Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

I just went dirt-biking... on a GSXR!!!

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by DarkHorse, May 13, 2009.

  1. Thanks WhereIS!

    Just got back from the first 'proper' ride I've been on for a while (I can do my place to Montrose and back via Mountain Hwy, Mt Dandenong Tourist Hwy and Ridge Rd in about an hour, so have been doing that rather than exploring further.)

    So, having a full day to ride, I decided to roam a bit further. A while back, along with a couple of other users, I came up with a loop from my place through Montrose, Monbulk, Emerald, Cockatoo, Gembrook, and back. Looking at it on a map, it looks great. What neither Google Maps or Garmin Mapsource (WhereIS maps) picked up on was the long-standing dislike of sportsbikes for dirt roads!

    Me being the primarily nocturnal creature that I am, I didn't get moving until about 3pm - having not taken the ever-earlier sunsets of May into account. The ride should have taken a bit over of 3 hours, meaning that, travelling at the speed limit, I should have been back by 6ish. 3 months ago that would have been fine, but nowadays it's pretty dark by then. Generally not an issue, but I was going rural, where street-lights are few and far between.

    So there were the two issues that I was blissfully unaware of as I slipped into my still new Astars suit, clipped the Zumo into it's cradle and eased out of the driveway. The intended route started with my 'regular' squirt up Forest Rd, Mountain Hwy and Ridge Rd to Montrose. From there it was into the unknown as the friendly voice in my ears through the wired Earmolds from the Zumo pointed me East.

    It is worth mentioning at this point that another annoyance was becoming painfully apparent - wired Earmolds are horrible things if left hanging in the wind. Now, I use these things every day on my way to and from work, but they are tucked into my jacket where the connections are protected. I have even gone to the lengths of wrapping and padding the connectors so that they don't knock together. The problem is that any contact at these connections is transmitted directly up the wires and into your ears, suitably amplified so you can't miss it. What I was discovering was that wind noise behaves in exactly the same way, and the wrapping I had done was woefully insufficient to prevent this. Being clad in a 1-piece suit meant that I couldn't tuck the wires in, as there was no exit point for the cable to get to the Zumo. The result was a couple of hours of transmitted wind noise that was probably worse than it would have been with no plugs.

    I am working on a solution to this, and a write-up of the Earmolds in general which will be up soon.

    Anyhoo, an hour or so into the eastward journey and the sun did what it does, and went down. This I was expecting. What I wasn't as prescient about what the accompanying drop in temperature. It had a been a cool afternoon, but riding in the sun had been decidedly pleasant. No sun and the drop of something like 5 degrees in half an hour (felt like 15) was not so. Needless to say the wonderfully cooling ventilation of the Astars suit continued doing it's job, above and beyond what I wanted at the time.

    Now, I had come across a couple of intersections where the Zumo had politely directed me to turn off the nice sealed road to a washed out, rutted rural dirt-track. Well, they were actually quite good as far as dirt roads go, but the GSXR, shod with Michelin Pilot Roads, isn't exactly a dual-purpose machine, so in each case I decided that the sealed road heading in vaguely the same direction was a better bet. This is essentially my attitude to exploring with the GPS - I load the route at the start of the ride, but from there take it's direction as suggestion rather than compulsion, knowing that every time I differ from the plan the machine will recalculate within a few seconds and figure out a new way to get to the next checkpoint.

    So there I was, on completely unfamiliar roads, in the dark, getting rapidly colder, with a 9.5cm 'map' that didn't know the difference between a freeway and a goat track. When the road I was on somwehere outside Cockatoo went from nicely sealed, smooth bitumen to hard-packed gravel I had little choice but to continue, albeit at greatly reduced speed. It was one of those dirt roads that banks sharply at the edges, meaning that I had to stick to the centre wheel track to avoid the washout or the alternative of having the tyres slip out from under me and into the ditch running along the side.

