no politics...just ridin'

We Will Remember Them

Today is Anzac Day, the day Australians remember those service personnel that have made the ultimate sacrifice. It was on this day 91 years ago that our troops landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, joining the Great War. Around 8,000 Australian soldiers lost their lives in the battle to gain control of this stretch of land, with a large number dying in the first few days of the landing.

It is a very solemn and moving day with a large number of people attending dawn services around the country and later, the Anzac Parade of returned service personnel marching through the city.

I enjoy the freedom and comforts of my life today because of the sacrifces made by those who served my country both in the past and the present. On this day, I will remember them.

For the Fallen...

They shall grow not old,

As we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them,

Nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun,

And in the morning,

We will remember them.


Nomads Poker Run

Koff, Tiki, Kat and myself thought we would try something different today. Instead of joining the rest of the crew in Brisbane on the Black Uhlans Poker Run we thought we would join the Nomads for their run starting at Billinudgel in northern New South Wales.

It didn't begin too well - I left my place in Brisbane a bit too late and had to fly down the M1 to meet up with Koff & Tiki at Nerang , then pickup Kat from Kingscliff to make the 10am start. We made it to the Billi Pub just on time but then found out that the run wasn't going to start for another hour and a half coz they wanted to wait for a couple of other Nomad chapters to arrive. Shit happens!!

We settled in on the pub balcony and watched as the bikes rolled in. I was amazed at the number of Nomad members that were showing up. All the poker runs I have been on usually have a ratio of about 4 guests to 1 host club member. I estimate there would have been about 150 bikes do the run with around 50 being Nomads and some of them travelling from Sydney and the Hunter Valley be there. Good blokes too - had a conversation with the Vice President about where they were all from and what the plan was for the day.

Where it all happens in Billinudgel - the pub

On the highway heading towards Pottsville

We hit the road at about 11:30 and headed towards our first stop - the Pottsville Tavern. These guys rode at a fair pace and it was good fun. Both Koff and myself sat about mid pack for the first leg and watched as everyone sorted their positions out. After a 30km squirt up the highway we turned off and headed out to the coast and Pottsville. The road we followed took us through sugar cane farming land and was not too good in some spots but we all managed to stay upright. I will be avoiding this road in the future. Finally rolled in to sleepy old Pottsville and I reckon we woke some of the locals from their surf induced slumber. Lots of excited kids along the side of the roads waving and carrying on - no doubt they heard us coming and rushed out to see what all the noise was about. We arrived at the pub, parked and then proceeded in for some refreshments and our next card.

Koff & Tiki

In the car park at the Pottsville pub

Kat and me smiling for the camera!!

On the highway again, heading to Murwillumbah

Koff & Tiki again

After about an hour the call went out to gear up and get going.We followed the same road back inland to the highway and as I later learnt at the clubhouse, one of the Nomads came off his bike in a particularly bad section of road - apparently he was scooting along and his brakes packed it in. Result was a dented tank, pegs and mirrors damaged and a little bit of bark of said rider. He was one very lucky man - he fortunately hit a plastic barrier which was on the side of the road due to roadworks - think this absorbed most of the impact and probably saved him from a much worse fate. He ended up completing the ride in the recon vehicle with his bike. Anyway, we got back on the highway and rode the short distance into Murwillumbah for our next stop and lunch. Took a while to get a drink here as it was only a small place with a few people behind the bar. We finally got one and then headed out the back for some lunch. This was put on by the club and didn't cost us at all - wasn't bad tucker either. After eating we took a walk along the footpath and checked out some of the other bikes taking part in the run.

The call went out to get ready and after about an hour and a half we were under way again. From Murwillumbah we followed a stretch of road that I know well - the old highway running over the Burringbar Ranges. I know I keep going on about this stretch of road but I love it - nice and wide with some long sweeping corners and good bitumen - and we used all of it too with some of the Nomads deciding to move up to the front by weaving between us. The road runs for about 25 kms adjacent to the current highway and then cuts inland and through Mooball before finally crossing and re-joining the new highway. This was without doubt the best part of the ride, moving along at a fair pace and scraping the floorboards on most of the sweepers. I was surpised that Kat didn't start slapping my helmet to slow up - turns out she was really enjoying this part as well. When we did finally re-join the highway we were slowed significantly due to the ongoing roadworks and increase in traffic.

