Annual ‘Boy’s Ride’ 2019

Once again I was lucky enough to be invited along on an annual run that “Gentle” organises for some of his mates. Instead of the Snowy Mountains, this year’s run saw us taking in SE South Australia and some of country Victoria.

DAY ONE:  Fri Feb 1st  2019 – Geelong to Nelson via Hamilton (Wannon)

We met at Waurn Ponds, the Melbourne contingent having spent the night at Gentle’s. Quite an assortment of bikes present and one Spyder.

We headed via various backroads on a scenic route to Terang for morning tea and then on to Hamilton and Wannon to meet up with Gary (AKA Foles). Foles was riding his BMW 800, however, he has a couple of other bikes that I wanted to see.

C’mon Foles, put this bloody TZ250 back together will you – they are worth quite a few shekels currently! Anyway, people wanted to ride so the nostalgia trip was cut short and Foles led us on a scenic run to the Nelson Hotel. Unfortunately, the wind was howling when we got there and the accomodation was not as advertised – very shabby and filthy! For the toilets, just think ‘Train Spotting’ and you will have a reasonably accurate image. Anyway, we made the most of it and the mealss and beers were good, but I can see why all the folks in Nelson for the big fishing competition were staying at the caravan park!

DAY TWO 2nd Feb 2019 – Nelson to Milang, SA

The next morning we were all up bright and early, saddled up and took a short, scenic run into Mt Gambier for brekky. In contrast to the evening before, there wasn’t a puff of wind no a cloud in the sky – though a tad chilly initially. I certainly had the heated gips on and Max sheepishly confessed to running his heated under jacket!

Get off that bloody ‘phone Ron – oh wait – it’s the wrong Ron! Let me explain – we have two Ron H’s in this group and one of them has his phone permanently connected to his body!

Near Beachport we stopped off to inspect Murray McCourt’s Winewoak Cutting, you can read about it HERE

That’s one way to drain a swamp!

After Beachport we made our way up to Meninge, via the Coorong. We had pulled in to Salt Creek along the way, only to find the store there had closed down.

Meninge is a pretty little oasis of greenery, and was a great spot to stop for lunch and a breather.

In no time at all we arrived at the ferry crossing over the Murray at Wellington

We had a slow fuel stop here, (only two pumps) and the temperature had really climbed. I was in the stopped in the sun in full riding gear for approx 10 minutes and I was beginning to overheat.  We got rolling and a few kilometers later we could see Lake Alexandrina and our motel for the night at Milang. 

Everyone was as dry as chips and ready for a beer at the local pub – with its magnificent outlook over the lake. It started off pretty quietly, however, some hours later things developed with little Ron pulling off a terrific stunt – getting the staff to help us celebrate a wedding!

What happens on the roadtrip stays on the roadtrip – so no pics of the happy couple will be shared! Our waitress was a great sport and even went down to the local shop to buy cake and sparklers for the occasion.

The perpetrator of the stunt having a great laugh – but remember the old proverb – vengeance is often more satisfying if it is not extracted immediately!

DAY THREE 3rd Feb 2019

Remarkably, everyone was up bright and early and ready for more riding on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Sadly, we rode right past some excellent vineyards around Langhorne Creek. We had a nice early morning run to the picturescue town of Victor Harbour for brekky on the waterfront.

More to follow when I get some time!



Stormy weather

You may have seen news reports about the ‘extreme’ weather event that hit Victoria last week causing storms and flooding. In the interests of product testing (Michelin Road 5 tyres and Aldi waterfproof jacket & pants) and because of a pre-booked getaway at Bright (the real reason!) we were out in it – and in the Vic High Country when the extreme weather hit. Here are some pics:

