Spring 12 Apostles loop

After months of apalling weather characterised by gale force winds and localised flooding, we finally cracked it for a perfect spring day on Friday. Inspired by a recent video that I saw on Facebook of the Ducati owners club of Vic run to the 12 Apostles, I decided to ride one of my favorite local loops. The route travels inland to Port Campbell, then back along a short section of the Great Ocean Road (in the opposite direction to the GOR tourist traffic) and then inland through some rain forrest. I also managed to drop in on Phil R, a mate from the Ulysses Club, and see his new abode at Deans Marsh. It was a sensational day of riding with little traffic, dams overflowing and the countryside more green and lush than I can ever recall.

I stopped in Simpson for my first break and then on to Port Campbell via Timboon.

Overlooking Port Campbell.

Lunch at the waterfront in Port Campbell.

This was a whole lot more tasty than it looks – proscuitto, egg, spinach and relish. A delicious lunch from an excellent, friendly place called ‘Forage‘ right oppposite the main beach. I actually took my plate from the cafe and walked across the road to be virtually on the beach for lunch.

From Port Campbell I headed just a few kilometers up the road to the famous 12 Apostles. I’ve been to the Apostles so many times in my life I have to admit that I get more of a buzz watching the helicopters than the scenery! (Maybe my son will buy me a joyflight for my next big birthday!)

I love the way that the grazing sheep seem completely unfazed by the chopper landing

From the Apostles I had a brilliant run through the twisties to Lavers Hill (my last run along this stretch of the GOR cost me 3 demerit points and $300 thanks to a newly imposed speed restriction and my inattention to the new signage) and then on to Beech Forest and Turtons Track.

From here it was another 20 kms of twisty bush roads to Forrest, then through mainly open farmland to Deans Marsh. After enjoying Phil’s hospitality I headed off andarrived home around 5.30pm after a magnificient day’s riding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevermind Adventure Torquay

Quite by chance I was invited to the opening of the Torquay shopfront for Nevermind Adventure. They specialise in guided motorcycle tours of Rajasthan, the Himalayas and Nepal. The business is run by Matt Natonewski, formerly operating out of Perth WA. You can check out their website HERE

Matt – proprietor of Nevermind Adventure

Some of the guests at the opening of the Pearl St store, Torquay

Below is a picture of Hamish, who was the lucky winner of a trip for two, valued at $10,000

I was quite surprised at how much the Royal Enfields have progressed since I last looked at one. The bike pictured had Brembo brakes, good suspension and left side gear change.

It was a really interesting evening hearing about their tours, meeting the owners of some other motorcycle businesses based in Torquay and just meeting other local motorcycle travel enthusiasts – and the free beers were great as well. Thanks Matt!

 

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.

 

 

A wet day on the Great Ocean Road

…well actually not all of it was. From Geelong to Lorne was sunny and 12 C. From Lorne to Apollo Bay there were occasional drizzly showers, but the road remained dry, also 11C-12C. From Apollo Bay to Lavers Hill was wet – I guess that’s why it’s called rain forest! The road was very wet, however, was not too greasy because it was properly wet rather than damp. It was 7C most of the way along there and I was really appreciating the new heated grips. Lavers Hill was foggy and wet, but was my lunch destination. An excellent hamburger and a hot drink from The Shoppe really hit the spot. The rain had stopped on the section from Lavers Hill to Gellibrand, though the road remained pretty wet. Remarkably the roads from Gellibrand through Colac and back to Geelong were completely dry.

It was a great ride to get a feel for the new Michelin Pilot Road 4 tyres.  They are meant to be the ‘ducks guts’ (that’s a highly technical term) in the wet and I found the bike felt sure footed all day. Additionally, I’m sure that the bike turns in more quickly in the tight twisty stuff compared with the old PR3’s. These are exactly the type of conditions where it really pays dividends having great gear that is fit for purpose. I was comfortable and warm all day despite the low temps and rain, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

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.

 

 

 

Autumn

Monday’s forecast was for fog followed by sunshine, which was very welcome after a wintery weekend. Better still, there is great Autumn (Fall for those of you in North America) weather forecast for the rest of the week. I left home around 10.00am in fog, however, it had lifted by the time I was 10 kms down the road. Just for a change I planned to ride the inland, rainforest section of Great Ocean Road in a clockwise direction, which provided a different perspective on this very familiar countryside – which I really enjoyed.

My first stop was the West Barwon dam.

I then tracked further inland through the Otway Ranges to Apollo Bay for lunch at the bakery. The road conditions were a bit a bit tricky actually, with sunlit entries to curves dry, but the shaded exits wet and greasy ( or vice versa). However, it kept me on my toes and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. From Apollo Bay my next stop was at Gibson’s Steps – near the 12 Apostles.

View from Gibson’s steps. (Grrr – dirty lens on camera!)

I didn’t stop at the Apostles and continued on to near-bye Port Campbell for a drink and some fuel. The bike was showing the ambient temp as 18C. The place was virtually deserted except for some international tourists in their camper vans. To my surprise a couple of people headed for the waves for a swim. (Perhaps they were from the UK and thought it was summer!).

