I Ride To Rediscover The Part Of Myself Lost To Just "Existing".

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Humbled & Honoured

G’day

A few weeks ago Dan from Daily Bikers asked if I’d like to write a guest post on his blog. I don’t consider myself as anything special when it comes to writing, so the offer took me a little by surprise.

Be that as it may, I’d like to thank Dan for giving me the opportunity to write for Daily Bikers. I’m really humbled and honoured that I was asked (and chuffed, all at the same time).

You can read my Guest Post here.

While you’re there, I’d encourage you to have a poke around Daily Bikers and check out some of their offerings.

You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers

Wired For Sound.

G’day.

I’ve broken a sacred rule of riding. I bought an intercom. There I’ve said it…

Years ago, the only beats I heard came from the engine, I’d talk to myself inside my lid, and no one could hear me strangling cats in tune to the top 40 .

Times change.

Now I like to share my auditions for the X-factor with The Pillion. True the occasional burp also spews forth, quickly followed by a sharp poke to the ribs from The Pillion.

Sharing is caring right?

When I started looking around for an intercom, all the usual suspects were considered, Cardo Scala, Sena and U-Clear, which are all Bluetooth units. One that was suggested to me that I hadn’t considered, was the Starcom system.

Cardo Scala

Cardo Scala (Bluetooth)

Sena

Sena (Bluetooth)

U-Clear

U-Clear (Bluetooth)

Starcom

Starcom (Hard Wried)

The Bluetooth systems all appealed to me for various reasons:-

  • Easy to fit.
  • They can be paired with phones, music & GPS devices
  • I could talk to my pillion & a few other riders (4 to 10 depending on the system).
  • On some models I could listen to FM radio.
  • They were all light weight.

What I didn’t like about the Bluetooth systems was:-

  • The units have to be recharged periodically.
  • Some units don’t pair with everything with ease (They’re fiddly).
  • They can drop out.
  • You can’t talk between units (Sena to Scala to U-Clear).
  • If I wanted to hook up a CB to the system, I needed either a CB with Bluetooth capability (expensive), or an interface unit in addition to the intercom (also expensive).

One thing we have here in Australia that may not be available in other countries is the UHF* CBRS*. This is by far the most utilised radio service for travelers, farmers, truck drivers and other interested people. Along with the usual calling and emergency channels, there are dedicated 4WD, caravan, repeater and truck/ highway channels.

The system uses narrow band FM with up to 5 watts transmit power and 80 channels. CTCSS* & DCS* mute systems are also available, so that interfering signals on the same channel can be eliminated.

I really wanted to be able to connect UHF to the system, but the additional Bluetooth interface at $300 plus was prohibitive.

Reluctantly I took a look at the Starcom. I really didn’t like the idea of having wires dangling everywhere, but it did do everything the Bluetooth units would do, plus it had some advantages:-

  • It was easy to fit. The main control unit is about the size of a 20 pack of smokes and fits under your seat, or some other available space.
  • You can use phones, GPS & music just like the other systems, either hard-wired or at additional cost with a Bluetooth interface.
  • Rider to pillion intercom.
  • Light weight.
  • You never have to recharge the unit.
  • The hard-wired system has no problems with dropouts.
  • Quick release DIN plugs allow for cable separation in an emergency.
Starcom Bluetooth Interface
Starcom Bluetooth Interface (30 x 50mm – 1-1/4 x 2″)

One thing the Starcom can’t do is link between riders on a private Bluetooth link. This didn’t particularly worry me though, because it’s not like I was going to be discussing the state of the nation with anyone while riding anyway.

BUT!

You can easily hook a UHF CB into the mix. It’s a simple plug and play affair, with either Push To Talk (PTT) or voice activated operation (VOX). No special Bluetooth adapter required. The bonus of using a CB is that the range is increase considerably, unlike Bluetooth, which if your lucky you might get 500m (1600 feet).

Also its an open system, so if you get into trouble and are out of mobile phone range, you can call someone for help. Bluetooth does not allow for this.

Size Comparison Between Starcom & Iphone 5S

Size Comparison Between Starcom & Iphone 5S

So I bought the Starcom Advance.

