Art for art’s sake

We went looking at art today. Some was from iconic Australian painters like Tom Roberts, Aurthur Streeton, Frederick McCubbin, Sidney Nolan & Russell Drysdale. It’s at Federation Square in Melbourne & admission is free.

Some was iconic Italian art!

I tried to interest Mrs Tarsnakes in buying this as an investment in an Italian masterpiece – to be mounted in our lounge room at home. But alas ………………….

They say that old habits die hard, she did have to feel what the throttle response felt like though!

Plan B = the ride to Maldon

Mrs Tarsnakes and I took a run just a few weeks ago, just before summer officially finished and it was a ‘scorcher’. It was forecast to be 38C so we took off early and headed towards Forrest for a short ride, but abandoned that plan at Dean’s Marsh and headed for Lorne on the GOR. The ride through the bush on the twisty road to Lorne ended up being the best part of the day. By 11.00am in Lorne it was around 35C, so we headed for home. Kind of frustrating to be beaten by weather that was too hot!

Overlooking Lorne main beach

I’ve been itching for a ride since then, but haven’t been able to get out due to some important family functions. So today’s ride with Marty was much anticipated as the weather forecast was for an ideal Autumn day – around 22C and sunny. Unfortunately we awoke to clouds and drizzle.  A ‘phone call from Marty and ‘Plan B” was activated – namely wait an hour and see what happens with the weather!

By an hour later I had checked all the weather sites and rain radar and reckoned that  a trip inland to the historic town of Maldon in central Victoria would offer the best chance of sunny skies – which it did.

Here’s our route

We stopped for a short break at Newstead, just before Maldon.

I saw this lovely old MG sedan in Newstead. Like many such vehicles now, on club rego.

Two up on the ZX14

It’s been a busy few days since last Tuesday when I returned from NZ. One important job was getting one of our cars ready for sale. I put our 2008 Honda Accord Euro on an online sales site and within a few hours it was sold – to an interesting purchaser, however, I can’t tell you about that just yet, but I will come back to this story in a month or so. OK, so other than that, clothes have been washed, bills paid, pictures uploaded etc etc, so I was really hanging out for a ride on the mighty ZX14! Mrs Tarsnakes was keen to come, so we headed off around 9.00am, with a forecast of 24C and sunshine. Here’s our route:

We headed along the Great Ocean Road from Geelong to Lorne for a coffee stop, then inland to Dean’s Marsh and from there to Forrest. The plan was to stop for a while at the picnic area at the West Barwon Dam, however, it was closed due to an off road bicycle racing event.

Rather than turn back we cruised along the Colac- Apollo Bay road and then turned up Turton’s Track. The bush smelled just beautiful – I never tire of the smell of eucalyptus. By Beech Forrest  we needed lunch so headed to The Ridge Cafe – the home of what I’ve previously declared to be the best hamburgers in the world. We sat out on the deck overlooking the Otways. Mrs T had fish and I re-tested their organic based burger. It was a nice touch that the owner introduced me to his cook as their first ever customer about 3 years ago.

Views from the deck – future burger mince right there I’d guess.

That hit the spot Mrs T!

From Beech Forest we tracked down to Gellibrand and stopped in Colac to see how Steve’s Norton Dominator restoration is progressing – check it out on his 79 x 100 Norton Restoration and Ride blog.

From the workshop we progressed inside where the girls were heavily engrossed with brochures for OS travel – more trips are being planned!

From Colac we took an easy run up Hwy 1 back to Geelong. It was a great day out, great weather, great food and great company. Have I mentioned before that I love riding that ZX14?



New Zealand 2012

Sunday 5th Feb we flew into Christchurch in preparation for our trip around the South Island of NZ. Marty & I spent the afternoon looking about downtown Christchurch, which has been devastated by earthquakes.  Although it was a unique opportunity, I hope never to see another earthquake damaged city in my life – it’s really pretty depressing.

However, out of the red zone a shopping precinct has been created using shipping containers. They call it a ‘pop up mall’ and it’s great.

Christchurch must have been a lovely city, with the Avon River and extensive parks right on the edge of the Downtown area. Still some nice things persist!

