Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The first week

Day One:

1. Pick up bike in Elizabeth St, Melbourne. Reading on Odometer: 4 kilometres.
2. Meet up with brother and wife for escort home
3. Ride from the city all the way out to Eltham
4. Recover, relax, take photo!  Odometer: 38 kilometres.

My Suzuki GS500

Day Two:

1.  Victoria experiences its most devastating bushfires ever.  Spend the day trying to keep cool (46.4 degrees celcius), monitoring the fires.  
2.  In the evening when it has cooled down, ride over to neighbour's place in Eltham.

Day Three:

1.  Get set for ride.  Put on gear, start bike, head down the driveway.
2.  Turn onto main road.  It starts to rain.
3.  At intersection, go around the block and head for home.
4.  Reach home.  The rain stops.
5.  Ride past home, and go back onto the main road.
6.  It starts to rain again.
7.  Give up, go around the block, go home.
8.  The rain stops.

Day Four:

1.  Train was packed - horribly packed.  Spent the entire trip wishing I had the courage and experience to ride my bike to work.
2.  Got home, got on bike to go to Bunnings to get octopus straps to tie bag down on back of bike.  (Plan is to ride to work the next day, need to be able to carry a bag with work clothes / shoes etc, and the top box for the bike won't arrive for a week or two yet.)
3.  Ride to Bunnings, get straps.  It's dark by the time I leave for home.  Bike's headlight needs adjusting.
4.  It's bloody cold!  I've got the jacket set up for the hot ride home from the shop on Friday night (high 20s or low 30s), and currently it's about 12 degrees up here in the hills!
5.  Go to bed early, excited about the prospect of riding in to work the next day.  Need to be well rested before I attempt to ride into the city on my own.  Need lots of sleep.

Day Five:

1.  Still awake at 2am, alarm set to go off at 6am.  Very mindful of needing lots of sleep before riding in to work.
2.  Hit the snooze button.
3.  About 6 times.
4.  Catch the train in to work, utterly exhausted.
5.  Get home from work, decide it's too late to get on the bike and head in to the city for the Netrider newbie ride.
6.  Change mind, scoff down dinner, jump on the bike and head in to town...

This point needs more elaboration.  I decide that the only way I'm going to make it to the newbie ride on time is to take the freeway.  It's 6:45pm and I'm out in the sticks, so the traffic shouldn't be too bad.  I pluck up my courage and head towards the freeway.

70 km/h didn't feel too fast when I was riding with my family in basically no traffic.  Now 80 km/h is feeling fast as I approach the freeway in light-medium traffic with 45km/h winds.  Get onto the freeway... What do you know - this bike has a 5th gear... and a 6th!

I trundle along in the left hand lane, moving between 95 - 105 km/h (still running the engine in, important not to sit on the one engine speed for long periods of time) as every other vehicle known to man passes me.  Must have been about 30 kilometres like this.  By the end of it I'm tense and knackered.  And, as it happens, not 100% sure of the way to go to get to the newbie ride!

I adlib in the direction of the beach road.  Finally get to Marine Parade, Elwoodish, and toss a coin as to which way I need to turn to find the BP where the riders meet.

I guess wrong, and wind up in Sandringham.  This is my clue that I've gone too far, so I do a (very ungraceful) U-turn, and head back, reaching the BP half an hour after the scheduled departure time.  Despite complaints that the ride regularly leaves late, there's not another bike to be seen.

I decide to fill up with petrol.  $7.69.  I could get used to this.

Riding home again is fun.  I'm not stressed about the time any more, so I just point the bike in the direction of home and make it up as I go along.  Onto the Eastern freeway this time, but only for a short distance.  Once again I'm the slow coach in the left hand lane, as most of Melbourne's motorists decide to embrace the opportunity to overtake a motorbike on the freeway.  It's raining a bit, but oddly, that doesn't bother me.  Jump off at Burke Road, and wind through the hills to home.  2 1/2 hours on the bike, with at least a third of that being freeway time.  Odometer: 173 kilometres.

Day Six:

1.  Alarm goes off at 6.  Out of bed by 6:15, go put coffee on.
2.  Start the bike around 6:35 - 6:40.  I can't see my watch with my gloves on, but I don't really care.
3.  Ride in to work.  Traffic is light, I've chosen a route which is both hilly and pretty and for the most part familiar.  The ride in is fun - not stressful, not busy, just fun.
4.  Arrive at work at 7:35, am changed and at my desk by 7:45.
5.  4:15pm: get up from desk, get into riding gear.  Get down to the bike about 4:30.  Traffic is slow, and I'm not filtering, just sitting in my lane, minding my business.  Get home around 5:30.  Not bad considering I usually get home around 7pm when taking the train.  True I got up earlier (half an hour or more) and left earlier (an hour or thereabouts) - but still, I'm home in time for dinner - bonus!  Odometer: 234 kilometres.
6.  Start planning route to ride to work tomorrow...

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