From this …. sunny and approx 32C on Wednesday

To this…. at the top of Mt Hotham the next day when the torrential rain hit

Our route Days 2 & 3 Mirboo North to Bright the day 3 Bright to Geelong

Mark led us from Mirboo North to Bairnsdale via Heyfield and then I led the three of us on motorcycles from Bruthen, to Omeo and then up to the sumit of Mount Hotham. (Billy was in his tricked up turbo MX5 Mazda & gradually pulled away from us). The road from Bruthen to Dinner Plain was quite wet but the rain had stopped and I marvelled at the grip available with a new set of Michelin Road 5’s fitted. We set off with some trepidation but before many kilometers had passed I was really enjoying the ride and marvelling at the pace and lean angles Marty and I were achieving, perfectly safely, on such a soaked pavement. Mark, on dual sport tyres on the Super Tenere, was not enjoying the sure footed ride that we were. As we passed Dinner Plain the bad weather rolled in. When we stopped at Mount Hotham for some pics the fog rolled in and the visability rapidly diminished to just a couple of metres. After a couple of hasty photos, we headed off just ask the skies opened and torrential rain fell. The descent from Hotham, a series of tight hairpin bends, was taken quite slowly as there were literally 2 cm deep rivers of water running down the road – thankfully the fog disappeared the more we descended. Now these really were EXTREME conditions. However, I actually began to enjoy the challenge and the ride to some extent. At no time did I feel the ZX14R step out of line, nor did I feel unsafe at any stage. Other than good tyres and a pinlok visor insert that prevented visor fogging – I believe that a catalogue of years of riding experience to draw upon really helps build confidence riding in these sort of scenarios. Nevertheless, we were all pretty pleased to arrive at Harrietville and then make our way to Bright. After we checked into our digs I peeled off my el cheapo Aldi plastic jacket and pants that I was wearing over leathers and not a drop of water had seeped through – I was completely dry. The only downside is that the plastics are not breathable and I was pretty hot as the temperature rose to mid 20C’s  as we arrived in Bright. My gortex lined Alpinestars boots kept my feet 100% dry. Heavy rain continued all evenening and overnight. Bright received 150mm of rain in less than 24 hrs and the nearby Hume Hwy was closed, with plenty of stranded cars and even some helicopter rescues of occupants required. Marty and I opted not to ride home via the Whitfield to Mansfield High Country route and had an event free ride home via the Hume. Unfortunately for Mark he acted upon incorrect info on the Vic Roads website that said the Hume was still closed and he encountered more tough conditions on the Whitfield – Mansfield run. He’d left 2 hours earlier than us, but arrived in Geelong at roughly the same time.

Day two of our ride was amongst the most challenging I’ve ever done. However crazy it sounds, I really quite enjoyed it. For a full report on day one of the group ride authored by Stan K and some great pics CLICK HERE

Mount Macedon Memorial Service

Each year around 11th November Victorian Ulysses Branches converge on the Mount Macedon memorial cross to remember not only those who died in military service, but also to commemorate Ulysses members who have died in the past year. Each of the deceased member’s name and branch is read out. The service is run by the Macedon Ranges Branch with the Geelong Branch providing the catering. It is officiated by a sprightly octagenarian  motorcycling minister of religion with many hundreds of thousands of kilometers under the wheels of his ageing BMW – many with his wife pillion.

I led the riding group left from the Corio Roadhouse (Geelong) straight to Bacchus Marsh where we met the Westgate Wanderers and a few fellas from the Grampians Branch.  Once we negotiated the road closures in Bacchus Marsh we headed along the Avenue of Honour and then out the back way to Toolern Vale and on to Gisborne. We stopped for a minute’s silence at 11.00am on the roadside a few kms out of Gisborne. From there it was a good run through to Centennial Park at Mount Macedon.

Gentle & Coll, Willie and Lindsay travelled by car towing the chuck wagon and a trailer with tables and chairs etc. Gentle did an amazing job of organising the catering supplies and logistics. I’d also like to acknowledge all those who contributed by way of cooking (Willie, Lindsay & Steve) and all who set up the tables and shelters, served the food and helped with the pack up at the end. Great teamwork!

Once we were at Centennial Park, the ride up to the cross and service was run by the Macedon Ranges Branch. There was an excellent turn out of motorcycles, trikes and Spyders. Our crew cooked whilst the service was held a few kilometers away.

Lindsay on the snags

(Photo credit Peter Barclay)

(Photo credit Peter Barclay)

(Photo credit Peter Barclay)

After the service the hungry hoards returned to Centennial Park where we served a BBQ lunch. There was a very friendly ‘vibe’ as people from all over the place mingled and talked all things motorcycling.

