Monday, November 24, 2014

22-24 November - SRA Weekend in Halls Gap




Shadow Riders Australia (SRA see link above) is an owners group for Honda Shadow Owners with hundreds of members around Australia.
A couple of our members based in Horsham arranged a weekend event to take place in the Grampians, a mountainous and spectacular part of Victoria located some 250 km West of Melbourne.
I joined up with a couple of Melbourne members early on Saturday afternoon and we then assembled with a larger group on the Western Highway and after a brief catchup and chat the group roared down the freeway headed for Halls Gap in the Grampians. Took a coffee stop in Beaufort and a necessary fuel stop in Ararat where we left the highway and headed for the hills. When we reached the Grampians Motel (picture above was the view from my room) we were joined by other members from as far afield as Albury - a six hour ride away. The afternoon was spent putting a serious dent into a cooler full of ice-cold drinks and this was followed by a really good dinner at the motel restaurant. The menu, service and the food was excellent and if the volume of the conversation was anything to go by a good time was had by all. As the end of dinner approached the motel proprietor lit a huge bonfire on the front lawn and the festivities continued around this huge fire.

At 9:30 the next morning, after a great breakfast it was time to head off on a scenic ride of the Grampians, led by our local members Mutley and Corky. What a ride it was - the Grampians feature a number of spectacular lookouts which provide fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.

Despite ample evidence of destruction caused by fairly recent bushfires our ride was spectacular and over all too soon as we rolled into a local hotel for lunch. After lunch our hosts led us on another spectacular ride to Dunkeld a small town south of Halls Gap. Here we enjoyed afternoon tea/coffee in an outstanding bakery/cafe, for a bit of a top up before the long ride home.


Corky joined us on her recent acquisition - a bright red CanAm Spyder.

Then, it was time for goodbyes and soon a group consisting of those of us based in Melbourne and beyond commenced the long trek home. Luckily I had been invited to spend the night in Ringwood at the home of a fellow rider and when we pulled into his garage at 7 pm it was nice to get off the bike and enjoy a few beers and a BBQ'd T bone steak. No trouble getting to sleep last night but this morning I was woken by a loud thunder clap. Looked at the weather radar and the whole world seemed to be about to be over run by patches of dark blue. Forecast said rain and storms so after a hasty coffee it was back on the bike to see if I could outrun the approaching storm. I think I managed to just stay ahead of the worst of it and only experienced a few drops here and there.
A great weekend and home just in time.

Total distance 1080 km.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

12 November - Foster, South Gippsland

Today was another one of those days when the road beckons. It was sunny, warm and almost no wind so I took the Shadow for a ride with the original intention of going to Tidal River on Wilsons Prom. However by the time I reached Meeniyan I changed my mind and decided to have lunch at Bromleys in Foster instead. As I left fairly late, the return trip form Tidal River would have been a bit late. I never tire of this particular trip, over the Strzelecki's and then a lazy cruise along the South Gippsland Highway with hardly any traffic - an advantage of riding during the week. With a bit of time up my sleeve I decided to make the return trip via the Tara Valley/Bulga Park road and with the good weather linger this was a really enjoyable ride until I got to the Grand Ridge Road. That's when I hit long patches of recently repaired and unsealed road with quite a soft surface. OK, no real problem even on the cruiser, just maintain a steady (and slow) speed and watch out for the soft bits. All was going well until I came around a corner and was faced with this.

Yep, a road crew had just dumped tons of dirt and were in the process of grading and compacting it. The guy with the Stop sign thought it might be 10 to 15 minutes, so I parked the bike, switched off and got comfortable. Soon I was joined by other traffic including a huge timber jinker.
Just as well I was not in a great hurry because for the next 40 minutes or so a collection of rollers, graders and watering truck proceed to turn the piles of dirt into a road - well sort of.
Eventually we were able to continue on our way on the wrong side of the road with the assurance that nothing would be coming the other way. The rest of the ride was uneventful and enjoyable.

