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Posts Tagged ‘Motorbikes’


I feel like writing a short story since I can’t ride at the moment, will write a couple of chapters at a time and see how long I can draw it out for. Wish me luck as my hope is to get this Freshly Pressed.

Chapter 1:

The morning sun is starting to rise over the distant hills, far-away trees illuminated by the warm glow. The sky is painted in a deep blue, small whiffs of clouds hovering overhead and birds of all shapes and sizes fly above, emitting their morning call.

A deep rumble cuts through the crisp air, the monotonous bah-bah-bah from the powerful engine, hanging like the early morning fog around the bike, steam rises from the race-can, giving the impression of a dragon, ready to decimate it’s foes. The matte black fairings hug the bike and the sunrise gleams in the mirrored visor of the rider who sits atop the tuned beast.

He clicks it down into gear and with a twist of the throttle, the bike launches into the distance, rear tyre spinning with a cloud of smoke and drifting out onto the cold tarmac beneath the rubber. The roar from the engine penetrates the picturesque scene and echoes throughout the hills. The wind pushes against the rider and as he pushes on the bars going into corners, the bike settles down and grips the road with what seems like an unbreakable bond, his knee scrapes the road as the bike pivots through the canyon. Coming up to a tight corner, he gradually pulls on the front brake, getting harder and harder and the weight lifts from the rear and the front of the bike loads up as he approaches the corner, lifting off the front brake he locks his leg into the tank and leans out, feathering the throttle and kicking it down gear by gear, maintaining traction little by little.

He is getting faster and faster as the bike and him become one, corner after corner and the constant rise and fall of the engine revs. It seems like nothing can stop him now, moving like a bat out of hell he tears through the canyon, alone and alive he is on fire, with not a worry in the world. With a glance in the mirror he notices the flash of a headlight, quickly gaining on him, he looks back to the road in front of him and picks up his pace, barely braking into corners, he looks to carry as much speed as he can through each corner. The rear tyre starts to break free on the corners from the enormous amount of stress being placed on the tyre, as this happens he weights the outside peg and drifts it around each corner, but yet, he can still not lose this light behind him. The engine is screaming out in ecstasy as he pushes it harder and harder, as he comes up the a tight decreasing radius corner he pulls hard on the brakes and drops off his speed, kicking down a few gears and breaking the rear tyre loose and drops once again into the corner.

The light behind him comes up beside him like a shadow into light and moves around the outside of him, they are almost touching as they scrape through the corner and into the next one,  the shadow rider pulls ahead of him and blocks off his line into the next corner, forcing him to brake early and adjust his line, bewildered by this mysterious rider that has just overtaken him. He follows the rider through the next corner, slowly losing ground as he tries to push harder and harder, riding at 100% of his ability to try to match the other rider.

As he comes into the corner before the one way bridge he looks to go around the outside of the other rider, dropping in later than his competition, pegs scraping the ground in a flash of sparks, it is now that he realises that he won’t make this corner and tries to turn even tighter, much of his body is now close to the ground that is sweeping by, at what seems like the speed of light. His peg digs into the road and before he can realise, the bike digs down and flicks him off.

Tumbling through the air like a rag-doll with the bike following him like a dog and his master. The ground seems so far away now and he is hoping to land on something soft, though in this canyon, it is unlikely that he will find anything resembling soft. He falls back down the the ground and just before he hits, he comes into contacts with the branches of a nearby tree, limbs flailing he now falls to the ground with a loud thud and the crumpling of bones throughout his body, he lies there alone yet alive, on fire with the rise and fall of his chest as he loses conciousness.

The other rider notices he has come off and returns as soon as possible, he sees the bike strewn across the road like an abstract painting and hears the muffled moans of the rider he passed earlier. He pulls out his cellphone and tries to call an ambulance but as he goes to dial he realises that there is no reception this far into the canyon, with no help to arrive he removes his helmet and makes his way down the bank to where the body lies, twisted and beaten, alone but still alive…just.

 

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      Assessing your surroundings:

Situational awareness, it’s one of the more critical skills that is needed in a motorcyclists repertoire. 

