Island Classic 2017

On 28 January I took a day trip to Phillip Island on the ZX14R. The reason for this trip was the annual Island Classic race meeting, featuring teams from the UK, Ireland, NZ, the USA and Aust. I really like this event – not just for the bikes and racing, but also because a standard entry ticket provides full access to the pits and the pit roof area. And it’s quite OK to ride through the tunnel into the centre of the track and anywhere around the track outer perimeter. That’s good access for getting involved in an event. It was beautiful weather with plenty of sunshine and temps around 22 -25C – pretty good for PI!

When I first arrived I headed for the museum to see the new collection of racing winning Cagivas that they have just purchased and put on display.

After a look at the bikes and the info at the Visitor Centre I headed back into the track and straight through to park in the centre of the track. It was great wandering around the pits enjoying all the sights and sounds, and of course, events like this bring out some pretty special spectators’ bikes.

I spent ages peering into various pit garages and photographing the bikes and people fettling them. I’m always more interested in the 1970’s and 1980’s superbikes than the really old British and American iron.

I even managed to get up close to a few of the British team stars during their lunch break. Jeremy Williams, below, is still an incredibly gifted rider. His lap times and race craft was spectacular.

The fella below has won a few trophies at the Isle of Man TT races I believe!

Above: John McGuinness

Above: Cameron Donald

After a really good wander around the pits I headed over to the inside of Turn 4 to take some race photos with my ageing SLR. As I said, Jeremy McWilliams (#99) at age 52 can still really ride at a very high level and led every race that I saw him in.

The big Irving Vincent powered sidecar was impressive, however, the real star exhibit was the priceless Britten.

By around 3.45pm I was done and headed over to my Kawasaki and kitted up to head for home. As I was doing so a fella with some pretty impressive camera gear stopped to chat and take a couple of pics of the Kwaka. I got talking photography him and it turned out to be none other than legendry Team Kawaski Australia racer Murray Sayle! That topped off an already excellent day. A gentle ride completely around the outside of the track to take in all the sights and I was off towards Melbourne in still, perfect riding conditions.

Link to a gallery of photos, CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

Snowys invitational

A few weeks ago I was invited to come on a five day ride through the Victorian High Country to the Snowy Mountains area. Of course I jumped at the offer! It was great to be a guest on someone’s ride, rather than being a participant in planning and booking accommodation and the like. 

DAY 1: Four of us from Geelong met around 8.30am on Saturday 21st Jan then took the Princes Hwy, Western Ring Rd and Hume Freeway as far as Broadford, then turned inland and met the rest of the crew in Yea. From Yea we headed to Mansfield for lunch and then hit the twisties from Mansfield over to Whitfield. Bob’s bike actually made slight contact with a Ducati that was sliding down the road towards him, along with a fallen rider who was coming from the other direction. From Whitfield it was a lovely cruise down the King Valley, then up the Tawonga Pass and then up to Mt Hotham for the night. All up 595 kms for the day. 

DAY 2: After a reasonable night’s sleep at Mt Hotham (I never sleep really well the first night away) we packed up and Ron the builder led us down to Omeo in the cool morning air. After a great breakfast we headed along the Omeo Hwy to Mitta Mitta. I led this section and these continuous curves are exactly what the ZX14 is built for. I got into a nice rhythm and Graham tucked in behind me.  He and I stopped about 20kms out of Mitta Mitta and waited for the rest of the crew to catch up. I think the Victory’s of Peter and Ron were a bit of a handful in the tight twisties. We had a break under the trees by the Mitta Mitta River and then it was off to Tallangatta for lunch. It was a very pleasant 25C temp at Talangatta and the rest of the day we rode under clear, blue skies. From here we rode up the Granya Gap then along the banks of the Hume Weir on the Murray River Rd (C546) to Walwa. This section was incredibly green and scenic. By now it was getting pretty warm (around 30C) and after some cold drinks (non-alcoholic!) we crossed the border into NSW and  rode onwards to Tumbarumba via the Tooma Rd. We pulled into my favourite spot at the Southern Cloud memorial lookout. It was a cruisy run the rest of the way to Tumbarumba and by the time we checked into the pub, we were well and truly ready for some cold beers, followed later by a pretty good counter meal at the same pub. Total = 405kms.

Roadside debrief after riding the twisties of the Omeo Hwy.

DAY 3: Day three’s ride commenced at a ‘Gentle’ pace in sunny weather, yet again. It was an easy pace as a couple of the ‘fellas were feeling the effects of the prior two days, mainly in the form of back and shoulder pain. Both were Victory mounted actually and clearly that style of bike is a lot of work in tight, twisty stuff. It was great cruising along past all the commercial apple orchards in the cool morning air. We headed over to Tumut, then had a really nice run along the Snowy Mountains Highway (B72) to Adaminaby for lunch. Max and I had a spirited run for quite a few kilometers which was exhilarating. After lunch and a couple of pics of the big trout, we motored over to Berridale. As we checked into the motel early in the afternoon, so Jimbo, John, Max and I took off for a scenic loop of the region which took in Dalgety, Jindabyne and Lake Eucambene. By now it was pretty hot and after a little dirt tracking at the lake (thanks Garmin!) we headed back to our lodgings at Berridale. The local pub was the venue for our evening meal as it was the only place open! However, being Monday all they had available was pizza – so pizza it was! I had a great sleep in a comfy motel bed. All up with Eucambene circuit = 390 kms.

The long & short of the crew!

DAY 4:  

As this was to be a reasonably long day we headed off just after 8.00am and took a nice morning run down to Bombala for brekky, via Dalgety and a short section of the Monaro Hwy. John headed for the coast from here, on his way to spend a few days in Canberra. After breakfast we travelled down to Cann River via the Monaro Hwy. Even though it is a highway, it is quite a scenic and enjoyable ride down the Monaro. Passing by the Mt Imlay without a quick squirt down it was a bit sad though! True to form, we barely reached the Victorian state border and it started to rain! The quality of the road surface became poor as well, compared with NSW.