A lovely Vespa (my very first bike was a Vespa and I love them still)

Punting on the Avon River

Monday morning a chauffeur in a limo collected us from our motel and took us to the pick up point for the motorcycles. We rented from a company called Paradise Motorcycle Tours mainly as we were able to reduce the damage excess to $500, where as the other companies had a $2,500 excess and generally older motorcycles. We had a safety briefing from Trevor and packed our gear onto the bikes. Marty had opted for the BMW F650 (800cc engine!) and I had an F800GS, which, even with the “low seat” (850mm) option, I struggled with a bit when parking for the whole trip.

Day 1 (470kms) Christchurch, Kaikoura, Picton, Queen Charlotte Drive to Nelson. Great sunny weather and brilliant roads.

Kaikoura beach

Marlborough sound

Day 2 (440kms) Nelson, Collingwood, Murchison to Westport – one of the very best days of motorcycling ever!! Sensational scenery and weather.

Collingwood waterfront

Views from Mt Hope

Scenic roads and virtually no trafficMurchison area Friendly motorcyclists. Just about everybody an a bike waves here!Day 3 (420kms) Down the West coast from Westport to Haast via Hokitika, Franz Joseph & Fox glaciers. Again, magnificent scenery, twisty roads and great sunny weather. The highlight of this day was without doubt a helicopter flight over the glaciers and Mt Cook, with a snow landing to view Mt Cook – I’ve run out of superlatives!!

I could crash several servers with the spectacular pics from this day! Great ocean side twisties.

Pancake rocksGlacier countryTarsnakes on top of the world!

Tarsnakes & Marty posing in front of the Hughes chopper

Day 4 (370kms) Haast to Te Anau via Wanaka, Cardrona and Arrowtown. The forecast was for rain and we rode Haast Pass in drizzle, but it was still spectacular and extremely enjoyable. Haast Pass was one of Marty’s favorite sections so far.

Views from summit of Crown rangeArrowtownA big thanks to Mary & Rennie at the Arran Motel in Te Anau. Bikers themselves, our bikes were safe in Rennie’s garage having displaced his car. That friendly service, reasonable prices, a spotless room and high speed broadband make the Arran a motel that I highly recommend to International travelers.

Day 5: (415kms)Te Anau to Milford Sound, back to Te Anau 7 hrs later, then we took the Southern Route to Riverton – the digs that we had booked there were  terrible so we rode on to Invercargil. Stange weather today, sunny and warm at Milford Sound (I hear that occurs about 10 times per year), then sunny but freezing cold (8C – 12C) between Te Anau and Invercargil (one rain shower though).

On the road to Milford Sound

Day 6 : (375kms) Invercargill, Bluff, Invercargill, Great Southern Route to Alexandra.

Yep, it’s the genuine article – not the movies mock up.Lots of other historic bikes there as well.Bluff is the southernmost mainland point on the South Island, hence the ‘Lands End’ comparison.

Day 7: (392 kms) Alexandra to Methven via Lindis Pass. It was around 6.5C and sunny when we headed off from Alexandra and although it remained sunny, it got colder through the valleys. I saw 3C ambient at one stage and much of the ride was at or below 10C. I wore layers of Icebreaker Marino wool garments, but was still a little, actually a lot, cold. There was some irony in that as the area we rode through had signs boasting that this area was the home of of Marino wool for Icebreaker garments, though they neglected  to mention that the Icebreaker range is now largely made in China, unlike some other NZ specialist Marino garments.

They really do street racing here!Day 8: (458 kms) Methven to Hanmer Springs, via Arthur’s Pass and Lewis Pass. Again we set off in drizzle which became rain and some quite low temps. We were both thinking that the prudent thing may be to quit riding today and go straight to Christchurch and a warm motel room. However, we persisted and by Lake Pearson the drizzle and fog had lifted and the temp rose. When we reached the West Coast it was a warm sunny day! We had a brilliant ride along Lewis Pass and it reminded me a lot of parts of BC in Canada.

Lake Pearson, lots of folk camped lakeside here.

