Wheel alignment

Thursday 31 March 2011

G&J's Excellent Asian Adventure, part 2

Leaving Malaysia on Air Malaysia bound for Hanoi, we were full of anticipation following our eldest son's glowing account of his travels round Vietnam on the cheap a few years back.   Arriving at the capital's main airport, the signs weren't promising with a fairly substantial military/security presence and an arrival hall which was as dreary and plain as you might mentally expect in a socialist state.  Added to this was the fact that the luggage from 3 flights had been dumped on one carousel and a real free for all ensued. Tag team wrestling among Russians, Vietnamese, Chinese and at least 2 Kiwis would paint a fair picture!

However, things were about to change.  We'd booked a limited numbers tour with a Kiwi-based company called Active Asia with strong Vietnamese links.  This provided 5 star accommodation for only 4 of us complete with a guide at a very reasonable all-up price. The guide was waiting at the exit, holding a placard with our names on.  This is Giau (pronounced Zow):  (Click photos to enlarge).

Giau, aka Energiser Bunny explaining rice cropping

Giau is a southern Vietnamese 26 year old super-smart Geography graduate with excellent French plus good self-taught English. We fell in love with her almost immediately for her energy and enthusiasm (hence the Energiser Bunny tag subsequently bestowed by our fellow Kiwi couple). The fact that she was able to give as good as she got in the wicked humour and leg-pulling stakes quickly made her a great friend as opposed to just a very competent guide.

On the drive into Hanoi from the airport, Giau told us that there are around 7 million Hanoi residents owning 5 million motorcycles.  We believed it judging by the traffic!  Pushbikes mingling with motorbikes mingling with trucks and cars heading in all directions and leaning on their horns was a recipe for disaster to a western eye, but it all seemed seemed to work without major incident.  In fact, after a couple of weeks, it all made perfect sense and the main worry was me adopting similar measures on the return to NZ and becoming a road rage target!  On the way to the hotel, Giau pointed out number plates which signified state-owned vehicles and we were delighted to see that the Socialist Government drove such clearly socialist vehicles as late model Bentleys, Aston Martins and a few Mercs and Lexus' thrown in too.  Pragmatic socialism in action!
The tour wasn't due to start until the following afternoon when we were due to meet our fellow Kiwis Gary and Sue so Jennie and I traffic-watched from our hotel room (absolutely fascinating!) for a bit before heading out to find a restaurant that the locals ate in.

Non-rush hour traffic at an intersection
Advanced situational awareness is genetic here

Visiting a local open air restaurant at the edge of a lake was great fun.  With a mixture of pigeon English, French, pigeon Vietnamese and hand signals, we managed to order interesting local entrĂ©es and main courses whilst carefully avoiding the allegedly popular stuffed fish bladder they seemed keen to have us sick up on.  Naturally, chopsticks were the order of the day but no worries as we use them a fair bit at home.  Only one minor embarrassment (me of course) when I dropped a heavy spring roll from considerable altitude into the little sauce dish and the resultant bow wave added further decoration to the front of my already colourful shirt.  The local Hanoi beer was great, as were the regional beers sampled further south.

Entrées, mains and beers for two - US$12 equivalent

The food was superb with the local vegetables in particular having intense flavour and the more than favourable prices sent us to bed both full and happy.

Giau had told us how to negotiate the terrors of crossing the road in the face of vehicles apparently hell-bent on removing us from this life and our first crossing to visit a Pagoda restored in 1815 was a hair-raising experience.  Nonetheless, the practice of serenely walking out into the traffic, not making eye contact and maintaining a constant pace seemed to work just fine.  I noticed that Jennie always walked on the down-side of me but charitably assumed this had absolutely nothing to do with self-preservation and was simply blind coincidence.

The small pagoda was gorgeous and as an added bonus, a colourful religious ceremony was in full swing.  We were somewhat taken aback when some young children in the solemn procession broke into broad grins and in perfect English, said, "Hello, how are you?".  We could have been from France or Albania for example, but the Vietnamese undoubtedly have a nose for the French as I will explain in a later post.

