Not much riding lately . . .

…and then a small window of opportunity presented itself!

OK, first time posting via the iPad, so let’s see how it goes. I might just compress recent events into one post.

On Sunday 15 March I had the pleasure of meeting up with Raymond from the famous sandgropher blog. He’s another motorcycle blogger friend who I’ve finally met. He’s an absolute gentleman with a wealth of life and motorcycling experience. We had a great chat over coffee before he departed on the first leg of another around Australia motorcycle trip. I’d encourage you to get over to his site and follow the journey.

Sandgropher’s well tested touring setup.

Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself as I’ve been on a couple of rides with the Geelong branch of the Ulysses Club. Late February we ventured to Ararat for a tour of the old asylum for the criminally insane, known as J-Ward. It was quite a hot day to cover over 470kms all up, but a really enjoyable ride and such an interesting, though tragic place to visit. And yes, there were straight jackets, shackles and vintage ECT machines on display there.

Thanks ‘Gentle‘ for leading a brilliant run.

Fast forward to Wednesday 15th March and I went on another mid-week Club run down to Timboon for lunch. It’s a great day ride destination from Geelong, although we didn’t return via the GOR as I would do if riding solo.

Below is a pic of Jimbo, who also enjoys a bit of motorcycle camping and touring and has over 100,000 kms on the odometer of his 6 yr old Harley.

OK, last Friday I went on a solo run to the Malmsbury Moto-Bean cafe to scout out a route to lead a mid week club ride next month. I switched the GPS to twisty roads mode and it led me on a brilliant route via some back roads that I’ve never been along before. Now, I’m hoping I’ve saved the route because I may not remember all the twists and turns. I visited here for the first time in August last year and you can read about that trip HERE. I departed from my usual choice of a burger and opted for a tasty steak sanger instead.

I came across this lovely old sign on a tin shed at Dean and couldn’t resist a pic of the ZX14 in front of it.

Also passed by the Mt Mercer wind farm on my convoluted route home.

Some more high res pics from my Malmsbury run, CLICK HERE

Just about up to date now. Last Sunday was another Ulysses run to the Williamstown “Bikes by the Bay” show, which Mrs Tarsnakes accompanied me on. It was a pretty small turn out of Ulyssians as many of the club members were heading of to the Ulysses AGM at Wodonga the next morning. A few pics from the event below and a bunch of high res pics HERE.

That’s not so bad for a fella who hasn’t been riding much lately! The ZX14 has just has its 24K kms service and is 18 months old.

Beezas at Ballan

Despite a few rides with the Geelong Ulysses Club, it’s been an age since I last posted. Mrs T and I attended an event at the Ballan (Vic) horse racetrack today which involved historic trucks & cars, traction engines, a tractor pull, model aircraft, and motorcycles. More specifically it was the President’s Day of the BSA Owners Assoc of Vic. Below is a smattering of vehicles of interest. An aspect that I liked was that many of the BSA’s were ridden to the event rather than trailered and consequently looked appropriately ‘used’.

Lots more high resolution pictures CLICK HERE

Actually the turn out of BSA’s wasn’t that great, but there were plenty of other interesting motorcycles to look at.

And below is a completely unrelated pic of me in Clunes (Vic) a few weeks ago. Unfortunately it’s very low res.

Pic courtesy of John Cook.

Procrastinators’ day out

The West Coast Procrastinators met for our annual first of January ride and AGM. Marty and I left Geelong in overcast conditions and arrived at Steve’s place (near Colac) to find Andy and Steve raring to go. This year Andy had brought his recently purchased 1973 GT 550 Suzuki along instead of his usual mount, a ’69 Norton Commando. Both Andy and I had owned 1972 models when we were in our teens. After New Year handshakes, a picture of the motorcycles and some banter we headed off to Timboon, Vic.

Steve’s Commando

Andy’s “new” Suzuki GT550.

Marty and my Kawasaki ZX14R’s

Unfortunately we were not that many kilometers down the road when Andy’s bike suffered a “failure to proceed”. Andy has not restored this bike and it illustrates the potential pitfalls of purchasing an already “restored” bike that has been restored by someone of unknown capability.

I took Andy back to Steve’s, where Andy had his car and trailer and he was able to load the stricken Suzuki and then continue on for lunch at the Timboon hotel.

