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Posts tagged ‘motorbike’

Romance: alive and well in this house

Me: Honey? Did you have something in the oven?

Husband: Yes.

Me: What?

Husband: My motorbike engine.

Me: *blink*

Me: *blink blink*

Husband: See this bearing here? Fits onto the crankshaft, but it’s REALLY tight – here, give it a pull. See? The only way to get the bearing onto the shaft is to heat it.

Me: Because er, metal expands?

Husband: Yeah! But it’s really cool-

Me: <notes apparent lack of irony>

Husband: The bearing must expand by a good half a millimetre-

Me: Did you just think this up, or did you read it somewhere?

Husband: Actually, the KTM manual-

Me: Says to bake your crankshaft in your wife’s oven?

Husband: Well, it doesn’t say anything about a wife. But it says to heat the bearing at 180 degrees for five minutes.

Oh, he makes me laugh.


Lightly baked crankshaft, with Deadlyjelly and Husband scratching his ear reflected in the kettle

Dispatches from the road, Part II

Me: You know that Irish bloke with the bike – the one I was chatting to outside? So, I asked him whether it was true that cyclists hate motorbikers-

Husband: IS that true?

Me: No, I was just making conversation with a challenging opening gambit. Anyway, he said not at all; but when he’s a pedestrian he hates cyclists because they take over the pavement. He actually used the word ‘cocky’, can you believe that?

Husband: Um-

Me: Anyway. I told him it’s because cyclists wear so much lycra. It makes them aggressive because it squeezes bits it shouldn’t. And he looked at me and said, ‘It wha?’

Me: So I said, you know, the lycra. Makes you funny in the head. And he said, ‘WHA?’ So I’m getting a bit desperate; I said, ‘You know: LYCRA. Like spandex?’ and he said, ‘Oh sorry love, I’m not a one for the fads and fashions.’

Husband: That’s called: how to kill a conversation with one clean shot

Me: Bullseye


On Saturday, Husband and I went to Dunedin to catch up with friends. The weather forecast threatened thunder and lightning. In other words: ideal biking weather, according to Husband’s criteria.

Just beyond Palmerston, the first drop of rain smashed into my visor. Although our jackets are ‘weather-proof’ (whatever that means, it doesn’t appear to include protection against heat), our kevlar jeans are only gravel-proof. We stopped to pull on over-trousers.

Ten kilometres on, I was experiencing sound effects similar to being kicked by a herd of rhino in a kettle drum. The hailstones were the size of pingpong balls – although rather more substantial. Husband pulled into a bus-stop, but got bored after about ten seconds.

“Come on, I think it’s easing up,” he said.

“Easing up? I can’t see the <expletive deleted> ROAD.”

So much for the scenic route; although in fairness, although it seemed like longer, we probably only had about twenty minutes of inclemence.

Our bike gear was quite effective. The main problem I had was with my motocross gloves, which were instantly soaked. By the time we reached Dunedin, my hands were frozen into claws.

I suggested this problem could be addressed by the purchase of rubber household gloves to wear on top. It is tremendous fun torturing Husband with this terrible threat; it is impossible to describe how aghast he looks when I tell him I plan to get pink ones.

In the end, MarkJ donated his leather gauntlets with total funk, so Husband will be spared that horrible fate. For now.

Upon our return on Sunday, we found out that we had ridden through a tornado which was  so terrifying, it frightened Mr and Mrs McLeod’s cat

Official portrait: Road Trip 2008


Biker chic

Two weeks ago, Husband bought himself a roadbike.

It would have been an impulse buy, but for the fact that he has coveted a road bike for the last 10 years. He started lobbying early in our relationship, but there was no way I would let him loose on a motorbike on the Middle Eastern roads.

Upon our return to New Zealand, Husband resurrected the campaign, with new tactics including begging, whining and/or pleading: “Aw, aw, aw, come on Niamhie! We can pick up a bike for just a couple of thousand dollars, and – hey, I know! – we can sell it after summer for three times as much.”

