Days 1-2 Melb to Merimbula We didn’t do a multi-day trip away on the bikes this time last year so were eagerly awaiting this one. The rough idea for a route was hatched last Easter when we explored some of the roads inland from the Sapphire Coast area of Eden, Merimbula & Bega; Google was consulted, rooms were booked for a couple of nights and by mid September a route was pretty much planned. It was to be 2 nights / 3 days as Tan only had weekends & public holidays off, also here is the fact that we have young-ish kids to consider as well but a last minute change saw us turn it into a 3 and-a-bit day – 3 night trip thanks to a NYE invite for a swim & BBQ courtesy of Brad & Jo. The Planned Route The days before departure on a motorbike trip are always interesting….bikes are checked, re-checked and then checked again. Gear is packed and unpacked, new purchases tried and evaluated, lists made them promptly ignored or lost and generally a lot of quiet excitement and anticipation gets in the way of logical and process driven preparation. We also had new gadgets to try out – a GoPro type camera with various fixings, and a pair of blue-tooth helmet intercoms. Never really big fans of such technology we decided to try the intercom idea after the comedy that one wrong turn resulted in on a previous ride as we pottered around the Peninsula, and thought what better an opportunity than on a long trip. We also planned to take the ‘good camera’ to further Tan’s photography hobby with some scenic locations planned. All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…I’m standing here outside your door; Hate to wake you up to say goodbye…… Anyone who knows motorbike touring will know that early morning is the best time to leave. Regardless of origin or destination it is just the best time…there is still cool in the air, the sun climbs slowly from its nightly rest and you generally feel more awake that the localities you ride through and other road users. So it was with this in mind (and the fact that Tan couldn’t get out of work) that we rather less enthusiastically geared up to leave at 3pm; 38C temps and a hot northerly wouldn’t deter intrepid travelers such as ourselves; though we did both completely gear up under the split system in the lounge before arising to our bikes, hopping on and leaving post haste. Not a great deal to report from the opening leg of our trip other than to say it was hot and a bit boring, as hwy runs tend to be at times. We did learn on arrival in Moe however that a box of stubborn can easily be strapped to the back of Tan’s bike, which then meant that I could fit the bourbons in my shoulder bag…first world motorbike issues people! Thankfully the pool at Brad’s was nice and cool so we quickly shed sweaty riding gear, had a few refreshing drinks and enjoyed the company seeing in the New Year. Happy New Year! Next morning (after bacon, sausages, eggs and a goodly amount of coffee) it was time to continue on and ‘really’ start our trip. Another hot day was in the making so we loaded up with water bottles and hit the road. Traffic for a New Years Day was solid but not too bad and we made solid progress through Gippsland, stopping briefly for fuel at Stratford, a quick bit of socialising with Wani & Ant in Fernbank and then enjoying the curves through Bruthen and Nowa Nowa before stopping for a stretch at Newmeralla in East Gippsland. By this stage the temp was above 34C but some threatening clouds were appearing ahead which had us more concerned at rising humidity than anything else….especially after an old boy in a caravan wandered over reporting that he’d just came from up past Merimbula way and it was 40C plus up the coast. He also warned us about a friendly HWP lurking 20km the other side of Orbost just inside an 80kmh zone, yep, you can always rely on caravanners for updated travel information. Hot & sunny but what lurks behind the trees? Never again will I believe anything told me by a grey headed man towing a caravan. Not only was it not 40C+ but the ominous clouds started to shoot lightning from them, the wind picked up to approximately Force 9, temperature dropped 14 degrees and exactly 20km the other side of Orbost; instead of a sneaky HWP we encountered what can only be described as the equivalent of a mini typhoon. Into what we were to find out later was a localised storm cell that dumped in excess of 20mm rain in an hour we rode. With our weather gear safely tucked away in saddle bags (it’s 34C – what’s a little sprinkle of rain going to do?) we were soaked inside of 2 minutes; inside of 10 minutes rivers were running across the hwy; inside of 15 minutes cars (including the missing HWY patrol) were pulled off the road as visibility was down to about 2-3 car lengths and after 30 minutes it was evident that there was no real point in pulling over…. 1. There was no-one else on the road; and 2. We weren’t going to get any wetter staying out in it but at least we were moving forward. Big clouds = Big rain The rain stopped as we pulled into Cann River for fuel, swearing and to gather frayed nerves and as expected the temperature started to climb again. While I filled the bikes and poured water from my boots as you would up-ending a bucket; Tan amused herself and onlookers by making musical squishing noises walking back and forth. We had planned on a lunch here but by this stage simply wanted to press on – the wind had picked up and the storm was chasing us and we simply wanted to get to our destination and get changed so heads down, throttles turned and grimly we pushed on. Past Genoa, over the border and through the lovely forested area south of Eden we rode, each in bringing us slightly closer to our destination and slightly closer to dry. Blue = bad… Finally into the motel car park we pulled and I sloshed my boots into reception and regaled the rather startled owner with tales of our Riders on The Storm escapades as explanation for the dank smelling leather and seeping boots standing in front of her. Quick showers were followed with a walk through town, a couple of cold beers and oysters, bruschetta, flathead and a Parma and all was again right in the world. Made it Ate it Tomorrow we head north up the coast before heading inland. The radar looks a little iffy, but who can trust the weather forecast anyway?