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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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!

 

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.

Postscript

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Coast in the AM, inland for the PM

I took a short solo coastal ride Thursday morning, then a twilight ride to Andy’s place in Ballarat with Marty. In the morning I experimented with an old camera on a lanyard for some pics ‘on the fly’.

The morning ride

Below: main beach at Lorne Vic.

Below: The Lorne to Dean’s Marsh road

Not speeding!

The afternoon ride

Marty and I headed off a little after 5.00pm and took some back roads via Mt Mercer inland to Ballarat. It had warmed up to around 33C, but the riding was pleasant until……. Marty suffered a puncture of his rear tyre. He’s unsure what did it, but it left a large hole, though nothing was embedded. Fortunately we had a puncture plugging kit and once we located the hole had it “fixed”  and headed on to Andy’s motorcyle restoration workshop. The three pics below demonstrate completed, in progress and yet to be touched projects. All are 1973 Suzuki two strokes, 250, 350 and 750 respectively.

As the tyre plug was leaking slightly we left Marty’sZX14R and rode home two up on mine. The plan being to get a new tyre fitted the next day.

Here’s an update: the T350 Suzuki that was “in progress”is now completed. Pics below.

A nice pair.

 

 

Procrastinators’ New Year ride 2014

The 2014 New Year’s Day AGM of the West Coast Procrastinators was thwarted by an unfavorable weather forecast, which actually eventuated in a day of wind and rain of ‘biblical proportions’ as Marty described it. In a rare display of decisiveness, the ride, lunch & AGM were re-scheduled to 2nd January, 2014. Mind you, I packed my wet weather gear as I wasn’t 100% convinced that it would remain dry for the whole ride.

Marty and I met on the outskirts of Geelong then headed via the Cape Otway Road to Steve’s property just outside Colac.

When we arrived at Steve’s the team were found to be in good form, with Andy deriding the exhausts on my ZX14 before I even had a chance to get my helmet off. It seems that size does matter in this case! There were two very different generations of motorcycles present – the old 1970’s Brit bikes and the latest from Japan.

Two ZX14R’s and a Commando

Steve’s Norton Commando

Marty’s ZX14R

After some more good natured banter and New Year handshakes we headed off for a tour of the salt lakes near Warrion, then on to our destination at the Timboon rail shed distillery for lunch. Fortunately we had booked a table as the joint was packed and even getting a parking spot was problematic.

Tarsnakes’ ZX14R

The ambiance of the restaurant was only sullied by the presence of a former politician who had been at the heart of the “Children Overboard” affair (suggested by some as one of Australia’s great political lies) and who had condoned unprecedented strikebreaking measures during the Waterfront dispute. (Imagine security guards in balaclavas with German shepherd dogs used for the first, and only, time in Australia’s history).

Anyway, after a tasty lunch and an uneventful and mercifully brief AGM, we hit the road and headed for the 12 Apostles via the Great Ocean Road and then tracked inland to Beech Forest for a pit stop and photos.

Three of four at Beech Forest

And with no procrastination at all, rode Turton’s Track to Forrest. Turton’s was in excellent condition with none of the usual slippery wet bark covering the asphalt.

Here’s a file shot of Turton’s Track

Our last stop for the ride was the Forrest Brewery. Time for a drink, swatting the abundant flies, a bit of a debrief, some more New Year handshakes and we were on our way again – Marty and I back to Geelong and Steve and Andy back to Colac.

 

A really enjoyable day of riding and banter with mates – a great way to start the new year. All up, I’d done 390 very enjoyable kms for the ride – and it didn’t rain once!

There’s a new kid in town

Kawasaki ZX14R Special Edition

Peter Stevens Motorcycles – Elizabeth St Melbourne

Full specifications HERE

Actually there is an even more special, limited edition of 50 only coming next month – but I’m sworn to secrecy right now! It will be something like THIS, but a different color for Oz.

First ride, two up with Mrs Tarsnakes to Lorne Vic.

I didn’t like the pinstripes on the side of the fairing so removed them. The one on the side cover is under the clear coat so it has to stay.

 

A tale of two rides

I’ve had the days after Easter off as annual leave days and I’ve really been looking forward to a couple of decent day rides as Mrs T was working unexpectedly.  We’ve had lovely autumn (fall) weather. I took off Thursday morning to head inland to the historic town of Maldon, as the weather along the coast was not looking as good as forecast. I was just near the end of a bush section not that far from home and thinking that I was too late to disturb any kangaroos when a little wallaby bounced out onto the road. I braked safely and was never at any risk of hitting it. The rest of the ride was uneventful, though colder than forecast, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I was indifferent about riding, which is quite out of character – though I have had it happen before. I just couldn’t get into the groove and headed home early, though I ended up doing 345kms for the run. The highlight of the ride was seeing a Wedge Tailed Eagle up close as it made a meal of a dead sheep, though I was unable to get a photo. All in all, a much anticipated day of riding that I just did not get to grips with and it ended up a being a disappointment really.

Observation tower at Mt Tarrengower, near Maldon.

It’s all a matter of perspective!

The next day (Friday April 5th) Marty and I met at 8.30 and headed towards the 12 Apostles via the inland route. We had a good run inland (straight and boring) and arrived at the Timboon distillery in what seemed like no time. After a drink and a chat, we headed along the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. The bike and I were loving the twisties and the ride was thoroughly enjoyable, even though it was overcast and a bit chilly, again much cooler than forecast. After lunch in Apollo Bay we headed inland again, climbing up through the eucalyptus forests to the township of Forrest where we stopped at the brewery café for a short break. There were some other riders there who we chatted with briefly and then another group of three pulled in as well. We had a great day of riding, a nice pace and reasonably deserted roads. What a great day of riding and a huge contrast to the day prior.

Friendly owners explained their products to us.

Marty’s ZX14R

Despite our stops being booze vendors, we adhered to our zero alcohol when riding policy.

So there’s the story of two contrasting rides, only one day apart.