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Diary 20

25 Nov.

The bike is booked in for a service at Boyd's Honda so down there by 9am.
The bike is well over it's 4,000 service distance but I've changed the oil and coolant for the US - NZ flight and almost all of the miles have been open road with a warm engine so no worries.
I don't get the full 32,000 mile service as that involves valves, the real expensive stuff.
I'll get my guys to do that once I get home.

At 7pm I'm in the local Irish bar to meet up with some folks from the Kiwi biker list.
It's a little tense to begin with but we're soon onto the usual war stories.
Being bikers we don't just tell the ones that make us look good - we also tell the 'I screwed up' ones.
A good evening.

26 Nov.

Pissing with rain first thing.
The guy at the motel says 'the whole island will be like this for a couple of days'.

As I approach New Plymouth it's dry and the sun is out.

Gonna hole up here for a couple of days and do nothing.

27 Nov.

A do nothing day.

Finished a novel last night, finished another early afternoon, found a second hand book store and am nearing the end of an Elmore James.

28 Nov.

Blowing a gale this morning and I've been on the south west coast in this weather before and I'd rather not do it again so back north and cut inland to Taupo again.

I wasn't looking forward to riding back through the construction - not with this wind.
I mean - what are the chances of riding 22,000 miles in six months and not have an accident?
I've only got a couple of hundred miles left to do and two days riding - will I get away with being accident free?
(If your thinking "Shit - this is the 'accident' diary entry" then rest assured, it is).

The construction wasn't as bad as I remembered and once I was off the coast the wind was less severe.

Another gorge (almost every road has one), another pass and I'm back beside Lake Taupo.

Stopped in town to hit the internet cafe with the laptop.

When I got back to the bike I noticed the rear tyre was pretty flat.
Right - off to a bike shop.
I took the left pannier off to pack the laptop and as I was crouched beside it packing, the bike fell off the side stand, away from me, to the right and crashed onto the bonnet of the car that was reversing out of the space beside me.
The car stopped (obviously) and the driver and passenger helped me pick the bike up.
As I was putting it on the centre stand the passenger retrieved the right hand wing mirror and my helmet.
(Repeat after me "Never put your helmet on the bike seat - Never put your helmet on the bike seat" ).
I am aware that there is a problem with VFRs that if the rear tyre goes flat and the bike is on the side stand it will fall over.
Removing the left hand pannier didn't help.
Why didn't I put it on the centre stand as soon as I noticed!

The guy asked about the bike.
"It'll be OK"
I asked about the car.
"Small dent, ancient car, no worries"
He was right, it was just one more dent in an old battered car and in a week I'd be hard pressed to figure out which one of them was mine - but I am seriously grateful to the guy.
Thank God it wasn't a brand new Merc or BMW.

The next car that pulled into the space was driven my a Scottish woman (Turns out she also rides a Triumph speed triple).
She'd seen the incident.
"Is there a bike shop near here"
"Yes - a couple of streets away"
I took the bike off the centre stand and she helped me catch it as it tried to go over again.
I'm not tall enough to get on a bike without it being on the side stand.
I was a little knackered here.
"Have you seen how flat the tyre is - you can't ride it like that"

A ten minute walk later and I'm at the local Honda shop.
Jump in their van and off to pick up the bike.

An hour after the incident I'm back in the bike (with a patched rear) and still shaking.
I'm staying here tonight.
I'm in no state to ride.

Coming back to the question "what are the chances of riding 22,000 miles in six months and not have an accident"
Beats me - haven't done it.
But I've still got all my body parts (unlike the bike).


29 Nov.

Have you been in an accident where you were in control ?
Did you spend the next few days thinking 'What if'.
I keep flashing back to the image of the bike going over and thinking "Why, why didn't I, could I have grabbed it as it went".
Not a good day - even though I had a bike accident that didn't involve sliding down the road on my ass, and I've had more of them than I'd like - still I feel vulnerable and stupid.

Not the best day of my life.

But onward and upward.

I did the e-mail dance with the shippers and the customs agents, passing info back and forth and asking one to forward stuff to the other. I also printed out a couple of A4 sheets with all the shipping info and got them laminated to stick to the bike when I drop it off.
I've actually had to do more work on this shipment than any other - but coz it's by sea it's a fraction of the cost.
Having said that I've heard horror stories about port charges.

I hope I've set up a friend with a trailer to help me retrieve the bike on or about the 16th Feb. when it arrives in Southampton, but bribery might be required :)

Not the best day - and this motel is a dump !

To Auckland tomorrow, back to the cancer charity place (I know how to find it) and get the bike warranted and dropped off.

30 Nov.

Seriously nervous on the bike - mustn't crash today and damn do I miss the right hand mirror. That side is most stuff happens.

Tried to time my fuel stop so that I would have a quarter tank when I dropped the bike off.
The docs say between 25% &10% fuel in the vehicle and have a working fuel gauge.
My fuel gauge is not linear - when it's showing four out of eight bars that's quarter of a tank.
I'll have to explain that to them.

The cancer charity place was full so they recommended somewhere else that was full so I'm at the next place down the line.
It's OK - cheap and has Internet access.

In a bar (the Cock & Bull on Kyber Pass road, just up from Broadway) that I'd been in before the manageress (a girl from Manchester) wished me a happy St. Andrews day.

1 Dec.

Final sorting out.

Went to see Kerry about the Warrant of Fitness.
As he couldn't actually issue me one as the bike is not in the NZ database he wrote a 'to whom it may concern' letter saying that it met the criteria to be safe in NZ.

Down to the Customs agents and got the ECI export delivery order and the Carter's notice (I need these to get into the port tomorrow).

Spoke to Mark at the steam cleaning place and arranged to go there tomorrow.

So the plan is - Take the bike to the port. Use the ECI to get through the gates. Get an escort to the steam cleaners and get it cleaned. Attach the required notices and drop it at the loading point. Get the shuttle out of the port and find a car hire place.

I'm booked in here for another night - I guess I could have picked up the hire car today and loaded my luggage into it and picked it up after the port but then I'd have to change in the car park and it assume that tomorrow will pass without problem - not an assumption I want to make.

2 Dec.

It's done.

The bike is gone and I wont see it till some time February.

I got to the dock gate around 09:30 and was escorted to Watertech, the steam cleaning place.
Turns out the boss,Vic, is from Braemar, just up the road from my sisters.
Mark washed the bike and hosed it off.
No charge.
More great people.

They pointed out a shed and told me to park up at one end.
I attached the waterproof notice with the details.
Vic gave me a lift to the shipping office where the bike was signed in and receipted and Kerry's 'to whom it may concern' letter was handed over.
And that was it.
Vic gave me a lift back to the dock gates and I was done.
That was way easy - mostly coz I decided at the last moment that I should get it steam cleaned (actually they jet washed it rather than steam cleaned) and the cleaners turned out to be real friendly guys.
This is NZ - I should have expected nothing less.

After a bit of wandering around I found a car hire place and got a Mazda ineffectual for a week.

First things first.
Shower - it's good to be out of the leathers in this heat.
Beer - found a beer shop, bought a case and went round to see Kerry.
"Hey Kerry - found this and thought you might have a use for it"
"Oh yea - Beer is always good"
Laundry - that's going now
Upload the diary - that will happen in the next hour (once the clothes are in the drier I'll have time).

After I do that I'm going to take the ipod and a book and go look for food and beer for me.

Diary 22