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Sydney to the MotoGP

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' at netrider.net.au started by DarkHorse, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. Context:

    For those that don't know me, I travel a lot for work, and take on a lot of short-term contracts that don't allow for planning leave with any degree of predictability. As a result, even occasionally working in Melbourne at the right time I have never made it to the MotoGP. I would have killed to see Casey, Chris V and Westy... even back to Troy going around their home loop, but it wasn't to be. This year the stars seemed to align - I was booked in Melbourne for a month, finishing the week before the race, and my next gig in Dubai wasn't until a week after it. To make matters even more ideal I had a week free before the job in Melbourne, allowing time for me to ride down from Sydney, have the bike for days off and down at the Island, and be able to ride back.


    Me being me... there wasn't much of it. I had a quick look at Google maps and chatted to a couple of mates who have done the trip before. I've done the slab route several times in the car, and the idea of straight lines for hundreds of kms on the bike was completely discounted. The next option was the slightly more wayward coast road, which is longer, slower, but not actually much more interesting. Given that I had the time, the obvious choice was through the mountains.

    Gear-wise I was in pretty good shape as is, being kitted up for year-round commuting anyway. This trip was the perfect excuse to update/upgrade a few things... so I did. Again, all this was put on the back-burner until a bit over a week before I was due to leave, so my options were limited... in fact work meant I couldn't actually go shopping until the day I was leaving...

    The bike - was more or less what it was, ie totally unsuited for the purpose! The first thing that came to mind was softening the seat a bit, but the price of a new saddle from Triumph or the delays and price of something aftermarket were a bit prohibitive. Otherwise, for a supersport it's actually remarkably comfortable. I would have liked to get HIDs in the headlights, but I wasn't planning on doing any night riding (famous last words...) so it got knocked down the priority list. One issue I do have is a numbness in my right hand that can kick in after only a few minutes - a result of nerve damage after years of power tool usage and weight on my wrists riding sports bikes. With 1500km over three days ahead of me, I figured $8 for one of those clip-on palm rest 'cruise control' was worth the experiment. I'm not comfortable with the idea of the mechanical throttle-locks, I needed something that would release instantaneously when I let go.

    Luggage - This I did need. I was committed to not wearing a backpack for discomfort/fatigueI previously owned a tiny tankbag, good for a wallet, phone, and set of keys and that's about it... and a massive rack-bag dating back to the Gearsack rack I had on the old gixxer, which has only been used to store my spare gear since. I had a pair of Triumph panniers with my last Daytona (which was stolen, and while the bike was recovered the bags weren't.) They were good for capacity, but I didn't love the width they added to the bike, or the proximity to the rear tyre when they were heavily loaded. Panniers may come back into contention if/when I have a regular pillion, but for the moment a tail-bag was a better option. I had a very vague psychological budget of "around $100" for each end... which I blew but only slightly. I ended up with a MotoDRY ZXT-2 tankbag,and on the back seat I got an expandable RJays bag.

    Gear - I have a good Shoei helmet with tinted visor, Scott textile jacket with removable liner, two pairs of Draggin jeans plus a pair of cheap waterproof over-pants, full-length thermal top and bottoms, Astars GP-pro gloves and a pair of winter Joe Rocket gloves as back-up, wired Earmolds, and Fog-off mask. Limited luggage space meant I sacrificed a clear visor, and wore my (nonetheless sturdy, high-top) work boots instead of bike boots. In addition, on the advice of an old-timer touring forum somewhere, I purchased a pair of bike shorts with a nice thick chamois, and also wore my compression running tights.

    Ride report to follow...
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  2. Day 1:
    The plan - https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/...490440720!2m2!1d149.8028582!2d-35.4348268!3e0

    The reality - Organisation being as last-minute as it was, I had to do the trip to MCAS on the morning I was leaving. With a planned 6hrs on the bike to get to Braidwood the fun way I figured as long as I was on the road by midday I would be OK. I wasn't, of course. I left Annandale around 1:30pm, and decided to slab it down to Robertson to make up some time, knowing that I could do the RNP anytime. A couple of hours of Sydney traffic later and I was well behind schedule by the time I got to the bottom of Maquarie pass, and got my first reminder of mortality and how quickly this trip could go to hell when a truck coming down the hill swung wide around the first corner took up half my lane. The rest of the run up was clear, and I was loving being able to clear my head and just flow with the bike. I was thrilled that the luggage seemed to have no influence on my riding, and other than a couple of sphincter-clenching moments accidentally leaning on the throttle-rocker on the brakes into corners I was looking forward to a great couple of days on the bike.

    After a pie and a drink at Robertson I took the obvious option through Kangaroo Valley, which is an absolute pleasure to get in and out of. Then a bit of quiet highway time down the coast through Ulladulla to Batemans Bay. From there the road to Braidwood came highly recommended, with the caveat that there was a bit of dirt at the end of it - "good dirt, but still dirt." It was getting on around 4:30pm by now, but it was only 60km. Easy... The B52 is a great bit of road - nice long open sweepers mixed in with the occasional tighter bend which would have been great... if the sun wasn't low enough to be directly in my eyes every time a corner swept west. Given that I was heading directly inland, that was almost every one. As a result my estimated speed of between 80 and 100kmh dropped to around 60kmh, and the resultant time increased from 45min to well over an hour. The inexorable progress of time of course meant that the sun kept get lower, and the air got cooler. I pulled over to rug up, and it was only then that I realised I had failed to put the liner of my jacket into either of my bags when I panic-packed them that morning(ish.) I could still go to warmer gloves and add my thermal top, so it wasn't too bad for the moment. By the time I did hit the dirt (and it was mostly relatively good, but still dirt...) the sun had disappeared and the light was fading fast. Thankfully there wasn't much traffic the other way, but the necessity of having my tinted visor up to see the details of the surface in front of me meant not only a watering eyes from the cold, but then a face full of dust following every vehicle.