After a few fleeting showers of rain in the morning the return trip was in sunny conditions. We stuck to a series of back roads and avoided the traffic associated with a public holiday and the general 12 Apostles area.

It was another grand ride to start 2015 with for three of the Procrastinators. However, it was still a great way to commence a new year for all four.

Post Christmas Otways run

Yesterday I took a ride through the Otways in beautiful weather conditions. I stopped in at Otway Estate, the home of Prickly Moses beer, saw the chainsaw carvings at Beech Forest, then backtracked down through the twisties to Colac where I visited my parents’ graves, and then dropped in on an old mate and had a ride on his nearly completed restoration of a 1938 Norton model 18 (pic is Steve who built this bike). What a thrill to ride a 76 yr old motorcycle!

Would you like to hear this machine running? Just click on the YouTube clip below

To view some high resolution pictures CLICK HERE

Speed Trials 2014 (Geelong Revival)

The weather conditions were perfect today for day 1 of the Geelong Revival – more commonly known as the Speed Trials. There were not many bikes competing today, but there were lots of interesting machines – both cars and motorcycles. A sample below

Paul Hallam, aboard the Hunwick Hallam.

Quite a few more high resolution pics HERE

I recommend that you click on ‘Slideshow’ once you get to the site.

A wet track day at the Island

I went to PI to catch up with fellow blogger Chillertek and his mates who were down from Sydney to do two consecutive track days. Unfortunately the Island’s notoriously fickle weather came to the fore and really made it difficult. Geoff at least got out for a couple of laps on a wet track with his road tyres, however, there was no way Steve was going to get out on the track on his R1 with (brand new) slicks fitted. It was still good to catch up with Steve, meet Geoff, Stuart and Rick and also to see how a track day works.

I was surprised at the number of people from NSW who’d come to this event. I really felt sorry for them that the weather had been so cruel. After beautiful, sunny weather on Sunday, a change came through overnight and Monday turned out to be wet and stormy. I spoke to the fella with the ZX10 pictured below as I was leaving the track and he’d just shelled out $660 to have a set of full wet race tyres fitted so that he could a least get some track time, rather than drive all the way back to Maitland (NSW) without having even been out.  He’d only booked for the Monday session.

As I drove home in the car and encountered a couple of storms of absolutely biblical proportions I was so glad that I hadn’t ridden there on the ZX14!

Some more pics HERE

And they’re racing ……..again!

This post is commencing with virtually the same paragraph as the race weekend post did one year ago. The “race that stops a nation”, the Melbourne Cup, is a major sporting event on the Australian horse racing calendar. However, those who like to ride powered steeds typically turn it into a long weekend holiday and head for the mountains. It’s the beginning of Spring, the snow and ice has gone from the high country and the motorcycles are out. We did 1817 kms in four days of great riding in quite mixed weather. Sunny and warm for the first day, mild and gloomy for half of day two, followed by a huge cold front that came through in the afternoon bringing with it quite a lot of rain, day three saw cold temps and rain in the morning, followed by a perfect, sunny Spring afternoon. Day four remained sunny and mild after a pretty cold start.

This time last year my ZX14R started the trip with just 975 kms on the clock, this year it started with 17,300 kms on it.

Day one (Friday 31 Nov)

Route: Geelong to Orbost

I planned a slightly different route from last year, sticking to the Victorian “High Country”, rather than the Snowy Mountains region of NSW. This was partly because the ‘word on the Web’ was that there would be a massive police presence in the Snowys this year to coincide with an annual cancer fund raising ride that is based at Thredbo and typically draws HUGE numbers of riders into the whole Snowys region for the weekend.

Anyway, the first part of the trip was a boring afternoon ride through Melbourne, then along the Princes Highway to get to Orbost in the far east of Victoria, which was the real starting point for our ride. When Marty and I rolled into our motel in the late afternoon, Bill was awaiting us having arrived around 30 mins earlier. Whilst the Country Roads Motel in Orbost is certainly not five star, it is clean and comfortable with good quality beds and is VERY motorcycle friendly. I’d like to give them praise for making us and a bunch of other motorcyclists over the weekend very welcome and particularly for not price gouging us with a “public holiday” surcharge as our subsequent motel in Bright on Sunday night did (And another wouldn’t accept a one night booking even though their online system permitted a single night booking!) After a meal at the Orbost Club, we checked out the online weather forecast and rain radar for Saturday – and it was all bad news. A very extensive cold front was about to move across the state.

