2018 in Review

I haven’t written last years review yet, so here goes.

About Bikes

Well a good year for the bikes, finishing on a dramatic change. Most of the year was commuting to work, with the odd day ride squeezed in occasionally. I managed to get my little ones out for a ride and they both enjoyed it.

Of course, there was the big adventure to the MotoGP, only 11 years since the last time. I found some fun roads, I had some great weather, I enjoyed the challenge and the solitude. The Daytona performed excellently for a bike being asked to do something the designers NEVER intended. However well it went though, it wasn’t as easy as it would have been on the VFR so I finally made the decision that was 4 years in the making.

And seemingly fate gave me the chance to swap the bike for the Ninja which I did. Though by the by the end of 2018, I was very uncertain if I had done the right thing. The Daytona was gone and the Ninja sat unridden in the garage, looking dirty and tired.

About babes

The kids… well one finished primary and is off to high school this year! They had a great year, probably they would both count the Japan trip as the highlight, I would put it a tight second after the MotoGP trip. They both enjoyed their ride around the block on the bike too.

About bytes

Well the computers this year have been almost exclusively workhorses, with my study and my girls work as well. I did tuck in to BattleTech and love that. Oh, now that study is on hold….

Oh, I did get the new iMac didn’t I – it seems like so long ago. That was like changing to a new car without even realising. It just doesn’t break down all the time like the old one, but otherwise everything looks the same. And to be honest, I don’t really notice the faster start up etc, because everything is usually open.

The Playstation got retired (faulty wireless board, still works with USB), the Wii got passed to a relative and the kids picked up a Switch. Cool little device that.

About Study

I would love to be saying I’m done, but I have one prac unit left before I graduate. And no certainty of when I will get to do it. Hopefully when I write the 2019 review I will be able say done.

BUT the main thing is that I LOVE IT. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it had it been my thing straight out of Uni, but I think that time in between and the life and experience in that time will set me on a good path to this new career, whenever it is that I actually get started.

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Goodby Daytona, Hello Ninja

It’s done, the bikes are swapped. I’ll add some photos in the next few days. It’s really dusty from the trip up so I’ll clean it and get some photos (when its not 40C outside).

Happy and sad.

The Ninja is in fantastic shape. Basically new, but already run in. It is a December 2011 (so basically a 2012, hence the colouring that confused me) with 2600 km. It was serviced in May with everything looked at and all the fluids replaced and a new battery.

It does have original tyres, they’re BT016. That does make them older, but its been stored inside so I am confident they will get at least maybe another 8000km or so out of them. Then I can look around for something more like the T series, a more sport touring tyre to put on it. I’ll be gentle for the first few hundred kms as they settle back into use and I see how the wear goes.

Other than that, I’ll save up for a topbox (top case some call it). I’m leaning towards Givi as I have positive recollections of their gear in all weathers.

So a new bike. And to think, back in 2004 when I bought the VFR I didn’t expect to ever get another bike.

Oh, and the other good new is that it fits in the garage!

Bike Swap Update – A date is set

Well first up, it looks like its a 2012, not a 2011, hence the colour combo is this, not the one I post previously. I think I like it more.

2012 Ninja 1000
As far as I’ve been told, the only modification is that one of the owners has installed a tail tidy onto the bike.

 Yes, I have seen photos of the actual bike, I was just confused as I had remembered the year as 2011, but all the images like this are of a 2012. 

And a date has been set. The other rider is trailering her bike to Sydney from Canberra shortly after Christmas. We can then check out each other’s bikes and test ride. And I’m hoping, to take the Daytona back home with her. Certainly I am getting more excited about the changeover. It’s basically a brand new bike (that I don’t need to run in!)

The Girls Ride!

A quiet, cool Sunday afternoon came around last weekend so I offered my girls a ride with me on the Daytona. Neither has ridden on a bike before. I was pleased when both said yes, so it was time to gear up.

I have jacket, gloves and helmet for Mrs Mab and due to her diminutive stature her gear wasn’t too big for the girls. In fact, the youngest fit the helmet and gloves fine, but the arms on the jacket were a bit ridiculous. The older one fit the jacket better and the gloves, but the helmet was a tight fit. Jeans (I know) and closed shoes completed their gear. Obviously with only 1 set, I took one for a ride and then we changed the gear over and the other came for her ride.

