….and can’t wait to see what riding 2016 has to offer.
Two up to Timboon ….. and home via the 12 Apostles
Mrs T and I were greeted with a beautiful sunny morning and a forecast of a pleasant 24C for our last ride for 2015. Our destination was the Timboon distillery for lunch via backroads and then home along a short section of the Great Ocean Road. Mrs T actually cheated and drove her car to friends’ place 70 kms away and then rode pillion for the ride loop. We wanted to keep away from the main parts of the GOR due to the recent and ongoing bushfires there.
I made a decision to travel to Timboon along the Carlisle River road which weaves through heavy bush that grows virtually up to the roadside, with just a very small margin of green grass on the road verge. Taking that route in the morning was a bit of a mistake as there were a number of small black wallabies on the road verge who were very difficult to see in in shadows. I didn’t spot the first two which Mrs T spotted and alerted me to. I then slowed down, kept my eyes peeled and subsequently spotted another four. Fortunately none hopped out in front of us!
We pulled up at a nice little spot in Simpson for morning coffee. In what is an otherwise unremarkable little township, there is a lovely little picnic area complete with a small man-made lake.
After a drink and reading some of the info about how the bush was cleared in the 1950’s it was only a short on some quiet back roads to the Timboon Distillery for lunch.
We enjoyed a tasty lunch and were offered a free whisky tasting, which alas we declined prior to riding. As we were leaving we met and had a chat with a great couple from Tasmania who have been touring Victoria for the last week or so. They were aboard a Triumph triple Explorer and were really satisfied with it as a two-up touring machine. Ride safe guys and smooth sailing back to Tassie on New Years Day.
We fuelled up in Timboon to avoid the mayhem of tourist season in Port Campbell and headed for the 12 Apostles in gorgeous riding conditions. The sky was blue, the sun was getting hot but there was a lovely sea breeze coming off the ocean. Tourists were all over the Apostles area, from a distance it looked like a swarm of ants crawling all over the place, so we kept going, hence no pics of the Apostles.
The last time I rode the twisty section of the GOR from Gellibrand Lower to Yuulong I had a brilliant run and didn’t encounter a single car going my way. Today was the exact opposite, and we saw two cars whose drivers exhibited some of the most dangerous and discourteous driving I’ve ever seen. One little Toyota virtually stopped on every curve and failed to pull into the overtaking lanes despite a line of cars following (and the SUV behind sounding its horn and flashing its lights). The other was a black Mercedes station wagon which weaved from side to side, frequently drifted across the double white lines and nearly side swiped a tourist bus! It was scary stuff to observe!
We had a brief pit stop in Lavers Hill and then a really enjoyable run down through the bush to Gellibrand and on to Colac to or friend’s place. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph Steve’s newest Norton single project now that he has completed the latest resto, a 1938 Norton, which you can read about HERE.
I took an easy run down the Princes Highway to get home, having had a great last ride for 2015 of approx 375 kilometers in perfect riding conditions. Roll on 2016 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
DAY 1 – Wednesday 16 December
The Rawson overnighter organised by Graham A was a week later than usual this year, commencing on Wed 16 Dec. And we really benefited as the weather was excellent for both days, which was a nice change from last year’s day two rain. OK, below is a map to give an idea of the brilliant Day 1 route.
Nineteen riders gathered at North Geelong Maccas, with one of the Club’s numerous Peters (we had 5 Peters on one recent mid-week ride!) only riding until lunch time, but then collecting another two at Healesville.
We headed to Bacchus Marsh for morning coffee.
We headed to Bacchus Marsh for morning coffee, and then Graham led us on a really good route to Whittlesea, skirting around the north of Melbourne and avoiding all the traffic. From Whittlesea to Healesville via Kinglake and Yarra Glen the scenery just got better and better. And just to add to the enjoyment it was all blue sky and around 22C ambient for most of this section – perfect riding conditions. Healesville has a large ‘Beechworth Bakery’ franchise with tons of parking around it which was perfect for our lunch stop.
From here on the roads just got better and better. The ride from Healesville through to Powelltown, Noojee, Hill End, Willow Grove and then past Blue Rock Lake and beyond is motorcycling Nirvana. Some of us rode the twisty roads at a nice brisk pace whilst others just bopped along at their own pace and comfort level. This really was traffic free, week day riding at its best. As we neared Yallourn North for drinks, BBQ supplies and fuel the temp really picked up and was in the low 30C’s. From here it was just an enjoyable short run via Tyres through the bush up to Rawson. At Rawson bikes were unloaded, stubbies were opened and the good times off the bikes commenced.
