MotoGP Phillip Island – I’m back.

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I made it. The bike made it. I was pretty tired out and happy to make it back just as the weather started to warm up. I was in my touring gear, so 26C was warm. Later it made 30-35C so it would have been mighty uncomfortable.

In summary, it was a really good trip. I enjoyed almost the whole trip. I made several changes to my route that I had planned, I know I missed a couple of good roads, but I think the long day I had planned would have been a terribly long day.

The Daytona with the Kriega bags did well. It all fitted, though I stashed a backpack on top to carry my water bottle and some snacks. It also meant I had something for race day. I took too much stuff, a couple too many t-shirts and a hoodie I should have left behind.

Day One – Sydney to Canberra. 

I headed out from home after the kids left for school so we had a proper goodbye. I left the house unlocked. Oops. First I wound my way through the city and out to Stanwell Tops. I totally missed the RNP turn offs.

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A friendly set of campers took this one of me. Bald Hill lookout.

After that I headed along the coast, but I should have gone straight back to the highway. It would have saved a lot of time as I dragged along behind lots of sloooooww traffic along the coast. Eventually I was onto the highway again and headed for Mac Pass.

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Up the pass.

The Pass was pretty quiet and I enjoyed the ride up to the top. Here I found light drizzle, which in the end was the only weather worse than cloudy I had for the whole trip. As you’ll see, it was mostly blue skies for the rest of the week ahead.

After the pass I intercepted the Highland Way which travels from Bowral to Marulan, paralleling the interstate, but much more fun. This is the way I used to travel to Canberra, so it was fuel at Marulan and then on to Bungonia and eventually Canberra.

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I reached Canberra mid afternoon before heading to my friend’s for the night. I also met the guy I was picking my tickets up from. At this stage I reckon I’m now about a day behind most riders as even the Canberra riders will have mostly headed south already.

Day Two – Canberra to Bowna

The guy who I had picked the tickets from had recommended an alternate route over the Snowies, and I decided to try it. It’s the same distance (almost to the km) as the Alpine Way (the normal way up through Thredbo), but is further north through Cabramurra.

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When it gets high enough they start to use yellow for the road markings, presumably because it’s easier to see in snow. It’s the only time in Australia you see yellow road markings.
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And I assume the long red poles replace the short white ones to make them easier to find in snow as well.
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Tumut Pond Dam.

This road turned out to be pretty quiet, but very enjoyable. So, stash that away for future use. Apparently there is an option even further north, Elliots Way. By this time I realised that it was probably best that I was on my own. I was taking it very easy so my pace would have likely held most people up, but it also meant I could stop and rest or take photos whenever I felt like it.

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Just outside Khancoban. You can see Mt Kosciuszko as the only snowcapped hill in the distance. That’s Australia’s highest peak, a miserly 2200m. Your grandma could walk to the top in an afternoon. 

After an enjoyable ride, I reached the other side and turned back towards Khancoban to fuel up. I probably stopped for fuel way more often than I needed throughout this trip, but for several legs I was unsure of fuel and the Daytona at about 200km doesn’t have the longest range. Anyway at Khancoban, the only bike talk was several had been booked coming the other way (Alpine Way) but by this point I had not seen a single Highway Patrol.

From here I headed along River Rd towards the Wymah Ferry. This was another nice road, though the plague of bugs in the Murray Valley that I remember from 10 years ago was in full force, giving the bike and me a lovely covering! I reached my accommodations in Bowna without any troubles.

Day Three – Bowna to Melbourne.

First up, I changed my original plan of the epic ride south across the Alps and Gippsland. I figured that would be too much in one day and I would eventually get to Melbourne exhausted. I planned a route southwest, almost the same as my plans for the return trip. I needed fuel so I headed in to Albury and together with a bit of stuffing about in town I was a little behind schedule. I decided to run down the Interstate to Wangaratta, then turn left (east) and headed for some wiggly lines that seemed to start at Whitfield.

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Whitfield – Mansfield. Highly recommend this road. And for my trip, the road I saw the most other riders.