I don’t use (refuse to use) the mobile phone function, but I do use an Ipod for the travelling tunes, this will sit either in my vest pocket or tank bag depending on the ride i’m on.

I also have a Uniden UHF hand-held CB connected into the system for longer trips. It’s handy to get road reports, or to let the driver of a B-Double* know that you want to pass.

Handheld CB The Red Button Near The Horn IS the PTT

Handheld CB The Red Button Near The Horn IS the PTT

Whats the sound quality like?

Pretty good really, in fact with the ear plugs (see separate article here) the wind noise is reduced so much that the volume doesn’t have to be as loud as you would think. This is probably because the stereo speakers are so close to your ears, and the ear plugs are tuned to reduce noise rather than sound… if that makes sense(?)

Also, having a curly cord hanging from your lid is not as bad as I thought. It’s not heavy and doesn’t flap about in the breeze. If you decided to go this route, use a stick on cable clamp like the one in the photo below so that there is no pull on the wires to the mic and speakers.

Stcik On Zip Tie Cable Clamp

Stick On Zip Tie Cable Clamp

The only problem I have with Starcom is that The Pillion doesn’t appreciate my singing… or burps.

Cheers

  • UHF: Ultra High Frequency.
  • CBRS: Citezens Band Radio Service.
  • CTCSS: Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System
  • DCS: Digital Coded Squelch
  • B-Double: Consists of a prime mover towing a specialised lead trailer that has a fifth-wheel mounted on the rear towing another semi-trailer, resulting in two articulation points.
Image

Why I Ride…

I Ride To Rediscover The Part Of Myself Lost To Just “Existing”

Tin Can Bay

G’day

Last Sunday the Pillion and I decided to tag along with some friends on a ride up to Tin Can Bay for lunch. The weather report for the day was for a cool cloudy morning followed by showers in the afternoon. Thankfully we managed to dodge the showers (I forgot the soap anyway) and only had to contend with damp roads.

Looks Miserable Don't It?

Looks Miserable Don’t It?

The route started at BP north at Burpengary 45km (28 miles) north of Brisbane. From there we followed the Bruce Highway until we turned off on Steve Erwin Way, past Australia Zoo, through to Maleny, Kenilworth, Pomona, Kin Kin and Tin Can Bay.

Thank You Google Maps

Thank You Google Maps

Even though Tin Can Bay is an easy 2 hour, 175 km (110 mile) ride north of the BP, our trip would take us around 4 hours and around 235 km (146 miles) via the scenic route.

Even Mr Policeman Was Out 'n About

Even Mr Policeman Was Out ‘n About

Our first stop to regroup and warm up was at Kenilworth, in the heart of the Mary Valley. About 110 km (70 miles) into our trip.

Kenilworth is a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of town, with a population of about 300. The main street has a row of shops, a country supermarket, a museum, and two of the most important establishments any town needs; a service station and a pub.

It also has a Cheese Factory which is the centre piece of the Kenilworth Cheese, Wine and Food Festival held in April each year. I’ll talk about that some other time.

Photo Courtesy opals-on-black

Photo Courtesy opals-on-black

After our short intermission we headed north along the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road towards Kin Kin. Most of the roads were pretty good, although some stretches were bumpy, and you had to pay attention on the corners because there was debris mid line.

Not a good thing when you’re two up… or any other time for that matter.

TCB001a

Quiet Road With a View

Oh Look Slippery Stuff

Oh Look Slippery Stuff

The Weather Started To Clear Up

The Weather Started To Clear Up

Love These Old Timber Bridges

Love These Old Timber Bridges

We turned right on Tin Can Bay Road and headed east towards the coast and Tin Can Bay. Nothing to eventful along this road, just straight wide and tempting. Alas, it is known to be patrolled by the local constabulary, so we had to behave ourselves.

Tin Can Bay Road

Tin Can Bay Road

Tin Can Bay was originally part of a large timber logging area settled in the 1890’s. The logs were floated up the Great Sandy Strait between the mainland and Fraser Island to Maryborough, where they were cut and transported to other areas. Logging came to an end in 1893, although some milling continued until the end of the century.

Now-a-days it’s a great spot to get away from it all, and is a gateway to other places of interest, like Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay. Closer in you can indulge in some bush walking in the Cooloola National Park, fishing or boating in the Great Sandy Straits and Fraser Island.