Irish John (Honda ST1300) was unstoppable getting a big fire going, which served as the focal point for the evening. It was a really nice balmy evening for cool drinks in great company.
DAY 2 – Thursday 17 December
Some stayed up late and partied Wednesday night. However, most didn’t given that it had been a hot afternoon in the saddle and the departure time had been set for 8.00am on Thursday morning for those returning to Geelong with Graham.This departure time was based on the forecast 36C temps for Thursday. Poppy and Peter were heading on to Bright via Mt Hotham and left early. Bill and the ST1300 crew had decided to head for the coast and spend the night at Phillip Island and lingered longer. Another couple of riders just didn’t make the 8.00am departure!
We headed off in the cool morning air down through Erica and retraced our route through the bush to Noojee for early morning coffee. It was another absolutely brilliant ride at a ‘brisk’ pace with virtually no traffic around.
Downtown Noojee on a Thursday morning
Even though it was early, the sun already had some sting in it and there was no doubt it was going to be damn hot. The lovely old lady at the Noojee store dutifully made coffees, dispensed pies and sausage rolls from her ancient pie warmer and even offered a packet of mixed biscuits for free for the fellas. Talk of travelling back via the Reefton Spur was replaced as and the collective wisdom was to get home expediently to avoid the worst of the heat. Jimbo decided he would take a more scenic route home and the brains trust gathered around his map to assist his route planning.
Above: Men at work
Graham led the rest of us via Yarra Glen, Christmas Hills and Kangaroo Ground, I think, to Diamond Creek. At this stage I didn’t know that I was writing this ride report and I really didn’t pay much attention to the route! At Diamond Creek we had another breather and from there on it was home via the Western Ring Road and Princes Highway. The traffic on the Ring Road was actually quite heavy and the ride was less than pleasant, made worse by the heat and a couple of downright homicidal drivers. Once off the Ring Road it was a short run back and we pulled over for a hasty debrief in 36C heat.
Once again the Rawson ride was a great success and one of the best Club rides for 2015. A great bunch of people, brilliant roads and no rain or rider incidents, what more could you ask for? Thanks again to Graham A for organising and leading and to Phil R for tail-ender duties on both days.
Some high resolution pics HERE, then click on ‘Slideshow’.
Bill organised this year’s Snowy Mountains ride for the Melbourne Cup long weekend. This is a a four day weekend away that we’ve done for many years now. However, this year was a little different because instead of four or more motorcycles the group was comprised of two motorcycles and two modified Mazda MX5 sports cars.
Day 1 – Sat Oct 31st
I awoke to the sound of our dog barking at thunder and it wasn’t very long before torrential rain started falling. I don’t mind if it rains while I’m out riding, but I immensely dislike rolling out of the garage into the rain. Marty and I met at 6.45am in what can be best described as ‘biblical’ conditions – namely thunder, lightning and pouring rain. We headed towards Melbourne and fortunately the rain abated as we crossed the Westgate Bridge and out the start of the Monash Freeway. However, once we hit the Eastern suburbs we encountered more thunderstorms and plenty of fork lightning. I wasn’t surprised when I received a message from Gentle from the Geelong Ulysses club saying that the 20th anniversary Great Ocean Road ride had been cancelled!
Marty and I rendezvoused with Ian (supercharged MX5 Mazda) in Yarragon. After making our introductions and a warm drink we headed off to Bairnsdale to meet Bill. The intermittent rain continued as we travelled east, but fortunately, Bairnsdale was dry and sunny. After meeting Bill (turbocharged MX5 Mazda) at a café on the outskirts of town and some banter over lunch, we headed off towards Bruthen and then along a really picturesque road to Buchan and the twisty ‘back way’ to Orbost. The road was wet in places and there was some fine gravel on some corners, so we had to be vigilant. To my amazement a fella on a Harley Davidson (with an obvious death wish and flames painted on his tank) actually rounded us up and then overtook us – I could not believe it! Oh the shame and embarrassment! The two modified sports cars easily out-performed the motorcycles in such treacherous conditions – mind you Bill and Ian are both highly skilled, enthusiast drivers.
Map day 1
Me in the bush on a damp road near Orbost, Vic (Pic courtesy of Bill).