Our members serving the food(Photo credit Peter Barclay)

The riding group travelled home in beautiful sunny conditions via Woodend, Trentham, Greendale, Ballan and wound up at Anakie.

Many thanks to Mark Nicoll for amazing TEC work, especially when we diverted around a road closure in Bacchus Marsh after I led the combined branches to a road block!  Thanks also to Peter Barclay for his amazing photos of the event, of which you can see more of on our Bulletin Board, just CLICK HERE


Phillip Island MotoGP 2018

Mrs T and I camped in a caravan park in Phillip Island for four nights for the MotoGP weekend, rather than our usual day visit. We arrived by car with our camper trailer in tow on pre-race Thursday afternoon, set up and then wandered into Cowes for a look about. Our camper trailer is fairly basic, however, with its battery, solar panels, ‘fridge  and stove we are quite self sufficient. However, a powered site was the only option so we had the added luxury of running a heater – which was very welcome in the evening and the chilly PI spring mornings. The caravan park and its rental cabins were completely occupied by motorcycle enthusiasts by the end of the day.

Thursday evening in Cowes was pretty quiet, although we did come across the legendry duo of Tex and Bundy. The pop up merch shops were doing a brisk trade as their goods are less expensive than the vendors at the circuit.

Everyone loves Valentino it seems!

We drove to the track on Friday morning, fully prepared for all weather conditions! The place was a hive of activity with all the teams getting their practice sessions underway and spectators sorting the best viewing positions and visiting the trackside Expo.

It was sunny but only around 13C with a very cool breeze, so the shelter and free coffee offered at the Spokes tent (yes that “brick wall” is fake) was too appealing to Dorothy and she settled in for the morning whilst I eventually wandered off to turn one to watch the action.

Moto 2 rider Marcel Schrotter getting up to speed.

Rookie rider Franco Morbidelli in front of one of the big TV screens

All the big names were out, and based on prior form, Dovizioso and Marquez (above) had to be the favourites. However, after the end of free practice, Dorothy declared the her personal favourite, Maverick Vinales, was going to win on Sunday. She even went on a quest to purchase a Vinales cap, but baulked at the $55 price at the track, but found exactly the same item in Cowes a couple of hours later for $35. Interestingly, the Vinales merch was a licensed product of VR46 promotions. Yep Rossi holds the rights to even his team-mate’s merch!

Who am I to argue, this girl knows her racing, and has been following MotoGP since the early days when it was the 500cc World championship on SBS TV . We both attended the first Aust race in 1989 and many more after that.

We caught the bus to the track on Saturday to avoid the parking hassles at the track and had a great day after some early morning showers. Chillertek had rung early and suggested bringing an umbrella, which were glad we did. Saturday’s qualifying sessions are actually my favourite part of the whole weekend and all of the afternoon sessions were really entertaining. And to top it off,  Maverick Vinales qualified on pole.

Vinales exiting pit lane.

After a few missed communications, we managed to catch up with fellow blogger Chillerteck of the famous “Road to Nowhere‘ blog. You really should check out some of Steve’s trackside photography – it is excellent. It was great to catch up with Steve, and to meet his brother Dave for the first time – see his View from Above blog for some excellent cycling info, as well as motorcycling. As always, the time absolutely flew talking to these guys, and it was great to catch up again Steve.

Saturday night in Cowes was vibrant with lots of people out and about, however, the police and security staff nearly outnumbered the race enthusiasts.

Sunday dawned dry, sunny and still a little chilly and we again caught the bus to the track. Each stop had stacks of racegoers waiting and there was a great ‘vibe’ and plenty of banter.

We spent raceday in an elevated position at the start of the main straight, which affords a view of Lukey Hieghts,and turns 10, 11 & 12. It also has a big screen to see the rest of the circuit. This was the first time we’ve watched from here. It was packed due to the the shelter it offers compared to more favoured sopts such as Siberia and MG corner. I’m glad we were there early and secured a good spot! The racing conditions were perfect, the morning ‘Waurm Ups’ were entertaining and in no time the races had begun. Arguably, the Moto 3 race was the race of the day in terms of hard elbow to elbow racing and excitement. Unfortunately, I was just a little too far from Turn 12 for any good pics from my camera.

