Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Party Time - 10,000 Visits

Back in 2011 when I started riding again after a 35 year break, I decided to create this blog as a personal diary of my adventures. When you start riding at the age of 65 it is important to enjoy and celebrate every single ride and I thought the blog would allow me to look back and enjoy the wonderful experiences of motorcycling, long after riding became impractical.

To my surprise though, right from the start, the hit counter started to record a steady stream of visitors and my inbox saw a gradual influx of riders from around the world showing an interest in my wanderings in this corner of Victoria, Australia.

At some point in the past 24 hours the 10,000th visitor dropped in. I must say this is an aspect of blogging that I never expected but certainly enjoy. Contact with riders from all over the world and just sharing the joy and experience of motorcycling adds an exciting aspect.

Having just completed my fourth year of riding (and some 75,000 km) I can look back on the experience with a great deal of satisfaction. Initially I found getting back on a motorbike a daunting experience and it took a good 3 months before I felt truly in control and confident enough to simply enjoy the experience. And enjoy it I have. Those of you who ride already know the incomparable experience of achieving the competence and confidence to ride a motorcycle through all conditions and over all terrains. I read a quote recently (don't know the author) which summed it up perfectly:

Four wheels move the body....
Two wheels move the soul!

I certainly hope to enjoy many more years and km's on my bikes and will continue to record my journeys here. In the meantime, my thanks to all the visitors to my site, known and unknown.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

13 - 17 March - Annual General Meeting of SRA in Bright

As the proud owner of a Honda Shadow I am a member of the Shadow Riders of Australia (SRA).
This is an Australia wide group of people who own and ride Honda Shadows. There is a link to the web site on this page and also here.

This year SRA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Bright, Victoria and around 40 or so Shadows and their riders and pillions all showed up for the weekend.

Had the bike all packed and ready to go early in the week and at 08:30 I was raring to go for the 350 km trip to Bright through Omeo, Mt Hotham and Harrietville. It was a perfect day for a ride and after a quick lunch break at the Bruthen Bakery, it was time to head into the Australian Alps. The ride up the Great Alpine Road was absolutely breathtaking and I was almost reluctant to start the descent into the Ovens Valley.
As most members were not meeting until Friday evening (BBQ) I took advantage of a beautiful Friday to ride to Wangaratta, Beechworth and had lunch in Yackandandah which must be one of the most beautiful little towns in Australia.

Friday night was time to meet and greet and to put faces to all the people we've got to know via the SRA Forum site.

Saturday morning the group met for breakfast (bacon and eggs) and assembled for a ride to nearby Harrietville where the AGM was being held in the Harrietville Hotel. Assembling all those bikes and people for an orderly group ride is quite a task and at one stage while resting on my bike I must have dozed off. One of my fellow riders captured the moment.

(Thanks Corky for the photo)

While parked at the Harrietville pub, my bike was parked next to it's twin. The other bike belongs to Brenda who rode down from Dubbo.

Brenda has made some nice mods to her bike, including a very comfortable looking seat, a headlight upgrade and driving lights. There is a link to her blog - The White Shadow Diary - on this blog or you can also click here.

At about 4 pm on Saturday during a conversation with a fellow rider Steve, I discovered he had not heard of or ever visited Mt Buffalo. In no time we were on our bikes heading up the mountain. Had a fantastic ride and back in time for dinner.
The festivities on Saturday ended with an evening meal at the Star Hotel in Bright.

On Sunday the plan was for a 200 km Poker Run, destinations unknown. During Saturday night I woke a couple of times to the sound of pouring rain - not good! By Sunday morning however the rain had disappeared but the sky was cloudy - glad I packed my wet weather gear.  With all the bikes lined up for a 10:00 o'clock photoshoot, and a drawing of the first poker card, we got underway around 10:30.

It was an incredible sight travelling in a convoy of 39 motorcycles (in stagger formation) all heading down the Great Alpine Road. The route took us up the Towonga Gap where the second card was drawn at a look-out over Mt Beauty. From there we travelled through Dedderang with our next card draw (and toilet stop) in Yackandandah. The fourth card draw was at lunchtime in Beechworth with the final draw back in Bright. My cards were absolutely rubbish but I really enjoyed the ride.
The weather held out with only minor spits along the way. Everyone returned safely and a good time was had by all.

(Thanks Casper for the photos)

As most people were heading home on Monday, Sunday night was a time for goodbyes. It is amazing to spend a weekend with fellow Shadow riders who came from all over to simply spend time together and to ride motorcycles together. Riders attended from as far away as Queensland, NSW and South Australia as well as us Victorians of course.Next year's AGM will be held in Queensland.

I started my return trip on Monday morning. A quick look at the mountains behind Bright showed that the cloud level was well below Mt Hotham and a return trip over the mountains while shorter (350km)  would be through fog and therefore cold and wet. Took the alternative route home via Whitfield, Mansfield, and Alexandra. After avoiding the fog over Mt Hotham I encountered  quite a bit of it between Whitfield and Mansfield - down to 45 kph in a lot of places. After a welcome lunch break in Alexandra the rest of the trip was through Marysville and Warburton. Once again the winding road down the Reefton Spur was covered in fog and the roads were wet. Quite a surreal feeling riding through these massive forests covered in fog. One bonus on this stretch was that I saw seven lyrebirds - a rare sight - at one time in a group of three.

Reached home at 5:45 after a tiring 470km.

It was certainly a wonderful adventure - it's hard to imagine anything other than motorcycling to deliver such a sense of achievement and sheer joy.

Total Distance 1450 km.

Monday, March 10, 2014

9 March - The Dandenongs

For me, and I know for a number of my motorcycling friends, the logistics of a ride and the destination  are related directly to the choice of where to eat and drink coffee. Certainly I always decide the destination first and then work out the most interesting way to ride there.
Today the cafe of choice was the Cafe de Beaumarchais in Sassafras. This little bit of Paris in the Dandenongs sits unassumingly a few doors from the more ostentatious Miss Marples Tearooms and leaves its neighbouring competitor for dead in terms of quality, atmosphere and service.

I rode along the Princes Highway via Pakenham and Belgrave and found Sassafras booming with visitors, but you can alway sneak a motorcycle in somewhere and I found that as a solitary patron I was able to claim a little corner for myself and ordered the Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and a latè.

This mouthwatering delicacy was served with a small dish of double cream and of course the coffee was outstanding. For anyone visiting the Dandenongs I would recommend Cafe de Beaumarchais enthusiastically - if you can get in.

I resisted the temptation to try a second pastry and headed off for the return journey on the Beemer via Lilydale, Yarra Junction, Powelltown and Noojee. A beautiful ride through the mountains and the forests and altogether a great day.

Total Distance 325 km

Saturday, March 1, 2014

28 February - Port Albert and South Gippsland

First chance for a ride after a 3 week caravan trip to South Australia.
Rode the Beemer to Port Albert to check out the Port Albert Hotel. This historic hotel, built in 1841 was totally destroyed by fire while we were on holidays. For years this old pub has been the destination for fish and chip rides by our local Ulysses club and it was hard to believe it is gone.

On 18 February, the old girl caught fire and and was totally destroyed. One can only imagine how quickly and totally a pile of timber over 160 years old would burn and the news photos certainly show massive flames engulfing the hotel.

When I arrived it was only to view a pile of burnt rubble surrounded by temporary fencing. It's hard to believe it is gone. There were many other visitors in town checking to see that it was really true. Sadly, it is.

As a frequent visitor to Port Albert I have been amused for some time to see the following property for sale.

This old building, minus roof or any internal structure whatsoever has been for sale for some years. Can't imagine why it hasn't been snapped up!

From Port Albert the Beemer and I continued along the Sth Gippsland Highway to return home via Meenyian, Boolarra and Churchill.

Total Distance 225 km