Mild winter day

Unbelievably it was 17C and sunshine today, though a strong blustery wind was a little disconcerting. I did a quick solo run from Geelong to Beech Forest via Colac, then down Turton’s Track (very greasy conditions) then back to Geelong via Forrest and Dean’s Marsh.

 Congratulations to Paul & Maria for 10 years (today) of constant improvement to this general store in Gellibrand. This pic doesn’t do justice to the place. The quality of Paul’s workmanship in restoring the interior is excellent.

I parked, got a hot chocolate – but the whole time I felt I was being watched!
A hah – I was being watched after all.

More wet tarsnakes

The shortest day of the year has passed, work has been demanding and it was time for Marty and I to take some motorcycle therapy.The road through the Otways were pretty treacherous in places, lots of mulched leaves and bark on the road and water lying across shaded corners – but what else can you expect in the middle of winter? Well at least it wasn’t raining here, as it was for the warm up for MotoGP in Assen – and it’s summer there! Temps somewhat comparable too.

Here’s some pics & I will post a few more words later.

First stop – the Gellibrand store

The recently installed hugger is clearly not very effective.

Marty has a little bit of pastie with his sauce!!
A blatant rip off. Avoid refueling at Apollo Bay if possible
A post ride debrief in sunshine on the outskirts of Geelong. 315kms of safe, sometimes challenging & enjoyable riding

Chasing tarsnakes in the winter rain

The sky was blue and it looked like a perfect winter’s day for a ride. The sunshine only lasted around 80 kms and the next 90 kms or so were done in in cold wintery conditions, only to fine up again for the final 30 kms home.

I actually found it immensely satisfying piloting the big Kwaka, with around 170 hp on tap at the rear wheel, in such challenging conditions.

Today’s circuit was from Geelong to Lavers Hill  via Colac, then along the inland part of the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. The final section was from Apollo Bay to Geelong via Lorne and Deans Marsh – a bit of a mistake in some ways as the GOR was quite slippery due to road construction and some small diesel spills – neither of which were pleasant in the rain! In Lorne I came across three motorcycle cops stopping traffic for random license checks. The fella who pulled me over was obviously a motorcycle enthusiast and we had quite a pleasant chat about motorcycling, Michelin tyres and the glory days of riding the GOR before there were 80 kph speed limits and double white lines. He made no secret of the fact that they were out to target motorcycles and that they were having a slow day – the posers tend not to ride the GOR in the rain!

I must say that the sight of a tiny little girl in her pink bicycle helmet perched up on one of the cop bikes whilst her proud Dad to a photo was just priceless. It would have been a great PR shot for Victoria Police.

Here’s a few pics taken during the occasional sunny breaks.

First stop at Gellibrand

Flowers by donation – you know that you’re out in the country.

You can’t see it but this is a pic of a ship out in the ocean near Apollo Bay!

Dirty Ninja

Cleaning those mufflers is going to be fun!

It was good to have a dry road for the last 30 kms to home.

Great art on the school kids’ bus shelter

The last of autumn

The weather has been atrocious over the past few weekends. And I have a near new motorcycle in the garage begging to be ridden! We’ve been experiencing an early winter pattern over the past couple of weeks and it looked like autumn was over. In any event, Marty and I had resolved to ride today even though the forecast was for very strong winds.

Here’s our route for the day.

Well we got lucky, a glorious autumn day emerged and we headed for the hills. The ZX14 still has the original Bridgestone BT014 tyres on it, which with 2,000kms on them feel like Michelin Pilot Road 2s with about 10,000kms on them. I plan to correct this in the next week and have some new PR2s ready to be fitted and some nice Ariete 90 degree valve stems to make life easier when it comes to pumping up the tyres.
 The other changes to the big Ninja are that it now has a Radguard radiator guard fitted and a new Ventura rack system. I’ve just got the short rack option fitted for day trips and have the large rack to fit when touring time comes.

I’m currently researching various ‘slip on’ after market mufflers, but haven’t made any decisions yet. I will most likely go for duel ‘slip ons’ rather than a full system as I don’t want to have the hassle and expense of a Power Commander as needed with a full system. Also my insurer doesn’t seem to mind what slip on mufflers I get and classify them as an accessory, whereas they regard a full system as a ‘modification’. I’m leaning toward stainless steel rather than carbon fiber but haven’t settled on any particular brand.

We stopped for drinks at Gellibrand, then headed for Beech Forest (where the sun was all wrong for the photos I wanted to take!). Turton’s track was covered in wet leaf litter and bark so we had to tippy toe gently through there. When we hit the Apollo Bay – Forrest Rd we turned left and headed for Forrest. Most of the corners were shaded and quite damp in spots so we took it pretty easy.

The microbrewery at Forrest was our next stop then we headed down to Colac to see Steve’s progress on his Norton Dominator resto. I took some pics of the Domi, but somehow I’ve stuffed up and can’t access them from the camera’s memory card!

