Melbourne cup weekend in the Snowy Mountains

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.




What is a ‘new ‘ tyre?

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.

Melton riders expo

More of a forum than an expo. The best part was stunt rider Lukey Luke’s performance.

I had a chat to the owner of the coolest bike around at present – the supercharged Kawasaki H2 .

Victorian helmet standards amended

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


A new low ….

… 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.

Grassy’s new Honda CTX 1300

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.


Freezing but fine

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.

The Moto Bean cafe

Big barn doors for running cars into the building.

A juicy burger. Not cheap at $17.50 though.

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.

Broadford Bike Bonanza 2015

I took my annual trip to the Broadford Bike Bonanza on Easter Sunday. It was a perfect autumn day for the event with no wind, plenty of sunshine and the temp around 22C. A friend of mine, Tim K, has come back to classic racing after a 20 plus year break and is in the process of shaking down a T500 Suzuki that he has recently rebuilt. So this was the first time for me to see his Suzuki in action, which was great and it always adds interest when someone you know is on the circuit. His Dad is an old hero of mine (see A Familiar Voice) and I was expecting to see him as well, however, he had some bike trouble on Saturday and didn’t stick around for Sunday. I arrived around and things were in full swing. The theme for this year was former Bathurst racers.

Below is a selection of some bikes that took my fancy.

Tim K aboard the T500 Suzuki

TK 09 (2)

‘Beak’ on the former John Woodley Suzuki.

A well-used, road going Norvin, with South Australian rego. I wonder if it was ridden here?

I still love the style of the beautiful Honda CB750 Four engine, shown to advantage below

Speaking of old Honda 750’s, Paul Kerlin in the pic below had traveled all the way from Emerald in Qld to show his wares. He makes cast pistons for the Honda 750cc motors and was very generous with his time talking to me. His business is Kerly’s Custom Connection, however, I don’t think he has a website.

How’s this for stepping back in time. I didn’t hear it running but I’m told it started first kick.

I saw this lady being photographed and wondered who she was. Tim knew that she is Peggy Hyde, a 1970’s road racer with considerable ability. It’s really well worth reading about her in this AMCN article HERE. Better still, listen to her at THIS LINK

I’ve posted a gallery of pics HERE. I advise clicking on ‘Slideshow’ when you get to the page.

Those who know me, know of my love of the mighty Vespa, so I will finish with a pic of two of them!