Not MotoGP planning

Well I’m pretty disappointed about the MotoGP being cancelled, again. Though as I’m currently in a lockdown that we don’t know when it will end… maybe I would have missed it at any rate.

So the alternative plan is being considered. At the moment, it’s pretty close to the original, but without the days in Melbourne. So instead of eight days away, it will be six.

Roughly

  • Down Kangaroo Pass then to Merimbula
  • Merimbula, over the hills to Cooma, then across the Snowies via Cabramura, through to Tallangata
  • Tallangata over the Alps, then through Gippsland to Healesville
  • Healesville through Black Spur to Eildon, Mansfield and Khancoban
  • Khancoban over the Alpine Way to Canberra
  • Leaving Canberra decide whether to go my usual way or through Abercrombie.

Four nights camping. One night at friends (or maybe not, I’m likely to be a bit smelly by then!).

There are options along the way to reroute if weather looks particularly bad on any legs, such as taking the coast road on the first day, or heading to Canberra if the coast is miserable etc.

(I’m not saying I won’t be showering or changing clothes, but it will still be 5 days on the road by then).

As a different what if…. what if I went North. Tried ummm… I don’t really know what’s up there past Newcastle.. My ancient (2009) Hema motorcycle atlas talks about Thunderbolts Way, Bucketts Way and the Oxley. All those I’ve heard of. I could head up Putty to Singleton way, then carry on northwards. Wouldn’t be crossing any state borders (which I hope would no longer be an issue by then) and is likely to be warmer.

It would all be new that way….

Update: Maybe I’ll make two plans. One where I can travel across state borders, one where I can’t.

Any Suggestions?

As Sydney (and several parts of Australia) head into a new COVID induced lockdown, I am thinking about what if the Australian round of the MotoGP becomes NO SPECTATORS, or worse, is cancelled altogether.

So lets set the scenario, that for whatever reason, the Aus MotoGP gets cancelled. I’ve still got leave from work and a pass from the family. I can leave on the Wednesday, and have to be home by the following Wednesday.

Currently my route planned has me hitting quite a few roads between Sydney and Melbourne. Many of the “big names”. Including:

  • Kangaroo Valley
  • Snowy Mountain Hwy from Merimbula to Cooma
  • From Adaminby to Khancoban via Cabramura
  • Great Alpine Road through Omeo
  • Black Spur
  • Alpine Way up to Jindabyne
  • and my favourite out from Tarago to Marulan via Bundanoon!

Without going too far afield from that SE corner of NSW/VIC between Sydney and Melbourne (I’m not going to SA for example), where have I missed?

One that comes to mind is up through Goulburn to Oberon along Abercrombie Rd. I think I could add that in (instead of the Tarago to Marulan leg).

Any thoughts?

MotoGP Planning – Update

I was poking about on Google Maps and it looks like the route from Corryong direct to Omeo is dirt. I found a local council YouTube video talking about tree felling along that way after last year’s fires. It was clearly dirt and that was only 6 months ago, I’m fairly confident that they wouldn’t have sealed the whole road in that time.

I’m not having any of that gravel/dirt if I can avoid it, so I worked through some options. I changed my route down to head over towards Tallangatta after I cross the Snowies. Stay here I think, before heading up over the Alps. This might even shorten that day slightly, which is good as it was one of the longer ones..

I’ll probably stay in Tallangatta rather than Corryong/Colac Colac both ways then. That means the day out of Melbourne is not quite so long and the next day isn’t too much longer, and it was one of the shorter ones anyway. More even across the days now.

What else?

I’ve booked my Melbourne accommodation. Something with a washing machine. I booked to arrive on Friday, which gives me Saturday to rest or head to the track, or get my gear sorted or whatever. I have free cancellation too, in case it all gets turned off due COVID or work.

I’ve picked up a sleeping mat (R3 self inflating) and a couple of extra dry bags (to keep my sleeping bag dry if I put my tent away wet). I think I still need to get a small mallet. Think that’s about it. Any further purchases will be bike maintenance related.

MotoGP trip – more planning.

I like to plan. It’s part of how my brain works and something I do in my profession a lot. So even though it is still months away and may not happen at all (COVID) I am still doing planning for the MotoGP.

But I tell myself that it’s also planning for the practice runs I am also planning…. It’s a vicious cycle, lol.

Look if the Indian Cricket Team can come down, the Australian Tennis Open can be held, why not the MotoGP. Besides, we’ll all be immunised then anyway. So I’m planning. Easier to turn things off, than back on.

I have my route figured out. I have my planned fuel stops and also alternates (if I run low, or still have plenty left at my planned stop). Strangely, even with nearly 100km more range in the tank, I’m refuelling in about the same place as the Daytona trip. Sometimes, its about having enough fuel for long legs, but also about stopping and having a break anyway. Some are tradition, like the BP at Marulan. I always stop there….

So what else is being considered. Well I sorted out what would be about 90% of my gear for the trip and tried packing it all on the bike. That went pretty well, and it should fit nicely in my topbox and US30. Initially I can pack the backpack in the topbox, but if needed, I can strap outside, onto the US30 too. Experimented with different packing cubes. Realised, it might be easier if there was a single big bag in the top box, which I can just lift out. Put the packing cubes into this bag. I have something I can use as a inner bag for the top box to fill that role.

I am wondering how I will go when things are wet. Things like setting up the tent in the rain (and taking it down). Storing the tent so it doesn’t wet everything else, or can I get it a chance to dry in between. Even if it doesn’t rain, there will still be dew. All my thinking is about wet weather – I’ve lived and travelled in the area over several years, so I know what the weather tends to be like. Hot weather will just see me being a bit warm in my touring jacket. And making sure I have enough water.

If its a nice day, I can strap some stuff to the outside of the bike and let it dry in the sun and wind. But if it’s not…

Food wise, I still plan on just eating out. Have some snacks and a cold breakfast with me. I don’t drink coffee or tea, so nothing required to be heated at camp.

Then there’s things like how do I empty my GoPro SD card when it’s full. I’m not taking a laptop. When do I charge this stuff? I’m now planning to camp at powered sites if available. But do they just have a normal powerpoint? I assume so. That makes charging easy. If not, will I have enough to at least charge my phone and my helmet BT system, Scalarider (I think the answer is yes).

Then, just before departure I’ll look at the weather predications and add or subtract clothing before leaving. But it’s very changeable down that way no matter what the forecast a week before says.

And then some test runs…. I wonder if there’s space at work to camp out for a night?

MotoGP – Route Planning

I’m probably procrastinating, and also a bit presumptuous, especially when we can’t be sure that the MotoGP will even get to Australia this year. But I’ve been route planning for my ride to the MotoGP this October. Probably the fact I just purchased my camping gear is part of the motivation.

It has been a bit of a revelation, when I release myself from dropping in on family or family friends (how many more options open up for route and places to stay. Being able to go about 100km further on a tank (Ninja compared to the Daytona) will mean I can be a little more relaxed about where to get fuel. And, of course, camping opens up options as well.

I decided to plan on about 6 hours of riding per day. With breaks and fuel stops etc, that’s probably getting closer to 7-8 hours a day. I think that’s probably a comfortable pace for me. With camping an option now, I can conceivably decide to go a little further (or less) on a day. October is low/shoulder season, so I would expect that most parks would have a powered or unpowered site available for drop ins.

This time I thought about roads I wanted to travel. So things to tick off.

  • Kangaroo Valley (it would be nice to go up this)
  • Princes Highway, south along the coast
  • Black Spur
  • Alpine Way (upwards)
  • Whitfield to Mansfield
  • That piece south of Lake Eildon that drove me crazy last time.
  • The road up from Merimbula to Cooma, that was fun in the car even.

It did take me several attempts, because I kept trying to wind my route back to people I could stay with. So I tried a different approach. I put together a long list of various places and times between them. Then I could just plug them together in different ways and see what happened. I will bring with this with me and if I want to make changes I already have the details.

