b12mick has kindly agreed to share his story with us all. Many thanks for participating and giving us a very enjoyable story. Q. Hey b12mick, thanks for sitting in the hot chair. We'll try not make it too tortuous for you Cool. I hope this isn't too boring and rambling. Q. You've been part of the netrider furniture for so long and have shared a lot with us over the years, but I'm sure the newer members would benefit from you briefly telling us about yourself. I'm 50, I've been married for 28 years. We've got 2 sons, a 27yr old who is in the Army (RASig) and a 21 year old who is still living at home and going to TAFE - doing a pathways course then hopefully a cert iv in IT next year. I was born in Yorkshire and we emigrated to Australia in 1970, I turned 5 in the migrant hostel in Geelong. I spent most of my youth in the Geelong area, but lived in Benalla for a few years (1979 to 1983). Then after my mum died, dad and I moved back to the Geelong area. I went to Uni in Bendigo (doing Accounting) for a year and spent too much time drinking so didn't do so well and decided accounting was just a tad boring. I spent 6 months being unemployed before I got a job a Winchester in Pt Henry. I was there until December '86 when I joined the RAAF. I spent 5 years at RAAF Laverton before being posted to RAAF Wagga in 1992. I got out of the RAAF in 1999 to take a job with Finemore Transport and I've been here ever since. Although we got taken over by Toll in 2001/2 and Toll got taken over by Japan Post last year. Q. Tell us a little about your riding life. I understand that quite a few members of your family are motorcyclists. Are you still part of the club scene. From memory you are or were president? My dad rode a BSA Gold Star in the mid 40's to early 50's in England. He was a real café racer. Mum wasn't a fan of motorcycles so dad sold the bike and bought an engagement ring. My wife got that that ring, but it got stolen on our honeymoon. Oh, we had our honeymoon at Phillip Island in 1988. We got to walk around part of the track while they were still redoing it. We never did get around to seeing the penguins. Lol. I guess my first ride was on a mates mini bike, I would have been 8 maybe 9. From then on every chance I got I would ride mates bikes. But I never had one of my own. Luckily all through my youth I had mates who had farms so I mainly rode old farm bikes in various states of repair. We would do stupid things like try to jump dams on CT110's (they don't float very well) or ride around Lake Mokoan in drought (which was somewhat against the law) and wore no protective gear whatsoever. In fact the first time I wore a helmet while being in control of a bike was when I did my L’s course. Up until then the only time I’d worn a helmet was as a kid when my brother-in-law would take me for a pillion ride. I wanted to get my licence when I was 17, but as my dad was going to be paying for it and said "You can get a bike licence over my dead body. You're too much like me and you'd kill yourself on these modern bikes", I didn't. I would occasionally make noises about getting a bike licence, but life kept getting in the way and I didn't actually get my licence until I was nearly 31, just over a year after my father passed away. I guess he was right. My sister rode, as did her first and second husbands. My wife rides and so does our eldest son, the youngest will get his riders licence this year if we can get the money together. My brother doesn't ride, but does race classic cars, so we forgive him for that. I was in a social motorcycle club for 10 years or so and was President for a couple of years and VP before that. My wife did a couple of spells as Treasurer and Secretary. But due to declining numbers we folded the club in 2013. I've ridden with the Hoggies (My wife used to work for the local HD dealer), Ulysses, Rebels, Finks, Mongols and an Albury group called "Party Unlimited" and had drinks with blokes for various other OMC's/MMC's and other social motorcycle clubs. When I worked at Winchester a number of the blokes were members of the Warlocks and Warlords MC and I've had a few mates who have been in 1% clubs over the years. (As a balance to that, my eldest sister was a cop before she died and my other sister was married to a cop. I have a number of friends who are cops. And I actually applied to the VicPol and got accepted, but ultimately declined. So, no I don’t hate cops, well not all cops anyway) My first bike was an under powered POS GN250. I had my most frightening experience on that GN. I decided to go for a ride to Gundagai on the back roads No issue there. But rode home on the Hume. Going up a hill I had the throttle to the stop, in 3rd revving it’s tits off, hunched down as flat as I could get and was getting monstered by