Tran Quoc Pagoda

 Religious procession at the pagoda

 The afternoon was spent meeting up with Giau, Gary and Sue (who were great), then walking round the old quarter.  Many of the shops also doubled as manufacturing premises too, even spilling out onto the crowded pavements - wonderful stuff!  When I queried Giau about the makes of the  little motorbikes and scooters on the roads, she said that most of them were Japanese.  Considerably more expensive than the Chinese ones but ran for more than a few days without expiring on the roadside!   As per the previous post on Malaysia, the small bikes (virtually no big ones in Vietnam) are strictly work-horses, not for casual enjoyment.

 A modestly-loaded Honda Cub

 Tinware - you name it, we make it!

 OSH-approved city electrical supply
Noodle-inspired wiring

 Shops below, living quarters above
Pavement parking?  No worries!

 Ingenious local delivery vehicle with transverse Honda 90 engine

 Mobile fruit stall with back-up stock in the sack

 That evening, we all went to a local restaurant to get to know each other in a social setting.  It was here that another surprise lay in wait, at least for Jennie (barely-suppressed snigger).  We were all having what's known as a traditional hot pot where we all have pots of boiling flavoured broth in front of us. The idea is for the diners to dip raw vegetables and thinly-sliced meat or fish into the broth for a few minutes and cook them as you eat, dipping them into little bowls of various sauces.  The photo is a serving of veggies for one person - no chance of constipation with this diet! The long things are a type of mushroom and the triangular object in the foreground is a slice of Lotus root - wish we could get all of them readily in NZ.

Fragrant, tasty veggies (serving for one)

Now, here's where it gets interesting as Jennie ordered prawns and they came in a covered pot.  As soon as she lifted the lid, 6" long prawns came leaping out of the dish, hell-bent on not becoming part of the food chain.  I'm sure her scream didn't disturb the other diners too much as the hysterical laughter from our table would have diverted them rather nicely.  Jennie is made of stern stuff though and soon had them rounded up and into the pot!  Sue remarked on how lovely her sliced salmon was and Jennie sweetly asked whether that was due to it being dead already.  Fabulous meal and the "live entertainment" built on an already good relationship between us all.

Next day, we visited Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum which turned out to be a darned sight more interesting than you might think and the Temple of Literature, a seat of learning for wise men originally built in 1070.

Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum in background

Massive drum in the Temple of Literature

Couldn't resist taking the next photo.  There were some young women in the Temple of Knowledge grounds celebrating university graduation.  Dressed in traditional clothing, they looked both elegant and absolutely stunning.


Lunch was at a restaurant largely staffed by ex-street kids who were learning cooking and catering skills.  You wouldn't have guessed by the impeccable standards.

Beautiful spring roll lunch

Even in the first couple of days, it was clear that Vietnamese socialism is applied with a very light hand indeed and there appear to be few restrictions on personal freedoms and religious choice.  Also, Vietnam was what you might describe as cultured at a time when most of the western countries were rather more barbaric by comparison.  A great start to our stay.

Halong Bay
Halong Bay is a 3 hour drive east of Hanoi and has World Heritage status.  Some 1500 sq km in area with nearly 2000 islands, it presents a breathtaking vista.  We were due to cruise part of the Bay in a modern version of a traditional junk / sampan with a visit to a floating fishing village and an overnight stay on the vessel.  It really is one of the World's "must see" places.  Just before we got there,  I managed to take the photo below, showing yet another test for the suspension and handling of a Honda Cub. 

Goldfish R Us.  Stop me and buy one
(Note approved safety footwear)

Our Sampan

Sampan dining area - rather luxurious

First stop was to a floating fishing village where they fished for ummm... fish and squid and harvested cultivated and natural pearls.  The village was floating in the centre of a number of small islands which provided shelter.  You really had to be there to experience the majesty of the setting.