All of the races were excellent and the MotoGP races was altered dramatically when Zarco ran into the back of Marquez at the end of the main straight and ended both of their races for the day. Even so, Vinales had started poorly and spent the first few laps in 10th place. However, he quickly picked his way through the field, and went on to lead by 4 seconds – pretty rare at PI. And so, Dorothy’s race form analysis was vindicated. She was pretty chuffed to have the only ‘Vinales 25’ cap on as we travelled back to Cowes in the bus! It had been an excellent day that had flown past in the blink of an eye. We had a great evening chatting to other race fans over drinks at the caravan park, including our camp ‘neighbours’ – one who’d flown in from Auckland and met his mate who’d flown from West Aust and then they’d hired a van at the airport.

We departed on Monday morning having had a really enjoyable (and comfortable)  5 days at PI. We plan to do it all again next year.

The sun sets in Cowes on Sunday evening.

Post script: Seeing interesting motorcycles is also a great aspect of the GP weekend. here are some that caught my eye.

Kawasaki Z1R – the same as the one we owned in 1980

Had two of these over the years, both in the candy apple red colour

A retro Suzuki Katana

I’ve never seen an elephant in the wild before!



Mac Park racetrack camping – Mt Gambier South Australia

Seven riders set off from Waurn Ponds under cloudy, threatening skies on Friday 28 Sept. Ron H (Gentle), Mac, Nigel and I had our bikes loaded with camping gear and Richard S, Mal S and Phil R had their bike trailers – that were soon nicknamed the ‘B Doubles’ by Nigel.
Mind you, before the weekend was out we were all very thankful for the catering gear and esky’s that those trailers contained. This was my first moto camping trip since my late teens, and this was very much a ‘make or break’ trip in terms of future motorcycle camping for me!
Our ultimate destination was Mc Namara Park race circuit at Mount Gambier, but with the first night at Gary & Paula Foley’s camp at Wannon, just outside of Hamilton.
We decided to take a more northern route to try to dodge the cold front that was moving across the state. Gentle led and we headed up to Skipton and then along the Glenelg Hwy to Lake Bolac for lunch. It was pretty cold with the temp hovering around 11C, but then dropping down to 6C as a brief hail storm blew through.
From Lake Bolac we had a pretty good run along the Glenelg Hwy to to Dunkeld and then on to the supermarket in Hamilton for fuel, drinks and food to BBQ at Wannon. Rob had travelled independently of the ride group and arrived at about the same time as us. We actually arrived at Wannon in bright sunshine. We allocated ourselves rooms, unloaded our gear, broke open some refreshments and the fun began!
The fully enclosed recreation room at Fole’s place is a fabulous facility with a kitchen, lots of lounge chairs and tables, three fridges, a great sound system, an open fire and an indoor BBQ. As it cooled of we lit the fire and cooked a meal on the indoor BBQ.
The evening flew by to the soundtrack of lots of banter, reminiscences and Joe Bonamassa music pumping.
I checked the temperature as I was going to bed. It was 4C in Hamilton at 9.50pm – it was going to be a cold night! Glad that we weren’t in the tents.  We awoke to a clear, frosty morning. It was going to be a great day for our run over to Mt Gambier and Mac Park.
The bikes were coated in frost and Nigel’s Suzuki wouldn’t start. …. but, we were treated to the sight of Gentle actually running as he pushed Nigel’s machine (which started). I think seeing Gentle running was a first in the time I’ve known him. Mal S couldn’t believe his eyes and just shook his head – or was that at my rookie error of another initially non starting bike – due to being in gear with the side stand down! I told Mal quietly that we will never speak of that again.
Foles was packed up and ready to lead us off to Casterton for brekky. Casterton is said to be the birthpalace of the Kelpie and the annual dog trials is a big event here. Then on  to SA and the supermarket and Dan Murphys in Mt Gambier for more supplies. The mighty ZX14R clocked over 89,000kms just as I crossed the border into South Australia.
The Mac Park track proved to be a really nice spot to camp. And cheap, $10 for entry to the track and another $10 camping fee – with free firewood delivered to our site.
Perfect really – except for those bloody noisy motorbikes! Arthur Sissus dominated the superbikes and set a new lap record.

