bikes and was painted gloss black without any lurid decals - a real stealth weapon if ever there was one.  This was the S1000R super-naked with essentially the same motor as the XR.  It was so slim and compact that it could easily be taken for a small capacity bike.  An unobtrusive real missile - my kind of bike!

I did manage to photograph the other bike with real appeal (below).  This is the first time I'd seen an R9T in the flesh.  Its apparent elegant simplicity really shone - what you might call "retro chic", I suppose. Polished metal fuel tank, uncluttered looks, a seat height for the vertically challenged - just lovely.  Price tag very similar to the new Thruxton Bonneville 1200.  It will be interesting to see how sales of both go.

The R9T - gorgeous simplicity

Sure enough, the GSX-S was ready bang on time and what's more, they'd washed all the crap off too, bless them! The total bill, including the new pants was a shade under NZ$600.  Admittedly, it wasn't the sort of major service requiring the bike to be half-stripped but nonetheless, it was a good price which will keep me going back.  Finishing on a light note, I left Boyds and stopped at the traffic signals about half a kilometre up the road.  Suddenly, there was an alarming amount of steam coming up from the bike and for a heart-stopping instant, I thought a radiator hose had come off or developed a leak.  It's amazing just how much water the radiator fins hold after a wash - the surplus was just flashing off as the engine came up to temperature!

All in all, a rather splendid day........


Friday, 3 June 2016

In praise of warm paws, a tyre update and other stuff

Even where we live in NZ, we get sometimes light winter frosts first thing in the morning.  Before readers who get REAL winters tell me to harden up, let me explain!  Most of the mentoring I do involves 500 km days, often in colder parts of the country which also means early starts from home.

On a naked bike, wind chill is a big factor.  I hate the loss of feel with thick winter gloves and although I've had heated grips on some previous bikes, my fingers have still suffered on longer runs.  Not good for control, especially when in the company of other riders.  Last spring, I took the plunge and bought some Gerbing G3 heated gloves from Revzilla in the US.  They sat in the cupboard until yesterday when the first cold spell of winter struck - the first opportunity to try them out in anger!

Gerbing G3 heated gloves

The gloves themselves have heating wires throughout the whole glove, including the fingers which is what I saw as the big advantage over heated grips. The componentry consists of a fused connector to the battery, a variable temperature controller and a wiring loom from the controller to the gloves.  In my case, this goes up the inside back of my cordura jacket and down through the sleeves between the jacket liner and the shell.  Gloves were US$140 and the temperature controller a further US$50 -  a little more than heated grips but not expensive in the scheme of things.  Incidentally, the gloves are made from the softest leather I've ever encountered.

Battery connector from under the seat - tucked away when not in use

Connector to the temperature controller

Temperature controller

The temperature controller sits in a small digital camera case which is looped onto the waist tensioners of my jacket - very quick to adjust (but not on the move!)

Connector from sleeve to glove

Connecting everything up is hassle-free as the ample wiring length means that you can connect up the gloves before slipping them on.  It's easy to run the surplus back up your sleeve but it's not really necessary as they don't flap about or get in the way of anything.  Similarly, there is sufficient length in the wiring from the controller to enable you to get on and off the bike without having to unplug.  The connectors look pretty sturdy which was a worry when initially buying the gloves as fellow moto-blogger Richard Machida let me know that he'd had some connector breakages on his. Perhaps they've been redesigned since then but time will tell.  Besides, with Richard residing in Alaska, his probably get a lot more use than they're likely to in NZ!

On to the million dollar question - do they work?  Well, before leaving home yesterday, I deliberately set them at the low end of the range and they were fine in 2 or 3 degrees C temperatures.  Plenty of scope for cranking them up when temperatures drop even lower!  Happy?  You bet!

In a previous post, regular readers will remember that I was less than impressed with the Dunlop D214 sport tyres which were OEM on the Suzuki GSX-S 1000.  There were several reasons for this but as I cover up to 20,000 km per year and the rear D214 only lasted for 3700km before having to be replaced, cost was certainly a consideration!  I reverted to Michelin PR4's which I'd had on the Street Triple.  As well as being better suited for a bigger range of weather conditions, speed of roll-in to corners was markedly improved as the 55 profile PR4 has a sharper crown than the 50 profile D214.  The PR4 has now racked up nearly 7000km including a trackday. The profile remains excellent with heaps of tread left.  I'm picking that life will be 10000 km or better, which is pretty satisfactory on a 1 litre sport bike.

PR4 at ~7000 km

Finally, nothing to do with motorcycles but living in a benign climate, there are plants flowering in our garden through the whole winter.  Here's a selection of photos I've just taken.

Neoregelia Carolinae Tricolor bromeliad and the ever-present Annie

Close-up of unknown bromeliad variety

Various bromeliads - the banded Vresia is nearly a metre across


Climbing orchid

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Bee's Knees, a visitor and how we choose our bikes


The Bee's Knees
Blame it on a combination of discus throwing as a school athlete and competitive sailing later on in life but my 68 year old knees aren't in the best of shape.  I had reconstructive surgery on one knee in 1980 but thanks to the benefits of cycling, I've managed to keep away from the butcher's (sorry, surgeon's) knife since then.

