Thursday, February 27, 2020


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

DIY ear-plugs

So a couple of weeks ago I dropped my custom ear-plugs in the shed while moving the Tenere (they were resting on the topbox).  I found one but the other vanished - it may even have been processed by the hairy apprentice...

Anyway, with the TT coming up I needed some new ones.  I used disposable jobbies on the Dusty Butt but wanted something more comfy for the longer days on the TT.  My old custom plugs were awesome, I could easily sleep with them in and they fitted nicely under the helmet, kept out a lot of the wind noise while letting me still use the Sena.

When I got back from the DB I started looking around and the guy who made my last ones no longer does them, local earologists want around $180 and Plugs for Lugs are a wee ways away from here.  So, Google was pressed into service.

And, there's a lot of options out there.  I initially found the ones I got on an Aussie website but more searching located a dealer in NZ (I needed them quick) for about $5 more.

The goop you make them with is some sort of two-pot silicon which you mix together and then quickly mold to fit your lug-holes before it goes off (it takes 10 minutes).

Less sticky blue-tack...
When molding them to your ear you need to push them into your ear canal a bit and then smooth the rest of the material around so it fits tightly and doesn't stick out when you put your skid lid on.

One weird thing was the ten minute wait with them in.  While the stuff is going off you can kind of hear and feel it moving.  But once the ten minutes is up they're pretty hard and ready to go.

I think I made a better job of the left one (my second attempt).  As you can see there's a bit more material to go into my ear canal and it's got a bit better shape to it.

So, do they work?

Well, prior to trying them out, I happened upon the package sent to me from the guy who made the last ones many moons ago.  And guess what?  Inside was another pair of plugs that I didn't know existed...Best do a quick comparison then...

Slipping in the new home-made jobbies I noticed that the material is not quite as soft.  They aren't uncomfortable - just not quite as good as my "pro" ones. 

The fit also wasn't quite as good either - I had to make sure that they were in properly otherwise it felt like they'd slip out as I put on my helmet.  This is most likely my fault rather than the product.

I tried them out on a short ride on the Tenere.  There was a bit of wind around and I also tried them with visor up or down.  They were definitely stopping a lot of wind noise and more comfortable than foam plugs.

I then stopped in and put in the "pro" plugs.  They went in a lot nicer and there was no issues putting my helmet on.  I think that they did also offer more protection from the noise but it is hard to tell.  I didn't have the Sena with me so I don't know how well they'll go with it on - I would guess that they'll be fine.

Anyway, I guess I'll stick to my "pro" ones but will also pack these new ones as spares in case I lose the others.  And yeah, at $45 I'd recommend them if you can't find a pro to help you out.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Dusty Butt Chronicles Part 6


With the weather curtailing the trip to the Denniston we had plenty of time for a quiet cruise through to Richmond for the night and our last day of riding in the Sounds.

We loaded the bikes back up on the ute and packed our "still not quite dry" gear in the back and hit the road.

Once again it was a nice quiet drive through to Inangahua and then we were into the Upper Buller Gorge.  Really weird to be driving this rather than riding it!

Nearing Murchison we decided to stop and check out the big swingbridge.  Someone even made me have a go on the zip-line thing which was pretty cool too.

Excitement over, we trundled into Murchison for the usual coffee/pie stop and were soon joined by a heap of bikes that were heading South for the Burt Munro festival - they were late - and lucky as the rain had flooded all of the highways down South and a lot of people had a hard time getting to Invercargill.

Back on the road again, it was just a short leg to Richmond to my sister's place where I parked up for the night while Colin shot over to Mot to stay with a friend.  It was a scorcher there so I finally got all my gear dried out too.


We were booked into a motel in Picton on Thursday night so had all day to get there and intended to have one last ride in the South Island.

A leisurely start  got us through to Havelock where we fueled all the vehicles before taking the Queen Charlotte road through to Linkwater.

In Linkwater we parked up at the pub and offloaded the bikes for a trip through Portage and then onto Titirangi Bay.

The road out to Portage and Kenepuru Head is all seal but there are about twenty zillion corners (checkout the map!).  I'd ridden it before on the V-Strom which I think was probably the better bike for it.  On the WR's we felt like we were riding hard and had to be up and down the box constantly, whereas the big Vee would have just stayed in one gear and would have stuck to the road a bit better.

The road goes to gravel at Kenepuru Head, but it's good gravel, reasonably wide and actually less tight and twisty.  There is a bit of traffic on it though...

After a good little play on the gravel we popped out of the bush to this:

To get down to the bay there is a turn-off to the left which drops down a neat little track to a pretty basic camping ground.  An absolutely gorgeous bay though!

We explored another little track but got to a gate onto private property so turned back and had a spot of lunch overlooking the bay.