Entrance to fishing village

Village and small water taxis to take us about

Backdrop of islands

Humiliating myself trying to make a spring roll
Woman in background horrified

The picture below is particularly interesting.  It's a tender which came out the next morning to refuel the sampan and I leaned over the side to see what was going on. You'll note some tarpaulins barely covering a tank in front of the cabin.  The liquid inside is diesel fuel - eek!  Good job it has a relatively high flashpoint but I still had visions of becoming part of a large-scale fireball if some careless bugger dropped a cigarette.  Somewhat relieved when it departed!

Floating incendiary device

Next day, we headed to shore and back to Hanoi to catch a flight to Hue.  However, we had time to drop into a couple of places and see some magnificent traditional craftwork.  The first was to a tiny factory which produced embroidered pictures.  Some of them were so realistic that they looked like photographs or very lifelike paintings.

 This is embroidery, not a photo!
Have a look at it in enlarged mode

 More beautiful embroidery
These pictures take between 2 and 4 months to complete depending on size and the price ready-framed is less than US$100 per item - incredible.

The next stop was at a sizeable pottery factory.  A lot of the bigger items were moulded rather than thrown on a wheel but every item was hand-painted as opposed to using transfers. Much of the output was for Vietnamese domestic use although the really large vases were exported too, drool, drool.  We settled for some delicate Chinese-style porcelain soup spoons to replace existing James household losses which were inevitably the fault of a certain clumsy person.  Oh ok, that would be me then.

Seriously large pots being moulded

Under 10 minutes to delicately hand-paint a pot before kiln firing

Rows of kilns being emptied after mass-firing

On to central Vietnam in the next travel blog.......


Wednesday 30 March 2011

What do old farts know about riding motorcycles?

 Old body, the enthusiasm of a 20 year old, but with more skill and cunning!

Regular readers will remember the Feburary posts about strategies for ageing riders to continue riding for as long as possible, and earlier posts about skill training.  The ageing rider posts were prompted by  my discussions with David Hough, a world-renowned motorcycle author, particularly in the area of safety and skills.

Coming back from holiday, there was another email from David covering a few more points about ageing and also mentioning some difficulties with mentoring/skill transfer across generations.  I've reproduced it verbatim below as it was one of the most succinct and cogent pieces of writing I've seen for a long while.  See what you think.

