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Four & a half ride stories from cragv in VIC (Apr-May 09

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by cragv, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. I've recently settled into NR as being my new regular bike forum. This is a great community and I've really enjoyed getting slowly more involved. Probably one of my favourite parts of this forum is reading people's ride reports, so I'd like to add a few more of my recent rides for anyone who's interested to read.

    I'll whack em all in this thread, so if you feel like a bit of a gander over the pics of the Victorian countryside from a motorcyclist's perspective, read on! Cheers :)


    Just a small addition to the thread: I've found some older pics from last year sometime on a ride I would have done in October or November 2008, from my place out to Marysville and back again. Probably took this route, or similar.

    Some pics from the ride, descriptions beneath:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    1. After heading through Launching Place, this would have been taken on Don Road, near the bridge where it becomes a dirt road!

    2. Riding along said dirt road, probably near D on the map.

    3. Somewhere along the road that goes from Marysville Road to Cambarville, just before it turns to dirt. You can see the gravel sign in the background. (I turned around at this point!)

    4. After Marysville, on the road to Buxton. Nice little stop-off near the bridge over the bubbling little creek, only a few mins north of Marysville. Since the fires, I'm pretty sure the bridge is still there, but there are less living trees :(

    For the above, I was on my 2005 Hyosung GT250R, my first motorcycle, upon which I really became hooked on riding (although to be honest, those first 2 days on the L's course had me already signed up for life)! Was a fun little bike, although the 250cc did run out of poke in places - I remember flying up the Marysville Rd on the way toward said town, on that long hill that crests in a cutting. Getting up that in 5th (or 4th, didn't really matter) and holding 106km/hr (indicated) was about all I could eek out of that engine.

    Actually, I even flooded it at that speed on my first ride through there, not realising that I would have had the throttle pinned whereas the output of the engine only required maybe 3/4 open. This is my theory anyway, as the bike coughed and spluttered, almost stalled, then went straight back to normal again after I'd pulled over and let it idle for 3 or 4 seconds. A lesson :)

    Great bike, I miss it, but lurve my new steed ('87 FJ1200), which stars in all the stories below. Here's to many more!
  2. April 9 - Melbourne to Yea & Back

    April 9 - Melbourne to Yea & Back

    I found I had some spare time on my hands today, after a bumper day of work yesterday and a few drives in the mail that will be ready for me on Tuesday after Easter. In short, I just have 'boring' stuff to do like my BAS for last quarter, some marketing stuff, website updates, etc. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning outside, the air was crisp and sweet, and I'd just filled up my tank yesterday. My resolve was quickly crumbling.

    Bugger it, I'm goin' for a ride.

    I planned a quick route, threw some lunch and snacks together, put the dog outside, and hit the road at about 11am. Click the image below to see a large version of the map.


    First up, I thought I'd better take a pic of my current bike's setup. Basically, this pic shows you everything. Ignoring any original FJ parts, from left to right, we have: my Griffin iPod remote, GPS with water/sun shield (a prototype, but worked quite well in last weeks' torrential rain), Crumpler camera case for easy access, wide-angle mirror, and if you look carefully, you can see the edge of my throttle-rocker ($6 delivered from eBay).


    (In case you're wondering, the GPS is charged from a water-proof USB screw-cap socket I got from Jaycar, with the heat-shielded cable running back to the bike's tail. I've installed a switchable, ignition-activated powered USB hub on a fused relay back there, so not only can I power anything from my dash that takes a USB cable (GPS, phone, iPod, etc.), but I can also interface anything from the front of the bike to my netbook at the back of the bike, via the USB hub. I also have a fused, water-proof DC socket in the same area in the tail, which currenlty is used to power my netbook. I'm just looking for the right kind of webcam to mount on the front of the bike now, and I'll have a photo or video solution with almost unlimited storage potential. The system continues to develop as I install and test various ideas. Bit of a work in progress :) ).

    I've already taken a couple of rides through the area since the fires, as its my riding backyard, and found it hard to stay away. I've remained careful not to get in anyone's way, to obey the posted limits (not sure how much point there is since the locals and trucks don't seem to!) and not to be insensitive with my photos (which is why you won't see any rubble or house remains in this ride report). It's still quite a mess up there, but for the first time since the fires I've seen signs of new growth. Greenery starting to pop back up on the ground and sides of trees, along with local shops and houses with some new foundations (although these will take much longer than the local flora!).

