Road & River

I went to see Peter the owner of Road & River on Saturday morning for a new front tyre for the VFR. I wound up getting another Michelin Pilot Power. It turned out that I needed some new front disc pads as well, which Peter was able to do there and then for me.

I can highly recommend R&R for personalised service, perfect for those of us who want a specialist motorcycle business and don’t like the bland, impersonal “K Mart” type of experience that the big bike shops all seem to offer now. Road & River is also an authorized MV Agusta and Husqvarna dealer, so I just love to drool over those bikes while I’m there.

Have a good look at these things – they are “art” on 2 wheels. If only I could win the lottery!

It was the Genesis

Originally I started this post referring to a song from 70’s Aussie band “Chain”. I just heard a song on the radio that was actually a better “fit”. Good old Neil sang it best,

“One of these days,
I’m gonna sit down
and write a long letter
To all the good friends I’ve known
And I’m gonna try
And thank them all
for the good times together”.

In the early 1970’s I met a group of like-minded guys who did not give a crap about Aussie rules football like everyone else did – they shared my passion for motorcycles. It was also just the time I was just old enough to begin to exercise some freedom and independance.

Thanks to Steve for many of these images, reproduced from the slide collection of his late father, Ron Kelly, who catalogued much of our youth with his camera. They reflect a great many very happy memories from a period in time that was the genesis of our love for motorcycling. Thirty+ years on and we are all still pretty keen motorcyclist in one form or another.

L –> R: Steve, Col , Jules, Rod, Keith

Steve, Rod, Jules, Andy

None were licensed to ride, but ride they did! Just home after a bit of “dog rattlin”.

Steve’s Honda CB750 four, which I later bought.

Andy’s Ducati GT750 circa 1974

My Suzuki 550, late 1973
Same bike in 1974
Rod McRae’s Kawasaki Z900, circa 1977

Jules Kawasaki Z1R, Christmas 1979

My friends are scattered
Like leaves from an old maple.
Some are weak, some are strong

Neil Percival Young.

Twelve Apostles Autumn Run

Marty & I took a run down to the 12 Apostles on a magnificient still Autumn day. It was all blue sky after a cool start and then warmed up to about 22C – just perfect. I will let the pictures do the talking!

Hot chocolates at Gellibrand. The Gellibrand store has become a favorite stop of ours.

Various shots around the Apostles.

Back to Geelong via Colac – stopped for a drink in the main street. Here’s Marty

Short ride Sunday

I met up with Marty at 9.15am Sunday and we headed for the hills in overcast conditions. After a stop and a magnificent hot chocolate at the Gellibrand store we headed for Lavers Hill, but pretty soon it got misty and damp. By Ferguson it was raining, so uncharacteristically, we turned around rather than “tip toe” through these winding roads in such slippery conditions. Back at Gelli there were some classic bikes – the best of which were a R90S BMW and a Vincent HRD.

I decided on a pit stop at the Otway Estate winery, where we ended up having bacon & eggs for lunch. As much as we both would have loved a Prickly Moses beer or a glass of Cab Sav we make it a rule never to drink and ride. The staff here are fantastic and really made us feel welcome. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Steve & Helen’s in Colac, then made a quick run via the Cape Otway Road back to Geelong.

All up approx 250 ks and the new suspension on the VFR felt great.

Last week I collected the VFR from Promecha in Springvale having had the suspension tweaked. At 43,000 k’s it was time for some freshening up. The front forks were re-sprung with K-Tech springs specifically for my weight, an anti-dive circuit added, and the fork seals replaced. The rear shock was dismantled, converted into a re-buildable shock, re-valved, and the standard spring replaced with an Eibach spring matched to my weight. Although Ohlins are generally regarded as the holy grail of motorcycle shockers, it is worth noting that they DO NOT manufacture springs themselves. From the research I’ve done it seems that Eibach & Ohlins springs come from the same factory and are just badge engineered.

I’m hoping to go for a run tomorrow to see how it feels and maybe make any necessary adjustments. I was also after a new Michelin Pilot Road 2CT for the front, but Peter from Road & River tells me that he has none in stock & can’t get any at present.

Tasmania Feb 2008

Pic by Martin Owen
Lining up to board the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne.