There is lots to see and do – or not.

Tin Can Bay

Tin Can Bay

The clouds started rolling in again just outside Gympie, luckily the promised showers held off until we made it home. All up we covered 450km (280 miles).

Not a bad effort for a days riding.

Cheers

The Weather Closed In Again On The Way Home

The Weather Started To Close In Again On The Way Home

Regrets… Well, Maybe One.

G’day

I don’t know too many riders from last century that didn’t own a CB (insert number here) Four at some stage of their riding career.

I wasn’t any different.

I owned an old Hoon*-da CB750 Four (K2) for a couple of years. I bought it as a basket case, and rebuilt it over twelve months.

You can read about it here.

The bike had its quirks; like those stupid little rubber grommet seal things that sat under the cam cradles.

The things would move under load and there would be a trail of oil coming out from under the head soon after.

It turned out that this was a common problem, and the fix was to replace the grommet thingies with press fit aluminium plugs.

The other problem I had, which was more due to metal fatigue than anything else. Was that one of the cam cradles had lifted on a ride over Mt. Glorious.

The top end was destroyed as a result. The cradles disintegrated, the cam had some good-sized gouges in it, and looked a bit like a boomerang as well.

Despite all that, I still managed to put 35,000 km (22,000 miles) on it in the twelve months I rode it.

My Honda CB750/4 started out as a $200 basket case

My Honda K2 CB750/4 started out as a $200 basket case

The bike was due for a service and valve clearance check since having the top end rebuilt by Phil at ProFlow. So I dropped round there one Saturday morning to get the job done.

When I arrived, Phil started telling me about a new project he had going. A coffin tank Z1R MKII Kawasaki. He was going to build it as an advert for his shop.

The frame had already been checked and braced and was away at the powder-coaters. The rest of the bike was strewn all over the workshop; wheels were over in a corner, the wiring harness was hanging on a hook on a pin-board, the engine was being rebuilt on the bench and the panel work was in a box ready to go to the painters.

Phil was a one time mechanic for a Kawasaki race team, so it was no surprise that he was excited about his new project.

KS15

Pleading ignorance, I asked “Whats a Z1R?”

I was after all a newish rider.

Phil patiently explained the bikes history to me, and what he was planning. When he finished, I asked him how much he wanted for it when it was finished.

Phil thought for a minute, then came back with “$4000.”

He continued. “We’d better get started on the Honda, eh?”

On a spur of the moment decision, I handed him the cash I was going to give him for the service, and said “Consider the Z1R sold.”

What? You want to buy the Z1R, what about the Honda? he asked.

“Yep, I’m going to buy the Z1R. Unless someone else has dibs* on it?” I said.

Adding “I’ll consign the Honda and have the rest of the money ready for you when the Z1R is finished.

Within a month I had the Z1R in my garage. It had a braced frame with all the bearings and bushes replaced. Progressives springs on the front with Koni adjustables on the rear. The engine had a mild cam with a Wiseco 1080 kit. New chain and sprockets, new tyres — the bike was like brand new.

I wasn’t allowed to run the bike to anything more than 4000 rpm for the first 1500 km (1000 miles). It needed to be run in.

Once the run in period had passed, the carburetors were kitted and adjusted to allow the bike to breath. The only thing that let the bike down visually was the grungy old Tranzac exhaust that was hanging off it.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R MKII

1979 Kawasaki Z1R MKII

Over the next 12 months Phil taught me how to look after, and service the bike. I’d buy what was needed for the job; oil, filters, that sort of thing, and Phil would explain what needed to be done.

There’s not too many mechanics around that will do that these days.

Despite its wooden front brake and an exhaust collector that would bottom out on left handers, the bike always left me grinning.

On one occassion I clocked 220km/h (135 mp/h) on that thing. Yeah, Yeah I know, young and dumb

I rode the bike for 3 years before I sold it to a bloke in Burpengary, north of Brisbane.

I remember putting some new hoops on it not long before it went up for sale. The tyre guy asked why I was getting rid of it.

“Young Family”. I said.

He looked at me with that been there look and said “You’ll regret it”

He was right.

I saw the Z1R a few years later at a track day out at Lakeside. I can only guess that the new owner was having as much fun on it as I’d had a few years earlier.

