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Thursday, 26 December 2019

2019 in review - quite a mixed year

Looking back through the photos I've taken during 2019, motorcycling wasn't the significant part of the last 12 months that it's previously been.  Only about 10,000 km this year as opposed to nearly double that in other years.  I guess that you can say that life had a reasonably decent balance although some things certainly weren't planned.  What I thought I'd do this year is to put up a few photos representing each month, most of which which haven't been previously published on the blog; together with a few words on why I've chosen them.  Hope that you don't find the post too boring!

January
For Xmas 2018, we bought our grandkids kayaks which they can launch down our road and paddle the normally calm waters of Coromandel Harbour.  Whilst they do have indoor interests, they all love the great outdoors which I'm sure will help to keep them healthy and give them a more balanced view of the world as they grow up.

Grandkids at play

We also visited south Auckland to have Jennie's Honda serviced at the car dealership we bought it from. A convenient time to start looking at new bikes!  I'd been thinking of selling my Suzuki GSX-S 1000 for some time and not 100 metres from the car dealership was a bike dealership selling Suzuki and KTM brands.  The newly-released KTM 790 Duke was one of the bikes which on paper, I thought might end up on the list of possible replacements.  Having never seen one in the flesh, it was a great opportunity to drop in and have a look, accompanied by sighing and eye-rolling from you know who!  As soon as I sat on it, it made the replacement list - the ergonomics were spot-on and the light weight was fantastic.  All Jennie said was, "You're not having an orange one, it's disgusting".  Fine by me - I knew they came in black and silver too *grin*.  A promising start to the search for a new bike!

The grin says it all!

February
Jennie had a hip replacement after many months of severe discomfort so looking after her and household chores took priority for a number of weeks.  One of my jobs was to make sure that she got plenty of exercise.  We live on the ridge in the background which is a bit tricky for crutches so every day, it was into the car and drive a few hundred metres to flat ground along the harbour edge where we'd walk for half an hour or so.  She didn't grizzle too much as there was a good incentive to get fit with an overseas trip looming mid-year.

Down to just one crutch after a couple of weeks - splendid progress!

With me spending most of the month at home, it was a good opportunity to catch up on some gardening.  The funny thing is, I don't actually care much for gardening, but I like the end result.  Bromeliads do well in our climate and we have a whole area planted in them now.

Just a few of the bromeliads in the garden

March
After looking at several bikes to replace the Suzuki, it came down to the Triumph Street Triple 765R and the KTM 790 Duke.  It was hard to make the decision but an acquaintance in the motorcycle industry had some powerful and surprisingly accurate words for me.  He said,  "It's not the way the coin lands that decides for you, but your reaction to the way the coin lands that will tell you the decision you want to make".  I did a mental coin toss with the Triumph coming out on top and felt slightly disappointed. That sealed the decision to buy the KTM because it made me laugh when I rode it.  It goes to show that good decision-making should be a function of both head and heart!  Ten months on and it still brings a smile to my face every time I ride it.

Bridgestone RS 10 after the demo ride at the dealer.  Really a track tyre

Ready to head off on another adventure

April
You'll quickly realise that this photo wasn't taken in April this year!  It was in fact taken in 1968 but I happened to find it in a box of photos in April and scanned it into the computer.  Here's me in the UK at age 21 on my only means of transport in all weathers.  A bit cringe-worthy in terms of the hairstyles which prevailed at that time but lots of great memories.  Who would have thought I'd still be riding at 72 years of age - certainly not me.

My 1955 Triumph Tiger 100

April also saw the first of some big autumn storms with some local flooding and landslips.  Just before one of the storms hit, I popped up to the lookout on our road and took the following shot before beating a hasty retreat.  It was a wet and very windy night with the road to our village flooded in places the following morning.

Firth of Thames/lower Hauraki Gulf - the calm before the storm....