    Needless to say, a bit of road that doesn't seem all that long when you're zipping along at 80 concentrating on your lines and lean becomes seemingly endless when crawling along at 30 trying to pick out every rut and pothole in the small pool of illuminated road ahead. This was the story of my progress for the next hour or so, and everytime I came to the end of a stretch of dirt to a sealed cross road, it would last only a couple of ks before returning again to dirt. On the whole, thankfully, the standard of the surface was pretty good, all things considered.

    The darkness, temperature and slow going was taking it's toll however, and it wasn't too long before I decided to abandon the planned route altogether and hit the "Go Home" option on the Zumo to find the quickest way home. By this time I was somewhere down around Pakenham Upper, and it had gone 5:30. My expectation was that the Zumo, which doesn't understand the concept of fun, will always send you on the fastest, straightest route to your selected destination. Given that I was losing feeling in my fingers and tiring of the constant roar in my ears, that was just fine with me. What I didn't know was that in the area I had wandered to the were no main roads. What there is, and what the Zumo decided was the fastest way back, was the worst corrugated, loose-topped bit of single lane gravel I have ever ridden (which isn't saying much, really, but it was pretty unpleasant at the time!) Not having the patience to find an alternative I rattled my way through the slowest, most mentally intense few kilometers of my riding life. Thankfully I had the road pretty much to myself, only having to negotiate one car coming the other way, although it did make me wonder what I would do if something important shook loose on the bike and the phone failed to get reception...

    Looking down at the GPS, I noticed that the ETA for home was rapidly approaching 8pm - it now being a bit after 6. The Zumo calculates the ETA based on the 'class' of roads on the route - ie freeways = 100km/h, highways = 80km/h, main roads = 60km/h, back roads = 50km/h. Given that I was doing 30km/h, if that, the ETA was actually getting further away rather than closer! Another 2 hours of same had me a bit apprehensive, particularly when my fuel light started to blink at me.

    Eventually of course the road spat me out at Emerald, where I managed to find the only servo in the world that didn't have a single item in the pie-warmer. I would have eaten a week old vegetarian sausage roll just for the temperature boost, but I had to be content to feed the bike and continue homeward. The roads from here on of course were much better - all sealed and in great condition. The trade off was that there was a lot more traffic in both directions, and still no street lights. Picking corners in the dark with an oncoming car glaring out the lane markers in front of you and an impatient ute up your clacker is an adventure of it's own.

    When I got to Belgrave I again looked at the ETA on the GPS, and only then had best feeling little light-bulb moment I've had for a long time. While I am almost totally unfamiliar with this part of the world, I did know that Belgrave was the end of the suburban train line, and only a couple of stations out from Upper Ferntree Gully. It certainly wasn't going to take over an hour to ride the few clicks up the Burwood Hwy, but the GPS was still on Daylight Savings time. I would be home and warm and fed in less than 20mins.

    I know that to many of the experienced long-distance tourers, overnight adventurers and dirt riders among you this will all seem rather mundane, which in all honesty it probably was. However, for me, totally unprepared for the cold, and now accustomed to droning up and down the freeway every day and not having done this sort of thing for quite a while, and never on this bike, it was quite an eye-opener. There are many things that this has taught, or at least reminded me of:

    If I'm going to go exploring, go early so I can be back in relative civilisation by the time it gets dark and cold.
    Do this route again and scout it out in the daylight, so I can find the dirt and find a way around it. (Next Monday/Tuesday)
    If I am going to be out after dark, be prepared for the cold!
    Find a way to shelter the Earmold wires from the wind when wearing the 1pc.
    Find out how to disbale Daylight Savings on the GPS! (Now done)
    Wash the bike AFTER a ride, not just before!

