Coast in the AM, inland for the PM

I took a short solo coastal ride Thursday morning, then a twilight ride to Andy’s place in Ballarat with Marty. In the morning I experimented with an old camera on a lanyard for some pics ‘on the fly’.

The morning ride

Below: main beach at Lorne Vic.

Below: The Lorne to Dean’s Marsh road

Not speeding!

The afternoon ride

Marty and I headed off a little after 5.00pm and took some back roads via Mt Mercer inland to Ballarat. It had warmed up to around 33C, but the riding was pleasant until……. Marty suffered a puncture of his rear tyre. He’s unsure what did it, but it left a large hole, though nothing was embedded. Fortunately we had a puncture plugging kit and once we located the hole had it “fixed”  and headed on to Andy’s motorcyle restoration workshop. The three pics below demonstrate completed, in progress and yet to be touched projects. All are 1973 Suzuki two strokes, 250, 350 and 750 respectively.

As the tyre plug was leaking slightly we left Marty’sZX14R and rode home two up on mine. The plan being to get a new tyre fitted the next day.

Here’s an update: the T350 Suzuki that was “in progress”is now completed. Pics below.

A nice pair.



Fog then hot in the Otways

Marty and I took our usual Otways circuit today. We left reasonably early as the temp was forecast to be 37C here today and warmer inland. We met at 8.30 am and rode carefully in fog for the first few kilometers until the sun broke through. Once the sun came out it warmed up quickly. It was around 31C at Gellibrand and on the inland section of the GOR – then amazingly it dropped down to 20C at Apollo Bay. A wallaby sitting on the edge of the road mid corner at Burton’s Lookout certainly focused my attention! Thankfully it jumped back into the bush instead of into my path.

We had a great run on the twisty stuff on both the GOR and the run from Skene’s Creek up to Forrest, with very little traffic to hold us up – though there was a stack of traffic heading in the opposite direction.

The final leg home from Forrest to Geelong was pretty warm with my bike’s ambient temp showing 37C (98F). I actually wore my Gortex lined textile jacket rather than leathers today and was more comfortable (a relative term in these temps) than I was in leathers yesterday. Despite the last section being so hot, it was still a most enjoyable run of approx 310 kms – and the new Yoshimura pipes were music to my ears!


Short trip on the Great Ocean Road

I took a short run along the GOR from Geelong to Lorne, then up through the bush to Deans Marsh. From there it was further inland to Colac and then back to Geelong along Hwy 1. Although a sunny day was forecast the section along the coast was kinda gloomy – not quite fog but more than simply cloudy. First stop was at Airey’s Inlet for a photo of the ZX14R with it’s new exhausts.

As I approached Urquhart Bluff I saw some powered parachutes cruising along the cliff tops so pulled in and took a few shots.

The ‘fella below spotted me taking photos and cruised by so that I could snap a close up.

The run from Lorne through the curves to Deans Marsh was the highlight of the trip really. I was home before midday with 190kms on the clock and all set for a longer ride tomorrow with Marty. Forecast is for a sunny day and a temp of 35C.

The pipes, the pipes ……

The Ninja now has some new Yoshimura, R77 slip on pipes. I went for stainless steel with carbon fiber end caps, though I was sorely tempted by full carbon. Some better pics to follow, but here are a couple I shot indoors yesterday. The weight saving is substantial.

I should have taken a pic when unboxing. Basically it looked like the pipes were wrapped in plastic, placed in a long cardboard box and then gap filling foam was sprayed around them. This is the box of foam after the pipes had been removed.


Old Brits rock the Rock

Steve had been hatching a plan for some time to get Marty and I on board some old British iron. To that end he tee’d up a ride with he and Andy supplying Marty and I with old Brit motorcycles to sample for an afternoon. It seems another West Coast Procrastinators event has been added to the calendar of annual rides.

Just by way of context, Saturday was the first cool day after four consecutive days over 40C (104F) and it had actually peaked at 45.4C (113F) the day prior – the hottest day ever recorded in Geelong. As you will see in some of the following pictures, the countryside is absolutely parched.

We met at Steve’s place just out of Colac, the plan being to take a scenic ride around the area’s volcanic lakes –  the best known being Lake Corangamite. Being unable to ride two motorcycles at once, Andy trailered his bikes from his home in Ballarat.

The motorcycles:

Steve’s 1948 Norton 500 twin and 1970 750 Commando

Andy’s 1948 BSA 500 twin and 1969 750 Commando Fastback.

The plan was to swap around motorcycles so that Marty and I would get a feel for any of these old machines that took our fancy. I elected to head off on the ’48 Norton Dominator.

Our destination was the lookout at an extinct volcano, known as Red Rock. However, in true Procrastinator’s style, the destination was at no stage communicated amongst the participants! Consequently, the slower bikes being ridden by Andy and I rode straight past and had to be chased up by the two 750’s being ridden by Steve and Marty.

From the lookout it was easy to see that the small craters which usually form small lakes, were completely dried up, thus making the volcanic nature of the area very evident. Far in the distance is the huge salt lake, Lake Corangamite.

OK, so back to the motorcycles!

No electric start Marty!

“What, this thing?”

Below – the ever grim Tarsnakes firing up the BSA for the return trip! The two ’48 twins were very similar to ride in terms of power, seating position and (lack of ) brakes. Each bike fired up first kick and you will note the absence of oil drips under either of the bikes in any of these pictures – a credit to the engine restoration skills of Steve and Andy.

The small fuel tank on Steve’s Commando can pose a problem at times

From Red Rock we tracked along the back roads to Steve’s home. As I bopped along on Andy’s BSA I felt really contented, and scoffed at the “SLOW DOWN” signs along the way – instead I sped up to 90 kph in defiance! Back at Steve’s we had a debrief with our partners over cheese, bikkies, a selection of beers and wine and some lively conversation – a really enjoyable conclusion to an excellent day out.

Special thanks to Steve and Andy for their generosity in providing this unique motorcycling experience for Marty and I, and in so doing risking potential damage to machines that they have invested enormous amounts of time and skill in restoring. What risk you ask? Well it’s incredibly anti-intuitive riding motorcycles with right side gear shifters (one up and four down) and left sided rear brake, after a life time of riding left side gear change Japanese motorcycles.

For high resolution pics, click HERE.  (They are best viewed by clicking on ‘Slideshow’).

Post Script: As we were looking over at Lake Corangamite a few of us mentioned how the last big drought reveled the remains of a wreck of a Wirraway aircraft in the lake soon after WW II. Apparently there are now plans to retrieve the wreck. Full story HERE



Procrastinators’ New Year ride 2014

The 2014 New Year’s Day AGM of the West Coast Procrastinators was thwarted by an unfavorable weather forecast, which actually eventuated in a day of wind and rain of ‘biblical proportions’ as Marty described it. In a rare display of decisiveness, the ride, lunch & AGM were re-scheduled to 2nd January, 2014. Mind you, I packed my wet weather gear as I wasn’t 100% convinced that it would remain dry for the whole ride.

Marty and I met on the outskirts of Geelong then headed via the Cape Otway Road to Steve’s property just outside Colac.

When we arrived at Steve’s the team were found to be in good form, with Andy deriding the exhausts on my ZX14 before I even had a chance to get my helmet off. It seems that size does matter in this case! There were two very different generations of motorcycles present – the old 1970’s Brit bikes and the latest from Japan.

Two ZX14R’s and a Commando

Steve’s Norton Commando

Marty’s ZX14R

After some more good natured banter and New Year handshakes we headed off for a tour of the salt lakes near Warrion, then on to our destination at the Timboon rail shed distillery for lunch. Fortunately we had booked a table as the joint was packed and even getting a parking spot was problematic.

Tarsnakes’ ZX14R

The ambiance of the restaurant was only sullied by the presence of a former politician who had been at the heart of the “Children Overboard” affair (suggested by some as one of Australia’s great political lies) and who had condoned unprecedented strikebreaking measures during the Waterfront dispute. (Imagine security guards in balaclavas with German shepherd dogs used for the first, and only, time in Australia’s history).

Anyway, after a tasty lunch and an uneventful and mercifully brief AGM, we hit the road and headed for the 12 Apostles via the Great Ocean Road and then tracked inland to Beech Forest for a pit stop and photos.