This night also led to some scurrilous claims that I snore (loudly)!

Day two (Saturday 1 Nov)

In view of the poor weather forecast we were up early and on the road by 7.00am, the plan being to ride the Bonang Rd (1080 curves in 105 kms) at least before the rain struck. Hitting the Bonang so early was a mixed bag. The good being that there was virtually no traffic and that the road was dry. The bad was the number of kangaroos on the road – 5 in total, although only one wallaby caused me to give the ABS a good workout! As lead rider for most of this section, I was considering that I might have to change my screen name from Tarsnakes to ’Roo bar. We rode at a good steady pace and thoroughly enjoyed the run. We stopped briefly at Bombala then headed for the coast via the Mt Darragh road, which was the scene of Lucky Phil’s “off” the last time we rode this section a couple of years ago. In fact, the lass at the Bombala Bakery told me that a ‘fella had come off on the Mt Darragh Rd yesterday. Unfortunately, some of this section had recently been resurfaced and hadn’ t been swept very well with resultant fine screenings on the road surface in places, so we took it fairly easy. Once we hit the NSW coast we turned south and headed for Eden. I had planned for a quiet lunch at the wharf. However, when we rolled into town the annual Eden Whale Festival was in full swing. Roads were blocked off for pedestrians and a procession was passing through the main street down to the wharf precinct. We eventually made it to the wharf where there was a band playing, crowds of people and various food stalls and exhibitions. Chef Paul West, the star of the Australian version of River Cottage, was hard at work preparing and selling pork rolls and homemade sausages. His film crew were filming it all. We sampled his food and sat by the waterfront to eat. All the fishing boats were moored in view of the impending storms and the square rigger sailing ship, the Endeavour, , was also moored nearby.

We fuelled up, donned our wet weather gear and headed along the Princes Hwy. Just as we turned up the Mt Imlay Rd (a brilliant motorcycling road) the rain came down and the temperature dropped 10C. After stopping in Cann River for a break, we reluctantly donned the waterproofs again and plodded along the Princes Hwy back to our digs in Orbost. Given how severe the weather change had been we got out of it pretty well and managed to ride all the really twisty roads when they were dry.

We dined again at the Orbost Club. Much to Bill’s disbelief, Marty got the last serve of lamb cutlets – having also pipped Bill for the last serve of flathead fillets the evening prior!

That night the motel was completely filled with motorcyclists, bar one room.

Day three (Sunday 2 Nov)

The rain radar for Sunday looked more promising than Saturday. We saddled up and headed for Omeo. It was quite cool at around 7C and it rained most of the way. I was more than a little aggrieved on one aspect as my near new Oxford heated grips failed recently and the best the Aust distributor will do under warranty is provide a new control unit when they have them in stock in 5 weeks’ time – not much use to me now when I really needed them. As we arrived at Swift’s Creek the rain petered out. After fuel (shared the servo with a patched outlaw group from Melbourne) and a snack at Omeo we headed for the Omeo Hwy to Mitta Mitta. The last section has been recently sealed and this run is fast becoming a mecca for motorcyclist. The clouds cleared, the sun came out and we had a sensational run, stopping once for some photos and to disconnect ourselves from another bunch on ZX14R riders, including an SE identical to mine.

Without doubt, riding the Omeo Hwy run was the highlight of the trip.

Happy riders!

We stopped under the trees at Mitta Mitta and chatted with other motorcyclists and admired a lovely early 1960’s Lotus Elan that pulled up.

Lotus pic

The other ZX14R SE (Also sans pin stripes)

Should have parked the ZX 14 in front for the pic of the Mitta Mitta store

The run to Bright via Lockhart’s Gap, the Gundowring Rd (with views to Mt Bogong) and Tawonga Gap were also thoroughly enjoyable, with great asphalt road surface and lots of lovely sweeping curves. Particularly so as the sun kept shining and the afternoon warmed up more. Bright was really buzzing when we arrived as there was a major cycling event on There were also plenty of motorcycle touring groups and individuals swelling the tourist numbers. We checked into our motel and kicked back for the evening.

