Hot or Cold?

It might have been a long weekend, but that just means Monday night – it’s time to return to Canberra for work the next day. Spring has arrived and was giving Sydney a taste of summer with 30C for most of the weekend and Monday was no different. I was starting to get a little concerned about how warm I might be riding back in my touring gear… it’s great in the cold, but can’t beat a vented jacket and jeans when the temperatures really climb.

Mrs Mab’s work resolved the whole issue when they called her in about dinner time. Instead of leaving I found myself organising dinner and baths etc. Departure would be well after dark and probably in the 20C, much more comfortable.

So I eventually got away and it was a very pleasant. Warm… first time in ages it wouldn’t be single digits when I arrived in Canberra. A little windy, that seemed to keep the bugs away (normally there would a lot on a warm night like this).

It was pretty uneventful for about two thirds of the way. Warm, less warm, full moon so kinda bright. Then it started warming up again… in fact around Goulburn it was warmer than when I left home, 2 hours ago…. remember it’s night time.

With the warmth came these great big moths! And then one managed to find itself on the wrong side of the visor, fluttering away.

Not quite an emergency stop, but I whipped open the visor hoping the wind would clear it. It did, but I spent the next twenty minutes with “ghost moths” coming up my helmet (though no more actually did).

And then it rained.

This was a really weird trip back.

But it was nice to be warm for a change :) Sure that feeling won’t last. You know, 20-25 really is the perfect temperature.

Made it home through the warm rain, safe again.

A Spring Teaser

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1st September – first day of spring dawned bright and sunny. Mrs BBB was at work and the kids in school. So the Daytona went out for a ride.

I intended to head all the way up the Putty Rd and do some laps of the 10 mi Putty at the top, but I got to the fun stretch at Colo and changed my mind. I spent the next hour or so running up and down the hill having a blast. The weather was great, the traffic was light and no police were spotted.

Spring

Of course, the next day it was raining and miserable, so Spring teased us a little.

Then it’s off to Hawaii for a week, just the Mrs and I.

After that, I’ve gambled that the Monday I head back to Canberra will be nice as I have my Daytona, my leathers and no wet weather gear. I’m half hoping to head over through Abercrombie. If that isn’t looking good, I might look at heading down through Kangaroo Valley and up through Nowra I think.

Weak spot in the clouds

I loitered in Sydney for an extra day so that the VFR could get a service. The folks at Western’s finished up just before lunch and I hit the road suffering through a warm sunny day. Trading some fun for time, I stayed on the freeway until Golden Vale Rd, enjoying the fresh, just serviced feeling of the VFR (It had really been feeling like it needed a service this time) and a new chain and sprockets.

I stopped as I exited the interstate for a drink and to set up the Action Cam. As I did I eyed off the clouds forming all around me. It was clear that what had started as fluffy white clouds had more ominous intentions. Some great big cumulonimbus had been growing throughout the past couple of hours, with some very dark patches behind me. So should I change from my jeans into my waterproof touring pants. This question would pop up again several times over the coming hour or two.

I rolled on and completed the Highland Way arriving a Marulan for fuel. Checking the weather radar suggested that my route to Tarago would be clear but there were some cells developing right on top of Tarago and in a line stretching north. I might be able to slip around the south end of all the weather, depending upon what happened at Tarago.

So it was back on the bike and off towards Tarago. The weather was still clear with patchy clouds. I eventually gave up worrying and pulled over to change my pants. While I did this, I could hear thunder in the distance from somewhere ahead of me – I was expecting a sporting finish to the ride now.

The last leg into Tarago had some great black clouds and lightning to the south and it had obviously been very wet in Tarago not long before I went through. There were clearly more cells coming, but it was obviously a weak spot in the wall of weather that I slipped through. From this point I had a few scattered showers and some damp road but by the time I hit Bungendore the road was only damp. I was well home when the rain started caught up and started at my place.

Over the Mountain

IMG_2240A cool but sunny late autumn day dawned on the Friday for my trip back to my family in Sydney. It seemed like a great opportunity to try a alternate route that had been recommended to me. The main reason that I hadn’t yet tried this way is that I estimated it would take around 6 hours – that’s double my normal time, door to door, and being a new route, I would be taking it easy.

I also had been warned that snow and ice were real possibilities on this route so weather was also a big concern. But we’ve had a long unusually warm autumn in South East Australia this year (barely making the single digits, let alone snow and ice temps) and several rain free days before today. A quiet week at work meant that the chances of getting away early where high – all I needed was an early knock off.