May
The tourist season is over and it's mainly a few locals and retirees going fishing on a weekday.  The photo was taken in the commercial mussel beds just north of Coromandel Harbour and we had the place to ourselves on a beautiful, calm day.  Truly good for our souls and we got an excellent haul of snapper.

Jennie waiting for the next strike

In the warmer months, the cats are out and about after dark but with temperatures starting to fall,  they tend to chill indoors at night.  This is a typical Annie pose during the colder months.

A tough life for cats (not)

June
A few weeks were spent in China and Hong Kong.   Cruising up the Yangtze, followed by other well-known tourist spots including the Terracotta Warriors, Forbidden City and Great Wall.  China is modernising at a terrific pace with great infrastructure.  Very friendly locals and wonderful food.  Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and some genuine bucket list items knocked off.

In the first photo, we passed through the locks in the 3 Gorges Dam.  The locks are so big that they will each take 3 container vessels at a time. You can't get the entire dam into one photo.  The scale when you're at water level is mind-blowing. The difference in water height between each end of the dam is 110 metres! 

27 million cu metres of concrete and half a million tonnes of steel

At Xi'an the sheer scale of the Terracotta Warriors burials defies belief.  The photo below shows part of No 3 Pit.  Excavations and conservation work will continue for decades.

A true wonder of the world

My personal highlight was a hike of several km along the Great Wall.  It was something I'd wanted to see since I was a young fella and it didn't disappoint.  The walk was quite a challenge with temperatures in the high 30's C but I guess that made it even more special.

Knackered - moi?

July
Our return to NZ in July saw us acquire another cat to keep Annie company after the passing of 18 year old Thomas in January.  We collected 8 month old Sam from a local rescue centre and after a few days of hiding under the bed, it didn't take him long to settle in.  He talks incessantly, eats like a horse, is hyperactive but has a really sweet nature.  Despite being half his size, Annie bosses him about but they mostly get on fairly well.  The only downside is that he regards the lounge mat as his personal enemy and the most charitable description of its condition is that it now looks rather "distressed".  Good job it's old.

Mad Sam in relaxed pose

Wrecking the mat - defiant stare

July is also a time when birds come into the garden to get food.  My favourite is the NZ native pigeon.  It's about twice the size of a European pigeon with spectacular plumage and feasts on Kowhai tree leaves and flowers.  They're not particularly worried about human presence and this one allowed me to get up close and personal.

NZ native pigeon

August
A trip to Auckland to see Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the pop-up Globe Theatre was great fun.  A bit of a challenge to decipher the English language of the time in places but a thoroughly enjoyable experience and close to the action.

Pop-up Globe stage before the performance

Our soil is largely clay and whilst growing trees and shrubs is ok, growing vegetables requires a fair bit of work.  We decided to avoid all the digging and buy an Australian-made Vegepod for growing salad vegetables and it's been a real winner.  It comes with a built-in water reservoir and water misting system.  Combined with the breathable cover which raises the temperature by a few degrees, it produces more greenery than we can keep pace with.  Perfect for swapping produce with the neighbours.  With it only being a few metres from the kitchen, there's no excuse not to eat healthy food!

The wonderful Vegepod

September
A colleague in the Institute of Advanced Motorists sent me a photo which he took in 2010 on what must have been only my second outing with IAM. I was to be observed (mentored) by the National Chief Examiner and one of the Senior Observers.  We met at a cafe just outside Auckland and was in awe of their reputations, which made me pretty nervous anyway.  When it was time to get on with the ride, I couldn't find my keys and just about had a brain seizure.  The Senior Observer thought it was funny and took the following photo whilst I was panicking and desperately patting my pockets!  The ride actually went quite well and the rest as they say, is history.  Life-changing in fact. 

Country yokel can't find his keys

October
My 72nd birthday although I've long given up caring about the actual number.  The photo was taken on our front deck just as we were heading out to a local restaurant to celebrate.  I made the comment to Jennie that she was still a hot chick and said that I still didn't know what she saw in me 47 years ago.  She said that she didn't either, sigh...