However, riding a sports bike with high pegs does cause aching knees after a day in the saddle. Waving my legs in the breeze to get relief during a longer haul is a regular occurrence. Not wishing to join that well-known geriatric biker gang "Sons of Arthritis, Ipuprofen Chapter" because of  an aversion to regular medication, it was time to look at other options.

Striking fear into the public 

Some years ago, I fitted a footpeg-lowering kit to my Honda Blackbird and although it was only a 25mm drop, the difference in comfort levels was huge.  A quick search of the internet revealed several options for the GSX-S. Some looked cheap and nasty and others over-engineered and pricey. The nicest-looking alternative was from a Buell, but required a bit of grinding, plus bushing of the pivot holes. I then found a member of a Hayabusa forum who sold a complete kit, using Buell pegs but professionally machined to suit the 'busa.  Trouble was, the forum post was 2008 so was he still around?  Sent an email, got a reply in less than 2 hours and yes, he was still making them and they fitted the GSX-S - yippee!!!

The postman arrived with a package from the US and it was instantly torn open.  What a treat to see some engineering of the highest quality - all properly bushed and polished.  In fact, they are better finished than the originals.  Kudos to Joe Satterwhite for setting such high personal standards.

Yumm - shiny farkles!


About 20mm longer and 25mm lower than OEM pegs

The first job was to get a builder's level out so that the height difference from standard footpegs to both the gear change and brake pedals could be measured and replicated with the new lower pegs. With that done, the old pegs were removed and the new ones fitted in under 10 minutes, including applying lubricant.  At this stage, I'm not going to transfer the "hero blobs" from the OEM pegs until I've tried them out on a reasonable distance run.

The final stage of fitting was a bit more time-consuming.  The gear pedal was easy to adjust to the new height - just undo two nuts on the change linkage, turn the threaded rod until the right measurement was attained and lock it all up again.

Setting up the gear linkage

The time-consuming bit was setting up the brake position.  To get the correct measurement, I had to cut a few mm off the thread of the brake cylinder clevis pin and it was easier to slacken off the whole footrest assembly to do this. The old pegs can still be re-fitted even with some thread removed so no worries on that score. The fiddly bit was adjusting the rear brake light activation switch to compensate for the new position of the brake lever - fingers like ET would have been really useful to stop getting cramp in them!!

The whole job took less than an hour and a half to complete, looks great and feels really comfortable - now to try it on a decent run!

The finished article

A Visitor to our Shores
The world is indeed a small place.  Jennie and I were on Vancouver Island in 2014 as part of a trip through Canada and Alaska.  Because of time constraints, we were unable to meet up with fellow moto-blogger Darlene aka Princess Scooterpie who volunteers as a motorcycle instructor on the island.  However, I recently received a message from Dar saying that a fellow instructor from the island; expat Kiwi, Debra Roberts would be visiting family in our neck of the woods so lunch at our place was hastily arranged.  Being bikers and both involved in training, we instantly clicked and it was non-stop chat.  Serendipity at its best, just a shame that we weren't able to get out together for a ride.

Debra and an old guy....

How we choose our bikes
And now for something completely different which might strike a chord.......

Y'know...... choosing and buying a new bike is normally a long(ish) process and involves much poring over brochures and specs, reading reviews and so on, culminating in a series of test rides. Most of the previous sentence involves dispassionate analysis and logic which is actually pretty straightforward.  Buying with the head is one thing but to be truly satisfied, a purchase involves both head and heart, doesn't it?   A darned sight harder to define what it is about bikes which touch the heart as it's such a personal thing.

When I bought the Street Triple, a Ducati Monster, Speed Triple and Thruxton Bonneville were tried too but it was only the Street Triple that made me say "I want it and I want it NOW".  Let it be said, it wasn't very long into the test ride either!  Six happy years ensued and it would get a pat and smile when I walked past it in the shed.  It was only replaced because the km's were getting up a bit but also because I had Chief Executive Permission to do so.  (Guys reading this may nod knowingly).

I won't go into the details of looking for a replacement as it is is covered HERE but the selection process was unusually rapid.... almost instant in fact.  The test ride of the GSX-S1000 revealed a bike with sensational performance, lots of features such as traction control/ABS and it had great ergonomics.  What was not to like, so I bought one.

Geriatric biker goes out for a quiet ride

Six months and closing on 10,000 km from new, I've sorted the suspension, it's now got good rubber, done a trackday and lots of mentoring with the Institute of Advanced Motorists.  A worthy replacement or step up from the Street Triple? Well actually, that's highly debatable and if pressed, I might say no.  I'm certainly not disappointed with its performance but it's not light years better than the Street Triple for my everyday road use. So what's the reason then?  Riding it is enjoyable and fun, but it's not exhilarating.  Bland is not quite the right word, not feeling "as one" with the bike is not quite the right description either. To be candid, I can't give you any concise specifics that make sense, but in a nutshell, there's no emotional connection.  Looking back on the test ride, it didn't "sing" to me like the Triple did and should have listened to my heart.  It gets properly cleaned and detailed because I'm an anal retentive engineer, not because it's a labour of love.  It doesn't get patted when I walk past it in the shed and that's probably the most telling thing of all. This is all a bit of a ramble but hopefully, other riders will make sense of it and understand.