And wiggly they were. The Whitfield-Mansfield road turns out to be a popular ride. And I certainly enjoyed it. I reached Mansfield and fuelled up. At this point it was about midday and I was considering having lunch, as I hadn’t really eaten since breakfast at about 0700. I was trying to decide the next leg as I had been given a tip about a road south of Mansfield, but wasn’t clear which it was. I noticed only 2 bikes head south from Mansfield and the rest (about 10 at this stage) all headed west, but the south bikes were a S1000RR and a ZX10R. I didn’t expect they would be looking from gravel, so I followed.

I made a call to turn right just before Jamieson, now about 1230. I headed up this road, Jamieson to Eildon that seemed to be the one described to me. Sealed but it was about 50km of tight (usually 30km/h) turns seemingly all downwards right hand turns without any relief.

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Jamieson to Eildon, almost done by this stage and only keeping on because there was no other choice but to keep going. I was exhausted. 

By part way I was hating this road. And it was my own fault. I was exhausted as I had decided to skip eating at Mansfield. The tight road worked me hard and I was low on energy and high on fatigue. I must have stopped three or four times to eat some M&Ms (all I had with me, another error) and drink and rest (and rage against the road). I still wasn’t even sure if this was the correct one.

About 90 mins later, almost 2pm, I reached Eildon. I fuelled up, rested and munched on a sausage roll. I gave up my rough plan to head through the Black Spur, simply typing the hotel’s address into the GPS and letting it navigate. It took two more hours but eventually I made it. Time for dinner and a rest. The following day was related to other stuff, mostly study.

RACE DAY.

OMG the ride from Melbourne to the Island was long, uncomfortable and boring. After 1400km to get here, I almost gave up on the hour and a bit to the Island, it was such a drag.

But I got there and I figured I must be a bit early as there wasn’t really a huge number of bikes.

The racing was excellent. Moto 3 was epic, and Jack Miller (#43 from Australia) even led the MotoGP for a little bit. That had the crowd going. MotoGP was an excellent race as well with lots going on. The pic at the top is the view from my seat. Zarco’s epic crash was straight in front in the big gravel patch.

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Marks on the track from Zarco #5 epic crash at 300km/h down the main straight. Amazingly lucky guy to walk away.

Heading home from the Island I really felt that the bike numbers were massively down from previous visits. Instead of 4 queues of bikes taking up two lanes for as far as you could see, there was 1 line filtering down beside two lines of cars. Others I’ve talked to have commented noticed as well.

Day umm Six – back to Bowna.

Again I decided not to do the epic over the Alps ride. I think I will do that on another trip and stay somewhere closer. So I thought to head out through the Black Spur and find my way to Mansfield (I was still scarred by the Jamieson-Eildon rd, so ignored that option). From there it was up to Litchfield, then back roads to Bowna. In the end, I used the Interstate from Albury as it’s only about 20mins from there to Bowna.

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Coming through the Spur. A lovely piece of road.

Day Seven – Bowna to Canberra

Ok, today I had a choice to make. Back the way I came over the new (to me) road via Cabramurra or the Alpine Way from Khancoban. The Khancoban way I had come down about 10 years ago, thinking this would be awesome to come up. But there was likely to be cops, though I still hadn’t seen a single one (not including those on traffic control at Phillip Island of course).

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Wymah Ferry. Personal service 🙂

But that was later. I got on the road, back across the Wymah Ferry and along the River Rd, as I had on the way down. Fun road all the way to Khancoban. This was a fuel stop and decision point.

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You can see the dead bugs building up, again, on my jacket!

It really wasn’t until I was rolling out of the petrol station that I decided. 10 years was long enough, I would head up Alpine Way. Wasn’t a huge number of bikes about either, again I think was a day behind most by now.

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Picnic time on the Alpine Way. 

Alpine was a nice piece of road, long at about 90kms to Thredbo, but in great shape. I’m certainly glad I did it from Khancoban upwards, rather than Thredbo down. I was also glad to have bought some lunch at Khancoban that I stashed in my bag. It made for a nice picnic up in the mountains, giving me a chance to relax. I wasn’t going to repeat my earlier stuff up.

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Thredbo, looking up and back towards Kosciuszko

Out of Thredbo, it was basically a run to Cooma and eventually Canberra which I made in good time.

Day Eight – Home.