From Bruthen we took a convoluted route to our destination at Mirboo North. Most of this was just boring straight roads that needed to be traversed to get to our accommodation at Mirboo North. We’ve stayed at the 1st Tee motel at the golf course previously and Stan always looks after us with a good price on the rooms and by arranging for someone from the pub to ferry us to the pub for our evening meal. All up, 506 kms.

Would Jimbo be tempted from his Harley by the Victory?

DAY 5: After a light breakfast in our rooms we saddled up, fuelled up and headed for a cruisy ride along the Grand Ridge Road (C484). It was wonderful just bopping along with views from the Strzelecki Ranges in the morning light. We crossed the Princes Hwy and headed up from Neerim South to join the scenic, twisty Yarra Junction – Noojee road. At Powelltown we pulled in to the pub – which is every bit as much café as it is pub. There is a very pretty seating area out the back that adjoins the rainforest.

After coffees we said our farewells as three of the group would be turning off a little further down the road near Yarra Glen. The scenic riding continued and at Kinglake we came across a random breath-testing station. That was no problem and then about 15 minutes later were pulled over by two motorcycle cops coming in the other direction. Our lead rider continued on thinking that the flashing lights were all about  the car immediately ahead of us which had no number plates. One cop took off after him and pulled him over whilst the other cop directed us to ride up the where Graham had been pulled over – I guess it’s a safety thing for them. Anyway, the no rego plates car was just ignored! Our licenses were all checked and our details written down (surprisingly no electronic devices were used). Jimbo’s now well-worn rear tyre drew the officers’ attention and he was advised to have it replaced ASAP. However, none of us were booked and the cops were friendly and professional in their interaction with us. We pulled in for lunch at Wallan. From here is was a perfunctory run around the outskirts of Melbourne then on to Bacchus Marsh where there was yet another breath testing station. This time we were waved on! Obviously there was a blitz on leading up to the Australia Day long weekend. I rolled into my driveway late in the afternoon having done 402 kms for the day and a grand total of 2,298 kms for the trip.

Many thanks to Ron for inviting me on this ride. He’d done an excellent job with all the trip planning including routing, loading the roads into his GPS and booking the accommodation. There was lots of laughs and banter with a great bunch of fellas. All the bikes ran well and we had no mechanical issues or any other problems. It was a brilliant run which I thoroughly enjoyed, with great company and excellent roads and scenery.

Unfortunately closed on Tuesday we were in town.

Powelltown pub

Pink Ribbon Ride 2016

This is a Geelong Ulysses Club and Peter Stevens Motorcycles fundraising event for the Andrew Love Cancer Centre. Every cent made goes to the cause and there are zero costs taken out of the funds raised. Mrs T and I were corner marking.

At age 84 yrs, Rob Ashmore (below) was probably the oldest participant! Well done Rob.

A gallery with lots more shots HERE

 

 

 

Antique Motorcycles

The Antique Motorcycle Club of Australia is a club for owners of pre-1930 motorcycles. Their AGM and associated ride out was held today and I was able to ride to the Wallace Hotel (Vic) to catch up with Tom K (1927 Scott Flying Squirrel)  and Tim K aboard his Dad’s 1930 Scott. It was a terrific opportunity photograph some beautiful old machines in motion. These bikes are ridden and enjoyed.

Lots more pics in my gallery. Click HERE to view them.

Purrumbete for lunch

After coffee at Winchelsea with a group of 11 riders, 5 opted to follow Geoff to a little cafe at Lake Purrumbete, at an out of the way spot near Camperdown (Vic). Geoff led us on a scenic route around the lakes out of Colac and then it was a short run up the highway to Lake Purrumbete. We came home via Cressy, Shelford and Inverleigh. A great run of around 300kms in sunny conditions with temps between 9C and 12C.

Geoff’s new T120 (1200) Bonneville

 

 

 

Mirboo North four dayer

We were invited to a four day ride, staying in Mirboo North for three nights. The weather forecast was for excellent riding conditions for Friday and Saturday, a wet change with significant rain for Sunday and possible showers on Monday.

Well we made the best of the first two days completing 385kms (from our home) on Friday and about 370 kms on Saturday. Mrs T did really well riding pillion over these distances on a bike that is not very well suited for a pillion. Sunday dawned with drizzle that turned to showers and set in for the day. So Sunday was spent with some walking in the morning, including a visit to the famous ‘Inline-Four Café’, and an afternoon and evening by the open fire at the Mirboo North Golf Club – which they kindly opened for our use. Monday we headed for home on greasy roads and the threat of rain. When we pulled up for morning tea and consulted the rain radar the decision was made to cancel the ride home via the hills and take the highway home. As we hit the Monash it started to rain a little and just prior to the tunnel we were pummelled by a cold change, with pelting rain, gusty winds and generally treacherous conditions out over the Westgate Bridge and on the freeway back to Geelong.

All up it was a brilliant long weekend of just on 1000 kms door to door for us. Thanks to Ron (AKA Gentle) for all his work in planning the ride routes, organising the accommodation and generally ‘herding cats’ with good humor.

A diverse range of motorcycles

A great bunch of people – pictured here at Port Albert

Attack of the seagulls – aided by a handful of chips lofted into the air!

Coal Creek at Korumburra http://www.coalcreekvillage.com.au/

Gentle at Coal Creek, Korumburra

Gentle

Mural at Mirboo North servo

Dodging the rain on Sunday at the Golf Club, which was kindly opened for our exclusive use

 

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.