Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Summer in the Otways

Another grand day of riding in the Otways, just 2 days after my last run. I'm enjoying these day trips even though the weather was pretty hot today (up to 36C).

This is Turton's Track. It connects the Forrest-Apollo Bay road through to Beech Forest. Need to be pretty cautious on this narrow road as it has log trucks, no centre line & traffic to & from the Otway Fly.

Something old (at Beech Forest Vic)

What a face - couldn't resist a pic of this 'fella!

Something new(er) at Martian's cafe Deans Marsh

View to the Great Ocean Road from Skene's Creek Vic.

More pics and text to follow.

Monday, 28 December 2009

A great day for holiday riding

The best day ever - not quite - but pretty good all the same!

I traveled from Geelong to Deans Marsh, Forrest, towards Apollo Bay then turned off along Turton's Track to Beech Forest, where I had lunch. From there I headed up to Laver's Hill and along the GOR to the 12 Apostles - one of my favorite stretches of road. From the Apostles I headed back the way I had come to Lavers Hill and then travelled to Colac via Gellibrand. My 'phone vibrated as I skirted around Colac. It was a message from my mate Steve who was in Lorne on his Norton Commando and heading along the Great Ocean Road to my place in Geelong - which was ironic as I was on my way to his place in Colac! No answer from Steve on his mobile, so I headed home and pulled into my drive way just as he was taking his helmet off having just arrived - good timing or what!

Approx route

View of the West Barwon dam in the distance.

I treated myself to a hearty lunch at the Ridge Cafe in Beech Forrest. All fresh local ingredients.
Looking north towards Colac from the deck of the Cafe

This used to be logging country - pic of an old pic at a historic display.

There is a pub and a cafe at Beech Forest, no other businesses. Once it was a thriving community - see the pic of the club below

Can you say Weeaproinah? A high rainfall place.

Very calm today at the blow hole

Helicopter flights were in full swing. I counted 6 of them running continuously and still people were queued up.
Fantastic riding conditions, however, being the Christmas holidays the traffic was heavy in places and required quite a bit of patience to ride safe. All up, 365 k's of some quite 'technical' roads in near perfect weather.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Seasons greetings friends -another year over and a new one about to begin.

Mrs Tarsnakes and I are probably off for a Boxing Day ride tomorrow as the forecast is for a mainly sunny 25C.

Almost forgot - Bah Humbug!!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Two up again x 2

Team Tarsnakes and M&P took a quick run from Geelong to Otway Estate for a birthday brunch. The weather was far from perfect - we had a couple of brief showers on the way down, however, nothing too intrusive.

Marty & Pauline aboard the ZX9R

The girls at Otway Estate.

Gearing up to leave. Threatening skies, but the rain held off.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Team Tarsnakes Sunday ride

Mrs Tarsnakes and I had a leisurely breakfast with friends at Barwon Edge restaurant, then headed of for a Sunday ride on the VFR. This is only Mrs Tarsnakes second pillion ride in the last 20 years, so a pretty cruisy day was planned.

We pulled into Martians at Deans Marsh, and enjoying a coffee and the morning sun was a work colleague & her husband and friends. They were also out cruising on their BMWs & Vardardo. We sat down and enjoyed some banter and laughs - it was great to meet you guys!

Here's Ms A on her GS.

Her husband Mr B with his 1150 GS.

We headed off to Gellibrand via Colac, had another pit stop at my favorite General Store, then headed home again.

Better have a shot of the Viffer.
Speaking of V4's, on the way home we saw a guy on a new Aprilia RSV4 - the first one I've seen in the wild.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Fear & Loathing on the Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road
Every motorcyclist in Victoria pays $60 extra on their motorcycle registration just to fund "nanny state" advertising like the sign below! This extra tax on motorcyclist started as a "trial" - but clearly has now become permanent.

As someone who has used the GOR safely for 35 years I resent starting my recreational ride by being subject to flawed advertising, which is funded from a tax that is fundamentally inequitable.

Guy Allen's interesting editorial on the Victorian "safety levy" here

I agree that wearing "all the gear all the time" (ATGATT) is a a pretty sensible approach for motorcyclists. However, one of the greatest threats for motorcyclists on the GOR is from tourists who are watching the scenery rather than the road, or who are not used to driving on the left side of the road. In both of these circumstances motorcyclists are put at risk as drivers cut corners and veer onto the wrong side of the road. The exuberance of youth and sheer stupidity of some motorcyclists themselves, have to be acknowledged as additional risk factors.