“What’s this ‘we’ all about?”

A few weeks ago, he called me into his office.

“Look, here Niamhie,” he said hyper-casually, but it did not escape my attention that his keyboard was festooned in drool.


“This motorbike,” he said, pointing at a listing on Tradme. “Seller’s just put a ‘Buy Now’ on it.”


“Seems like good value.”

“Right, but it’s a couple thousand dollars more than we wanted to spend.”

“Yeah, but it’s REALLY good value.”

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked, peering at the bike. It looked nice. Grey, two wheels, quite shiny, the CUTEST little side mirrors.

“Well . . . nothing, apparently. It seems in pretty good nick. And similar models are going for three times that much.”

I didn’t believe him because Husband’s existence is based on an alternative reality. But in this particular reality, he appeared to be correct.

“What do you think?” he said, quivering with tension.

“I don’t know! What do YOU think?”

“I don’t know. What do you-”

“Look, do you want the bike?”

“Oh yes,” he slavered.

“How much do you want it?”

“This much <holding his arms out wide (NB bear in mind he uses the span of his fingers to demonstrate how much he loves me)>”

“Well then . . . do it.”

“Ok! I’m going to DO IT!” he shouted, hand twitching the mouse. The cursor hovered over ‘Buy Now’.

“Go on, I dare you! Do it!”


So he did. The deal was closed within three minutes of his showing me the listing. A big, fat smile took over Husband’s face; he rolled his chair away from the desk and roared: “PAHAHAHA!”

He was so chuffed with himself, I couldn’t help feel a bit of that too. Especially when I can call it a Christmas present and come across as a top-class wife. Seriously, we are both winners.

Husband collected his Honda VFR800 the following day. Further inspection showed it to be in extremely ‘good nick’, according to the official terminology. The seller had purchased it two years before for $6000 and felt he had made a fair deal. After updating the listing with a ‘Buy Now’ option, he said he went to fix a cup of tea and returned to find it sold.

A couple of days later I bought a helmet, and Husband talked me into biking across to the beach at Piha. For the first time in my life, I was viscerally aware of the fact that motorbikes have no seatbelts.

Husband provided cryptic instruction:-

1. Always announce when you’re getting on/off the pillion
2. Lean WITH the bike when going around corners
3. Don’t put your face next to the exhaust pipe
4. Try not to puke in your helmet

I am determined to be absolutely supportive of Husband in sharing his passion, so in particular I took #2 seriously.

Me: Have you ever had a better leaner?

Husband: You’re pretty good for a novice, all right

Me: What are you talking about: novice? I have an innate, instinctive talent that needs no training

Now, I’m not sure who suggested it: Husband or me or The Drink. But somewhere along the line, we decided to bike down to the Outlaws in South Island for Christmas.

I have to admit, it seemed like a much better idea two weeks ago. In fact, when it was first conceived, there are not words to describe what an amazingly outrageously tremendously fantabulous idea it was – which can definitely be attributed to drink, specifically margaritas. We were embarking on a wonderful adventure, a Road Trip with merry japes involving missed turns,  exploding livestock, rustic weirdos, and awkward yet hilarious situations involving nudity.

We got kitted out with padded waterproof jackets and tear resistant jeans. We considered buying panniers, but the permanent lockable ones cost too much considering we weren’t – correction: I wasn’t – sure how often we would use the bike for long-distance road trips in the future. Especially if this one involved lots of nudity. In the end, we mailed 5kg of clothes to South Island for $7.50.

As the date approached, Brian was a marvelous source of comfort. “What you’ve got to understand,” he said, “is if you ride a motorbike you’re eventually going to have an accident. Most of the time it’s just a small thing: you break a few bones, burst a kidney or two. No big deal.”

Husband attended a series of lectures I conducted entitled: ‘Motorbikes: Health and Safety’. I sensed the prevalence of his father’s genes in Husband’s response: “Look Niamhie, most accidents are caused by other drivers. They either don’t see you or . . . well, most of the time they don’t see you. So if we do have an accident, it will be someone else’s fault.”

