This is by far the worst bushfire season I can recall. Now I know my “bushfire memory” only goes back to about 1998, but even with a few big ones in that time (like the Winmalee fire, the massive Canberra fire and one over near Holsworthy) I feel like this is worse. Because each fire is lasting a long time, there are so many at once and they started “early”.
Smoke has affected Sydney, especially Western Sydney (where I work and live) almost every day, for over 4 weeks now. Some days its not bad, but other days it’s like a thick, chocking fog. Even here, more than 40kms for the nearest fire, I’ve had ash a few cm long falling on my car and house. We’ve had fine white ash for days now.
One of the worst at the moment is the fire north of the city. It has burned through over 300,000 hectares (that’s bigger than greater Sydney) since it started over a month ago. It has merged with two other fires as well. All along several of my favourite riding routes people have been evacuated and roads closed. The Putty has been shut for almost three full weeks now. I don’t know how places like Grey Gums, the petrol at Colo Heights and other places are doing. I think that they are safe so far.
I keep hoping they’ll open up and then I want to get a few fellow riders from work to go up and at least show some support. But the road stays shut.
Alongside the Putty, the road on the northern side of Wiseman’s Ferry is shut, all the way to Mangrove Mountain. The road from Broke, through Wollombi and to Bucketty is shut too.
Further away, there are fires near Canberra and Bateman’s Bay. I don’t know if any homes have been lost, but I suspect that especially in the Bay fire that some have, it’s just too close to those towns to have been able to save everything.
So the worst bushfires I can remember (and many others as well) are just going on and on. It’s only early December and the summer heat hasn’t started yet. I just hope the fireies can keep going!
So on the 2nd I got to head out for a much longer ride on the Ninja. I got up really early to beat traffic and heat. This past week or so has been really toasty in Western Sydney with temps above 35 for days. So I was keen to be on my way back before mid afternoon. I rolled out of the driveway at 0600, actually I bit earlier than I expected. It was already light of course, and the sun would be well up by the time I rode up to Windsor and up the Putty.
I headed along my old commute (as of the 14th I’m working in a new location, so my commute will be different – shorter and just straight west along the M4) up to Windsor. The bike was really easy along this. Some filtering was practiced, with the bike not seeming much fatter than the Daytona, so that’s excellent.
I fuelled up in Windsor, putting 8L into the tank. This was brim full and I reset the counter. One of the main things I am looking for in this bike is a range that is more than the Daytona’s 200km, and hoping for something like 350km (400km would be nice) from a tank.
So up the Putty I went. One of the first things I noticed is that at low speed it is actually easy to turn (like carparks and such) due to the better clearance from the bars to tank at lock. Deceptively so, for a heavy bike (but one that weighs pretty much what my VFR did).
And that’s probably the main thing I want to say. HONDA you should make a VFR 1000. This bike really felt like the VFR position and riding style, but with a chunk more power and torque. It sure doesn’t turn as easily or as aggressively as the Daytona, but then it’s not expected too. It doesn’t even quite feel as aggressive as the VFR, but it does seem to turn just fine for me. And I’ve lost all that “he’s riding a Daytona, he should be riding fassssttt” pressure too. Once I started to get out of Daytona habits and replace them with new Ninja style, the ride started to go better.
I stopped a couple of times for some photos and even managed a ride by video, which I hope to edit and get up on YouTube before too long. I got to Grey Gums in about an hour, which seems about right. Had one moment – while doing the video I was doing a U-Turn and it started to topple. Stuck my leg out and there was a moment I thought it might fall. Gave her a big heave and all that gym over the past 18 months paid off! Up she came. Safe.
Rode home via MCAS in Penrith where I order the Givi V47 topbox and rack. They might even be here today, now that’s service, considering its just after New Year. This will mean the Ninja comes a possibility for a work trip to Canberra in two weeks time. And then back home by 1100. Not a bad ride out. Total distance was 230km, with two bars left on the gauge. So I think 300km is hopefully normal. It might also increase slightly as the bike has now only done 2880km, and I don’t know what the age of the fuel and what sort it was. I remember the VFR added an extra 50km after 12,000km and the Daytona clearly increased its range when I switched from 95 to 98 octane.
Overall, while I still miss the Daytona (heck I still am heart broken over the VFR!) I think this was a good decision. With the topbox giving me all weather and lockable luggage and the extra range, the cost of the bike was only the stamp duty (about $200-300), I think I’ve done alright. I certainly enjoy riding it. I can use the Kriega bags, secured to the topbox rack if I need more than the 45L in the topbox (unlikely).
I do wish I could have afforded the latest one with all the bells and whistles, but to be honest I had none on the VFR and only added ABS (oh, and the slipper clutch and quick shifter, hmmmm) on the Daytona. I would have thought it would at least have engine temp (the ’13 onwards does) but I don’t think even the ’19 gets air temp reading. I do have ABS, so that’s something.
I’ll get this to its first proper service before too long, keep an eye on the tyres and continue my slow pick it apart and clean it and the bike should last me 5-10 years. See what happens then!
I decided I needed a ride to celebrate my upcoming Birthday. So I took the day off work and headed up the Putty. I left pretty early, so by 7:30 I was just above Windsor. I stopped at Colo Heights for breakfast before pushing on.
I think it was about 9:30 when I got to the top of the Putty. I did a run up 10-mile before having a rest at the fireplace (Why is there even a fireplace there? There’s no space, there’s no camping area, no river/creek to swim in, there’s hardly any parking even? Who built it? Why?)
After the rest, I headed up to Broke for fuel. I was half thinking of coming back and doing some laps of 10-mile, or I even considered heading across to Wollombi and maybe Wiseman’s or Old Pac.
I headed back down the Putty, and ended up doing 1 more lap of 10-mile before deciding to start heading home. Stopped for a flash burger at Grey Gums (and flash burger prices too!), it was nice, but I see where they have put together the money to seal their driveway!
I was really happy with my riding, especially in the more technical sections. I feel as if I went faster (no one caught me, but the lack of traffic may have been a factor there) and I felt a LOT more confident as I did. I’m still not going to win any races, but I felt that I didn’t freak out at all (except a couple of moments where I lost concentration and completely forgot where the road was headed, tired). It was a good ride.
Mrs Mab let me out for a ride this NYE Eve. I headed up the Putty, leaving home at about 6am. This way I could be home with some time with the family.
My first time up here since the previous spring (in 2014 that is). There didn’t seem to be much different along the road itself. I expected only a few bikes if any – even though it was shaping up to be a clear 25C day. It is double demerits from before Christmas until after New Years, so a lot of the young or silly crew stay away.
I passed a police car just outside Wilberforce, he had a customer (and it was a car) already so ignored me.
I got to Grey Gums shortly after 0730. By this time, I was pretty hungry, I kept getting distracted by imagining a big bacon, eggs, sausages sorta breakfast. Didn’t quite cause me to crash, but I certainly had to refocus a couple of times. I had never arrived this early and I was worried it would be shut. As I rolled down the road (the entrance a little past the cafe when you are northbound) it was clearly open. Apparently from 0700. Everyday except Christmas Day.
New owners I think, certainly some renovations. More shade, more tables and more concrete exclusively for bikes, gotta love em.
A hearty breakfast (which also included toast, mushrooms and onions) and I was on my way.
I hit Ten Mile and did 5 laps to end up heading towards Broke (for fuel). It is a great stretch, but it takes almost 2 hours to get there from home. There has been some roadworks done. Some corners widened but the most significant was on several of the corners the armco now stretches right to the ground and the posts are behind. Importantly that should mean its harder for a crashing rider to slid under or hit a post when they hit the armco. A lot better than more wires.
Very happy with how I improved across the runs as I loosened up. Still slow compared to most, but smooth and safe. Interesting, even though I generally stick close to the speed limits, even I felt an overwhelming urge to check my throttle early out of many of the corners. That did put a little damper on it.
After Broke I contemplated going home via Wiseman’s Ferry, but decided I would already be away a long time and I don’t know if they have repaired the river side leg, it was pretty rough on the VFR. On the taunt Daytona I would be scrambled.
My last trip down the Ten Mile was spoiled by some old tourists from Queensland who drove slow and couldn’t stay in their lane. Eventually they were passed.
I stopped again at Grey Gums for a snack then straight home. An enjoyable ride, but its been a while since I’ve done such a long one (about 6 hours in the saddle) and I felt a bit weary the last hour.
Also, my weight loss over the past month has meant my pants went on a bit easier 🙂
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.
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.
Up 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. But 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.
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. With 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.
One 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.