The sign below fails to address the root cause of problems on the GOR. I've seen no evidence at all that this sort of advertising has any affect on individual behavior. What I have seen in the past though is police use the safety theme as a justification for what boils down to virtually harassment of motorcyclists. I do not consider that singling out and pulling over motorcyclists only to do license checks repeatedly, sometimes within a few kilometers stretch of the GOR, a reasonable approach to road safety - though typically justified as a "safety blitz".

Another TAC shocking advertisement

This advertisement from SA seems closer to the target to me, but again, is there any evidence that it leads to behavior change?

Anyway, I managed to have a pretty enjoyable run early in the morning from Geelong to Skene's Creek before I traveled inland via the Otway Ranges.

Turned off to head inland here.

Near Tanybryn I saw two wedge tail eagles at close quarters which was quite spectacular - I've never seen them in the Otways before.

I got back home around lunch time, feeling invigorated from the run.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Spyder Experience

Back in May I booked a test ride on a Can Am Spyder. The Aussie importers are running an around Australia test ride promotion called the Spyder Experience.

Our ride was from the Melbourne city suburb of St Kilda. It was great fun. We had a safety briefing explaining the machine, some laps through the cones to show that we could handle the Spyder, then a 40 minute road test with a leader and a chase vehicle. The main thing that they stressed was not to lean or countersteer, turn the handlebars, stay relaxed and let the electronics package do its thing. I rode a manual with an aftermarket exhaust that enabled the 990 Rotax motor sound its best. Marty rode the semi-auto. There is no front brake lever on either model - front wheel braking is handled via the foot brake pedal.

Getting a feel for it. The ergos were great.

Ready to ride.

Here's Marty checking out the new full dress touring model. Just over $AUD40K

This was a great experience and very professionally run. There was no hard sell at all.

I guess what I took away from it was that this is a fun machine that has genuine touring ability. However, riding a Spyder is NOT like riding a motorcycle. If I were to own a Spyder, I would still need to have a normal motorcycle as well.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Southern Classic weekend

On Saturday four of us headed off in perfect riding conditions to take in the Annual Southern Classic historic motorcycle racing event at the state motorcycle complex in Broadford Vic. In fitting with the event two Steve and Andy were riding early 1970's Norton Commandos.

I can relate to and enjoy the post classic & forgotten era bikes best, rather than the genuine classics. As a former Kawasaki Z1R owner I was pleased to see this one mono-wheeling onto the main straight & then winning a close fought race.

The racing is the icing on the cake really, the aim of these weekend is to ride some unfamiliar roads, wine and dine and have a few laughs - the perfect antidote for our working lives.

Lancefield Guesthouse - we were made very welcome. We barely had the bikes parked on the back veranda and the owner handed each a cold Heineken!

You can probably pick that this was formerly a hospital.

We had an excellent meal & a couple of bottles of Heathcote region red wines at the Lancefield pub - all very reasonably priced. Guinness pie with salad was my choice - I highly recommend it.

Later that night there was much laughter and banter amongst the guys.

We had a really successful weekend that nicely combined great roads, an event to attend, good food and digs and great camaraderie. Good times - these are great guys and my very best mates.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Loch Ard Gorge Shipwreck Coast

In perfect Spring riding conditions I took a solo run through the Otway Ranges to the Loch Ard Gorge, named after a famous ship the Loch Ard that was wrecked here in 1878. Fifty -two drowned, with just two survivors who were washed up in the gorge. It is just a few kilometers past the 12 Apostles on what is known as the Shipwreck Coast.

The weather was magic, about 20C and not a puff of wind. I hope its as good as this for the Phillip Island MotoGP next weekend.

Unfortunately I had to buy fuel at the Laver's Hill store - I don't recommend it !

Friday, 9 October 2009

Honda VFR1200 V4

Honda's much anticipated new V4 touring motorcycle has finally been released.

Could this be my next motorcycle? Certainly not the first model - but after that I'd be very interested. Shaft drive, two up touring ability and optional hard luggage would certainly meet my needs.

Here are some publicity shots from Honda's European website at HONDA

Shaft drive

There is no official pricing available yet & can't wait to see one in the flesh.

Honda have a dual clutch option available to offer a full or semi-automatic option, though I believe that's not included on the base model. It has the ability to run on 2, 3 or 4 cylinders to save fuel, however, for a tourer the fuel tank is a bit small at 18.5 litres.

Going by the specs sheet it's a bit of a porker though at around 260kg - I guess it will depend on how low that weight is distributed.

Update 28/10/09 Motorcycle USA track test of VFR1200