Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Tree Decorations

Its that time when you drag the Christmas tree up from the cupboard at the bottom of the stairs, and adorn it with Christmas decorations. I grabbed the box of decorations that has grown over the years, and was pleasantly surprised at the bright cheery view of all the decorations waiting in their box all year, ready to be arranged artistically over the Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas everyone, have a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Epic Weather Today

What could be better than Wok-n-Noodle Calamari and Prawns, and an Epic Pale Ale, sitting on Auckland's waterfront? The weather this weekend has been just brilliant!

Okahu Bay, Auckland.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


BRONZ Bikers Rights Organisation of New Zealand organised a charity run from Sylvia Park to Northcote. The idea is that the 'entry fee' is a toy donated this year to the Salvation Army, who hand out the toys to "bring some much needed light to the lives of those less fortunate this Christmas".

There were alot of bikes, I'd say 300-400?? and more than half had pillions so people everywhere and a real buzz (and rumble) in the air. We set off at 10:00am with a police escort - evidently if we had got 2000 we could have had a "flying block" and on the motorway. It felt like we had taken over the outside lane - except for the odd car that persisted in staying there surrounded by bikes.

It didn't take long to get to Northcote - welcomed in by a Salvation Army brass band playing Christmas Carols, hand in the present, meet the guys from the cruiser group and of course do the rounds a couple of times ogling at the bikes. Yes there were a few "sights" there on the day but hey... everyone's got to be somewhere, as Eccles so poignantly pointed out.

Then we headed for the obligatory visit to Cycletreads and scored some very nice biker-chick gear - for a very nice biker-chick :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Police College and Back

We drove the wee Nissan Micra to Wellington and back last weekend - and what glorious weather it was for a roadtrip! Too bad it wasn't on the bike. There were plenty of bikes on the road though, but the point was to go down and visit Sam at Police College, so the bike was impractical (for three).

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We headed down to Turangi on Friday night, getting away at 4:00 and arriving just before dark. By the time we had un-packed and got an aweful coffee in Turangi it was dark. We stayed the night at Creel Lodge Turangi, and I can whole-heartedly recommend it as a top place to stay. The place was very clean, the setting is idyllic - with the Tongariro River right on the boundary. We were more interested in getting a good nights sleep and taking off again in the morning, but there are walking tracks and mountain biking tracks accessible that look very enticing. We will definitely be back. []

The run to Porirua was around 4 hours, with the Police College 20 mins shy of Wellington. We stayed at the Aotea Lodge in Porirua - I don't know what I should have expected - clean? no, quiet? no, we slept? hardly. It was close to the college, but next time we will be staying in Wellington.

The Royal New Zealand Police College

We explored Wellington, finally getting a descent coffee at a lovely place overlooking Evans Bay - by appointment only I'm afraid. We had Hataitai Fish and Chips sitting at Lyall Bay for dinner and watched the planes come into Wellington Airport. As I said, not much sleep because of partying neighbours that finally shut up at 3:30am.

Fish and Chips on the Beach (on that seat) - thank Google.

Home via Wanganui and Hwy 4 north to Te Kuiti - a great road, but with the heat of the weekend, the tar was very slick on the road. Then did Otorohanga to Ngaruawahia, and once you get to Huntly its the Expressway or Motorway all the way back to Auckland. We stopped for lunch in Wanganui - 8 and a quarter hours total trip. It had been such a nice day for driving, I wasn't even tired. I must say that the Nissan Micra went really well, comfortably handling the twists but struggling on the hills a bit. In total a bit over 1500 kms for the weekend. Bike next time?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Colemans Suzuki with Kaiaua Fish and Chips

It was time for another Colemans Suzuki Mystery Cruiser Run and a number of bikes (70 or 80) lined up at Gundry St, which is just off K' Rd in Auckland city. I tried to count them, but bikes kept arriving and I gave up trying to keep track. All sorts from Hyabusa's to M and C109's to adventure bikes to 250's. Mostly cruisers. We set off for lunch at the Seaview Hotel in Kaiaua although that was a 'secret' until we got a bit further down the route. The numbers had an immediate impact, with the traffic lights of K' Rd breaking up the big group. Eventually this meant that people got separated and 'lost' and not all of the group got to go down Deerys Rd to the very nice and hidden away regional park at the end. There were a few freedom campers down there too, and the ranger arrived - probably heard his vehicle counter go off 50 times and thought WTF. I must admit I have been on that Kawakawa Bay to Kaiaua road a number of times over a number of years and never actually ventured down there. And there was the bonus of riding on a gravel road and getting the bike and clothing dusty - I say bonus...

