A familiar voice …..and Flying Squirrels

Mrs Tarsnakes and I took a drive to Lorne for a coffee. After a bit of procrastinating we decided not to ride the ZX14 and drove the car as the weather forecast was fairly grim. As we pulled into town I spotted a bunch of historic motorcycles parked,and I mean really, really old bikes. Naturally we pulled in to have a look and as I walked towards them to take a couple of pics, I heard a very familiar voice – it was that of my boyhood motorcycling mentor (and hero) Tom Kingston (TK).

Tom was my Dad’s boss, and friend, when I was a young lad in my teens and he encouraged my pre-existing interest in motorcycles. To a young ‘fella he was extremely charismatic and raced motocross (scrambles in those days) and was a highly competitive club road racer as well. Actions speak louder than words, and Tom coached me in riding technique around our huge backyard on his then brand new Yamaha CT1, and even succeeded in charming my very anti-motorcycle Mum into permitting it! Later I recall accompanying him to a road race meeting that he was competing in and I was given the thrill of my young life as Tom let me ride his XS1 650 Yamaha race bike through the pits. I recall blipping it far more than necessary to make sure that everyone could hear the glorious sound from its megaphone exhausts (and see me of course!). I guess I was around 15 or 16 years of age at the time. I’m guessing that these reminiscences sound a little self indulgent, however, I can see those events in my mind as clearly as though it was yesterday.

Anyway, although a huge fan of Japanese motorcycles, TK has spent the last few years restoring a 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel. When I last saw this bike 4 years ago it was a pile of rusty bits that I thought were completely beyond restoration. What has been achieved with this restoration is a great credit to TK. He is a member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of Australia. All bikes must be pre Dec 31st 1930.

Tom with his Scott

Exposed valve gear on this 1920’s motorcycle.

Another Flying Squirrel . There were 1928,1929 & 1930 models represented in the group!

A lesson that TK taught me around 40 years ago was that good motorcycle control was achieved by getting your feet up on the pegs as soon as moving and looking ahead. Control of the motorcycle was characterised by little need to ‘dab’ once moving. Now take a look at the following video clip, keep in mind that Tom is 73 years of age, riding a hand gear change vintage motorcycle, and note the bike control – even whilst giving way at the roundabout.

Tom aboard the 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel

These guys must have ridden from Lorne up through the twisties to Deans Marsh and then back towards Geelong on the Cape Otway Road. We chanced upon them later in the afternoon and Mrs T took a few shots from the car window.

Bumping into TK like this was an unexpected treat.

Keep in mind that these enthusiasts were out riding 70 & 80 plus year old motorcycles in 10C-13C temps, shame on us for taking the comfort of the car!

Some more high resolution pics HERE

Damp day in the Otway Ranges

Marty and I headed for the hills for a short ride today. It was around 8C and dry when we left Geelong and remained so for most of the ride.

Our first stop was at the Gellibrand store where a friendly greeting from Maria,a mug of hot chocolate and a chat with some nice folk from the Colac Ulysses club made for a very pleasant stop.

However, around Beech Forest the temp dropped even more and along Turton’s Track the road was particularly greasy. It was pretty obvious there had been significant rain overnight up there. I was glad to have new tyres with plenty of tread on them!

By the time we joined the Apollo Bay – Colac road there was a long line of slow cars ahead, so we pulled into the West Barwon dam lookout.

The brewery cafe at Forrest was stacked out so we headed back to Colac for lunch, then dropped in on Steve from 79 x 100 blog and inspected his latest Norton resto project.

From there it was a quick sprint along Hwy 1 back to Geelong.

Pilot Road 2CT again

I’ve followed the lead from Chillertek over at The Road to Nowhere blog and had some new tyres fitted. I was very satisfied with the Michelin Pilot Road 2’s that I had fitted at around 2,000kms to replace the disgraceful old school OEM Bridgestones that the Kwaka came with. Well 9,400kms later they still had just a little tread left, especially the front, maybe just enough for the rear to top the 10K kms with, but after my ride in the rain last Saturday I decided to get them changed. I think it’s great that a tyre with so much grip can last so long on a 250+ kg bike. I bought these online ages ago from the USA when the Aus dollar was running at $1.10 against the US dollar. I think that we are getting shafted buying locally when a pair of the Michelins delivered to my door from the US cost the same as the retail price of a single rear tyre here in Oz.

I also had some lovely 90 degree Ariete valve stems fitted. I had these on the VFR800 and they make life so much easier for checking tyre pressures.

I also learnt something interesting, namely how to check the manufacture date of a tyres. Amongst the series of letters on the side of the tyre after the ‘DOT’ is a panel with 4 numbers. The first two numbers indicate the week of the year the tyre was manufactured and the second two numbers indicate the year of manufacture. So the tyre in the pic below was made in the 14th week of 2011.

Also, so far I’ve bought Michelin PR 2’s made in Thailand and some made in Spain. In both cases they were purchased from the USA. They certainly are well traveled tyres by the time they get to me in Australia!

 

One of her favorite places

I had no expectation of riding today as the forecast was for a blast of wintery weather, however, it was cold but sunny when I awoke, so I decided on a quick spin. I headed from Geelong down towards Colac via Birregurra. Although I was riding in sunshine I could see heavy rain over towards the Otways, so thought that heading east might be a good plan. By the time I got to Beeac there was a wall of black cloud ahead! Damn, so I turned towards the north to do another few kms before returning home. This took me to the tiny township where my mother was born, so I headed up to nearby Red Rock, which was one of her favorite places. It’s an extinct volcanic region and the last eruption here was thought to be 4,500 years ago.

Many years ago we took Mum for a birthday picnic here, (her first choice of venue) but it was so hot and the flies so thick we had to beat a hasty retreat to Loves Creek picnic reserve, some distance away.

It’s very rich volcanic soil around here. Dairy farming is the main form of agriculture in these parts, though there’s a newish vineyard at the turn off to Red Rock.

ZX14 at the top of one of the two lookouts here.

A big rain squall was approaching. That’s a volcanic crater to the left of the pic and a huge inland salt lake in the distance. Lake Corangamite.

Volcanic domes

My mother told me that when she was a little girl they used to roam all around this countryside, and sometimes walk over to Red Red to watch motorcycles racing between these two volcanic cones. I haven’t done any research about these daredevils but probably should!

I couldn’t take any more pics as the rain squall hit and I rode off in pouring rain. Lots of memories came flooding back as I rode in solitude past Doran’s Lane and the school my Mum attended as a child. This unexpected ride to Red Rock proved quite evocative.