Thursday, September 3, 2020

A 2020 "Hows It going"

Well, I think 2020 can be summed up in a single word 


To be honest we in Australia have been pretty well sheltered from the worst of the Covid nightmare that most of the world has been suffering. Sure, our economy is in recession at "officially" 7% down for the June quarter (and way worse to come I guess) and millions are out of work. The Federal government is printing money to hand out to those of us who have been stood down (of which I am thankful but still wary of the consequences) while the state governments hide behind that money and keep their borders closed, meaning the aviation industry (amongst many) is no closer to clambering itself off of it's stomach, onto it's knees.

I have been lucky enough to find some work through a mate, picking parts as a storeman five days a week. I think I am pretty fit for my age but being constantly on my feet and walking (~10km a day), carrying heavy tractor and forklift parts, from 8am to 4pm five days a week is starti to wear me down. I don't have a forklift ticket which means I don't get to sit down a couple of times an hour like everyone else that works there, I am just relentlessly walking, carrying parts and walking, walking, walking all day.

Only a tiny fraction of the stores.

I am thankful to have something that keeps the dollars trickling in but it is soul destroying to someone who looks forward to future challenges and adventures as it currently feels like a road to nowhere.

I am getting a little bit of flying - just enough to keep my hand in but I find no joy in it at all. Maybe it is the months and months of the company being under administration (Chapter 11 for you US types), maybe the "survivor guilt", maybe the fear of the unknown but probably a combination of all of these. 
Having the sword of Damocles hanging over one's head for 5 months gets very tiring, to the point of not caring any more. Unfortunately, it has recently fallen on a lot of my comrades (and good mates) in the form of the international and regional fleets being axed

A330s and 777s waiting to be returned to the lessors.....

This has been very sad and distressing. Many of those who lose their jobs in October have been in the company for just on 20 years. Many most were my Captains during my early years in the company. I learnt so much from sitting next to them all day and all night, through great weather and also some abominable weather. Not only did I learn from their technical abilities, but also from their interpersonal and their risk analysis skills.  They taught me not only to be a better pilot, but a better person.
I am extremely upset for their loss, through no fault of their own and the fact that I may (or may not - yet to be seen) have a job through this is no comfort at all. In fact, it makes me feel worse.

Not to be daunted though, one of those early mentors who has recently moved back to Brisbane is a mad keen motorcyclist. He has been herding the other soon-to-be-vastly-underemployed pilot/motorcyclists together for a few group rides. I went on one of these rides about six weeks ago and really enjoyed the day. Andy (champion early mentor) organised another such ride last week, incorporating an overnight in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and I was lucky enough to be invited! 

A not too early start was slated for Cafe' Tara at The Gap. Hazo and I filtered our way through Thursday peak hour traffic, making great time to arrive early. I topped off the tank as I like to be ready for "whatever".

A good sized crew of about 10 assembled and drank coffee while comparing shit sandwiches(situations). I must admit, I felt a little awkward being the only one in a very capable group of blokes, who may still have a job doing what we love in the near future....

At 9am we saddled up for a run up over Mt Glorious. It was a nice pace and as I hadn't ridden in about six weeks I was feeling a bit rusty, but taking it easy to get my eye back in. The California Superbike School day I did last year has given me the tools to relatively quickly evaluate my riding and set aiming points for corner entry speeds and turning points that give me much confidence. Money well spent and great self insurance!

We didn't stop at the cafe' at Mt Glorious (shame as there were about 20 bikes parked up and a great photo opp) instead rolling on toward the back side - the fabulous side- of the mountain. The corners out there are silky smooth and arc perfectly. No tightening radii, even when going over a rise or through a dip, just sweet, sweet tarmac.

We regrouped at each intersection as we had an eclectic bunch of bikes in the group. From an S1000RR, a VTR1000 Firestorm and my old R1, to more cruiser oriented BMWs, a KTM 1090 and a couple of Harley Road Kings (I think - I don't know Harleys).

Glenn and Ash (Harry B photo)

We were led, of course by Andy, who apart from being a very accomplished A330 check captain is also a California Superbike School instructor in his spare time. To say his R series BMW showed us a clean pair of heels in the corners was a given. His son, Harry, a 777 pilot home from Hong Kong and on the VTR wasn't ever far behind his Dad!

The "back end" of the group snaking down a hillside. (Harry B photo)

We kept up a pretty chirpy pace to the morning tea stop in Woodford. Like most country towns, Woodford has a great little bakery and we queued up, Covid style, for a coffee and a pie.

Woodford RSL has an unusual gate guard in a Leopard AS1 tank. I have passed it by every time I have been in town but this time I slipped away for a quick photo shoot. Just me, the animal and the bike.

Soon we were heading north out of town for our lunch stop in Kenilworth. A quick climb of the Peachester Range (with no slow traffic) and we took in a few other roads new to me. 

Marty K cresting the Peachester Range climb (Harry B photo)

In fact, with all the twisting and turning I didn't know where we were most of the time until we rolled into the main street of Kenilworth and our lunch stop.