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The ride was fairly 'cramped' because of the numbers, at a fairly sedate speed, which turned some riders off, but its a great feeling riding in convoy and we were in a wonderful part of the country - riding along Maraetai Beach, then the Clevedon area, Kawakawa Bay and over the winding hill to the Seabird Coast. And of course the ride along to Kaiaua for lunch - where the Best Fish and Chip shop in the World happens to be.

After lunch we headed out to see the Mangatangi Dam. Unfortunately the gate was shut, so we got a little 'adventure riding' and some more dust in our clothes.
A short stint on Hwy 2 and then we cut back towards Hotel Du Vin, eventually coming out at Bombay and running to Drury to the Two Fat Cows restaurant. It was definitely time for a beer!

Great day, thanks Matt and Alistair for organising a fun - albeit slow - ride on some excellent roads through some wonderful country-side with some great people.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Apostles

I have been to the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, USA, and recently we visited the 12 Apostles in Victoria, Australia. Here is a short video clip taken from the viewing platform looking east at the start and then panning around to the west.

Getting there was half the fun, with a trip along the Great Ocean Road.

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The Apostles are at point "D" on the map above.

We stopped at Apollo Bay for some lunch at the Bay Leaf Cafe, which was very nice. The trip back through Colac was fairly uneventful - we were looking for native Australian fauna - and did manage to see the odd Magpie, a couple of Kookaburra's, Rosella's and a flock of Galah's. We didn't see any Kangaroo's or other iconic animals like that except the day before, our trip down to Phillip Island where we saw Kangaroo's in a fenced off area of the race-track, and Koala's in the Phillip Island's Koala Conservation Centre.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Coastal Classic 2008

Well that was a cold wet and windy one! According to the official website there were only 83 yachts out of 229 entrants that finished.

Slogging into the wind all the way it took us on Peppermint Planet (a Young 11) nearly 31 hours to do the 120 miles from Auckland to Russell. I would say that 28 of those were between damp and soaked-to-the-skin. It can get cold and uncomfortable in the early hours of the morning - but somehow you can sleep, lying on sail bags, leaning back against the cabin because your weight is needed on the rail, hell I could have slept on a flange if I had to. At the height of the wind we tore the main, but not enough to withdraw. So there it was. The promise of mussel fritters for dinner was all we needed to keep going. (They were good too - in Whangarei at Riva a restaurant on the marina).

Looking forward to next year, and a better strategy to beat the lack of wind at night from Tutukaka to Cape Brett - you go down to sleep and when you wake up, you are in the same place - a kind of a coastal classic nightmare.

Melbourne Shopping

Sales, sales, sales! Were there sales? Yes. Such variety that a poor Kiwi bloke could actually enjoy the shopping experience. Breakfast sales, lunch sales, and dinner sales featured as well as clothes sales. Staying in the heart of the city in Little Bourke Street was a great idea with everything a short walk or tram ride away - and walking was not hard.

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Be sure to buy a MetCard so you can make use of the excellent trams service.

We had some great eating experiences including Pellegrinis in Bourke Street which was really good Italian food in a unique atmosphere - like being in their home for dinner; and the 100 Mile Cafe which sourced all its food from within 100 miles of the restaurant - neat concept; and of course Degraves Street for coffee and raisin toast for breakfast (poached eggs on toast was good too).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Candyland and back

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end - and so it is with journeys. They start at the front door, they lead to many places - some exotic, mysterious, challenging, frightening - and some familiar, reliable, mundane. Then they return, and you sit in your favourite chair and wonder if it really happened.

Bilbo it was who said "You step out on the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to". Mind you he didn't have a motorbike - now if he had... he would have zoomed past the forest elves, been to the Lonely Mountain, seen off Smaug the dragon, and then gone to Candyland and filled his saddlebags with fine sweets and toffees.

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Actually Hobbiton isn't that far from Gordonton and in fact according to Google Maps its 77.1 km – about 1 hour 25 mins. They also didn't use a motorbike to measure that duration, I'm picking.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Waiheke Snapper Fishing Pilgrimage

Every year, about this time, two keen sailors / fishermen take to the Hauraki Gulf in search of manhood, cold beer and snapper fishing. And so it was this year, the September Fishing Trip, short though it was, plied the waters at the bottom end of Waiheke Island (eastern end) in search of their elusive quarry.