Hi Geoff,
I'm in the process of reading a book, Healthy Aging, by Andrew Weil, M.D. Of course, he's talking about humans in general, not motorcyclists, but what he says strikes a chord. Feel free to share this.
One reason why younger people dislike thinking about aging--or even looking at older people--is that it's a reminder of our own mortality. We all know that none of us get out of this alive, but we don't want to rush the issue. Young people tend to do focus on the excitement of the day, taking chances that seem to offer something. Younger motorcyclists seem to find aggressive riding attractive, and measure other riders by their speed. Of course, getting to the Rock Store--or the Puhoi Pub--first is mostly a matter of taking greater risks rather than having greater skill. Adrenaline can be addictive.
I remember a Canadian rider who was known to be "fearless." He would go by other riders so fast they were instantly demoralized. I once asked him about his fast and risky riding. He replied, "If I'm going to crash, I want it to be fatal. I don't want to have a piddling crash that just puts me in the hospital for a while." Of course, that was when he was about 40. Later he married and had a child, and his attitude changed dramatically. 
But I suspect that many riders have a similar attitude when young. We don't want to go out stumbling and drooling, we'd rather go out in a blaze of glory. Sorry, but that's not realistic. Well, OK, it's realistic for a huge number of young riders who snuff themselves out prematurely due to failure of skill and lack of situational awareness. But most of us just continue to ride and grow older. Everything grows older, including our homes and our motorcycles. 
My point here is that I think motorcyclists prefer to just not think about the aging process. We don't want to have to think about being old until we get there. "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." But what we do in our youth and middle age has a direct bearing on how it's going to go when we "get to the bridge." For example, the person who takes up smoking as a teenager finds it difficult to quit once the damage become apparent. Then as the smoker grows older, the exposure to nicotine vapor may result in uncomfortable and messy physical problems.
In his book "Healthy Aging," Dr. Andrew Weil notes that we can't extend life. There is no "fountain of youth." Our bodies eventually reach the point where they fail, and we die. But Weil suggests that life is much more enjoyable if we take steps to stay as healthy as possible for more of the years we have left. The idea is to have a long, healthy life, and fail quickly, rather than degrade slowly. It's not unlike my Canadian friend's attitude, but it's stretched out over many more years. Weil has lots of suggestions about diet, supplements, and exercise, of course. If you want more about that, I could oblige. 
Some cultures value and admire older people, just as we tend to admire antique bikes, vintage wine, and aged whiskey. Revering old people is particularly common in some oriental cultures, especially Okinawan. There is some recognition that the elderly have something worthwhile to offer, which also gives younger people something to look forward to. I suspect that in our "western" cultures some younger motorcyclists might be interested in old bikes, but seldom revere older riders. I continue to do riding skills seminars, but I often get the feeling that many in my audiences are mentally weighing how much advice an old guy could offer, even after a million or so miles of experience. "Things are different today. What could you possibly offer?" But offering knowledge to younger people helps me feel useful, and of course feeling needed has a lot to do with mental health. So, I'm continuing to write and lead seminars, whether my audience is respectful, or not.
Years ago I was invited to do some skills seminars at a rally. At the appointed time there was a small group of riders--perhaps a dozen--who were willing to listen to what I had to say. We were gathered around a picnic table, but there were other tables around us occupied by riders who were obviously not interested. As I talked, riders at an adjacent table began talking and laughing loudly. This wasn't just impoliteness. It was a message that "we're not interested in some steenkin' old fart telling us how to ride."
I don't hold any grudge against those less interested riders. They are like the rain. There is no point in cursing the rain when it falls, or shouting for it to stop. It is what it is. If you want to avoid getting wet, wear waterproofs--or stay inside. If you want to control noise, make a point of getting an inside room, or at least a separate area. Or, arrange for a sound system that will override even the most annoying hangers-on.
I don't know how our respect of elders might be increased among motorcyclists. But I suggest for those of us who are motorcycling veterans, offering to teach, or writing, not only has a potential benefit to younger riders, but also helps us maintain our health longer. I've been in situations where my advice was not wanted or valued. Of course, I have the experience of years. I continue to do seminars. And over the years the younger, brasher, less interested riders have gradually drifted away. There are now more riders who can participate in a respectful dialogue.
David L. Hough

...... and with writing like that, it's clear why David has earned the huge respect that he has among the motorcycling community.


Tuesday 29 March 2011

G&J's Excellent Asian Adventure, part 1

Jennie and I have just got back from a holiday in Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore, a bit jet-lagged, unshaven (err..in my case) but very happy about the way it all worked out.  This is the first of  a few posts about our encounters, food, fun and lots more besides - even motorcycles!

The capital of Kuala Lumpur was a convenient stopping-off point 10 hours flying time from NZ to give us time to catch our breath for 3 days before heading on to the main part of our holiday in Vietnam. I'm not sure what we were expecting but the surprises started on landing at KL airport.  It's as modern and organised as the best airports anywhere, with a rapid transit system to other parts of the airport within a few metres of getting off the plane - simply superb. The second surprise was the motorway systems connecting different parts of the country to each other and the airport and again, as good as you'll find anywhere. By and large, the motorists were pretty well-behaved although speed limits seemed to be largely advisory. Apparently, all the expenditure on good infrastructure and city development has come about through relatively recent large finds of oil and gas and although some of the smaller provincial communities still seem a bit down at heel, that applies pretty much anywhere in the world.  Religious tolerance is enshrined in Malaysian law and relationships between various ethnic and religious groups appears to work well in practice from what we saw and read about.  Everyone was very friendly and went out of their way to be hospitable to us, even out in the backblocks.