A hot chick and some old geezer

November
It's the breeding season for Kingfishers and there are lots of them living in holes on the roadside banks down our road.  This one often perches in the garden looking for small lizards (skinks) and you can often see up to 30 at a time perched on the phone lines running by a wetland just down the road.  Unfortunately, no photo does the iridescent plumage justice.

Waiting to catch breakfast

I took the following photo about 20 km south of Coromandel, in the hills overlooking the Firth of Thames.  This spectacular sunset has its roots in the tragedy of the Australian bush fires. Large volumes of ash and smoke get blown the 2000-odd km across the Tasman Sea, making for occasional hazy days and incredible sunrises and sunsets.

Caused by bush fires in Australia

December
Alas, riding has been severely curtailed this month with an eye problem.  I suffered a minor retinal tear which was fixed by laser in 10-15 minutes.  Unfortunately, I then suffered a more serious tear and bleeding whilst I was out on the bike.  Getting home safely was quite a challenge with no depth of vision. Jennie has had to drive me 700 km a week for over 4 weeks for the specialist to monitor the tear. To cut a long story short, I've recently had a vitrectomy (look it up on YouTube if you're not squeamish)!  There was a lighter moment waiting for surgery though.  Jennie and I were in a lounge next to the operating theatre and I noticed her shaking with laughter.  She'd just seen one of the surgical team walk into a door!  Like something from a Farside cartoon.  I said that as long as it wasn't the surgeon or anaesthetist, we should be good to go.  Helped break the tension a bit.

5 minutes after surgery and still high as a kite!

In another bit of gallows humour, the photo below shows a tag that I have to wear on my wrist until the eye is fully healed.  Paraphrasing what it says is the use of nitrous oxide gas for dental work or being whisked away in a plane or chopper will cause the temporary gas bubble in my eye to expand and explode the eyeball.  I guess it presupposes that I'll be found unconscious in the street due to too much Christmas Cheer.  Either that or they think I'm senile and will incautiously book a flight to somewhere.  Probably both. Anyway, we seem to be on the mend, although it will be a week or thereabouts before I get out on 4 wheels and  longer again before 2 wheels beckon.  Can't wait!

Danger - risk of exploding eyeball!

My Christmas present from Jennie was a TomTom Rider 550 GPS, equipped with lifetime world maps. The rudimentary but trusty Garmin 76 CX which I've owned since 2006 is on its last legs and it was time to avail myself some of the extra features which a modern GPS has.  I'll probably never use many of these features but pre-plotting routes to conduct IAM testing and displaying them on a decent size screen will be the main priority.  That takes the stress out of giving directions and at the same time,  continuously watching and remembering how the candidate is performing. Navigating in unfamiliar towns and cities will be another bonus.  Now all I have to do is find a switched accessory connection in the back of the KTM headlight to connect it up once I get a clear hour or two!  Full review in due course.

TomTom Rider 550 waiting to be wired in

The December tragedy of the offshore volcano White Island erupting and claiming lives brought back memories from a good couple of decades ago. We visited the island two or 3 times and it really is like stepping into another world.  Each time we went, the topography inside the crater had significantly changed. The main vent is about a 20 minute walk from the boat landing point and on the way, you pass smaller noisy fumaroles crusted with sulphur crystals, streams of dilute sulphuric acid and all sorts of other  worrying volcanic features.  The main vent is in a steep crater of its own and we could only get within 100 metres of it.  Even so, the scream of the escaping gas was as loud as a military jet on full reheat.  The photo below shows Jennie and daughter Victoria with breathing masks to combat the sulphur dioxide and other gases.  The slope to the left of them is the crater down to the main vent.  It was an incredible experience to have been there but the tragedy has highlighted the risks associated with adventure tourism.  I guess that's the appeal to many of us.