    Anyway, let's get on with it. Traffic was light, and I found my way out of town pretty quickly. I got out of the local area, and took these on the way into Yarra Glen, near Healesville:


    I've spent about 1,500km on the bike since I've had it, and am now getting really comfy on it. 5th gear is good all the way down to 30km/hr, meaning if I'm in traffic when I go through roadworks, there's really no reason to change down. Even when hitting an 80 or 100 zone after the 40 or 60 zone, I can comfortably overtake in 5th, getting past cars as they accellerate more slowly. Certainly, if you look for the sweet spot through each gear, there's plenty of poke to be enjoyed, but as far as a lazy tourer goes, the torque here is plentiful and delivered in big, easy gobs. I'm loving it :)

    After passing through Healesville, I stopped to grab a quick pic of myself on the bike - this is my first ever pic on this bike, and for future reference I always like to have one for each bike or car I have. Sentimental value, I guess.


    The hills up from Healesville (I guess this is the Black Spur? Never quite worked that one out) are showing signs of the aforementioned regrowth after the fire storm - plenty more green on the tress now than even 2 weeks ago.


    Coming out the other side of what I think is the Black Spur, I was pleasantly surprised to find the roads had all been swept clean. This side of the mountian didn't seem to have been affected by the fires at all, and was just as lush and green as always. In January, I'd taken a ride up north via this same road, and I remember just how treacherous and slippery the debris was that was strewn all over the road. There was decaying leaf and bark matter, soil, water, and all manner of slippery green stuff. I remember having trouble not sliding around some corners, and traffic was crawling along at 40km/h. Today, it was a different story. It was as if the surface had just been layed, and I had a blast being able to do the speed limit of 80 most of the way, even on my heavy bike. Was a lot of fun.

    Coming out the other side, I would have quite happily taken the turn-off to Marysville after exiting the Spur in the past, but I understand the place is still closed off after being decimated. :( Only a few kilometers past this hill, as the crow flies, was where Marysville was located:


    I chose instead to bypass the remains of that town for obvious reasons, and head instead through Buxton, which I know has also been ravaged by fire, but the roads were (to my knowledge) open. Here's a 360-degree of the road a couple of k's out of Buxton:


    It was a nice ride to Alexandra, and uneventful. I couldn't say the same for the part between Alexandra and Yea, however. Some readers may recall the recent shenanigans I went through with dropping my bike, in my garage, on first the RHS, and then the LHS, within the space of a few minutes :banghead: Part of the outcome of that little comedy routine was my LHS mirror snapping off near the bottom of the stalk. At ~104km/hr, on my merry way to Yea, the mirror suddenly flopped toward me, holding on for dear life purely by the rubber boot that sits over the mounting bolts! After grabbing the mirror and stuffing it between the seat and my legs, I quickly pulled over. The cold weld had clearly failed from the onslaught of constant 100km/hr wind buffeting. I'm going to have to JB Weld it again, but this time I'll put some deep grind marks into the stem and fill those too, and when its all set I'll run an epoxy jacket around the seal. Should hopefully do the trick this time! Note the lack of LHS mirror here:


    I took the chance to actually stop for some lunch. Here's the bike, and here's me - it was hard to do the timer photo and ensure I was in the frame. It's my best attempt, and its all you're going to get, so enjoy :crazy: Roadside dining at its best!


    After lunch, and rolling through Yea, rather than heading home through Kinglake West and Arthurs Creek, which I did after Yea just a week or so ago, I decided to head back to Yarra Glen via a different Hwy (refer to map for details). I hit plenty of roadworks along the way as the pipeline goes in. I have a mate who works for John Holland, who have this contract. Its apparrently classed as a 'Small' project, since it only comes in at $300m - 'Large' projects start at $0.5b! Blimey. I tried to take a stealthy shot of the lollipop man at one of the roadwork stops, but I missed his head!!