You need to be aware of the road condition, bike condition, weather, small animals, children, cars and other users on the road, police cars, surrounding foliage, the lay of the road, camber, road signs and grip and so on and so forth. The list is endless, the fact that you can sit in a car and pretty much just turn the wheel and worry about a very limited number of changing conditions means that when you are on a bike, your brain needs to be functioning at 110% all the time, every time.

You need to be able to read the traffic ahead and around you so that you know what they are going to do before they do it, and though that sounds impossible, it is indeed very achievable to a certain extent.

As detailed in http://www.abbiss.co.nz you can chase the vanishing point, now what is the vanishing point? In a very brief description, the vanishing point is where the two points of the road converge in front of you to where you can see no further. The vanishing point can help to tell you how the following corner goes so that you can adjust your speed correctly.

There are the lines that you take that will be ever changing because as you may be aware, the road surface is constantly changing, whether it be small or large rocks lying straight in your path, or a slick of oil or diesel mid corner, or road kill etc…

You need to be thinking of your body position as you are setting yourself up for each set into braking and cornering and where your head will be going around the corner.

All in all, there are a million things to be thinking about when you are riding. Now when you first start to ride, it is very difficult to think about many of those things for the first time, especially if you are teaching yourself to ride. I remeber getting very overwhelmed trying to factor in just a few of those things at a time, and having many a near miss because of other drivers actions, where at the end of the day, even though they are in the wrong, they don’t pay with their life, where you are much more likely to end up loosing.

How do you learn to factor in all of these ever changing conditions as you ride? Well what I have learnt is to practice everything till if becomes a habit, in an emergency situation we are almost always going to revert to the most basic of all habits to try and keep ourselves alive, unfortunately for us when we start out our habits tend to stray to the side of grabbing a handful of front brake or throttling off mid-corner or target fixating into a bank. None of those options are good and will more than likely get you killed or at best make the situation far worse than it should be.

Practice, practice, practice. Your lines into corners, your body position – making sure to keep it relaxed with a minimal amount of grip or pressure on the bars, being actively aware of how your bike performs and what it’s limits are, emergency braking and gymkhana are also very good skills to practice, and the more you practice, the more it will become habit, and when you are in one of those situations, you will have a much higher survival rate.

Learning to read the traffic takes a fair amount of time and learning to trust your instincts. Drivers often change lanes without warning and never bother to indicate, in face when I see drivers indicating I feel like giving them the thumbs up to tell them thank you, but I think that they think that I am being sarcastic so never bother. Learning to pick up on drivers heads moving and their tyre position is a key skill to learn, also look at the surrounding traffic because more often than not, it is what is causing them to do something stupid. You should always be looking as far ahead as you possibly can and keeping an eye on everything else with your peripheral vision.

Also, positioning yourself around the cars makes a huge difference. Can they see you? Are you in a position that if they change lanes, they will knock you off? What I try to do is get past each car beside me, and make them take notice of me so that there is less of a chance of not being seen, which usually includes riding up past their window and ahead of them so that they no longer become a problem and I can focus on what is ahead of me.

I will carry on about this another time as I fear that if I make it any longer, it will then be classed as a book.

Matt

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Intro:

The Paeroa (Pronounced – Pie – Row – A) Battle of the Streets has been running for 21 years today, top racers from New Zealand battle it out head to head on the peaceful streets of a small, NZ famous town in the North Island. Many classes compete in this event, such as Formula 1,2 and 3, sidecars, post and pre classic, king of the streets, supermoto and Formula Paeroa. The street is cordoned off and hay bales deck the side of the road, and spectators line the fences, inches away from 260+ km/h bikes flying past. Around 10,000+ spectators come to view this event every year and the numbers are growing.

Sunday Morning – 7.00am

It is early in the morning and fog is sitting low along the hills and fields that line Paeroa, the street is set up for the days racing and there is a hive of activity buzzing around to finalize everything so that we can get going. I am marshalling for the event so myself and friends go to have our briefing, get our gear and set up on the corners. We get the best seats in the house and really get to be part of the action when bikes go sliding past in a shower of sparks and riders tumble into bales alongside the track. At 8am practice rounds start and the sound of bikes roaring past fills your ears and you can’t help but to feel excited for what the day will bring.

