What do you do when you fly off and leave your bike behind? Fly off and get another one – obviously. With my Kawasaki Z1000SX safely deposited in the care of the Los Angeles shipping agent, to bob its way slowly across the Pacific, I boarded a plane to Sydney.
This time last year, my one aim was to get here and hunker down: to relocate permanently and try build a new life for myself, after the shot-to-the-back-of-the-head that was the unexpected end of my marriage. I’m fortunate enough to be a dual national, so I can resettle in Australia without any issues (beyond the basic one of finding a way to support myself) and my brother lives here, so it seemed like a sensible place to start again.
What’s it like? I took a few days to look around and, quite frankly, it’s a fabulous place. Okay, it was chucking it down when I arrived from the airport at Circular Quay (yes, my traditional weather ju-ju was working as normal) and the ferry to Manly, setting off between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, was challengingly choppy for a terrible sailor like me. But two days later it was the first day of spring, the sun came out and I went to the beach.
Next day I went into the city for a spot of light pedestrianised tourism, walking from the Opera House to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, then back through the Botanic Gardens, to have lunch with my brother in the city. I was exchanging messages with my friend Ben as I went. “What do you make of it?” he asked. It closely resembles living the dream, I told him…
But it was a dream without a motorcycle in it – and frankly that’s a bit of a nightmare. Which is why I got on another plane yesterday, flying to Auckland at the top of New Zealand’s North Island. I was met at the airport by the marvellous Eve, who used to work with me on RiDE and resettled out here four years ago. She bought me beer and curry (honestly, she’s close to the perfect woman) and this morning dropped me off in Takapuna to collect a bike from New Zealand Motorcycle Rentals & Tours. I hadn't strictly organised this ahead of time, but they pulled out all the stops to get me going... Great service.
So tonight I’ll be sipping beer with Ben in Rotarua, while we compare notes on how the bike-testing business has changed in the past few years. Ben joined BiKE one day after me in 2003, before going on to work on RiDE and Performance Bikes in the UK before coming out to NZ to edit Kiwi Rider. I’ll pick his brains about where to ride and pack in as much of New Zealand as I can over the next few days. I’ll update you as I go.