Some of the bikes on Murwillumbah's main drag

Finally got through the slow patch and as we were coming towards the Byron turn off some of the guys started signalling to take it. Most of the back half of the pack headed into Byron Bay and the Nomads clubhouse. Turns out that we were supposed to head further south to Lennox Heads for another stop (and card) before returning to the clubhouse. We were now a card short and didn't get to complete the run properly. Oh well - we still had a good time chatting to some of the guys at the clubhouse and checking out more of the bikes. When the rest of the bikes did finally make it back to the clubhouse we decided to head off. Tiki had to work and Koff and her had an hours ride back to their place. We left the clubhouse at about 5pm and had a good ride back up the highway to the Kingscliff turn off where we parted company.

The day was good - great riding (although a little bit too short for me) and most of the Nomads were really friendly and willing to talk.

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I witnessed a rider hitting the bitumen on a low speed turn this morning. I was actually riding towards the guy as he was positioning to turn across the road I was on when his bike just dropped. I naturally pulled over - even though he was madly gesturing for me to stop - and helped him right the bike. He was only a little guy so I don't think he would have been able to do so on his own. Nice bike too - looked like an HD Sportster with some custom wheels and fenders. Bit of fuel spilt but luckily for him he only had a bit of road rash on his pegs and right side mirror - no paint or pipe damage - although it was still pretty dark.

I made sure he was ok and asked him what happened. He just mumbled something and pointed to some loose stones on the road, so I assume he was unlucky and hit them. The thing that really got me was this guys total lack of acknowledgement. The whole time he was only concerned about his bike - which is fair enough - and said next to nothing to me. Not even a thanks!! I don't like making a big deal over something so trivial but there was something about this guy which really pissed me off. Maybe he was a little shocked about dropping his bike BUT it would have been good for him just to say thanks for stopping. After he finished inspecting his bike he re-mounted. I waited and watched him as he took off and he didn't even bother look my way, wave or anything.

I believe that what goes around comes around. If I see a rider stopped or even worse, down, I will always stop to make sure all is ok and assist them. I have had it happen to me about 5 or 6 times where I have pulled off the road to wait for someone or check something on my bike and other riders who I don't know pull in to check all is ok. These guys don't have to stop, but in doing so they promote the commraderie that exists between most riders. I always thank them and they continue on their way.

This was the first experience where I almost felt like I had done something wrong by stopping. I suppose you get some riders like that!!

Easter Long Weekend

Maintenance Time - Adjusting Tappets

Unfortunately I didn't get out on the weekend as I decided to perform a bit of maintenance on the bike. Sunday morning I set the garage up with tools and all the bits and pieces I thought I would need for adjusting my tappets and then stripped her down. I also printed a copy of the guide to adjusting clearances from the VTX forum.

After removing all the covers and checking clearances on both front and rear cylinder exhaust and inlet tappets I found that I would only have to adjust the front. The rears were spot on which I thought was amazing - the fronts however were 0.002" too tight on the inlet (should be 0.006") and 0.004" too tight on the exhaust (should be 0.012"). I spent about an hour of mucking around trying to adjust the exhaust tappet - this was mainly due to the lack of clearance between the top of the head at the front of the cylinder and the frame. I am glad that I spent the money on the tappet adjusting tool as it made adjusting the screws a lot simpler than trying to fit 2 spanners in to such a small space.

When I thought I had finished the exhaust I went to rotate the crank and check the clearance but realised that I had adjusted this tappet while the crank was in the Rear Top position - doh!! I cranked her to the Front Top position ensuring it was on the compression stroke and spent about another 40 minutes on it, this time checking and double checking that I had the crank in the correct position. I moved to the front inlet tappets and again spent about 50 minutes on adjusting and checking clearances. Rotated the crank a couple of times to check the clearances and when I was happy I started putting everything back together. Once I had finished, I gave her a wash and put her to bed.

I really enjoyed spending the time doing the tappet adjustment on the VTX - not only does it give me a great deal of satisfaction but I also know that it has been done correctly. It did take a while - just over 4 hours - but it was the first time I had done it and I was not in a hurry.