This was a rush. So I headed out through my usual back roads to Marulan and took the Interstate from there. I was home before the heat hit and before lunch. I was somewhat tired out by it all though. But home.

Other notes

NOT A SINGLE COPPER. That was weird. People went on and on about the cops in Victoria, but I literally didn’t see a single one.

Almost no wildlife troubles. All the roos and wombats I saw were dead. Almost collected a small bird that decided to cross the road but he swerved at the VERY last moment. Saw enchindas twice, that was cool.

The bike got too warm after stopping twice, involving it rejecting all its excess coolant. The level never dropped to concerning level, but it is annoying. I wonder if the cooling system is not performing as well as it used to, because this is a common occurrence in my commuting and I don’t remember it happening previous summers.

If I do this again, I will use a bike with a top box, and/or panniers.

 

 

 

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MotoGP Phillip Is – Departure Day

So it’s departure day. The main worry, the weather, has been slowly improving, even to the point that the Island itself to be cloudy but no rain. Yeah, I’ll believe that when I’ve lived it, the Island does have a well-deserved reputation for having all weathers in one day, even more than Melbourne is.

Anyway the weather has been getting better, still cool, but all the showers have been written out of all the predictions. That’s about perfect. Maybe a little cooler going over the mountains, but then it is the mountains.

Anyway almost time to wake up the family and get them off to school and such. Then I’ll be on my way.

MotoGP Phillip Island – Update

I am little disheartened today. It finally stopped raining and as I was cruising around the bike didn’t sound right. I headed home and one of the things on my to do list was to clean and lube the chain. Not a huge job and after the rain (even since the service) very necessary.

As I was cleaning it, I found that while at one spot it was adjusted well, there were several tighter spots around. I expected this as the chain is getting older, and was one of things I was partly expecting to come up in service. What I was REALLY annoyed at was that at one point, there was barely 5mm of movement. The chain is supposed to be between 28-38mm!

I’m not even sure that the shop checked it. I hadn’t for a month or so, but had been away and knew the service was coming up. But this is a basic activity. What other basic activities did they skip/half-arse? I am thinking that this is the sound and “feel” I had from the bike, but haven’t had a chance to test ride.

It only took a little adjusting and I had it nicely within specification the whole way around. Really glad I bought myself a torque wrench about 18 months ago.

I will catch up with the shop shortly to discuss. But after that I have had a closer look over the bike (I also haven’t really had time since Wednesday until now) and am happy that there isn’t anything else that leaps out as a problem.

WEATHER UPDATE

Ok, weather so far. Possibly some light showers Sydney and the coast as I leave. I will see what happens and I may not hit RNP and Mac Pass that morning. It’s predicted to be dry the day before, so it might be okay if the showers are light.

Further inland looks fine on Wednesday (though possible snow on the high mountains on Tuesday). Temps look mild too – low teens to low twenties (kinda almost perfect). So Bowral to Canberra, no problems.

The next day, cool and cold in the mountains. Dry though, so I think I will be fine. That gets me over to Albury. Layers will be the secret for clothing in possible single digit temps. Will definitely throw the winter gloves into the bag.

Friday over the Alps, currently dry and cool again on the northern side. Maybe some light showers on the southern side, through Gippsland and to Melbourne. Fairly typical.

I’m okay with this forecast so far. It will refine over the next few days and I’ll get some idea of race day and the rest as well.

I don’t think it will be shorts and t-shirt weather at the Island though! If it ever is.

MotoGP Phillip Island – Everything is ready?

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60,000km service completed. Brakes, chain and tyres have plenty of life left. Nothing else noted in the report. Sounds good.

Bags have been tested to capacity. Route is planned, accommodation is organised. Scored some cheap tickets to a grandstand from a bloke at work who can’t go any longer!

So Wednesday next week I’ll be on the road.

The only thing that’s looking bleak is the weather. Seriously, after months of very little rain its been raining almost non stop for two weeks and apart from a break this weekend, it isn’t looking good next week either.

At least in Sydney. The Snowies and the Alps might be okay, but Melbourne isn’t looking too great yet.

Still I can only see as far as Wednesday, so I guess we’ll wait and see what develops.

