It’s fascinating seeing my own riding ‘backyard’ through the eyes of visitors.
The December 13th run to Rawson is a Geelong Ulysses annual event. The first day of the 2017 ride had a weather forecast of 36C, after days of unusually cool summer weather. I’m not sure what it actually got up to, but it was damn hot for riding. Unfortunately we encountered a lot of roadworks that we had to stop at throughout the morning section of the ride which involved skirting around the north of Melbourne via backroads. The heat radiating off the engine / radiator was just about unbearable with the dual fans forcing a blast of heat straight up at me.
After lunch at the Healesville Bakery we headed off through the beautiful bush roads through Powelltown and Noojee and onwards to Moe to stock up on food and drinks for the evening. Most of the riders just wanted to get to Rawson as quickly as possible due to the heat, however, Gentle led a small group of six who wanted to take the road down to the historic township of Walhalla. It’s an excellent road with just one bend after another and tall timber all around. I did a ride through town to take some photos and then met up with the other fellas at the quaint little pub. We then had a great run up through the twisties to Rawson with Marty leading, to cap off a really enjoyable day of riding, despite the oppressive heat.
We got to our digs in the caravan park, which is a bush park, and got the riding gear off, and then had a shower and got into shorts as quickly as possible. We self- cater at Rawson and after a few beers had the BBQ’s fired up and our evening meal cooked. It was a lovely warm evening sitting under the tall eucalypt trees yarning with the crew.
Two Rawson pics below by Peter Barclay
On Thursday Marty and I headed off for Bright, via The Great Alpine Road, rather than heading home with the others. We stopped Bairnsdale for lunch and to top up the coolant in Marty’s ZX14R. We had a brilliant run to Omeo where we stopped for milk shakes and then headed to Mt Hotham and onwards to Bright. The descent from Hotham wasn’t that enjoyable as virtually every downhill, left hand hairpin bend had very soft tarsnakes all through them. It wasn’t great feeling the front end squirming about on each corner.
We pretty much had the Bright Brewery to ourselves. It was the perfect spot for some craft beers on a hot afternoon. We strolled around to visit Peter Rees and John Allen (who still rides extensively and rides well at age 82 is a real inspiration) at their motel and had an enjoyable time yarning with them. After a counter tea at the pub we headed back to the Riverside motel to watch the cricket. I actually didn’t see much of it as I kept nodding off to sleep! Two days of intense riding and heat finally caught up with me and I was out like a light by 9.30pm. We were up fairly early and hit the road. The cool morning air of the Ovens and then the King Valley was an absolute treat. At the end of the King Valley we pulled into Whitfield and enjoyed a cooked brekky at the General Store. I love this area and we camp on the King River fairly regularly.
I was thinking of dropping in at Stringybark Creek – the site of one of Ned Kelly’s battles with the police, however, a local informed us that it was approx 10kms up a dirt track so we gave it a miss. We thoroughly enjoyed the twisties between Whitfield and Mansfield and rode through to Yea for fuel and lunch. From here it was pretty much a straight run through to Strath Creek, Broadford, Bacchus Marsh and then home.
All up I covered 1250 kms of really enjoyable riding, mostly on twisty bush roads of Gippsland and then the Vic ‘High Country’. The Ulysses crew were great company on the first day, and as always, Marty was a great riding mate for days two and three.
Mrs T and I headed for Phillip Island on a chilly Sunday morning – fortunately in the car! A round trip of near 600kms after a day out in elements is just too much for us at this time of year. We haven’t been to the GP for a few years now and we picked an absolute thriller to attend. It was great to meet up with and have, an albeit too brief, chat with Chillertek from the famed Road to Nowhere blog who was down from Sydney for the weekend. There were a couple of brief showers throughout the day. The morning Warm Up was on a wet track, however, it remained dry for each race. The corner speeds of the MotoGP bikes when the track was wet in the morning were just plain frightening! With typical PI weather we even found ourselves needing some sunscreen late in the afternoon to prevent sunburn! We secured a good viewing spot on the fence at turn 10 (just around from Lukey Heights) in the morning and spent virtually the whole day there. Below are a few of my pics from the event.
The only downside to the day was taking 40 mins to get out of the carpark! However, we had an unevenful trip home with lots of interesting motorcycles to look at along the way. Actually, we were amazed at how many riders and pillions were not wearing gear that was in any way suitable for drizzly, then wet and cold ride to and from the Island.
Saturday, 26 August: Marty, Pete and I took a run through the Otways to Lavers Hill and then along the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. We pulled in to the Gellibrand store for morning tea. As always, we received a friendly greeting from Maria and Peter even managed to find someone to talk ukulele playing with!
From Gellibrand to Apollo Bay the road was wet in patches, but not at all slippery if you kept off the mossy bits. There was surprisingly little traffic going in our direction along the GOR and we made good time to Apollo Bay. After lunch at the Apollo Bay bakery we headed to Skenes Creek and the turned inland to Forrest. The road was quite wet and greasy most of the way. We also got a bit of light rain along this stretch. In these conditions the Spyder was in its element and Peter could have easily left the two big Kwakas for dead. From Forrest onwards it was dry and sunny. We stopped in at Phil R’s place at Deans Marsh for a cuppa and then headed home. Despite the weather not being that great it was quite an enjoyable run and Peter showed that he has really mastered the Spyder – especially in tight, twisty conditions.
As an aside, I blew a fuse in the power cable to the Venture heated jacket liner at the start of the ride. Fortunately I had a spare merino jumper in my bag, so didn’t get cold. However, it’s an important lesson and I will always make sure that I have an extra outer layer with me in cold conditions when I’m depending on heated gear, just in case it fails.