a couple of B doubles. You know you’re slow when a B double tanker passes you up hill like your standing still. I also had my first off on the road on that bike. I think I’d had my learners 2 weeks. I had just had a new rear tyre fitted and basically I was turning left at a set of lights and wasn’t paying attention – the Rebels MC on the other side of the intersection had caught my attention. I would have been lucky to be doing 20, I didn’t see the oil and over I went. I was wearing a leather jacket, jeans, gloves and GP boots. Damage to the bike – broken clutch leaver, damage to me, badly bruised left elbow – damn it hurt, and my pride. The Rebels standing, clapping and cheering didn’t help. Thankfully my years of riding dodgy farm bikes had taught me how to ride without a clutch and I made it back to the bike shop. I learnt a valuable lesson that day – pay fcuking attention ALL the time. But the GN served its purpose and I got rid of it the same day I got my full licence, which in NSW at the time meant I'd had my learners less than 3 months. My second bike was a slightly less under powered POS GR650. Interesting bike. Not particularly fast but would sit on 120 all day. Very comfortable. Cornered badly, it’d get a nasty weave happening if you pushed too hard and braking, well I’m just glad it was a parallel twin and had good engine braking because the brakes where shit. I got it because it was slightly more powerful that the GN and more importantly at the time, cost me the GN plus $100. I was doing motorcycling on the cheap. I still hadn’t bought a new pair of motorcycle boots, pants or jacket, just second hand stuff from cash convertors or the op shop. I had that bike for 5 years before it finally died. I rode it to and from Melbourne regularly (I was in the process of applying for VicPol – I got accepted but declined the offer in the end) and took it down the GOR a couple of times in the vain hope of keeping up with my sister on her CBR600F. The only time I saw my BIL on the rides was at the beginning and end of the ride. It was on the GR650 that I had my second off. I low sided at 120 on the left hander as you come out of Bonnie Doon heading towards Mansfield (just before the bridge over Eildon) on the way back home from doing the VicPol fitness test. No damage to me and the only damage to the GR was the left foot peg was bent under the frame, left mirror smashed and the left rear indicator snapped but didn’t come off. The bizarre thing was the jars of coffee and jar of sugar in the left hand outside pocket of the ventura bag were undamaged but the flask of coffee inside the main bag was badly dented, even though it was wrapped in a towel and in amongst my clothes. Another lesson learned – braking mid corner in the wet isn’t a good idea, neither is trying to take a corner in the damp at the same speed you have in the dry. When it finally died I got a GSX600F. I loved that bike and I could keep up with and beat my sister on the GOR. Still had no hope of keeping up with my BIL. He had a Hayabusa at that stage It was on the 600 that I learned one of the most valuable lessons EVER. Wearing all the gear can kill you, or at the very least make you very unwell. Let me explain. It was January and we had gone down to Geelong to spend some time with my sister and her family. I rode the 600 and my wife took the kids in the car. The eldest would do short stints on the back of the bike, but got bored quickly on Hume. All good. We did a couple of rides down the GOR, one of which resulted in my wife declaring “When I get a job, I’m getting my own bike. This is just too much fun”. It was time to head home. At this point in time I was one of the ATGATT brigade and was wearing full leathers. I left Geelong at around 9am. By the time I got to Bunker Hill it was already in the mid 30s. In Glenrowan it was 38. I was feeling great, hot but great. I bought more water and continued on. I stopped every 30 minutes to drink some more water. I reckon I must have drunk close to 10lt of water that day. By the time I got to Albury I wasn’t feeling real well, but continued on. I stopped at Henty and had a little nap before continuing home. My family were some distance behind me, they’d left after me and had got caught in traffic in Melbourne. I got home, put the bike on the side stand and quite literally fell off the bike. I took my gloves off to undo the helmet and could hear a hissing noise coming from my bike. I reached up and touched the tank. It was that hot I burnt my hand. The hissing noise was vapours escaping through the filler cap. I stayed where I was for I don’t know how long. My wife got home and helped me inside. My wife suggested I go for a luke warm shower to try and bring my temp down. But I couldn’t get my leathers off, they