So that’s what I’ll be focusing on as I try to retrieve my head from under a lorry. I’m sure it will make me feel much better about the situation.

The great day dawned and we set off at 07:00hrs (although we had to go back to turn off the gas). We were on Motorway 1 by 07:30.

Half an hour later, I had a splitting headache, but realized it was just my singing – which was easy enough to fix. Burping was also quite unpleasant depending on the flavour. It certainly put me off puking in my helmet (even more).

Husband stopped every hour or so to allow me to creakily alight from the bike and stretch my legs.

I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the first day. In fact, I spent most of the trip composing Husband’s eulogy (which is very lovely and really brings across Husband’s integrity and wicked sense of mischief. I moved myself to tears a couple of times, as much for my noble stoicism in delivering it with melted bits of fuel-tank embedded in my skin instead of arms/legs).

Husband had acquired a pair of Bluetooth headsets for us to use as intercoms/MP3 players. The intercom didn’t work over 20kph, which was largely crap because Husband only ever attains 20kph at warp acceleration.

The MP3 player was also substandard; at high speeds all you can hear is random snatches of cymbal-based percussion. Admittedly, it is fun guessing what song is playing at any given time. Husband said he was belting out Billy Idol when he slowed down for a town and found he was actually singing along to Clannad.

I was a bit concerned about how my bum would withstand the trip. Never again will I moan about flobber-arse – or at least, not when I’m astride a motorbike. Once, upon alighting, I thought I had sprained a cheek. It was a tense moment, but turned out to be a temporarily malfunctioning glute.

I had more problems with my cranium and knees. The helmet exerted skull-crushing pressure on my head. I also developed pains in knee joints after a quarter hour squatting on the back of a bike. These things were generally manageable as long as we stopped regularly.

We caught the 18:00hrs ferry and stayed overnight in the Sequoia Lodge in Picton. We fell into bed at 22:00 and slept right through until 06:30 the next morning.

The second day was much more enjoyable. It is hardly a relaxing experience, but you see much more on motorbike: ‘Disco Dan’s caravan with the glitter ball jiving in the back window; the woman collecting her mail in emerald satin pyjamas; ‘Blazing Paddles’ canoe club; the guy in running shorts doing squat thrusts. And it all feels more REAL – which admittedly was not so great with the guy in the shorts.

Sometimes when writing, I am guilty of compromising modesty for artistic integrity. Well, not this time: I was a MODEL passenger. Husband said that sometimes going around a corner, he would come across a bump and need to adjust his line, but it was difficult picking the bike up because I was swinging off the back by the toes, in a world-class yoga-style lean.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s his problem if he can’t choose the optimal cornering route to begin with.

He also bitched about my flashy dismount (I swing wide in a modified cartwheel to land with arms outstretched). Considering my willingness to balance precariously on a charging motorbike, it’s fair to say some people are NOT ONLY never happy, they are also ENTIRELY UNGRATEFUL.

Unaware that we were traveling by bike, Mother-In-Law had put an order in for raspberries. Just outside Oamaru we stopped for a punnet/chip, which Husband lashed to the top of the rucksack. It flew off somewhere en route. It still makes me giggle to think of a driver copping a kilo of raspberries across the windscreen.

It was one of the most intensely uncomfortable experiences of my life, yet strangely exhilarating; and I am so grateful to Husband for this new experience


Me: When I was about eight, I was a Brownie. After school, Brown Owl and Lone-Wolf-Or-Whatever-Her-Name-Was used to collect us from school and walk us to the LPYMA, and one day they left me behind-

Husband: You were late, weren’t you?

Me: What? I was eight! It’s not as if I was loitering behind the school shed smoking reefers or graffiting the basketball court. I was probably skipping adorably innocently in the playground-

Husband: Well, it’s no wonder they left you behind if you were late-

Me: I WAS EIGHT! I can’t believe you’re trying to condone this! There’s no excuse for leaving an eight year old behind! It’s phenomenally irresponsible! My parents entrusted their precious charge to the care of Brown Owl and Rutting-Wolf-Or-Whatever-Her-Name-Was, and they FORGOT ME!

