Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Me, Fuddy Duddy Daredevil, Quad Bike weekend

The last month has just come and gone so quickly for me.  Most of it has been focused on my job as Employment Consultant, with the 30th June bringing with it not only the end of month and end of quarter, but our performance contributing to the highly-critical government performance star ratings (results due sometime in August).  I've come home each evening mentally and physically exhausted as management unrealistically pushed to get not just one or two but ten to twenty more placements to increase our ratings, and yet other managers pumped out emails by the hour demanding this be done, and that, so one never actually got to complete any of the urgent admin tasks they wanted completed by close of business, within the hour, by the end of the week.

When the too short weekends finally arrived after very long and never ending work days, I rested as much as I could.

The downside was that I didn't have the time, or was too tired, to do what I love doing: writing.

But last weekend, with the end of month and quarter behind me, I broke out of my usual weekend routine of doing nothing except recover, and accepted the invitation from my middle child to come away with all three of my children, and some of their cousins from my ex's side of the family, to the country, where they had a weekend of horse-riding, quad bike riding, trail bike riding, four wheel driving and shooting ahead of them.

Did someone say quad bike riding?  Isn't that one of the items on my imaginary bucket list?

Count me in!

So, while the rest of my family headed up to Oberon some two hours drive away on the Friday night, I followed up next morning where I met up with the extended family group at Oberon's Royal Hotel for a pub lunch.

I wasn't overly hungry when I arrived, and the menu included lots of very big, highly filling meals, so, without realising I was choosing items from the kids menu, I ordered some chicken nuggets and chips, with the tempting 'chilli cream' sauce.  I expected to get a couple of commercially produced chicken nuggets along with my chips and different sauce; but what I got was absolutely delicious homemade chicken nuggets and chips smothered in the most delicious sauce I have ever tasted... so great start to my mini-holiday!

From the hotel, it was a short fifteen minute drive out of town and along a dirt road to reach the farm where we would be horse and quad bike riding.  It was pouring with rain, and everyone of us was excited to get drenched and dirty.

Unfortunately, the lady running the horse and quad bike riding trails made sure we were aware that she wanted us to reschedule to the following weekend, and we had to act highly out of character(s) and develop thick skin(s) against her persistent attempts to make us feel bad about inconveniencing her despite our letting her know that three of our group had travelled directly from Sydney this morning just to come out horse or quad bike riding.

Our thick skins won out, and the lady although she dragged her heels in doing so set up the horses and then took the group on the horse trail.

Okay, for readers of my blog, I set out at the beginning of the year with the good intentions to lose weight and become healthier. Well, umm, I have failed miserably.  I started out going well, and I lost almost ten kilo with my new healthy eating and regular exercising plan.  The only trouble is, 'life' got in the way, and over the last two months, all my good work was undone as I resorted to quick and easy meals over healthy cooking, and dear me, my poor treadmill has sadly gone back to being an unused white elephant again, resulting in me now being about three kilo heavier than before I tried to improve my health and well being.

So... there was absolutely no way on earth that I would ruin some poor innocent horses day by having me on its back, so I was more than content just to sit on the back of my nephew's four wheel drive ute and watch my children and their cousins go for their hour horse ride.  I contented myself taking a few photo's, wandering around the property to moo back at the cow, laugh with amazement as the obese pig ran downhill to come and stand at the fence next to the cow just to oink at me before turning its non-curly tail to slip and slide as it then tried to walk back up the slope to where it had come from, and explore the old-fashioned wood cottage reminiscent of our settlement days complete with a hollowed out tree trunk as a trough for the farm animals to drink out of while I waited for the riding party to return, any my turn at fun to begin.

My nephew and I, who hadn't seen or spoken to each other in over ten years, still hadn't run out of things to catch up on when the riding party returned and then packed away the gear and returned the horses to rest.

And soon the quad bike riding party were in an enclosure being shown how to operate the bikes and then allowed to take it for a test drive inside the rink.

I've never ridden even a motorbike before, but I soon got the swing of things.  Out of the six of us quad biking, I was positioned third, behind my youngest daughter who was behind the guide.  I had my middle daughter's boyfriend immediately behind me, and then my daughter, my son, and one of my nieces.

We were ushered through a gate into a paddock quickly, before the goat that was trying hard could escape, and then, we hit the motor trail!

Now, unbeknown to me, the handle brake on the left hand side did not work. I didn't work this out until about half an hour and lots of right hand curves into the trail.  For some reason, no matter what, I easily managed to control - even without the brake - taking left hand turns, but whenever I had to follow a right hand bend, I went off track, and the only way I didn't manage to stack it, or any other horror was because I instinctively let go of the throttle button controlled by my right hand thumb.

What I later worked out was that the right hand brake did work - only, my hands are too small to operate the throttle AND have my fingers on the brake handle, so I was forced to rest them on the handlebar grip pad which was just 'perfect' and comfortable.

