Wheel alignment

Monday 12 November 2012

Fun on land and in the air!

Well, the last few days have been pretty hard to top in terms of enjoyment, especially with NZ having emerged from a wet Winter into a warm Spring.

It started last Wednesday with a ride to Auckland to continue the IAM Observer (advanced instructor) training under the eagle eye of the Chief Examiner, Philip McDaid along with another Observer trainee, John.

Philip is a crafty bugger and briefed us individually to demonstrate some subtle riding shortcomings at some stage in the 160 km assessment ride to see if the other one could pick them up in motorway, country lane and urban environments.  To cut a long story short,  we both passed and the next couple of months should see us progress to full Observer status and have our own advanced trainees to mentor.  It will be wonderful to put something back into motorcycling to help repay Philip and our personal mentors who freely volunteer their time in the name of motorcycle safety.

Philip and John

I have to mention my personal highlight of the day! John needed to be checked by Philip on his ability to assess what is euphemistically termed a "quick" rider.  This involves following another rider at considerable pace (known as "making progress" in IAM terms) to evaluate their standard of control and situational awareness.  Philip knew that I could hustle the Street Triple on twisty country roads so he quietly asked me to ride the vanishing points on bends really hard, but within the legal open road speed limit.  Part of the route contained a twisty, narrow country road stretching for 26 km where it's actually quite hard to even reach the speed limit in many places so figured that would be a great place to test John.   Boy, was that fun and at the end of that stretch of road, couldn't keep the grin off my face.  It's appropriate to mention that John was riding a BMW R1200LT tourer and whilst I backed off a wee bit in the really tight stuff to keep him in touch, he was never far behind - really impressed seeing a big Beemer in the mirrors being chucked around like that!!  What a sensational day, covering nearly 600 km overall.  Sure beats working.

The weekend saw another trip to Auckland to stay with our daughter Victoria and her fiancĂ©e Luke as she was taking me to the Big Boys Toys show as a belated Father's Day gift - what a honey she is!  However, one of my riding partners, Martin, is also a qualified pilot and he generously offered to take Victoria, Luke and me for a scenic flight in the Auckland area  first thing on Saturday morning.  The perfect start to the weekend in perfect weather!  Here are some photos of the trip:

Actual software track of the flight from Ardmore in the south (anticlockwise track)

Martin doing pre-flight checks

Airborne - Daughter and Dad in the rear seat

One of the many bays on Waiheke Island

Rangitoto volcano in Auckland harbour - last erupted 600 years ago

Auckland city downtown waterfront

Auckland Skytower

Browns Island - another dormant volcano.  Crater clearly visible

After the wonderful flight, we all went to a cafe just outside the airfield for brunch.  It's on the flight path and is the red-roofed building just to the left of the roundabout below.  Should have dropped in our order to save time!  Martin, you're an absolute star - thanks so much for a morning in a million!

Clevedon Woolshed cafe

After a great lunch, it was Dad and Daughter time at the Big Boys Toys Show.  All manner of things are on display there, most of them designed to cause serious matrimonial problems if the wallet comes out.  Although my CFO wasn't with us, no prior permission had been negotiated so drooling and whining were the only two permitted activities.  Here are a few of the various exhibits:

The magnificent NZ-made Britten Superbike

Bentley Continental GT - not exactly British stiff upper lip!

Business end of a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera

Massive tractor - note woman in rear wheel rim

Super-sexy Aston Martin

Wild Corvette race car

Supercharged road-legal Falcon GT

Hot end of a MiG 21

Mean-looking racing hydroplane

Saturday evening saw us out to dinner at a French restaurant and Sunday breakfast was taken at an open air French market with freshly-baked breads, exotic cheeses, great coffee and wallet a good deal lighter having stocked up on produce to take back home to Coromandel.

A great mid-week ride, a sensational weekend with a daughter I love beyond words and a son-in-law to be whom we also love dearly. Sheer magic......


  1. Geoff

    I'm so pleased that summer is coming your way....

    Wise move to have braekfast after the scenic flight especially when sitting in the back of a Cessna!

    All the best from the frozen North, N

    1. Nikos - you and me both!! The forecasters are predicting a great summer, which is bound to stuff things up!

      Indeed! There was no wind to speak of but it was slightly bumpy over the city with thermal heating and the tight turns round the Skytower took a bit of getting used to.