Husband: <silence>

Niamh: How can I make this come alive for you? Is it the way I tell it? Can you not picture me in my horrible little brown uniform, weeping inconsolably in the playground alone and abandoned in the world?

Husband: So, was that the story?

Me: No! But I’m not going to tell you the rest if you’re going to SCOLD me 28 years after the event when I’m, like, 450% older and you weren’t even THERE

Husband: I won’t-

Niamh: TOO LATE!

Husband: Ok, I’m sorry

Niamh: All right. Anyway, Brown Owl came back for me and took me to Brownies on her motorbike! And it was the highlight of my whole life

Husband: Really? How long was the journey?

Niamh: About two minutes. But it was a very intense experience

Husband: I see. Were you wearing a helmet?

Niamh: No

Husband: Brown Owl really was irresponsible, wasn’t she?


Husband: And this was the highlight of your entire life?

Niamh: It is now that I’ve demoted our wedding day after you were mean to me


In Dubai, Husband owned two and a half motorbikes. It might have been more/less, but my brain is set to automatically shut down upon registering keywords ‘motorbike’, ‘engine mount’, and ‘hydraulic brake’, in much the same way Husband’s does when I mention the words ‘book‘ and ‘flights‘. Therefore, if he ever told me about his quantity of motorbike, the information was unsuccessfully processed; and it was always difficult to accurately assess the number because existing motorbike(s) were often spread out in their component pieces in the back garden.

With regard to the portion of bike, there existed what might have been an engine and a couple of wheels, which you might think qualifies as significantly more than half a bike, but according to – well, me – if a bike doesn’t have the capacity to start and roar around the place performing wheelies, it only merits a small fraction. In other words, a bike either Is or Isn’t, so according to – yes, me again – I’m being pretty generous with the half ratio.

Before we left Dubai, Husband sold one and a bit of his motorbikes. We shipped what remained at vast expense and I shagged a customs official to get it into New Zealand. I was under the impression that all Husband had to do was top up the oil and turn the key, and the thing would be hot to trot. If I’d known how far it was from hot trottage*, I would have stopped at heavy petting with possibly a bit of face-licking.

When the motorbike† was delivered some time after the rest of our possessions, the excitement was palpable. Husband put on his motorbike boots and tried to bond with the delivery men (not as much as I bonded with the customs official, but still fairly extreme for Husband; he asked them how they were, and made a comment about the weather).

Since then the motorbike† has been on a cement block in the garage acting as an effective clothes horse, while Husband buys up parts and tools on TradeMe. This prompts discussions along the lines of:-

“Niamhie, should I buy this clutch cylinder case guard? It’s got hard black oxide coating <slaver>.”

“Do you really need it?”

“Not REALLY, but it’s only $255 and the seller says he’ll throw in a special clearance crank bearing free.”

“Yeah, it would be bordering on criminal to miss out on a bargain like that.”



Yesterday morning, Husband repaired to the garage. I was meditating with my muse in the living room when a great roar shook me out of my bean bag. Windows rattled, floors shook, Waitakere trembled. I ran to the window, and caught Husband’s tail on a motorbike‡ booting down the drive.

He was moving fast, but I managed to snap his triumphant return:-

He’s back!

Husband’s official report is that the bike needs ‘a bit’ more work. It still sputters on acceleration, and he and his bike nearly ended up in a tree when the brakes crapped out on a corner. Another terrifying moment was when Hairy Dave gave him a dirty look for excessive revving.

* Can you BELIEVE ‘trottage’ is not a defined word? And yet – yet! – ‘frottage’ IS. Once again I marvel at how screwed up the world is.

† For ease of reference.

‡ Disregard †

Sometimes I wake up grumpy, sometimes I let him sleep

Now that summer is well and truly entrenched, Husband has taken to getting up at 05:00hrs to go desert biking.


