Over the past few years, January has usually been the best time for a ride across the Australian Alps to Bright and Wandiligong to visit family there. On the right day, the usually forbidding (for motorcycles anyway) Mt Hotham becomes a spectacular motorcycle ride providing lots of winding road and spectacular views. Luke and I set off from Traralgon at 09:00 with our first stop for coffee and fuel in Bruthen. The little village of Burthen marks the beginning of the great Alpine Road through Omeo and 'over the top'. At this stage the weather was fine and crisp. By Omeo though, the temperature had started to drop and looking up the mountain it seemed likely that a lot of our trip would be in fog. Time to don another layer of clothing and then we headed up the mountain. Although it got quite chilly on the way up we were pleased the find that we were still well below the cloud layer and we wouldn't have to ride in fog, which is never fun on a winding mountain road. By the time we reached the Mt Hotham ski resort the clouds had completely cleared and as we descended into the Ovens Valley on the other side the weather turned decidedly warm. We reached Wandiligong just before 3 pm and ready for a beer or two. Altogether a wonderful ride and a new experience for Luke.
The plan for the next day was to undertake some little rides in the area around Bright, and after getting into all our motorcycle gear, I found I couldn't move my bike. Looked down to find a flat front tyre. So, I sent Luke on his way to explore the local area so that I could deal with the flat tyre. By now it was 11:30 am on a Saturday morning with most businesses closing at noon, which could have meant an extended stay in Wandi. Contacted a local tyre dealer (and biker) Adrian Smith who said he would stay back to fix the tyre and yes he had a new tube - things were looking up. The road side assist truck showed up and we loaded the Honda and soon Adrian had the front wheel off the bike.
Up to this point I had assumed the tyre and the tube had been punctured but what we found astounded me. The issue was that the tyre valve had vibrated loose and let the air out. Adrian explained that it's a common issue and usually occurs when you check the tyre pressure. The best way to protect against that is to use only metal valve caps. These will seal the tyre even if the valve is loosened whereas the plastic ones won't. Too make doubly sure we immersed the tube in a water bath and checked the tyre for nails etc. but found nothing.
So, an hour later everything was back to normal and I was on the road again. I decided to kick back and take a rest day after all that. I am very grateful to Adrian Smith of Smith Tyre Service, Bright for giving up part of his Saturday afternoon to look after me. Great to see there are still people happy to help out and provide a great service.
Yesterday, after another great evening sitting around a campfire and catching up with family, it was time to take the non mountainous route home. We were on the road by 08:00 and the first stop was breakfast at the Millawa Bakery Cafe right in the middle of some Australia's best wine and cheese country. Continued down through the King Valley winery region around Whitfield and then a fuel stop at Mansfield at the foot of Mt Buller. It was almost perfect riding weather and it was a pure joy to travel through this marvellous scenery and then down to the Black Spur for afternoon coffee in Healesville. The Beechworth bakery in Healesville has become a Mecca for weekend warriors - there must have been 50 bikes parked in the car park. After a relaxing iced coffee it was time for the final leg home via Yarra Junction, Powelltown and Neerim. Even with the flat tyre incident a magnificent motorcycle outing.
Total Distance 860km