Leaning from your mistakes and from negative feedback
May 23, 2012
What Haven’t I Been Doing and Why?
August 21, 2012
Leaning from your mistakes and from negative feedback
May 23, 2012
What Haven’t I Been Doing and Why?
August 21, 2012
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Bulletproof V Experience

One week ago, on Saturday night, I came to the stark realisation that because of all the bad weather we have been having over the past few weeks that my mountain bike riding had not only slowed down, it had almost stopped.

No, I haven’t gotten overly lazy but the reason behind my lack of time in the bush is that the area in which I normally mountain bike is made up of tracks that are built and maintained by volunteers (to whom I am most grateful and indebted to) therefore when the weather is not ideal I respect the amount of hard work that goes into the development and maintenance of these tracks, and therefore I stay away until such times as as my riding will not adversely affect the condition of the tracks.

So the reality is that over the past few weeks my time on the bike had gotten less and less, which brings us to last Saturday night when because of the recent weather I decide to take a long ride around Lake Macquarie.

Looking at the map I figured the ride to be around 80+ kilometres. For me on a mountain bike not a bad ride.

Catho Map

Sunday morning rolls around quite brisk outside, I load up the backpack with a few snacks, some added hydration and off I go.

Now its quite a funny experience when you ride a bike along a route that you have driven many times but never ridden on the bike. You start to see certain things that have in previous trips just flashed by. It allows you to think about old experiences with different parts of the journey etc.

For me there was one particular section of road that brought a lot of memories flooding back.

The southern turnoff into Catherine Hill Bay. (At the time I was unaware that unfortunately two young fisherman had lost their lives the afternoon before at Moonie Beach at Catherine Hill Bay).

Now I have spent many hours in the surf at Catho and I don’t know how many times over the years I have driven out of the southern exit onto the Pacific highway on my way home to the western side of Lake Macquarie. So when I rode past this particular turn off last Sunday, a lot of memories came flooding back.

Catho surf

But one in particular stood out more than any, the time I did a fan belt.

At the time I had a 1973 VW Kombi and ex telephone company van, my second car and pretty much my home away from home. I could live in this thing no problems at all.

But the situation with the fan belt for me was a major one, the reason being is that what I knew and still do know about car repairs you could write on a postage stamp.

So here I was sitting on the side of the road no fan belt, no tools, and in those days no mobile phone. Pretty much all I had at my disposal was my dog and surfboard. Yeah, I know how this looks and yes it does sound like I was your stereotypical surfer and to some degree I probably was.

However lets get back to the car.


No not knowing about cars has a lot of downsides but it also has an upside. You don’t know what you don’t know, unconscious incompetence. So my thinking around the problem I was faced with was simple just find something (other than another fan belt) to replace the fan belt.

I look around the car, the bush, the highway and the only thing I can find was at the back of my surfboard cover; the webbing that you would pull to close the opening and encase the surfboard in the cover.

I removed the webbing from the surfboard cover tied it around the engine pulleys a coupe of times, I start the motor, and double checked to see if it worked.

Now when this all started happening I wouldn’t say I was scared but I was nervous about two things. Firstly, the harsh reality was that I didn’t know anything about fixing cars, so if I couldn’t fix it, I had no idea how I was getting home. Plus, it was at least twenty or so miles from where I was to where I lived. And the route I needed to follow to get home from there was pretty deserted, so not much hope of hitchhiking or at least being successful in hitchhiking.

Then my second problem was that once I got myself home how was I then going to get the car home?

Luckily I got the webbing to do the job and therefore was able to drive the car home. But what if it had not worked what would I have done? I was a young guy and I was in pretty good physical condition. I suppose I could have run home? But at the time that didn’t seem to be a feasible option. In fact I doubt the thought even entered my head.

However, here I am some thirty odd years later in exactly the same spot, but this time the only thing I have with me is a push bike.

The whole situation seemed a lot different and certainly a lot less daunting.

My bike breaks down just run back home or run to nearest house, suburb, service station. Admittedly it would have been a lot slower run/walk than thirty years ago but it didn’t seem to be as big deal if that was what I would need to do.

So as I rode past the Catho turnoff with all of this flooding through my mind one thing above all else stood out. When we are young we all tend to believe we are bullet-proof and we can do anything, but when we are older we seem to have the advantage of life’s experience where nothing seems too big of a deal.

Catho Turnoff

In the end though wether you are bullet proof or experienced, use both to make sure…

The Journey Continues!

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