Last Saturday, he returned from biking just after I got back from the beach. When I came out of the shower, he was collapsed across the bed infusing the duvet with his signature scent: a delicate blend of petrol fumes and sweat.


“Let me have a little doze,” came his voice out of the fug. “Then I won’t be grumpy.”


I took myself downstairs and was busy emailing My Agent, when Andrew goose-stepped down the stairs.


“I had a nap, but I’m STILL GRUMPY!”


“Well, stoppit!” I ordered sharply. This conduct was in wilful violation of the Terms & Conditions of our marriage, Section 3 Paragraph 1a: Any ‘Partner’ who chooses voluntarily without coercion or ulterior motive other than pursuit of Hobby to ride a ‘Motorbike’ for unspecified or specified length of time in any period that could reasonably and otherwise be devoted to the ‘Other Partner’ is prohibited from grumpiness or behaviour that could be reasonably and otherwise described as irritable, snappy, petulant, cantankerous, crusty or tetchy until the next bedtime subsequent to the activity described above (please see Appendix II for permissible exceptions) and furthermore shall immediately cease and desist from displays of such behaviour.


Andrew head butted the sofa and remained flung there muttering something about rhubarb.


“I’m HUNGRY,” he announced.


I brought him a cracker.


“Thanks.” There was a long pause while he nibbled on his cracker, then: “See how nice I was there?”

Modern Cain and Abel parable

Husband’s brother, The Bro, started as he meant to go on, eating his way through the house like a giant locust (there are no walls left, and only a portion of the roof). His 24 year old metabolism, at the peak of its processing powers, is an awesome thing to behold.

Two days after he arrived, Husbandoffered to take The Bro dirt biking. Cue great excitement and lots of manly flexing of muscles using bungee cords. Since The Bro had never been astride a motorbike before, I thought I might tag along for the entertainment.

We drove out to the desert and parked at the lip of an oval of hard-packed sand. After unloading the bikes, Husband commenced the tutorial with a brief demonstration. Clenching his buttocks for effect, he was still strapping on his helmet as he roared off on one wheel in a spray of sand.

Husband is not normally the flashiest of characters, but he turns into something of a showman on a bike. He performed a few aerial somersaults before careering back to us, braking at the last moment so that the front tyre nudged my shin as the bike skidded to a stop. I was only disappointed he didn’t produce two doves from the petrol tank.

Then it was The Bro’s turn. Husband’s instruction was – let’s call it spare:

“Right, here’s the brake. Here’s the clutch. Anything else? Oh yes. Here’s a push.”

Throwing his shoulder into it, he launched The Bro over a dune. The Bro gave the bike maximum throttle, released the clutch, and careered off in a wild yawing effect. For a couple of seconds I was sure it was all going to end in tears – or, more accurately: spurting blood, broken bones and ruptured spleens – but somehow The Bro managed to gain control of the bike. He completed a wobbly circuit of the desert bowl in first gear.

“Right,” said Husband briskly upon his return. By his tone, I could tell he was proud of his protégé’s progress. “To change gear, you tip this lever with your toe. Up to change up. Down to change down. Am I missing anything? Oh yes . . .”


Watching The Bro’s erratic takeoff, this time with an inadvertent wheelie thrown in, I thought perhaps Husband should spend a bit more time on the basics – like stopping, starting, staying upright; stuff like that. I was taking him to task when The Bro disappeared behind a sand-dune.

“Where’s he gone?” I fretted.

“He’s fine.”

“That terrain is pretty choppy.”

“No worries! Woman.”

Off in the far distance, we could hear the bike engine shrieking at maximum rev.

“Has he got it out of first yet?” I asked.

“No. Oh hang on, yes, he has now.”

Suddenly there was a sharp blast of rev and then . . . silence.

Husband and I looked at each other.

Find him!” I squawked, doing a little panic shuffle. This, in case you were wondering, is where I trot back and forth on the spot, bumping into as many proximate objects as possible.

