And they’re racing ……..again!

This post is commencing with virtually the same paragraph as the race weekend post did one year ago. The “race that stops a nation”, the Melbourne Cup, is a major sporting event on the Australian horse racing calendar. However, those who like to ride powered steeds typically turn it into a long weekend holiday and head for the mountains. It’s the beginning of Spring, the snow and ice has gone from the high country and the motorcycles are out. We did 1817 kms in four days of great riding in quite mixed weather. Sunny and warm for the first day, mild and gloomy for half of day two, followed by a huge cold front that came through in the afternoon bringing with it quite a lot of rain, day three saw cold temps and rain in the morning, followed by a perfect, sunny Spring afternoon. Day four remained sunny and mild after a pretty cold start.

This time last year my ZX14R started the trip with just 975 kms on the clock, this year it started with 17,300 kms on it.

Day one (Friday 31 Nov)

Route: Geelong to Orbost

I planned a slightly different route from last year, sticking to the Victorian “High Country”, rather than the Snowy Mountains region of NSW. This was partly because the ‘word on the Web’ was that there would be a massive police presence in the Snowys this year to coincide with an annual cancer fund raising ride that is based at Thredbo and typically draws HUGE numbers of riders into the whole Snowys region for the weekend.

Anyway, the first part of the trip was a boring afternoon ride through Melbourne, then along the Princes Highway to get to Orbost in the far east of Victoria, which was the real starting point for our ride. When Marty and I rolled into our motel in the late afternoon, Bill was awaiting us having arrived around 30 mins earlier. Whilst the Country Roads Motel in Orbost is certainly not five star, it is clean and comfortable with good quality beds and is VERY motorcycle friendly. I’d like to give them praise for making us and a bunch of other motorcyclists over the weekend very welcome and particularly for not price gouging us with a “public holiday” surcharge as our subsequent motel in Bright on Sunday night did (And another wouldn’t accept a one night booking even though their online system permitted a single night booking!) After a meal at the Orbost Club, we checked out the online weather forecast and rain radar for Saturday – and it was all bad news. A very extensive cold front was about to move across the state.

This night also led to some scurrilous claims that I snore (loudly)!

Day two (Saturday 1 Nov)

In view of the poor weather forecast we were up early and on the road by 7.00am, the plan being to ride the Bonang Rd (1080 curves in 105 kms) at least before the rain struck. Hitting the Bonang so early was a mixed bag. The good being that there was virtually no traffic and that the road was dry. The bad was the number of kangaroos on the road – 5 in total, although only one wallaby caused me to give the ABS a good workout! As lead rider for most of this section, I was considering that I might have to change my screen name from Tarsnakes to ’Roo bar. We rode at a good steady pace and thoroughly enjoyed the run. We stopped briefly at Bombala then headed for the coast via the Mt Darragh road, which was the scene of Lucky Phil’s “off” the last time we rode this section a couple of years ago. In fact, the lass at the Bombala Bakery told me that a ‘fella had come off on the Mt Darragh Rd yesterday. Unfortunately, some of this section had recently been resurfaced and hadn’ t been swept very well with resultant fine screenings on the road surface in places, so we took it fairly easy. Once we hit the NSW coast we turned south and headed for Eden. I had planned for a quiet lunch at the wharf. However, when we rolled into town the annual Eden Whale Festival was in full swing. Roads were blocked off for pedestrians and a procession was passing through the main street down to the wharf precinct. We eventually made it to the wharf where there was a band playing, crowds of people and various food stalls and exhibitions. Chef Paul West, the star of the Australian version of River Cottage, was hard at work preparing and selling pork rolls and homemade sausages. His film crew were filming it all. We sampled his food and sat by the waterfront to eat. All the fishing boats were moored in view of the impending storms and the square rigger sailing ship, the Endeavour, , was also moored nearby.

We fuelled up, donned our wet weather gear and headed along the Princes Hwy. Just as we turned up the Mt Imlay Rd (a brilliant motorcycling road) the rain came down and the temperature dropped 10C. After stopping in Cann River for a break, we reluctantly donned the waterproofs again and plodded along the Princes Hwy back to our digs in Orbost. Given how severe the weather change had been we got out of it pretty well and managed to ride all the really twisty roads when they were dry.