Three of four at Beech Forest

And with no procrastination at all, rode Turton’s Track to Forrest. Turton’s was in excellent condition with none of the usual slippery wet bark covering the asphalt.

Here’s a file shot of Turton’s Track

Our last stop for the ride was the Forrest Brewery. Time for a drink, swatting the abundant flies, a bit of a debrief, some more New Year handshakes and we were on our way again – Marty and I back to Geelong and Steve and Andy back to Colac.


A really enjoyable day of riding and banter with mates – a great way to start the new year. All up, I’d done 390 very enjoyable kms for the ride – and it didn’t rain once!

Burger run

It was Mrs T’s turn to suggest the route for today’s ride. I was in full agreement with the proposal to head to Beech Forest via Turton’s Track for a burger lunch at ‘The Ridge’ cafe.

It was a sunny 17 Celsius when we hit the road. As we rode past “The Hill” vineyard we noticed a massive stage had been erected for tonight’s Leonard Cohen concert – the size of the thing was incredible. We took the Cape Otway Rd and in no time, well actually about an hour, pulled in at the West Barwon Dam at Forrest for a pit stop. This is a really pretty place and one of my favorite haunts.

From here we took the ultra twisty and scenic Turton’s Track. However, it was a chilly 12 C along here and we were glad to get out from under the cover of the trees for the last few kilometer run to ‘The Ridge’ and then get a table out on their sunny deck.

  I once named their burgers “the best hamburger ever” (which they reference on their lunch menu) having sampled stacks of them on our 2010 USA tour. However, times change, and whilst still a tasty burger made from local produce, they have seriously out-priced themselves at $22 per burger, in my view. Hence, I will now need to resume my quest for the “best burger ever”.

From here we headed down towards Colac to visits friends Steve & Helen and check the progress on Steve’s latest project, a pre-war model 18 Norton single. He has painted the frame and also re-produced many of the nuts and bolts for this bike himself (in stainless steel) on his lathe. He also laced the wheels from scratch. I personally love the appearance of girder forks. For more build details, see Steve’s blog HERE

The engine is under construction.

From here we hit the highway and headed straight home to tackle a few yard work chores that were awaiting us. Even though we traveled Hwy 1 home, the 22C temp and sunshine proved to be perfect riding conditions for a ‘leather jacket over a T-shirt combination’ attire. At approx 250 kms total it was a short ride, but thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing. The rear tire has less than 4K kilometers on it and now needs replacing – but a soft compound and rear wheel 200 hp will do that!


Geelong Revival 2013

The two day Geelong Revival  (formerly known as the Speed Trials) was held in perfect weather over the weekend. Check the official website for more info and results HERE.

The Geelong waterfront area looked spectacular.

This is a terrific event to just wander around and get up close to all sorts of classic cars and motorcycles – plus a few invited newer motorcycles.  As I arrived the Kawasaki stunt rider was in full swing.

First thing I did was head down to the static motorcycle display. Below are a few favorites – being mainly 1970’s superbikes and the magnificent reproduction Vincents.

From here I headed to the pits, where $10 got me full access. Again, a few faves pictured below.

A lovely Elfin Clubman.

1964 model EH Holden. I had an 11 year old one of these as my first car.

A 1954 model Corvette.

This Norton Atlas was pretty quick.

John Kaiser had his Kawasaki Z1000 drag bike out of mothballs – and it was fast! This ‘fella is the ‘go to’guy for Kawasaki’s in Geelong (JK Motorcycles).

Jack Findlay won the 1975 FIM International Formula 750 title (beating Barry Sheen) on this Yamaha TZ750.

Some of the promotional Revival girls – evoking the wartime era with their outfits.


To view hundreds of pics, click HERE

Sunday was another great day, so Marty and I took to the hills for the day, travelling inland to the Timboon distillery for lunch then back to Lavers Hill via the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, then headed inland through the bush to Forrest via Turtons Track. All up, around 350 kms in perfect riding weather.

This little fella tried to take a piece out of Marty’s arm!

Yet another gratuitous ZX14R pic below!


“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.