Then sun got low and the breeze became cool and we all reached for extra layers and lit the campfire.

Phil and Mal did a terrific job cooking the evening meal for all of us and then repeating it for a bacon & egg brekky for everyone. Thanks fellas! You two made the catering look easy.


Here’s Nigel Sunday morning … when he’s not downing fine tawny port he’s guzzling Sunkist!  (You may have seen a video doing the rounds on the internet re a fella and Sunkist)
Breakfast time also saw Gentle in strife for not wearing a helmet while moving his bike!
We packed up first thing Sunday morning with dew on the tents and then went for more coffees and to check out the first few races. Gentle and Foles stayed on as Ron was staying in Wannon again Sunday night. The rest of us decided to hit the road around 10.00am ish as it was roughly a five hour ride home.
We topped up our fuel tanks in Mt Gambier and I led off along the Jubilee Hwy which became the Prince’s Hwy goatrack in Victoria with a ridiculous number of lengthy stretches of 60kph and 80 kph speed restrictions due to the crappy condition of the road surface. We didn’t see any highway patrol cars on the run home which was a surprise as it was the AFL long weekend blitz was on. Then I was breath tested at a booze bus on the Anglesea  Rd about 10 kms from home.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to a great weekend. I’m certainly up for more moto caming in the future!  Many thanks to Gentle for organising the ride and huge thanks to Phil and Mal who went out of their way to purchase lots of food, carry it in their esky’s and, seemingly effortlessly, cook for us all to make sure that we were all fed properly and not buying trackside garbage. This was all done with good cheer and a ‘no worries’ attitude. You fellas really were terrific … thanks again!
As I rolled in the driveway I’d clocked 777 kms for the weekend.

Magnetic Levitation

Check out the Magnetic Levitation train that I took a ride on last week in China. It travels from the outskirts of Shanghai (a city of 25 million) to the Pudong airport, covering 30kms in approx 7 minutes. Keep an eye on the speed readout- up to around 430 km/hr. The fastest train in the world & they claim it’s the only maglev currently operating. My hand held video is a little unstable though, as it was disconcerting not wearing a seatbelt at that speed. I did two 30 kms sections, ie. from the city to the airport & back.

For more info on the maglev, click HERE

The track is supported on towers every 25 metres.

Short winter ride

This post is actually a test of posting from my iPhone (although I finished it off on the laptop). After cold, wet & windy weather the riding itch really needed a scratch. However, neither Marty nor I had a full day available so we took a short 200km run to an extinct volcano called Red Rock near Colac, Vic. It was chilly, but sunny and calm. Our first stop was at the Inverleigh bakery for a warm drink and then we hit the deserted backroads to the lookouts at Red Rock, near Alvie.

It was a great day to visit and the countryside looked spectacular. From here we headed to Colac for a quick bite to eat and then we took the highway back to Geelong. All up, a short but enjoyable run. I’d recently serviced the ZX14R with fresh oil, an new oil filter and cleaned the air filter. This along with new chain and sprockets made for a really smooth ride on a super responsive motorcycle. The power and yet user friendly nature of this bike is never ceases to amaze me.

PS. Check out these pics of the rubbish in the air filter.

The filter slides into a slot in the beam frame of the bike, fed by two RAM air feeds

I chose OEM sprockets from Partzilla in the USA. Why purchased from the USA? Because Kawasaki Australia did not have an OEM rear sprocket in stock in Aust and the last aftermarket sprockets I used were garbage!

Beechworth four day couples ride

Day 1 : Friday 20 April

We were lucky enough to be invited on a long weekend of motorcycling, based for three nights at the Beechworth Holiday Park. Other than our foggy early morning start on Friday, the autumn weather was perfect for all four days.

Unfortunately Dorothy and I had to be up at 4.00am to get our son’s car back to him at Melbourne airport at 6.20am. She drove his car and I rode the ZX14R which was a little challenging at times in the dark and foggy conditions. With the car handed over and a brief chat we headed off to rendezvous with the others at Riddells Creek – except we were 2.5 hours too early. (It was a very chilly 4C riding through Sunbury). After a leisurely breakfast, Dorothy headed for a park bench and fell into a deep sleep. She really can sleep anywhere! (I promised not to post any pictures). By the time the rest of the crew arrived the sun was out and the sky was blue, just perfect for a day of motorcycling.

