Monday 30 March 2020

Something to do in retirement

...or just a money pit?

Post retirement has been tough. Physical issues, family health issues, depression and boredom.

In a fit of madness, I went searching for an old Ducati. Possibly searching for memories of my youth. Almost bought a Darmah, but it wasn't really worth the top dollar being asked. Suddenly, a bike I'd never considered appeared on Facebook, a 1975 Ducati 860GT. I thought they were ugly back in the day, but age, and possibly wisdom, mean it's now more interesting than ugly, and it has a butt load of character.

What's more, any old Ducati is likely to need money spent, and the GT was a shitload less expensive than the Darmah. Sure, the market says they aren't worth as much, but I buy for enjoyment, not investment.

Long story short, it's in my garage, running club rego (Ducati Owners Club of NSW). Starts easily (kick only), quiet engine, raucous exhaust (original Lafranconi not quite Conti raucous, but very nice). Faults so far are minor, and a prepurchase inspection prepared me for most.

Three main issues:

Fuel taps leaked, so additional inline taps are fitted. Sure it works, but looks awful, and turning four taps on and off is ridiculous.

It's been rewired at some stage, but not terribly well. For example only 3 x 30A fuses (should be more and max should be 15A), non original regulator, which suggests a possible alternator upgrade

Both rims are non-original, but are a common period replacement, aluminium alloy instead of chrome steel. Borrani lookalikes from Akront. The front rim has been repaired at some stage, so I'll get a replacement and respoke it.


As expected, the fuel taps were an easy fix. Drain the tank and fit new taps from Gowanlochs and some nice green fuel line. No leaks, and only two taps. While the tank was off, I also fitted two correct tank bumpers.

I looked at the wiring and shuddered. A job for another day.

The rim? It's waiting as well. It looks solid. I won't go to the standard chrome, and will get Borrani style again.

I also bought footpeg rubbers, as the originals are quite worn. Non-original, but identical. Still to fit.


Not as powerful as my old bevel, but that baby had an SS motor, 40ml pumpers, and Contis, so that's to be expected. Handling and braking are good, in tune with the era.

Saturday 20 June 2015


Well bugger me.

It's happened.


I'm no longer fat.

Yes, for the first time since the mid 1980s, my BMI and weight have dropped back into the healthy range. My waist measurement is also back in the healthy range. Over 16 kg off my estimated peak, that ridiculously impossible original goal that Get Healthy set with me smashed, and my waist is also four cm less than the goal we set. I'm absolutely stoked, and wish I'd done this years and years ago - I really feel (and look) so much better. And you know what, I'm proud of myself for sticking with it, despite the mental struggles. That 10 kg goal  really did seem ridiculous when I started - I'd thought five would be great - but I've done it. Smashed it!

I can wear medium sized clothes and size 32(!!!) jeans. I can get out of bean bags. Hills are no longer impossible to ride up - I rode up one today in second gear and a personal record time - a year ago, I was walking AND stopping and gasping for breath. I feel great. Dare I say I feel younger?

Yet despite the massive change, I still want to go a bit further. I'm still carrying a spare tyre, much smaller to be sure, but my waist is still a lot (9 cm) bigger then my jeans size. I don't know that I'll get them equal, or if I even want to, but closer would be good. I think there's a few kg contained within that spare, and a couple more spread across my body. A bit further into the healthy range will also allow my weight to vary a little, while staying in the healthy range - that's where I really want to be, able to enjoy myself and manage my weight. I'd also like to tone up - I've got some excess skin now - not huge amounts, but it's there - and build a little muscle.

So, I'm going to sign up with Get Healthy for a bit longer. The coaching service has worked really, really well for me, and I'll happily recommend them to anybody who's decided they want to lose weight  - even if you find they don't really suit you, the service is free, confidential, supportive, non-judgemental, and informative - so why not give them a try - you've got nothing to lose but your waist and weight!
1300 806 258 Monday - Friday 8am - 8pm

Wednesday 20 May 2015


Yup. 78 kg. That's a goal.

10 kg gone since I started with the Get Healthy Service. 12 kg gone since I started with Fit & Strong @ UWS, and an estimated 14 kg since I peaked last spring (through shame, I didn't weigh myself until I'd visibly lost weight). So from my estimated peak, that's 15% of my bodyweight. From when I started with Get Healthy (and my more regular weight), it's 11%. Not quite as impressive, but still something I'd never thought possible, and I'm feeling pretty damned good about it.

