Long winter ride to Halls Gap, 19th June

Halls Gap was the destination for the Geelong Ulysses Club branch Sunday long ride. A couple of days prior the weather forecast looked pretty bad with showers and cold winds forecast. However, after showers on Saturday it appeared that it wouldn’t rain again until Sunday night, although it would be quite a cold day. Eight of us gathered at Waurn Ponds Maccas for the ride led by Rob V and we then met up with another three at Bannockburn. The temp was hovering around 7-8C, until we hit some fog which made things difficult for quite a few kilometres, and the temp halved to around 4C in the fog. I cranked up my heated grips to keep my hands nice and toasty. The plan was for morning tea at Skipton, where we would be joined by the Ballarat Branch and the Grampians Branch – having ridden down (from Stawell) to meet us. Phil and Tanya met us at Skipton, boosting the Geelong Branch representation to 13, pretty good for a long ride (500kms) just a few days before the winter solstice.

It was a lovely day in Halls Gap and we all headed off to various eating spots, although the bakery proved to be the firm favourite – so good were the pasties that some went back for seconds! We socialised a bit and then said our farewells to the Ballarat and Stawell folk and saddled up for the ride home.

By this time the temp was around 13C and we rode quite a scenic route out. I noticed a mob of ‘roos and some emus in a paddock just as we left town and fortunately they were the only ones I spotted. Rob led us down the Yarram Gap Rd to Derrinallum via Vite Vite. At Derrinallum Foles was waiting for us, having ridden down from Wannon on his new BMW F800GS.

From here we made a good pace down the Hamilton Hwy to Inverleigh, where the ride finished. I had a really enjoyable day of riding. It was 515 kms all up which is a long day in low temperatures, made a little more challenging in the morning by icy fog. However, everyone had suitable gear for the conditions and we had an enjoyable, incident free ride with great comraderie within our groups and with the two other branches who joined us for some of the ride.  Again, well done to Rob for planning and leading the ride and to Phil as TEC.

 

 

Gloomy but great!

Well its only two days away from the winter solstice Down Under and its great to be able to get out for a mid week ride. I basically wanted to do a test run in my textile gear with the merino wool layers underneath to make sure that I will be warm enough for next Sunday’s Ulysses club ride when a max of 10C is forecast at our destination (meaning that most of the ride will be in much lower temps). Despite being gloomy and overcast, all the roads were basically dry which was an unexpected surprise – especially so for the section through the Otways. Here’s a map of the ride – pretty much my ‘backyard’ but some of the twistiest roads in Victoria anyway.

The temp was around 7C when I left home and became colder as I headed away from the coast towards the Otways. I even stopped a bit later to take a pic of the ambient temp reading. Other than showing 4C ‘Outside’, you will see that the traction control (KTRC) is set on 2 for these conditions, but I still have full power selected (F).

I mentioned that the road was mostly dry, because if you look really carefully in the bottom right of the pic below you can see the contrast with some pavement that was completely dry and that the riding line wasn’t actually 100% dry and just a little dampish.

One aspect of riding in cold conditions that I have become more wise about is stopping reasonably often for a hot drink. My first stop was in Forrest and I pulled up at  The Corner Store, which I’d been meaning to try for ages.

It’s mainly a mountain bike enthusiasts shop that has a small cafe as well. I was the only customer and had a lovely chat with Bec about the local MTB single trails as she made me a mug of excellent hot chocolate (I’m not a coffee drinker and usually Coke zero (AKA “black asprin” pulses through my system ). Mountain biking has become a big thing in the Otways and Forrest hosts a couple of major events each year.

Here’s some of the stock they have

OK, one more picture, as I said I’d give them a good plug!

Actually, one more pic – lessons for the girls! If Cathy’s as passionate as Bec is about MTB riding it must be a great experience! Hey guys, what about something for overweight old dudes who’d love to learn how to ride the trails as well?

While we are on this deviation from motorcycling, I should mention Flyboy’s excellent blog of his MTB riding. Click HERE

OK, back to motorcycling.  From Forrest I headed to Apollo Bay for a bite to eat and another hot chocolate (and I resisted the marshmallows again!). To my delight, the road was virtually deserted, I was quite warm and had an excellent brisk run to Skenes Creek turnoff. Things only got better when I rode the GOR from Apollo Bay to Lorne without seeing another vehicle going in my direction. Unprecedented in my recollection! That along with the dry tarmac made for for one of the better GOR rides in recent years – so much so that I didn’t stop to take any pics. As I cruised through Lorne a cop on an unmarked BMW police motorcycle had a good look at me, and there was also another cop in the 50km zone on the edge of town with a radar gun. If only they’d hassle a few of the drivers who cross to the wrong side of the road around the curves and those slow coaches who fail to yield (pull over) into the overtaking lanes.

I got home in no time having had a great winter ride. Only 210 kms in duration but lots of fun riding and checking out a new coffee stop. Just as a post script I should add that with 3,000 kilometers on the new Michelin Pilot Road 4 front tire I’m still really happy with it – the bike felt really sure footed in today’s cool conditions.

 

 

 

Stimulus package on Elizabeth St Melbourne

I went to Melbourne this morning to collect my Dainese Galvestone textile pants that I’d had on order from Peter Stevens motorcycles in Elizabeth Street. Thanks for the stimulus package $’s Kevin Rudd! For those not familiar with Melbourne, Elizabeth St in downtown Melbourne has a strip with 105 year history of motorcycle shops.

It was great dealing with a salesman named Bill, who was knowledgeable about their products and had an approach that appealed to a mature rider like myself. I find some of the younger guys seem to think that their customers have to be “kewl” to be worthy of their attention. I’ve noticed at the big dealerships these young guys are often on traineeships and don’t last long anyway.

First textile pants I’ve ever purchased – should be good now that winter is upon us here in the southern hemisphere.
Gortex whats more!
Maybe I’ll get the matching jacket if I get a decent tax return, check out the Gator.

I wandered down to Peter Stevens new store in A’Beckett St. This houses the Hardley Ableson, Triumph & MV Agusta dealerships as well as a “clearance centre”. This place is big & kinda like K Mart.

I’d quite like to take this for a run.

Lotsa Triumphs – this is but a few of them.