were stuck to me. So I got in the shower with them on. I just sat on the shower floor and let the water run over me. I slowly started to feel better and managed to get the leathers off and was feeling a little better, but my skin was bright red, like I was sunburnt. I stubbornly refused to go to the ED. The next morning I still felt like shit and my wife took me to our GP. He said that I was extremely lucky I hadn’t died or done myself some serious harm. I had heat stroke. He gave me a week off work and prescribed electrolytes for me. Yep, lesson learned. I’ve done similar trips in similar temps since but wearing jeans, long sleeve shirt and vest keeping the shirt and jeans damp and haven’t had any issues. You’re better off being comfortable and not need the protective gear than be uncomfortable and end up needing the protective gear because you fell off. I’m now more a, ‘most of the appropriate gear most of the time’ person. Our eldest was starting to pillion more and more and was growing quickly, as they do, and the poor thing started to struggle hauling us around. I bought the Bandit in May 2002. Actually picked it up on what would have been my father’s birthday. I kept the 600 for a while in the hope my wife would ride it, but she didn’t like it, so I sold it to my sister who had lost her VTR1000 in her divorce and needed something to tie her over until she could get another one, bike not husband. In 2004, Mother’s Day actually, I had my 3rd and last off and learned another valuable lesson in the process. DO NOT try and keep up with someone who is obviously better and faster than you. Ride your own ride at a pace YOU are comfortable with. I was on a club ride on a road I know well. I was chasing a mate who was a far better and quicker rider than me. All was going fine until we hit some un-signposted loose gravel on a couple of corners. I didn’t back off, because my mate hadn’t. I lost the front, but managed to get it back, but then the back end started to come around, I gathered it back together, I don’t know how but I did and slowed down. I was now doing about 60, then had another slight loss on the front and was now heading for a 2ft culvert (I didn’t know it was a 2ft culvert at that stage), target fixation took over and in I went and high sided in the process. So there I was laying in the culvert the bike on its side, so what did I do? I jumped up, lifted up the bike and pushed it out of the culvert. Hmm, the front end looked completely fcuked – but sitting on the bike it was obvious it was only the fairing that was off centre, the forks and ‘bars were straight. There were no indicators, the tank was dented, the rear brake lever was bent as was the exhaust. But it still ran. I had a couple of smokes then the others caught up and we ocky strapped/zip tied the fairing back together, unbent the rear brake, pulled the exhaust out a bit and continued on our way home. Other than the weird aerodynamic effect caused by the off centre fairing it ran great. I rang my wife from Rosewood to let her know what had happened, she was really concerned about the bike though. Would it be alright to get home or did it need to be put on a trailer. The concern for the bike increased when I got home. My wife is a motorcycle spare parts interpreter by trade and was calculating how much it was going to cost. The kids refused to talk to me because we were supposed to do a family ride the following weekend and I had ruined it by “killing the Bandit”. By this time I was starting to stiffen up and couldn’t take a deep breath without some pain. The family had no sympathy for me. My wife finished her assessment of the bike and declared it a write-off. From memory her exact words were “You stupid fcuking idiot. If they have to replace the tank it’ll be a write-off. Oh well at least its fcuking insured. You fcuking idiot”. In fact over the next 2 hours the only thing she said to me was “you fcuking idiot” and shake her head. I say 2 hours because that’s how long it took for them to finally agree with me that maybe I should go to the ED. So they drove me down there, dropped me off and said “Ring me when you’re finished” and left. Only bruising and pulled muscles, a week off work, and all good. But it took Swann 2 months to sort out what they were going to do and another month for the bike shop to fix it. They didn’t write it off, but only because they repaired the tank rather than replacing it. Damn my wife was right, I’ll never live this down. I did a few riding courses early on, but haven't done one in well over a decade. I'd love to do more, god knows I need it, but they're just to cost prohibitive for me these days. It's not just the course I have to pay for, it's the travel and accommodation as well. The nearest training centre until recently