I'm lighter than when I started with my current employer in 1992, and am pretty sure my kids have never known me this light - almost 31years. People I've known for years but don't see often aren't recognising me!

True, I've still got a little more to go to reach healthy weight, but that's just around the corner. Doable. Easy.

My waistline goal seems a bit further away - I wish it was as easy to measure consistently as weight is - scales don't care about posture, where halfway between your ribs and hips is, or whether you've breathed out. I'm certain I'm measuring inconsistently!

At this rate, my BMI will be in the healthy range by the end of June, and hopefully not just sitting at the upper end, but a kg or two down. With any luck, my waistline goal will arrive at the same time. I  could do situps to help, but ...nah.

Oh yeah, I  treated myself to some new jeans. Size 32. That's thirty-fahn-two!!! Last time I bought size 32 jeans was in Adelaide in 1981, when we rode that old Ducati to Perth. I remember because I had to buy new jeans as my others had a holey knee, which was apparently quite scandalous in the city of churches, and I wasn't allowed in the video game arcade. I was surprised I got into 32s then, too! Yes, my waist is still bigger than my jeans, and there's some muffin top happening, but they aren't uncomfortable at all, and the muffin's shrinking every day.

I  might have to come up with a new nickname, thesomewhatlessfathippy doesn't have quite the same ring about it...

Saturday 18 April 2015

I'm (going to be) living in the seventies

the fat hippy lite?

Well, OK, that's still a bit over the top, but the difference is now obvious.  I've had to throw out heaps of old clothes, and take in those things I still wanted to keep and wear. People at work are commenting!

My goal to lose 10 kg (as set by the FREE(!) NSW Government Get Healthy Counselling Service and me), which initially seemed absurd, looks certain, although I'm not sure if that will also get my waist to my goal of six cm less. No matter, I've decided I'm going to keep going. My weight is now less that it has been at any time this century, but I'm still overweight, and will be even when I reach my goal. So, I've set a new set of goals goal to work for once I reach the official 10 kg.

Yep, my new goal is to drop my BMI into the healthy weight category, and if I can achieve that, lose a few more kg still, so my weight can fluctuate a little, while staying in the healthy range.

Now I know about the arguments on BMI, and I think they have some validity, however, in my case, my BMI simply confirmed what the scales and mirror were telling me, even though I was in denial; I was fat.

Eight kg later (try picking up four two litre milk bottles at the the same time to get an idea of what that really feels like), and I look and feel much better. I'm riding harder and further, yet my heart rate isn't redlining as it often was. Hills are still a pain, but they're just hills, and a lot more of them are rideable. I'm enjoying riding again, which has a major impact on my mental health - I'm much happier and more resilient. All I've really done is cut back on sugary foods, cut right back on chocolate (sob - this has been the hardest), eat more veges, walk at lunchtime, and ride bikes more. I haven't cut out all sugary foods or chocolate, just cut right back. So far, it's all win win.

The seventies are staging a comeback, and I, for one, welcome their imminent return!

Saturday 24 January 2015

Hey fatso!

I'm a year older than I was a few weeks ago, and I'm starting to notice it more.

But what I didn't notice was my ballooning weight. Sure, you'd think that by calling myself thefathippy I'd have some kind of inclination that I was fat, but no. My kids gave me the nickname when I was younger, skinnier, and had long hair and a beard. In fact, it was an insult they stole from The Young Ones tv show, and I just ran with it.

Anyway, getting fatter just kept happening. Partly a natural consequence of getting older, having a sedentary job, and feeling generally depressed and demotivated. People laugh, but food, especially sugary or chocolatey food, really is comforting. Besides, I was still skinnier than many of my colleagues who were close in age, even if the young fellas weren't carrying quite as much. I looked around and decided I was OK, a bit of pud around the middle, but so what?