Total Distance 230 km.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

8 November - Olinda, Dandenong Ranges.

The last few weeks here in Gippsland have featured some unseasonably warm and even hot days.
This has provided lots of opportunities for quick rides. Nothing to blog about particularly but very enjoyable just the same. A few days ago after initially deciding not to ride the weather just steadily got better to the point where, at about 3 pm the urge became irresistible and I took the BMW up to Licola. This is one of those typical mountain villages which were once thriving due to gold mining of timber industries, but these days are just sleepy reminders of those times. The ride to Licola is through spectacular mountain country overlooking the Macalister River. Really enjoying the BMW (as well as the Shadow) at the moment and have, at this stage changed my mind about selling it.

Today the forecast was for 35ºC and so I decided to wear my mesh jacket to try and keep cool. Not sure how effective mesh jackets are. Below a certain temperature I think they help keep you cool but at some point the hot air reaching your skin actually heats the body. When you think about it, dessert dwellers go to great lengths to keep fully covered. In any case the jacket did enough most of the time to provide a really pleasant ride through the forests around Noojee and Powelltown and then through the Dandenong ranges too Olinda. Lunch and coffee at Pie in the Sky was sensational, and by this stage the weather was so pleasant I decided to ride back through the hills and the forests again. Very enjoyable and very memorable.

Interestingly between Noojee and Powelltown I was stopped for a breath test and a chat with the friendly policeman administering it. My zero blood alcohol reading ensured he stayed friendly.

There were also a lot of other bikes on the road, singles and groups. Quite a few acknowledgments from other riders - nothing showy, just a nod of the head or a lifted finger - just a recognition that those of us who ride know something non riders don't. I like it.

Couple of longer rides coming up, one is a weekend trip to Halls Gap in the Grampians with a group of Shadow Riders, and I'm also in the planning stages for a ride to Maroochydore Qld in March for the national AGM of the Shadow Riders. Looking forward to that.

Monday, October 27, 2014

27 October - Ulysses Club Ride & RIP to a fellow blogger

It was that time of the month again - the monthly ride of the Central Gippsland branch of the Ulysses Club. The weather looked a bit iffy but that's no real deterrent so by 9:45 I pulled up on the Honda at the Green Olive, our regular rendez-vous for Ulysses rides. We had a large turn out today - a dozen or so bikes in some cases with pillions. Our destination today was the Red Parrot Cafe in Noojee but first we stopped for a coffee in Willow Grove.

I've been visiting the Red Parrot at various times and have always enjoyed the coffee and the food. Over the past few years it seems to have become very popular with motorcycle clubs, and gets great reviews from the MC community. Well deserved too - everyone enjoyed today's meals. By noon the weather had warmed appreciably to make for a very pleasant ride home via Neerim South.

Total Distance 190 km

Read some very sad news today. Many of us who chronicle their motorcycle adventures on blogs have formed an informal network of like minded individuals who, while coming from different parts of the world and with different backgrounds, shared one common interest in motorcycles and motorcycling. We often comment on each other's blogs and while we will probably never meet in person, it feels like a circle of friends. One of those bloggers I enjoyed following and whose occasional comments I always enjoyed was Bob Leong using the blogger ID BobSkoot. Bob was based in Vancouver, Canada and he was a prolific blogger not only about motorcycling but about his enjoyment of life in general. He was particularly famous for his footwear - pink Crocs!

I learned today that in the past few months, Bob passed away suddenly and while I have never met Bob, I was saddened to read the news and I will miss the long distance friendship. My blog is featured on Bob's and similarly I provided a link to his on mine. It seems that a number of guest bloggers are contributing to keeping the blog going and so I'll leave the link in place.

Bob's blog is called Riding the Wet Coast and the link is here.

