In comparison with a lot of countries, NZ has so far escaped the ravages of Covid fairly lightly with occasional lockdowns and other restrictions in various regions for varying periods. Whilst there were no outbreaks where we live, travel was difficult on occasions which curtailed going all that far. It was hellish tough on some sectors of the community and small businesses in particular really struggled. Our hearts went out to friends in that position. It's been an uncomfortable feeling that being retired helped us to lead a relatively normal but restricted lifestyle. Motorcycling and other leisure activities such as sea fishing took a hit but we still had plenty to keep us productively occupied. Looking back on the year, there was plenty going on and I've attached a bunch of photos which haven't been posted before. I suppose that it's a good means of raising the middle finger to the effects of Covid by celebrating some of the nice memories.
This was dawn from our deck on Jan 1st 2021. NZ was pretty much Covid-free at that stage and the summer weather held a lot of promise.
In a past life, I used to sail competitively. Even for people with little interest in sailing, NZ were defending the Americas Cup in Auckland in a new class of foiling yacht and the design captured the public imagination. They are capable of a little over 50 knots and very difficult to sail. Three months of racing and NZ went on to retain the Cup in March. The video below shows the NZ yacht Te Rehutai sailing from their base out to the race area. The buildings and traffic in the background serve to show how awesomely impressive these beasts are.
Out conducting potential new member assessments with the Institute of Advanced Motorists. It's always a real pleasure meeting riders who are keen to lift their game but every so often, you get to meet someone a bit special. In this instance, it was Barbara on her Yamaha MT-09. Barbara's partner David had been riding for many years so when Barbara decided to ride, it was a full-on commitment to excellence. Her early training to get a full license was with a riding school run by a former Chief Examiner of IAM. She then worked her way through the NZ-wide Ride Forever coaching programme and the California Superbike School track programme. Not satisfied with that, she has embarked on advanced police roadcraft training with IAM. Now that's dedication for you and boy, does it show in the standard of her riding!
My Shoei GT Air helmet has an internal smoked visor which is quite effective in most sunny environments. Where it falls short is on the coast road home where the reflection off the sea is horrendous and made even worse by diving into shaded areas of road thanks to overhanging waterside trees. From past experience, iridium-coated visors work pretty well, the downside being price. A genuine Shoei is about NZ$200, an expensive mistake if my memory was rose-tinted. Contrast this with an iridium visor ex-AliExpress for about NZ$60, shipping included so the risk was worth taking. Expectations weren't particularly high with respect to quality but what a bargain it turned out to be! Already set up for a Pinlock anti-fog insert, it was a perfect fit and 12 months later, the iridium coating is still in superb condition. Best of all, its reflective qualities work an absolute treat and it works better in low light than a solid tint. The gold coating looks pretty cool too.
Whenever I'm in the nearby town of Whitianga, a quick trip to the grass airfield is often worthwhile as a range of unusual aircraft can often be seen there. A recent example is the De Havilland Chipmunk. Designed in Canada in the 40's and entering RAF service in 1950, it was a popular flight trainer. It was delightful to see the flight instructor swinging the prop to start it, then hopping in and taking off in no time at all. Wonderful to still see old aircraft in regular use.
As of today, I've retired as an IAM Examiner and mentor after 10 years of lifting my riding to a level that I'm quite proud of, having never dreamed of getting this far. Also proud to have coached many others to attain their advanced roadcraft qualification and continue on to become mentors themselves. That's what you call a win-win. Just social riding from now on but also spending more time with Jennie sea fishing and enjoying the MGB GT. As mentioned in the previous post about keeping occupied during retirement, I've got plenty of fallback interests so boredom is unlikely to be an issue.
Who knows what 2022 and future years will bring but at least we can make the best possible use of our time whatever things outside of our control bring us. Every good wish for the future!