Avalanche protectionBeware the Kea, (look at that beak)  they are incredibly destructive birds – like a gang of vandals who attack anything rubber on a vehicle or bike. I saw a parked car having its wiper blades torn up & a bicycle with its hand grips shredded. We actually carried extra insurance against them tearing up the seats on our motorcycles, which they love to do! That evening we enjoyed happy hour at the Heritage Lodge – their only customers!

Day 9: (140 kms) Hanmer Springs to Christchurch to return the motorcycle at 9.00am as arranged. A highlight of this little early morning ride was being stopped by a large flock of sheep on the road and watching the farmer and his 3 dogs herd them through a gate into a nearby paddock. An iconic rural NZ situation. The traffic and weather going into Christchurch were terrible, pouring rain and stop-start traffic for about 5 kms.


Marty planned a sensational route for our trip through the South Island, and full credit to him for that and also for being an easy going traveling buddy. Thanks mate! We had ridden the four iconic South Island Passes – Arthurs, Haast, Lindis and Lewis – as well as ridden from Collingwood in the north to Bluff in the south. We were in agreement, this was our best summer trip ever. All up around 3,500 kms without mishap on some of the best and most scenic motorcycling roads available. As the young kids say “Living the dream”!

Also, a very big thank you to Mrs Tarsnakes for being so supportive of me taking a motorcycling trip like this – I’m a very lucky ‘fella!


I’ve had a couple of emails commenting on the quality of some of my pics which I appreciate very much. I’d like to recommend to all of you who are beginners with outdoor photography a great new eBook regarding camera choices and beginners’ tips for outdoor photography. It’s put out by our friends Frank & Sue at “Our Hiking Blog”. Here’s the link to their eBook Outdoor photography – beginners.


Chain maintenance the Tarsnakes way

When I was in Melbourne at Pete’s place last Monday, he showed me what appeared to be an O-ring that he’d found adhered to the wheel rim on his ZX14. It was obviously flung from the chain. He then showed me his chain and it had lots of pieces of O-ring rubber ‘tails’ coming out of the side plates of the links. Pretty obviously his chain is now damn near useless! As the bike has only done 8,000 kms (5K miles) he was taking it back to the shop where he purchased for a warranty claim.

This led me to clean and inspect my chain yesterday as my ZX14 has roughly the same kilometres on it. Mrs T came out with the camera for another purpose, so I got her to hang about and take some shots as a bit of a pictorial on how I give my chain a good clean every now and again. Most of you will know how to do this and will have your own routine and favored products, so this is just my approach. “Your mileage may vary” as they say! Probably about now the folk with shaft & belt drive motorcycles are having a bit of a snigger!

OK, so first up, I have the motorcycle on a rear stand with a big piece of cardboard underneath and an big rag under the chain to soak up the slops – this is going to get messy. I also place some cardboard as a shield between the chain and the rear tyre so as to limit the kerosene splatter onto the tyre. I use kerosene as the internet tells me it does not damage O-rings when used as a cleanser (and I’ve used it without a problem for around 35 years).

Gloves on, (chain lube gunk is ‘the enemy’ on your skin in my book – as is grease) I then use a dish washing brush, dip it into the kero and start cleaning the chain from the inside. Rotate the back wheel by hand.

I’m using the small red bristles on this brush to clean the chain, not the larger bristles that are facing upwards.

You can see my cardboard shield in this pic

After I’ve gone around the chain, I clean the rear sprocket. When I’m happy with it all, I then wipe the chain thoroughly with a rag and then use my compressor to air blast all of the kero off the chain until it is dry. This of course will spray a whole lot more gunge on to the rear wheel rim so that it needs to be cleaned as well.  In my pre-compressor ownership days I used to take the bike for a run around the block and let centrifugal force do the same thing – keeping in mind that kero on the tyre is very slippery.

It’s then time to lube the chain. Which chain lube is the best is a question that has as many answers as there are products available – a lot like engine oil and tyre choice – it’s rare to get a consensus! A brief diversion if I may, some of you may be old enough to remember an Aussie chain lube commonly used in the 1970’s, I think that it was called “Wear Pruf” – a mate of ours named it “Pink Cat” and that name stuck amongst the Procrastinators for many years. Anyway, its anti-fling properties were laughable by the standard of any of today’s products. Currently I’m using a Du Pont product that Geoff from Confessions of an Ageing Motorcyclist put me on to – I’m very satisfied so far thanks Geoff. With this Teflon based product it’s a long time between full chain cleaning ‘birthdays’ and chain fling is virtually non-existent.