Day four – the ride home (Monday 3 Nov)

The route home from Bright is one that we have ridden many times, however, is no less enjoyable for having done so. From a chilly 3C as we left, (again, I cursed the fact that my heated grips remained inoperative), it warmed up to become near ideal riding conditions. The run along the King Valley in the morning sunshine always lifts my spirits. The hot drinks at the Whitfield store were most welcome. Interestingly, we came across a group touring on Vespa scooters. I had a brief chat to the owner of the 50 year old example pictured below. My obsession with motorcycling commenced with a worn out Vespa scooter of similar vintage which my Dad and I got going and upon which I had many (highly illegal) adventures as a 12-13 year old. (I also treasure my Giorgio Sarti book of the history of the Vespa1946 – 2006).

After an enjoyable run through the twisties to Mansfield we said our farewells to Bill and he headed back to Melbourne via Alexandra. Marty and I refueled in Yea and had a quick look through the Red Plate Café. – a quirky moto themed café.

From here we took some isolated roads to Broadford, then continued on to Geelong via Gisborne and Bacchus Marsh.

It was another excellent multi-day ride with great mates. We had no problems or mishaps what so ever and my odometer showed we covered 1,817 kms (1,130 miles).

For more high res pictures click HERE

Slideshow below

A big impression

Recently, a stranger came up to admire my motorcycle and we had a bit of a chat. He rode a cruiser and he asked me what on earth made me think of buying a bike like the ZX14R Kwaka. The answer to this was pretty easy and I gave him a succinct reply “I rode a mate’s ZX14 and I had to have one” (A bit of context here, I’m a gray haired fella well on the wrong side of fifty years of age).

However, what that clichéd answer didn’t convey was just how profound the experience actually was. A few years ago when I was riding a VFR800 Honda and a few of us were on a multi-day ride in the Victorian High Country, my mate Bill most generously gave me a ride on his brand new 2009 ZX14. The experience burnt into my brain, so much so that I can still visualise the section of road near Myrtleford (Vic) where this ride took place.

Ergonomically the big Kwaka was much like the VFR to ride – but the smoothness, power and user friendliness of the big 1400 left me besotted – I had to have one! My brain went into hyperdrive doing mathematical calculations about my current bank balance, the market value of the Honda and my projected savings capacity and current status of my special motorcycle ‘slush fund’. My mate Marty, then riding a Kwaka ZX9R, had exactly the same experience when Bill gave him a ride as well. Our conversation then followed fairly predictable lines  “ I wonder if we could get a great deal if we bought a pair of them?” It took a while, but the rest is history, I now own my second ZX14R, following on from the superseded 2010 model that I bought new in 2011 and then traded in on the 2013 model. Marty also went on to purchase a brand new Kawasaki green ZX14R in 2012.

Below – Bill & I at Mt Hotham (Vic). His ZX14 in touring mode

Below – some months later! Arrived home with a brand new ZX14

The sort of profound impact that a motorcycle had on my psyche had occurred once before. And I can still visualise the balmy evening when I was about 16 years of age (early 1970’s) when a ‘fella named George Popa gave me a pillion ride on a then new, Honda CB750K1 Four – complete with 4 exhaust pipes – and the baffles removed of course. My senses were overloaded with a confusing mix of incredible noise, power (that seems laughable now) and effortless speed. I vowed that evening that I would own one of these magnificent, cutting edge machines – to hell with Suzuki T500’s, Yamaha XS650’s, Triumph Tridents and Norton Commandos – the Honda Four was the only bike for me! Anyway at that age, the prospects of owning a CB750K were about as achievable as flying to the moon.

As I dreamed of owning a ‘Four’ I had no idea that fate had some difficult times in store for me in my immediate future. A subsequent motor vehicle accident that resulted in multiple injuries, a near death experience on the operating table and four months confined to bed in hospital gave me plenty of opportunity to reflect on what I really valued and wanted out of life. My horizons were not particularly vast and my ambitions were limited by the constraints of growing up in a small, working class country town (John Mellencamp’s song “Small Town” has always resonated with me – though obviously I’ve never been as cool as him).

The roulette wheel of chance turned, and a year later (1975) I had mostly recovered from my injuries, met a wonderful girl (who I later went on to marry – now known in the blogosphere as Mrs Tarsnakes), had commenced the path to a tertiary education thanks to the reforms of Gough Whitlam, and you guessed it, I owned my first Honda 750 Four. That same girl, actually the term ‘woman’ better fits these days, my wife of more than thirty years, asked me just last week, “Are you obsessed by motorcycles?” I will leave you to speculate what my answer was!

Mrs T with the second Honda CB750 K4