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Gremlin's Tall Stories

2013: The year that was

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It seems many do these blogs looking back on the year, and I sometimes wonder why, but then, given my lull in recent blogging (which some have touched on, on rare occasions) I figured it would probably be a good way of catching up a whole year in one hit as the year was different to the previous ones for various reasons

January was some event riding, an Ironman in Auckland and my first Cycle Classic based in Palmerston North, which was an eye opener, as there was a pack of cyclists to work with and a long queue of support vehicles behind them. Our role was to work with the 4 police cars managing a rolling road block around the convoy on each stage, bar the first country day, when I was given the TV3 videoman instead, and the other days ended up dual duty on convoy and also the organisers own cameraman. A week of covering that was quite different to closed course single day events, but a lot of fun as we all learnt from mistakes made, day to day.

A brief break in early February and finally getting my restricted car licence, then Paeroa and almost immediately after, a holiday to the South Island in late February and early March with a mate. Normally we rode down, took in the TT2000 and then a week of the South Island, but this time decided to transport the bikes down via ute instead so we also had a backup vehicle. The cost of a ute and 2 people was almost identical to 2 people and 2 bikes, so it was a free vehicle essentially. Sorting out a breakdown in Cambridge, everything else went smoothly, including the TT2000. The following week was some of the best adventure riding weíd done, taking in Hakataramea Pass, Danseys Pass, Old Dunstan Trail, Nevis Rd and Skippers Canyon then up the West Coast back to Christchurch.

It was somewhat fortunate we loaded back onto the ute, as Totoís Hornet chain was beginning to protest the extended number of rough roads and dust, leaving the rings from the chain links at every stop, despite daily cleaning and lubing. It could be said I acted somewhat gleefully about having a shaft drive insteadÖ

Early April was another Auckland Triathlon, essentially to outsiders, a valid excuse to do 100kph down Queen St (when itís a normal street itís 30kph)! The events are an excellent way to practise technical skills, going as slow as 10kph, riding in close proximity to cyclists, plenty of 2up u-turns and generally supporting the event in a way no other vehicle can. My boss flew out of NZ at the end of the month, for a 6.5 month break in Europe, riding the continent and most of the countries in it. Running his company fell to me, and essentially put my life on hold for half a year.

Instead of knocking up a usual 30,000km ish on the BMW in the year I barely covered 1000km a month while he was away, and even that seemed high, as besides IAM rides, I left Auckland twice on two day trips. The work Hornet also sat still a lot more as I had no boss to ring and tell him he needed to move equipment here or there. Instead, it was me driving his X-trail and finding out what Auckland traffic was like as I lugged gear back and forth across the city.

In May, I passed the IAM Advanced Test, becoming a full member and culminating a year of hard work brushing up my riding and meeting the high standard required of IAM. Well worth it, but also another step on the IAM path. I also breezed through the car full licence, the IAM work no doubt paying dividends, as I knew the road code well. Looking back, I found myself wondering why it took me 7.5 odd years to complete my car licence, as I did both the restricted and full in quick succession, but then, I also made up for the lack of driving, by spending the next 6 months mostly driving.

Worse still, I became less of a biker. Mmm, rain, nah, Iíll take a vehicle. Mmmm, definitely looks like it will rain, Iíll take a vehicle. Ah, rain, I knew Iíd been driving the last few days in a vehicle for a reason. If youíre chuckling, just wait until a few very hot days we had a few times. Much easier being in an air conditioned vehicle without the gear you knowÖ A sad change for sure Family made a point of highlighting this, saying that I would be selling the bike in due course etc, but that was purely a step too far. After all, if I did that, I wouldnít have much use for a ute either (which was purchased during the updates to my licence)!

Winter ended up being quiet, very little riding and plenty of working through weekends to finish jobs that hadnít been finished during the week, and lots of rain, so this new found pansy stuck to 4 wheeled contraptions far too much, almost taking pride in how little the rain pants had been pulled out and used, with the only exception being the monthly IAM runs, which helped me to at least keep using a tank of gas a month in the BMW. I also ended up buying a mountain bike, in an attempt to return to a semblance of fitness, but it took until October ish before I actually rode the thingÖ

End of August and the next step in IAM, attending a weekend of Observer training, officially the start of becoming an Observer, by going through a 2 day course put on by the Chief Examiner, Phil McDaid (who runs Riderskills and has a real passion for motorcycling safety). Assigned to an Observer, our job is to get me to Observer standard and pass the Observer test and then start taking on my own associates and working with them to get to IAM test standard. Itís been an interesting road, taking more interest in the road rules, how they work, making sure I know them correctly, all part and parcel of being an IAM Observer, along with the riding skills. Itís a never-ending process, continually aiming to improve, and itís not something you ďput onĒ for IAM rides.

In September and October the IAM assisted other charities with the Blue September and Pink Ribbon Rides respectively, either within the ride or on intersection duty and generally promoting our own charity and belief in advanced riding. Everyone reported a good result, so itís likely that these will become fixtures in the calendar. I was lured out to Woodhill Mountainbike Park by mates, bit of a baptism of fire, but after a few runs the wheezing was slowly changing into breathing and progress was being made on the fitness front.

In November it was back to Event Riding, the first weekend being the Auckland Marathon and the subsequent weekend was BikeTheBridge. For the marathon my role was Male Half Marathon Lead with a mate. I was first, he was second, then the lead runners behind him. We left after the main full length marathon, so our role was to clear a path through the tail of the marathon for the lead runners. Easier said than done, the rules said no music devices, which seemingly fell on deaf ears (did you see what I did there?) as plenty of MP3 players etc in use, meaning people couldnít hear our instructions being shouted, or horns being beeped.