And a plan has come together. I’ve gone from a rough idea of maybe camping one night, to camping probably 3 nights. I have planned to stay in a hotel/motel when I am in Melbourne. This gives me somewhere I can rest, relax, recover. It also means I can store my gear (or spread out and dry/air) safely while I’m at the race.

  • Day One – Leave Sydney, down the freeway a little, then veer off and down Kangaroo Valley. Once on the coast, follow the Princes Highway down to Marulan. Camp here at the same park we stayed as the family.
  • Day Two – From Merimbula, up across the mountains to Cooma. Then north to Adaminby and across the Snowy’s down to Colac Colac. This won’t be over the Alpine Way, but one of the alternatives.
  • Day Three – Colac Colac to Omeo, then over the Alps to Sale and eventually about Dandenong. I’ll stay in a hotel/motel here for the two nights.
  • Day 3a – If I leave a day earlier, I can spend a day in Melbourne, or have a rest day, or go to practice/qualifying
  • Day Four – Race day.
  • Day Five – Head north for Healesville and the Black Spur. Out the other side and up to Eildon. From Eildon I’ll head to Mansfield around the south and east of Lake Eildon and defeat the demon I faced last trip. From there I will probably head back to Colac Colac for the night. Alternatively Wodonga.
  • Day Six – Over the Snowy Mountains along the Alpine Way. And then on to Canberra.
  • Day Seven – Home. Probably by my favourite route over the back through to Tarago and Marulan, then freeway home. I suppose I could go down to the coast, then up Kangaroo Valley…. hmm…

About 5 or 6 hours per day. The longest planned is 8 and I’m a little worried about that. Though the next day is short (only 5 hours) so I might stop earlier and even them out. Or I might be travelling really well and be ahead. See, now I’m flexible….

Thinking About Camping… by bike

Whenever I have travelled further than a day’s ride, I have either stayed at friends, stayed in accommodation provided by work, or in a hotel. I’ve been thinking about the next trip to the MotoGP. I’m assuming that it will be on this year. And I thought that maybe I might try camping this year.

Now, I’m not a stranger to camping, though it has been many years. I’ve done some hiking, and even with work have stayed out in the bush sometimes. And in this case, I’m not thinking about the kind of camping where I’m away from civilisation for long periods. I’m just talking about bedding down somewhere along the way. Say at a caravan park or something.

Staying at a park means I’ll have amenities, which saves a lot of hassle. Possibly even access to power outlets. Cooking if I want to go that far (I doubt I will).

I have a pretty good sleeping bag. It’s not tiny, but neither is it huge. I figure to about 6C it should be fine. I don’t expect that it should be any colder than that getting to Melbourne, but the bag is rated a little lower if needed. If it is looking bad at the time, I have a bigger, but better rated bag I could pack instead.

I don’t have a tent. Sales are on at the moment, so I picked a quite small single person. It packs down very small. No cover for the bike, but I’m not too worried about that. I’ll take a “foot” for the side stand in case the ground is soft, but I’d be taking that anyway.

I will have to test them out sometime. Firstly just to make sure I know how the tent goes up, then to check the sleeping bag is warm enough. I’ll probably just put them up on my back deck at first, not sure when I could get an actual away trip to experiment with.

These two should fit nicely in my top box. I plan to use my top box and my Kriega backpack (which I would strap to the pillion seat for most of the trip rather than wear). I think that will be enough. Perhaps I can throw in my 30L Kriega tailpack if needed? That should be plenty of space.

I also realised that because I’m no longer studying, I don’t need to bring my iPad and other study stuff. I can keep my electronics down to my phone and the GoPro. This makes it easier to secure, easier to manage charge levels and just less, well, stuff. Ooh… and a torch.

Of course, this all hinges on the MotoGP actually happening and me actually getting away. However, having the bag and the tent available of the future isn’t a bad thing anyway.

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.

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.