On 30th Jan 2008 we headed off for 10 days of touring Tasmania. Marty (ZX9 Kawasaki), Terry (VFR800) and I (VFR800) had done this trip together previously in 2004. Joining us this time was Bill (ZZR1220) – who had previously done the Snowy Mountains with us, and Tony (Buell Ulysses). We met at the Spirit of Tasmania terminal around 6.00pm, then headed up to Bay St for a delicious gourmet pizza before we embarked. We had cabins booked on the Spirit for the overnight trip across Bass Straight.

Thanks to Marty and Bill for the use of some of their photos in this blog.

View of the Melbourne waterfront at dusk from the Spirit.

Map of where we went

We disembarked the Spirit and it immediately started raining! The rain continued as we rode up along the beautiful Tamar valley and continued until we arrived in Beaconsfield. It cleared up after Low Head and down to St Helens via Bridport & Scottsdale.

VFR at Low Head

The afternoon run down the east coast to Swansea was great with quite a bit of sunshine and very light traffic.

Swansea Tavern, the digs were behind this building which was really convenient. The Swansea backpackers is very new and has a pub virtually attached. We found it to be a great place to stay.

Campbell Town for breakfast after a brisk run up the Lake Leake Road.

Below – Tony on the Buell near Bisheno.

On day 3 we headed inland to travel to Hobart via the inland lakes. Diesel Corner not far from Paotina.

Why so happy guys? This place is a dive – we are outa here!

Joe’s Garage in Hobart. A unique bar in Australia.

Good times at Joe’s Garage in Hobart. Not to mention the “Hen’s Night”, hence the labels on the boys. Mine said Casey Stoner – how blind was the chick who wrote that?

At Mt Wellington – great views of Hobart. Pic by Martin Owen

Below: Jules & Tony Pic by Bill Roder
Pic by Bill Roder
At Tahune air walk south of Hobart, via Huonville. A good day trip from the capital.

Bikes lined up at Gordon Dam. From front – VFR800, ZX9, ZZR1200, VFR800 & also young couple’s (very overloaded) ZZR600.

Pic by Bill Roder
Jules & Marty at Gordon Dam.

Rode up to Gordon dam. This was a 200 klm detour up and down the same road on our way from Hobart to Strahan. It was well worth it with some really spectacular scenery along the way up there. Fortunately fuel was available at Chalet nearby, howver we didn’t know that and Tony was concerned about the Buell’s capacity to get there and back after the k’s we had already covered from Hobart.

You can walk down these steps and out onto the dam wall. The view is awesome.

Road to Mordor (aka Queenstown).

Pic by Martin Owen
We headed on to Strahan. Last time we did the big boat trip and Sarah Island gig. This time we just kicked back a bit, ate and drank and did the the jet boat trip up the King River and FWD trip up into the Huon Pine forest. Here’s Tony & I in the jetboat heading off.

King River, from Macquarie Harbour.

Marty & I ran at a pretty good pace from Strahan to here – and beyond. When we were here last in 2004 clear felling had just finished and it looked like a thermonuclear landscape. Amazing how the Aussie bush can recover.

Dove Lake at Cradle Mtn. Within minutes of this photo, the weather turned really wet & cold. Only Marty & I had paid to ride the last few klms down through the National park to the lake. It was so bad that I was concerned that my VFR was going to get blown over. We didn’t even take our helmets off as it was so wet & cold. An hour and a half later in Sheffield we were covering up so as not to get sunburnt! See the beer garden pic below.

One of the Sheffield murals.

Sheffield Hotel. Digs for our last night.

We took a day sail back to Melbourne- which saved the cost of a cabin, but was basically a waste of a day. Within 24 hours of disembarking I was heading for Tullamarine airport to fly to England.

We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people’s lives.
Robert M. Pirsig


I’m currently enjoying London’s unseasonally mild weather.

Trafalgar Square is the focal point for huge celebrations for Kosovo indepence, thousands are here, tooting horns and waving flags. It’s been going on all day and is deafening!

Today I went to the Churchill museum and underground war office bunker which was great – hearing Winston’s speaches and seeing all the wartime images of London.

You can’t actually walk down Downing St – let alone go past No.10

Well armed police behind the gates at the entrace to Downing St.

Saw the Queen’s cavalry and walked in St James’s park, which was magnificent on a day like this. Also a brush with (past) fame – I literally just about bumped into Bryan Ferry as he got out of a taxi.

Yesterday I visited the Tower of London, went on a Thames river cruise down to the London Eye, and went on the Eye – which was incredible. Also visited Buckingham palace etc.

I’m really enjoying London and the sunny weather and blue skys are are making it all the more enjoyable.