I usually don’t spray near the rear tyre like this, but Mrs T couldn’t get a pic when I moved further forward along the chain. I spray from the inside of the chain and rotate the tyre by hand, though the temptation to have the engine running and the bike in 1st gear is great.

Theoretically I will now have more horsepower at the back wheel– like I need that. All that needs to be done is to pack up all the kero & chain gunk soaked rag and cardboard and dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.

So all of this came about because of Pete’s chain issue being on my mind and the pics resulted from Mrs T sneaked attempt at an opportunistic shot of my rear end as I was bent over to embarrass me with – “you’re on crack” she said! That pic has been deleted I can assure you!!

I don’t commute on my motorcycle, it’s used purely as a recreational vehicle. I lube the chain after each ride, preferably while the chain is still warm, and give it a full clean like this maybe once or twice a year.

What’s your routine for chain care?

Weekday Otways run

Marty and I took a run through the Otways today as we are both on holidays and it was a perfect day for a weekday ride.

Our first stop was the Gellibrand store, where Maria was sporting a Gellibrand “Blues & Blueberry Festival” T-Shirt. This will be a huge gig for a tiny township on 3 March. For details see Moshtix. Here’s a shot of their flyer in the shop window.

We had a great run with very little traffic from Gellibrand to Lavers Hill and the same along the GOR to Apollo Bay. It was too good to be true, and the traffic from Apollo Bay to Forrest was a bit slow.

Some pics of the bikes parked in the shade at Apollo Bay.

Marty’s ZX9R

We pulled in to Forrest microbrewery for a drink (non alcoholic when we’re riding) and a bit more of a chat. Some older fella who had been really flying through the curves in his car insisted we join him. We did so and also bumped into Fiona who we know from our work who was working there.

The weather was perfect for riding with the temp at around 22C and lots of blue sky & beautiful sunshine – 315 kms of “moto-therapy”.


Paint protection film

I’ve had a problem with the front of my jacket rubbing against the back of the petrol tank which in time will damage the paint. I fitted a typical tank protector but it lifted at the edges when we had some really hot weather.The next time I was heading out for a ride Mrs Tarsnakes hastily fitted some contact to the tank to protect it from my gut rubbing the paintwork – it looked pretty awful!

This was a temporary measure until I was able to get some paint protection film (PPF) professionally fitted. Today was the day, so I headed off to Melbourne to Pete’s place as the guys who install it offer a mobile service. The company is Invisable Car Bras.

Here’s James (standing) and Simon (I think) fitting the PPF.

Can you see where it’s fitted up the back of the tank and along the sides? Probably not, even though installation was incomplete in this pic, as they hadn’t finished the edges at this stage! It was quite difficult to get a decent pic with all the glare and reflections.

I will keep you posted on how it performs over time. They guarantee it against scuffing & deterioration – so time will tell. I didn’t think to ask James if the product is resistant to petrol spills, I guess I’d better be careful. Pete has the full kit across all the frontal surfaces on his ZX14 and you really have to know the product is there to detect where the edges are, otherwise if you are not specifically looking for it you just won’t see it.

It was a boring run back down the freeway to Geelong being buffeted by a hot northerly wind and was home by midday, just as the mercury hit the 30C (86F) mark.





The 2012 Ninja ZX14R

I received an email from Kawasaki Australia to announce the availability of the new Ninja in Australia. Of course there is the usual hyperbole associated with a new release, such as

“ ….twisting the throttle past 4,000 rpm may result in a sensation not entirely unlike that experienced by astronauts breaking free from the Earth’s gravitational pull”.

Despite that sort of rubbish, there is actually some interesting technical info available at their site.

Here’s the link to the Ninja ZX14R

UK online magazine Visordown test HERE

Official accessories, centre stand, top box, Akrapovic slip-ons etc HERE

I wonder how much it costs? Despite Kawasaki Australia saying that this model has been released in Oz, I rang peter Stevens Kawasaki in Melbourne, who said that they don’t have the pricing yet nor do they have one in stock!