MotoGP Phillip Island – Planning Progress

Well I have a set of Kriega tail packs now. A US30, and 2 x US10. I have set them up on the bike and even used the US30 twice to get stuff to work. They will fit my gear easily, they fit nicely on the bike and it looks like it will all work out. Attached are the test fittings I did with my gear.

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Not a lot of weight in the bags as it’s mostly clothes. So I don’t think it will hamper the bikes performance much. That’s a big plus. It also seems to be pretty stable and well distributed, so overall I’m pretty happy. Have also had some glowing feedback on the Kriega’s performance on trips so it all sounds good.

The route has had some small changes. I now might head out via the Royal National Park and along the coast towards Nowra before heading inland to Canberra, intercepting my usual route. This has the advantage of avoiding the Hume. Possibly have some company for this part.

It looks like the second day I will head south to Cooma and then Tumut and Khancoban etc. Basically as before. The third day, by far the longest, is looking to be south through Mitt Mitta and then over the Alps. I also had some suggestions along Gippsland to take as well.

I am looking to stay in Glen Waverley area. There are some hotels there and it’s on the side of the city, closer to the Island and closer to the route in and out, so save me a little bit of riding, especially when I’m tired at the end of the longest third day.

Coming back, I’m looking at out through the Black Spur up towards Albury on some B & C roads, then across Khancoban again. Finally back my old route and home.

MotoGP Phillip Island – Early Planning

Slowly it is becoming more definite that I will actually get a chance to ride to the MotoGP round at Phillip Is. It’s been more than ten years since I’ve made it too the Island and I am quietly, extremely excited. I am also excited about the actual journey, which is probably more than half of the excitement. Mrs Mab, who normally puts a big wet blanket on this kind of idea, has tasked me with a couple of things while in Melbourne and she’s taken leave. These are positive factors that increase the chances.

I’ve started early planning. I have a rough idea of timings and routes. I’m currently trying to figure out how much to take, and how to carry it. Gear wise, it’s pretty sorted. Helmet, gloves, Dianese touring pants and jacket, touring boots. Comfortable, warm and not too bad in heat, along with waterproof, it will work in all weathers. And previous experience, a week travelling across the Alps and into Victoria and the Island, the weather could do all of those. I will take my neck sock, probably my winter/waterproof gloves and don’t think I will take the quilted liners. Instead I will use layers of regular clothing as then I can use that when not on the bike.

Gear depends so much on the expected weather, and while it is changeable, it’s unlikely to be super cold, so liners and winter gloves are the first to be eliminated. And I won’t put too much trust in the forecasts, it will give me a ballpark. The better the weather, the lighter I can travel.

Today, I put together a pile of clothes, a rough idea of other gear (tools, lube, electronics) in order to get some idea of what I might be taking. It works out to about 20-30L. Currently I have a 10-15L tank bag and a 10-15L tail pack. I WILL NOT take a heavy backpack, I may take a light one, but all of the baggage options also have shoulder straps etc, so an actual backpack is probably overkill. I don’t want to even take the tank bag if I can help it. So one option I can try is strapping a backpack to the backseat. Not the best option.

I’m considering getting a Kreiga tailpack. That was part of the reason to sort out the approximate size. Looks like a US30 will work. I’ve heard good things about them and being waterproof that will be an advantage. But I could also grab a smaller US10 (or 2) as well. I could use this on race day instead of dragging the whole pack there. Another advantage is that I can use this set up on other bikes in the future. As much as I would hope to have a VFR with topbox by the Island trip, that would need a Lotto win or something to happen.

The route I have pretty much decided. Sydney to Canberra one day via my old commuting route through Bungonia and Queenbeyan. Next day over Thredbo and down to Khancoban. The last day will be from Wodonga over the alps and to Melbourne. Coming back the same way. Staying with friends up and back, except Melbourne I don’t have any that I think would be willing to put me up for a few days, so likely stay in a hotel then.

So the planning continues, the excitement builds, but is kept in check by past history of disappointment. We’ll see and I’ll keep you posted.

Let Out

The last day of the school holidays came along, and Mrs Mab had the day off. But she was sick and I think that’s why after lunch she let me out for a ride. With a couple of hours free I wasn’t able to get to the top of the Putty or Mac Pass, so I decided to head up Old Pac for a few laps south of Brooklyn Bridge. And while I actually I managed to catch one bike, I was mostly a rolling roadblock for the more skilled riders.