      Best wishes for a mild winter....

  2. Cheers Jules,
    Yep,terrific mates and our kids are wonderful, caring people too. Riding with the IAM is the icing on the cake!

  3. I love the idea of a Big Boys Toys show where you get some of everything, not just bikes, or cars. Will have to watch for that idea around here. And nothing is better than flying in a small plane and getting those amazing views. Like Tarsnakes said, you are one lucky guy.

    1. Canajun,
      Yes, there were things at the show to cover all tastes - tools, electronic goods, fitness competitions and so on - really great. I was surprised that light aircraft are allowed so low over the city - we were around 1000ft.

  4. Well could you have had anymore fun last week? Well, maybe if you were allowed to play with some of those big boy toys....

    Thanks for sharing the aerial tour pics, it is nice to see some of the surrounding area from the air.

    1. Brandy,
      It would be hard without going into sensory overload! There was some cool earthmoving equipment putting on a display outside that I would have LOVED to get my hands on :-).

  5. Doesn't Auckland look different from the air? great to see you out getting some training, and looks like you covered a great deal of stuff as well.

    How is the waistline this week.

    1. Rog,
      It's spectacular from the air - something you don't appreciate at ground level with the sprawl. Needed the training as I'd fallen behind a bit with my mentor being a bit hard to get hold of recently.

      Hmmmmm..... think it will be a few more salads than usual this week :-)!

  6. I really enjoyed the aerial tour photos. That really is a beautiful area.

    You packed a lot of activities into one post!

    1. Thanks Richard,
      Auckland is very much a maritime city, but also has a lot of parks too. I read somewhere that in terms of area, it's one of the biggest cities in the world. However, it only has a population of 1.5 million so there's a fair bit of urban sprawl and relatively little hi-rise. I actually prefer our capital city, Wellington, as it's more "cultured" but the weather isn't often as good as Auckland.

      It was and intense few days but back to reality now with lots of unexciting domestic stuff to catch up on!

  7. WOW, from a different veiwpoint still looks stunning!

    You got it all in this post .. a great ride on twisties (lucky you!) ... an awsome plane flight (lucky you!) .. and a big boys toy show (lucky you!) .. it'll take you a week to calm down after all that :D

    1. Cheers Brenda,
      Hahaha - just as well this week is filled with domestic stuff and voluntary teaching local senior citizens computer skills. That ought to bring me back to earth!

  8. Oh Geoff:

    Life is treating you well; bikes, planes, BIG toys, Victoria and SIL (Son In-Law). I would imagine that flying is much better than riding, No Speed Limits and lots of twisties.

    I had a friend who had a pilot's license and access to a plane so he took me up one day after work as he needed to log more hours to get his commercial endorsement. Scarey and great, both at the same time.

    those are nice aerial photos, things seem so small down there

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Hi Bob,
      Flying would certainly be up there. Probably no surprise that when I was looking at a career, trying for RAF pilot selection was one of my strong choices.

      I appreciate where you're coming from! It's tiny helicopters that scare the crap out of me - hardly any centrifugal force in those tight turns!!

    2. Still plenty of time to get your private pilot certificate (fixed wing, single engine). You seem to really enjoy being in the air. Before moving to AK, I was learning to fly but as a grad student, finishing and getting a license was way out of my budget. But did solo and had a blast practicing around southern CA, NV and AZ. Plus seat time in some very entertaining aircraft.

    3. Richard,
      I certainly enjoy flying but I'm sure that the CFO would blow a gasket with yet another expensive hobby! We already have a runabout for fishing but it would be nice to have a yacht that we could both go out in. I sailed competitively for many years and flying, sailing and riding bikes all utilise the same skill set more or less.

  9. Aren't you a lucky one? The areal shots are marvelous. The big boys toys are not my cup of tea though except for tha Aston Martin maybe, but I like the different angles of your pictures showing off the goodies. What a wonderful day you've had.

    1. Hi Sonja!
      Yes, I am very fortunate, thank you! I took lots of those shots, particularly round the Hauraki Gulf islands. They really are stunning from the air. Having now been to Big Boys Toys, I wouldn't go regularly but it was great as a one-off but more importantly, I absolutely love being with any of our 3 kids!


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