Monday, 25 April 2011

ANZAC Day ride & the best hamburger ever

Mrs Tarsnakes & I took off from sunny Geelong (80 km from Melbourne, Vic) around 10.00 am this morning, but before long we were riding in moderately thick fog, so I decided to stick to the Princes Hwy, rather than the back roads.

Here's our route
We called in at S & H's near Colac and spent some time there before 'heading for the hills', fortunately in sunshine. Our lunch destination was the tiny town of Beech Forest, (population 100) high in the Otway Ranges rainforest.

 During the 5 weeks we spent in the USA last year I had a secret mission (my mission was to keep it secret from Mrs Tarsnakes) to sample a significant number of American hamburgers, which are to the citizens of the US kinda like meat pies are to us here. The two equal finalists in the US could not have been further apart in style, one in an iconic greasy diner in New York (Big Nick's hamburger joint), the other a classy, expensive restaurant overlooking Lake Tahoe, in California.

But who would have thought that THE BEST HAMBURGER EVER, was right here in Oz - and at a tiny country cafe in the Otway Ranges! OK, just take a look at the pic below
Lean beef, stacks of tasty non-greasy bacon and all fresh, organic grown ingredients - a magnificent burger.
All this was enjoyed in the sunshine from the outdoor deck looking out over the Otways. The 22,000 plus people who've read this blog know how rare it is for me to endorse any business - but the Ridge Cafe at Beech Forest, just near the Otway Fly tourist attraction really deserves it.

Mrs Tarsnakes' vegie pie was sensational as well.

Out on the deck
A pensive Mrs Tarsnakes

The grim one with an uncharacteristic smile - it must be that new motorcycle!
The big Kawasaki performed beautifully two-up. A short 250 km run today and 1,500 kms on the clock when we got home.
Leaving 'The Ridge'.

We Aussies are free to enjoy a great country and lifestyle because of the sacrifices of others. Today is ANZAC Day, a day on which there are civic marches in the capital cities and little country towns. I guess it tells you something about Aussies that this day was originally established to commemorate a massive military defeat, despite immense bravery and loss of life on the beaches of Gallopili in Turkey.

My late father served in the Australian Infantry Force during WWII. As I sit here looking at his military documents I still cannot fathom the enormity of his deprivations as he spent a total of 1,558 days fighting on foreign soil in the Middle East (against the Germans) and New Guinea (against the Japanese with our US allies), of his total 1,937 days as a member of the 'Australian Imperial Force'. I'm amazed at what a gentle, wise and humble father he was given the horrors that he took part in. (And amazed he would ride pillion on my Vespa scooter sometimes when I was a boy!).

I've enjoyed this ANZAC day out riding and dining, however, I've tried not forget those whose suffering made this liberty and lifestyle possible; especially my own Dad who survived, and uncle Terry, who lost his life as a POW of the Japanese.

There are great men on all sides of conflict. I'm always greatly moved by the lack of rancor illustrated by the  words of  Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), who commanded the Turkish counter attack against the ANZACS at Gallopili, and then later as president of Turkey,  penned a tribute to the fallen ANZACS (Aussies and the New Zealanders) - his enemies.

It reads thus:

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours … You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.”

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Derek Trucks: one of the guitar greats

Although this is a motorcycle blog, I have to make an exception and mention the brilliant Tedeschi-Trucks Band gig at the Palace Theatre in Melbourne that we attended last night. I'm lost for superlatives to describe how good they were and the brilliance of Derek Trucks' guitar playing. We heard our favorites such as 'Midnight in Harlem', 'Any Day','Bound for Glory' and a heap of tracks from their forthcoming album 'Revelator'. (Our favorites were songs we'd seen them play on the various Eric Clapton "Crossroads" Festival DVD's). Their encore number was a superb version of 'Space Captain' (Original by Leon Russell & Joe Cocker). Susan T's soulful vocals were stunning and she's become an extremely skillful guitarist in her own right.
The support act was the 'Robert Randolf Family Band' a group well worth seeing in their own right!
More tour dates at the Tedeschi-Trucks website HERE.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

ZX14 is due for first service & another Ninja

First off, congratulations to my mate Peter on the purchase of his new ZX14 - in red. I'm looking forward to seeing it. Little did I know that this would be the result when Pete looked over my day old Ninja a fortnight ago!
Pete aboard his new ZX14
In the two weeks I've had the ZX14 I've managed to clock up 1,000 kms and so it's ready for its first service. I want to get it serviced this week so that we have the option of doing some rides over Easter if the weather's OK.

