Wednesday, September 28, 2016

27 September - All packed for the next big ride

The Honda is all packed for a planned 7-8 day ride starting tomorrow morning, to include Warrnambool (Vic), Robe (SA), Hahndorf (SA), Mildura (Vic), Echuca (Vic), Bright (Vic) and then home. Unfortunately the weather forecast promises record rainfall in SA over the next few day and so we've delayed the departure until Friday. The probability of significant rain in the next couple of days, along our route is 100% which does not sound like motorcycling fun. So watch this space from Friday as we hope for better weather.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

4 August - Pakistan's First Female Biker

Like most of us, I am sometimes guilty of taking the ability to ride a motorcycle anywhere, whenever I want, a bit for granted. Today, on a local news site I read the story of Zenith Irfan, a 21 year old Pakistani woman riding a 125cc motorcycle alone, throughout Pakistan. I encourage you to read the story yourself here

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2 August - A Flight Over Glenmaggie Dam

We are experiencing the worst winter for motorcycling since I bought my bike. Day after day a look out the window confirms the worst - wind and rain - again. It was a nice change this morning to open the curtains to be greeted by a clear and relatively still day. An opportunity to combine two pleasures, a motorbike ride and an opportunity to fly the Phantom IV. After a bit of fiddling around I figured out how to mount the Phantom in its carry case on to the Beemer so that it was secure and I could still get on it. I had already mounted it on the Honda but then found that the Honda had a flat battery - a result of the lack of use. Finally I was on my way bound for Glenmaggie Weir, which I featured in my previous post but was only able to photograph from a distance. Now, with the Phantom, I was hoping to fly up close and personal and get a great view. Flying the drone over water is quite a scary proposition and I had a practice run a few days ago over another dam called the Cowarr Weir. That flight was on a still and sunny day and I was very happy with the resulting video.

Here is the Cowarr Weir flight.

Encouraged by the success of this flight I felt reasonably confident to undertake a flight over the Glenmaggie dam structure which is much bigger and much more risky. When I arrived at Glenmaggie it was quite windy and there was a bus full of schoolchildren running around, and so I decided to wait awhile. Soon the children had departed and the wind died down a bit so it was time to launch.
Here's the video.

Due to the still relatively strong winds I was quite happy to make this a short flight and felt quite relieved when the little Phantom landed at my feet ready to resume its place on the BMW.
Altogether a successful day out.

Total Distance 100 km.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

18 July - A Ride at Last

After some of the worst riding weather in a long time today promised to be a reasonably mild and most importantly, dry day. Joined my brother Luke (Kawasaki Vulcan S) on a roughly circular route through the Gippsland countryside. I rode the Beemer mainly because the Honda wouldn't start due to a flat battery after such a long period of inactivity. Our ride took us past Loy Yang Power Station and through Gormandale. After climbing Powers Hill we took a left turn toward the coast at Woodside. Very little traffic and mild conditions and an interesting road - it doesn't get any better than that. At Woodside we joined the South Gippsland Highway which in turn took us to Sale, but not before visiting the famous swing bridge on the Latrobe River. The high level of the river was a clear indicator of the amount of rain we've had in the past weeks. In Sale we enjoyed a nice lunch and coffee at a great bakery before climbing on our bikes again and then on to Maffra. By now it was becoming a bit overcast and the temperature was dropping but we drove on for a visit to the dam wall at Glenmaggie Weir. There seemed to be major release of irrigation water going on, we could hear the roar of the escaping water from some distance. Took a few photos before heading off on the last leg, for me anyway, back to Traralgon. Great to be back on the bike again especially with my brother.

Total Distance 215 km.

Friday, July 8, 2016

8 July - Walhalla Video

Since acquiring the Phantom 4 Drone I've been working on two challenges. How to edit the 4K video footage that comes out of the camera. and how to safely transport the system on a motorbike. The second issue is a work in progress but the editing issue is done and dusted. So for now I'll just post the video of our recent flight over Walhalla. Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

2 July - Walhalla from the air

Spent the afternoon in Walhalla today but not on the motorbike. Last week I took delivery of my Phantom 4 Camera Drone and I felt confident enough (after three flights from my front lawn) to take it to Walhalla, a 19th century mining town near here, which I often visit on the bike (see my last post). The first stop was at the Thompson River Bridge to photograph the Goldfields tourist train, the only existing remnant of a line built 100 years ago to bring goods into and gold out of Walhalla, crossing the railway bridge.
Many of the passengers on the train had watched me prepare the Phantom for flight so as the train passed there was lots of waving and photos being taken. The video of the event is absolutely spectacular.
Then on to Walhalla for a birds eye view.
Being a Saturday the town was quite crowded and as I didn't want to fly the drone directly over people I restricted myself to a five minute flight to get some good aerial views of the town.
These shots were all taken from about 50m. I will go back on a quieter day and get higher altitude shots of the whole town.
The drone provides a video feed to my iPad and it is quite exciting to get a live view - it's almost like being up there yourself. Some people are using Virtual Reality goggles to fly their drones and the experience is almost like being in the drone. At this early stage of my flying career the focus is mainly on acquiring good flying skills and to get some confidence in the drone itself. My next challenge now is to find a way of transporting the drone on a motorbike so that I can combine flying and motorcycling so watch out for more aerial views. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

15 June - Back on the bike - Walhalla, Cowes - Phillip Island

Since returning from our trip to Hong Kong, a number of factors have conspired to keep me away from motorcycling. First of all some personal health issues needed me to focus elsewhere for a few weeks and this was followed by a recent family bereavement which occupied all our thoughts recently. On top of that, it is winter here and while this is not as big a deal here in Australia as it is elsewhere, a run of cold wet weather has combined with the other issues has made motorcycling seem less than attractive or even appropriate, for a while.

I did manage a few small outings just to ensure the batteries on both bikes were charged, including one very nice but short trip to Walhalla, the nearby gold mining ghost town.
On a rare sunny day the little town looked beautiful as the autumn colours were just starting to emerge.

Finally though, today broke the drought. The weather bureau promised a chilly but sunny day so on with the thermal underwear and out on the Honda by 9:30 enroute to Cowes, Philip Island. With the grip heaters blasting away the sunny and still conditions more than compensated for the near zero temperature and by the time I reached the south coast it even started to feel pleasant. It was great to find that the long break in no way diminished either my riding skills or my enjoyment of being on a bike.
Crossed the San Remo bridge in perfectly still conditions and cruising on to the island was an almost Zen like experience which was quickly brought to a halt by a police roadblock carrying out random breath tests. This spoilt the mood for a while but it was quickly restored as I continued across the island.
The usual bustling town of Cowes was fairly quiet at this time of the year and I spent an hour or so having lunch at the local bakery followed by a walk down to the town jetty which was almost deserted.

All very relaxing and enjoyable but soon it was time to head for home along the coast and the continuing sunshine. Got home at about 3:30 just as the air started turning chilly again. It was great to get back into it again and what a perfect day it was.

Total Distance 330km