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Saturday, January 21, 2017

WHY we march ...

I'm struggling for a title here, because I have no interest in preaching to the already converted, I want to reach readers who don't yet understand why women are marching today. That's not easy ...

Let's begin with an anecdote. I'm Maori. New Zealand's indigenous race. I'm many other things also but that is a key part of my formative years. I was the Maori girl, from the Maori family. In those days, in some homes, it came with a stigma.

I'm also light-skinned, well-spoken and could easily "pass" for white, something indigenous people know all too well.

Obviously, I'm also female. But I'm smart, talented and tough, and while I will never "pass" as male, I know my worth and can negotiate it. As a friend wrote elsewhere today, I am an exception.

Except I'm not.

Simply being female means I have to be better, stronger, more capable to aspire to the same rewards as a mediocre male. It means having to be brash and outspoken to be heard. It means, often, that I need to assess the mood of the males around me and adjust my behavior accordingly.

It means that being treated equally is an exception, and that is why we march ...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Change of plans . . .

Like most things in life, there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to motorcycles.

The ideal bike differs for each person, but needs to be one that feels perfectly comfortable, where you become part of the machine and it part of you. Where maneuvering is simply a matter of seeing where you want to be, an almost subconscious shift of weight or a slight push on a handgrip. There are enough things against you as a motorcyclist - the road conditions, weather, other traffic, roadworks and wildlife - that you can't afford to add fighting your ride into that mix.

My 980km round trip to visit my cousin in Roma made me realize the V-Strom DL650 will never be that bike for me. It's a beautiful bike - smooth, powerful, responsive- but much too high and heavy for someone of my height and weight. Being barely able to reach the ground on a bike that weighs three times more than me makes stopping awkward at best, dangerous at worst.

Dulacca Truck Stop: unleaded for the big beast, lemonade for the smaller, water to pour over my head.
Rinse, ride, repeat . . . 
So, I've decided not to ride the beast to Sydney, as riding any distance on a bike you're uncomfortable on is a recipe for disaster. Riding that far and into a major city on this bike would be stupid of me.

Unfortunately, there are no lower bikes available so instead of heading out today, I'll relax beside a friend's pool and recover from my ride back from Roma yesterday. Through a heatwave that Queensland is experiencing that required constant water stops and cool down periods before facing the road and Australia's road trains again. At least it was too hot for the 'roos to be on the roads.

Killaroos planning road rampage . . . 
There is a bike in Sydney that may be suitable for my stay in the city and I'd like to ride out to Watson's Bay and up to the Blue Mountains while there, but I'll wait until I can try it on for size before booking this time. Returning the V-Strom will cost me money, but that's better than having it cost my life or health.

Instead, I'll fly to Sydney in the morning and check into my fancy Airbnb apartment at Darling Harbour. I think I'm going to the opera in the evening, and have five days there to visit with friends and explore my old stomping and sailing grounds.

The adventure doesn't end, the transport has just been adjusted . . .

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017

Riding the sunburnt country: Day 1 . . .

Ready to ride?
While an ocean sailor, l quickly learned there are few agnostics at sea. When your life is at the whims of the sea and the weather, you tend to pray, whether it be to God, Buddha, Allah, Gaia, the universe or your own personal combination. I tended to throw Tangaroa and Tawhirimatea into the mix.

I was reminded yesterday that long-distance motorcycling is similar.

I left Brisbane mid-morning en route to Roma, Queensland, sometimes referred to as "the gateway to the outback."  I'd just spent three wonderful days catching up with family, friends and friends who have become family, and was planning a 490km shakedown ride to see a loved cousin I hadn't seen in too long.

Another treasured friend rode with me out of the city and some of the way, by which time I'd gained confidence with the overly large and heavy bike I'd rented, then he left me to make my way alone.

The open road astride a powerful bike is a vastly different experience than traveling by car or other four-wheeled vehicle, where the goal seems to be to distract oneself as much as possible from the trip. On a bike, distraction is deadly, and one is constantly scanning the road, the other traffic, what lies ahead, on both sides and is approaching from behind.
the big, beautiful beast (and friend) 

This trip being in Australia, I had to add killeroos and slowly jaywalking koalas into the usual dangers of being on the road without a hard shell covering.

That heightened sense of awareness also makes one highly aware of the beauty of the world you're in and the preciousness of life and I find myself prayerful when I ride long distances alone.

I'm constantly giving thanks - for friends and whanau and freedom, and helpful strangers who often become friends. I'm thankful for good weather, well-maintained roads, the beauty of the huge open sky and the sunburnt fields of scribbly gum trees and corn and red sorghum and the long low Queenslander farmhouses, with their wide shaded verandas that insulate the interiors from the incredible heat.

I'm even thankful for my fellow road users - the drivers of the massive road trains I'm following who indicate when it's clear ahead and safe for me to pass; the drivers coming towards me who flash their lights to warn of speed traps. There's a sense of camaraderie just by sharing the same road.

I'm thankful for the hospitality offered to a traveler, at road houses, gas stations and truck stops. Where strangers ask where you're going, where you're from and what brings you this way, then give advice and good wishes for the roads ahead.
Heading out . . . 

I ask my god/s for gifts also - mostly for a continuation of those gifts I'm already thankful for.

Please watch over my friends and family, continue to bless me with health and good fortune, please protect me from rain while on the road, distracted drivers, and those damned killeroos.

Then it's back to giving thanks ...