I rode solo through the Otways yesterday in fairly cool conditions. The roads were quite damp - wet in the shady spots, so I took it pretty easy. After around 250 kms through the Otway Ranges I wound up at Steve's and we had a very pleasant 'arvo sitting in his shed talking bikes, blues and more bikes! The sun came out for an uneventful run back home from Colac.

Marty joined me today, on what turned out to be a magnificent Autumn day. We left Geelong around 9.30am, it was 13C and cloudy. It actually got cooler in the foothills of the Otways as we approached our first stop at Gellibrand. We were there no time and the sun came out and pretty soon an hour had slipped by as we sat in the sun and chatted to the store's owner (and KTM rider) Paul. As you can see from the pic below there was not much doing in downtown Gellibrand on a Sunday morning!

We were more focussed on riding than stopping for pics, so here's two more of the motorcycles in 'Gelli'.

We had an excellent run along the GOR to Apollo Bay and likewise back inland via Forrest. I thoroughly enjoyed both rides and I'm very pleased with my choice of new motorcycle based on it's first 1000kms.

Did I mention that there is only one gas station in Apollo Bay? Consequently I paid $1.64 per litre (that's around $6.23 per US gallon) for premium unleaded, making it the most expensive petrol I've ever purchased, even though Apollo Bay is only 190 kms (approx 120 miles) from Melbourne!

This coming week we're attending two highly anticipated concerts on in Melbourne. Wednesday night we're seeing the Blind Boys of Alabama (with Aaron Neville) and Good Friday night it's the Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks Band. I can't wait!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

First run on the new Ninja ZX14

We've had a week of near perfect Autumn weather, but as fate would have it the forecast for today was 27C, strong winds and an early afternoon thunderstorm. I've been itching to get a feel for how this motorcycle performs in the twisty stuff.

Despite the forecast I took off around 9.00am and took the run we did with the girls on board a couple of weeks ago, only in reverse direction. My only stops were for photos at Otway Estate vineyard and Beech Forest and for a drink and a brief chat with Paul at the Gellibrand store. Although quite warm, the sky was looking very threatening by the time I hit the Otway Ranges. Wet, windy roads was not what I wanted with an unfamiliar bike and nearly 200hp on tap!

'User friendly' is an over used term, however, it genuinely sums up how I found the big Ninja ZX14 on its first run in the real world. It tracked beautifully through the corners and was never a handful even on the very slow speed corners along Turton's Track. I love the turbine smooth engine and I really felt that all the horsepower that's on tap is be delivered in a very controllable way.

All up this run was 250 kms of very satisfying riding, made all the better by getting home ahead of the rain!

Friday, 8 April 2011

National Heritage Listing of the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road (GOR) was yesterday given a National Heritage Listing. This incredible piece of road starts about 20 minute's ride form where I live.

READ THIS from the Geelong Advertiser

It has been a mecca for Aussie motorcyclists over the years, though with it's 80 kph (50mph) speed limit and heavy policing of motorcyclists (it's not stretching things to say that it borders upon harrassement) these days that there's not a whole lot of enjoyment to be had in riding the section between Torquay and Apollo Bay. For those in the USA, much of the GOR could be mistaken for The Big Sur in CA and Hwy 1 Shoreline Dve north of San Francisco.

It is well worth remembering that the Great Ocean Road is actually a war memorial.

I have many, many happy teenage memories that were set in the context of the GOR - many of them involve motorcycling. Some images only exist in my mind, but are triggered by words such as - Crawford's Pacific Hotel, New Year's Eve at Lorne, Suzuki 250 Hustler, CB750 Honda,  McRae's Z900, "a man's a fool", Suzuki 'Waterbottle', Z1R Kawasaki, cosmic blue EH Holden and of course being one sleeping bag short!

Here's my quick pictorial tribute to the GOR - including a couple of old shots scanned from prints.

That cosmic blue 1964 Holden & a bunch of 1970's guys!


 Some of the GOR runs inland and it's every bit as pretty as the shoreline section.

Pacific Hotel Lorne

Arab Cafe Lorne Vic