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 It took a while, but the rest is history, I now own my second ZX14R, following on from the superseded 2010 model that I bought new in 2011 and then traded in on the 2013 model.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

ASMA and Pink Ribbons

It was a busy weekend of motorcycling related activities. On Saturday I participated in an all day, motorcycle specific first aid course called ‘Accident Scene Management – A Crash Course for Motorcyclists’. And it was pretty good. Generally, it’s about skilling up riders to manage motorcycle crash scenes. The specific focus was predominantly on trauma and managing someone whose had an “off”. A lot of emphasis was placed on reducing injuries to a rider whose come off through the correct pattern of care, specifically via spine and neck care. For example, they taught a two person and a one person technique to remove the helmet from an unconscious rider whose airway is compromised while supporting their neck. The course is an offshoot of an American motorcycle specific program developed by Vicki Sanfelipo called Accident Scene Management Inc. Here’s the Australian ASMA website. Additional online study with their affiliated RTO, along with demonstrating some hands on skills such as CPR on the day, meant that I and some others were eligible to also receive a level 2 first aid certification.

On Sunday I participated in the annual Geelong Pink Ribbon ride. It’s a fundraiser for the Andrew Love Centre cancer ward at The Geelong Hospital that the Ulysses club and Peter Stevens Motorcycles jointly put on. There was huge turnout and I was glad that I’d volunteered to do some corner marking for the event. The weather could not have been better and Corio Bay looked sensational from the Eastern Park start and finish site. The event was really well run and it was great to see so many different types of motorcyclists come together to support the local community. Lots of kudos to “Gentle” from the Ulysses club, Mary from Peter Stevens Geelong and many other volunteers from local service clubs.

Here’s a link to a gallery of pics I took PINK RIBBON RIDE. Click on Slideshow for best viewing.

Bloggers rendezvous

A comment on one of my posts by Chillertek from the famous The Road to Nowhere blog indicated that he was down from Sydney and holidaying along the Great Ocean Road with his family. An email and a phone call later and we had tee’d up to meet for an early morning coffee in Apollo Bay.

Now I really get a buzz out of meeting people who I’ve come to know online, or ‘virtual friends’, in the flesh. My son insists that ‘online friends’ are not actually real friends – whereas I beg to differ!

Mrs T and I headed off at 7.00am and took the inland route to Apollo Bay via Forrest. I love riding in the early morning, MrsT less so. Though a chilly 7C in the hills, it was quite pretty with some fog swirling up through the gullies and the sun breaking through the gum trees. Here’s the route we took

Anyway, we had virtually just pulled our helmets off in front of the Apollo Bay bakery and Chillertek and his delightful family turned up. Sitting down outside in the sunshine in front of the bakery, we had an enjoyable conversation over coffee – easy when your both are motorcycle enthusiasts. Well an hour (plus) passed bye quickly. I was mindful that team Chillertek  had a trip to the 12 Apostles planned, so we didn’t want to hold them back any longer.

Pic courtesy Chillertek ‘The Road to Nowhere blog’

Steve, it was great to meet you, Kate and the girls. I will take pleasure in telling my son that online friends ARE indeed ‘real’ friends! Hope that you folk had a great day trip to the Apostles via some of what I consider to be the most scenic parts of the GOR. Hopefully you will have a pic or two that I can add to this as well.

MrsT and I had an excellent run back along the GOR to Lorne where we stopped for brunch, and then sat by the beach for a little while before heading home. Lorne has a huge population of sulphur- crested cockatoos about the town.They can live as long as humans (or longer) and I think this old fella might have a few kilometers on his odometer!

It turned out that the AFL grand final day is actually a pretty good day for motorcycling and socialising with like minded people.



Great Spring day on the GOR

What a day – sunny and around 23-25C all day. It was a great day to be on the Great Ocean Road, traveling against the main flow of tourist traffic. I headed inland from Geelong  to Colac, and traveled west to Gellibrand for a pit stop. I then joined the GOR at Lavers Hill, and rode all the way back to Geelong along the GOR. It was a sensational day with perfect weather conditions for riding.  I actually didn’t stop to take pics of the sunshine, blue sky and blue sea, just my lunch buddy in Lorne and a spot in the Otways where it’s usually raining!

Honda RC166

 Motorcycle News online recently ran a couple of articles on 6 cylinder motorcycles. Both part 1 & part 2 are really well worth reading. What really caught my attention was the video clip on the little Honda 250cc six cylinder race bike from1966. Just check out the tacho in the sequence where one is started up as a demo in Japan. Turn up the sound on your device!

Rear mudguard ADR to be scrapped

The Aust government has announced that the ADR requiring a rear mudguard (fender for our American friends) extension will be scrapped. I feel sorry for people who have been booked for removing it in the past!

Removing this outdated rule will mean that Australian bikes’ rear mudguards will be the same as in other countries.

Gov.t announcement in full HERE

It’s an ugly damned thing!


Procrastinators first Spring ride for 2014

Some of the Procrastinators gathered in Spring sunshine to take a run down to Timboon for lunch and a catch up. Not bad going for us, seeing how it’s only the fifth day of Spring! We rendezvoused at Steve’s place near Colac, with me coming from Geelong and Andy from Ballarat. Below is a map of our route.

Shiny motorcycles, getting ready to hit the road.