was in Queanbeyan (2.5 to 3 hours away). There's now one in Albury/Wodonga I have check out some time. Living in regional NSW has lots of advantages, but there are certainly some disadvantages as well. I don't own a car, haven't done since 1996, and generally speaking I'd rather ride the bike than sit in a car. I really like riding narrow, winding, country roads and enjoy the challenge of riding dirt roads (not tracks, the Bandit is versatile, but not that versatile). But having said that, some of my favourite roads are Granya Gap, River Road, Cabramurra/Khancoban Rd and the Snowy Mountains Hwy is always fun. I used to really enjoy getting away with mates and groups for day or overnight rides and would do the occasional rally. But these days I prefer to ride by myself and on overnight rides I stay in Motels, Hotels or on site cabins. Yep, I’m getting old. Oh and yes you can do the grocery shopping when you’ve only got a bike. My wife worked in Melbourne on and off for 12 months in 2007 which left me with just the bikes (my Bandit, her Monster and the eldest sons KLR650) for transport. So I had to do grocery shopping for myself and our teenage sons on the bike. The 7 P’s really come in to play. Prior Preparation and Planning Prevent Piss Poor Performance. The youngest also learned how to pack his sports gear better so it would fit on the bike easier (he was a hockey player). Q. You are one of the biggest contributor to discussions and it's no secret that a lot of netriders hold you in high regard. Why do you think that is? Why am I one of the biggest contributors? I’m on a number of other forums as well, but yes I contribute here more than the others. I was talking to a couple of people from one of the other forums in Tumbarumba earlier this year about it and the only thing I could come up with was that on the other forums a dozen other people have usually said what I wanted to say and often said it a damn sight better than I ever could. Whereas here, there seem to be less people who share my views, or at least the ones that do possibly aren’t as active on here as I am. Or, maybe, because there are a lot more new riders on here means there’s more that has to be said. Basically the topics ATGATT, nodding and “I crashed and I don’t know why, I just know it’s not my fault” just don’t come up too often on the other forums. Likewise with “What bike should I buy” or “I’m looking for a helmet, what should I get” don’t come up much either. More “hey look what I just bought”. Or “I’m looking at this make and model, what can you tell me about them” Why am I held in high regard? I honestly have no idea. Other than I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Most of the people I ride with share my thoughts, so I am bemused by it. For a long time I thought most motorcyclists had similar philosophies. How wrong I was. Q. My mother warned me about blokes like me. Do you want to elaborate with our viewers so they don't get confused? Still a Boris fan?! Yep, still a Boris fan lol. I don't always agree with him and on the old 2WF site I had a few arguments with him. I suppose I share a very similar philosophy to him though. Oh and he is pretty well the same in person. And "My mother warned me about blokes like me" is Boris' first book. A damn good read. Some of which I can relate to. Q. Have you managed to keep the weight off? Well there’s a whole other story there. In short, it turns out most of the weight loss was due to an auto-immune disease I didn’t know I had (Grave’s Disease). It attacked my thyroids and sent them in to over drive. I was quite ill for a little while in late 2014 early 2015, but thanks to my excellent GP’s they got it sorted and I’m a damn site better. Sadly the downside of being better is I’m back up to 95kg and the seemingly overabundance of energy I had has gone. Q. What does b12mick do in his spare time? Any interests outside of motorcycling? Interests outside of motorcycling? In honesty not really these days. Other than watching my beloved Geelong Cats on the tele and spending time with my family, not really no. I used to play a lot of sport (whitewater kayaking then wave skiing when I was younger and soccer), but injuries and age took their toll and to get back in to white water kayaking at the same equipment level as I was at would seriously eat in to the family finances and riding time. I used to fish a lot, but that was when I lived in Melbourne/Geelong. Freshwater fishing doesn’t hold the same interest for me as salt water and camping no longer interests me. I do enjoy doing nothing, there’s a real pleasure in it. But it’s not something I can do for long, I get bored. For example, the really wet weekend at the beginning of June. I was going stir crazy in the house. My wife wandered out of the