OK, back in early June I published my first impressions of the Venture Heat, heated jacket liner on my other website,( which sadly no longer exists) – see ‘First Impressions’ evaluation below.
So two months later and quite a few cold day rides later, the honeymoon isn’t over – I really love this thing! Only time will tell how long it lasts, however, it appears to be damn near perfect at present!
Today I took a 300km ride and again the jacket liner proved its worth. The forecast was for 16C and sunshine, so I wore my leather jacket rather than my textile / gortex lined jacket. Although the first part of the trip was sunny, it was still only 10C between Geelong and Gellibrand. It then became cloudy and around 9C for the next leg of the journey through the Otways. With a thin merino T-shirt and a long sleeved cotton top under the leather jacket I would have been cold in these temps in the past, but add in the Venture jacket liner and I was able to adjust my temp up and down throughout the day, depending on the conditions. Most of the day it ran on ‘low’. Along with my heated grips, the Venture jacket liner ensured that I was toasty all day. And I don’t mean just the absence of cold as I get with my conventional kit – I mean toasty and warm on every leg of the journey. The moral of the story – I wasn’t caught out and cold by the weather being quite different from the forecast.
Venture Heated Jacket: First Impressions
There’s nothing quite as miserable as riding home from a ride, particularly with many kilometres to go, and being cold. Cold equals miserable in my experience of motorcycling! Don’t get me wrong, there have been massive improvements in motorcycle gear over the last 30 years, with merino wool garments, Gortex lined synthetic textile jackets and heated hand grips being right up there with the best things ever for winter riding comfort.
My winter riding kit has just taken a massive leap forward with the addition of a Venture Heat, heated jacket liner from Zarkie Australia (www.zarkie.com.au).
The power supply is super easy to fit with a connector to each side of the battery and with an inline fuse and then a plug to connect to the jacket.
First Impressions in 2C
I deliberately dressed light for the first ride with the heated jacket and removed the inner liner from my winter jacket. The ambient temp was 2C so obviously I was going to be able to genuinely test how good the heated jacket would be. The Venture jacket is much thinner than the liner in my jacket. Rolling the ZX14R out of the garage, I started the motor, plugged in the connector on the Venture and held the soft switch for three seconds. By the time I’d put my helmet and gloves there was a really impressive amount of warmth radiating under my jacket. After 5 minutes on high (red glowing switch) the jacket automatically steps down to the medium setting (indicated by a yellow glow).
I spent the next hour riding in 3C – 7C temps with my torso wonderfully warm (augmented by warm hands from my heated grips). I believe that Venture also make heated gloves that plug straight into the jacket, however, I have no experience with them.
Once it got above 10C later in the ride I turned it down to the low setting (green glow from switch). Other than the obvious thing of being beautifully warm, the jacket had two other advantages over my traditional multiple layers. The first being that with light clothing and the Venture under my jacket, I wasn’t all trussed up and had much more freedom of movement than I am with my multiple merino layers. The second unexpected bonus was that the warmth felt really great for my chronic back pain!
The verdict on the Venture heated jacket? Based on my first shortish ride of around 200 kms I was very, very impressed.
I will write further updates in the upcoming months as I use the Venture heated jacket in a diverse range of weather conditions.
Now there is one caveat to all this review and that is that I was given the jacket by Zarkie to try out and review free of charge. All that was asked was that I write a review and link to their website. I was told that I can keep it, but let me say there was not even a subtle hint that I had to be positive about the product – just try it and write a review. So keep in mind before you spend your hard earned, that I did not!
We headed to Riddells Creek for morning tea where after a long, long time the Melb Branch guys arrived. We took some interesting back roads , including the Bourke & Wills Track to Kyneton. It was pretty cold all morning, but dry. After a 45 min lunch break we headed for home via Trentham, Blackwood and Greendale – from where the Melb Branch fellas parted company with us. It was a cold day, however, the rain held off until around Ballan, though nothing too bad. Jules P was ride leader and Richard S was TEC. A few pics below.
Around twenty people gathered at Waurn Ponds Maccas for a 6.00pm departure on our first Twilight Ride. This turned out to be an excellent short ride around the Bellarine Peninsula, finishing up at the Queenscliff Bowling Club “Rip View” restaurant.
The weather forecast for Sunday at the start of the weekend was for rain on Sunday. However, Mal Stapleton (the event organiser) confidently told everyone at Saturday morning’s tyre kick that it was going to be a lovely evening for a ride on Sunday—and he was absolutely right! Although there were a few menacing black clouds in the distance, it remained dry and a balmy 21C for most of the ride.
Patt Cristina volunteered to be TEC and after a briefing from Mal we departed on a really enjoyable ride that headed out Ghazepoore Road, Lower Duneed Rd and took in 13th Beach before heading over to Drysdale then down to past the vineyards to Portarlington and then along the Esplanade to Indented Heads. The camping grounds were bursting at the seams, the smell of BBQ’s wafted through the air and children and people fishing enjoyed the evening on the various beaches. It was great to see people out and enjoying their long weekend and the balmy evening. I couldn’t help but think how great it is to be living near the coast and what a great quality of life we Aussies have.
The beer garden of the St Leonards Hotel was stacked out as we cruised by. From here we headed up Bluff Road and then turned on to the Queenscliff Road. Just as dusk fell we pulled up at the Queenscliff Bowling Club, which far from offering “pensioners’ food” put on very good meals. We laughed as some friendly locals who were leaving highly recommended the meatballs special, unbeknown to them they were advising Jimbo and Fiona, both of whom are vegetarians!
We occupied three large tables and had enjoyed tasty meals in great company. Those who had previously purchased the Club’s fundraising ‘Entertainment Discount Book’ enjoyed it all the more, with 25% off their bill.
A big thanks to Mal Stapleton for organising the event, which was a huge success.