Wheel alignment

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Confession time (and other stuff)!

I have a confession which sits nicely with the "Confessions" title of the blog!

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


  1. You can take the man out of the hoon....but you carnt take the hoon out of the man.....:)

    As a point of interest, you havernt been the only one who's situational awareness has been lacking!

  2. I know exactly what you mean Geoff. Letting your discipline slip for a moment and pow! At least you should get away with just a heightened level of situational awareness and not a lighter hip pocket.
    On the radar detector front, how lucky are you guys?! They have been banned here in Oz for about 20-25 years and it a massive (read thousands of $) fine if you are caught with one.

  3. Hi Rog!
    You can be so cutting mate, I'm deeply wounded ;-).

    Ummm.... are we talking about your recent post, or have you something else to confess???? :-)

    Hi Flyboy!

    Thanks for dropping by - nice mountain biking posts by the way. I just restrict myself to local easy gradients in case I have a heart attack. I don't bounce too well these days either :-(.

    Fingers crossed that the brown envelope doesn't arrive as lessons have been learned but I'm more worried about my CEO finding out. At least she doesn't read my blog but with friends like I have....

    I have a research paper "The Study of the use of radar detectors in Western Australia" which is very much pro-detectors if you'd ever like a copy. My detector is very much a left-over from my ummm.. "irresponsible" Honda Blackbird days but guess what, it actually slowed me down because I was always paranoid about it going off! That's partly dealt with in the WA study.

    1. Just my previous blog Geoff, I was disappointed in myself that I did not read the road conditions and underestimated the grip. We never stop learning mate.....never.

    2. Yep, we never stop learning and as Flyboy said, drop your guard for a moment and trouble is right round the corner.

    3. Geoff, most of us don't consider West Australia part of Oz. It is too far away ;-) but they do enjoy a loophole in the law that us easterners don't have. I would be interested in seeing that paper, please.
      Glad to hear that you partake of the self propelled cycles as well. Doesn't matter how much you get out, just as long as you do.

    4. Flyboy
      Choke!!! We've recently had 3 glorious weeks touring WA and absolutely loved it - somewhat further away than you! I think you have your tongue buried firmly in your cheek anyway the way you get around with your job ;-).

      Just send me your email addy via mine on the blog page and you shall have it pronto.

  4. I guess it just goes to show that we are all human, sometimes you need a kick to get you to remember the stuff that should be second nature eh?

    The thing I loved most about your post tho Geoff was your garden and that pot!! Beautiful!!

  5. Tut, tut, tut...you old fellas are nothing but trouble. I got led astray by my old man and one of his mates a couple of years ago and got my first ticket in about twenty years. It was a dosey too...

  6. Hi Brenda!
    I probably need a bigger kicking than most!

    Thanks very much - it's been hard work getting the garden how we want it but it never really stops, does it? Planted orchids under some of the tree ferns this afternoon. We're lucky in our area as it's a haven for artists and artisans of all kinds.

    'lo Andrew!
    Ha! Typical irresponsible yoof blaming your Dad! I sincerely hope you got the ticket and he escaped scot-free. If I'd been your dad (heaven forbid), I'd have dined out on the story for years :-). I've had a similar interval without paying money over.

    1. Well the codgers scarpered and left holding the bag so to speak...oh, and one of the codgers is an ex MOT officer and van driving camera man...

    2. Age and treachery beats youthful naivety every time. You'll be old, wise and treacherous one day :-)

  7. Oh, Geoff. Your unbroken enthusiasm for two wheels must have had the better of you. Running in a radar trap in the middle of night... wow. Having been on those roads in the dark I find that a rather daring experience.

    I will forever miss your view from your front porch. The fall colours are not bad at all, even if the weather doesn't look that promising.

    The pot looks lovely. I wish I had something picked up at Mike's (The mug he served tea in was so comfy on the lips.). Well maybe one day...

    PS: What is a radar detector and is that the thing to have on a Striple?

    1. Hi Sweetheart!
      I can only conclude that the location was straight out revenue-gathering from dozy plonkers like me who weren't paying attention. I like riding in the dark and once you're used to it, it (normally, but clearly not in this case)affords good situational awareness.

      Thank you! There has to be some compensations for the indifferent weather. Yeah, I'm seriously thinking of buying a set of his mugs in due course - they really are excellent.

      Radar detectors... see this past post. http://geoffjames.blogspot.co.nz/2010/05/radar-detectors-worth-having.html. It very much depends on Canadian state or federal laws.

  8. Geoff:

    I don't need any radar detectors as I seldom exceed 5,000. rpms.

    I got the bright idea to start sending you brown envelopes in the mail but I need your address first. We all do stupid things but few of us actually blab about it

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Bob,
      I'd imagine that on the 'strom, 5k rpm in top is about 140km/hr :-).

      Glad you haven't got my address then ;-). Only mentioned it as there was some good learning, especially for me!

  9. Enthusiastic/spirited riding has it's place Geoff and that just happened to be the place for you that day. Hopefully no brown envelope though. We rarely see any traffic cameras in Oregon. They have red light cameras in some cities, but I don't think the ones to catch speeders on our roads are allowed. I could tell you that in my 23 years of driving I've never been pulled over let alone got a ticket, but then I'd be tempting fate as well as sounding like a goodie two shoes.

    Those tree leaves are beautiful and the pot really gorgeous. I am sure your son and his family will love it.

    1. Hi Brandy,
      I think our nearest traffic light is nearly 160 km away!!! Good for you regarding tickets - you're the one who is showing great judgement, too much testosterone elsewhere!

      Thank you, I'm pretty sure they'll be well pleased.

  10. Geoff, really, changing the topic to the garden mid post! As if that was going to mitigate your 'crime'!! Tongue firmly in cheek.

    1. Jules,
      There's only so much sackcloth and ashes one can put on in a given period. We bikers are a delicate lot :-)

    2. Jules, it is a gift that Geoff has worked at over the years......just ask Jenni.

    3. Clear proof that the CEO holds all the aces ;-)

  11. Geoff

    Hello, hello, hello: Should you not have waited 6 years before posting this admission of guilt - you never know who is reading this blog (i.e. the local constabulary)?

    1. It's a fair cop, guv!

      I don't think that Her Majesty's Constabulary are going to trawl through 1000's of photos to establish where and when for the sake of an $80 fine. If any such member reads this humble blog, it's most likely to be one of my close mates/riding partner who is a Highway Patrol member himself :-)

  12. I hope the US never implements mobile radar spots like that van. Oilburner will be screwed... Like Trobairitz, we have the red light cameras, but even most of those are being removed.

    When we first moved to Georgia we did encounter a mobile speed trap, but they pulled you over and wrote a ticket on the spot. No waiting around and chewing fingernails.

  13. Lori!
    Like your police, the Highway Patrol or town police in NZ will pull you over and write you a ticket on the spot AND you get demerit points on your licence. Accumulate enough demerit points (as a rough guide, say 3 in a 2 year period)and you could be walking everywhere for up to 6 months. Get caught doing 140 km/hr and not only will you be walking for a few months, you'll be finding your way home on foot from where you got caught!


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