It's been a while

Yesterday is but today's memory, tomorrow is today's dream.
Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931)

Dear, dear me, what a torturous path all our lives have led over the last couple of years. Reading my last ‘Journey’ blog … which was way back in August 2021, I note that I’d already given up on a raft of exciting plans but still had an adventure in the wings which was exciting me. So how did that pan out?

Well, you may recall I was going to make some leather saddlebags for an undisclosed moto to go off on an undisclosed adventure. I can now tell you that the adventure was to go to Central Otago and participate in a ‘Postie Bike’ rally. For those not familiar with the vernacular, a ‘Postie’ is a Honda CT 110 which has been the standard steed of Australian and New Zealand’s postal services. They have attained cult status with many epic rides being undertaken all over the globe. Our ride was to be a much more humble undertaking. A five-day backroads zigzag to Cromwell, a 320 km massed ride, and five days back to base … 2,500 km at approx 75 kph. Not a pub crawl, although soothing libations would be needed at regular intervals … and old country pubs are so interesting! No tents, it would be cabins and the like for our aged bones and the limited carrying capacities of our wee steeds.

I’d sourced some 5 mm thick raw hide which I treated initially with neatsfoot oil, then with an unguent I concocted of the neatsfoot mixed with bees wax.  This paste was rubbed in and I was confident that I would now have a pliable water-proof product for my big Singer 132K6 ‘walking foot’ sewing machine to tie together with a sturdy 25 weight thread. I was so looking forward to doing the work I did 30 years ago in the Drifter Products days.  The drive for this behemoth of a sewing machine is a half horsepower electric motor which runs all the time at 2,400 rpm and you call up the action through a carbon thrust-plate clutch similar to what a car uses … but smaller.  Unfortunately my ‘leccy’ motor had let all its smoke escape and was away with a specialist motor rewinder.  So was it ready in time?  Sadly no. Despite many promises the motor never appeared and in time I had to abandon the project and transfer my efforts to modifying an old set of leather bags I’d made decades earlier to use across the tank of one of our old bikes.  It was ok, but not what I’d dreamed of.


So a wonderful adventure beckoned in early November.  Riding oppo Martin was aboard my brother Roly’s 125cc Madass.  Not strictly a Postie but under the 150 cc limit for the rally.  Five great days zig-zagging down to Cromwell on the smallest backroads we could find gave rise to the realisation that you don’t need a 1200 cc adventure bike to have an adventure.  An adventure is just doing something that is not your normal humdrum daily existence.


Cromwell saw me briefly take centre stage and from the smallest of our bikes … at the slowest of speeds (<50 kph) I showed that whilst I could fly spectacularly my landing technique was deeply flawed and needed some work.  A couple of unseen (to me) concrete plinths projecting into the roadway brought about a hospital stay with a broken humurus and scapula.  One plinth launched Rocky the Red Rocket into the air, the other stopped us dead and we cartwheeled together to a crumpled halt in the road.  I didn’t even have time to chant the kids’ song chorus of ‘head and shoulders, knees and toes!’  Actually the toes didn’t get involved and it was mainly head and shoulders, elbow and knee.


More than three months later I am still not riding or driving … getting closer but as the X-ray technician said “Ooh, top of the humurus, that’s the one break you don’t want to have!”  Bit late as a utterance of caution.  To add to my cry for attention, I have finally had surgery to correct my double vision. This seems to be successful and I look forward to being signed-off on 7th of March and getting new glasses to match my new vision.  I am hoping that by Easter I will be finally fettled and ripping up the highways.  So what have I got planned?  A ‘blue smoke and pedals’ moped ride on my 1958 French Mobylette, hopefully with others of a similar persuasion.  A 16 km circular loop is envisaged with speeds verging on 30 kph.  And yes I count this as an adventure and already I am salivating at the thought.


Oh, and how is the world of the author?  Well I am on Amazon’s bestseller list (not everyone is!!!)


The Last Hurrah is 7,894,761th, No One Said It Would Be Easy is 5,719,120th and Zen and the Last Hurrah is 4,084,706th.  So Lee Childs is not yet quaking in his boots fearing a challenger from the Antipodes.  But hey, there are a lot of books out there.  Indulge yourself if you haven’t already … or bully a mate into doing so.

Leather for the bags that never were
On the way, looking over Tasman Bay with alternative saddlebags
Lake Rotoroa looking nice on the day
The slow riding encourages regular stops
Maruia Saddle road was not very busy
The sign says it all
Accommodation was often salubrious
Danseys Pass always brings enjoyment
... and a deserved libation
With no parked cars, and shadows falling across the plinths they were invisible to me at the time.