Tuesday, August 5, 2014

4 August - Yarra Valley

The weather here in Victoria has been particularly bad for motorcycling the past few weeks. Cold, rain and high winds - often at the same time, make you think twice before starting up the bike. So, this morning only one of the three prevailed - it was freezing cold but the sky was sunny and clear and no wind so with a couple of extra layers of protection, including a balaclava (you lose most of your heat through the head) I set off for the Yarra Valley with the aim of enjoying a coffee and lunch at the Warburton Bakery.

The ride was absolutely fantastic except for those few bits in the forest where the sun didn't break through the trees, and by the time I reached Warburton all was well except for the feet. I've never come up with a good strategy for keeping the feet warm.

Once again lunch and coffee at the Warburton Bakery was outstanding.

I noticed over the past couple of months that this place is always busy and I can certainly vouch for the food and the coffee. There is even off street parking for bikes and always a few bikers around to have chat with.

Check out their terrific web site :http://www.warburtonbakery.com.au

The ride home was great too and by the time I arrived I was glad I overcame the initial cold of the morning.

Total distance 320 km.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

22 July - Photographic expedition in Sth Gippsland

(Click photo to enlarge)

After another long spell of cold, windy and uninspiring weather the outlook for today was sunny and chilly. So, on with the thermals, the second pair of socks and off on the Honda. First stop was Mirboo Nth for fuel to at the local BP. Then down the other side of the hills for lunch in Meeniyan. Some weeks ago I led a Ulysses group here for lunch at the Chess cafe and was very impressed with the proprietor the food and best of all, the coffee. So today I was there by myself and had a chance to chat with Gunnar the proprietor. This kindly 76 year old originally hails from Norway and is quite a chess fanatic. There are always boards set up around the cafe, and when he is not attending to customers Gunnar is usually playing through a game from a book. I really enjoyed my lunch with him and will make a point of going back when I have more time to have a game.

Part of my aim for today was to take some photographs so I took along a camera (rather than the iPhone) and visited quite a few places to get some good shots. I rode up to the wind generator farm in Toora which provides an excellent view across the Gippsland coast to Wilsons Prom. Put together a very nice panorama from up there which look great on my 27" iMac, but I don't think blogger does it justice. If you click on the photo you'll get a somewhat better idea.

From there I continued up to Agness Falls which looked spectacular after recent rains.

Took quite a few photos and was happy with my haul. The return trip was via Tarra Valley and over Mt Tassie and I got home just before it got really cold.

A great day and a fantastic ride.

Total Distance: 239 km

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

9 July - Strzeleckis and South Gippsland

Once again, a long run of miserable weather was punctuated by a crystal clear day with a top temperature of 16ÂșC. So, after a few commitments earlier in the day it was time to fire up the Shadow and head for the hills, the Strzelecki Hills, which run immediately to the South of where I live.

The Strzelecki Range, is a low mountain range between the Latrobe Valley and Bass Strait. This feature is named after a Polish explorer Pawel (Paul) Strzelecki who led an expedition through here in the 1840's.

Strzelecki (Wikipedia)

At the time he was trying to get to Western Port Bay and only barely avoided starvation in the rugged terrain and vegetation of this region. Today, only 19% of the original vegetation remains, the rest having fallen victim to logging followed by farming. Fortunately there are a few bits of the area which are protected, namely Tarra-Bulga National Park, the Morwell National Park and the Mount Worth State Park.

Anyway, enough geography and history - my first stop was the InLine4 cafe in Mirboo Nth, a little town nestled beautifully in the Strzeleckis. As mentioned in a couple previous blogs, this cafe is rapidly becoming a Mecca for motorcyclists, and even though it was quite a fine day, I really enjoyed my large bowl of Goulash Soup before continuing on with my trip. It was fantastic riding through the green rolling hills before joining the South Gippsland Highway at Meeniyan. From here the ride continued past the wind farm at Toora, through Yarram and back home through Gormandale.
Reached Traralgon just after 4 pm and the temperature was dropping quickly, so it was time to fuel up and go home. Short but sweet!

Total Distance 214 km.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

3 July - Happiness and the Dudley Moore Trio.

It's approaching the middle of winter here - not a time to expect great motorcycling weather. For the past few days though the seven day forecast has shown a little sun symbol for today with a rain probability of 0. A good sign but sometimes not enough, as plenty of sunny days have winds of 40 kmh which is less than ideal for a day on the bike.

So a pleasant surprise this morning - a crisp clear day, with not a breath of wind - unbelievable. So on with the thermals and all the other paraphernalia and off on the road to Warburton via the beautiful hills and forests of West Gippsland. As mentioned in previous blogs, I always wear earplugs when riding because regardless of helmet design, wind noise at 100 kph almost always reached a level where hearing damage becomes inevitable over time. When I feel like it (and today I did) I use Earmold earplugs, custom made plugs into which you can feed sound from an iPod, phone or GPS unit. Today I felt like music and so I set my iPhone up to feed me various albums and by the time I had been riding about 30 minutes I hit the jackpot. With the winter sun beating down on my back I was riding at a leisurely pace along one of those tree lined roads that give you glimpses of vineyards, and green fields and the occasional farm house with smoke rising from the chimney. Combined with the muffled roar from the 750 and the V&H pipes I can almost reach a Zen state of consciousness where everything is in sync and all is well with the world. Right at that moment the first album faded away in my earphones and up came..... The Dudley Moore Trio!