Arriving at the legendary Snowy River
Prior to the torrent – the roofs soon went on those cars
We settled into our motel in Orbost and before very long the thunder clouds rolled in again and a torrential downpour ensued. It actually poured for most of the evening and the images on the rain radar were not pretty! After dinner at the Orbost Club and a couple of drinks we hit the sack pretty early. And it was still raining! Not a good portent for the next day’s riding.
Day 2 – Sunday 1st Nov
By 8.00am we checked out and headed for Bombala via the Bonang Hwy. For those who have not ridden it, “the Bonang” is a really winding road through the bush from north east Victoria into NSW. Supposedly there are 1080 curves in the 105 kms of road, along with two unsealed sections. Although it wasn’t raining when we started, the road was wet in patches. The two Mazdas took off and left Marty and I in their wake. Predictably it started to rain as we gained some altitude. Ian and Bill belatedly pulled over to put their hoods up (far too late for Ian’s liking actually). Below is a pic of Marty and I taken in the rain, hence the raindrops on the camera lens! This area is so pretty and the road grip was good, so it was actually quite enjoyable riding along in the rain with the smell of eucalyptus filling the air. We only saw one ‘roo, which was four less than last time.There was virtually no traffic encountered at all, being reasonably early on a Sunday morning.
The rain had stopped by the time we reached Delegate. We then had a ‘spirited’ run to Bombala for brunch. Amazingly the copper coming the other way didn’t pull us over as we crested a hill, a fair bit over the speed limit. The clouds had cleared and it was reasonably humid. Bombala is an overtly motorcycle friendly town and hosts an annual motorcycle show. We dined at the bakery café which has the tastiest meat pies around and that trademark friendly service.
Marty and a busy Sunday in downtown Bombala!
We left Bombala and traveled to Adaminaby at warp speed – making the most of the dry roads and isolation. We stopped briefly for a breather and some pics by a wind farm in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately the wind had blown the roads dry.
In no time at all we arrived at the home of the big trout, Adaminaby. There were quite a few other motorcyclists about as well as a bus load of drunken young football fans. The local café did pretty well to cope with it all.
Look! Blue sky behind the big trout
From Adaminaby we rode some of the iconic, twisty and scenic roads that the Snowy Mountains have to offer. The Kosciuszko National Park is a truly spectacular place and a haven for motorcyclists. We rolled in to Corroyong late in the afternoon having had a really satisfying day’s riding (and driving). The sun was out, it was humid and I noticed that the ambient temp had actually increased by 10C as we descended from the mountains. Unfortunately Marty was coming down with the ‘flu and was feeling pretty awful. A few other motorcycles rolled in to the motel (including a ZX14R identical to mine) as we kicked back over some cold drinks and chewed the fat over the trip so far. We headed for the local pizzeria for our evening meal, however, they were struggling to cope with the demand so we had Thai food at the local club instead – and got drenched walking home in the pouring rain afterwards! It was incredibly humid for this area and the rain continued most of the night.
An identical ZX14R to mine, complete with the sameYoshi pipes
Day 3 Monday 3rd Nov
The plan for Monday was a loop through the Snowys, back to Corryong for coffee and then to Mitta Mitta, along the Omeo Hwy and take the turn up to Falls Creek and then to our digs in Mt Beauty. As we started to ascend into the mountains the storm damage from the night before became obvious, with a lot of tree branches blown across the road. We actually had to stop and wait as a huge tree trunk was removed by forestry workers. And as if wet roads and stacks of bark litter weren’t challenging enough, fog enveloped us the higher we climbed.
Again it was just a matter of settling into a nice rhythm and riding to the conditions. I found it exhilarating and thoroughly enjoyed the early morning run through the mountains. By the time we reached Elliot Way the sun was out. I pulled into a place that I always enjoy, namely the lookout and memorial to the Southern Cloud – Australia’s first commercial aviation disaster in 1932. I love the history and the views.
It was getting hot by the time we finished brunch in Corryong. After an enjoyable run along the Goulbourn Valley Hwy and the Yabba road we arrived in Mitta Mitta for a coffee break before tackling the twisties of the Omeo Hwy.
This is the place for them!
Relaxing on the banks of the Mitta Mitta river
Although it’s only 100kms to Falls Creek ski resort from Mitta Mitta it takes around two hours. It’s a beautiful motorcycling road in any weather conditions – and we got to experience all of them along the way! We ended the day’s riding with an absolutely brilliant descent in dry conditions from Falls to Mt Beauty. It is one of my all favorite sections of twisty mountain road and the road surface is excellent. And so ended an excellent day of motorcycling.