I slipped away early and soon after I hit the road west from Queanbeyan. My route took my to Tarago, but here I turned North to Goulburn, where usually I head straight across towards Bungonia. At Tarago I deviated slightly to check on a couple of bikes I saw stopped in case they were lost. No problems there so I turned north. This road is the more well known route than my normal way, and its’ not a bad ride. A bit shorter and straighter than via Bungonia. Plus it adds more interstate.

IMG_2232After getting a little lost in the streets of Goulburn, I fuelled up and turned for the unknown. Again, more northerly towards Taralga (NOT Tarago or Tarana… can get a little confusing). The roads were pretty open and flowing, mostly through farmlands. Some resurfacing was underway and the low winter sun often annoying, but otherwise the ride was very enjoyable. And the kms were swiftly covered.

The road continues north over the Abercrombie River. The descent and climb down to the river crossing were fine twisty roads, without markings, but generally wide enough.

IMG_2229Up from Abercrombie you head towards the back side (from a Sydney perspective) of the Blue Mountains. Again the roads were wide and flowing, but empty. The area is obviously pine plantations and the odd logging truck may need to be avoided.I arrived in Oberon, grabbed a small lunch and topped up the fuel again. This should easily last me until my doorstep, so no requirement to stop again.

From Oberon, you join up with the road from Jenolan Caves and head towards the Great Western Highway at about Mount Victoria. This stretch before the Highway is the last fun before the grind over and down the mountains. And it’s a pretty good bit with some nice vistas of Aussie mountains (so really slightly bigger hills than the rest of the area – not real peaks with snow etc)

IMG_2238The Highway is being expanded and sorted in a massive upgrade that has so far taken several years so there are slow speed roadworks zones, and the newer areas have reduced limits (because the tin tops can’t help running themselves into barriers and off the road all over the place). And the traffic was …. well there actually was traffic, so the fun was over. Still takes about another hour to get over the mountains to home.

A really nice ride and I think heading the other way would be nicer (get the annoying bit out of the way at the start). Pity it is so much longer than my normal route so I’ll have to save it for next time the stars align.

Of course the mighty VFR ate it all up without hesitation. It’s now about 500km short of 150,000 and then only 11,000km until it rolls over 100,000miles. Its not impossible to hit that by Christmas.

Sony… fix your camera…

Another sick day at home would probably drive me crazy. So I decided a little explore around some of the roads around Canberra that had been recommended to me by the locals. I though  a couple of hours to get out into the fresh sunny air would help me feel good.

I headed over towards the Cotter Dam area and along Tidbinbilla Rd, Paddy’s River Rd and part of Brindabella Rd, before turning around and going all the way back again.

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What a nice road. After the tight technical experience of Corin Dam Rd, this flowed much better. Only a little over an hour on the road, with about 20 min ride to get there from home :)

But I can’t imagine how busy it must be in the weekends with riders, cyclists and drivers all trying to get along. Even today there were about 5 cyclists plugging along.  I don’t plan to ride there much at that time.

BUT THIS hopeless Sony Action Cam. It fogs up most of the time, even with the anti moisture inserts. I recorded the ride, hoping to cut a YouTube post out of it, but most of the footage is misty fog. Time and time again footage has been ruined because of it. I’m sick of this camera and I think I’ll get that Drift I had always planned. I might still use this one for MTB, but not for the bike anymore.

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Nothing Pressing

So I’m at home with the Daytona, no kids, and a beautiful sunny Tuesday … What to do? Double demerits finished last night too … I even had my full leathers! You can see where this is going can’t you.

It’s going to the Putty Rd of course.

I dropped the girls at daycare (it’s paid for whether we use it or not, so may as well use it – gives us a chance to catch our breath sometimes – besides it’s only one day this week) and was quickly on the road. 8am found me already north of Wilberforce and heading north.

There was a chill in the air to start with even fog near Windsor but it was clear and headed to a top around 25 so I was happy it would warm up.

Not much seemed to have changed up the road since my last visit. I did slow for a moment of thought where a rider was killed a month ago near Colo. A late pass attempt by a learner ended in tragedy on a short straight and was witnessed by a fellow vlogger.

After that the road climbed away and I passed some traffic and was soon pulling into Grey Gums for a pie. Chatting to the staff she was worn out by the Easter travelers. But she commented that they can always tell when it’s double demerits as the bikes don’t come by. Being the only bike there I couldn’t disagree with her. In fact I hadn’t seen any bikes all the way here.