    (I have no idea what he's pointing at, either)

    I grabbed this pic from the side of the road - shows a hill which would have glowed bright orange 7 weeks ago, with the untouched trees in the middle-distance. Right next to the road was more scorched plant-life, so from a road-side observation point, this fire really hit a lot of random-seeming areas. I recall a number from the Whittlesea mayor's speech at the RftH last Sunday that 28 out of 73 (+/-) of Victoria's municipal areas were affected by the fires, so they covered a vast amount of space.


    A bit further on I stopped to grab a few more pics to show how the fire lit up a lot of trees, but left many others. The resolution isn't too good on this one due to the distance involved, but the hills in the background are mostly scorched too.

    Scuse the tiny thumbnail - click it to enlarge!

    Rather than turning right to head to Kinglake and back into my area, I decided to continue on the highway and head back down the ridgeline toward Yarra Glen. This area also used to be very lush, and judging by the growth already here, it won't be long until things are back to normal for the bush here...


    Heading back toward Eltham, my final stop before hitting home was to just grab another snack and a swig of water. Thought I'd take a final photo since the bike and the camera were both there!


    I had a great ride, as always. Upcoming mods include a taller windscreen to reduce the rediculous buffeting my head gets from a comfy slouch at 90km/h or faster. If I duck down or sit up tall, the buffeting stops. Bleh to that! I'm also going to get a proper GPS cover manufactured somehow, and am considering heated grips, engine bash bars, spotties, side bags, and gear for the wife. All in good time :)

    Thanks for reading - now get out there!
  3. April 21 - Melbourne to Phillip Island & back...

    That's right, Yet Another Ride Report. I like acronyms. Deal with it. :p

    After getting some work and appointments out of the way this morning, I decided to head to Phillip Island since I haven't been there before. Map of the ride here.

    Traffic irked me this morning, and I couldn't wait to get out of the city. After finishing up in Narre Warren I dropped by Anaconda to take advantage of their 20%-off-everything sale that ended today and got a small camp stove for my next big ride. Had a snack (~midday) and took a quick pic before I set off on the proper ride.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    On the way south, down the M420 (near Koo Wee Rup), I passed a structure I wasn't familiar with. Chucked a U-ey and came back for a closer look. The view was nice, but not spectacular, so here are some pics of my bike instead (y)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Further down the road I saw a turnoff to the coastal village of Jam Jerrup, so I pulled in to take a look. Pretty place. The houses there are about 50 meters from the water, and this is their beach.

    (^^ Click for full size pic)

    I had a snack and a quick cuppa (thermos, not the camp stove!) and watched a Commodore unload with a bunch of guys who'd seemingly driven here for a bit of fishing. Nice way to spend your Tuesday, if that's what floats yer boat. Me, I prefer riding. Here's some more about that...

    I hit a few road works on the way down, and was so busy looking at the work they were doing, I blew right past the Phillip Island turnoff! Carrying on my merry way, as I started the small descent into Kilcunda and saw the massive wind generators in the distance, I started looking for a place to turn off and take a break. I saw a sign saying 'Shelly Beach, Right Turn 400m', and so in approximately 400m I duly indicated and turned right onto a gravel track. As I steered the bike between two wood pillars, I vaguely thought to myself 'Hmm, I don't think a car would fit easily through that', but it wasn't until I noticed the horse and shoe prints in the gravelly sand, it slowly dawned on me that maybe I had missed the Shelly Beach turnoff (not the first time today!) and inadvertantly put myself onto a well built walking track! I took the first little exit I could and headed up onto the grass so I could stop, and hoped I hadn't annoyed any locals who may have been shaking their heads about idiot bikers thinking they could just ride anywhere (oops!). I took the chance to have a break, and took a pic of the wind turbines in the distance.


    When I pulled out, I headed back the way I'd come, being only a few clicks from the Phillip Island turnoff. I didn't get a pic as I went over the bridge onto PI, I wished I could take a pic, but didn't want to handle my camera while riding. I've recently gotten hold of an ASUS AF-200 which I'll mount properly soon - then I can take pics at will. For now, you'll have to use your imagination! I headed to Cowes for lunch, and stopped at a cafe on the main drag - its name started with a 'Z' and the building is painted red and white, but I forget it (sorry). I did remember to take the obligatory food photo - I had their signature burger, chips & salad, and a ginger beer. It was a nice break, and good food.


    After that, I headed on toward the end of the island (nice road too, and finally a 100 zone - I was beginning to think the entire island would be 80!). I got to 'The Nobbies' and took a few pics - not great, sorry - but I had a bit of a look around since I'd come all this way.

    (^^Click on the pic for large size)

    (This one is looking north/east, away from the south coast)

    After this, it would have been about 3pm, so it was time to motor. I didn't stop at the Grand Prix circuit due to time constraints, but I'll be back. As I buzzed by, I had a bit of a look at the track and saw two Porsche 911s flying round the corner nearest the road. They both had it pegged! It all happened too quick for a pic, sorry.

    I left the island and headed nor-east to Strzelecki, then started heading north to Gembrook (which was a good 80km+ from there). I had to stop cos I had a bug in my eye - well, part of a bug. There were HEAPS of insects on this ride - I had one splat on the mesh air vents of my helmet, exploding straight through the gaps, fragmenting right into my eye! I pulled over quickly and dealt with the unwelcome visitor (or what was left of it), then took an opportunistic pic of the road I was on.


    After passing through Poowoong (1989 Tidy Town winner, the old sign proudly proclaimed), the road really started to change. Lots of awesome curves, good surfaces, and very pretty country overall. A few pics:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Great roads, great views. The day was getting on, so I motored on through Gembrook and up through Yarra Glen and then home. No more pics for the day, sorry - I just got my head down and headed home. Got in about 6pm. Plenty of traffic around 5pm, but I'll always be happier in busy backroads than moderate city roads.

    Sorry to Julz, Az and others who may have been up for a quick ride today - I just did it off the cuff, and had a good one too. Thanks for reading! :D
  4. April 30 - Melbourne to Mt Buller & back...

    Anyway, on to today's effort - my latest ride in what seems to be becoming a fortnightly occurrence (and I'm not complaining!). Today I left Macleod after finishing with the mail at around 10.45am or so. I had intended on doing a bit of a loop around the north-Victorian high-country, but wasn't sure how far I'd get due to time constraints. I ended up going to Mt Buller, then nailing it home to make it in time to collect my wife from the station a little after 6pm. I made it with about 15 minutes to spare! Here's the link to the Google Maps trip, and here's a pic of my trip today:


    I actually learned about some new roads right from the start when I made the decision to not overrule the GPS for once, and let it take me out through what I thought was suburbia. I ended up finding my way through North and South Warrandyte before being dropped onto the Melba Hwy just before Lilydale. It was a nice surprise, and certainly beat taking the normal route out via the Eastern, then Springvale Rd, Ringwood, etc. :)

    First stop of the day was for a quick cuppa from the thermos at Woori Yallock, just above the Launching Place/Koo Wee Rup Rd turnoff - you'd take this road to head north to Healesville. In the past before I knew these roads so well, I've managed to turn right onto Don Rd and head up a gravel road all the way to Mt Toolebewong! Not today!

    I motored on through the picturesque townships, especially enjoying Warburton, which I'd only been through for the first time ever a few weeks back - IN MY CAR!! (I know, I know). Maybe I'll take the Mrs up there on the bike this weekend - she got on my bike for the first time ever (indeed, her first motorcycle ever) last Sunday and we went for a spin. So glad she's got gear now :D

    Anyway, I parked just above the Yarra River here out the other side of Warburton (heading away from Melbourne) to get a quick pic for shats and gaggles (and to show the road behind - really nice hills very close to everything - very pretty area.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I kept following Warburton Wood-Point Rd until prompted to turn right to head up towards Marysville, ultimately to take me to Mansfield. I had originally planned to go north via Matlock, but unintentionally neglected to write this on my ride plan (only had 4 town/place names by which to set my GPS, stop-by-stop) - so I dutifully turned left onto Marysville Woods-Point Rd, and started climbing out of the valley.

    It didn't take long to pass into the burnt bush, but it wasn't too bad here. After cresting a ridge around the Cambarville area (I *think*), the road passed along a steep drop-off, so I thought it would be a good time for more pics!
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    After coming down towards Marysville, my GPS decided, unbeknownst to me, that it would take me to Mansfield cross-country style! Sealed roads are for road bikes! Break out the knobblies, its FJX1200 time!! I turned right onto Lake Mountain Road instead of continuing left (obeying the GPS) down the hill to Marysville. After a few kays on gravel, I decided enough was enough, I need food. Stopped for ride and tuna, another cuppa, and some careful deliberation of just how many gravelly kilometers I actually was willing to do today.


    It turns out the answer was 'Not Many' - I turned around and headed back toward the turn-off that would put me back on the sealed road toward civilisation... or what was left of it out here. On the way back along this road I passed a bunch of new VE Commodores and Pontiac G8s in various sports trim. Not sure what they were doing on this old road, but there you go. The road had a yellow line for a while, and orange reflectors. I pretended I was riding along in the 80's (for those who remember the road colours before they made everything the white it is today) - see?


    As I came down the hill towards Marysville, out of respect to the locals I took no photos of the devestation there - it is chilling to look upon as you wind down the mountain. Here's a side of one of the hills - not that interesting, but you can see it would have been hot!


    The Maroondah Hwy does this big curve up above Alexandra. After passing through that town and Yarck, I followed the road round past Merton and Woodfield. Filled up somewhere along here. Carried on over the Bonnie Doon bridge and made it to Mansfield. From here, the view started getting perdy...


    I really enjoyed the road after Mansfield, out to Mt Buller. Far out, what a great sweeping snake of tarmac. I learned also about what speed my Nolan N84's sunvisor closes from wind resistance, too. I didn't actually make it all the way to the top, where the Mt Buller township is. I actually want to wait to visit it for the first time with my wife, so I ended up stopping 27km away from it, basically where the twisties begin (see map). Disappointing as my decision was, I was firm on that. I also was aware of the time - it was now 3.10pm, and I needed to be back, including via the shops for some food we needed, in time to pick Carly up from the station! With 204km between me and home, I had a quick cuppa and hauled ass back down south.

    No more pics, I'm sorry - I was hoping to throw some Mt Buller stuff in, but between my choosing to save it for my wife, and the pressure of time, that's all I've got! Suffice it to say I enjoyed the homeward journey through Yea - see a previous, recent ride report of mine for details there. Nothing has changed in the last month!! Not much traffic on the road either, so all up I had a great day largely on my own!

    After a few hours of work this morning, I covered a little over 500km in 6 hours, enjoyed lots of pretty scenery and sweet, fresh air. Man, do I feel better now. Cheers for reading - I'll have lengthier, multi-day RR's coming soon!
  5. May 13 - Melbourne to Maffra & back...

    That's right, my '87 FJ is finally run-in! My odo rolled over to 30,000km today on my day trip down south :) Now we're really ready to rumble!

    Today's ride:
    When: Tuesday May 12, 2009.
    Distance: approx. 420km.
    Riding time: approx. 6 hours, including a few brief stops.
    Map: here.

    The Ride!
    Although I'd originally been hoping to ride to Maffra and then back up through the hills, via Licola, I was able to get hold of an Aussie road atlas and found that at least 100km of the roads I was hoping to ride were gravel. With road tyres (and not terribly good ones at that) on the FJ, I repicked my route that same morning. It did involve freeway, but that was an on-the-fly choice due to sudden and heavy weather rolling in. Anyway, onto the ride... I packed my daily gloves, opting to wear my warm ones first since it was a cold day already. Not a lot of traffic about at 9.30am, which helped me leave suburbia pretty quickly. My first stop of the day was at Warrandyte - I needed to add my balaclava as my neck was slowly freezing off!


    The river was very pretty. In hindsight, I wish I'd gotten a pic of the bridge - very quaint little township, Warrandyte. It'd be nice to live there actually. Rolling on, I followed the GPS out through the little towns, Lilydale, down the Maroondah Hwy and through Woori Yallock. This time, instead of turning left and heading due north to Healesville, or heading straight on through on the eventual curve nor-east to Yea, I turned right and headed east toward Yarra Junction before veering southish. The road from here to Noojee (see map) was very good. Fast, plenty of curves, sane speed limits (I hate 80 and 70 zones in open countryside!).

    I've been nursing my chain recently in order to eke as much remaining life out of it as I can. The previous owner of this bike had put an incorrect size rivet into a chain link which has slightly damaged the sprokets and caused undue wear on the chain. I've fixed it now, but there are only a handful of thousand kays left in this chain. I stopped in Noojee for a tea & toilet break, and propped the bike up onto the centrestand to tighten and lube the chain, which had become audible on the first stretch of the ride :(


    Noojee is very pretty. They used to allow camping there, but a sign told me that there had been too many naughty campers for too long (crime rate too high), so they've banned camping there now. Only takes a minority to ruin it for the majority! Some more pics of my Noojee stop:


    Rollin' on, I followed the Yarra Junction Noojee Road and then the Mount Baw Baw Tourist Road, then turned off just before Icy Creek onto my new Favourite Road of All Time. Wow. For those who are familiar with the regions around Melbourne, this statement includes the glorious stretch of tarmac between Healesville and Kinglake (Healesville Kinglake Rd) and the famous Black Spur. This road tops them both - it's called
    Willow Grove Rd, and it's six flavours of Awesome until you hit Hill End, and then remains decent until Willow Grove (with amazing ridge-line views to be had from both sides of the road). Oh yes. No pics, sorry, I was having too much fun. You'll have to pretend for yourself :p

    I left this motorcycling Nirvana to head north again, up toward Rawson, then swung back around southward. On my way down, I crossed a big dam. I'm going to guess it was the Moondarra Reservior, but that would mean I took some other minor road that isn't on my Google Maps outline. It'd be close though, so again, use your imagination. Some pics from the edge of the southern end..


    Back down and around to Lake Narracan, where I stopped for lunch at about 1.30pm (so it'd been 4 hours already - that sure went quickly!).


    I ate and caught up on some work calls while I had reception, then had to recalculate my afternoon's route as a large black storm was rolling in. A few rain drops landed on my helmet right after I put it on, so I decided to motor up the freeway a bit so I could get ahead of the storm and continue on some more twisties before it reached Melbourne. That long curvy line on the bottom of the map shows my 110km/h effort for a while as I escaped Soaking Doom.

    Turned right onto the Nar Nar Goon exit and got myself onto Bessie Creek Rd, with the idea I'd head to Gembrook, then north through Cockatoo, up to Healesville, then home. This road wasn't entirely sealed for much of the way, but it was without a doubt the best unsealed road I've yet to ride a motorcycle on. I could even lean into the corners! It was more of a clay surface that was trying its hardest to be tarmac, and it was a very fun surface to experiment on. Here's a pic (although I accidentally focussed on the dash rather than the road, sorry!)..


    After hitting tar again on the way into Gembrook, it was an enjoyable spurt through the more familiar roads as I headed north again. Rather than leave the ride report there, I decided to pack a few more pics of the local Yarra Ranges which constitutes my backyard, as I realise I've taken them for granted in my recent ride reports. Whether I go north or south, it's a rare day that my rides start or end without going through this treasure of a riding area. Everything below is taken while on the Old Healesville Road, with the first pic showing the T-intersection of the Healesville Yarra Glen Rd in the background. Check it out...

    Just entered Old Healesville Rd, with Healesville Yarra Glen Rd in the background.

    The view from the same stop, above, and from round the corner...

    Embers floated over to this area after the Vic firestorm in Feb - only a few homes and buildings demolished - thankfully the whole area didn't go up!

    Lastly, here's a bit of a pano shot (I quite like making these, although should really invest in a tripod for better results!) - this is on the hill and curve just before you drop out onto the Melba Hwy...

    (Click for a larger version)

    So thus endeth another ride. It was a good one, and today I really took it easy rather than trying to pack a zillion kays into a handful of hours. It was very enjoyable, too! I'm thinking of organising an unofficial group ride sometime soon, so stay tuned if you're local. Thanks for reading!
  6. After the above, I've got a couple more which both have their own threads:
    - Melbourne to Mt Gambier via the GOR and back - here.
    - Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra and back - here.

    And now we're up to date! Until next time, thanks for reading :)
  7. Cheers cragv, thanks for posting. You've already got me thinking about which ride I'll do this weekend.
  8. No worries, that's what it's all about, right? I wanna get out this weekend too, if I can!

    Love it. :)