So, I felt a bit guilty after losing it on almost every right hand bend, and whenever the distance between my daughter in front of me and myself grew too large because I knew my 'fuddy duddiness' would be causing all behind me to go slower and less recklessly than they wished, but I was overwhelmingly embarrassed when the guide circled back to my daughter's boyfriend behind me and asked him if he was having trouble keeping to the track and if he needed any riding tips - the poor boy has grown up riding trail bikes, and was being blamed for my mistakes!  But it was worse than that!  I raised my arm to admit that it was me running off track and in need of some advice - remember this was my first time, and I have a shoulder injury which was starting to cause me even more loss of control - but the lady didn't even look at me.  She just shook her head, disbelieving my daughter's poor boyfriend, and she returned to the head of the trail for us to continue.

That's when my daughter cracking up with laughter caused me to cry with guilty laughter. I tried to own up, but the lady had been determined that she knew who the guilty party was!

So when we waited for her to close a paddock gate as we progressed to the second of about five or six paddocks, I then offered to take the last spot, so I could fall a bit behind when I needed to, as I was starting to cotton on that all was not completely my fault - having no brake was a highly contributing factor.

I loved being in last position!  On the downhills, I was able to be as fuddy duddy as I liked, but I am pleased to say, my inner revhead assisted me in catching up so none ahead of me were any the wiser when we reach the top of the hill.  (Later, my children each complained that the lady had taken the course a lot slower than they had wanted to go, but I can attest, if they had of been in that last position and were desperate not to get caught having fallen so far behind, they wouldn't have been complaining they didn't get to go at top speed - I got air-born a couple of times going over mounds! At least my son caught me once tearing it up the hill to know I do have some little bit of daredevil inside me).

I think we were still in the second paddock when tearing up the hill my niece who was now directly in front of me somehow managed to get air born and then flip the bike so that it landed on her just as I became airborn behind her and could not control where I would land - dangerously close to on top of her!

But, I managed to land early and skid to a stop to the left of her, and andrenalin helped me to remember to use the engine kill switch so I didn't have to worry about parking the bike so I could jump off and go to her assistance to get the bike off her as everyone else ahead of us remained blissfully unaware that a major stack had just occurred.  I whacked my left ankle quite hard in my effort to dismount the quad.  Somewhere while I ran behind my quad so I could get to her, she managed - I don't know how she is so tiny - to get the bike off her and stood up.

She was in shock, and didn't answer my questions of 'Are you hurt?" "Are you okay?" etc.  My niece just raised her hands up for me to see, so I asked 'Is it broken? Is it sprained?" as she just showed me her mud spattered hands.  I looked beyond her to the others just coming to a stop at the top of the hill, we were still only a quarter the way up, and I waved for the guide to come back.

Relieved that the guide was tearing back down to assist me, my niece still just staring at her hands, holding them up for me to see but not answering any of my questions, both frustrating and worrying me, my niece finally answered in a soft disbelieving voice, "I have shit on my hands."  It didn't occur to me to find that funny.  I just said, "I know.  But are you alright?" just as the guide reached us.

My niece turned to speak with the guide who had arrived at the other side of her, and oh dear, she had horse shit on more than just her hands.

My niece was still in too much shock from stacking it and having manure on her hands, and decided she didn't want to do any more quad bike riding, so the guide returned her to the others before coming back and getting me restarted so I could rejoin our group.

We were all quite shocked that she had stacked it, but we pressed on knowing she wasn't seriously injured.

No further incidents occurred, though at one stage after a long downhill where I became quite far behind that I was out of site to the rest of the group through the long grass that they all feared that I had had a stack as well.  The guide was just about to come searching for me when I came 'fuddy duddying' into site which caused my kids to all laugh at me.

Before long, our hour and a half was over.  And I had just had great fun. And we all returned to my other niece's house where my kids would be staying the night.

I returned to Sydney because I had things I had to do, including feeding some friends cats for them because they had gone away and I had agreed to do this before the invite.  So I had a lovely drive back along the winding foggy road - for a while there, I was the only car on the road going in either direction.

But the beauty of turning the music off, so I could fully concentrate in poor driving conditions was that my mind came up with another story idea.

And another bonus was the cabin I mentioned earlier was exactly the image I had in mind for another storyline I have been working on, so I can now add these photos to my image book to help me with my writing when I need inspiration.

And then, to top off what was one of the best weekends I have had in a long time (do you know how great it was to not tell people I'm not interested in doing something that I am actually interested in doing because I couldn't afford to participate when what I really wanted was to get in there and join in on the fun instead of watching from the sidelines?) today I woke up with a sore throat, and after becoming pissed off over something at work yesterday, decided to treat myself to staying home sick. I was pleased when my doctor advised me to take the next three days off sick, and after a long sleep fighting off a temperature, I felt relaxed and well enough to write the draft outline of my new storyline, and tonight's blog post.

Ah I have missed writing!

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