Petronas Towers - glass and stainless steel
One of the tallest buildings in the world

There are huge numbers of bikes in Malaysia but most of them are small capacity scooters which are used for cheap family commuting.  However, there were plenty of teens who rode jazzed-up scooters and small bikes who will probably become the enthusiasts of the future.  There were also quite a few big bikes, both cruisers and sports-oriented.  Difficult to know whether these were locals or not as Singaporeans duck across the border to misbehave as the Malaysian roads are better for bikes and the cops rather more forgiving of ummm... a brisk pace! The freeways are bike-friendly and on major toll roads, there are toll booth bypasses for bikes.  The photo shown below shows the bike lane diverting from an urban freeway toll booth.  The bike lane on the freeways is exclusively for bikes although the fast boys seem to prefer mixing it with the cars rather than tangling with slower scooters.

Lane splitting at speed is the norm in Kuala Lumpur and at traffic lights, there are always dozens of bikes at the head of the queue.  Despite a lot of the bikes being 2 strokes and the consequent blue haze covering cars when the lights go green, there's never any horns used in anger like the western world; everyone seems remarkably tolerant.

One practice which we never got to the bottom of was how jackets were worn!  Protective gear for general commuting was virtually non-existent apart from light helmets.  Flip-flops were the safety footwear of choice - eek!  Jackets were light nylon zip-up affairs, presumably as a nod to the high temperatures and humidity.  Here's the thing though...... most commuters wore them unzipped and backwards so that they were open to the rear!  The only reason we could think of  was as large-scale ventilation to stop getting sweaty at low speeds!
Motorcycling toll booth bypass

Kawasaki ER6 
A very rare example of protective gear in Malaysia!

Backblocks village in Malaysia - Street Triples get everywhere!

Leaving the motorcycle scene for a bit, we toured round the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and came upon the Batu Caves, a significant place of worship for the Hindu religion.  By the stairs to the cave was a 48 metre high statue of a Hindu deity, an impressive piece of sculpture by any measure. The steepness of the 300 steps to the cave mouth were a real trial, especially with temperatures in the mid 30's C and humidity to match.  We were knackered and wringing wet by the time we got to the top!  The main cave itself was impressive, albeit choking with incense.  We had a quiet chuckle at the enterprise of the (presumably) approved vendor at the top of the steps.  He was enthusiastically selling tacky religious artifacts to the devoted whose resolve had been eroded by the steep climb, but we struggled to find religious significance in the model helicopters and toy guns he also had on prominent display.  Safer not to take a photograph methinks!!

Impressive 47 metre high Hindu deity outside the Batu Caves

We also visited the world-renowned Royal Selangor pewter factory and saw some beautiful workmanship ranging from pewter tankards through to the most intricate pieces of art.  Training the craftsmen not unexpectedly takes several years.

 Pewter trophy from the 2007 Malaysian F1 GP

A bit bigger than your usual pewter tankard!

Traditional skills in this part of the world are very much in evidence and on the way back to our hotel, we called in to a small enterprise where Batik textile painting on bolts of cloth was being carried out, mainly on silk. Although the work was stunningly beautiful, we couldn't see Jennie wearing a sarong at a traditional Kiwi BBQ back home, so opted for a magnificent hand-painted orchid on silk cloth to get framed in NZ.

Batik hand-painted orchid on silk

The following day, we headed for an elephant sanctuary some 2 hours away from the capital.  There is still a large amount of wildlife in Malaysia, even close to to the major freeways which seems a bit bizarre by western standards.  Stopping for a roadside pee and ending up as a light snack for a tiger or a big python brings an interesting dimension to motorcycling thrills in this region!  

