What a terrific weekend. I had such a good ride north to Perth on Saturday. I took the slightly longer but less trafficked – and much more scenic- Brookton Route. I rode the first half of the trip without the Airhawk seat cushion, and was fine. No aches and pains, no major discomfort. Just a couple of stops along the way to stretch and limber up before carrying on. The second half of the trip, from Brookton, I used the Airhawk and concluded that it definitely is more comfortable. But it is good to know I can manage without it now.
One reason for this is, I suspect, my discovery that footwear has a vital role in comfort when riding. At least when one has floorboards rather than pegs. Shoes with heels are less comfortable for me than flat soled shoes. My cross trainers are the best so far for riding, except for the open toed sandals, which although definitely most comfortable by far, are of course not a particularly safe choice. Ideally it seems I should have some stout flat soled boots. As soon as I wear anything with substantial heels I sit at an angle that puts a strain on my knee. To relieve it I sit legs akimbo so to speak, which puts a strain on my groin. It kind of reminds me of the joke about the man with tight underwear… But I digress.
It was sunny and hot. My Summer jacket is perfect on such a day. The breeze blows through it and even though the air was furnace hot in patches, I was comfortable and not nearly as overheated as I would have been in conventional armour. Even so, I drank two litres of ice-cold water and a bottle of chilled green tea along the way. It definitely pays to carry an insulated bag with frozen water bottles when riding in Western Oz.
At Wagin I came upon a group of Ulysses Club (Grow Old Disgracefully) riders having a meal in the Wagin pub. I did not get to talk to them, but posed my bike with theirs for a photo opp while I had a cold drink.
Just on the other side of Wagin, I had a close encounter of the Goanna kind. I am constantly alert for fauna, especially snakes, and I had already marked this shape on the roadside as a possibility, before concluding from its immobility that it was a probably just a stick. Nevertheless, I remained cautious – and hopeful. Always hoping. Just as well. As I came near, it darted out in front of me and I swerved, barely avoiding it. My tyres must have been millimetres in front of its nose. I saw it was not a snake, but a long thin monitor. I stopped, turned around and cruised back to where it was still frozen on the tarmac where I had passed it. I hoped I had not run it over. As I approached, I assume the noise of the bike galvanised it. It turned off the road and ran back into the bush. It was very fast, with an ungainly gait. I estimated it was about half a metre long and very slim.
I tried out the el cheapo camera I bought duty free in November for its movie ability. Unfortunately not for long because the batteries did not last, and I had forgotten to bring replacements. Later when I watched my attempts on the laptop, I concluded that the movies it takes are not as good as those of the Sony DSC F828. I shall keep it, as originally intended, as a pocket camera for quick point-and-shoot snapshots.
Once at Sue and Steve’s in Forrestfield the first thing I wanted to check out was the tee shirts I had commissioned. I was delighted to find they came out exactly as I designed them. I was very pleased with myself and with the screen printers.
Jerry came round on his veteran BSA, which looks really nice. I am not sure I would want to ride an old bike like that nowadays. It might be a bit of a strain to ride a bike which has the brakes, gears and clutch on opposite sides to most modern bikes. The consequences of a mistake could be serious. And there is the kickstart issue. I remember how my anklebone used to suffer.
Jerry, like the rest of us, is getting more excited as the trip draws nigh. At 74 he is the oldest of us all. I am second at 60. He prefers to ride at the back. I shall be happy to hang back with him. Steve has bought a Bluetooth inter-bike radio so the leader and tail-end-charlies can stay in touch.
I said farewell to the bike Sunday morning. Next I see her will be in Sydney.
After a cup of tea I headed home in the Camry. It was an uneventful drive, back along the same route. Much less fun than biking. No hitchhikers. I listened to Dire Straits, Steeleye Span, Creedence and Pink Floyd. Near Wagin I drove through a belt of smoke which was rather worrisome. It hung like a mist, shrouding everything, and bringing the horizon up to the tree line. Later I learned it was blowing up from way down near Manjimup, where 110,000 ha are burning. Some of the area is inaccessible and the fire is winning, but they hope to restrict the burn to around 280,000 ha at most.
Fingers crossed for them that they can contain it before someone comes to harm.