Bikes of all sorts fly past and the whine of each engine is music to your ears. The real crowd pleaser’s are the supermoto class, going over the bump on the back straight, both wheels lift of the ground and they land with a wobble and get ready for the hairpin, where they wait till they are pretty much in the corner, kick down 4 gears and drift the back out with their right foot hanging centimetres of the ground. After the practice and qualifying runs, the racing begins which is usually around 11.25am.

Bikes enter the hairpin at reasonably high speeds and sometimes struggle to keep the rear from stepping out, side by side the ride around corners, looking for any way that they can get past the person in front. It really is something spectacular to watch and I would recommend it to anybody, and you will not leave with out a smile. The only bike down on our corner was one from the Supermotard class, he came over the bump on the main straight, and his bike then began to start what is known as a tank-slapper where the front tyre moves rapidly from side to side and the only way out of it is to give it some throttle and try to raise the front end.

Unfortunately, this rider failed to do that and came off, sliding down the road into the bales with the bike soon to follow, after the bikes move past we run over to him and check that he is alright, help him up and move his bike out of the war-path. Ambulance and bike recovery teams come to the rider and take him away as he has a grazed wrist and a sore ankle. The hairpin took the largest amount of bikers, with a total of around 6 or 7 from what other marshals tell me, so they were kept rather busy. Funnily enough, most of them were apparently the motard riders which for some reason does not surprise me.

Sunday Afternoon 12.00pm – 5.00pm The sun is shining down onto our overall covered bodies and the heat is really starting to kick in now, I can but imagine how the racers would feel! Racing continues on without many hick-up’s and I get some good video of the riders battling past.

One rather special nutter decided that his need to cross the track was more important than the fact that F1 bikes were tearing down the back straight, mere seconds away, so he sprinted across the track with a battery in his hand for one of the track bikes down in the pits and was not far from being collected, which added a little more excitement to our day!

The racing ended with one more crash, which was a girl who was swinging on one of the sidecars, sliding off into the bales at high speed and badly damaging her arm, which is a shame as she was supposed to be racing in Phillip Island in a few weeks and now I very much doubt that she will be able to compete.

Aussie rider Dan Stauffer was crowned King of the Streets, after dominating 3 races over the day and winning the Battle of the Street race and also Formula Paeroa, races one and two. Dan has been pulling in wins all across the country and has that Aussie’s aren’t as slow as we think they are. After racing, we pack up, get changed into our bike gear and sweat it out on the bike till we get to a coffee shop and sit down for a few minutes regaining our strength. It was a great weekend in all, and I would happily do that again, with the hope of one day competing in it.

Matt

Photo’s taken from http://www.Battleofthestreets.co.nz

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Up in the sky, millions of stars glow above you and small clouds drift lazily overhead.

The sounds of small animals echo throughout the empty silence that engulfs the surrounding land. Leather clings to your body as you sit on your bike, and as you turn your key the speedo lights up and the headlights shine far into the distance. Cat’s eyes jump out from the chip seal and all sorts of bugs and crawly things crawl back into the darkness that envelopes the side of the road.
As you press the ignition the bike roars into life and then sits at idle, humming away and breaking the night silence. You kick it into gear and throttle off down the road, every time you come up to a corner it disappears as you try to look ahead of the corner, to where you want to go. You simply have to hope you are going in the right direction, the road continues on as your tires warm up beneath you and your grip increases, corner after corner you glide through the night like a bat out of hell. A straight looms in front of you and you twist back on the throttle, the engine screams as you rocket down the road, changing up gears as you come into illegal speeds, the whine of the engine penetrating your mind and your eyes brighten in response.

You come up to a tight right hand corner and you apply the brakes, find your position and start to lean off the bike, and then throttle through, the bike pivots through the corner and you are off on your way again.

Night riding is a fascinating experience, with a different skill set needing to be applied and your senses ever aware. Decreased visibility means that you have much less of a chance of seeing a possible hazard so you must tread carefully, but in saying that, because you cannot see the hazards you tend to ride smoother which translates to faster.