So it was just “around the block”, not over 50km/h and no sudden moves (remember I’m trying to encourage them, not scare them!). And yes, with both over 8 years old it is legal, and they were able to reach the pegs etc, so I just had to watch out for the usual idiots, but at about 3pm on a Sunday, it was pretty quiet.

And I’m happy to report that both really enjoyed it. They will definitely like to come again, and both are interested in getting bikes when they get older, so WIN! Only downside was the older one’s head was really slightly too big for the helmet, which made taking it off a challenge, made doubly so as she felt that her earrings were catching on the lining (they weren’t – her ears were just getting caught up in the bottom of the padding around the opening) so there was some stress. But even a week later (I just asked her then) she would still like to go again.

If we get a proper sized helmet.

And what do girls do about their earrings? Or was it just a slightly small helmet issue?

A bike swap is being mooted

Ever since my VFR (was viciously murdered) crash with the roo, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. Mrs Mab was very clear that the Daytona would have to go before any changes (she wasn’t going to fall into my previous trick of adding the Daytona, then not being able to sell the VFR). But part of the problem has been what bike to get.

The obvious choice was either a new VFR or a 6th gen, like my old one, second hand. There are less what I would call sports tourers around these days, and very few manufacturers actually making bikes in this group. I knew some of the things I didn’t really want. I didn’t want an adventure bike, or those sort of adventure tourers (you know, with road tyres, but longer suspension). I understand the VFR has just been quietly halted as well.

So one of the other bikes I looked at is the Ninja 1000sx. I test rode one a while back here. And thought it was good, except the seat was a bit uncomfortable. I test rode one again recently, this second hand one had a gel seat, which seemed pretty good. This one also seemed to have a quick shift, it had louder pipes, a top box, a gear indicator and the gel seats. It also had 60,000km and even then was probably out of my price range. 

The other day at work a colleague in Canberra put a for swap ad (in the bike sales board online). They had a 2011 Ninja 1000 with 2500km that they had bought second hand. They were after something smaller and lighter (well actually they wrote shorter). I offered my Daytona, and after some back and forth and her searching for one to sit on to test, it looks like I am going to swap the Daytona for the Ninja. 

This is the 2011 Ninja 1000SX, in the colour scheme offered to me.

She’s never ridden the Ninja as far as I can tell. She’s sat on it and worried that it’s too big and heavy for her. I don’t even know why she bought it, as she normally had a string of Ducati sports bikes (and apparently a Bimota at one stage), its not like her at all. Very odd, but possibly turns out well for me.

On the negatives, it is a 2011, so no LED headlights. The 2011 also misses out on the 6 axis something something traction control/ABS, but it does have ABS. I think I can live with that, the VFR had nothing and the Daytona only has ABS. The seat is the main thing that worries me, but I’m kinda hoping that a used one will be “broken in” a bit and not as tough as the brand new one I test rode. I could also get a replacement seat. Doesn’t appear to have a centre stand either, which is annoying, but I have a stand already so no biggie.

The 2500km is both a positive and a negative. Its not a lot of km, so there is heaps left for me. I understand its a fairly trouble free engine good for many km. It will also be my first inline 4 and my first litre bike! The worry is the age of the tyres and fluids, but I know the owner has had it serviced recently. It also bodes well for the overall condition of the bike and I’m sure that she has been storing it carefully. Much more carefully than my ridden every day Daytona.

The positives is that I get a more upright bike, with longer range (more like 300km, than 200km) and better carrying capacity. She doesn’t have any luggage for it, so I will have to get a top box. Probably Givi as the factory kits don’t let you fit top box AND panniers, but Givi’s set up does. I’ll start with the top box though and in the interim I still have the Kriega bags. This will suit me better as I may have more travel coming up, and and I can go back to commuting with a top box (so can carry more, it stays out of the weather and you have somewhere to put the helmet when you’re parked). And the bike should be more comfortable for the Mrs (as well as space for her shopping). It’s actually much easier to manoeuvre at slow speed due to the tall position and high clip ons.

But I do suffer from that whole – I don’t like to get rid of my things – problem. I love riding the Daytona, but I do wish I had a more VFR kind of bike as well. This is easily the cheapest way to get back into sports tourers that I have come across and I’m sure the bike will be excellent. 

But I have to get rid of the Daytona….

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.

 

 

 

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.