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As I ate my pie a couple did ride past.

I turned north to get to Ten Mile Putty. I was thinking of getting fuel at Broke and doing some laps but I did have a whole bunch of garden work I needed to do so I wasn’t sure what I would do.

Anyway I hit the Ten Mile and I think I’ve improved. Been studying the Twist of the Wrist over the past few months and I think it has helped. The book is very well known and the ideas behind it are well grounded. They don’t always apply on the road however even when they aren’t directly applicable they still give you a great understanding of how the whole bike works. And a great understanding of how you can instinctively do the wrong thing unless you practice.

So I’ve been consciously applying his techniques to my riding and if nothing else my confidence has grown. I had a couple of moments but lessons like Don’t Chop the Throttle and Keep a Relaxed Grip on the Handlebars meant they weren’t more than moments.

At the top of the Putty I was accelerating for Broke when I figured that I have the gas to turn around and going all the way to Broke and back to here would add 45mins to an hour.

I found a wide spot and u-turned. The other thing I realized was that the road was still fresh in my mind and I was still in the right mindset.

So south I went. I’m really starting to enjoy the Ten Mile… There’s that confidence growing again. Had a great ride homewards with a few stretches where I just cruised along managing my fatigue which was starting to hit me a little.

Didn’t see any cops the whole way around which was a huge surprise. I did see some once I got back on the freeways going home and saw about five in twenty minutes. Guess they were reminding the commuters to behave after a weekend of keeping the interstates under control.

I made I fuel at Colo Heights just as the fuel light came on. Still 2 bars on the gauge so another 50km or so. If I fuel at Colo on the way up I could do a couple of laps at Ten Mile and still make it back to Colo. Again, saving me the leg to Broke.

Then it was home where a whole bunch of gardening was waiting, yay!

Muddy Waters

Another Sunday means another ride to Canberra. The weather was warm with some scattered clouds. A pleasant, if dull ride ahead.

I was about forty five minutes from home when I noticed all the cars headed the other way had their lights on. At five in the evening, that wasn’t a good sign. About five or so minutes later the road ahead seemed to disappear into a cloud.

I quickly pulled over… rain ahead. As I pulled my rain pants from the top box it started to rain a little. Big drops, but not much. Pants on, I hit the road as it really started to rain. Then about 1km up the road was the petrol station I had planned to pull over at anyway! Ah, well. at least I was dry.

And a fellow VFR rider was just pulling up as well. Not only was it a fellow VFR rider, but a mate from Sydney who has also moved to Canberra. We chatted as we filled our bikes up and geared up for the rain. We decided to ride together, as heading out together was a lot safer into the heavy downpour that the rain had turned into.

The ride, though heavy rain was fairly uneventful for about another half an hour. As we started to clear the heavy rain, the traffic in both lanes ahead started slowing and clearly stopping.

Not wanting to get caught at the end of a line of stopped highway traffic in poor visibility I decided to split up the middle – the main reason so that we wouldn’t get flattened when someone didn’t pay attention and squeezed at the back of the queue. I also hoped to split right past whatever accident was ahead (conditions as they were, it was pretty likely someone had gone off the road or tapped another car).

At the front was something else… water. Lots of muddy rising water.

The highway was flooding. My buddy came up… “We have to keep going, it’s only going to get deeper”

At this point it was over the sole of my boots. And rising quickly. I remembered all those images of cars floating away on flooded highways. “Are you sure?”.

“Yes” He headed forwards.

We split some way up the road until we were past all of the cars and the flooded highway stretched out ahead of us. But we could also see clear road.

“Keep going, otherwise we’re stuck here” he said, just as a semi trailer crept past. “follow him, he’ll clear any debris”

So we did. The bow wave of the truck kept tugging at the front wheel trying to turn the bike. Sometimes we’d ride over the centreline that we couldn’t see, but we could feel the cats eyes. A few hundred metres up the road we were out of the water.

Looking back down the freeway

Looking back down the freeway

Made it.

Made it. And even a rainbow, awwww.

We pulled over to check nothing was caught in the bikes. The water had gotten to mid calf, not quite over the tops of my waterproof boots when I was on tiptoe. Riding, it was lapping at my boots on the pegs and the bow wave as we rode through it was at least twice that. We looked back just as the police arrived and shut the road. They wouldn’t have let us through I’m sure. Good choice. (or lucky??)

Not long after that the rain stopped and eventually the roads dried. More than an hour late I rolled into my garage to get dry and warm.

Safe.