Last year I took part in a "Fit and Healthy" campaign for ...ummm... more mature staff at my work. For a month, we had to do some balance exercises, eat more veges, get some sun, and do a minimum of 30 minutes exercise a day - walking was fine. We also had to record our efforts and report back at the end of the month. I took part because I knew my weight was creeping up, and I hoped that starting something might reignite my drive and motivation to go riding. Don't get me wrong, I still loved going for a ride when I went, but most of the time the thought of having to go for a ride was nowhere near as attractive as kicking back on the lounge with my Kindle and some junk food. My rides all start with the hill to everywhere, and hills are hard. I hated that I felt like that, which demotivated me even more.

But it worked. I did increase my riding. Only a bit, but nonetheless. After the program finished they offered to sign me up for the NSW government's (free) Get Healthy line. You might have seen the ads which used a fat phone. They rang me, and I ignored the message. "Yeah, whatever". They kept at me, and finally got me started on the program. A pleasant young woman rang me at home and asked me some questions to see where I was at, asked my weight (I was glad that I'd managed to knock a couple of kilos off during the first program, and could answer honestly, if a little shamefacedly), and then asked my weight measurement. Here I was proud - "I've just gone down a size in jeans, from 34" to 36"" "yes, but what's your actual waist measurement" the counsellor persisted. She waited on line while I rummaged around for a tape measure, and told me where to position the tape. I looked down and gasped, before sitting on the bed in shock. Much bigger than my jeans, and much bigger than my old jeans. At this point I don't think I'm ready to admit how big that number was.

My counsellor wasn't happy either - not with me, but she knew that measurement was bad, and in fact put me on the borderline for diabetic risk and obesity. My BMI was just under obese. My waistline made me eligible for more counselling calls than normal because of the diabetic risk. That "bit of pud" was a whole lot more serious than I thought. Jeebus. I felt sick and ashamed. How had I let myself get to this disgusting state, and not admitted it? It's not like I couldn't see it.

I've always carried a little around my stomach. Even in my 20s when I was running 15 km a day and a regular gym goer, and weighed a mere 68 kg (under 11 stone). Some paunch has always been normal. I was overweight as a kid, as was the rest of my family not grossly, but still overweight. Normal. So gradual increases could always be rationalised away with "I've always been like this". We also changed from stones and pounds as a measure of weight to kilograms, and when I do some conversions now, it's clear that the conversions in my head were way under real conversions. I think in kg now, but what I think think is an acceptable number is much higher than it should be, and if I convert back to stones, that same weight is obviously too much.

So what was I going to do? The counsellor motivated me to get going, and not worry about setbacks and failures so much, and not to seek comfort in food when I do have a setback (a definite failing of mine). She helped me set weight and waist measurement goals, and made those goals meaningful, not just easily achievable like my first suggestions. So it wasn't going to be easy, but successful results should be obvious to everyone. we'll see.

Since then, I've been called back probably five times, and each time I'm asked about my eating, drinking, and exercise, praised for my achievements, counselled over setbacks, and most importantly, positively encouraged.

It's working. Despite Christmas and the usual overeating and drinking, I've lost weight. Despite a major mountain bike crash putting a serious dent in the riding I was doing, I'm still riding more than I was last year. Despite a persistent cold and sore ribs (probably from the crash), I'm still motivated to achieve my goals, although motivation to go for a ride has fallen, and I need to keep my grab bag of excuses locked away. I'm eating less sugar, less chocolate, and more vegetables/salads. I'm having smaller portions. I haven't bought chocolate this year, and I haven't eaten all the chocolate I've had in one go. another big change!

So, I'm a third of the way to my weight loss goal, and am starting to tell people about my attempt. My waist loss isn't as good, but I can see there's less there. Will we see thefathippy-lite? I hope so. Riding's more fun when you weigh a bit less, and hills aren't nearly as daunting. I've even ridden some hills that I haven't been able to ride in years. If, no, WHEN I hit my goal, I'll set a new one, and who knows, I might even see those weights from 30 years ago again.

Fingers crossed.

Monday 22 December 2014

It's elite so it must be good! A new lawnmower.

So, my mower died. Big deal. It's been dying for a while, and has been crap ever since I bought it. Unlike the earlier two stroke Victa, the new four stroke Victa never ran at the correct rpm, and kept missing and cutting out. I took it to the shop, and it worked well for a mow or two, then it was back to its old tricks. Yeah, it was a cheaper model, but I expected much better.