Patriot Guard Riders

If a person looses their life whilst serving their country I believe that respect must be shown to the greiving family as this is the ultimate sacrifice that can be made. I recently read on the VTX forum about a mob who seek out and actively protest at the funerals of killed service personnel in the US. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church (church?? - huh) attend funerals chanting and holding signs that say "Thank God for dead soldiers". They also produce leaflets like this. What absolute and utter wankers!! People are entitled to their opinions on war but to invade a very personal and very private moment for a family like this is going too far - these freaks are way out of line.

There is a group of people called the Patriot Guard Riders who attend these funerals and try to shield the grieving families from these morons, using their bikes to drown out any chanting and positioning themselves so that the protestors are not visible to any of the family. These guys also attend many funerals where there are no idiot protestors, offering their support and showing that people do care. Some of the PGR spend many hours travelling to and from these funerals and do all of this out of respect for their fallen contrymen. I think that is fantastic.

Check out KT Did's blog - she attended one of these funerals and gives a great account of what it was like. Well done KT for showing your support - I know if we had a similar situation down here I would be doing the same.

New Tyres

I had been putting off purchasing a new rear tyre for as long as possible due to other expenses but, after the rain earlier this week, I started noticing my rear end sliding on corners that it normally wouldn't. It was on the second occurrence that I decided to get a new one. I had been thinking that I would visit a guy called Mick at Goodna to see what he offered, so I booked in for an appointment with him on Wednesday at 3:30pm.

Had a bit of trouble finding his place because it is actually in a large garage at the back of his house in a mostly residential area - luckily there were a few stacks of tyres and a couple of bikes sitting out the front, otherwise I probably would have ridden straight past. My first impression of the place know!! Working out of a garage that is chock full of tyres, overflowing onto the footpath and looking very disorganised I started thinking again about coming here. There were a couple of other guys there who were getting tyres fitted so I joined them in watching Mick work. He had wheels off both their bikes and was moving from one to the other in a random manner, stopping to talk to guys as he went. One of these guys told me he had been there for nearly 3 hours watching his and other peoples tyres being changed.

Anyway, one of the first things I noticed was Mick's incredible knowledge of tyres and motorcycles in general. As he fitted each tyre he would let the customer know the ins and outs of the tyre construction and what it was good for and what not to do on it. He also inspected the rim thoroughly before fitting the new tyre and then took his time in balancing it, getting it just right. Try getting that kind of service out of your local tyre store - all is over in 20 minutes with little if any feedback. While changing the rear tyre on a Drag Star that was there before me he picked up a loose bearing in the transfer housing and suggested that the guy do something pretty quick about it - these kind of things are usually overlooked at other places.

I asked Mick if he had a front tyre suitable for my bike and he did so I decided to get one of them as well - total cost was $204 for both. The front is a IRC Wild Flare and the rear is a Shinko Tourmaster. Have heard differing reviews on both tyres - some people don't like them and others rave about them but Mick said they are the best value cruiser tyre on the market. When you consider that a stock Bridgestone for the rear usually costs me $180, I thought his pricing was good but I really need to see how they handle and how long they last before forming an opinion. When he finally got to removing my front tyre he told me that it was actually a rear tyre mounted the wrong way around. You can mount a rear tyre on the front but need to be careful with the rotation direction - this was probably fitted by Pro Honda just before I bought the bike about 40,000 kms back. The front tyre that Mick fitted was a lot narrower (from a 140 to a 120 and a proper front tyre) than what was originally on there and so made it much easier to steer my bike. It now feels about 20kg lighter and lots more manouverable.

So after about 4 hours of standing around and just over $200 I had new tyres. I would recommend Mick to anyone because he does know his stuff and is not in it to bullshit and make a huge profit. Only thing is you gotta be prepared to wait - not such a bad thing coz he can talk and is full of info!! If you want his number let me know.

Perfect Saturday

The weather on Friday had been terrible - thunderstorms and rain most of the day and I ended up getting soaked on the ride home from work. To me it looked as if the weekend would be a write off - wet, miserable and no good for riding. Saturday morning, however, proved to be fantastic. The sun had already risen into a cloudless sky and so I thought I would get an early start to Billy's place to return a helmet I had borrowed before heading down to Kat's place at Kingscliff. Had to drop in to Coorparoo to pick up some mail and then followed Beaudesert Rd all the way down to where it becomes a single lane. A light blanket of fog was still present down this way and it started to get a little cool riding in it. Got to the turn off and made my way to Billy's place. I had a bit of a chat, returned the helmet and then remounted for the ride back out towards the motorway. The fog slowly cleared and I really appreciated the warmth of the sun on my jacket - followed the road through Chambers Flat then onto Tamborine and finally out to Yatala on the motorway - a really enjoyable ride with very little traffic.

