Thursday, March 5, 2015

3 March - Night Photography Melbourne

Readers of this blog will know that I really enjoy photography and go to some trouble to get quality photos on my trips. I've spent the last couple of days in Melbourne, not on the bike unfortunately, and this evening realised I had an opportunity to capture some night shots of the Melbourne sky line.

Thought I'd post a few shots here even though they are not motorcycle related.
I arrived at Melbourne's Southbank precinct with plenty of sunlight left so while I was waiting for the city lights I took a few photos of people enjoying the afternoon sun. Click on the photos to view them full size and resolution.

Then, as the sun went down it was time to point the camera at the city across the river.

Then finally, on the way back I managed to get this shot of the spire on the Victorian Arts Centre.

A wonderful evening and very happy with the photo haul.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

21 February - South Gippsland

Finally a day with a reasonable weather forecast and an opportunity to try out a new motorcycle leather jacket the VikingCycle Bloodaxe Leather Jacket. Some weeks ago Motorcycle House sent me this very stylish jacket for evaluation and I've been dying to take if for a ride on a day with some variable weather. When I set out this morning it was overcast and cool and so I left the thermal lining in the jacket. The fit was perfect and as I rode off through the Strzelecki Hills I was grateful for the snug fit and the extra layer of comfort provided by the jacket. I rode to Port Albert and spotted a familiar motorcycle outside an attractive cafe there so I pulled in for an early lunch. The bike belonged to Russ Strobel who is the founder of Shadow Riders of Australia of which I am a member.
Russ was having lunch with his wife Lorraine and invited me to join them - a pleasant surprise and a great lunch.

After lunch it had warmed somewhat and I removed the inner liner of the jacket. After a very pleasant ride along the South Gippsland Highway I pulled over in a park to take some photos to show of the jacket.

By then it had really got warm so it was time to open the various vents to get some airflow through the jacket. The rest of the ride home was delightful with just enough air through the jacket to keep things cool despite an ambient temperature approaching 30ºC. 

So here is my assessment of the VikingCycle Jacket:

The jacket is made from a high grade, thick leather. As well as providing all the protection you expect from motorcycle apparel it also manages to look very stylish. The materials, the cut and the design all indicate great quality.

One thing I always check is the quality of the zippers. I've had to discard numerous garments over the years because they contained cheap plastic zippers which fail long before the garment is worn out. This jacket had very high quality metal zippers which will stand up to any treatment likely to be experienced on a motorcycle.

The removable liner (body and sleeves) provides that necessary additional layer for colder weather and I found the whole jacket to be very warm early in the day. In warmer weather, this liner can be removed which, together with the air vents built into the jacket ensures greater comfort at higher temperatures.

One feature I particularly like on this jacket are the stripes of reflective material on arms and on the back of the jacket. I think we need all the help we can get in terms of visibility and apart from the safety aspects I think the stripes give the jacket a distinctive look.

Like most motorcyclists I spend a bit of time looking at clothing in motorcycle shops and I'm always amazed how expensive good leather jackets usually are. If you check out the offering at Motorcycle House, you will be amazed, as I was at the value for money offered here.

Check out jackets here

Check out this jacket here

Total Distance 240 km.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

12 February - Walhalla

I hadn't planned to ride today, after a decent ride yesterday, but the Honda needed a run to charge the battery, and it was a mild, still day I decided to take a quick run into Walhalla, a little gold mining ghost town about 50km away. This is a short but very nice run along  mountain roads through state forests. I stopped for a couple of photos of one of the Walhalla Goldfields Railway's loco's sitting at the Walhalla station.

This railway which began construction in 1904 between Moe and Walhalla (via Erica) was built to support the mining operations in Walhalla, but unfortunately by the time construction was complete, mining had all but ceased and the Walhalla had started a steady decline in activity and population. The line fell into disuse and disrepair but in the early 90's a task force of volunteers managed to restore the bridges and line required to commence a regular tourist run between the Thomson River and Walhalla. This modern incarnation is incorporated as the Walhalla Goldfields Railway.

It is hoped that the funds can be raised to restore the line all the way back to Erica which would require a station and maintenance facilities to be established there.

Information about the railway and its history and current operation can found here.

A nice short ride of 110 km.