    All in all I actually had a really good day. There are some great roads on that loop - twisty, smooth and pretty much deserted on a weekday afternoon (except for the compulsory slow-moving van and light truck with trailer in the twistiest stretches where you can't get past them!) The scenery is pretty good too, especially up in the hills. Above all it was great to finally get out and use the bike for what it's good at - leaning over and punching out of turns rather than plodding along in a straight line down the Eastern. It is also another step I know I need to take in life's great journey to HTFU. I am now going to do everything I can to go for a decent ride on one of my (usually) two days off. The other one I will set aside for the many little projects and mods I have planned!
  2. Good for you DarkHorse !
    Makes me envious reading peoples' riding adventures when I am nowhere near my 2 wheeled weapon. Oh well, as long as others are having fun !
    Mate, hope you didn't dirty the bike too much..and here I was, on another thread, commenting how nice and clean it looked after your completed akra :)
    Good onya. Nice account of your afternoon jolly.
  3. sounds like you had a blast, funny this is i reckon in 20years time when you think back over all the ride days you have i reckon this one will be one you will still think of and go WHAT THE fcuk WAS I THINKING :LOL:
  4. GPSes and computerised map navigation (eg: googlemaps) are outstanding for finding hilarious dirt sections. :)

    I've been caught out more than a few times, often due to PEBKAC errors on my part. :LOL:

    A hint, from one Garmin user to another - If you go into the Routing settings, you can tell the GPS to avoid unpaved roads (as well as U-turns, tollroads, highways, etc...) :cool:
  5. Hey Nickers, saw that post and laughed - that shot was taken JUST before setting out on this ride. I was kicking myself when I had to hit the dirt picturing the crud that would be flung up. Fortunately it hasn't actually come out of it too badly though - thank god it hadn't rained in the last few days!

    Stewy, I reckon you're right. Like I said, it hammered a few lessons home about being prepared for changing conditions!

    Spots - are the route settings you're talking about on the unit or in MapSource? I've got them set in Mapsource, but I'm not convinced they get transfered to the unit. I may well have also placed waypoints on dirt roads, as I can't spot the difference in MapSource (I just went for the twistiest looking roads on the map, and chucked waypoints in to over-ride the auto-calculation which prefers straight lines.) This would have made it impossible for the unit to send me anywhere else!

    I've been meaning to sit down and work out how to properly construct routes and work with tracks etc in MapSource, but I've never gotten around to it. One thing that has REALLY been bugging me is the speed and red-light alerts - I wouldn't mind if it was just a visual warning, but the "bing" that comes with them is really distracting, especially when they're wrong. School zones before/after school hours and during holidays always fool it too. Wouldn't have thought it would be hard to program some time-code to limit them to say 7-10am and 2-5pm Monday to Friday.

    Anyway, starting to sound like a new post in another area, so I'll shut up now! Oh one final stoopid question - what does PEBKAC stand for?
  6. PEBKAC "Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair"

    also known as an ID 10 T error :p
  7. Had to look up ID10T error, but I'm with you now! :p

    Obviously need to work on my geekish.
  8. Hey DarkHorse, thanks for the read. I went through somewhat similar experiences a while back on my Hyosung, when I was still getting familiar with the area known as Your Backyard. I've found parts of Don Road, Mt Toolebewong and Gembrook (just to name a few) all have a number of unsealed roads around them that many GPSes will merrily lead you down! I'd say I've done probably 100km+ of gravel on a road bike with nice sticky road tyres. Not my first choice for surfaces, but I feel your pain!

    I'm into weekday Victorian adventures too, and although I haven't posted them on Netrider, I've put a few up on another bike forum I frequent. Here are the Google Maps links from the last 3 I did:
    Phillip Island
    Mt Buller
    Moe, during which I found my new Favourite Road!

    If they interest you and you'd consider doing some of the same, you can find my ride reports on OCAU.mc, in this section (you'll need to sign up to read them though). Maybe I'll post them here on NR too. Didn't know if it was worth it (I don't want to spam a bunch of forums with my inane babble!), but if there are a few like-minded people on NR who'd be interested in more of the same (and possibly organising group rides too), then maybe I should put future RR's here too (or even instead). Hrm.