About 18 months after Phil finished the bike he moved to Sydney. I caught up with him a few times after that, once in Brisbane when he was visiting family, and once when I was in Sydney.

I lost track of Phil after that. Pity, he was a gun spanner man and a nice bloke too.

I know that technology has moved on, and there have been huge advances in engine management and frame design. Hell the brakes on my Bandit are light years ahead of that old Z1R.

I still can’t forget that bike and those days though.

Regrets? Well, maybe one.

Cheers.

  • Hoon: Australian/ New Zealand term for a lout or hooligan, especially a young man who drives recklessly.
  • Dibs: The right to something, an option to buy.

2014 Laverda Concours

G’day

The annual Laverda Concours has come and gone for another year.

Who would have thought that from the first concours held at Captain Burke Park, Kangaroo Point (under The Story Bridge), the Laverda Concours would become so popular that it would have to move to a bigger venue at the Cleveland Showgrounds.

Small-Concours-2014_033- - Copy

This year there were 60 trophies, and over $4000 in cash and prizes up for grabs. Everything was covered; Continental, British, American, Japanese, Classic, Street Special, Outfits, Cafe Racer… this list goes on.

Concours-2014_044

There were even trophies for most powerful bike in the car… err… bike park. Mick the proprietor of Mick’s Bike & Car Tyres provided his dyno for this popular event

small-Concours-2014_030-

Over the past 10 years Club Laverda has raised over $55,000 for Make-A-Wish.

What is Make-A Wish?

Make-A Wish grants wishes to children with life threatening medical conditions. The wishes can be as simple as kicking a ball around with their favorite footy team to becoming a diamond miner.

Since 1985 there have been over 8,000 wishes granted to children in Australia.

Concours-2014_141-MOD

A big thumbs up to Club Laverda for putting on a great show and for raising money for some very deserving kids

Check out over 80 more photos from the day at my Flickr page.

Cheers

Mt. Panorama.

G’day

Mt. Panorama and Bathurst* are sinonym… synonym… have a rich history of motor racing in Australia, with the first motorcycle race being held way back in 1911 at a place called Kelso a few clicks outside of Bathurst.

After a falling out with the local constabulary, motorcycle racing was moved to the Vale Circuit, and stayed there from the first meeting on Easter Saturday April 4, 1931 until 1937. In 1938 it was relocated again, this time to Mt Panorama.

image

The interesting thing about Mt Panorama is that it is a rural public road with 2-way traffic and a 60km/h (37mp/h) speed limit most of the year. The circuit is 6.172 km (3.835 mi) in length and climbs 174m (570 feet) from the bottom of the circuit (Pit Straight) to the top of the circuit (Skyline).

The Mt Panorama Circuit

The Mt Panorama Circuit

Mt Panorama and the Easter Bike Races became part of Australian biker folklore, running continuously for 50 years until they were axed in 1985.

Why were they axed?

No, not because of noise complaints, but because of rioting.

Bikers would head to the mountain each Easter for the races, and even as far back as the early ’60’s newspaper reports labeled the spectators as a deviant element because of their wild behavior.

During the early 80’s the festivities attracted the attention of the local police, who thought it a good idea to bring in the Tactical Response Group (TRG) to control the throng.

As a result of the confrontation between the bikers and the TRG at the last Easter meeting in 1985, the races were cancelled.

Debate rages to this day about who was worse; The bikers or the TRG.

The Remnants Of The Channel 7 News Car After One Of The Riots

The Remnants Of The Channel 7 News Car After One Of The Riots (Photo Courtesy davamb Access Norton Forum)

Bikes returned to the mountain in 1993.

In 1994 there was an accident at the top of the mountain at Macphillamy Park, and 3 side car riders were killed. Racing continued at Mt. Panorama until 2000.

Soon after the 2000 race finished, the concrete lined track was deemed unsafe for motorcycles, and the Bathurst bike races faded into history.

Fast forward to 2014 and rumors have been raging for years of a second circuit being built at Mt. Panorama.

The topic came up again a few weeks ago while I was listening to Greg Hirst on Ride.

Greg was interviewing the member for parliament for Bathurst, Paul Toole, about rumors of motorcycles returning to Mt Panorama.