RIP BobSkoot

Sunday, October 19, 2014

18 - 19 October - Anglers Rest - Overnight Camping

Received a call Friday afternoon from my friend Marcus, inviting me to a ride and overnight camp at Anglers Rest, about 30 km past Omeo. Marcus' friend Greg was making up a three man team.
Spent the rest of Friday checking all my camping gear and working out how to fit it on the bike. It turns out that everything - tent, downmat, sleeping bag and Helinox camping chair all fitted exactly in my Viking Bag which I reviewed some time ago here (click here) . Of course there was lots of room left for other bits and pieces as well.

On Saturday Greg and Marcus arrived at 12:15 and without much further ado we were heading east on the Princes Highway on a beautiful warm afternoon. First stop was Bruthen for fuel before swinging on to the Great Alpine Road for the 100km hop to Omeo. Anglers Rest is located a further 30km on the road between Omeo and Falls Creek and this final stretch is spectacular and the road is very winding. Our destination was a camping ground on the banks of the Cobungra River just across the road from the Blue Duck Inn (http://www.blueduckinn.com.au). We arrived about 4:30 to join a number of other groups already set up and enjoying this wonderful spot. The first priority was to set up camp followed shortly by a short walk to the pub for a few drinks and cigars while lounging on the banks of the crystal clear stream - a perfect finish to a great afternoon. At 6:30 we had dinner at the Blue Duck which surprisingly was quite crowded, in a dining room featuring two open fires. Then it was time to get back to our little camp site and light a fire before finally turning in at around 10pm.
A clear sky bursting with stars promised a chilly evening and it was nice to snuggle into the sleeping bag. Woke this morning at about 7:30 to a very quiet campsite.
By 8:30 we had packed up all the gear and were on our way to Omeo for breakfast and fuel. After one more stop in Bruthen it was time for everyone to head home after a short but magnificent motorcycle excursion.

While on the subject of motorcycle luggage, Viking Bags have recently released information to assist with the selection of the correct bag for a range of motorcycles. Check it out here.


Total Distance 660 km

Sunday, October 12, 2014

12 October - Mt Donna Buang, Yarra Ranges

The weather bureau promised 28ºC today and it had been some time since the Beemer had a good run. The day started off cool but it was very pleasant riding through Shady Creek, Neerim Junction, Powelltown and Yarra Junction. The Warburton Bakery beckoned for an early lunch and then it was up Mt Donna Buang. The road to the summit (1250m above sea level) is sealed but quite winding.
The summit is covered in trees which restricts the views completely which means you have to climb the lookout tower to get a panoramic perspective. Unfortunately it was quite hazy and not really worthwhile taking a photo of the scenery.
The return trip was via Warburton once more and then home via Powelltown, Noojee, Willow Grove etc. By the afternoon it had become quite warm. The Beemer performed flawlessly.

Total Distance 350km

Friday, October 10, 2014

10 October - Good to be back home!

We arrived home yesterday on a flight from Rome via Dubai and Sydney. Tried starting both bikes as soon as I got home. The BMW was raring to go, but the VT750 needed to spend the evening with the battery charger before it too roared into life. Got 12 hours straight sleep and this morning after taking care of the absolute necessities took the Honda out for a little ride and learned a couple of facts about the bike I didn't know. The first thing I learned is that a partly depleted battery (it wasn't totally flat) resets both Trip meters. I use Trip Meter 2 to monitor refuelling (the Honda doesn't have a gauge). After I took off, I checked it and as it was reading very low km's I assumed that I must have refuelled the bike after I used it last time. After riding for about 45 minutes, and some 40km from home, I learned that the low Trip reading was due to low battery voltage and not full fuel tank - the bike unceremoniously stopped, no splutter, no time to think about the problem and no time to change to 'reserve'. Eventually, sitting at the side of the road my jet lagged brain finally worked out the problem and the engine roared back into life on 'reserve'. Never having been in this situation I had little idea what range I should expect from 'reserve'. The second thing I learned today was that it is at least 40km because I reached the BP service station in Traralgon.
Only a short ride today, but it was very satisfying to be back on a bike after an eight week absence.