Wheel alignment

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Still busy times.......

After the huge variety of activities listed in the last post, the level of commitments haven't really slackened off at all.  The weekend before last was spent in Auckland teaching Roadcraft Observer theory and behavioural requirements to a new bunch of IAM Trainee Observers.  Most trainees feel overwhelmed by not only having to ride to a high standard but whilst doing so, observing a new Associate for improvement opportunities, what they do well and remembering everything in order to discuss how their ride went at the debrief!  In practice, a fully-qualified Observer is always present on the training rides to hand-hold so it's not (quite) as traumatic as first thought.  When asked what makes a good Observer,  the answers always focus on technical competence and prompting is needed to draw out the interpersonal stuff.  We all know from our personal experience in business that technical aspects of a job are usually fairly straightforward.  However, if anything is going to cause work to turn to custard, it's almost always people-related problems and their behaviours.  Fair comment?

A mix of people and technical skills make a good Observer

In an informal moment, one of the presenting Observers made an interesting comment about the bikes which were ridden to the course (see the photos below).  It's a bit of a generalisation but further south in NZ, IAM members seem to favour adventure-oriented bikes, even if they do spend most of their time on tar seal.  The words "Bavarian Tractors" were only bandied about in a light-hearted manner, honestly!   The further north you go, there seems to be a wider mix of bike types and certainly more with a sport-oriented bent.  We drew no conclusions from this, principally because we northern types didn't want to be labelled a bunch of Rossi wannabes!

A good mix of bike types on the course

Not an adventure bike in sight in this photo!

A few days later, we collected our new boat from the dealer.  Really impressed with the quality of both the boat and trailer but a few days were needed to fit it out with odds and ends ready for fishing and towing the grandkids on a biscuit in due course.  Along with the new boat came a marine VHF radio which meant that I had to sit a marine radio operator examination.  Sudden panic as I'd been pretty lax about studying and had worries about my 70 year old brain retaining anything.  A bit of solid cramming for a couple of days, sat the exam and mercifully achieved the 100% needed to pass - PHEW!

With that out of the way and with the tides and weather looking favourable, it was time to get serious about putting it in the tide for the first time - not for fishing but simply to get used to everything and how it handled.  Still waiting for the computer-cut radio-call sign lettering and boat name to arrive, but that can wait.  Meet "So-fish-ticated", the name chosen by our daughter!

Stabicraft 1410 Fisher, ready to hook up to the 4x4

Christening it at the end of our street

Jennie skippering it round some of the many islands just off the coast, in flat conditions

Very impressed with the 3 cylinder, 4 stroke injected Yamaha engine. Extremely quiet and bags of torque.  With the light alloy construction, the boat leaps onto the plane almost instantly and can apparently reach 50 km/hr, not that we were interested in trying it out first time up.  Got to watch the deceleration though.  It stops equally quickly if one is a bit quick off the throttle and could lead to bodies and gear flying about!

Leaving one of the island bays and not a soul in sight

Taken by a mate who was fishing in one of the mussel farms

Naming now done!

Next outing will be fishing for real.......... at least from one side of the boat :-) .

Back to motorcycling, it was mentioned in the previous post that at the recent IAM conference, an ex-military paramedic with a passion for motorcycles gave a talk and demo about accident management with an emphasis on motorcycles.  Apart from all the other great aspects of his talk, he mentioned a product called Celox which is hemostatic, i.e. stops bleeding fast. Extensively used by the military in conflict situations, granules can be poured into an open wound or there's a range of dressings and pads which have been impregnated with the special granules and can stop bleeding from an open wound.

I always carry a modest first aid kit on the bike and it has now been supplemented with Celox gauze pads which are easy to use and very effective.  It's the sort of item you hope never to use but in a situation where there is significant blood loss, it might just save someone's life.  Got it in the car too.  Here's the item we bought and Celox products are available pretty much everywhere in the world:

Celox gauze pads

No rest for the wicked - being invaded by the kids and grandkids for Easter weekend, a 1400 km round trip to Wellington the following weekend in the car to visit old friends, then hopefully back to adventures on 2 wheels.


Friday 2 March 2018

A most excellent week!

Definitely one of the busier weeks for this old geezer!

Last weekend was the Institute of Advanced Motorists annual conference and AGM being held at Lake Taupo in the central north island of NZ, about 270 km from where I live.  For members who fancied a bit of speed without red and blues and sirens behind them, there was also a trackday on offer on the Friday at the nearby Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park - the full international circuit no less!  I was certainly up for that!

Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park - 3.3km international circuit (stock photo)

Riding down the previous afternoon, it was wet with lots of roadworks but the morning of the trackday dawned sunny and warm - wonderful!  After scrutineering, we set up in a pit garage, dropped tyre pressures from road settings, taped the mirrors and waited for the briefing and first session.

The Suzuki ready to rock, with Alan's BMW 1200GT in the background

Terry's Aprilia Tuono and Graham's RSV 4 - yumm.....

The first session was taken relatively easy whilst riders learned the track, sorted out braking markers and so on.  All accomplished with no dramas.  From then on, it was all go, with progressively larger throttle openings held open for longer!  My road-going fuel consumption is generally between 5 - 5.3lt per 100 km and on the track it was between 8-9 lt per 100 km!

Alan on the 1200 GT and I were pretty evenly matched.  He'd been to the California Superbike School and was really impressive in the tight infield whereas I was faster on the sweepers and straights.  At 230 km/hr down the back straight, neither of us wanted to give an inch and all I'll say is thank goodness for ABS whilst scrubbing off enough speed to make the next turn!