The ZX14 probably didn’t really quite need fuel,especially at $1.75 per litre! However by gassing up here I was able to do a non stop, inland run back to Geelong.  After concentrating hard in the twisty and shaded sections of the ride, it was actually great just cruising along through the farming country with the sun shining on me. By the time I got home at 4.00pm the air was getting chilly and I had done 379 kms of enjoyable riding.

 

 

 

April Fools and an unseasonably hot day on the GOR

This is no joke, it’s April 1st and we’ve just experienced our hottest April 1 day ever recorded in Geelong – just a tad under 36C (96F).  Mrs T and I had planned a two-up ride for ages, however, she’s been flat out with her Careers Consultancy business Kind of ironic really, I’ve just retired and she’s now busier than ever.

Our plan was to head up into the Otways on a very familiar route through Forrest and on to Apollo Bay for lunch. After lunch we planned to track back to Geelong along the Great Ocean Road, the weather forecast promised near perfect conditions.

I’d intended to buy MrsT a coffee at the brewery in Forrest, however, it was closed so I went a few hundred metres down the road to a cafe and guesthouse. We used to drop in here a couple of years ago, however, the place was a bit ramshackle, and …. well … downright grubby. Well it changed owners about 18 months ago and what a change! We walked in and were greeted by friendly staff and saw that the place had been de-cluttered and painted out from stem to stern. And all the food is home baked! A staff member was happy to show us the renovated guest rooms, each with new ensuites , beds and paintwork. Anyway, as you can tell I’d like to give Emma and her staff a big wrap as they really deserve it. I will be returning.

 

There were a couple of very laconic long term guests hanging about outside. Two iconic types of Australian cattle dog.

After a skinny cap, a Coke and a Yo-Yo, we headed through the bush to Apollo Bay which is on the coast. In the hills the temp was around 22C and then as we descended down to sea level it went up by 10C. It was a glorious day there and a few people were in swimming and surfing. However, other than tourist coaches making their way through town on their way to the 12 Apostles,  ‘The Bay’  was relatively deserted – all the better for motorcycling of course. Mrs T was keen to travel back to Geelong along the GOR,  to, and I quote, “Look at the scenery” along the way – not always my highest priority I must admit!

We pulled in at Cape Patton lookout – you guessed it, to see the scenery.

It was worth stopping. View to the South along the GOR

We stopped in Lorne for a ‘pit stop’ then headed for home. Just before Aireys Inlet we were flagged over (along with a couple of cars) into a temporary breath testing station. “Any alcohol today” – “None” –“One long continuous blow please”. (And how convenient the flip front helmet is in these circumstances) Then we had a really pleasant chat about motorcycling. Turns out that he’s an enthusiast and has also just bought his wife a motorcycle. This fella and the chat with him really did the image of Victoria Police a lot of good in my eyes. Mind you, it was pretty damned hot sitting still on the bike in full gear with the temp at 34C, so we were pleased to finish the conversation and to get rolling. From Anglesea onwards there was a gusty, hot north wind blowing and we were actually glad to just get home and out of the heat.

Post script: I’ve been running a Michelin PR 3 on the rear of the ZX14R and still have the soft OEM Bridgestone on the front. What I noticed today was that whilst it still had plenty of grip on the corners and was still not quite at the wear bars, it was ‘tram tracking’ quite a bit on any tarsnakes and any overlapping ridges of asphalt. So after I dropped MrsT off at home I headed down to my regular tire guy for a new front. He immediately pointed out the asymmetry  of tire’s profile caused by 8,559 kms of wear. I was thinking I’d  probably buy a matching Pilot Road 3, (hyperlink is to an excellent review by Geoff James) however, was offered a Pilot Road 4 for the same price, so decided to give it a go. Here’s an overview of them – click HERE

The pictures …..

…can do the talking as to the destination for today’s ride.

All up, 433 kms in perfect Autumn conditions.

Welcome, now be scared!

When I was a child there was not a single guard rail or fence to be seen and we used to just run about the place. I wonder how we survived?

There are about 8 left – if you have a good imagination!

View to the East

Layers

I really was there!

Port Campbell jetty

Great Kriega luggage on these two. I should have taken a closer shot of their luggage systems.

 

 

 

More Otways goodness

The middle of a public holiday long weekend is not always a great time to ride motorcycles, right? Well it can be OK if you are thoughtful about the route. Rather than the frustration of following the herd of tourists & day trippers traveling along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, we headed inland to the get to the Otways, then intercepted the GOR at Lavers Hill and then rode the rain forest section to Apollo Bay, against the flow of tourist traffic heading for the 12 Apostles. From Apollo Bay we tracked inland to Forrest, then took the back roads back to Geelong. It was perfect weather, with blue sky and not a puff of wind. The temps ranged around the 24C mark for most of the trip, but got up around 32C for the last 50kms.

Helmet hair, but hey, it’s from a new helmet!

Mrs T’s brand, spankin’ new Shoei TZX in anthracite color

Mrs T enjoying the day out

We made salad rolls for our lunch, thus avoiding the hassle (and expense) of buying food and enabling a lunch stop in a beautiful, deserted Otway’s picnic area.

I was surprised how neglected this spot was, and what used to be a well defined walking track was now all but overgrown.

I don’t have any pics other than this spot as we were enjoying the riding too much to stop! All up, the ride was around 300 kms.