Gentle led us to Nagambie for lunch via some very scenic roads in the Heathcote area. After lunch it was time to apply sunscreen and hit the road towards Glenrowan, skirting around Shepparton and the now dry Lake Mokoan en route. At Glenrowan we crossed the Hume Hwy and arrived at our digs at the Beechworth Holiday Park in no time at all. Our cabins were clean and comfortable and Dorothy and I shared a ‘larger’ cabin with Astrid & Peter. After a long ride and an early start nobody seemed interested in cooking meals, so Ron, Don and Nigel went hunting for pizzas and beer – which filled the bill nicely. I couldn’t stay awake and was in bed by 9.30pm.

Day 2: Saturday 21 April

We awoke to a magnificent sunny, still autumn morning. Those who were doing the day ride gathered at 9.30am and we headed out on a really enjoyable back road circuit through the countryside for morning tea at Tallangatta and then a spirited (ahh! I noticed the speed camera car just as I ‘launched’ to overtake a slower car) run along the Omeo Hwy (where the cops and ambulance were attending a motorcycle accident) to Mitta Mitta for lunch.

We then backtracked along a section of the Omeo Hwy, over to Tangambalanga and then back to Beechworth via Yackandanda. It was a great day of riding on largely deserted backroads. Later that evening we all occupied the camp kitchen, with its open fire and BBQ’s and cooked our evening meals, had a few drinks and socialised. It got quite chilly away from the fire though!

Day 3: Sunday 22 April

We all headed off on Sunday morning in yet again perfect motorcycling conditions. This proved to be a day of picture postcard scenery. The ride out through Stanley was spectacular and then the bush gave way to the open farmland of the Happy Valley Road, then onwards to Mt Beauty for morning tea. (as an aside, read about the water mining case that the township of Stanley lost HERE). After some food and listening to some kids busking with their ukeles, we headed to Bright via the twisties of the Tawonga gap and then on to the highlight of the day, the ride to and from Mt Buffalo.

Someone is a little scared of heights and had to be coaxed out to the lookout for a pic!  Great shots by Tanya. See below!


After the spectacular views of Mt Buffalo we made our way down through the twisties and onwards for a very different dining experience at Cafe Fez in Myrtleford for a late lunch.Would you like olives with your hot olives in oil?

From Myrtelford we cruised back to Beechworth where Astrid & Peter, Dorothy & I took a stroll around the town, visited Beechworth Honey, Beechworth Bakery, the craft brewery and then bought some supplies before heading back to the cabin just on dusk. It had been yet another magnificient day’s riding through some of the most scenic countryside the Vic High Country has to offer. Six went to the pub for dinner, the rest of us cooked again in the camp kitchen and enjoyed the open fire.

Day 4: Monday 23 April

Riding along the Buckland valley on Sunday arvo I had felt sorry for all the people whose weekend was over and who formed a line of cars heading for the Hume Hwy. Alas, Monday morning arrived and it was time for us to pack up and hit the road as well. It had been a terrific long, long weekend with brilliant roads ridden and perfect weather. However, we still had a pretty interesting day of riding ahead of us. From Beechworth we headed over to Milawa and then down along the pretty King Valley for morning tea at the Whitty Cafe.

A relaxing morning tea at the Whitty Cafe, at the end of the King Valley.

After a half hour stop we hit the twisties over to Mansfield and encountered virtually no traffic. We continued on to Yea for lunch and then traveled down to Whittlesea, Wallan and across to Gisborne via some deserted back roads. We had a very brief pit stop in Gisborne and pushed on for the final stretch back to Geelong, arriving home around 5.00pm. All up, door to door from Torquay Dorothy and I had done 1426kms – mostly on some of the best motorcycling roas that Victoria has to offer. A huge thank you to Ron (Gentle) for all the logistical work, route planning and leadership that he provided. A great crew of people made for an excellent four days of socialising and motorcycling. Everyone rode to the road conditions and to their capabilities – making for a safe and incident free trip. It really was ‘golden’ Ron!