We dined again at the Orbost Club. Much to Bill’s disbelief, Marty got the last serve of lamb cutlets – having also pipped Bill for the last serve of flathead fillets the evening prior!

That night the motel was completely filled with motorcyclists, bar one room.

Day three (Sunday 2 Nov)

The rain radar for Sunday looked more promising than Saturday. We saddled up and headed for Omeo. It was quite cool at around 7C and it rained most of the way. I was more than a little aggrieved on one aspect as my near new Oxford heated grips failed recently and the best the Aust distributor will do under warranty is provide a new control unit when they have them in stock in 5 weeks’ time – not much use to me now when I really needed them. As we arrived at Swift’s Creek the rain petered out. After fuel (shared the servo with a patched outlaw group from Melbourne) and a snack at Omeo we headed for the Omeo Hwy to Mitta Mitta. The last section has been recently sealed and this run is fast becoming a mecca for motorcyclist. The clouds cleared, the sun came out and we had a sensational run, stopping once for some photos and to disconnect ourselves from another bunch on ZX14R riders, including an SE identical to mine.

Without doubt, riding the Omeo Hwy run was the highlight of the trip.

Happy riders!

We stopped under the trees at Mitta Mitta and chatted with other motorcyclists and admired a lovely early 1960’s Lotus Elan that pulled up.

Lotus pic

The other ZX14R SE (Also sans pin stripes)

Should have parked the ZX 14 in front for the pic of the Mitta Mitta store

The run to Bright via Lockhart’s Gap, the Gundowring Rd (with views to Mt Bogong) and Tawonga Gap were also thoroughly enjoyable, with great asphalt road surface and lots of lovely sweeping curves. Particularly so as the sun kept shining and the afternoon warmed up more. Bright was really buzzing when we arrived as there was a major cycling event on There were also plenty of motorcycle touring groups and individuals swelling the tourist numbers. We checked into our motel and kicked back for the evening.

Day four – the ride home (Monday 3 Nov)

The route home from Bright is one that we have ridden many times, however, is no less enjoyable for having done so. From a chilly 3C as we left, (again, I cursed the fact that my heated grips remained inoperative), it warmed up to become near ideal riding conditions. The run along the King Valley in the morning sunshine always lifts my spirits. The hot drinks at the Whitfield store were most welcome. Interestingly, we came across a group touring on Vespa scooters. I had a brief chat to the owner of the 50 year old example pictured below. My obsession with motorcycling commenced with a worn out Vespa scooter of similar vintage which my Dad and I got going and upon which I had many (highly illegal) adventures as a 12-13 year old. (I also treasure my Giorgio Sarti book of the history of the Vespa1946 – 2006).

After an enjoyable run through the twisties to Mansfield we said our farewells to Bill and he headed back to Melbourne via Alexandra. Marty and I refueled in Yea and had a quick look through the Red Plate Café. – a quirky moto themed café.

From here we took some isolated roads to Broadford, then continued on to Geelong via Gisborne and Bacchus Marsh.

It was another excellent multi-day ride with great mates. We had no problems or mishaps what so ever and my odometer showed we covered 1,817 kms (1,130 miles).

For more high res pictures click HERE

Slideshow below

A big impression

Recently, a stranger came up to admire my motorcycle and we had a bit of a chat. He rode a cruiser and he asked me what on earth made me think of buying a bike like the ZX14R Kwaka. The answer to this was pretty easy and I gave him a succinct reply “I rode a mate’s ZX14 and I had to have one” (A bit of context here, I’m a gray haired fella well on the wrong side of fifty years of age).

However, what that clichéd answer didn’t convey was just how profound the experience actually was. A few years ago when I was riding a VFR800 Honda and a few of us were on a multi-day ride in the Victorian High Country, my mate Bill most generously gave me a ride on his brand new 2009 ZX14. The experience burnt into my brain, so much so that I can still visualise the section of road near Myrtleford (Vic) where this ride took place.