From Steve’s place it was a quick run back along the Princes Hwy to Geelong. The ZX14’s low fuel light was flashing about 30 kms from home – hell that’s 21 litres for only 270kms. I’m hoping the fuel consumption improves as the motor gets run in (it just ticked over 2,000kms on it today). I know my mate Bill’s ZX14 will easily get into the low 300 kms out of a tank full even with quite spirited riding.

ANZAC Day ride & the best hamburger ever

Mrs Tarsnakes & I took off from sunny Geelong (80 km from Melbourne, Vic) around 10.00 am this morning, but before long we were riding in moderately thick fog, so I decided to stick to the Princes Hwy, rather than the back roads.

Here’s our route

We called in at S & H’s near Colac and spent some time there before ‘heading for the hills’, fortunately in sunshine. Our lunch destination was the tiny town of Beech Forest, (population 100) high in the Otway Ranges rainforest.

 During the 5 weeks we spent in the USA last year I had a secret mission (my mission was to keep it secret from Mrs Tarsnakes) to sample a significant number of American hamburgers, which are to the citizens of the US kinda like meat pies are to us here. The two equal finalists in the US could not have been further apart in style, one in an iconic greasy diner in New York (Big Nick’s hamburger joint), the other a classy, expensive restaurant overlooking Lake Tahoe, in California.

But who would have thought that THE BEST HAMBURGER EVER, was right here in Oz – and at a tiny country cafe in the Otway Ranges! OK, just take a look at the pic below

Lean beef, stacks of tasty non-greasy bacon and all fresh, organic grown ingredients – a magnificent burger.

All this was enjoyed in the sunshine from the outdoor deck looking out over the Otways. The 22,000 plus people who’ve read this blog know how rare it is for me to endorse any business – but the Ridge Cafe at Beech Forest, just near the Otway Fly tourist attraction really deserves it.

Mrs Tarsnakes’ vegie pie was sensational as well.

Out on the deck

A pensive Mrs Tarsnakes

The grim one with an uncharacteristic smile – it must be that new motorcycle!

The big Kawasaki performed beautifully two-up. A short 250 km run today and 1,500 kms on the clock when we got home.

Leaving ‘The Ridge’.


We Aussies are free to enjoy a great country and lifestyle because of the sacrifices of others. Today is ANZAC Day, a day on which there are civic marches in the capital cities and little country towns. I guess it tells you something about Aussies that this day was originally established to commemorate a massive military defeat, despite immense bravery and loss of life on the beaches of Gallopili in Turkey.

My late father served in the Australian Infantry Force during WWII. As I sit here looking at his military documents I still cannot fathom the enormity of his deprivations as he spent a total of 1,558 days fighting on foreign soil in the Middle East (against the Germans) and New Guinea (against the Japanese with our US allies), of his total 1,937 days as a member of the ‘Australian Imperial Force’. I’m amazed at what a gentle, wise and humble father he was given the horrors that he took part in. (And amazed he would ride pillion on my Vespa scooter sometimes when I was a boy!).

I’ve enjoyed this ANZAC day out riding and dining, however, I’ve tried not forget those whose suffering made this liberty and lifestyle possible; especially my own Dad who survived, and uncle Terry, who lost his life as a POW of the Japanese.

There are great men on all sides of conflict. I’m always greatly moved by the lack of rancor illustrated by the  words of  Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), who commanded the Turkish counter attack against the ANZACS at Gallopili, and then later as president of Turkey,  penned a tribute to the fallen ANZACS (Aussies and the New Zealanders) – his enemies.

It reads thus:

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours … You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.”

Derek Trucks: one of the guitar greats

Although this is a motorcycle blog, I have to make an exception and mention the brilliant Tedeschi-Trucks Band gig at the Palace Theatre in Melbourne that we attended last night. I’m lost for superlatives to describe how good they were and the brilliance of Derek Trucks’ guitar playing. We heard our favorites such as ‘Midnight in Harlem’, ‘Any Day’,’Bound for Glory’ and a heap of tracks from their forthcoming album ‘Revelator’. (Our favorites were songs we’d seen them play on the various Eric Clapton “Crossroads” Festival DVD’s). Their encore number was a superb version of ‘Space Captain’ (Original by Leon Russell & Joe Cocker). Susan T’s soulful vocals were stunning and she’s become an extremely skillful guitarist in her own right.
The support act was the ‘Robert Randolf Family Band’ a group well worth seeing in their own right!

More tour dates at the Tedeschi-Trucks website HERE.

ZX14 is due for first service & another Ninja

First off, congratulations to my mate Peter on the purchase of his new ZX14 – in red. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Little did I know that this would be the result when Pete looked over my day old Ninja a fortnight ago!

Pete aboard his new ZX14

In the two weeks I’ve had the ZX14 I’ve managed to clock up 1,000 kms and so it’s ready for its first service. I want to get it serviced this week so that we have the option of doing some rides over Easter if the weather’s OK.