I ended up jamming the throttle open a little which meant that I could mow the lawn, but it was never happy. My bodge kept falling out, the paint all flaked off, the handles kept getting loose, and the clouds of thick smoke that spewed forth when it eventually started almost had the firies around... My lawn doesn't do much in winter, so it rarely gets used until summer. This summer, it was even harder to start, smoked like a chimney and ran like a dog. Until it didn't.

And that was that. It stopped, and wouldn't start again, no matter how much I swore at it. Back to the Pit it went, to sit in shame. I was fed up and considering my options:
  • A trip to the clocktower, fully armed? Nah, we don't have any clocktowers nearby, and the only arms I possess dangle off my shoulders and keep my hands in place.
  • Replace it with a new petrol mower? There are some cheapies around at the moment, different brands to the dud, but I've just been burnt by a cheap petrol mower - do I want another?
  • Replace the lawn completely? The kids are gone, do we need any lawn at all? Not really, but a small patch is always nice, and who knows, we may end up having grand-kids running around out there one day. I reduced the size of the lawn and expanded the garden, keeping a play area. There's still grass, but now it's down to only about 130 square metres.
  • We've got solar power, why not go battery powered, and charge the batteries from the sun? This idea was really tempting - free charging, quiet, plenty of torque, the way of the future, could easily do our yard on a single charge. They're expensive, though - even the cheapo brands are around the $350-400 mark for anything half decent, and it's easy to spend more.
  • We could also get electric, but distant memories of my mum's awful cabled Flymo (the hovercraft model) meant that there was no way I'd dragging electric cables around, especially not in the vicinity of spinning blades.
  • Manual. When I was a kid, my parents had a push mower. It was heavy, and hard to use, but was fun when we were big enough to manhandle it. Surely they'd be better for the environment, too. I wonder.
Bunnings had very option covered, including ride-ons, and a price to suit most pockets. Very deep pockets if you need a ride-on! I'd decided petrol was out, so it was a debate between battery and manual. $70 to $130 for manual vs $370 to $500 for battery. I'm tight, it's a small, relatively flat patch of grass, and I need the exercise. Manual it was, and we went for the mid price model, $99 including a catcher. Scotts Elite.

Getting it home was easy, the box is small and light enough to have carried it on the moto (I didn't). Once home, you have to assemble the handles, the catcher, and set the clearance. You can also muck around with blade distance from cutting plate, but, meh. No tools were needed.

Despite the lawn being long kikuyu and weeds, that first cut went remarkably well. The long kikuyu was no problem, I just had to keep getting up some speed and hitting it over and over. Long weeds just folded under and sprung back up when I passed. I found that allowing the long weed to get in between the blades and then mowing worked, but was a PITA. I ended up manually trimming.


  • Other than the problem with long weeds, I discovered that unlike a petrol mower, a push mower doesn't cut as wide as the wheel tracks, which means you need to later finish the edges. For me, that's a noisy petrol whipper snipper. Boo! I might go battery powered there. 
  • Small sticks in the lawn (a fact of life living in bushland) can jam the blades, but a quick kick to reverse the blades and sticks usually drop out.
  • That first cut was a real workout. When the grass is long, you have to push much harder than when it's maintained - again, I figured that the exercise would do me good!
  • The catcher was a joke, and it now languishes in the Pit with the dead mower. It's not really needed anyway - the clippings are quite fine.


  • Ummm. I hate to admit it, but now the lawn's had three mows, I'm enjoying it! 
  • Now the grass is shorter, it's easy to push the mower around. There's still more effort than using a petrol mower, but not by much.
  • The mower makes a noise as the blades cross the plate, but it's not unpleasant. 
  • I think the grass looks better - it's cut, not bludgeoned to length (this may be psychological). 
  • I feel green - or at least greener than I was. 
  • There are no unpleasant clouds of fumes being emitted unless I've been hitting the garlic... 
  • It was only half the price of a petrol mower.
  • I don't have to buy petrol for it.
  • It's not a deadly weapon, unlike a regular mower, the blades stop when you stop.


If you've only got a small, reasonably flat lawn, and are willing to keep it maintained, push mowers are a viable alternative. You will still need something to do the edges.

Saturday 8 June 2013

KTM 200 Duke Review

I've just published a review of my KTM 200 Duke, after 100 km of ownership. So far I'm loving it! Great commuter, economical, easy to ride, would be good for learners, and most importantly, fun!