lounge room and came back with my helmet, jacket, boots and wet weather gear and said “Go for a fcuking ride, you’re driving me nuts. GO”. So I did. I took days for my gloves to dry out properly. My boots dried out pretty quickly, but that’s because I killed my wife’s hair dryer drying them out. Oh and boredom was cured. And it reconfirmed for me that I actually do enjoy riding in the rain. Being wet isn’t a problem as long as you’re warm. Q. You get to have any 3 bikes you choose. What will we find in your garage Any 3? Hmm, that’s not easy. I’d like a DR650 (or similar) for commuting and exploring the fire trials and the like up around Tumba. An FJR1300 (or similar) for touring and general road riding. The 3rd bike, I’d love an Aprilia RS250 – the only 250 that made my shit my pants in a fun kind of way. I test rode one years ago and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about, then I hit 7000rpm and the front wheel pointed skywards and I swear a little bit of wee came out. Q. You spoke about your military background earlier. Tell us more about it. How was it in the RAAF? 15 years service if I recall correctly? What has been your working life been like since? I did 13 years (just shy of). I was a Clerk Supply who went nowhere and did nothing exciting. Serving from 1986 to 1999 meant not much was really happening. Certainly nothing like East Timor or Afghanistan. My only claim to fame if you like was being ‘deployed’ from RAAF Laverton to Woodend to assist the CFA and other emergency services with a bush fire. They didn’t trust us at the main fire front so were we sent to do clearing work and ferrying food and water around. No not in aircraft, by truck. I did a few ‘bivouacs’ and field exercises, wasn’t a bad shot with the old SLR. Not so good with the Steyr though, the ADGies (Airfield Defence Guards) suggested I’d be better off using it as a club. I loved my time in the RAAF. I met a lot of great people, one of them being my wife. I met my fair share of arseholes too. I suppose the thing I liked most is also the most clichéd. The camaraderie, the esprit de corps, even though I never saw active service I felt part of a real brotherhood. Not this bullshit that people think motorcycling is. I quite literally would have given my life for the people I served with. Certainly there were a few fights in pubs that we got involved in. The way we saw it, if you took on one of us, you took us all on. If our mate had fcuked up, we’d sort him out back at barracks, away from public view, but right there and then, we had his back. Why did I get out? Lots of little reasons really. With the increasing number of civilian contractors and decreasing number of uniformed personnel, promotions were limited as were the jobs I really enjoyed, instructing and ‘systems admin’ (more super user of the systems than a true system admin). I knew my next posting was going to be north, it was just a matter of how far. My wife didn’t want to leave Wagga and I didn’t really want to go to an operational unit anymore. I had always told my trainees “You signed on the dotted line to get posted anywhere anytime. Don’t like it, get out”. I heard myself saying those words once and thought “stop being a fcuking hypocrite and get out”. Then on the same course I was instructing there was a new module in the system that we had to teach, but it was so new that there wasn’t any policy on its’ use. Standing at the back of the class room at this point was most of the other instructors plus the OIC, 2IC, WOFFIC and an EDO. It was quite un-nerving having them in there actually. And I started my ‘spiel’ on the module “In this lesson we will learn about the MSO126 – Inventory Transfer Module. I will explain the module, then I will give you a walk through of the module before getting you to run through some exercises. Now, as you now we usually talk about policy and procedures, but this module is new and there is no policy or procedure laid down so I will teach you what we believe is best business practice” I then got on with teaching the lesson. After the lesson I had a debrief with the other instructors etc. Afterwards the OIC said “Mick, I think it’s time for you to think about getting out”. The look I gave him must have caused him concern “No Mick you’re not in the shit. In fact quite the opposite, that was a brilliant lesson and I spoke with the WOFF and he told me you’d nutted the process out on your own and then discussed it with the others. They all agreed what you’d come up with was the way forward. But….” He then smile widely “But, you’re in the RAAF, we don’t have ‘best business practice’ that’s a civvy thing” and laughed “Maybe you should seriously consider getting out, you’d do really well in civvy street”. He then told me that he was taking long