 (Photo Courtesy davamb Access Norton Forum)

(Photo Courtesy davamb Access Norton Forum)

As it turns out, Bathurst City Council has been considering a second more permanent circuit for some time, and the New South Wales (N.S.W.) State Government in it’s last budget allocated $5 million towards a new racing circuit at Mt Panorama. Not only for motorcycles but also for other motor sports.

To Quote Mr Toole:

“As the local member, I want it put on the record that I intend to drive this project to ensure it does not falter,” Mr Toole said, speaking withFairfax.

“The $5 million in the budget is a great way to get the ball rolling. This means the second track is no longer a pipe dream; it’s going to happen. I look forward to working with council to do the planning and get started on the construction of this initiative.”

It is hoped that the Feral Guv’mint will chip in as well, and there is a strong belief that they may have already given some consideration to the project, but as yet, nothing has been announced.

This along with the recent push for a TT style race on The Lions Road that runs through The Border Ranges National Park means that the future looks bright for Motorcycle racing in Australia.

Cheers

  • Bathurst: Pronounced like this… Bathhurst… short ‘A’
  • Lions TT: The Lions TT Motorcycle Festival, will be a three-day and night motorcycle festival that is open to all motorcycle brands. Think Sturgis meets the Isle of Man TT

Tick Tock.

Tenacious
Not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined.

Fearless
Showing a lack of fear.

Philosophical
Having a calm attitude towards disappointments or difficulties.

Caring
Displaying kindness and concern for others.

Giving
Cause or allow someone to have or experience something.

Loving
Showing love or great care.

Loss
A person who is badly missed when lost.

Missed
Notice the absence of.

Dad
One’s father.

One Year Has Passed. Lost. Never Forgotten

Lost. Never Forgotten

Lost. Never Forgotten.

 

What’s That? Speak Up?

G’day

I listened to a lot of music growing up; AC-DC, The Angels, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Rose Tattoo, Zeppelin, Purple, the list goes on.

I went to see a lot of pub bands and concerts too. Where standing as close to the stage as possible was expected, lest you be called a woose*.

I mean, the louder the better right?

I also worked in the mental… err… metal fabrication industry. It wasn’t unusual to have a sheet of 10mm (3/8″) plate crash to the ground just behind me, or to be using air tools, steam hammers or plasma cutters without hearing protection.

Ear muffs?

Pfft. My ears weren’t cold, what’s the point.

Besides it wasn’t “cool”

I Used This 1500 Ton Davy Press As An Apprentice (Photo: Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops, Sydney - Teaching and Educational Standards NSW)

I Worked At This 1500 Ton Davy Press As An Apprentice (Photo: Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops, Sydney – Courtesy Teaching and Educational Standards NSW)

Well… when you think about it, there was a point.

An 80 – 125dB(A)* noise level for most of the working day wasn’t unusual, and I can’t remember how many times I’d come home from work, or a night out, and my ears were ringing or felt furry inside.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but my ears were telling me they had had enough, and were getting permanently damaged in the process.

Where am I going with this?

OK, so you work in a library, orifice or some other non-industrial environment. Have you thought about the noise in your lid at 100 km/h (60 mp/h)?

In an article published by The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health on Noise Induced Hearing Loss in Occupational Motorcyclists; Jordan, Hetherington, Woodside and Harvey state that:

Full face helmets provided average noise levels of 88.3 dB(A) at 50 km/h (31 mp/h) up to 103.6 dB(A) at 120 km/h (75 mp/h). While the open face helmets provided average noise levels of 87.2 dB(A) at 50 km/h up to 98.5 dB(A) at 120 km/h.

The average noise level increased by approximately 2.1 dB(A) per 10 km/h increase in speed.

Did you notice open face lids are quieter than a full face?

Jordan, Hetherington, Woodside and Harvey also found that:

The dominant noise source was the base of helmet between the chin bar and the neck of the rider.

Also.

The addition of a fairing actually increased the noise levels of the helmets.

The last two points took me by surprise, because I always thought that a full faced lid and a faired bike would reduce wind noise. Obviously I was wrong, although thinking back to late last year when I wore an open face lid… it was quieter.

Sounds like a great argument for cruisers and open face helmets doesn’t it?