We usually dine at the Timboon Distillery, however, today we opted for some good old fashioned pub grub and ate at the Timboon Hotel. Three steak sandwiches and plenty of banter later we headed off to Port Campbell for some fuel. After a short run along the Great Ocean Road past the 12 Apostles we turned inland again to Simpson, and then to Carlisle River where we pulled over to chew the fat a bit more. (We are becoming so complacent about the magnificent coastline and Apostles that we didn’t even stop for a photo). There was virtually no traffic at all. The countryside looked magnificent and green, but unfortunately most of the roads were a bloody disgrace. The asphalt was consistently potholed and featured plenty of depressions or ‘slumps’, typically on the entry to, or exits of, nice sweeping corners. In a couple of the worst sections the speed limit was lowered to 80 kph (as it has been for 12 months or so) and there was no sign of any road repair work being commenced. We rode to the poor conditions and still enjoyed the ride immensely, but really, these roads are dangerous and not what you’d expect in a first world country! I wish I’d stopped and taken some pics of just how bad some spots were.

Below: A pit stop at Carlisle River – which consists of an infant welfare center, a public hall and a couple of farm houses – not much else.

Andy’s Commando gleaming in the sunshine

We arrived back at Steve’s and cranked up the shed stereo, dragged some chairs outside and then basked in the sunshine as we chatted some more. All too soon I had to head back to Geelong. It was a great day out ‘fellas – I thoroughly enjoyed the riding and your company. All the better of course for being a weekday and choosing the roads less traveled, with the consequent lack of cars. All up I did around 350kms – yet another grand day out, and in the true Procrastinator’s spirit – no decisions were made about anything!


Burger, beans and bridges

I took advantage of an improved weather forecast for Thursday 21 August and took run inland to central Victoria to visit the Moto Bean café as recommended by Raymond Herd, on his excellent Sandgropher motorcycle travel blog.

Again it was a fairly cold, around 7C for most of the morning, however, it is still winter I guess. My route was from Geelong to Ballan, then Daylesford and on to Malmsbury – specifically the Moto Bean café.

You may have guessed that the Moto Bean café is a moto themed café. It is a new purpose built building and rather than following the ‘1960’s diner’ theme, the owners have opted for a slightly industrial /warehouse style – and have pulled it off really well. The place is spacious, warm and inviting – especially for motoring enthusiasts of any discipline – but also generic enough not to scare off non moto enthusiast patrons. However, it’s certainly great to go to a café that has magazines lying about that are of interest – namely a good selection of motorcycle magazines.

As is my habit duty, I sampled a tasty burger which the chef was happy to cook for me even though it wasn’t quite time for the lunch menu to commence. I also had a very friendly, welcoming chat with George (who is one of the owners), who took the time to explain the background of some of the display bikes, the construction of the café and some local scenic rides.   Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Mt Alexander, but will be back to check out the area soon.

Did I mention that they also roast their own beans?

Have a close look at the motor grafted into this K0 series Honda Four.

Malmsbury is also home to a large brick and masonry arched bridge built between 1858 and 1860, known as the Malmsbury Viaduct. Its just a walk through the park from the café.

As I was leaving the cafe, a friendly patron suggested that I should also check out the historic Taradale Viaduct which is just a few kilometres down the old Calder Hwy. I was lucky enough to snap a train traveling over it – just as in the pic on the history info plaque. Now compare and contrast the bridge itself in the following two pics.

I’m guessing that you noticed that in the 1862 pic the bridge is constructed of only masonry columns and no iron work. The iron columns were added much later in the 1930’s to cope with heavier trains.

After taking some shots of the bridge I headed over to the pretty Sutton Grange road and from there over to Castlemaine for some fuel, then home to Geelong via Maldon (out of my way a little I know), Newstead, Creswick and Lal Lal –skirting around Ballarat.

For all the pictures, click HERE (then press ‘Slideshow’)

All up, a grand day out riding. A new venue, enjoying some tasty food and hospitality, some new roads to explore, with a little history thrown in to add interest.




RIP Vernon Train

Vernon Train, along with Mike Lockyer, rode motorcycles around Oz in 1953 to prove the reliability of Renolds chain.  I recently contacted Danny Curran (who re-enacted the ride in 2012 with his mate Craig) , with a view to obtaining a copy of the book “Operation Transmatilda” which is comprised of  Mike Lockyer’s diary notes of the ride and 150 excellent photos of the trip.

Danny informed me that Vernon had passed away in early August and his funeral was in Benalla on 7th August. Sad news indeed.

I made a brief post regarding Vern and Mike back in 2012. Below is my original post….

Here’s a great story about two ‘fellas who rode around Oz 60 years ago to prove the reliability of the Renolds chain – the employer of one of the riders. The story claims that only 10% of country roads were sealed at the time. There’s some great old footage of the bikes and an engaging interview with the two old guys. It’s on the ABC web site, CLICK HERE  

Two fellas have done a re-run of the trip earlier this year (2012). They left from the All Brit Rally in Newstead. Here’s a link to their blog CLICK HERE

My thanks to Danny who sent me a copy of the book, signed by Vernon and Mike, (& him and Craig). Many thanks Danny, I will treasure it.

Danny also informed me that Mike will be at the Sunassist Motor Show on the 21st Sept in Mildura showing off the bikes.

RIP Vernon Train.