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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last ride for 2015 …….

….and can’t wait to see what riding 2016 has to offer.

Two up to Timboon ….. and home via the 12 Apostles

Mrs T and I were greeted with a beautiful sunny morning and a forecast of a pleasant 24C for our last ride for 2015. Our destination was the Timboon distillery for lunch via backroads and then home along a short section of the Great Ocean Road. Mrs T actually cheated and drove her car to friends’ place 70 kms away and then rode pillion for the ride loop. We wanted to keep away from the main parts of the GOR due to the recent and ongoing bushfires there.

Map

I made a decision to travel to Timboon along the Carlisle River road which weaves through heavy bush that grows virtually up to the roadside, with just a very small margin of green grass on the road verge. Taking that route in the morning was a bit of a mistake as there were a number of small black wallabies on the road verge who were very difficult to see in in shadows. I didn’t spot the first two which Mrs T spotted and alerted me to. I then slowed down, kept my eyes peeled and subsequently spotted another four. Fortunately none hopped out in front of us!

We pulled up at a nice little spot in Simpson for morning coffee. In what is an otherwise unremarkable little township, there is a lovely little picnic area complete with a small man-made lake.

After a drink and reading some of the info about how the bush was cleared in the 1950’s it was only a short on some quiet back roads to the Timboon Distillery for lunch.

The still

We enjoyed a tasty lunch and were offered a free whisky tasting, which alas we declined prior to riding. As we were leaving we met and had a chat with a great couple from Tasmania who have been touring Victoria for the last week or so. They were aboard a Triumph triple Explorer and were really satisfied with it as a two-up touring machine. Ride safe guys and smooth sailing back to Tassie on New Years Day.

We fuelled up in Timboon to avoid the mayhem of tourist season in Port Campbell and headed for the 12 Apostles in gorgeous riding conditions. The sky was blue, the sun was getting hot but there was a lovely sea breeze coming off the ocean. Tourists were all over the Apostles area, from a distance it looked like a swarm of ants crawling all over the place, so we kept going, hence no pics of the Apostles.

The last time I rode the twisty section of the GOR from Gellibrand Lower to Yuulong I had a brilliant run and didn’t encounter a single car going my way. Today was the exact opposite, and we saw two cars whose drivers exhibited some of the most dangerous and discourteous driving I’ve ever seen. One little Toyota virtually stopped on every curve and failed to pull into the overtaking lanes despite a line of cars following (and the SUV behind sounding its horn and flashing its lights). The other was a black Mercedes station wagon which weaved from side to side, frequently drifted across the double white lines and nearly side swiped a tourist bus! It was scary stuff to observe!

We had a brief pit stop in Lavers Hill and then a really enjoyable run down through the bush to Gellibrand and on to Colac to or friend’s place. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph Steve’s newest Norton single project now that he has completed the latest resto, a 1938 Norton, which you can read about HERE.

I took an easy run down the Princes Highway to get home, having had a great last ride for 2015 of approx 375 kilometers in perfect riding conditions. Roll on 2016 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Two up with Mrs T again

Saturday 19 January

Mrs T had suggested a run earlier in the week and I was only too happy to agree. Saturday dawned a little cloudy and not quite as fine and sunny as forecast so we did some chores in the morning and just waited for the weather to declare itself. As midday approached we set off, though Mrs T commented that “….. it looks like the calm before the storm” – which fortunately turned out to be incorrect. I’d made some salad rolls for lunch and we set off for a leisurely ride to the West Barwon dam just near Forrest. Despite still being summer holidays for many, the roads were virtually deserted.

Unpacking lunch 

After lunch we headed towards Apollo Bay but turned off at Turton’s Track. This road is really narrow – one lane in some spots – but incredibly scenic as just about its whole length is under the canopy of huge eucalyptus tree. I should have stopped for some pics, however, there are few suitable places and the ground still looks quite soft in the rain forest. I had visions of pulling up, putting my foot down only to have it slip away and us take a tumble – so no pics this time! Actually, I just Googled for an image of Turton’s Track and actually found an old shot of my own that I’d forgotten about. See below. Just as an aside, I then Googled ‘Tarsnakes images’ as an experiment, and whilst there were lots of other people’s pics there – there were an incredible number of thumbnails of pics that I’ve taken, including many I’d forgotten about. Try it with your own screen name and see what you come up with.

By now the sky was completely blue and the temp was around 22C (71F) – perfect riding conditions really. We pulled in at Beech Forest for a brief pit stop, always a good photo op for the ZX14. Try as I might, I still haven’t taken the ‘perfect’ shot of this bike that I’m always aiming to get – you know – the one to be enlarged and placed on the office wall. I guess that I will just have to keep trying!

As you can see by the squiggles on the map, the section from point C to point F is all pretty twisty – just the kind of riding we love on a mild summer’s day.

Mrs T insisted on taking my pic, I suspect just to demonstrate how bloody annoying I am, by always taking pics of others. OK a shot of me – but only if I can keep my helmet on.

From here we headed down to Gellibrand and had a coffee at the bike friendly Gellibrand store – a favorite of ours. I mentioned to Maria how quiet it was on the roads and she was of the view that a weekend immediately before a long weekend (Australia Day long weekend next week) is always pretty quiet. Being quiet, Maria was free to chat a bit and we wound up having quite a few laughs as she told us about their last family holiday disaster.  We made our way back to Geelong via a series of back roads and I really didn’t want the ride to end – it was great just rolling along in the sunshine.

All up a satisfying day out together. Only 250 kms (155 miles) but it seemed ‘just right’ today.