Entry to Hell - White Island

All that remains is to wish my fellow moto-bloggers and anyone who chances on this blog a fantastic 2020 and may you receive everything which you would wish for yourselves!


Sunday, 1 December 2019

Fun and frustration

Summer (meteorologically speaking) starts in NZ today and in our neck of the woods, the weather has been glorious for the last couple of weeks with temperatures in the mid-20's C or a bit above.  Perfect for motorcycling.  Truth be told, we could do with a spot of the wet stuff as cracks are appearing in the garden.

A week last Sunday, I took part in a social ride with members of the Institute of Advanced Motorists from our region.  We all converged on the tourist town of Rotorua, known for its bubbling mud pools and geysers.  However, it wasn't to see the natural wonders.  A Rotorua resident called Sue runs a sideline business called Plugz 4 Lugz making custom moulded ear plugs.  One of our members had arranged for her to run a production line for our members.

About 4 years ago, Sue had made some plugs for me because off the shelf plugs always seemed to work loose and weren't particularly effective - must have weird ear canals.  The plugs which Sue made were just fabulous but were getting a bit ratty with use so it was time for new ones.  The plain ones actually improve the quality of bike-to-bike comms by reducing wind noise.  She also makes them with in-built speakers.  The round trip for me was a little over 400 km but we all know, it's about the journey, not the destination.

Bikes lined up in Sue's driveway

It was really well-organised with Sue working round everyone and injecting coloured silicone of their choice into ears and leaving them for a few minutes to set.  Once that was completed, we all headed for lunch at a local cafe whilst Sue trimmed the plugs and sealed them with a clear coat.  A thoroughly enjoyable ride and great to catch up with members from various parts of our region which covers some 40,000 sq km.

Sue, with Rex waiting for his plugs to harden

Nice, pristine ear plugs

That was one of the fun bits, now for a frustration.....

Doing a job at home (hanging out the washing actually!) and I noticed some odd-looking "floaters" in one eye which had just appeared.  To cut the story short, we ended up making a 350 km round trip to an eye specialist who diagnosed a small retinal tear which bled into the eye and it was fixed with laser treatment which took all of 10-15 minutes after a thorough examination.  Only pain was to the wallet.  There was one lighter moment though.  In the hope of helping with the diagnosis, I sketched what the floaters looked like and also took a graph of my blood pressure over the last year in case it had any relevance (it's pretty good for my age by the way).  When I handed them over, the specialist put her head in her hands and said, "Are you an engineer?"  I asked her how she knew.  She replied that her husband was an engineer too and he once took along a spreadsheet when he visited his doctor.  I replied that it seemed  like a perfectly normal thing to do which caused much laughter and eye-rolling between Jennie and her, sigh.....

Having got that out of the way, the next job was to take an IAM member for his Advanced Police Roadcraft Test.  It involved sitting a theory paper, then taking a practical ride of nearly 2 hours covering city and expressway work, followed by a spell on rather challenging country roads.  It also involved him giving commentary of what potential hazards he was observing and how that was impacting on his actions.  I'm happy to say that it was immensely pleasurable for both of us as he absolutely aced the test - a considerable compliment too to his mentor.  To see the massive improvement in riding skill and personal safety since him joining IAM last year is more than ample reward for doing what I do.

Bruce at the end of his Advanced Test

An interesting observation which won't come as a surprise to adventure bike riders......

Bruce rides a Triumph 1200 Explorer.  One country road on the test was exceptionally twisty with limited sight lines and the sealed surface was pretty rough.  The torque of the 3 cylinder motor coupled with compliant suspension meant that he could safely maintain great progress in those conditions.  On the Duke 790 with sport-oriented suspension and less torque, I was having to work a lot harder than Bruce.  I rarely use my quickshifter for up-shifts but was certainly doing so on that part of the ride to get constant drive out of corners.  Clear proof that a well-ridden adventure bike is quite a weapon, especially on less than optimal road surfaces.