Finally reached the M1 and I reckon half of Brisbane was heading down the coast on Saturday - probably due to the beautiful weather. Anyway, I made good time down to Tweed Heads where I met up with Kat at the crash repairer where she dropped her car off to be repaired. (About three weeks ago I was reversing her car into her car park beneath her unit complex and the garage door decided to close - result was one scraped roof and broken ariel and a bent garage door - but that's another story!!) Whilst there, Koff called and said he and Wolf were going to ride down to Kat's place and drop off my camera which he still had from last weekend. I suggested we head somewhere together for lunch and they both agreed, so Kat and I made our way back to her place. Once there, we planted our asses on the balcony at the front and had a cleansing ale or two and watched the cars and bikes cruise along Marine Parade - it's tough but someone has to do it!! Koff & Wolf on the road - yeah, peace man!!
About an hour later Koff and Wolf turned up. They parked out the front and came in for a beer while we decided where to ride. I suggested we cruise along the beach down as far as possible and then onto the mortorway down to Brunswick Heads - so that's what we did. Kat and I jumped on the bike and with Koff and Wolf crossed Cudgen Creek and headed along the coast on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, passing places like Pottsville and Cabarita with its sensational coastal views - does not get any better. Once you reach Wooyung the road takes you inland through canefields and over the motorway onto the old highway. We followed this and were eventually led onto the motorway and down through all the roadworks to the Brunswick Heads turn off. Took a left turn and rode to the fantastic Hotel Brunswick for a light refreshment. This pub really has some character - it looks like it was built in the fifties and has a real retro feel about it. It has been recently refurbished so does not lack the modern facilities which you sometimes do find in these small town pubs. The beer garden out the front is shaded by an assotrment of Jacaranda trees and umbrellas and was nearly full when we walked in due to the markets across the road. We grabbed a table and enjoyed a drink and a chat in the shade while deciding if we were going to eat here or our next stop. After about half an hour we agreed to head to the Beach Hotel at Byron Bay for lunch.
Our first stop - the retro looking Hotel BrunswickBack on the bikes and onto the motorway for the short ride down the coast to Byron Bay. The road from the motorway out to Byron was quite busy so we were expecting the pub to be full. As usual the town itself was also busy but we were lucky enough to find a park right across the road from the pub. The Beach Hotel is a great place to head on a sunny day - not right on the beach but back a few hundred metres. It is quite modern and has no solid walls along the front - just folding doors - so it can be opened right up to allow guests to soak up the ocean view and make use of the sea breeze that blows through in the afternoon. We managed to score a table down near the footpath and really soaked up the atmosphere of the place - lots of bikini clad yum yums walking up from the beach making the views even more enjoyable and the slight breeze was keeping the temperature just right. We downed our first drink and then decided to order some food - nothing too fancy - just some wedges. After finishing lunch we just relaxed like everyone should on the weekend. I think we could have stayed there well into the night with plenty happening around us, good food and drink and lots of bikes coming and going. After a couple of very relaxing hours, we decided to hit the road and head home.Go Wolf - at least he was fueled up before the ride this time!!Koff, Kat and I left Wolf on the motorway at a turn off to Burringbar. We got onto the near deserted old highway and rode over the Burringbar Ranges and into Murwillumbah. I have written about this road before and I absolutely love it - the ranges themselves aren't very high but the road is in really good condition and it is usually traffic free with some good sweeping corners, plenty of shade and nice scenery. We rode it at a good pace - not too fast but just a steady and enjoyable cruising speed. After decending into Murwillumbah and bypassing the centre of town, we followed the old road along side the Tweed River for a while and eventually re-joined the motorway. A couple of exits further on and we left the motorway again, this time heading for Kingscliff. We made a quick stop to pick up some beers and then headed back to Kats place right across from the beach at Kingy.

We ended this perfect Saturday sitting out on Kat's balcony enjoying the view and discussing the days ride. Life's too hard!!