One of the most annoying and exciting aspects of riding through the dark is that your head lights don’t follow your head, which is a big problem when you want to be looking through the corners and looking where you need to go not where you are.
It takes getting used to and once you are much happier to throw it into a corner in total blackness. Many non riders would call that stupidity I am sure, but then this blog is for people with a limited fear of anything.

There are nights when the wind is so cold, that your whole body freezes and goes stiff, you are sure that your nose has frostbite, especially when it starts to run and stays there. It becomes harder to focus at that point and that is when you have to be extra careful not to do something stupid, because it can usually mean your life. If you’re lucky, you will hit something soft.

Another aspect of riding in the dark is oncoming vehicles, those big lights that light up the country side are one of your worst enemies. If you meet it mid-corner and they have their high beams on, it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t see anything for the next 2 – 3 seconds, which is a little scary when you are on a corner.
Then there are those 4wd drivers, who have around 6 high beam lights on the front of their truck. They refuse to switch them down to low beam when you are in front of them but I’m not sure if that is because it is so bright that not even they can see, or they are just pricks. Either way, you need to watch out for those ones.

But nothing really compares too night riding, if you are one for adventure and you take a long route to some place in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by the bleats of nearby sheep and cow dung then I am sure that you will agree that it is simply magical to be able to look up at the night sky and see every star that litters the universe. Shooting stars are in abundance and you can’t wish fast enough for a new bike before a new shooting star appears.

Here is a video of what you can see when riding at night time.

Night Riding

Matt

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Imagine this,

You and your machine are one, every beat of the engine, every twist of the wrist and every rotation of the wheel are part of you.

The tires grip to the road as you pull your bike through each corner. The trees and bushes pass by in a blur, yet still oddly focused and the horizon drags on no matter how much you try to catch up.

With every corner you are praying that there is no oil on the road, or a car crossing the centre line, or a small child running out from the bushes, but those concerns only sit at the back of your mind. You concentrate on setting yourself up for each corner, choosing turn in points, apex’s, and braking points. You are judging when to get back on the throttle which is ever responsive and vibrates underneath your hand as you pull back on it.

Everything seems to come together in perfect harmony, bike and rider, man and machine. In this moment, you are the king of the world, the  master of your own destiny. Nothing can come in-between you at this point in time and it is the most exhilarating feeling ever, that is until you surpass the amount of grip available and your bike then drifts and bucks off into a far bank and you slide along that hard, abrasive road until you hit something solid. But that is for another blog, as this one is about the most amazing feeling in the world.

All of the movements on your bike are calculated, assessed movements. Every touch of the brake, every twist of the wrist, and every push or pull on the bars. Your whole body moves as you set yourself up for each corner, getting stable touch points on the bike and maximizing every millimeter of traction you can attain. You look through the corner and let your peripheral vision guide you through the corners which is scary at first but becomes second nature after a decent amount of seat time.

Out of all the crazy, dangerous things I have done. Riding a motorcycle has to be the most exciting thing I have ever done, there is a odd sense of danger to it all, but it stays at bay along with other thoughts which stop you from concentrating. 120% of your concentration is required so that you can watch everything around you, assess all of the information and adjust your riding to suit.

That car has probably not seen me, should I carry on or slow down and flash my lights to get his attention? What are the cars doing 4 – 5 car lengths in front of me? Are they going to crash? Where will I go when they do? Can I brake in time before hitting the back of that car? What about the car behind me?

These thoughts are always running through your head and many more, your environment is constantly changing and you are just as aware as it changes. Because if you don’t, you could die.

There is an indescribable feeling when you are screaming down the track at speeds over 200+ Km/h, the pressures on your body, your awareness and most of all the breathtaking beauty of it, the most amazing feeling where you are dicing with death, hoping that all of your bike and gear will not fail you.

 

One more thing, the people that you meet when out and about is another reason why I am glad I don’t drive a cage. You can have any background, be any race, have any job, or any gender and you will instantly have something to talk about. You don’t even have to talk, you can just ride, and share the sheer joy of the roads with each other.

Then when you are downing a cold beer, you can reminisce and discuss the ride and other un-important things.

It truly is a thing of beauty, which is why I can’t think of anything better.

 

Matt

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