83 months ago

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Going Postal - Intro

Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand

I thought I'd like to take the opportunity to tell everyone about my job. I am a motorcycle postie (postman for those outside New Zealand) and thus I literally get paid to ride a motorcycle.

My job is pretty cruisey and even on a crappy day it's still a great day. The old saying "the worst day on a motorcycle is still better than the greatest day in a car" rings true everyday for me.

I live in a rather large town in New Zealand called Hawera. There are two postal companies here and I work for the other one. At the moment it is just me doing the entire town of around 12,000 as well as a small village about 5 minutes out of town called Normanby. It's not as hectic as it sounds because we aren't the incumbent mail company so our deliveries are smaller, although they are starting to get more as the incumbent loses business to us.

If anyone has been to Hawera or the province of Taranaki for that matter you'll know the weather is a bit poxy. It rains so much we affectionately call it "Taranaki Sunshine" but the trade off is we have the best dairy farming in the whole of New Zealand, although the volcanic soil from Mount Egmont/Taranaki helps heaps as well. As they say "rain, hail, or shine the mail will get through".

The bike I ride is a little bike that is great for posties but not so great for anything else, although I've been told by some that they make great farm bikes as well. That bike is the Honda NBC110 and it really is a fun daily ride.

As you could imagine being in town awards a few challenges. If you're an experienced rider you'll know statistically you're most likely to have a crash in town than on the open road so my job is pretty dangerous although the pay doesn't reflect that. Throw in dogs, who for some odd reason seriously hate posties, and you get the idea that it's not all plain sailing. I haven't even mentioned the pills who come flying out of their driveways without thinking we're coming along the footpath, but you don't expect much from a driver.

Before doing this job I had spent pretty much 18 years working in IT. I got tired of keeping ancient computer systems running because people were too cheap to upgrade to better software and learn it. I got tired of dealing with people at their worst every single day so when the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy came along I took it. I actually wanted to become a plumber but no one got back to me, which is odd because plumbers are scarce and they're screaming out for them but when someone is willing to become a plumber they're not ready to jump at the chance, oh well.

My motorcycling days started when I was a farmhand in 1994. Learning to ride a motorcycle on a farm was quite frankly the best thing ever. You could get into trouble but you quickly learned how to get out of it as well. It also gave me skills that translate into my job quite nicely.

My first bike I ever owned was a 1976 Honda CG110. A hole in the carburettor float saw me ditch that and I didn't ride for a couple of years as I could not afford a new bike. Then I got a new job that paid well and that afforded me enough money to buy my second bike, a 1987 Suzuki GSX-R 250. I loved this bike and today it is still one of my favourite bikes to ride. It was quick, agile, and so much fun in corners. It turns out it was also one of 70 bought into the country fully race specced so there you go. Unfortunately on my way home one night, literally a block away from work, I was involved in a car crash that wrote that beauty off.

8 weeks later I got my third bike. A 2000 Suzuki GZ 250 Marauder. When I got this bike I both stunned and annoyed my physio nurse. The week before I was still having trouble moving my wrist but after getting the bike (which incidentally was right after that physio visit) I got about 70% movement back in my wrist within that week. When she asked me about the noticeable change I told her about the bike and she frowned at me with a look that makes Superman's laser vision seem pretty tame. I simply replied that "you physio people tell us to get back to doing the things we normally do... well I normally ride motorcycles". Ever seen the look on someone's face that's just been defeated by sound logic? She wore that look. I did a round the North Island trip on this bike and regretted most of the ride. It was horrible coming into Wellington on the day they had 120KM/H headwinds giving me the ability to only pull about 70KM/H out of the bike on the highway. That was not fun. Thankfully the rest of the trip was reasonable weather which saw me get a bee sting between the shoulder blades and also thrash a Maori kid on the Kamakaze water slides at Waiwera Hot Pools. He was making fun of me for wearing a steamer wetsuit so I challenged him to a race down the slides and I even gave him a three second head start as I still bet him. He shut up after that.

I got rid of the Marauder when I got my full motorcycle license. This saw me get my biggest ride a 1996 Suzuki RF 600 which to this date is my most favourite ride ever. New Zealand roads are very winding and so more often than not big bikes aren't much fun. The 600 has no issues giving me a bike powerful enough to get me into trouble while also being powerful enough to get me out of trouble. My fastest ever "riding fast" ticket came when I was in Upper Hutt looking for a house to live in for my new job. I was at the Totara Park lights and when they went green I just floored it and within 5 marker posts I was at 130KM/H. Unfortunately for me I did not see the plain clothes cop car who immediately let me know of his presence. I was smiling when I got that ticket. This was after I had this bike airborne at 220KM/H on the wrong side of the road, so yeah, it had some go for a detuned bike. Sadly I killed it. I had looked in the oil sight glass thinking that oil looked black I better change it come payday (which was still a week away) only to realise that it wasn't black oil but the engine housing being devoid of oil. I found this out after passing a car at 120KM/H and then hearing a thudding sound that scared me a lot. I stripped the engine down and found that one of the crank bolts on the number 3 piston had sheared in two and that allowed the piston to travel further and slam into the valves bending them. Unfortunately I just could not find a replacement engine for an RF. I only found out after I'd fobbed off the shell that it was actually a detuned Bandit 600 engine and I could have got them so easily.

Currently I am rideless myself except for the bike I ride daily. That's enough for me now but my wife is pestering me to find a way to move back to New Plymouth. It's more expensive to live there as currently we've got a good wicket going on living in my folk's house for cheap as rent. If I have to leave my postie job to get there I'm going to tell her I will be getting a new motorcycle and that's not negotiable. She is after all making me give up the BEST job I have ever had.

I found Eat Sleep Ride after an exhaustive search for a good motorcycle trip recorder. ESR ended up being the one I liked the most and there's a really cool community out there so this is my chance to be a part and give people a perspective of motorcycle riding that many will not even think about. I hope you enjoy this blog and please feel free to let me know what you think and how I can improve this blog as I go along.

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