Roger listening for fish at Anita Bay, Waiheke Island

Well, we got in a good sail on the Wednesday from Westhaven down to Man-O-War Bay. We arrived just on dusk, threw a couple of lines over the side and brought in a snapper each for dinner. Very nice. We had an Epic Pale Ale to celebrate and possibly another one... I'm pretty sure there was a pickled onion or two involved too. First night in the bag! John 1, Roger 1.

Next day up at the crack of dawn and fished Anita Bay. John 7, Roger 2. Hooks Bay for the night... I think every time I go here (and it seems really sheltered from a westerly wind, the wind howls in the rigging and I spend the night getting up repeatedly to check on our position.

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The 'bottom-end' of Waiheke is 20 NM from Westhaven, Auckland.

Friday we went back to Anita Bay and scored a couple of lovely snapper in the 32-35cm size. John 2, Roger 1. And as the day wore on, headed back towards Man-O-War Bay where we settled over the trench on the northern side. Good fishing spot! Roger 9, John 2. Roger was maxing out his daily catch and catching them 2 at a time! Of course we were eating the fish each night and collecting fillets and whole fish in the freezer, making sure we always were within the daily catch allowance. All good... very good.

We did try the new Shimano Lucanus lures too, and some softbaits. And we dragged a sparkling silver lure around Waiheke. Enough said.

Bait that worked... squid, pilchards, bonito, final score John 12, Roger 13. Looking forward to next year when we assail the Bay of Islands, all going to plan. Not sure what beer at this stage.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Northern Loop

Beautiful Saturday spring morning, ride in the offering, lawns to mow... later. The possibility of a run with the group via Hwy 16 to the Mangawhai Tavern for lunch was a temptation indeed!

Such a nice day meant that the roads were full of bikes, and also those who would stop said bikes and extract cash. No not me, but two of the group were stopped, one for alleged speed and the other for his number plate being on its side. 135km/hr is evidently too fast. I never would do something like that...

The Mangawhai Tavern.

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After lunch we returned via Puhoi - I have been there before, but there were so many bikes there, and real atmosphere. Along with all the bikes and bikers was a wedding - very weird... the coiffured and the great unwashed.

Bring on the summer!

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Blue Bottom

I have, or more correctly, my yacht has, a nice blue bottom - Seaport Blue to be exact. It's boat maintenance time and having done the engine a couple of weeks ago, it was time to tackle the anti-fouling and the zinc sacrificial anode, which means taking the boat out of the water.

This year I used the floating dock, and I can whole-heartedly endorse them as a great way to get a water-blast clean and easy access to your bottom over the weekend. [Ken on 379-0934 or 027-497-2039]

I managed washing, sanding, touch-ups, 3 coats of anti-foul, the sail-drive and folding propeller and some painting and touch-ups in the cockpit. I decided that the anode didn't need to be changed just yet, so I cleaned that off and we'll take a look at the end of summer.

I can report that I slept well each night :-)

Come 7:30 on a beautiful Monday morning we slipped off the dock and very nearly kept going out into the harbour, before I realised that I had better go to work... ha, oh well, I have my fishing trip to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

No rain in Tairua

Ten of us rode to Thames, no rain there, across to Tairua... no it wasn't raining there either, Whangamata? no. Waihi? no... and so I came back to Auckland - it started to rain, but only slightly, and anyway, what with a group of bikes carving up the motorway, I didn't really notice.

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What a great day! Riding on dry roads certainly restores the confidence, and it was a great biking road too - apart from the stray pig dogs we encountered on the way to Whangamata. Of course not all the group WENT to Whangamata - yes we got split up, but no worries, I logged onto the website [IPAQ + Vodafone] and after interrupting DV on the golf course for Johnny's ph number, we managed to re-assembled again in Waihi for lunch.

Back through Ngatea, and my surprise visit to my parents back-fired... they weren't home! Oh well... managed to find the group again at Maramarua, after some "hurrying along" across the plains.

Arrived home with 385 more km's on the clock. Felt good, ready for more!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Westpac Trust - Cheesecutter Run

To quote from Mom "A series of rides have been organised around New Zealand for the dual purpose of raising funds for local Rescue Helicopter Services and to bring the Cheese Cutter issue back into the public eye".