Even more amazing, there was a photographer out (I normally pass through the area in the week when they aren’t there). So I have photos from a rare recreational ride of mine. And I have super rare pictures of me riding AND the first photos of me on the Daytona (I’ve had this bike for 4 years).

So enjoy.

 

The slowest rider on the Old Pac!

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Special thanks to Gideon Motorcycle Imagery (on Facebook) for the pictures.

Commuting we will go…

It’s dark.

It’s cold.

It’s been wet sometimes too.

Commuting has been fun the last few weeks.

Winter eh!

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We’ve had a few storms. So it’s pretty sometimes too.

But cycling to work suddenly became a challenge when it dropped to 2C. I bought a pile of warm clothes to ride in. After not riding the next week waiting for it, I headed out last Monday.

So of course it was 13C. Too warm to really test it.

Tomorrow it’s 1C again. So see how I go.

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Putty Day

Mrs has the day off for a change and wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. So I went for a ride. I headed up the Putty with another rider who had not been up that way before.

The weather was cloudy, but clearing however the cool night and perhaps some early morning rain had made the road damp around Colo. This was a little concerning, but soon after it was clear that it was just localised and with the cloud expected to clear, it would be dry later.

Grey Gums for breakfast, and a warning from someone southbound about cops further north and we’re back on the road. No real surprise that cops would be about, sunny day, Sunday and no double demerits – I actually expected more bikes around than I saw.

I was keen to get right up to 10-mile Putty so my friend could see the best part. If only it wasn’t nearly 2 hours to get there. We did make it, but I really didn’t have time to cut some laps which was a shame. It was also clear that I’d met yet another rider who was faster than me – I think every rider I’ve ever met rides faster than I do. 

We fuelled at Broke and repeated the trip down the Putty. The cop was again spotted, with a fellow rider pulled over this time.

We had Comms between us the whole time, his Sena linking into one of the phone channels of my ScalaRider. Worked fine, but I was unable to listen to music or I think take other calls (no reception on Putty anyway so who cares). 

I am more encouraged about doing a track day as well, perhaps I’ll work something out to tag along the next time he goes.

2015 in Review

About Bikes

IMG_0035Bike wise I’m missing the VFR. Carrying stuff, commuting is all harder without it. There’s no money to replace it, unless the Daytona goes. And there is still 10 years of riding memories….

The Daytona got some good rides and I really enjoy it, its a fantastic fun bike. Several short rides in Canberra practising skills. I feel as though the latest trip up the Putty was better for that practice. I’m keeping the Daytona unless commuting becomes really unmanageable.

About Mountain Bikes

IMG_2699MTB was a busy year, benefiting from having the car and being in Canberra. I found it a lot of fun but I won’t have as many chances to ride back in Sydney. Squeezing family, work, study, motorcycles and MTB all together is going to be a challenge.

Babes (Family)

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History Time

We moved into our own house this year. My youngest started school and both my girls did great. Proud of them both. I introduced them to some old school games. They also discovered Minecraft, which they have enjoyed but I need to keep an eye on how much they spend playing already 🙂

Bytes

WoWScrnShot_010815_061906Nothing much here at all. Sorry about that. I am trying to get into something to play regularly, but I just haven’t found anything of interest. I keep planning to upgrade the PC and get into something like Mechwarrior Online but I just haven’t. I have managed to break out of WoW. I don’t think its a bad game, but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. This year may also be a bit bereft of playtime as I get deeply into study.

Oh, and Netflix too, that takes some time up doesn’t it.

About the Site.

Well, ever since I dropped out of WoW, readership has plummeted. The odd one or two posts still garners interest, but they are the same posts every year – the Naga review and the couple around when I was deciding between the Daytona and the GSXR.

There are still a few diehard followers and some random people drop by, mostly seem to come in from Navi’s blog at Frostwolves. By comparison, Cymre over at Bubbles of Mischief had 2600 visits on her busiest day, I had 1500 all year.

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So the future…

I’ll just keep dribbling on about stuff, more bikes, less MTB, maybe more bytes. I like to keep this “diary” anyway.