Living with a Supersport

 

Parked at the top of Corin Dam. Sexy :)

Parked at the top of Corin Dam. Sexy :)

My trusty VFR is in the shop, it needs a new water pump. Thankfully I discovered the trouble before it overheated or ran dry. But it’s in the shop and waiting for the part from Japan. A positive of them still (basically) making the same bike ten years on, you can still get parts.

As long as you can wait.

So the Daytona is doing everything. Its been very wet here in Canberra and the Daytona has broken her cherry of riding (and being left out) in the rain. I’m having to travel to and from Sydney on it, at least 3 trips there and back before the VFR is ready. Which means the tyres will be trashed and it will be up for it’s first 10,000 service.

And I’ll be up for the repair costs on the VFR at the same time… there goes my savings (though that is what my savings are for)  along with rego and insurance renewal as well.

So living with the Daytona. Well the back country part of my trip to Sydney is awesome fun  :) but the rest is annoying (but not uncomfortable). The commute to work is also trouble… the Daytona is a very tempting bike. And my new commute is a short 14km of open road, no lights, not much traffic and some nice flowing curves…. like I said, trouble.

Rain was ok, the tyres were a lot more capable than I imagined, so that was a relief. Fuel consumption, really it gets about the same as the VFR, its a fraction shorter ranged, due to the smaller tank, but if pushed I could probably make Sydney Canberra in one hit.

But there are some downsides, and really they relate to carry space! The VFR has a 35L (?) lockable, top box. That makes travelling (like stuffing all the home cooking my wonderful wife sends me back to Canberra with) and also grocery shopping annoying.

It also means that my poor Daytona looks like this sometimes.

Check out the rear area. Rode through some road works in the rain. Not so secy.

Check out the rear area. Rode through some road works in the rain. Not so secy.

But actually, I now see how people could live with a supersport (and the larger ones) everyday.

But I have two… so I don’t have to :) So there.

How do I explain this happiness?

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I think this is probably true no matter what it is, when it’s something that you really enjoy. I’m sure some of you get this from WoW. Sometimes I do, but not as reliably as when I’m riding.

As I got into the second hour of my ride back to Canberra, and finally got off the Highway. It was as I rolled merrily through the back roads, the bike eating up the miles and us both leaning into the corners and accelerating out, that I felt that happy, peaceful contentedness come over me. I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

The miles rolled away under the wheels. I know this road reasonably well now. I know there are lots of easy corners, and only a couple that try to catch you out. I can remember these before they come up, so the bike is set up and the corner disappears quickly behind me. I know some people could ride it faster, getting their knees down, leaned right over, running the edge of the tyre ragged.

That’s not me, but I’m sure we both have the same smile when we pull up at the end. I can’t think of much I’d rather do, than cruise quickly along a back country road on my bike.

I don’t know what it is for you guys, but I hope there is something that gives you the same feeling.

Seems that wasn’t a last ride after all

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.50.21 pmUp early, beat the crowds, beat the heat, beat the cops, and be home for lunch after 5 hours of one of the best roads in Sydney. Sounds like a plan.

I was invited to join a couple of mates very early Sunday for a Breakfast at Grey Gums… and maybe a bit further after breakfast. So 6am finds us meeting up a a nearby petrol station about to head up the Putty. It would seem that my last dash up this road wasn’t to be the last. This one might be but who cares.

So we made Grey Gums in easy time. The carpark was a bit empty. Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.49.47 pmBut the lack of vehicles didn’t give us a hint of how many flies there would be. Made breakfast interesting. Ah summer, in Australia = flies.

So we’d made it here. Some quick maths and we turned north, we should easily be able to head up to the top of the Putty and still make it home for lunch. This lead me up to the 10 mile Putty again. I really wish this patch was much closer to home, or I could get a day up here doing a few laps.Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.52.00 pm

It’s picturesque – but then I’m not really looking at that.

After fuel, another roll down the 10-mile and it was back to Grey Gums. What a difference a couple of hours can make. On a nice day, on a Sunday, the first Sunday after double demerits has finished and the holidays. Almost a perfect storm. Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.53.40 pmWith so many people the flies were spread much more thinly so our snack was more comfortable. It was getting warm and time was starting to run out, so we headed homewards.

And I was home in time to head out with the family for Yum Cha.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 5.54.32 pmOne of the bikes I rode with, a BMW HP2. Very nice and there was a fun moment as we both leapt away from the lights at high rev, quick shifters (no need for clutch with these) blipping….. then we were good boys again.