11 February - Lunch in Warburton

Sometimes (not often in my case) weeks go by without a ride. I've just spent a pleasant couple of weeks caravanning in Cowes, Phillip Island but this meant no rides for quite a while. Then when we got home there's chores and inclement weather so today, despite warnings of a 37ºC day and afternoon storms, I rode to Warburton through the mountain/forest route. As usual it was the Warburton Bakery for lunch and coffee, before the return trip through Powelltown and Noojee. The afternoon storms didn't eventuate and altogether it was a pleasant days riding on the Beemer.

Total Distance 260 km.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

20 January - Snowy Mountains Ride - Day 4 - Going Home

After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, it was time to mount up and start the trip, over the mountains, home. Fortunately, the run of great weather continued and it was a great feeling to hit the road and head straight towards the mountain range on the horizon. The Great Alpine Road starts to climb up towards Mt Hotham at Harrretville and very soon I was winding my way up in very light traffic except for a couple of heavy vehicles which are so slow they are relatively easy to pass. At the top as I passed through the Mount Hotham Alpine Resort the temperature had dropped a good 10ºC but the grip heaters soon took care of my slightly chilly fingers. Very soon the road starts to dip down the other side of the mountain as the road winds it's way down to Omeo. I had just enough fuel to avoid stopping in Omeo and instead refuelled and had lunch in Bruthen. From here it was less than two hours to home. My four day adventure was over - I had great weather, experienced an incredible ride, caught up with family and thoroughly enjoyed everything. I've edited my photos and GoPro videos into a short presentation which you can view below.

The soundtrack music was recorded and performed in my study using the Garageband music software.

Distance today - 350 km
Total Distance for trip - 1450 km

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

19 January - Snow Mountains Ride - Day 3, Yackandandah and Mount Beauty

A leisurely day today. Staying at my sister's place in Wandiligong and decided to ride to Yackandandah for lunch. Yackandandah is one of the most beautiful little country towns in Australia. Many of the old buildings are intact and the whole town has a 'cared for' appearance. Lunch at the bakery was great. Took a few photos around the town.

It was such a great day that I decided to return home via the 'long way' - a quick look at Mt Beauty and then over the mountains through the Tawonga Gap and back to Bright. This photo (not mine and happy to accredit it) shows the view of Mt Beauty from Sullivans Lookout on the Towonga Gap Road.

After refilling the Honda for tomorrow's trip home I shopped for evening refreshments and headed 'home'.

Total Distance 170 km.

Monday, January 19, 2015

18 January - Snowy Mountains Ride Day 2

The plan for today was to ride from Bombala to Corryong via the Mt Kozciusko National Park. For overseas readers it is worth noting that this area not only features fantastic snowfields and wilderness scenery, it is also the home of the Snowy Mountain Hydro-electricty scheme. This undertaking which began after WWII, attracted thousands of European migrants to Australia, most of whom then settled permanently.

Sleep at the Imperial Hotel in Bombala had proven to be somewhat patchy. On Friday nights most of the able-bodied population seems to gather here. Then, as the beer starts to flow, the music is turned up to the point where everyone has to shout at each other. If you ever needed proof that alcohol makes you neither more eloquent nor more rational, try sleeping in a room above the bar of a country pub.

So by 09:00 I had quietly rolled Honda down the road before I fired it up and started the short trip to Cooma. Stopped for breakfast at the bakery in Nimmitibel, and then for fuel in Cooma, before heading toward the National Park.

The ride thorough this rugged country, above the snow line, was incredible. Every corner provides a new vista and you are continually torn between watching the view, watching the road, and avoiding the occasional 4x4 many of which are not content with just using their half of the road. After following the high road to Cabramurra, the road then plunges into a few deep valley which contain the lakes and ponds which are part of the hydro schemes and the underground power stations. You always know you're near a power station when you see a set of high voltage transmission lines emerge from the side of a hill and up the mountain.
Eventually the road reached the point where I actually rode over the top of the Tumut Pond Dam.

After the dam, the road rises again to cross the next mountain ridge before finally descending into Khancoban, and warmer temperatures. From here it was just a short ride to Corryong and by then it was only 2:45pm.

As the plan was to stay in Corryong I looked around for somewhere to get some lunch and good coffee, but found out that the whole town seemed to have taken the afternoon off, so with plenty of daylight left I decided to ride on to my next destination, my sister's house in Wandiligong near Bright.
So, another 2 and a bit hours on the bike and I arrived in Wandi a day early. So now the plan is to have a rest day tomorrow with family and then to undertake some local rides in the Bright area on Monday before riding over Mt Hotham on Tuesday. Altogether a long but magical day on the bike.

Total Distance 540 km