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

“And they’re racing…”

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 1639 kms in three days of great riding in sunny, though sometimes windy, weather.

For more high res pictures click HERE

Day one: Geelong to Bright via Melbourne, Bairnsdale, Mt Hotham and the Great Alpine Road.

It’s not much good me going to bed too early prior to a big ride, as I’m often so full of anticipation that I don’t sleep well anyway and wake up often to check the time. The morning came eventually and I met Marty at a nearby servo ready to go at 5.50am. This departure time ensures that we don’t get stuck in the bottleneck on the run into Melbourne that is the West Gate Bridge. The ZX14R had 975kms on the clock, though I’d had its first, 1K service done earlier in the week. It was a cool 90 C and hovered around that for the first hour or so. Around two hours later we pulled into Yarragon for our fist pit stop with Melbourne well behind us and the sun shining.

From there it was a pretty boring run along the freeway to Bairnsdale, although the 110kph speed limit helps a little.

After a lunch stop in Bairnsdale we headed to Bruthen then up the Great Alpine Way. This section tends to be mainly open sweepers and we made pretty good time. After another break to shed a layer of clothes it was another good run up to Mount Hotham where we pulled in to take a few photos. There was hardly any snow left at all, although there was a cool gusty wind blowing. We had barely pulled in and a large riding group pulled in as well.

The run from Mt Hotham down to Harrietville was very instructive for me – namely that the new ZX14R is quite a different beast to ride in the tight downhill twisties than the old one was. It needed substantially more physical input and change of body position that I was accustomed to and I must say that I didn’t really come to grips with it for the whole of that section of the ride. Added to that was that there were bicycle riders racing downhill as well who were just a bloody nuisance as they blocked up the tight corners. Marty steadily rode away from me on this section and we met up under some shady trees in Harrietville, before riding into Bright via Mystic Mountain to see if any hang gliders were flying.

As we pulled into the petrol station to fuel up I spotted a black ZX14 that looked remarkably similar to the one I had traded recently, parked with a group of bikes nearby. I strolled over, and sure enough it was it. I’ve subsequently had an email from Mark, the new owner, who had only taken delivery of it the day prior to heading off on a Snowy’s run as part of a group of 21 riders. We checked into our motel, changed and headed for the recently expanded Bright Brewery, where we sampled a range of brews. We’d done a little shy of 600kms for the day and after dinner at the pub and a Jack Daniels nightcap it was off to sleep reasonably early.

Day 2: Bright to Corryong, then a Snowy’s loop including Cabramurra (nearly) Elliot Way,Tumbarumba, Jingelic, Walwa and then back to Corryong for the night. Approx 440 kms.

The weather forecast for Sunday had indicated some drizzle possible, fortunately that turned out to be completely wrong! After brekkie at Jackie’s Place we headed for Corrong via Tawonga Gap, the Gundowring road and the Murray Valley Hwy. This was a brilliant day of riding in perfect conditions. I gradually began to get the hang of negotiating the big ZX14R through the tight stuff, but still at a reasonably conservative pace. There were lots of other motorcycles in the Snowys, probably due to a big motorcycle based, fundraising event staged at Thredbo called the Snowy Ride

Interestingly, along the spectacular Murray River Road (C546) through Walwa, which was our last section for the day, we came across not one, not two, but three highway patrol cars coming towards us, each about 5 minutes apart. Two were from Vic and one from NSW. Phew!

Shortly after we checked into the Courthouse Hotel we heard the rumble of more bikes as some of the members of the Melbourne Sportsbike Riders’ Club pulled in. Their group was spread over a few accommodation venues. My CB1000R riding neighbor Mitch was part of this club and he introduced us to quite a few of the group which made for an entertaining evening at the pub. Below is a pic of one of the two nicely sorted ZX10’s from their group.

Day 3: Corryong to Albury via Walwa, then Rutherglen, Shepparton, Negambie, Seymour, Tooborac, Bacchus Marsh to Geelong. Approx 610 kms

Monday dawned pretty cool at around 3 degrees C, however, the sun was shining which made for an inviting start to the day’s riding. Mitch joined us for the run home. We left around 8.00am and took the scenic route along the Murray River Road to Walwa and beyond. It is an enjoyable and really picturesque route – mountains on one side and the Murray River on the other. I just love cruising this stretch of road, though at that hour I’m always vigilant for kangaroos, fortunately we saw none. We skirted around Albury and Woodonga, then headed west to the historic town of Rutherglen, a prolific wine producing area, for a breakfast stop. And just to add to the enjoyment, there was a vintage motorcycle rally in progress. The old machines lined up along the main street added nicely to the ambiance of the town.

From here we tracked down towards Shepparton and Marty was able to navigate us around the outskirts, so we continued to make good time down to our next stop at Nagambie. Unfortunately the cold wind was blowing quite hard  which detracted a little from enjoying the ride, though the sunshine was welcome. I kept plenty of merino layers on under the leathers and at least didn’t get cold. At Seymour we turned right and headed to Lancefield via a scenic route through the township of Tooborac. From there it was an uneventful run home which left enough time for cleaning the coating of squashed  bugs off the bike.

And so ended around 1630 kms of enjoyable riding through some glorious, scenic countryside without a drop of rain for the whole trip. The two ZX14R’s performed flawlessly. It was a thoroughly enjoyable three days of riding that also provided me with the opportunity for me to get a better feel for the new machine in a variety of road conditions.