Outside Bayride Motorcycles (Pic by Toto - white Hornet in the foreground).

It had been raining all week - rain, fine, rain, hail, rain, wind, fine rain... and the outlook for the weekend looked grim. Saturday morning arrived - Weather Report: Grim.

I was a sight with my layers of waterproofing on including cotton, polyprops, jumper, riding pants/jacket (with winter linings zipped in), new 1 piece rainsuit, possum socks and new waterproof boots, leather gloves, neck warmer and buff. I am definitely on the padded side, as can be seen from the photo of me outside Bayride Motorcycles in Tauranga. But I stayed dry all day - even in rain and hail. There was even a report of snow on the Mamaku ranges near Rotorua.

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I had a dinner engagement, and not wanting to be late home, I left the other riders at Rotorua. They continued to Hamilton and then on to the helicopter base in Auckland to present the donations collected. My day was just over 500kms.

A reported total of $9755 was raised throughout the country, which is fantastic given the conditions. It was a bit of a challenging ride in the wet, but it felt great to be a part of both the Cheesecutter protest and the Helicopter Fundraiser.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pink Toetoe on The Coromandel Loop

This is more on the ride around Coromandel I did at the end of May 2008 when I was officially "between jobs".

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As I told in the original post, the day was brilliant - clear and sunny, and the tide was in, which made for a beautiful ride up the Thames coast to Coromandel. I stopped at Tapu for some gas and an apple pie, but it was hard to stop the ride because every good turn seemed to deserve another, and this road has no end of great riding, whether swinging along the coast at water level, or climbing up into the ranges and down again. I did manage to tear myself away to take a couple of shots.

The Suzuki C90 at Tapu

Looking down towards Coromandel town from the top of the range.

When I got to Coromandel, I had to decide whether to go back along the Thames coast, or charge over the hill and run down through Whitianga and Tairua, and back over the Kopu-Hikuai [k-o-poo-hik-o-why] and home. As it happens... testosterone took over and after purchasing a lovely gift from a craft shop in Coromandel I took off. Not without first getting a call from Graeme Joy... considering that the phone was tucked into my luggage for most of the day, he managed to catch me - its not the first time either... how does he DO that? Must be the special sense he uses to catch up with people who spend their days on building sites.

The ride down the east coast is through farmland, with some stunning views of the sea thrown in. And as promised, pink Toetoe. I don't know why its pink, but some of the stands were completely pink and others a mixture of the usual white and a few pinks thrown in. Must be a condition of the plant - I have never seen it pink like that before.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Auckland to Kaiaua

Setting out after the main thrust of the morning traffic had abated, I headed to Otara to take the route through to Whitford, onto Maraetai, Clevedon, Kawakawa Bay, Kaiaua, through Miranda to Waitakaruru. The first problem was road works in Otara / East Tamaki, but I kept heading east towards Whitford and finally made it through suburbia major to the rolling farmland of Whitford. The day was beautiful for riding, the roads dry, and the traffic was light - conditions were perfect - yes it was business time!.

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The extra part of the normal Kaiaua trip was going through Maraetai. That was a very good decision, and I recommend it - especially if you are showing visiting friends/family around.

Maraetai looking towards Ponui Island and the Coromandel ranges.

When I was young (last century) my family would often go to Maraetai for weekend outings to the beach. I'd forgotten how wonderful it is around this part of the coast.

I continued through Clevedon (without stopping for a coffee) and headed for that wonderful winding road between Kawakawa Bay and what we called Colonel Adams (supposedly after someone who lived there - actual name Matingarahi). The corners are a bit tight at times for the cruiser foot-boards, and there is one corner that has a decreasing radius. Luckily its a slow corner, but being a left-hander it can leave you in the wrong lane of a blind corner - not a healthy place to be.

The view of the Firth of Thames, complete with toetoe (on the bank on the right).

The road from there winds along the Kaiaua coast, passed the Best Fish and Chip shop in the world. No I didn't, but I was tempted! Miranda is the last stage of this particular ride, and is where you open up the throttle and wizz by the beautiful tidal areas of wading birds - including godwits that have just arrived from Alaska. See this article To Alaska and back - the epic, record-breaking trip of Thames bird.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kaiaua and The Coromandel Loop

Kaiaua and The Coromandel Loop - it sounds like an adventure book for boys title. What a great days ride! All day long - the sky was clear blue, the sea was sparkling, the lush green of the bush and farmland was accented with autumn colours, the vistas across the Coromandel were spectacular, and the traffic light. Except for the rush-hour traffic congestion coming back into Auckland.