The final frustration was that on the way home from the test, my eye started bleed internally again.  Negotiating the twisty coast road with effectively one eye called for a fair bit of care through losing my depth perception.  Yet another 350 km round trip the following day to the specialist with Jennie driving.  So much crap in the eye that the specialist couldn't make a diagnosis.  A further trip is scheduled in a few days when things have hopefully settled down.  Not a smart idea to be driving or riding in the meantime but Jennie has a few menial tasks lined up to keep me out of mischief.  Let's hope that I can continue my motorcycling career for a while yet!

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Summer has come early!

Thanks to our Australian cousins pushing some of their second-hand weather to us across the Ditch, we've had a week of hot dry weather ranging from the high 20's C to mid 30's in some parts.  A great opportunity for getting out and doing stuff before it turns to custard this weekend.

It started with a bit of gardening, then as Jennie and I happened to have a clear calendar at the same time, a spot of fishing one afternoon.  Didn't start off well though.  We launch at a ramp at the end of our street.  Whilst getting the boat ready, I neglected to lock the trailer jockey wheel (shown in the photo below) in the "up" position.  This had the wheel bouncing up and down onto the road and as it only had a plastic hub, it had destroyed itself and disappeared before we got to the ramp, also yanking out the trailer electrical plug,  That dragged on the road and was a sorry sight - bugger!

Intact jockey wheel before setting off

The wheel is only used for positioning the boat in the garden so not a big deal other than coughing up $50 for a new wheel and an electrical plug.  Jennie didn't even call me a complete plonker so the ego didn't take too much of a battering.

Fishing was a bit slow but we didn't worry too much as the weather was so stunning.  As usual, Madame caught more than me.  I'm sure it must be due to the amount of time I spend cutting up bait for her out on the water, sigh.....

A beautiful day offshore

The cats woke me up early this morning demanding a feed so it was a good opportunity to have a quick breakfast, jump on the bike and test my new Revit Tornado 2 mesh jacket (see previous post) with the liner removed.  Setting off in 19 degrees C, it was a little cool on the arms as I only had a T shirt underneath, but certainly not unpleasant.  As the temperature climbed into the mid-20's it was absolutely superb - a great buy.

As I got to Whitianga, I noticed an old DC3 flying low over the water.  As they're few and far between, I guessed that it was a scenic flight from the home base at Ardmore, just south of Auckland where the Warbirds are based.  A quick diversion to the grass strip at Whitianga and it had just landed, disgorging its passengers.  What a great sight.  (This is the link to the DC3 website: Fly Back In Time .

Passengers disembarking for a look round Whitianga

Security is just a gate with a "Restricted" notice on it!

After that excellent interlude, it was on to Cooks Beach, a really scenic location on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, not far from the famous Hot Water Beach.  In the background of the photo below, sea fog was present although it burned off pretty quickly.

Just spectacular - Cooks Beach and Mercury Bay

Mercury Bay was so-named after English explorer and master mariner Captain James Cook landed on the shores here to observe the transit of Mercury in November 1769.  The observation point was apparently pretty close to where the bike was parked in the photo!

Sea fog burning off - eastern end of Cooks Beach

Whitianga waterfront on the way home

Time to head home for lunch, a very pleasant round trip of about 170 km.  On arriving home,  I noticed that my front T31 tyre was a bit chewed towards the edges.  The shoulder is a softer compound and clearly, the high road temperatures combined with the twisty route and coarse chip (not to mention enthusiastic countersteering!) had taken its toll.  Apart from this, they are proving to be pretty durable.  4000 km so far on this set with little wear and they grip well in all conditions.  They were fitted in early winter when the OEM pure sport tyres were found wanting.  It will be interesting to see how they wear with the higher summer road temperatures.