Stopping at a village eatery on the way was also interesting.  Putting aside our reservations about hygiene (mainly because we had sufficient pills to cure most diseases known to mankind), we dived in to sample authentic Malaysian cooking.  It was a buffet arrangement  where for a miniscule amount of money, you could help yourself to as much as you liked.  Some items which looked like entrails cunningly disguised with lots of sauce were carefully avoided but anything which resembled real meat and fish were gamely tried.  A few selections were eye-wateringly hot, but delicious.  Even better, there were no repercussions a few hours later!  The proprietors and locals eating there were good-natured and welcoming, making it a really enjoyable occasion.

Ingredients unknown but absolutely delicious!

 Being the butt of jokes

A bit of padding would have been nice... (wince)!

One of many spectacular dragonflies

An ant over 10mm long - would hate to be bitten or stung

Three days in a new country is grossly inadequate to make any meaningful assessment but we very much liked what we saw.  Friendly, industrious people, religious tolerance and appearing to develop in a thoughtful and planned manner.  Oh, and very few western fast food outlets in evidence.  That's got to be a measure of a society with its head screwed on, hasn't it?

Onto North Vietnam.......

Saturday 5 March 2011

Innocents on the loose in America

 Be afraid, be very afraid.....

Just before we (finally) vanish overseas this week, this is for you Lori!

BeemerGirl (Lori) made  a recent post  about creepy books and exploring equally creepy country back roads.  The comments soon turned to the worrying sound of banjos at the end of these lonely roads!  I made mention that I'd spent a little bit of time in Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana back in the mid-90's working with our parent company, a large pulp and paper manufacturer and therefore had some direct experience of the type of backroads which Lori and others mentioned. These diversions down side roads (sticking to the tar seal - we weren't that dumb!) were delightful.  We stopped for lunch at a catfish eatery miles from anywhere.  The food was outstanding but it was slightly unnerving as the local patrons all looked pretty similar, even down to everyone wearing the same John Deere caps.  We had a fleeting worry that we were going to be spirited away to improve the local gene pool but all was well as they were unfailingly charming and hospitable.

In Louisiana, we stopped at a roadside fruit stall, manned by Ma and Pa Clampett.  Whoever said that the USA and NZ were 2 cultures united by a common language was just a touch optimistic!!!  We'd probably have been better off speaking French.  Ma Clampett showed total mastery of world geography by asking whether we were from Noooo Yawk!!  Don't suppose they got many northerners round those parts and they probably wouldn't wouldn't have got the joke that NZ is even further south than Louisiana. Even got stars on our flag.

 Yours truly at an interstate info/rest stop

However, it was in N'Orleans that the tables were reversed and it was the Kiwis that were shown to be complete country hicks, me in particular!  Four Kiwis arrived on a wet and humid Friday lunchtime for a couple of days of R and R.  After checking into our hotel in the French Quarter, lunch consisted of beer and oysters at a number of the oyster bars in town.  Not a smart move really given that we were dehydrated to begin with.  By mid-afternoon, it was time to return to the hotel and get a bit of shuteye ready for an evening on the town.  We were "not drunk, but having drink partaken" if you get the subtle difference.  Due to the rain, my feet were soaked and my socks constituted a severe health hazard; complete disposal being the most expedient option.

You need to understand that the following thought processes were of someone temporarily running on just a handful of brain cells at that stage so there's your answer to the obvious question "Whatever were you thinking of?" when you've read the rest of this sorry tale.

There was no way I was going to leave them in the room rubbish tin for the cleaning service to discover as they would soon gain a life of their own, so they had to be disposed of in another way.  The first thought was to look in the corridor well away from the room for a rubbish disposal facility.  Wandered the corridors of this beautiful old hotel in soggy clothes and bare feet, failing miserably to locate anything.  Getting back to the room, the solution was obvious – stick them out on the ledge that ran round the outside of the building at window level.  Failure no.2 – the windows were screwed shut, presumably because open windows interfered with the air conditioning.