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It was a day for taking in NZ sights, sounds, smells and autumn sunshine. I started out at 10:00a.m. with a full tank of gas (what decadence!) and headed for Maraetai. This additional destination in the usual Clevedon-Kawakawa Bay-Kaiaua part of the trip was well worth the effort. The tide was in and as you ride along the shore on that narrow winding road you wonder why you didn't come sooner or more often - and being a Thursday the beaches were empty of people. I vote every Thursday as a holiday!

The ride produced a big day despite being only 450km, and my left hand was suffering repetitive strain from all the clutch work - I eventually dispensed with using the clutch except when I really needed to - e.g. the traffic jam on the Southern Motorway.

I will address the two parts of the trip The Kaiaua part and the Coromandel Loop in subsequent posts, when I will publish some pictures taken on the trip as well.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Koru waiting at SFO

Yes, I am here reflecting on a great couple of years with a group of wonderful people, while the mighty Koru waits patiently to take me back home.

I am on my way back to Auckland, having said goodbye to my US friends and colleagues - but I don't really want to think of it as goodbye, just 'working from home'. And of course, when I get back to Auckland I will also be saying goodbye to the guys in the Netconcepts Browns Bay office - sitting here alone in the empty gate lounge at SFO sure doesn't help dissolve that feeling of loss.

There are so many great people, great memories, battles won and lost, and unfinished business that I can't believe that we wont be working together or playing together another day.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wisconsin Motorcycle Memorial

If you are riding through Door County, then you should ride to the Wisconsin Motorcycle Memorial. You'll find it on Mathey Road and its sign posted from both Hwy 42 and Hwy 57, the two main roads that run up the peninsula.

The Memorial was founded by the Northern Wisconsin Bikers Association, Inc - this is a moving place. The purpose of the memorial is to recognise and honour those whose "earthly biking days have passed". I found it moving. There are free maps of Wisconsin and brochures about buying a memorial paving stone for the "Walkway of Remembrance".

Of course we don't really want any more names on paving stones. But great job guys. Its a must visit.

County U

Well, there are some roads that make life worth living. I found another one when heading back from Door County. Just after Sturgeon Bay you hang a left onto County Route U, which was a bright star in an otherwise straight sweepy straight flat universe. Of course THOSE roads have their place for some deep throttle twisting, but there is nothing quite like a road with corners.

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Nice flowing narrow road which sprints along open tops and then dives down to the Lake edge, then back up again... very nice. Just 20km, but worth it.

If you have been up to Door County and visited the Wisconsin Motorcycle Memorial on Mathey Road, as I'm sure you will, this is a must do on the way back to civilization.

Door County by Street Glide

Why would you come all the way across the world, and NOT ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle through Door County Wisconsin?

This is the pewter denim H-D Street Glide that I hired for the weekend - a really smooth machine. The bikes in the background are from a Christian riders group who have a motorcycle ministry in Illinois - you know that Harley Davidson is a religion over here - I was told there were 160 members in all. They were your typical grey-haired biker - except the scowl was replaced with an angelic smile.

I didn't stop grinning myself the entire weekend. The Street Glide had very little vibration at cruising speeds, and was very comfortable. The rides Saturday and Sunday were about 6 hours each - and that was easy. I did run into a bit of rain which turned to hail on the way up. THAT is extremely painful on the face, and I was wishing for my full-face helmet. It didn't last long, in fact the weather was good, not too hot yet, and not too cool.

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After exploring Washington Island, I headed back to Ephraim WI where I stayed the night, and had a fish-boil at the Post Office Restaurant. The initial run up to Washington Island was only 5 hrs, so I was making good time. That made me rethink the route back and I did a bit of a zig-zag on the way back. I backtracked to Pipe WI to take pictures of the wind farm there. It was awesome to see those big towers with the slow moving vanes.

A great ride. See my post about County U

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sausage Race - 1 Brewers - Nil

Today we went to the Brewers / Dodges game at the Miller Park in Milwaukee. The team got a 15-seater van - well done Rachel, and we drove down from Madison, arriving in the Milwaukee sunshine for the midday game - along with 30,000 others.