Does this mean that I'm looking to replace the Gixxer?  Well no, at least not in the immediate future but it's unlikely that ownership will continue for more than another year or two at most. It's enjoyable but I want more than that. Looking at the 1200 Bonneville press releases, there's a bit of a heart flutter probably based on nostalgia, but who knows what will whisper in my ear when the time comes?

S'pose you could sum it up by saying that if you don't use both your head and heart when getting a new bike, it might not be a match made in heaven.  The path to true love is rarely a smooth one!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

A social ride and a bit of nostalgia

It's been an amazing summer for riding in NZ.  Relatively little rain, long hot days..... just about perfect.  Where we live on the Coromandel Peninsula, it's one of the great biking roads in the North Island.  Around 190-300 km (depending on route) of twisties and sweepers with almost no straights. Coupled with mountains and roads running right by the ocean, it pays not to be distracted by the scenery unless you're in cruise mode.

Motorcycling Nirvana!

The only downside is that during the peak of summer, it's chokka with tourists, many of whom have no idea how to stay on their side of the road whilst gawping at the scenery.  With Autumn on us and kids having gone back to school etc, numbers have declined - perfect for low volume traffic again, especially on weekdays.  It was therefore great to receive a phone call a few days ago that a couple of fellow Institute of Advanced Motorists Observers (Instructors) from Auckland were planning take the day off  on Friday and ride the Coromandel Loop.  Would I like to join them with an unsubtle hint that lunch at our place would be nice too, haha!  (a glass of water was the term actually used).

It's a while since I've had a purely social ride so jumped at the chance to have a run with fun people I trust implicitly.  Leaving Coromandel and heading for Kopu to meet my mates, the coast road was spectacular and almost totally free of traffic - magic!

Firth of Thames from the Manaia Hill

Meeting up with Morne and Harald in Kopu, there was a delightful surprise in store.  Morne was on his usual GSX-R 750 but instead of Harald being on his new Honda Crossrunner, he had turned up on his classic superbike from the late 70's and early 80's - the legendary 6 cylinder Honda CBX-1000. What an absolute treat to see one on the road again, and for it to be used like it was supposed to be used! More on the CBX shortly.

After quick greetings and a drool over Harald's bike, I lead the guys over to Tairua where we would stop for coffee and a chocolate brownie.  What a fantastic sight in the mirrors of the CBX being cranked right over in the twisties!  I should also mention that when I joined IAM in 2011, Morne was one of my principal mentors and having him in my mirrors used to make me highly nervous waiting for his critique.  Those nerves have gone but there was initially a sense of unease as it's impossible for an Observer to stop analysing people's riding, even subconsciously.  Oh well, better just turn in what will hopefully be an immaculate ride up front then!

Stopping at Tairua was a good opportunity to look at the CBX.  It has done close to 100,000 km and despite them allegedly requiring a much higher maintenance regime than modern bikes, Harald's has been bullet-proof.  It's had one complete engine strip but everything was in perfect working order. Original rear suspension was replaced with Konis many moons ago and non-OEM mufflers, but the rest is pretty much original.

The ultimate in bike porn - 6 pipes!

At my height of 5'8", owning one would be a nightmare.  The combination of a tall(ish) wide seat, a dry weight of over 270 kg with a high centre of gravity is a recipe for disaster.  Harald is much younger than me and must be close to 6'6" but even he is super-careful when manoeuvring at low speed.  Compared with modern bikes, the forks look totally incongruous.  Even late model 250 forks are more robust.  It didn't seem to stop Harald pushing it along at a fair lick though, even though he left a decent following gap so that the outdated disk brakes had a chance of slowing that huge mass!

The writer alongside the CBX - anyone got a stepladder?

From Tairua village, it was a brisk scamper up to the coastal town of Whitianga and the picturesque harbour as Harald hadn't been to the northern part of the Peninsula before.

Taking in the sights at Whitianga

From there, it was back to our place just outside Coromandel village for lunch, with a quick stop at the Coromandel Range viewing spot which looks down on Coromandel Harbour.

Coromandel Harbour from the lookout

A leisurely lunch on our deck followed, with plenty of water and juice to fix the inevitable dehydration from riding in high temperatures with leathers.

Two smooth dudes - Morne and Harald

Chilling after a hot ride.  Thomas the cat waiting in hope of treats...

That was the end of the ride for me as the guys got ready to head back to Auckland and the gridlock which is Friday afternoon traffic.  Magnificent company, great riding  and seeing one of the world's iconic bikes - what could be better for the soul?

Harald inspecting for inconsiderate squished bugs on the paintwork

Harald and Morne about to depart for Auckland

When Morne saw the photo above, he said it looked as if he was making the sign of the cross before setting out.  I said that it was totally appropriate given that our drive is extremely steep and that there would be a CBX with the mass of an oil tanker and indifferent brakes right behind him!