Lunch taken care of, we rode back up the hill and then went in search of Endeavour Inlet.  I'd seen it on the map and figured it sounded like a place worth checking out.  As it happens, it's really hard trying to find tracks on a small GPS screen.  It's even harder finding roads that do not exist...we got to explore a few more neat gravel roads though...

Not Endeavour Inlet (Port Gore I think)

Giving up on a road that didn't exist, we returned to Portage for a quick nosey before tackling all those corners again.

Back at Linkwater we had a cold drink and a snack before carrying onto Picton for a decent steak and our last night in the South Island.


On Friday morning we learned that the ferry was running late so had plenty of time to go and meet Al in town for a coffee.  Great to catch up with him again, although no riding this time around - we'll be back...

At the terminal we lined up next to the bike lane and so had a chance to ogle the bikes and chat to some of the riders.  There was even a heap of Poms lined up on bikes that they had brought with them - and their van too!

I likee

Touring Poms...
Another nice crossing of the straight yakking with another Dusty Butt rider soon had us back in the North Island where Colin was unloaded at his place and I carried on to home.

Great trip with some great riding (especially the Dusty Butt) and really happy with how the little bike went!  Just might have to do it all again someday...

Friday, February 21, 2020

Dusty Butt Chronicles Part 5

So, the Dusty Butt was over, but we had 5 days to get home.  And we had a few plans...


With the perfect weather about to change and us kinda needing to head North at some stage, we packed up, said goodbye to everyone and hit the road last.

We did manage to keep Keith and Fiona in sight as far as Geraldine and then saw the two-wheeled mob just getting ready to leave a cafe at the Northern end of Geraldine.  Being brave four-wheeled conveyance users, we carried on without extra caffeine or pastry products.

Cruise control and air-conditioning set at appropriate levels we carried on up the island wondering when the bikes would catch us.  One of us even had a snore off - I won't say who it was but at least they weren't driving...

Eventually the bikes did go past us (behaving very well I thought) and we assumed that was the last we'd see of Karen, Chris, Rowan and Jeff.  But, arriving in Oxford and stopping to sort out our caffeine and pastry deficiencies, we managed to beat the bikers to the counter at the cafe...

Leaving Oxford it was the last we saw of the two-wheeled tribe and we carried on North, missed a turn-off to SH1 and then eventually rejoined the main road just North of Amberley.  Waikari was our next stop for the most expensive diesel of the trip (damn missing the Mobil in Amberley) and then were off on our way across the Lewis.

Having ridden through quite a few times, it was a different experience to drive it but the ute managed just fine and I don't think anyone passed us.

Our stop for the night was in Reefton when we arrived it was very warm.  Colin managed to find a pool over the fence where we went to test the waterproofedness of my Chinese watch...

Later on the weather caught up with us...


In the morning we got up to pouring rain and some decisions.  We had planned to ride out to Big River Mine before loading up and driving to Murchison for an attack on the Denniston Plateau on Wednesday.  But it was damn wet!

All of the rain was going to mean that the Mackley river crossing would be hairy at best.  We'd also get back from Big River wet and need to get packed up out in the rain.  We scratched the Denniston idea and went and paid for another night in Reefton.

We lazed around a bit before finally working up the courage to head out and get wet.  And yes, we got wet...

The ride up to Big River starts just out of town and initially is on a nice wide gravel road before disappearing into the bush and deteriorating to a narrower, rougher track.  There were also lots of other tracks heading off to who knows where...

Note the pictures below (taken later in the morning) quite clearly point the way to Big River.  We failed to see them and took the right be fair, it was very wet...

 The track we took quickly got a lot worse.  It was rutted and rocky with some really deep holes to paddle through, but worst of all was the overgrown scrub (particularly the gorse) whacking us across the face and trying to pull the handle-bars out of our hands.  Gorse flicking in your eyes gets old really quick...

We actually worked out we were lost fairly early on as we were definitely off the purple line on my GPS.  But, we weren't the only one lost - we ran into another lunatic out playing in the rain - he was even staying at the same motel...

Eventually we ran out of road at a decent sized clearing - maybe a clearing for the loggers to work out of or perhaps a place for choppers to land to collect the carcasses of lost trail riders...

After an about turn and some more bush-bashing we got back to the junction in that second photo and started in towards the mine.  Oh, and we were pretty damp by this stage.  At the least the track was slightly better...


15kms later, two drowned rats splashed through a creek and got to clearing where a lot of the old mine infrastructure is quietly rotting away.

Just up the hill was the shed containing the old steam powered winch for raising and lower the miners down into the mine.

Sight-seeing down and sufficiently soaked, we decided not to hang around and hammered it back to Reefton - definitely quicker going out than coming in.

Back at the motel, the priority was to get out of wet gear, sorting out a way to dry it out and a hot shower followed by a late lunch...

Later on we wandered around in the drizzle to find some dinner before calling it a night...