That my friend is a lot of sick-days and a lot of team building! Well done Jody. A lot of people had made a real go of it, with BBQ's aflame and picnic tables strewn throughout the carpark.

The roof remained closed, but that didn't stop the fireworks from going off when the Brewers hit a home run. They just didn't hit enough of them on the day.

We had pretzels, hot dogs (including soy dogs), popcorn, peanuts and beer - all the major food groups. Including Soydogs - well done Tina! We were sat right behind the batters plate - well done Jeff. The Brewers were playing the LA Dodgers - but that wasn't the important part - the Sausage Race was won by Chorizo - he was the hot favourite!

Lets see, we kept Kerry away from the casino, the peanuts away from Rachel, Kris away from the edge of the terrace - none was injured, and we had some great music on the road trip. Thanks guys for a great day to remember. Oh yes, and I bought a Milwaukee Brewers cap, for um... good luck.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wisconsin Bike Trip - August 2007

Ok - so it has taken a while to do this, but I wanted to get it on record. The trip I did last year on a Harley Road King that was made available to me by some very special people from Colorado. This was the weekend at the end of the Sturgis rally, and with the good weather there were lots of bikes on the roads.

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One thing that you notice straight away is that you ride on the right, not the left... obvious really, and I didn't have any incidents. There is however something that I noticed coming back to NZ and riding - when you wave to a fellow rider coming the other way, your free hand is your left. In NZ you have to raise your hand to be seen, but in the US you pass each other left-to-left so to speak, so usually you point down at the road, or subtle variations on that theme. I was on a Harley and all the other Harley riders waved - not so in NZ on my Suzuki. The trip was 800 miles according to the odometer on the bike. It was just one night away, which I spent in Chippewa Falls at the Indianhead Motel, and two beautiful August days riding. I tried to stay off the highways as much as possible, without the chance of getting seriously lost, I guess a GPS would have been good - but then maybe the time spent pawing over the paper map at the regular fuel stops was part of the experience.

My first crossing of the Mississippi was at the Lloyd Spriggle Memorial Bridge and it was a memorial moment - a real sense that I had achieved, one of those "I was meant to be here" moments. I continued down to Prairie du Chien and then headed back east, via Lancaster, Platteville, Monroe, to Beloit, and in the dark up the I-90 back to Madison. Well it was dark sandwiched between the big rigs at 75 mph.

Thanks Steve and Jeff for making it possible.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bangor to Stoddard, Wisconsin

This was the Harley trip from last August, finally being recorded. There were some real highlights on the trip, especially the Lone Wolf on the Road(King), eating up the miles on two wheels - visiting gas stations, getting lost (but not caring) and feeling the freedom. And the roads look like straight lines on the map and you go 'nah, can't be actually that straight' - yes it can... for miles and miles.

One of the great parts was the 162 from Bangor to Stoddard. I'd followed the Mississippi down through La Crosse and then headed inland a bit on the I-90. Not actually on the plan as I was staying OFF the highways - but there you go... After a few minutes I decided it was time to hang a right to get back to the big river, and so dived off at Bangor, through Coon Valley and Chaseburg to Stoddard. The header background image is from the 162.

This turned out to be a fantastic 'mistake' with a great biking road taking me back to the Mississippi River which I followed to Ferryville where I stopped for lunch, and visited another gas station. And here a tip for Mike Hyde for Twisting Throttle USA - Mrs Macs Sausage Rolls haven't made it here yet.

I continued down the river until I got to Prairie du Chien following The Great River Road.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wellington to Auckland via Napier

On the way back to Auckland from Wellington I decided to take the ride up the Hutt Valley and over the Rimutaka Hill to Featherston. This was Sunday, so as you would expect there were lots of bikes on the road. I had two misfortunes on this leg of the trip - 1. I got stuck behind a troop of cars and 2. my digital movie camera decided to turn off right at the beginning of the hill. My poor floor-boards were getting a work out - I guess this is really a sportsbike road. That first "skree!!" when they go down, and you hear (more than feel) that scrape - its hard not to pull up - its as though that scraping sound is directly connected to your "what-the-hell-was-that" nerve.

Once over the Hill there is a great ride up through Featherston and a string of 'Main Street" towns like Greytown and Eketahuna. The road is good and picturesque. The trick here is to turn left onto Highway 50, and head that way to Napier. A great by-way road with a good surface and not much traffic.