I knew what a marvellous pianist Dud was, but hadn't listened to one of his CD's for years. Halfway through the opening track, I realised that while generally 'happiness' is a baffling and elusive state, I had just found it. Everything combined into an experience which was totally sublime and I almost got to listen to both of his CD's before it was time to stop for lunch at the bakery in Warburton. Only halfway and already the day as a great one. For those of you who enjoy great jazz piano but haven't had the pleasure I can thoroughly recommend the DM Trio - it was Dud at his best.

Here's a reminder:

Dudley is of course most famous for his collaboration with Peter Cooke in the marvellous BBC series "Not only but Also". Back in the 60's the BBC did not archive it's tapes and many of Pete and Dud's shows were overwritten but a few survive. Here's one of my favourite sketches:

Anyway, back to the ride. After a very nice lunch in Warburton I was reluctant to turn the bike back towards Traralgon. The ride home was great too with the temperature continuing to rise into the afternoon. Got home at 4 pm for a beer and a cigar in the backyard using up the last of that amazing sunshine. From the kitchen came the aroma of one my favourite meals - chicken curry with a very dry Asahi beer from Japan. And for dessert? Coffee and apple strudel which I picked up at the bakery in Warburton - oh and fresh cream. Everynow and then, the never-ending 'pursuit of happiness' delivers a jackpot (hopefully) and today was one of those days. Never to be forgotten.

Total Distance 300km

Monday, June 23, 2014

22 June - Ulysses Ride - South Gippsland

Today was monthly ride day for our local branch of the Ulysses Motor Cycle club, and it was my turn to be ride leader. I scouted out an interesting ride through the Gippsland Hills and organised a coffee stop in Yarragon with lunch planned for Meenyian. The weather co-operated - it was one of those perfect sunny winter days, crisp but not a cloud in the sky.

Arrived in Meeniyan at 12:30 and chose the Chess Cafe for lunch. This great cafe is just the shot if you want to get away from the usual pies, chips etc. We settled for a variety of spectacular sandwiches, mine was Swedish meatballs. We hadn't been there long when the proprietor brought out a complementary dish of Swedish meatballs. I can thoroughly recommend this cosy little cafe.

After a leisurely outdoor lunch, enjoying the sunshine and the conversation it was time to saddle up for the next leg which took us to Mirboo Nth.  At this point most were heading in different directions so we said our goodbye's here.

The Ulysses Motorcycle Club is a great opportunity for riders aged 40 and over to join other enthusiasts for rides and social activities. Although originated in Australia, affiliated Ulysses clubs are now establishing all over the world. For more information check here:

Total Distance 226km.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

17 June - One Down, One to Go!

As you know, one of my three bikes, the Honda Shadow VT400 has been sold after serving as my learner bike and all round great ride. It has been replaced by its big brother a Honda VT750. Since acquiring the VT750 a couple of months ago, I have found it to be my bike of choice and my BMW F650 GS barely gets enough of a run to keep the battery charged. Not that there is anything wrong with this wonderful machine. I've put 30,000 enjoyable kilometres on it including a trip to Queensland. You can follow the blogs from this trip here:

The reasons for choosing the Honda over the Beemer are totally related to my advanced age. I hit my 70th birthday a few days ago and lately I have found that the warm embrace of a comfortable cruiser adds more to my riding pleasure than the spritely and high tech blandishments of the BMW.

So, once again with somewhat mixed feelings I am offering the BMW for sale. The bike is a 2010 model F650GS (800 cc twin) and has just completed the 30,000 km service where it received a clean bill of health. It has all the BMW features such as ABS brakes, center stand, heated grips, real time tire pressure monitoring, gear position indicator, self cancelling indicators and trip computer. After purchase I made a few changes, including a lowered seat, taller windscreen and engine bash plate. The bike is set up for distance touring with a full set of BMW hard luggage (including inner bags) and a BMW tank bag.

Like all my bikes, it has been garaged when not being used and has a full dealer service record. When I bought the bike at Southbank BMW, it had a warranty and roadside assist until 2015 included in the the deal. I think (although can't guarantee) that these are transferrable to any purchaser.

Once again, this bike has been a total thrill to own and has performed faultlessly since I bought it.
I'm asking $12,000 and will include a Road Worthy Certificate.

I am contactable on 0407 341819 or by the email address at the top of this page.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

14 June - Goodbye to a great companion

My first riding companion, my Honda VT400 has gone to another home. Steven from Colac and his family drove up last night and were here bright and early to pick her up. It would take more than this short note to express how much I have enjoyed this bike. Elegant, comfortable and well behaved my white Shadow taught me to ride and gave me the experience and confidence to step up the VT750 and the Beemer. I bought the bike in February 2010 and since that time we've travelled 38,000 km together without a single hitch or issue. Oh, apart from the punctured cooling hose incident which you can read about here: stopped by a stick

I hope to enjoy many more motorcycling adventures in the next few years and although she's gone to another good home I have lots of photos and videos to remember the great times we had together.

If you're interested in reading about how it all started click here: