Unexpected afternoon ride

I looked at the overcast sky all morning procrastinating whether or not to fire up the bike and go for a ride. Lunch time came and went and the weather seemed to pick up a little. It’s daylight saving time now so I thought it wouldn’t matter if I left late, so by around 2.00pm I bit the bullet and headed off for a short run to Deans Marsh. I decided to head up through the bush to Lorne, but only traveled a couple of k’s when the heavens opened up. I wasn’t in the mood for getting wet so turned around and headed west to Otway Estate winery & brewery.

I believe that Oktoberfest is held in September in Munich because the weather’s better. They’re sticklers for (German) tradition in the Aussie bush though!

There was nothing much happening here and it looked remarkably sunny to the south so I decided to head on towards Beech Forest. I pulled in and took a couple of shots of the ZX14 at the tourist info place.

This is was timber country from the late 1800’s until quite recently.

This old photo caught my eye – why was she riding a bullock I wonder?

I headed down Turton’s Track to link up with the Apollo Bay road and then headed through the bush to Forrest, then back home to Geelong via the back roads. All up it was a great ride of around 250 kms, all the better for being so unexpected today. The afternoon in the bush really lit the fuse on my hay fever though, I’m off for some antihistamines right now – oh, and it’s raining outside!



Spring in the Otways

It has been a brilliant weekend of Spring sunshine, so Marty and I took a quick sprint though the Otway Ranges on our typical day trip route.

Here’s a few pics taken at a roadside stop near Laver’s Hill.

Jules with the Kawasaki ZX14

Marty conjuring spells for sticky tires

Marty with his Kawasaki ZX9R

All up 317 kms of riding pleasure, including the inland section of the Great Ocean Road. The ZX14 is now due for its 2nd service (6K kms service), which I will be getting done this week. So far I cannot fault this motorcycle, it is everything that I hoped it would be & suits my purposes very well.

Helmets & Beemers

Our brief sample of Spring weather has passed and it’s back to Winter – hail yesterday and pouring right now that the weekend has come.

Marty is after a new helmet. Also, we’ve had some minor concerns regarding the seat height on the F800GS BMWs that we have arranged for our trip to New Zealand next year. The best way to sort these things out out was a Saturday morning trip to Elizabeth St in Melbourne to check out the helmets and down to Southbank BMW to check the seat heights on Beemers.

Peter Stevens motorcycles has a massive range of lids, just take a look at the picture below. Marty’s keen on a Shoei TZX, however, being a satisfied Shark owner, he’s also keen to try one of the the new generation Sharks that are just beginning to be released here. Unfortunately the Shark that he wanted to try on is still 3 weeks away from hitting the showroom floor. Mind you, I was gobsmacked to see the Shoei Multitec reduced to $599 and the salesman said he’d ‘do one’ for $550. That is a really great bargain for Oz pricing, normally they are $899 here. It’s no wonder that so many people buy non Oz compliant lids in from the USA though. However, the Multitec is not what Marty wants, so no helmet was purchased and we headed off to the BMW dealer a few kms away.

OK, so the ‘low’ seat height on the 800 is 850 mm (the Zx14 is a comfortable 800 mm). That 50 mm is quite a step up (excuse the pun). I’ve decided that I’m OK with the low seat GS, however, I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the standard 880 mm high seat. Marty’s now considering renting the F650 instead, especially as it will have additional weight up high with the top box & luggage.

Marty trying out the low seat version.

Interesting, for early on a Saturday morning,  the BMW dealership was full of customers – typically, grey haired, well healed looking folk who seemed to be buying premium products and motorcycles.

Now this is a premium motorcycle, at around $35K here! Yep, 1.6 litres of touring comfort.

So that was it for us, mission just about accomplished. If only it would stop raining we could actually ride some motorcycles instead of just looking at them!

Post script: It’s been miserable weather for the rest of the weekend, cold, raining and strong winds! The good news is that next weekend’s forecast looks like Spring weather again.



Oomoo light

Saturday 20 Aug

Back in 2004 Andy devised a weekend route that was suitable for some old, old motorcycles. It came to be named the Oomoo Run, after a new release red wine that we (over) imbibed in with dinner that night. The Oomoo run was repeated again in 2005 & 2006.

Steve in full flight on his 1950’s AJS in 2004

Today I rode the first part of that route as we had yet another magnificent winter’s day. I procrastinated (which is quite acceptable for a ‘West Coast Procrastinators’ old boy) whether to go a little further inland, which I then commenced to do – only to bail out after riding a section of around 5 kms of gravel road works with no end in sight. You will see from some of the pics that Spring is just around the corner here.

Firstly I headed from Geelong to Ballarat – a pretty boring road. Then skirted around Ballarat and headed through some tiny townships like Ross Creek, Snake Valley and Cargnham. From the mullock heaps it’s obvious that these were once thriving gold mining towns back in the late 1800’s, now there’s virtually nothing there.

This is some of the route

The shot below is a redux of a pic taken in the same spot 7 years ago, then featuring  my CBR600

OK – here’s the VFR at the same spot in 2006 as well!

There were some places that I wanted to stop and take some pics, like the dead fox hanging from a road sign and the tiny, sad war memorial in Snake Valley,  however, I wasn’t game enough to pull off the asphalt as the roadsides were very soft and boggy due to all the recent heavy rain.

Beaufort is a small town on the Western Highway that most folk drive through on the way to Adelaide, the Grampians, or the vineyards further on down the road, however, it really is an attractive, well maintained little place.

Shot of the day

I’m on a bit of a theme of photographing small town war memorials at present. This one is kinda impressive for such a small town.

I headed down Colac way via Skipton as well, then home to Geelong.

All up, 396 kms for the day and home by 3 pm.

War memorial at Beeac Vic population 200

Check out all that blue sky – and it’s still Winter here!

All up, 396 kms for the day and home by 3 pm.

Balmy winters day

I’d been hoping for a ride this weekend. Saturday turned out to be as forecast – rain and clearing showers. Sunday was forecast to be cloudy with an unlikely temp of 18C. So I couldn’t believe my eyes Sunday morning when I awoke to glorious sunshine with barely a cloud in sight. It was too good not to ride so I  took a short run in what turned out to be beautiful weather conditions considering that it’s winter here. My route was Geelong to Forrest, then Beech Forest via Turton’s (treacherous) Track, Gellibrand, then I skirted around Colac and headed home. It was around 6C when I left at 9.30am and an incredible 20C when I got home in the early afternoon.

The ZX14 in front of the Forrest microbrewery

Only hot chocolate for me though!

Less than 5 months till Christmas.

At the West Barwon dam

Lovely spot for a BBQ or picnic, but virtually deserted today.
Turton’s Track
Ford Focus turbo club gathering at Beech Forest.

 I stopped at Gellibrand for a drink and talked to some fellas who’d been mountain bike riding along the Old Beechy rail trail and were absolutely coated in mud.

After a short break at ‘Gelli’  I headed straight home as I had chores awaiting me. All in all, an unexpected and enjoyable day of riding in unseasonably balmy conditions.

Vale Ken Wootton

mcnews.com.au and Fox Sports are carrying the story of the death of Ken Wootton in his sleep at the age of 57 last Sunday whilst holidaying in Czechoslovakia .

The long time editor of Australian Motorcycle News (AMCN) Ken was an iconic figure in Australian motorcycling journalism. Over the years I’ve greatly enjoyed his motorcycle test reports, annual touring stories and race reports, as well as his track side commentary at various Phillip Island motorcycle races.

Ride on Ken Wootton.

Two Nortons & a Suzi

Will the novelty of a new motorcycle to ride wear off? I guess so, but not enough yet to stop me riding in some cold winter weather!

I took a run from Geelong to Colac, then Ballarat then home to Geelong. Temps ranged from 4C when I left to 9.9C when I got home. The connecting theme for today was old mates and their restoration projects.

First project was Steve’s Norton Dominator (his road ride is a black Commando).

Hours of work on the lathe goes into fabricating lots of new parts on a job like this.

Next project saw me take a quick trip on deserted winter roads from Steve’s to Andy’s place in Ballarat (a place not known for warmth!) to see Andy’s recently purchased T250R Suzuki Hustler and the beginning of what he calls a ‘birthday’ for his Commando Fastback – new isolastics, a belt primary drive, lots of stainless nuts & bolts and a whole lot more.

Lots of happy memories from our teenage years when Andy had one just like this.

 Andy bought a Hustler as his first legal road bike not long after I first met him around 40 years ago. It did everything from get him to work in Melbourne everyday to riding the GOR on the weekends. You wouldn’t think that you could carry a box with a dozen long neck bottles of  beer on a tank that small would you?

 Less happy are places like this. A once bustling center of motor vehicle and British motor cycle repairs and service, in a town that barely exists now.

Winter sun

Marty & I took a run to the 12 Apostles today. It was 6C when we left after an overnight low of 0C. It probably didn’t get an warmer than 13C anywhere on our route, but we were dressed for the cold and had an enjoyable day’s riding.

I only took a couple of shots of the motorcycles parked in Port Campbell as I have dozens of pics of the 12 Apostles area in the camera already!

It was my first time out with the new mufflers on the ZX14 and they sound great, without being too loud.
The roads were mostly dry but there is an enormous amount of water lying about the roadsides and in the paddocks.

We wound up doing 341 kms for the day which is good for a day trip in the middle of winter here.

Megacycle slip ons

I recently took a run down to Megacycle engineering in the Melbourne suburb of Keysborough to get a set of slip on mufflers fitted. These are built from scratch by the owner Ken Onus and he likes to have the bike there and fit them virtually as he builds them. Megacycle engineering is an old school engineering works, that builds specialty motorcycle exhaust systems. It’s winter Down Under and it was a cold 6C when I left home and was  raining for much of the run down there. Ken wanted me there by 7.30am, which meant a 5.30am ish start for me if I wanted to avoid the Westgate Bridge bottleneck. As it was I got there at 7.00am.
Pic below shows a bleak morning.

Here is the finished product in stainless steel. The bike’s EFI can adjust OK and there is no need for a Power Commander or suchlike to get it running OK.

And the sound – a lovely burble that’s not too loud or intrusive. Also the oval shaped pipes look much less bulky than the big round standard pipes.

Ken is the only person I’ve ever met in Oz who has raced at the IOM – with some success actually.
Ken Onus IOM


Protective clothing study

Below is a link to a comprehensive Australian study of motorcycle protective clothing and associated injury reduction. I recommend that you read it and I’m sure that different aspects will have significance for different riders.

Overall it’s reinforced my belief in “All the gear all of the time” (ATGATT) and that jackets with armor were genuinely helpful at reducing injury (hardly a surprise but nice to see some science supporting the contention)  The amount of protective clothing that ‘failed’ in some way is cause for concern.

READ THIS for all of the detail.

Ride safe!