Day 4 Tues 2nd Nov (Melb Cup day)
Tuesday dawned in Mt Beauty without a single cloud visible and all blue sky, an excellent morning for riding. Today we were heading home, however, there was still some great riding to come. We headed over the Towonga Gap to start the morning and then through Bright and down to Oxley and along the King Valley to our breakfast stop at the Whitfield Cafe. It was a beautiful morning to ride through such picturesque countryside. There were plenty of large groups of motorcyclist on the move as well and we saw a few groups pass bye. A smaller group pulled in as we were about to leave. The ‘Whitty’ has access to high quality local food and their meals are excellent.
Along came a Spyder.
We said our farewells as the motorcyclists and drivers would part ways once we reached the other side of the range at Mansfield. Marty and I had a really nice run through the twisties between Whitfield and Mansfield and then it was pretty much just a boring slog via backroads back to Geelong.
Many thanks to Bill for organising an excellent route and all the accommodation bookings. Thanks to all for being excellent travelling companions and for all the banter that was exchanged. Although around half of the roads were traveled were wet, we managed to actually avoid much of the rain whilst we were actually riding. Despite a dire weather forecast and some incredible storms we dodged the worst of it and had a great few days riding. I never tire of the Snowy Mountains and the surrounding foothills, not just for the excellent riding but also for the spectacular vistas and scenery. We had no mechanical issues at all and I did 1935kms in comfort and without any incidents or near misses, a great testimony to the capabilities of the big Kawasaki as a Sports- touring machine and modern waterproof riding gear. This trip was the 10th anniversary of Marty, Bill and I riding the Snowy Mountains together. Below is a pic of us in Canberra in 2005 on our first Snowy ride together and one of my Honda CBR600.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had some new tyres fitted to the ZX14R. First a front a couple of weeks ago and then a ‘new’ rear today. But just how ‘new’ is new?
As I was re-installing the rear wheel I caught sight of the manufacturing date stamp on the wall of the tyre which has the numbers 4014. My understanding is that what this means is that this tyre was manufactured in the 40th week of 2014. Therefore it’s about a year old. So is a one year old tyre really a ‘new’ tyre? I don’t know what the industry standard is. Any suggestions?
I’m not sure if jacking the bike up from the exhaust collectors is a great idea either!
When time came for the ‘new’ rear, I decided to take the wheel out at home and just have the tyre fitted at the shop.
From 6 Aug 2015 the helmet standard for Victoria has been amended to include European standard ECE 22.05 (or any later version of that standard). Here is a link to the Vic Roads web site with the details CLICK HERE It’s backdated to June 2000 according to the Gov.t Gazette.
There has been some intense lobbying behind the scenes and Qld and Vic have moved with the times and with safety data. My understanding is that the Aus / NZ 1698 standard results in heavier, more rigid helmets due to our requirement for resistance to puncture with a sharp object for the top of the helmet. This outdated requirement is not required in other countries. So common sense and safety have prevailed. What will the implications of this be for private importing and pricing?
Some of the legal argy bargy that has been going on regarding motorcyclists being booked for having tinted visors or GoPro cameras attached to helmets. The cases have all been withdrawn as I understand it.
An article from Motorbike Writer well worth reading is at the link HELMET CAMERA CASE
… temp for me to start a ride in this morning!
I wound up doing around 365 kms for the day, all in sub 7 C temps.
Lunch at the Moto-Bean cafe Malmsbury, (see prior post) then later that day at Mt Alexander with the Ulysses Club members. Fellow Ulyssian from Melbourne (and former prolific blogger) Raymond Herd met us at Ballan for morning tea and then rode to the cafe with us. Just as we were leaving when another friend and Ulyssian from Bendigo, Rob H, showed up. Sorry we didn’t really get a chance to have much of a chat Rob!
Rob’s Victory has a heated seat as well as grips. A luxury touring machine.
Unfortunately it was a boring run home from Newstead onwards, however, I wanted to get us back as quickly as possible as the temperature had remained under 8C for virtually all of the trip and there were a couple of new riders who were feeling the pinch with the combination of the distance and cool temps.
I took a solo run today to scout out a ride that I’m leading in a couple of weeks time. The average temp for the day was around 5C, and was hovering around 3C for quite a while in the early am. All up it was around 415 kms, which was about 50 kms too much in those low temps! Just a few pic for now but some more words to follow.
A view from Mt Alexander, near Harcourt Vic. A chilly 3C – 4C up there. Great views of orchards on the ride in and of vineyards on the ride out.