    Anyway, was good to read about your little adventure! Keep exploring - we have a great backyard here in Melbourne! Just get up earlier next time, ya sluggard! :p
  9. Hey cragv,

    Thanks for that, def be interested in reading, and am stoked to find out that I'm not the only one who rides on weekdays!

    I've just found out that I'm only going to be in Melb for another 3 months, and I haven't ridden ANY of the top roads down here. I get Mondays and usually Tuesdays off, and in the next 12 weeks really want to get out to the GOR/GAR/Spurs/Ranges/Skenes/Arthur's/Hall's etc etc etc!!!

    Drop me a line if you're up for an early week wander! Would love some company. (Invite open to all, btw)
  10. I just read the sticky and realised that there's membership on NR here. It probably seems obvious to you guys (I just looked and yep, you're all financial) but I never noticed it before! I've even been part of the Toy Runs, RftH and media release, etc. - never noticed! I'll get paid up shortly, then I can post RR's here too :)

    DarkHorse, I'm definitely up for a ride or two, as work allows. I'm waiting on a shipment of equipment from Canada at the moment, so this next fornight especially I should have some time to spare. I keep a Word document of all the rides I want to do (and tend to add more at a whim when I hear of some great new location). You mentioned the Great Ocean Road - while I've covered much of the hills in my backyard, I only ever rode the GOR from Ocean Grove to Apollo Bay while staying at a friend's holiday house for new year's. I just did a quick jaunt down and back while the rest of them went shopping and surfing. Since then I've been thinking I'd like to do that properly, and have come up with either of these options:
    - 800km/2 days; riding from Home to Warrnambool via GOR, then home via Mt. Macedon (http://tinyurl.com/qtsr3v)
    - 1100km/2 days; riding from Home to Mt Gambier via the Grampians, then home via GOR (http://tinyurl.com/pu7yop)

    I'm comfortable doing up to about 700km in a day on non-FWY roads (and up to about 1100km/day on FWY and HWYs), but I've worked up to it. For the purposes of a possible group ride, I guess the first option (or a variation thereof) might be a better idea, where there's only about 400km/day to cover - this is still a substantial ride if you're not used to doing a lot of it. I like doing things on the cheap (portable cooker, swag, etc. all on my bag rack when travelling), but would be happy enough with a cheap motel or YHA type arrangement if a small group of us did an overnighter somewhere. That'd be a Monday/Tuesday arrangement, as the GOR would be hellish on a weekend in comparison! Way too busy!

    More realistically, I'd certainly be happy to meet and go for a spin on a particular day. I just put together a couple of rides for you that are all on sealed roads:
    - 230km round trip; Reefton/Black Spur, Marysville, etc. (http://tinyurl.com/qmt9wq) - definitely a shortish ride, but worth doing just to get into the feel of riding more
    - 320km round trip; Yarra Junction, Noojee, Leongatha, back via Cockatoo (http://tinyurl.com/oxuwz8) - a bit longer, still all sealed. Try doing this the day after the above one and see how your body is after that.

    I'm up for tagging along on many different rides anyway! I'm not into racing or even scratching too much - I just like getting out there and enjoying the ride. By all means let me know if you want company on the above, or a ride of your own design. There are plenty of great roads to be explored!
  11. Both, actually. You'll have to set it to "avoid unpaved roads" in both your desktop software and your GPS, as those kinds of settings aren't transferred between the unit and the desktop - Only waypoints, routes (in the form of a group of waypoints), points of interest, track files and maps get transferred. :)

    I have a Garmin eTrex Legend C, so I'm not familiar with the Zumo's user interface, but there ought to be a menu page which allows you to access the Settings for Routing, etc.