Husband slewed off on the second bike while I prepared my speech to his parents in the event that The Bro had broken a leg. I didn’t want to consider what else he might have broken (Husband always scoffs at the notion that he might break a neck or a cranium. “It’s only sand!” he says whenever I raise the issue, as if hurtling head-first into a dune at 60kph is equivalent to settling gently into a mass of goose-down).

Husband returned ten minutes later without his t-shirt. No doubt he had proffered it to stanch the blood – but from where? Nicked finger? Broken nose?

Severed arm?

“Is he ok?”

“I’m not sure.”

We unhitched the bike trailer and drove the Yukon to The Bro. Although he looked all right – well, no spurting blood – he was making sound effects like a punctured accordion. I was encouraged when he correctly identified how many fingers I held up – although I’ve never been sure what the purpose of the test is, apart from confirming the subject is roughly sober.

We got The Bro home and stuffed him full of Brufen. Thereafter there was more moaning than pain (admittedly The Bro might not agree with that diagnosis). (In fairness, I was only able to accurately measure the moaning.) (But surely he couldn’t have been in THAT much pain?) Over time, The Bro perfected a gorgeous, breathy little gasp which somehow managed to simultaneously convey his stoic agony, his ongoing despair over starving children in the third world, and all the wasted opportunity squandered in his young life.

In between complaining about the lack of sympathy and how the hunger was killing him, The Bro maintained he had broken his tailbone.

“Which is worse: the hunger or the pain?” I’d ask.

“That is such an unfair question.”

Looking on the bright side, his injury gave him the perfect excuse not to get spanked at squash. He also managed to bravely stuff his broken tailbone into a rubber ring and fire himself up a water chute at Wild Wadi.

Apart from the lack of clucking and my ongoing refusal to dress up in a nurses’ uniform, The Bro would find it hard to deny the fact that I was an unwavering source of practical support. I sang to him to take his mind off the pain and regularly dosed him with Margharita, which he claimed was more effective than Brufen. And at least I didn’t try to make it worse – UNLIKE SOME.

The Tuesday after the biking incident (‘accident’ implies nobody is to blame), The Bro being relatively confident that his broken tailbone had limited impact on his ability to pose, he and Husband were set for a Lad’s Night Out. They swept out the door on an exuberant tsunami of aftershave.

Five minutes later Husband called. He’d had a car crash up the Springs Drive; yes, he and The Bro were ok; no, he wasn’t sure what the damage to the Lumina was; no, the other guy’s car was totalled; oh and could I come and collect The Bro while he waited for the police? He’d also be grateful if I brought the insurance papers, thanks.

When Husband had slowed for a speed bump, an Aramex car had driven right up the Lumina’s arse. The Aramex driver admitted that he had dropped his electronic orders device on the floor . . . and bent down to pick it up. The bonnet of Aramex Guy’s Toyota was a crumpled mess and his airbags had deployed.

From a distance the Lumina looked sound, but the boot wouldn’t close properly, and the frame was shunted in under the back doors. (For the next couple of days, whenever Husband drove the Lumina, drivers on the Sheikh Zayed road would slow to 120kph in the next lane, knock on the passenger window and shout at him that the back door was open while helpfully pointing at it.)

Poor The Bro had recommenced moaning with renewed vigour, so I got him installed on the sofa with 600mg of Brufen and a bucket of margharita. I went back to the scene with a cup of coffee for Husband, but the police had arrived so I drove on and pretended I didn’t know him. Hey, I love the guy, but there is nothing on earth that will induce me to spend time with the UAE Fuzz.

Apparently the Lumina’s chassis is bent. Although it can be repaired, it is expensive and is unlikely to pass its next registration. Therefore, we’re going to have to try and persuade Aramex Guy’s insurance company to write the car off

Raff’s new Harley

Hear those revs, see that face


Carol works up an impressive amount of enthusiasm considering her headgear

Biking in Baja

The Start: No 22 stands out from the crowd – probably because I focussed the camera on him


Husband crosses finish line


Portrait of testosterone: Jase, Andrew, Mark


Testosterone is sticky up close


Andrew: vogue

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