Nanna McGinn's coffee shop served it's lunchtime purpose, filling a hole that some spirited riding had created.

We followed the Mary Valley rd all the way up to Gympie, another road I hadn't done before. A quick splash of fuel at Jones Hill Store and we were on the final stretch to our overnight digs at Kin Kin.

While waiting for the others I noted that I had finally clicked over the 40 000km(24 900mi) mark! Low k's for an 18 year old bike!

We cut through Cedar Pocket rd, a road that I had intended to take Steve along last year but we couldn't find. It was ok but a few too many corners had loose gravel strewn across them for it to be too much fun.

A few more twisting roads and we were at our overnight accommodation, the Country Life Hotel in Kin Kin. The staff were super friendly and we were soon sat around, blowing the froth off of a few cold ones, reliving the day's exploits/escapes.

The group (Marty K photo)

Food was served, along with several many more beverages which seemed to fill most of us up, apart from PG who seemed to have hollow legs and kept the kitchen busy!

The following morning I took a stroll around the little town of Kin Kin while we waited for the kitchen to open for breakfast. Kin Kin is typical of the Sunshine Coast hinterland towns. Based on logging back in the day they now rely on tourism and "treechangers" to get by.

I did do a few mountain bike rides through Kin Kin in the very early days of my mtbing pursuit. In fact, my first 50km ride went through Kin Kin. If I recall correctly, I wanted to sell the mtb to anyone for $10 at about the 35km stage! (There are LOTS of hills in the Noosa Trails Network!)

We hit the road at around 0915 and headed out the Boreen Point rd. Yet another road I hadn't ridden or driven. It was very flat but consisted of plenty of corners. We were on a bit of a mission to make it to Rick's Garage in Palmwoods for opening time at 11am, so not a lot of photos were taken.

Waiting for Harry to get ahead to take some action photos.

Hazo (Harry B photo)

Back toward Kenilworth so that we could take the Obi Obi road up to Mapleton, which passes through a very picturesque valley. We stopped at the top of the climb to look at the valley we had just carved up.

Harry took some more photos somewhere along here. I can't place them so I will just plonk them in here....

Me, Hazo and Glenn P. (Harry B photo)

PG and Marty K. (Harry B photo)

At Mapleton we took an unusual left turn and dropped off the range down to Nambour for fuel. I thought this was bit odd but then we climbed back up on another road so all was well with the world - just adding more corners.....

Andy B, ride leader (Harry B photo)

After a quick stop at the famous Rick's Garage in Palmwoods (where I took no photos due to catching up with two other guys from work who rode up for a quick meet up) we were on our way along the ridge line through Montville, before turning further back inland on Bald Knob rd. Yet another new road and the views over the Glasshouse Mountains was superb!

I enjoyed catching up to the others after stopping for the above photo! Then it was back through Peachester, out Comissioner's Flat Rd to Woodford.

Our lunchtime destination of the Crown Hotel in Dayboro was reached at about 1pm, after a fun ride up over Mt Mee. It was a tired but happy crew who ordered some of the best steak sandwiches going!

Just can't get away from the constant reminders.

This was where we would split up and head our separate ways. Four of us decided to just head east to get onto the Gateway motorway as this would be the quickest way home on a Friday afternoon.

Thanks to our ride leader Andy for organising the route and accommodation and keeping us to schedule. Thanks to Harry for some awesome photos and thank you to the guys for letting me tag along.

Lets do it again.....soon. ;)



  1. That was a great read Dave and I'd imagine good for the soul after what you and your fellow aircrew are having to endure. Great mix of bikes too.

    Pleased to hear that you've got employment even though it's tough going on the body. At my age with shagged knees, it's standing still in one position for a while that's the killer.

    Take care....

    1. Yeah, it was good to get it off my chest. Not.Good.Times. Having said that, I have had 18 years of pretty bloody good times so it may be time to pay the piper. ;(
      It was great to get out and forget about it a bit....but it did make me miss the BMW. I am constantly perusing the sales adverts looking for a cheap, capable ADV bike.

  2. Looks like a nice day for a ride man.

    Good on you for picking up the job even if it isn't a perfect match. Gotta keep the $ coming in. I see a forklift licence in your future.

    All the best!

    1. T'was a great day out!
      Yes, a fork licence is a must but a week's pay to do it? I'll wait until my legs can't stand it any more.....

  3. Forklift License pfftt. You clearly don't know anything about the real world. Tradies don't have licenses, those other guys that seem to know what their doing on the forklifts don't have licenses. Just jump on and sort that shit out. You don't need a license to drive a forklift. As long as you look competition then your good to go. Oh and if anything goes wrong blame it on the none speaking english guy.

    1. Had a few drinks? I was 4wding a solid wheeled forklift across Jelbart's dirt backyard while you were still in school boyo. Driving one isn't the issue, having a licence so I can legally run people over is the issue!!! 😜


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