I rode solo through the Otways yesterday in fairly cool conditions. The roads were quite damp – wet in the shady spots, so I took it pretty easy. After around 250 kms through the Otway Ranges I wound up at Steve’s and we had a very pleasant ‘arvo sitting in his shed talking bikes, blues and more bikes! The sun came out for an uneventful run back home from Colac.

Marty joined me today, on what turned out to be a magnificent Autumn day. We left Geelong around 9.30am, it was 13C and cloudy. It actually got cooler in the foothills of the Otways as we approached our first stop at Gellibrand. We were there no time and the sun came out and pretty soon an hour had slipped by as we sat in the sun and chatted to the store’s owner (and KTM rider) Paul. As you can see from the pic below there was not much doing in downtown Gellibrand on a Sunday morning!

We were more focussed on riding than stopping for pics, so here’s two more of the motorcycles in ‘Gelli’.

We had an excellent run along the GOR to Apollo Bay and likewise back inland via Forrest. I thoroughly enjoyed both rides and I’m very pleased with my choice of new motorcycle based on it’s first 1000kms.

Did I mention that there is only one gas station in Apollo Bay? Consequently I paid $1.64 per litre (that’s around $6.23 per US gallon) for premium unleaded, making it the most expensive petrol I’ve ever purchased, even though Apollo Bay is only 190 kms (approx 120 miles) from Melbourne!

This coming week we’re attending two highly anticipated concerts on in Melbourne. Wednesday night we’re seeing the Blind Boys of Alabama (with Aaron Neville) and Good Friday night it’s the Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks Band. I can’t wait!

First run on the new Ninja ZX14

We’ve had a week of near perfect Autumn weather, but as fate would have it the forecast for today was 27C, strong winds and an early afternoon thunderstorm. I’ve been itching to get a feel for how this motorcycle performs in the twisty stuff.

Despite the forecast I took off around 9.00am and took the run we did with the girls on board a couple of weeks ago, only in reverse direction. My only stops were for photos at Otway Estate vineyard and Beech Forest and for a drink and a brief chat with Paul at the Gellibrand store. Although quite warm, the sky was looking very threatening by the time I hit the Otway Ranges. Wet, windy roads was not what I wanted with an unfamiliar bike and nearly 200hp on tap!

‘User friendly’ is an over used term, however, it genuinely sums up how I found the big Ninja ZX14 on its first run in the real world. It tracked beautifully through the corners and was never a handful even on the very slow speed corners along Turton’s Track. I love the turbine smooth engine and I really felt that all the horsepower that’s on tap is be delivered in a very controllable way.

All up this run was 250 kms of very satisfying riding, made all the better by getting home ahead of the rain!

National Heritage Listing of the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road (GOR) was yesterday given a National Heritage Listing. This incredible piece of road starts about 20 minute’s ride form where I live.

READ THIS from the Geelong Advertiser

It has been a mecca for Aussie motorcyclists over the years, though with it’s 80 kph (50mph) speed limit and heavy policing of motorcyclists (it’s not stretching things to say that it borders upon harrassement) these days that there’s not a whole lot of enjoyment to be had in riding the section between Torquay and Apollo Bay. For those in the USA, much of the GOR could be mistaken for The Big Sur in CA and Hwy 1 Shoreline Dve north of San Francisco.

It is well worth remembering that the Great Ocean Road is actually a war memorial.

I have many, many happy teenage memories that were set in the context of the GOR – many of them involve motorcycling. Some images only exist in my mind, but are triggered by words such as – Crawford’s Pacific Hotel, New Year’s Eve at Lorne, Suzuki 250 Hustler, CB750 Honda,  McRae’s Z900, “a man’s a fool”, Suzuki ‘Waterbottle’, Z1R Kawasaki, cosmic blue EH Holden and of course being one sleeping bag short!

Here’s my quick pictorial tribute to the GOR – including a couple of old shots scanned from prints.

That cosmic blue 1964 Holden & a bunch of 1970’s guys!


 Some of the GOR runs inland and it’s every bit as pretty as the shoreline section.

Pacific Hotel Lorne

Arab Cafe Lorne Vic

Kawasaki ZX14

The procrastination has come to an end and we bought a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX14. A few posts down I ruminated about whether to go with my head or my heart when choosing a new motorcycle. In the end I’d like to think it was a bit of both. I decided on the bigger Kawasaki. I got a great deal from Peter Stevens Motorcycles in Elizabeth St Melbourne. The whole deal was transacted over the ‘phone and today was the first time I actually saw ‘my’ motorcycle.

 Around 9.30 am on the showroom floor in Elizabeth St.

Through the city and a short run down the radar infested freeway and she was home.

 Whose got a big grin?

 Think I will have to hide the keys though!

It now has 92 kilometers on the clock!