Steve had been hatching a plan for some time to get Marty and I on board some old British iron. To that end he tee’d up a ride with he and Andy supplying Marty and I with old Brit motorcycles to sample for an afternoon. It seems another West Coast Procrastinators event has been added to the calendar of annual rides.
Just by way of context, Saturday was the first cool day after four consecutive days over 40C (104F) and it had actually peaked at 45.4C (113F) the day prior – the hottest day ever recorded in Geelong. As you will see in some of the following pictures, the countryside is absolutely parched.
We met at Steve’s place just out of Colac, the plan being to take a scenic ride around the area’s volcanic lakes - the best known being Lake Corangamite. Being unable to ride two motorcycles at once, Andy trailered his bikes from his home in Ballarat.
Steve’s 1948 Norton 500 twin and 1970 750 Commando
Andy’s 1948 BSA 500 twin and 1969 750 Commando Fastback.
The plan was to swap around motorcycles so that Marty and I would get a feel for any of these old machines that took our fancy. I elected to head off on the ’48 Norton Dominator.
Our destination was the lookout at an extinct volcano, known as Red Rock. However, in true Procrastinator’s style, the destination was at no stage communicated amongst the participants! Consequently, the slower bikes being ridden by Andy and I rode straight past and had to be chased up by the two 750′s being ridden by Steve and Marty.
From the lookout it was easy to see that the small craters which usually form small lakes, were completely dried up, thus making the volcanic nature of the area very evident. Far in the distance is the huge salt lake, Lake Corangamite.
OK, so back to the motorcycles!
No electric start Marty!
“What, this thing?”
Below – the ever grim Tarsnakes firing up the BSA for the return trip! The two ’48 twins were very similar to ride in terms of power, seating position and (lack of ) brakes. Each bike fired up first kick and you will note the absence of oil drips under either of the bikes in any of these pictures – a credit to the engine restoration skills of Steve and Andy.
The small fuel tank on Steve’s Commando can pose a problem at times
From Red Rock we tracked along the back roads to Steve’s home. As I bopped along on Andy’s BSA I felt really contented, and scoffed at the “SLOW DOWN” signs along the way – instead I sped up to 90 kph in defiance! Back at Steve’s we had a debrief with our partners over cheese, bikkies, a selection of beers and wine and some lively conversation – a really enjoyable conclusion to an excellent day out.
Special thanks to Steve and Andy for their generosity in providing this unique motorcycling experience for Marty and I, and in so doing risking potential damage to machines that they have invested enormous amounts of time and skill in restoring. What risk you ask? Well it’s incredibly anti-intuitive riding motorcycles with right side gear shifters (one up and four down) and left sided rear brake, after a life time of riding left side gear change Japanese motorcycles.
For high resolution pics, click HERE. (They are best viewed by clicking on ‘Slideshow’).
Post Script: As we were looking over at Lake Corangamite a few of us mentioned how the last big drought reveled the remains of a wreck of a Wirraway aircraft in the lake soon after WW II. Apparently there are now plans to retrieve the wreck. Full story HERE