This resulted in a more than a couple of very startled runners turning around and finding a motorcycle bearing down on them. Responses varied, but one ran like a panicked rabbit in front of me, left, right, left, right until finally going left. I had Bluetooth comms with my mate, which was handy for managing the gap between us, but we both felt the pressure of the ones behind bearing down on us and the requirement to keep moving through the runners. The initial part was easy, but as we entered the busway, and especially over the Harbour Bridge, the runners were very dense and it was like moving through treacle (running over participants was definitely not approved). By the completion of 21km through the Viaduct, my voice was definitely feeling the effect of shouting MOVE LEFT, *BEEP BEEP*, KEEP LEFT etc.

A quick break for breakfast and then we switch from being evil to being supportive, patrolling the waterfront and course for the 2nd half of the marathon, supporting runners, cheering them on and checking for those in distress and bringing medical in, if required.

BikeTheBridge was a participation event over the Harbour Bridge (ie, not a race) and my role was to lead the 115km ride to North Harbour Stadium in Albany. Of course, looking at the lead bunch in my mirrors, I donít think many remembered it wasnít a race. A cruisy ride through Dairy Flat and back through Riverhead, and then it got really interesting in the final run to Albany as we joined into the middle of the 50km ride. Cyclists on both sides of the road, overtaking each other, motorcycles patrolling and the road open to cars, all on narrow country roads, it was quite the switch from tootling along with nothing in front of me, and only the occasional car passing.

In the final kilometres, the leaders are making their break, passing cars held up by other cyclists and chasing me down a hill urging me to go faster as I pause to negotiate a cyclist and a blind corner. With the main event out of the way, itís back to patrolling, increasing the road visibility of the cyclists until the final riders have completed the event (including a very slow ride right at the end, for a very tired cyclist that refused the sag wagon).

The end of November was the last monthly IAM run for the year, so one of the members hosted a small get together at their lodge ( and we had a great BBQ. I also realised that between IAM and event riding, my riding had become mostly functional for some purpose rather than a casual country run and a lot of the other time being taken up doing mountain biking with mates Ė and luring more mates into it. Make it fun and I reckon itís a great way to get some fitness.

With the usual rush as work entered December and the run to Christmas, along with the usual surprise of where the hell did the year go?, the boss was back and projects were underway (with him away, most were shelved, prioritising daily support and resolving issues) and besides one great run out to Waipoua Forest with GiJoe, the BMW once again wanted a new seal for the final drive and there were none available at the dealer or BMW NZ, so a couple of weeks off the road waiting for a new seal to arrive, and increasingly getting more nervous as Christmas approached, and it needed to be replaced for the holiday period.

Fortunately it arrived in time and was replaced the week before Christmas. The boss returning also meant I was back on the Hornet for the Christmas rush, and the grin couldnít be wiped from my face as traffic ground to a standstill in most places, and I could keep moving getting things done.

Christmas Day and it was onto the BMW, my brother and I spending Boxing Day in Wanganui for the Cemetery Circuit racing, the first time my brother had been, and his first multi-day trip outside Auckland. Perhaps I sowed the seeds of travelling the country, who knows, but I carried all his gear (the BMW is rather handy like that). Back to Raglan and the family bach for a day (parents being handy and bringing down my ute, mountain bike and other associated gear) then off to Rotorua to spend time with Toto and his girlfriend mountain biking the Redwoods until New Years Eve.

It didnít going entirely according to plan, at the end of the first run through the Redwoods I misjudged my speed over a big jump, then 2 little ones, landing into the 2nd little one, sort of coming off, but more importantly, re-adjusting the seat (or more specifically bending the seat rails) with my rib cage. Fortunately, probably no broken or cracked ribs (A&E wouldnít be able to do much, so I didnít bother) but boy, the next couple of days of mountain biking were a little more gentle and hard work. Back to Raglan feeling delicate and taking it easy trying to get the ribs to heal fasterÖ

What will 2014 bring? The calendar has already been filling up with events, but the number one goal is getting my ribs happy again so I can get things done. January will see another Ironman and Cycle Classic (a week in Palmerston North again), February will be Paeroa and more marshalling at Hampton Downs for some big weekend and as the TT2000 clashes, Iíll probably miss it for the first time in about 4-5 years.

In between all that Iíll need to slot in more development as an IAM Trainee Observer, with the aim of becoming an Observer before year end to help ease the workload on the existing Observers, as there is a waiting list for new associates, and Iíll continue to enjoy mountain biking, perhaps with a few weekend trips thrown in to ride areas outside Auckland, as there are some fantastic trails.

As for mileage on motorcycles, hopefully better than 2013, but I think the years of 30-50,000km a year are now history, as life seems pretty full on with all the other things I now enjoy doing! As with KoroJ however, itís somewhat scary to look back and think how much I saved on fuel, servicing, tyres and even the equipment wonít wear out as quickly.

I put a set of tyres on the BMW after the South Island trip, early March, and they are still fitted now, with months of life left and probably 8-10,000km done on them. In previous years I could have worn out a couple of sets in that time! After the Temptation thread I started as well earlier this year, I canít imagine changing the BMW any time soon either, as itís perfect for the variety of things I do, and currently sits at 83,280km. I have a graph of mileage over time which Iíll update but itís at home while I currently lounge in Raglan enjoying a rare break from everything, even work.

I hope youíve all had an excellent year and done all the things you wanted to! Hereís to another!

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  1. KoroJ's Avatar
    Haved you saved enough to finally trade up to an ST??
  2. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by KoroJ
    Haved you saved enough to finally trade up to an ST??
    Hehe, the local dealer tried to get me in to ride an ST, but I was busy with various things in December running up to Christmas.

    Considering the complete lack of neat things it has stock, it's a trade down, and I'm not ready to join the grandpas yet