I really enjoyed the Napier Taupo road - sweepers, easy passing, and testing straights. I say testing because I found them irresistible at times. Of course speeding is a sin - and there were two occasions when I was reminded of the need for restraint.

From the movie camera 4 seconds between shots (61 frames @ 15/sec).

Cruising Auckland to Wellington

On Friday I headed to Wellington from Auckland. If you are going to Taupo or beyond, may I recommend Highway 32 - the road from Tokoroa to Turangi through Whakamaru.

Gas up at Tokoroa, and hang a right onto Highway 32. Once free of the town you will find big sweeping corners arcing through the forest and I assure you that you will have trouble with your twisting hand... Across the dam at Whakamaru, and the country-side opens up to rolling farmland. The road is a mix of straights and sweepers and as you head down towards Turangi, a few corners that would put a smile on any sportsbike rider. If you are going to Taupo, turn left at Poihipi Road and head across the top of the lake. I went this way back in January for the A1GP, and when I got to Taupo I was almost sorry the trip was over. If you are coming the other way, take Highway 41 at Turangi, then onto Hwy 32 at Kuratau.

The rest of the trip to Wellington was Highway 1 which didn't turn out as bad as I thought, with tin-top drivers being very courteous and pulling over to let me pass.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Colemans Suzuki Cruiser Run

Outside the Bridgehouse Lodge, Warkworth, at the end of a great day. Hey nice red C90 in the foreground...

After threat of rain Sunday turned out to be a fantastic riding day for 47 bikes rolling off from outside Colemans. Everything from 250's to the mighty M109, riders on their own and those with pillions, cruisers and sports bikes, we made quite a sight owning our own part of the Auckland Harbour Bridge (well I thought so).

Taking a left at the Silverdale we headed towards Highway 16, which I had not been on, and rode through the lovely farmland and coastal valleys, arriving at Wellford. Grins, grins, grins!

Artform Waipu
From there to Waipu, to a great cafe [Artform], that opened up the back courtyard, and let us park our bikes under the trees. We had lunch and discussed bikes, riding, more bikes... you know...Sadly no spot prize for me.

Back along the coast to Warkworth, and 205 km - time to fill up - 10.5 l - not too bad, considering their may have been a little throttle blipping from time to time - no point having all that torque and not using it.

A fantastic day, thanks to our Captain, Matt Humphries.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Glorious Summer, where hast thou been?

Although my internal clock is in disarray, there is nothing wrong with the weather right here in Auckland.

I had almost forgotten...

Chocolate Wars

In Times Square on Broadway you will find a Hersheys store, and if you look on the opposite corner you will find an M-and-M store. This is Chocolate Wars!!

Of course I had to go into each store, but I didn't sample any :-) They were packed! You could buy a 5lb Hershey Bar or you could have your favourite size and colour of MnM, matching tee-shirts and accessories. There were MnM earrings for $250!

I think that the MnM store was winning - a huge video screen played MnM characters and swirly pictures of MnM's out into Times Square - AND they had the MnM characters on a motorbike/sidecar. I resisted buying one. There were Christmas ornaments, coffe cups, toys, clothing and even toys that dispensed you MnM's to you based on your favourite gambling machine. I did notice something significant about some of the people that were buying huge bags of MnM's...

...there were a lot of stretch fabrics being worn.

New York New York

A team of us went to New York to meet with clients, and I got the opportunity to to see a little of New York. We stayed at the Hotel Edison which is just off Times Square on West 47th Street. It was a great location and full of character with an Art Deco style.

I went up the Empire State Building - wow! Having lived in Hong Kong in the early 90's I was no stranger to large/tall buildings, and the Empire State Building didn't look that big to me from the ground - I was expecting bigger... But once up there looking down - wow - what a view!

The other thing that struck me was how small it was at the viewing floor - just three people wide, and you can see, not that much room.

This is a zoomable picture using Zoomify. See if you can see what time I took this shot.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Oakridge Ave

Wandering through the streets of Madison to get milk at the Jenifer Street Market and back again to the apartment distance = 4.5km, air temperature = -9C, conditions fine, sunny, icy under foot.

Oakridge Ave still in winter clothes.

There was no one around on such a beautiful day, although a couple of cars went by, a 2 people jogging, one with a dog. So quiet - where are the people?