To put all these numbers into perspective, the Noise Equivalent Table below (contained in this document on the Safe Work Australia) website states that you shouldn’t be exposed to noise levels of 85dB(A) or more, for more than 8 hours.

So if  we were to extap… extrapel… e-x-t-r-a-p-l… (damn it).

If we were to project this for 100 km/h using the average 2.1 dB(A) per 10 km/h stated above, a full face helmet would be 98.8dB(A) and an open face would be 97.7dB(A).

So according to the table below you can only ride for between 15 and 30 minutes before suffering some hearing damage.

Table Courtesy Safe Work Australia

Table Courtesy Safe Work Australia

15 to 30 minutes… Not going to happen, right?

So what do you do?

Stick your fingers in your ears!

No wait… that won’t work.

OK seriously, any hearing protection is better than nothing, and each product should have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) listed somewhere on the packet or flier that comes with it.

NRR, or Noise Reduction Rating, is a guideline that indicates the amount of potential protection a hearing protection device will give in a noisy environment. NRR is the decibel (dB) reduction provided by hearing protection based on laboratory test data.

In a nutshell, if you are in a 95dB(A) environment and you have hearing protection with an NRR of 25, the noise level reaching your ear is 70dB(A).

I.E. 95 – 25 = 70. Simple eh?

Acceptable Methods To Reduce Noise… Some Are better Than Others

Acceptable Methods To Reduce Noise… Some Are better Than Others

The NRR attenuation rating will vary depending on what you use . Different products work differently for different frequencies as well, so you need to check the specs and be sure it will work for you.

A rough guide might look something like this:

  • Cotton Wool: Up to NRR 7 – Cheap, at less than a cent each – disposable.
  • Putty type ear plugs: Up to NRR 22 – $4 Pair – Re-usable, waterproof, swimmers use them.
  • Fingers: Up to NRR 25 – Free – Forget it, you’ll never be able to counter steer.
  • Ear Muffs: Up to NRR 26 – $25 to over $250 – reusable, can’t workout how to get these under the lid though.
  • Flanged Ear Plugs: Up tp NRR 27 – $30 pair – washable, re-usable.
  • Custom Molded Ear Plugs: Up to NRR 30 – $70 pair – washable, re-usable available in various colours.
  • Foam Ear Plugs: Up to NRR 33 – $1 pair – single use.

I’ve used foam ear plugs like the yellow ones in the picture above in the past. I could get them for free thanks to one of my past employers. They are for single use only and can’t be cleaned, so can become expensive if you need them every day.

Yep I Know They Need  Clean :-/

Yep I Know They Need Clean :-/

Personally, I use custom molded ear plugs, they’re not cheap at $70 a pair but they work really well, are washable and are tax-deductible as a work related expense… assuming you can substantiate the claim.

I like ‘em cause mine are green :-D

So take it from someone who tried to act all “cool”.

Use hearing protection while you’re riding,  your ears will love you for it.

I’m off to find those damn cicadas.

Cheers

  • Woose: A lightweight, a coward.
  • Decibel (dB): A measurement of sound pressure. Each 3db increase in sound pressure equals a doubling of intensity or volume.

Old Dog, New Tricks.

G’day

How many times have you heard this statement?

I’ve been riding for 25 years, I don’t need no stinkin’ riders course.

I have, heaps of times, and I can’t help thinking that one day it will catch up with them… It caught up with me back in 2000, and I’d done a post licence road craft course.

So no one is immune to it.

Like the saying goes; There are two types of riders. Those that have been down, and those that will go down.”

The Course Flier

The Course Flier

Anyway…

About a month ago I got wind of a free Skills & Safety Course to be put on by, Shark Motorcycle Leathers & Accessories and Australian Motorcycle Academy (AMA). There were 80 spots available, and the course was to be held at Carrara on the Gold Coast.

When I heard about the course, I thought a couple of new-ish riders I knew might be interested. To my knowledge they had not done any post licence road-craft courses, so I flicked the flier on to them hoping to spark some interest.

Within about 15 minutes four of us were singed up. Moscato Girl, The Melting Man, CBR Dude and moi.

Yep, I signed up too.

Why?

Because I can’t ride. There, I’ve said it.