Front T31 - a bit rough around the shoulders

Finally, a shot of Sam and Annie this afternoon vying for a comfortable spot on our bed.  Annie has pretty much accepted Sam now (see Sam's arrival a few months ago HERE).  She's half his size but still bosses him about from time to time to keep him in his place!  Sam's about a year old and Annie is 8.

Sam and Annie vying for a comfortable spot


All in all, a pretty good week and roll on summer!


Monday, 21 October 2019

Maintenance time, a new jacket and other stuff

Ready for another adventure 

I've had the KTM for around 7 months and have covered about 7000 km.  A lower monthly tally than usual but an overseas trip, crap winter weather and other distractions have all conspired against a bigger distance.  However, with spring having arrived, some decent distances beckon.

KTM's have a reputation for "edgy" performance and a few reliability issues.  I was well aware of this when making the choice but the emotional and fun appeal, not to mention blistering performance; over-rode these considerations.

I'm happy to report that although a few issues have been reported on the KTM 790 forum, I haven't experienced any significant problems and I love it to bits.  The ultimate accolade is that it gets patted when I walk past it in the shed.  That didn't happen with the GSX-S 1000. The Gixxer was a very competent bike but it just didn't light my fire.

As reported a few posts ago, the OEM pure sport tyres were fine before winter set in but were lethal in colder, wetter conditions. Just couldn't get them hot enough to work properly. They were ditched with 3500 km on the clock.  The Bridgestone T31 sport/touring replacements have been excellent in all conditions and should have a useful life.

Another minor issue was not the fault of KTM.  I purchased a French-made Acerbis flyscreen, principally for looks.  It works surprisingly well aerodynamically but has one serious downside.  The way it's mounted allows light from the headlight assembly to be reflected up the inside of the screen.  It's not really noticeable in daylight but riding at night, the reflected light is a serious and dangerous distraction.  Presumably, the French designers never ride in the dark!  I solved this by spraying the inner face of the screen matte black and also added some tape to the top of the headlight assembly which is covered by the bottom of the screen.

Matte is the new black

Another non-serious but irritating issue has arisen in the last few weeks which may partially be due to the way I ride and partially due to the materials which KTM uses.  I began to notice that when slowing towards a stop from slow speeds, e.g approaching a stop sign in town, the front brakes were slightly "juddery" when constant light pressure was applied.  It was as if they were braking and then releasing fractionally for every part rotation of the wheel.  The first thing I checked was for rotor runout or warping and there was none.  Closer inspection showed that the disc surfaces had a partially glazed uneven appearance, something I hadn't experienced on previous bikes.  This can just about be seen on the next photo - darker uneven strips.

Disc glazing - darker strips in places

I tend to be very light on the brakes during normal road riding, using a combination of throttle and gear selection to moderate my speed in combination with reading the vanishing point in corners.  I wondered whether the light use of brakes had a polishing effect but as mentioned earlier, it wasn't something I'd previously experienced.

I mentioned it on the international Duke 790 forum and bless his heart, another Kiwi from Taranaki mentioned that he had experienced similar problems on the Ducati Multistrada which he once owned.  His take on the issue was that it could be cheaper materials (or perhaps mismatched disk and brake pad materials) and the componentry needed some sustained heat in them right from the start to avoid the problem.  He solved the matter by breaking the glaze with 400 wet and dry paper on both the disc faces and the pads, then getting some sustained heat into the assembly.

I did exactly the same, wet-sanding the disc faces with 400 paper on a block and dry sanding the pad faces in a figure of 8 pattern on a flat surface.  All surfaces were then thoroughly cleaned with brake cleaner.  Total time to complete the job was a shade over 2 hours.

De-glazed discs before riding 

I then went out to a largely deserted straight bit of road near home and did a series of high speed stops to get the brakes really hot.  I then rode home and tried some low speed gentle stops - yippee, no more symptoms!  The following photo shows a nice, even discolouration across the disc face - quite different from the previous markings. 