    I've made the mistake of placing waypoints down on twisty-looking dirt roads in the past. These days I check the satellite photos in a few places to see if the road is paved. In Mapsource you can zoom in on a road you're interested in, right-click the map and a menu appears; Select "View Satellite Imagery in maps.google.com", and it'll load your internet browser and automagically display a Google Maps satellite photo of what you were looking at in Mapsource.

    I hope that's of some help. :)
  12. Hey cragv, thanks a lot for that! Not sure about my chances of an overnighter in the near future, given that I've got to sort out relocating myself and $20-odd million worth of major musical to Sydney in August! But never say never. I'm definitely keen for some day trips though, and might head out Marysville way this weekend I think - if I get my act together on Monday I can try backing up for the Leongatha one Tuesday. Thanks for the links, takes all the effort out of planning for me! :grin:

    Spots - cheers for the tips, I hadn't come accross the satelite image link in Mapsource, but I'll definitely use it now. I had the unpaved roads avoidance set in Mapsource, which is where I drew the route up, so it must have been either waypoints on dirt roads or my reticence to follow the plotted route that got me off track last week. Haven't found the option on the unit - the settings options are actually quite vague but I'll have another look when I get home.

    Thanks again for the help!
  13. Might be a bit long for you @660km, but I'm considering riding to the Grampians and back on Tuesday this week (http://tinyurl.com/pq4o8h). You're welcome to join me - weather looks pretty nice. There'll be plenty of long stretches of highway though, so this may not appeal. I just haven't ridden/been out there before, so I thought I might check the area out.

    I hope you have a good ride/rides this week at any rate!
  14. cragv,

    Where abouts at The Grampians are you planning on stopping ? I assume there's a service/petrol station/cafe etc etc out there also ? Just getting ideas myself. Planned this ride some time back but haven't had the chance to make it a reality.

    I wish I could join you (singular or plural) on Tuesday, but unfortunately I'll be arriving in Melbourne from Sydney 1-2 days later. Maybe next time. When I'm around, I'm always keen for a ride and more importantly, I haven't been out on a NR ride, so am yet to meet anyone.

    Will endeavour to change this in the near future
    Enjoy the ride,
  15. Mate,
    Disregard my enquiries above. It appears, with about 30min sleep (back from Los Angeles into Hong Kong) that I didn't click on your link (route) before typing. Halls Gap and the other myriad of places on your route look as good as anywhere to pull in for a nibbly, rear-end scratch or whatever takes one's fancy :)
    Looks like a great day out ! Have fun.
  16. Hadn't really thought about fuel. I get about 350km+ out of my tank and also carry a 5L jerry when I'm riding around, so I usually fill up whenever I'm at 33% or lower (generally)...

    I guess I'll fill up at Halls Gap. That'd be about right. Top up at Bacchus Marsh on the way back in, or wherever is convenient.

    EDIT: just saw your addendum - roger that. Go to bed!
    Mr OP - sorry to hijack your thread!
  17. Haha, no worries re hijacking! One ride leads to another to another... all good with me! I'm still planning on getting out to Marysville tomorrow, so I'll let you know how I go. Grampians sounds like a nice ride... but maybe a bit long and straight for my tastes at the moment - look forward to hearing about it though!
  18. Well, finally did it. Got up and out early enough to make it through the Emerald-Reefton-Marysville-Buxton-Healesville loop I've been hanging out for. The Zumo said 223km, 2:45min. Yeah, right. IF you do the Spurs at 80-100km/h. :shock:

    I left at about 1pm, rugged up with thermals and neck-warmer under the leathers, and thermal gloves and wets in the undertail for later if needs be. The ride through Emerald until you get to about Warburton is pretty tame - nice country roads, not much traffic, few interesting bends but nothing really exciting. Once you hit the hills of course that all changes, especially each side of Reefton:

    Now, I am REALLY rusty when it comes to tight twisty stuff like this. 165 bends in 18km? Holy flapping ducksh1t. My daily ride is a dead boring 40km commute, mostly freeway. Making the bike change direction in a hurry and picking a line/gear for the next corner, let alone entry speed, is not something I practice every day! Adding to my own shortcomings were a couple of environmental factors that caused me to hold back a tad. The first was that it had rained the night before and the shade from thick tree coverage over most of the road meant it hadn't dried much. This, of course, is also bushfire country, which means a lot of debris from burnt/damaged trees that a bit of rain helps fall onto and accross the road. This included some pretty big chunks of soggy, slippery bark and some small branches - one of which was enough to throw my front wheel sideways (felt like a foot off line, probably only 10cm or so!) There were also a couple of road crews clearing/repairing sections, but these were well signed and easy to cruise through.

    On that note, it's good to see some regrowth happening out there - it's actually quite surreal looking at the bright green ground covering of new ferns coming through, then the black, burnt tree trunks topped off with the 'cooked' brown foliage up top!

    And of course the twists just keep going all the way into Marysville:

    After concentrating that hard for that long, I really needed a break, so I decided to stop in Marysville. I used to come up there for camps when I was a kid, but didn't remember the town at all. For anyone who hasn't been up there in the last couple of months, it's pretty much one big construction site. Not much was left. It's an amazing sight when you think about what the place must have looked like before compared to what it looks like now.

    As I'm sure most are aware, the Bakery/Cafe is still standing and is open for business, and even mid-afternoon on a Tuesday doing a brisk-ish trade. The ladies in there are great, working hard under trying conditions but friendly and smiling the whole time. Good to drop a little money into a local business too.

    Lunch done, it was back on the Zook and up the road to Buxton, where I decided to top up on fuel so i wouldn't have to stop again on the run home, as the sun was just starting to drop behind the hills. From there it was south-west to Healesville along the Maroondah Hwy - my new favourite bit of road. That's right... I rode the Reefton Spur and it only lasted as my favourite road for an hour and a half! The thing is that the Reefton Spur is difficult (for me!) and I have to concentrate really hard the whole time. I can feel myself getting better with every corner, but it's hard work! The Black Spur is just absolute bliss:

    The surface is wonderful, and it's all flowing, open, fairly fast bends as opposed to the tight, often blind, low speed (again, for me anyway!) twists from Reefton. It was also dry, which certainly helped give me the confidence to 'give it a bit' when I could. The perfect 'warm-down' after the lesson dished out by the Reefton!

    From Healesville back to UFG is pretty dull suburban roads, so I went sideways a bit and came home via the Mount Dandenong Tourist Hwy - unfortunately the fading light and a ute that was in absolutely no hurry conspired to suck the joy out of that. In any case, I was home around 6pm - a bit stiff and sore but grinning like an absolute idiot for the rest of the night.

    I can't believe it took me this long to get around to this, I wish I'd done it sooner, especially now I have a deadline for leaving Melbourne. Will def do this again... but next up has to be GOR. Means an even earlier morning...

  19. Glad you finally did it - I've kept an eye on this thread every now and then to see if you got around to it. Next time you're up Healesville way (next Monday or Tuesday :p ) try heading from H to Kinglake. Only a short part of the trip, but a fantastic bit of road.

    I haven't gotten out to the Grampians yet as work suddenly got busier (which is a good thing really), so now instead I'm planning to ride to Warrnambool via the Grampians one day, then home via the GOR the next, mid-week in June sometime. I also signed up to NR as a member since last posting here, so I'll be able to share my ride and pics :)

    DarkHorse, don't get complacent! Get out there and keep enjoying Vic for the short while you're still around these parts! Happy to make more route suggestions if you're interested :)
  20. Look forward to the Earmold solution. Although, don't use GPS much, and just leave it in tank bag (as it phone one, so not waterproof) if needed, and wires obviously a bit closer to the body

    Top write up, and well done on your initial Adventure Ride :cool: