When I passed my Institute of Advanced Motorists full membership test last year, that wise and hugely experienced U.S-based instructor Dan Bateman offered these words:
"....also remember that you will forever be known differently now. It is a tremendous responsibility to always reflect the proper ideals ".
It is indeed a tremendous responsibility and the confession is that I failed to live up to the ideals on a recent ride, which was bloody unprofessional. It involved a certain amount of enthusiastic riding on my part. I'm going to be a bit circumspect about the occasion for obvious reasons but it wasn't the actual speeding which still rankles because I always choose the time and place with care if there's going to be a bit of spirited riding involved - that's what sports-oriented bikes are for. What is particularly upsetting is that my situational awareness wasn't up to scratch, something I normally take considerable pride in.
It was dark, the road was deserted and I was enjoying a bit of smooth riding at a reasonable pace out in the countryside. Night suddenly turned into day and with a sick feeling, I realised that I'd tripped a radar camera vehicle parked on a grass verge just off the road and the flash was me being caught on film. It wasn't actually being nabbed which was upsetting. Although I was admittedly a little over the speed limit, it was a straight and unoccupied bit of road. The upsetting bit was that I'd totally failed to recognise the potential threat and even more so, I'd had a warning a few moments beforehand!
NZ Police unmarked camera van (file photo)
Let me explain....
Camera vans in NZ have traditionally operated on Ka microwave radar band, although some newer ones operate on K band. A lot of radar detector owners in NZ have K band turned off because the majority of K band alerts are false from things like security systems, automatic door openers etc. Mine isn't turned off but when the detector screamer went off and I saw it was K band, the warning was ignored as it was assumed to be a false alert from something innocuous well down the road. How wrong can you be?
I should also add that being photographed doesn't attract demerit points on your license like being microwaved by the Highway Patrol and at my estimated speed, the fine would be at the low end of the scale anyway. It was simply that there was a failure on my part to pay adequate attention to the surroundings, despite an early warning. What if it had been a large animal by the roadside ready to bolt into my path for example?
As it happens, bikes have no front plate and unless the operator had eagle eyes, the chances of a brown envelope coming through the mail are probably slim. If one does come, I hope it's whilst Jennie is still overseas to avoid a biblical-scale bollocking being administered (and dredged up at inopportune times for the next decade). It's fair to say however that a lesson has been learned and the ideals of IAM, Dan Bateman and good riding practice in general will be very much to the forefront. Also, a timely reminder that radar detectors require the good judgement of the user. Sometimes, a bit of a scare isn't a bad means of reinforcement!
Onto happier things, early winter in NZ can present some beautiful sights. We live in a frost and snow-free area and the deciduous trees in our garden are only just shedding their leaves. The succulents are also in full flower and attract the native birds for their nectar. I took these photos a couple of hours ago.
The reds and greens are a nice contrast to the grey day
Soon, they'll be a soggy mess, but for now, the leaves are gorgeous!
With respect to the tree in the photo immediately above, I've just bought a solar-charged lighting system with 200 red and blue LED's to wind round the branches when the leaves have finally fallen. Should look quite cool at night.
Tomorrow, I'm off to Auckland to help with a few jobs at the new house which our younger son and family have just bought. Weather will dictate whether it's by 4 wheels or two. Quite happy riding in rain but I've just spent hours thoroughly cleaning the bike! I'm also taking up a rather nice house-warming gift. Towards the bottom of THIS post by fellow blogger Sonja, we visited a friend whilst she was in NZ who is a master potter (and has a toilet with world-class views as you'll see from her photos!!). Mike Cogswell is a potter's potter, always experimenting with new techniques. I was particularly taken with his matt finish pots with gold highlighting. One of his latest pieces is blue with a subtle rippled background to represent the sea right by our village, with the offshore islands picked out in gold, and also a gold stylised fern leaf (like the tree ferns in our garden). A perfect reminder of our area as the kids love coming down here. Hope they like it!
Mike Cogswell's magnificent work