Ergonomically the big Kwaka was much like the VFR to ride – but the smoothness, power and user friendliness of the big 1400 left me besotted – I had to have one! My brain went into hyperdrive doing mathematical calculations about my current bank balance, the market value of the Honda and my projected savings capacity and current status of my special motorcycle ‘slush fund’. My mate Marty, then riding a Kwaka ZX9R, had exactly the same experience when Bill gave him a ride as well. Our conversation then followed fairly predictable lines  “ I wonder if we could get a great deal if we bought a pair of them?” It took a while, but the rest is history, I now own my second ZX14R, following on from the superseded 2010 model that I bought new in 2011 and then traded in on the 2013 model. Marty also went on to purchase a brand new Kawasaki green ZX14R in 2012.

Below – Bill & I at Mt Hotham (Vic). His ZX14 in touring mode

Below – some months later! Arrived home with a brand new ZX14

The sort of profound impact that a motorcycle had on my psyche had occurred once before. And I can still visualise the balmy evening when I was about 16 years of age (early 1970’s) when a ‘fella named George Popa gave me a pillion ride on a then new, Honda CB750K1 Four – complete with 4 exhaust pipes – and the baffles removed of course. My senses were overloaded with a confusing mix of incredible noise, power (that seems laughable now) and effortless speed. I vowed that evening that I would own one of these magnificent, cutting edge machines – to hell with Suzuki T500’s, Yamaha XS650’s, Triumph Tridents and Norton Commandos – the Honda Four was the only bike for me! Anyway at that age, the prospects of owning a CB750K were about as achievable as flying to the moon.

As I dreamed of owning a ‘Four’ I had no idea that fate had some difficult times in store for me in my immediate future. A subsequent motor vehicle accident that resulted in multiple injuries, a near death experience on the operating table and four months confined to bed in hospital gave me plenty of opportunity to reflect on what I really valued and wanted out of life. My horizons were not particularly vast and my ambitions were limited by the constraints of growing up in a small, working class country town (John Mellencamp’s song “Small Town” has always resonated with me – though obviously I’ve never been as cool as him).

The roulette wheel of chance turned, and a year later (1975) I had mostly recovered from my injuries, met a wonderful girl (who I later went on to marry – now known in the blogosphere as Mrs Tarsnakes), had commenced the path to a tertiary education thanks to the reforms of Gough Whitlam, and you guessed it, I owned my first Honda 750 Four. That same girl, actually the term ‘woman’ better fits these days, my wife of more than thirty years, asked me just last week, “Are you obsessed by motorcycles?” I will leave you to speculate what my answer was!

Mrs T with the second Honda CB750 K4

ASMA and Pink Ribbons

It was a busy weekend of motorcycling related activities. On Saturday I participated in an all day, motorcycle specific first aid course called ‘Accident Scene Management – A Crash Course for Motorcyclists’. And it was pretty good. Generally, it’s about skilling up riders to manage motorcycle crash scenes. The specific focus was predominantly on trauma and managing someone whose had an “off”. A lot of emphasis was placed on reducing injuries to a rider whose come off through the correct pattern of care, specifically via spine and neck care. For example, they taught a two person and a one person technique to remove the helmet from an unconscious rider whose airway is compromised while supporting their neck. The course is an offshoot of an American motorcycle specific program developed by Vicki Sanfelipo called Accident Scene Management Inc. Here’s the Australian ASMA website. Additional online study with their affiliated RTO, along with demonstrating some hands on skills such as CPR on the day, meant that I and some others were eligible to also receive a level 2 first aid certification.

On Sunday I participated in the annual Geelong Pink Ribbon ride. It’s a fundraiser for the Andrew Love Centre cancer ward at The Geelong Hospital that the Ulysses club and Peter Stevens Motorcycles jointly put on. There was huge turnout and I was glad that I’d volunteered to do some corner marking for the event. The weather could not have been better and Corio Bay looked sensational from the Eastern Park start and finish site. The event was really well run and it was great to see so many different types of motorcyclists come together to support the local community. Lots of kudos to “Gentle” from the Ulysses club, Mary from Peter Stevens Geelong and many other volunteers from local service clubs.

Here’s a link to a gallery of pics I took PINK RIBBON RIDE. Click on Slideshow for best viewing.