Nice even discolouration

There's always something new to learn and the internet is especially good for great ideas and great people when there's a problem.  If it ever happens again, I know how to tackle it!  In a wee while, I'll be replacing the OEM pads with my favourite EBC HH type.  It will be interesting to see how these work.  I've had them on my last 3 bikes and they've been far superior to the OEM ones in terms of stopping power and feel.

I've also just celebrated my 72nd birthday - pretty pleased to still be indulging in the lifelong passion of riding a motorcycle.  All the upskilling over the past 8 or 9 years appears to have paid off - still feel safe riding at a reasonable clip.

Hot chick taking me out for a birthday dinner!

Two summers ago on a particularly hot day whilst dressed in full leathers,  I suffered a bout of heat exhaustion.  It was an extremely unpleasant and debilitating experience.  By the time I got home, I had a blinding headache and was feeling extremely nauseous.

I have no wish for a repeat and when Jennie asked me what I wanted for my birthday, a mesh jacket to allow better cooling sprang to mind.  Many brands offers jackets without a liner.  Fine for guaranteed hot days but less so for changeable conditions or early morning starts and late evening finishes. Some with liners are just windproof and others waterproof.  The other thing to consider is the grade of armour that jackets come equipped with.

After much poring over specifications I decided on the black Rev’it Tornado 2. Tough construction (1000 and 750D shell), CE level 2 armour (shoulders and elbows) and a detachable thermal liner and membrane.  Back armour is not supplied as standard on the jacket to allow for choice and I went for a CE level 2 Seesoft protector. The jacket will also take a Rev’it cooler vest.

Revit Tornado 2 mesh jacket

The Hydratex thermal liner and membrane is fine for those cooler spring mornings.  I haven’t tried it in the rain but assume it’s “showerproof” as opposed to continuous heavy rain.  Not critical as I have a lightweight Spidi nylon jacket to slip over the top in adverse conditions. 

A further selling point for me is that the detachable liner is styled to wear as a casual “bomber” jacket.  Perfect for end of day wear when on tour and travelling light.

Tornado 2 liner 

The Tornado 2 will set you back around NZ$500 depending on supplier, plus another NZ$70-odd for Seesoft level 2 back armour.  Maybe some matching pants for Christmas……..

Yesterday saw some of the members from our region of the Institute of Advanced Motorists get together for a social ride.  Our region covers close to 40,000 sq km so we tend to hold our social runs in different parts of the region to give everyone the opportunity to socialise.  Yesterday, I was responsible for leading the ride on the southern part of the Coromandel Peninsula (my own backyard, near enough), so only covered about 400 km door to door.  Actually, I hate group rides with people I don't know as there are invariably some clowns who disrupt the ride and put everyone on edge. However, when everyone is trained to the same standard, it's a rather different proposition.

The weather was perfect at around 20 degrees C and traffic was light, being the weekend before a public holiday long weekend when it will turn to custard.  Rides like this are genuinely good for one's mental state, or soul if you prefer.


Assembling in the town of Paeroa

Stopping in Whitianga to pick up lunch - a nice mix of bikes

Not a bad spot to eat lunch - Whitianga Harbour

Finally, nothing to do with motorcycling. A couple of decades ago, I used to sail at national championship level and have retained an interest in sailing.  Interestingly enough, motorcycling, sailing and flying all require much the same skill set.  Anyway, New Zealand are the current holders of the Americas Cup, the world's oldest sporting trophy.  They last won it in foiling catamarans which were an outrageous design and could sail at over 40 knots.  For the next Cup in 2021, NZ have specified a 75 ft monohull, but one which foils and will supposedly reach 50 knots - even more outrageous!

The USA, Britain, Italy and NZ have all recently launched their prototypes and have begun testing them.  The NZ yacht Te Aihe (The Dolphin in translation from Maori) has been testing on Auckland harbour and looks absolutely spectacular, if not somewhat bizarre.  My favourite photo below.

Te Aihe in full flight