 70 year old hooligan having the time of his life! (official photo)

Working hard to stay on the right line! (photo: Barry Holland)

Sticking it to a Gixxer rider who is on the wrong line!  (photo: Barry Holland)

Over 160km/hr down the short pit straight (photo: Barry Holland)

The Metzler Roadtec 01's stood up pretty well considering......

The following morning, there was a presentation on electric vehicles which completely changed my ill-informed views!  IAM member Wendy brought along her recently purchased Tesla Model S which has a 0-100km/hr time of about 4 seconds and was beautifully appointed.

Wendy's Tesla - get the number plate?

A local dealer brought along a Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe.  Both were surprisingly quick off the line and handled brilliantly.  The lack of noise made them even more impressive.  Running and maintenance costs were incredibly low and with ever-decreasing battery costs and increasing range, they're now a serious consideration, particularly as a commuting or round town vehicle.  A mate of mine has one for commuting and saves $100 per week on gas!

Lloyd hammering a Nissan Leaf off the start line

As enjoyable as the cars were, the real fun were the pedal-assisted e-bikes which were there for us to try out!  The Giant model I tried was a real buzz and as fast as heck in "turbo" mode.  One of our members has one for commuting to work in Auckland, a round trip of 38 km and absolutely loves it.  Methinks that one would be handy to replace my 2 decades old mountain bike with all the hills where we live!

 Alan on the Scott e-bike

We also had a presentation by an engineer from Helite, the people who manufacture airbag clothing for motorcyclists.  Everything from inflating hi-vis vests through to adventure riding jackets.  Externally, they looked like a normal jacket and it was an impressive presentation.  Prices were similar to normal higher end motorcycle jackets.

In the afternoon,  it was off to Rotorua, some 90km away to play on the luge.  This is a concrete track  winding down the side of Mt Ngongotaha, hurtling downhill on an unsprung plastic cart.  The more competitive of us kept our leathers on in case of wipeouts, haha!

Lee and I queuing in full leathers - no quarter given or expected!

A long way down....  (file photo)

Stunning views over Lake Rotorua from the top of the luge

Lee's magnificent MV F3 675 triple in the luge car park

After the excitement of the afternoon, it was a brisk ride back to Taupo for a delightful buffet dinner.  The following morning, there was a superb session on accident scene protocols and rendering immediate assistance by an ex-military paramedic and fellow biker.  He was down to earth and debunked a few myths - a great learning experience.  I'll also be doing a re-think on the medical kit I carry and will certainly be adding Celox gel packs to safely stop bleeding.

Mike Nicolle explaining an aspect of scene management

After a mercifully short AGM (IAM does not thrive on bureaucracy!), it was time to head home.  It was in the delightful company of Street Triple owner Joanne, who is the IAM co-ordinator from Christchurch in NZ's South Island.  Jo hadn't previously visited the Coromandel Peninsula so it was a good opportunity to show her the sights by bike and car.  Jo is dual-qualified as an IAM Observer for both bikes and cars and I'm not!  Found it vaguely unsettling driving her around by car, despite her protestations that she was off duty!

Dr. Jo and her Street Triple R on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula

On the fantastic Driving Creek pottery railway in Coromandel

The day after Jo began her long trek back to Christchurch, and in the company of some other IAM members from our region, I attended a suspension clinic in the Auckland area with Dave Moss, one of the world's authorities on how to set up motorcycle suspension. (His website HERE and his YouTube masterclass HERE , among many others). I thought I was "reasonably" ok on the basics of suspension adjustment but just how wrong can you be???  The clinic was a trial initiative between an Auckland-based riding instructor Chris Smith of Passmasters , Dave Moss and amazingly, our regional council authority.  The rationale was that properly adjusted suspension has the potential to save lives from a bike which handles better with improved grip, less fatigue plus all sorts of peripheral benefits.  The Waikato Regional Council has long championed motorcycle safety with a range of motorcycle training courses but this was the first foray into suspension as a safety initiative.

Arriving in Auckland, Dave checked all the initial settings of the bikes and made some preliminary adjustments based on rider weight.  He then explained what he was doing and why in easy to understand terms and made sure that everyone was comfortable to ask questions, no matter how dumb they thought they were - Dave is a patient and natural communicator.

He then explained that we would be going for a ride of some 150 km covering all sorts of conditions with several stops to make adjustments whist the bikes were at normal operating temperature - the only way to do it properly.  

Dave adjusting my rebound at the first stop (photo: Tony Knight)

Dave holding a Q&A on the ride

Adjusting IAM member Goose's Honda Crosstourer

Bike porn on a GSX-R 600

To cut a long story short, the improvement to my GSX-S was massive, which was a bit of a shock (no pun intended!) and all the attendees felt the same way.  No longer did it wander about over surface irregularities and the effort required to countersteer through a tight series of bends had diminished by a large amount - far less fatiguing.  In fact, I initially tended to over-correct with far more effort than now required, thanks to muscle memory kicking in! All this from fairly tired suspension.  On the way home, the last 50 km was in heavy rain and an indifferent road surface from the recent storm.  I've never previously felt so much confidence in riding in less than optimum conditions whilst still able to make good progress.  Massive thanks to Dave Moss, Chris Smith and the Waikato Regional Council for the enlightened attitude of making this genuine safety-related opportunity available to a wide range of riders!

What a day, what a week!