service leave and handed me a blank discharge application. Well it wasn’t exactly blank, he’d already completed his section and signed it, I just needed to fill in the date. But the proverbial straw that broke me was on a course I did some instruction work on, Supply Officer Basic Course. Short version is I had a run in with a very Junior officer that left me wondering what I was doing wasting my time in the RAAF. A little while later I took a couple of weeks leave and just on spec I applied for a job in at Finemore Transport in their Fleet Management division as a System Admin, managing their Fleet Maintenance Management system. After a month I’d all but forgotten about it, then I got a phone call asking if I could go for an interview. Then the following week I got an second interview. I thought I stuffed the second one and put it out of my mind. Then 2 weeks later they called me and offered me the job. I then had to make a quick decision as to whether I should take it or stay in the RAAF. I spoke to my wife about it and she said that as long as we weren’t financially any worse off I should do it. She figured it was the challenge I needed at the time. My acting OIC agreed and allowed me to take a months’ leave to start the job. Promotions/postings were due out the following week so I held off putting my discharge in until they’d been released. If I got promoted I’d tell Finemores thanks but no thanks, if I didn’t get promoted I’d put my discharge in. I’ve been out 17 years this September. I’ve actually travelled, flown, more and seen more of Australia with Toll than I ever did in the RAAF. And while I’ve effectively held the same position for coming up 17 years, it’s changed a lot in that time. When I first started here very few people had PC’s and even fewer had any idea about excel, word, power point etc. I was a team of one. Because I knew how to map a network drive and printers it made me a sort of guru in the eyes of some other people. Even the IT guys were surprised, but I just thought everyone knew how to do that, we certainly did in my old world. Every report was printed, in triplicate and it’d take hours. Now we do a lot more reporting and analysis type work using excel and access and there’s 3, including me, in my team. Right now I’m waiting for our IT Project team to get back to me with a quote on migrating our CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System) from a cobol back end to a SQL back end. I don’t do programming so it’s all a bit of a mystery to me. All I know is that it’ll be quicker and reporting will be a damn site easier. It’ll also make interfacing with other systems much easier. Q. Not as much F and C words these days. Dickheads are now fewer and far between or is b12mick mellowing out with age lol?! A couple of short holiday’s from the forum for language and abuse got the message across. No, not mellowing with old age, just becoming a bit more selective. But sometimes, I feel the message doesn’t quite come across right without the F or C. And in truth I swear far more in person than I do on here. Are their fewer dickheads on the forum now? Not sure. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I don’t think they last as long as they used to. Q. 3 likes and dislikes about Netrider? 3 things I like about Netrider? I suppose the 3 things I like about netrider are how much help and assistance is given to newbies. The people, in general the people seem genuine. And 3rdly the robust discussion. In case you hadn’t noticed I enjoy a good argument. Hell I’ll even settle for a bad argument some days. The three things I dislike about netrider. I suppose the number one thing I dislike about Netrider is there seems to be more riders from the ATGATT brigade here than in the other forums and pages I’m on, with one possible exception a certain Sydney based FB page. Number 2 would be the number of riders here who seemingly have no comprehension that regardless of what the law says, for the most part there was always something the rider could have done to avoid having the accident and they seem to refuse to learn from their mistakes. In other words, it’s usually your fault you crashed. I know everyone makes mistakes. The only person who never made a mistake never did anything. However, not recognising that you’ve made a mistake means you stand to repeat that mistake. Making the same mistake more than once is, in my opinion, nothing short of incompetence. I can’t abide incompetence. I also can’t abide liars, cheats and dishonourable people. 3rdly, I once didn’t like the way the forum was moderated, I still think it’s over moderated, but I have accepted it now. Q. Once again, thank you for telling us more about you b12mick No worries Justus. I hope it wasn’t boring or too rambling. Justus.