A day at the races

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.

 

Advertisements

Otways with a Spyder

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.

Venture heated jacket liner update

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!

Backroads to Kyneton with the Melb Branch

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.

Photocredit: Ron Howell

 

Twilight Ride 12 March

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.

 

Rawson 2016

A few shots from an excellent overnighter to Rawson, with stops at Riddels Creek for morning tea, the Healesville bakery for lunch, the Noojee trestle bridge and Walhalla. Ten starters in Geelong and two more met us at Healesville. Beautiful weather on Wednesday and a bit wet early on Thursday – but still good riding. A big thanks to Gentle for route planning and leading, and to Graham for being TEC and organising the digs.

A nice Mazda based Clubman at Healesvile Bakery.

Poker Run 2016

The Geelong Branch 2016 Poker Run was another fun filled social and riding event. Thanks and congratulations to Mac for his flawless organisation of the day, and also for planning & leading the ride. A big thanks to Gentle for purchasing and cooking all the food for us at the end of the run at Balyang Sanctury. There was a good turn out of riders and pillions and everyone seemed to be happy and enjoying the socialising.

Mid ride break at the Moorabool Valley Chocolate went down well too.

Winners are grinners

 

 

Warburton overnighter

Just a few pics at this stage. Day 1. A brilliant ride to Warburton via Whittelsea, Kinglake, Yarra Glen, Healesville (for lunch), then the Black Spur to Marysville and then along the  Reefton Spur to our digs at Warburton. The Reefton run was probably my favorite part of the day’s riding – though not everyone shared that view.

Day 2 we headed for home through Healesville and up the Melba Hwy to Yea for lunch. At this stage the temperature had risen to the high 20’s. After a pleasant lunch stop under the trees in Yea we headed for home via Strath Creek, Broadford and Bacchus Marsh. The last part was a bit tedious and quite hot on the bike with the temp hovering around 32C in Bacchus Marsh. All up a terrific weekend with 16 motorcycles (5 that were 2-up), lots of good riding and fun – and not a drop of rain! Door to door, we did 648 kms on the ZX14R.

A quick break in Gisborne.

Some Italian exotica at the Healsville Bakery

After a break at the end of the Reefton Spur.

Dorothy and I took a stroll around Warburton. It is really picturesque, however, the township seems as though it has seen better days.

Yarra River flows through the township

A rare occasion when I was on the wrong end of the camera (iPhone 6S actually)

Socialising at the hotel

Photo credit above pic: Gentle

The most handsome beast there!

Below: Lunch stop in Yea on the way home 

Try a little tenderness

Much thanks to Gentle (Ron) for organising a terrific weekend and leading Saturday’s run. And thanks also to everyone who attended and contributed to making it a successful, fun couple of days.

Post Script: This entry from 2008 on Wikipedia regarding the Black Spur made me smile

In March 2008, the Victorian state government has allocated $547,000 to improve motorcycle safety on the Black Spur. Stage 1 of the works has involved reducing the speed limit from 100 km/h to 80 km/h, effective Thursday 29 May 2008.[4]

Annual Memorial service – Mt Macedon

A good turnout of members gathered at the Corio Roadhouse for the annual ride to the Ulysses Memorial service at Mt Macedon. There was plenty of good cheer and banter prior to heading off to Centennial Park, via Bacchus Marsh and Gisborne led by Jim and Henny, guest riding Mal’s big Beemer. And it was great to see Mal back on a motorcycle for his first decent ride since his surgery. Phil, Lindsay and Gentle drove their cars and towed trailers to take the Geelong Branch chuck wagon and catering gear for the event.

Although a bit blustery on the way up, we didn’t have any showers as forecast, and a nice sunny day greeted us at Mt Macedon.  Members from the various branches began to roll in and by lunch time there was a crowd of several hundred gathered ready for the ride up to the Memorial Cross for the remembrance service for those who have ‘Ridden On’ during the past year. Lauri did a great job selling raffle tickets to the assembled crowd. Around midday the ride leader led everyone a few kilometres up the road to the memorial cross.

Peter Baulch from NATCOM read Helena Gritton’s message.  During the service the names of each member who had passed on from every state were read out. Perry Stevens recited a poignant passage from Tenyson’s ‘Ulysses’, and ‘The Rev’ Barry conducted a brief service with a prayer, a quote from scripture and a blessing – along with a joke! ‘The Rev’ let it be known that he is 86 yrs of age, still riding his BMW with over 450,000 kms on the clock and that his wife has ridden pillion for more than 60 years!

“The Rev” Barry in beanie

Peter T and John T photo bombing the service! Peter Baulch from NATCOM speaking

The crowd leaving

After the service most people rode back to Centennial Park to enjoy the lunch put on by the Geelong Branch and enjoy the socialising. The catering crew had done a brilliant job and everything seemed to go like clockwork preparing and serving hundreds of meals. A big thanks to Gentle, Mac, Phil, Lindsay, Willie, Jim, Mal, Henny, Janice, Dorothy and Lauri for an absolutely brilliant effort. A table had been set up for selling more raffle tickets and the two painted vests and a concept drawing of Tony’s painting was on display.

Jim led an uneventful ride back to Anakie where the ride concluded. Thanks to Jim for leading, Geoff as Tail-End-Charlie on the ride home and I missed who was TEC on the way to Mt Macedon – my apologies!

 

Bendigo Dragons

Sunday saw the annual running of the dragon boat racing with combined Dragons Abreast and Ulysses Club branch teams from Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo – except the Ballarat Ulysseans were missing from the action. Lindsay led the ride with John G as TEC. It was a great day, made all the better by the Geelong Branch winning the event! The ZX14R has a worn out chain (52K kilometers) so Dorothy & I drove the car. We were staying in Bendigo until later in the day visiting friends, a good move as it turned out when the heavens opened just out of Castlemaine and it continued to rain all the way back to Geelong. When we stopped at traffic lights in Castlemaine Jim and Henny pulled up beside us on the Harley. I didn’t envy them the trip home on the bike in pretty crappy conditions! (You can click on a photo to see it full size, then hit the back button in your browser)

There’s a gallery of pics if you CLICK HERE