Great Spring day on the GOR

What a day – sunny and around 23-25C all day. It was a great day to be on the Great Ocean Road, traveling against the main flow of tourist traffic. I headed inland from Geelong  to Colac, and traveled west to Gellibrand for a pit stop. I then joined the GOR at Lavers Hill, and rode all the way back to Geelong along the GOR. It was a sensational day with perfect weather conditions for riding.  I actually didn’t stop to take pics of the sunshine, blue sky and blue sea, just my lunch buddy in Lorne and a spot in the Otways where it’s usually raining!

Rear mudguard ADR to be scrapped

The Aust government has announced that the ADR requiring a rear mudguard (fender for our American friends) extension will be scrapped. I feel sorry for people who have been booked for removing it in the past!

Removing this outdated rule will mean that Australian bikes’ rear mudguards will be the same as in other countries.

Gov.t announcement in full HERE

It’s an ugly damned thing!


Procrastinators first Spring ride for 2014

Some of the Procrastinators gathered in Spring sunshine to take a run down to Timboon for lunch and a catch up. Not bad going for us, seeing how it’s only the fifth day of Spring! We rendezvoused at Steve’s place near Colac, with me coming from Geelong and Andy from Ballarat. Below is a map of our route.

Shiny motorcycles, getting ready to hit the road.

We usually dine at the Timboon Distillery, however, today we opted for some good old fashioned pub grub and ate at the Timboon Hotel. Three steak sandwiches and plenty of banter later we headed off to Port Campbell for some fuel. After a short run along the Great Ocean Road past the 12 Apostles we turned inland again to Simpson, and then to Carlisle River where we pulled over to chew the fat a bit more. (We are becoming so complacent about the magnificent coastline and Apostles that we didn’t even stop for a photo). There was virtually no traffic at all. The countryside looked magnificent and green, but unfortunately most of the roads were a bloody disgrace. The asphalt was consistently potholed and featured plenty of depressions or ‘slumps’, typically on the entry to, or exits of, nice sweeping corners. In a couple of the worst sections the speed limit was lowered to 80 kph (as it has been for 12 months or so) and there was no sign of any road repair work being commenced. We rode to the poor conditions and still enjoyed the ride immensely, but really, these roads are dangerous and not what you’d expect in a first world country! I wish I’d stopped and taken some pics of just how bad some spots were.

Below: A pit stop at Carlisle River – which consists of an infant welfare center, a public hall and a couple of farm houses – not much else.

Andy’s Commando gleaming in the sunshine

We arrived back at Steve’s and cranked up the shed stereo, dragged some chairs outside and then basked in the sunshine as we chatted some more. All too soon I had to head back to Geelong. It was a great day out ‘fellas – I thoroughly enjoyed the riding and your company. All the better of course for being a weekday and choosing the roads less traveled, with the consequent lack of cars. All up I did around 350kms – yet another grand day out, and in the true Procrastinator’s spirit – no decisions were made about anything!


RIP Vernon Train

Vernon Train, along with Mike Lockyer, rode motorcycles around Oz in 1953 to prove the reliability of Renolds chain.  I recently contacted Danny Curran (who re-enacted the ride in 2012 with his mate Craig) , with a view to obtaining a copy of the book “Operation Transmatilda” which is comprised of  Mike Lockyer’s diary notes of the ride and 150 excellent photos of the trip.

Danny informed me that Vernon had passed away in early August and his funeral was in Benalla on 7th August. Sad news indeed.

I made a brief post regarding Vern and Mike back in 2012. Below is my original post….

Here’s a great story about two ‘fellas who rode around Oz 60 years ago to prove the reliability of the Renolds chain – the employer of one of the riders. The story claims that only 10% of country roads were sealed at the time. There’s some great old footage of the bikes and an engaging interview with the two old guys. It’s on the ABC web site, CLICK HERE  

Two fellas have done a re-run of the trip earlier this year (2012). They left from the All Brit Rally in Newstead. Here’s a link to their blog CLICK HERE

My thanks to Danny who sent me a copy of the book, signed by Vernon and Mike, (& him and Craig). Many thanks Danny, I will treasure it.

Danny also informed me that Mike will be at the Sunassist Motor Show on the 21st Sept in Mildura showing off the bikes.

RIP Vernon Train.