Big Kwaka

New Year’s Day 2012

Happy New Year to all who follow Tarsnake’s blog!

The West Coast Procrastinators got their act together again to reprise our New Year’s Day 2011 run. The aim for the day was to ride some back roads and then enjoy a leisurely lunch to usher in the New Year at the cafe at a distillery in the tiny Western District township of Timboon (Pop 850). This place is just inland from the famous 12 Apostles and the gas processing plant for the Casino Natural Gas off shore rigs is based nearby.The motorcycles present were two early 1970’s Norton Commandos and two big bore Kawasakis.

Andy had a gift for us –  a couple of personalized stubby holders each!

Let me tell you a little about the “Procrastinators”, just in case you are new to Tarsnakes. In addition to his Norton Commando, Andy has numerous other motorcycles. Complete and running are a 500cc BSA twin, a lovely 1972 T250 Suzuki Hustler, and an old 350cc Panther single. Under restoration are a 450 Ducati and another BSA. I’ve probably missed some of his machines, as there are numerous other motorcycles in various states of completion.

Other than his Commando, Steve has another complete and rideable 500cc twin cylinder Norton Dominator, a Norton 500cc single and a 1970′s RD350 Yamaha (which he rode to some of the most remote parts of Australia on back in 1979). He also kindly houses my wife’s rideable, but incomplete, early 1970′s 175 Yamaha CT1 dirt bike. Both of these guys were my mates from our teenage years, when we came together with a love of motorcycles and riding as our common bond.

Neither Marty nor I are are into restoring old motorcycles. He’s my main touring buddy (and features in most rides reports on this blog) and we’ve been great friends for the past 26 years.

Our route. For a bigger map click HERE

I had some new gloves to try out. They are Held Steve II’s, featuring kangaroo skin palms. They are a recent birthday gift from Mrs Tarsnakes.

Marty and I met on the edge of town. The blue sky, a forecast top of 35C and the lack of traffic looked very promising for a great day of riding. I guess many folk were still in bed being New Year’s Day.

About 40 minutes later Marty and I arrived at our rendezvous point near Colac (Vic) which is approx 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Melbourne. From here we headed to Timboon via Cobden.

Lunch venue. The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery

The motorcycles in front of the distillery. Steve’s Norton in front.

Andy’s Commando

Me astride the ZX14.

The West Coast Procrastinators doing what they do best!

It was time for some lunch and we secured a table out on the decking. The temp was climbing, I’d say approx 26C by this stage. Some had beef, some had pie & some had fish. The background music included a Derek Truck’s band number so all was good.

No whisky for us, but at least it was local.

I’d heard of an old timber trestle rail bridge in the area so we asked for directions and headed off to check it out. “Watch out for snakes down there” our waitress warned. It was down a dusty, corrugated gravel road, but certainly well worth a look.

Arty shot as suggested by Marty.It was really hot down in this valley, maybe 35C and no breeze to be had at all. The bikes were parked in the shade!

Here’s a framed shot of Steve.

The bridge is now used as part of a bicycle path. One of many “rail trails” in the Australian countryside.

Two brave motorcyclists walk across the bridge towards a large black creature with horns.

Two brave motorcyclists return, the horned creature stands its ground!

By the time we rode the few kilometers back up the corrugated, gravel road Andy was concerned that his clutch wasn’t feeling quite right nor functioning correctly so he and Steve decided to head for home back along the way we had come, rather than taking in the 12 Apostles – Great Ocean road loop.

Marty and I said our farewells and headed off to the coastal township of Port Campbell. We fueled up and the rode the GOR through the twisties to Laver’s Hill. At Laver’s Hill we turned off the GOR and headed inland to Beech Forest and then Forrest via Turton’s Track. from there we headed back to Colac to see that the Norton devotees had arrived home OK, which thankfully they had!

We sat in Steve’s shed and chewed the fat for a while, then Marty and I saddled up and headed back to Geelong via Hwy 1. All up, 385 kms of scenic and really enjoyable riding with mates.

Summer has finally arrived – it’s forecast to be 41C (105F) here today!

To see this report on Pashnit motorcycle forum click HERE