Yep, even though I have my licence and I’ve done an advanced road craft course… I can’t ride.

Both CBR Dude and I were in the same boat, both of us had been riding since the dawn of time, we could always learn more though. So we tagged along.

Photo Courtesy Susan C

Photo Courtesy Susan C

The 80 riders were broken up into 4 groups of 20 in no particular order, although it looked like the cruisers were kept together. Starting at 8:00am the groups were staggered 1 hour apart.

The course started with one hour of theory in a classroom. Rob (our instructor) discussed slow speed control, lane positioning (for both single / multi-lane roads) , cornering, counter steering and other road-craft skills.

It was an informal session and Rob asked us questions to try to gauge our level of  skill, while encouraging us to ask questions as we went along.

Photo Courtesy Susan C

Photo Courtesy Susan C

This was followed by one hour of practice in a controlled environment. The first thing we did was slow speed control.

Cones were set up in series of sharp bends like you would find when negotiating a car park.  

One of the instructors demonstrated what we needed to do, while Rob went throught the finer points of clutch and throttle control, trail braking and counter steering.

These were all fairly easy for most of us, but there was one or two of us that struggled with the slow speed change of directions.

Rob called these riders out and gave them a bit of one to one. It looked to me like the “looking through the corner” part was the problem.

When they rejoined the group they started leading with their chins (so to speak), you could see a big improvement by the end of the session.

Photo Courtesy if

Photo Courtesy Susan C

The next step was to put us through our paces with some higher speed counter steering.

The track was straightened out and the challenge was to accelerate hard, short shifting a few gears and then changing down while on the brakes and set up for the corner at the end of the straight.

The emphasis was on selecting the right gear, counter steering and looking through the corner. It was interesting to watch some of the riders, because a few just followed the cones around the corner instead if setting up wide.

Rob called us all in, and went over the “start wide, finish tight” theory portion he had covered in the classroom again.

When we got back on the course, Rob deliberately stood at the entrance to the corner and pushed every rider wide. This quickly showed everyone the benefits of “start wide, finish tight”, and again there were big improvements by the end of the session.

Photo Courtesy Susan C

Photo Courtesy Susan C

The final part of the course was a 2 hour road ride up and over Mt. Tamborine. This was to allow us to practice what we had been taught back at the training area.

We went out through some quiet suburbs; Nerang, Gaven, Pacific Pines and the Maudsland road. This was to practice throttle control and counter steering we’d been taught earlier.

Everyone was having fun with the round-a-bouts. You could see people pushing on the bars to bring on the counter steering effect.

Photo Courtesy Susan C

Photo Courtesy Susan C

Once we cleared the ‘burbs we headed out on the Nerang-Beaudesert Road and turned right on Heri-Roberts Drive and followed that up to Mt. Tamborine. The corners along Heri Roberts drive allowed us to practice more cornering and counter steering but at higher speeds.

We stopped at a sporting ground at the top of Mt. Tamborine to regroup, and discuss a few things.

During the break Rob and I chatted about the course and he offered me a few pointers on my riding. Which I practiced on the second leg of our ride.

We moved off again for the second leg and headed down the Tamborine-Oxenford Road and on to Shark Leathers at  Helensvale for a sausage sizzle.

The pointers Rob offered worked, and I now find my riding a little smoother. So you can teach on old dog new tricks :-)

Photo Courtesy Susan C

Photo Courtesy Susan C

If I had to rate the course, I’d say it was a about half way between a Q-Ride licence course and intermediate level course. That’s not to say it was a waste of time.

On the contrary it was well worth it, and I know that Moscato Girl and Then Melting Man went home with more confidence and knowledge about counter steering, cornering and braking than they had at the start of the day.

Even CBR Dude and I went home with some pointers that we hadn’t considered before.

I know that putting on a course like this can be expensive, especially when you consider facility hire, refreshments, instructors wages etc…

For Shark Leathers and AMA to put on a course like this was a bold move, if anything, it has created a lot of good will within the motorcycling community and has given 80 participants a little more knowledge and the tools to stay alive on the road.

Personally, I plan on doing a few more advanced courses… After all. I can’t ride.

Cheers

Photo Courtesy Susan C

Photo Courtesy Susan C

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