Then a stroke of semi-drunken genius!  Why hadn’t I thought of it in the first place?  I would flush them down the toilet!  So in go the socks and here is where the plan started to come apart in a big way.  Most American toilets work on an entirely different principle to the raging torrent NZ ones.  U.S ones seem to sort of work on a gentle whirlpool effect that is fine for intended purpose but evidently not for lightweight large surface area items like socks.  My socks just serenely sailed round and round on the outer edge of the toilet, not even remotely looking like disappearing.  After another failed attempt, drastic measures were called for.  I rolled up a sleeve and physically rammed them up round the hidden bend.  It was actually quite a tight fit and I did suffer some anxiety about getting wedged and having to scream for help. That would have not been a good day if my mates had found out. However, all was well and it worked perfectly after a quick flush.  I was slightly concerned at perhaps being the cause of the entire French Quarter sewage system to back up, but dismissed that as being the product of an over-fertile imagination.  Female readers may now say: "Ewwww.... guys!!!".  Let it be said that you were warned.....

Not this drastic, thank goodness!

Fully recovered later that evening, we joined the carnival atmosphere, ate well and listened to some magnificent blues, jazz and a live Cajun performance by Mamou.  One of our group who was a South African recently turned Kiwi was visibly smitten by a spectacular young lady walking in front of us....  about 6ft tall in heels and wearing a micro-mini skirt.  As we walked past her with our colleague close to meltdown, another colleague asked him (rather unnecessarily I thought) why aforesaid young lady had an Adam's apple.  It took him a few seconds to cotton on and his red face would have lit up the whole of Bourbon St!  We were virtually crying at his discomfort - some friends, huh?

There were a few other occasins for merriment at the expense of each other but the saying, "What goes on tour, stays on tour" is perhaps the best defence!

My 3 Kiwi mates in Memphis

Despite the occasional clash of cultures and hilarious misunderstandings, we all loved the Southern States with a passion.  A more welcoming and generous-spirited people would be hard to find anywhere.  In fact, wherever we've travelled in the world, ordinary people have been unfailingly wonderful.  Visiting parts of the USA and Canada are definitely on Jennie's and my Bucket List.  That is, if I'm let back in!

F-111 at Barksdale AFB the day before we flew back to NZ

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Who rides to music?

Time for one final teensy post before we depart for overseas next week........

Music....  I love music......

On the bicycle, music takes away the fatigue of a decent ride and also takes the mind off the inevitable chafing of the sensitive regions!

If  I'm in the 4x4 on my own, there's always music on.  Having said that, it's rarely on when Jennie's with me because a bollocking is likely on the grounds that it blocks meaningful wife to husband conversation.  Now I'd better be careful how I phrase this, even though I don't think Jennie or our daughter Victoria reads the blog.  Guys actually like not talking (apart from aforesaid music which is really like silence to us).  It doesn't mean we're brooding by not talking, we're probably just mulling over "guy stuff" and don't want the train of thought to be interrupted.  And really pushing my luck with the better half, the same reasons apply to why I resisted buying a bike intercom despite pressure from certain quarters but 'nuff said on that subject!

Anyway, back to music. It's nice in the 4x4 when driving solo as most times, I amble along at well under the speed limit and it helps time to pass.  It doesn't seem to be distracting because of the pedestrian pace.  If I'm driving Jennie's sports car on my own, it's normally at a pace that would earn a right earful if the "one careful lady owner" was alongside.  Playing music on these occasions is rare because the great exhaust note and the sound of the wind with the top down are both music enough.  Music also interferes with concentration when you're ahem... enthusiastically "pressing on" down a twisty road.

With motorcycles, there always seems to be more than enough to fill the senses in terms of concentration, listening to the bike and just plain 'ol enjoying the ride not to need any other stimulus.  Went for a 300 km ride early this morning and I was almost in sensory overload as it was.  Mind you, I rarely commuted to work by bike pre-retirement as it was only 10 minutes down the road. A bit of music might be a different on a slow daily commute. 

Now I'm certainly not inferring that listening to music on a bike is bad in terms of safety because I have no idea.  It's simply that I personally find it distracting. Maybe I'm easily distracted!

What are your thoughts?

Loud enough for ya?  (Acknowledgement Techblog website)