    Needless to say I was definitely grateful to reach Braidwood and get off the bike. I can recommend both the Braidwood Colonial Motel for accom (about $115 for the night - basic but comfortable and clean) and the Braidwood Hotel for dinner and a much-needed beer or two. I was mentally and physically tired, but the body felt better than I feared it might after 380-odd km, given that I hadn't been riding much at all in the lead-up to this trip, let alone long distances.
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  3. #3 DarkHorse, Oct 19, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
    Day 2:
    The plan - https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/...ee1:0x40579a430a05530!2m2!1d147.6!2d-37.1!3e0

    650-odd km... a big day by any measure. I figured a bunch of it would be scrubbed off initially with around 200km of boring transport 'warm-up' to get to Cooma which would mysteriously disappear faster than Google's calculated legal speeds. Up stoopid early (by my standards - I don't do mornings...) I was fed, caffeinated, rugged up and on the road around 8:30. My back and legs were a little stiff, but I folded into the standard Daytona curl and settled in. The sun helped mitigate the near freezing air temps, but I still found myself missing the underseat exhaust/heater of the earlier generation bikes. To alleviate the highway tedium I treated myself to the sound of the wonderful triple engine between my legs bouncing off the rev-limiter in first every now and again. That is a sound I won't forget in a hurry.

    From Cooma the fun increased with the elevation as I headed into the mountains proper. Of course the temperature went inversely proportional, but by then I wasn't too fussed. The Alpine Way from Jindabyne to Khancoban is everything it's cracked up to be - tight, twisty, excellent surface... and Alpine. Unfortunately the snow season this year was abnormally long, so even by mid-September the ski-fields were open. That means there's still snow around. Bugger. I'm normally useless at getting photos on rides, often because I'm pushed for time as it is, but this I couldn't resist:

    After lunch at Khancoban I was pleasantly surprised that another couple of hundred km of boring looking transport section on the Murray Valley Hwy actually turned out to be a wonderful stretch of relaxing, zen-inducing sweepers. It was the perfect recovery from the stress of snow-bound black ice paranoia I had just been through. Not bothering to detour slightly into Tallengatta itself I figured I'd grab an afternoon coffee at a town on the way south to Omeo. Again, by now the afternoon was getting somewhat adolescent, but how long could 196km take? Given that the last stretch had disappeared at somewhat less than an hour to every 110km, I was optimistic that I would get to Omeo well before dark. What I hadn't done was zoom in on this particular road. It is utterly insane, in the very best way. Please look it up - The Omeo Hwy, or C543. Only recently sealed, the surface is immaculate, and I swear there isn't a single stretch of straight road more than 100m long. Following the Mitta Mitta River valley, practically the only other sign of life I saw the whole time were the campers at Angler's Rest, who got a good sound show as I climbed up the hill from the river crossing banging hard from first to second and back at every opportunity. Given the nature of the road, my average speed was again decidedly lower than the default 100kmh I used to calculate my legs. Lesson leant. There was something wonderfully magical about canyoning at dusk, and the surrounding hills sheltered me from the setting sun... and I was somewhat compelled to do it with my visor down:
    The last few km did happen in the dark again, with a couple of glimpses of scary drop-offs in the headlights... but this was still without doubt one of my absolute all-time best days on a bike, and I gave the SuperCorsas their first decent workout... albeit still well below the limit given the loaded up bike and the consequences of screwing it up:

    Rolling into Omeo with an estimated 9km to empty on the fuel guage I headed blearily for the brightest lit building in town, which happened to be the Golden Age Motel. Around the $100 mark again, including breakfast, and similarly acceptable standards. The bar and restaurant were also great.
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  4. Day 3:
    The plan - https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/...5218ccd90!2m2!1d144.9630576!2d-37.8136276!3e0

    560km - another ambitious day. After the ride into Omeo the previous evening my legs were very sore from jumping from one side of the bike to the other, and after the alpine stretches the previous day I was absolutely dreading getting that high first thing in the morning - a morning that was grey and threatening... and seriously cold:

    Fortunately the servo across the road was also a ski shop, so with less than a moment's delay I splashed $45 on a duck-down vest to substitute for the jacket liner I had left behind. I also asked about the roads, given that I was going up literally past the front door of Falls Creek. As luck would have it, the local cop pulled in to fill up while I was there, so I asked him as well... explaining that snow chains weren't really an option for me... With the all-clear all round, I headed off, and straight up into the heights of the Vic Alps. Before long the white road markings were replaced by the hi-vis yellow that marked the snow line. A matter of minutes later the snow itself appeared in clumps on the shoulders, and then thicker and thicker. Again, a photo opportunity I couldn't forego, of a landmark I had no idea existed:
    (My surname is Canning.)

    Unfortunately that point was as good as the weather got... for the rest of the day. With no other option I persevered through Bright and Myrtleford up to Oxley. This would be another stunning bit of road in decent conditions. What I got was semi-frozen sleet, fog so thick I could barely see beyond my front tyre, and treacherous downhill switch-backs that reminded me scarily of the circumstances that saw me write-off my first Daytona. Even when the altitude dropped, bringing the slight relief of a few extra degrees of air temperature and a merciful increase in visibility, the rain continued. I was kitted up as well as I could be, but a few issues conspired to make my gear fail quite badly in the face of the constant deluge. The fog and cold meant that I had no choice but to ride visor-up. I was wearing my rain pants, but the height of the tailbag meant I had to really stretch to get a leg over when mounting the bike, which had resulted in my cheap plastic pants tearing right through the crotch seam - exactly where sportsbikes tend to funnel water off the tank as they travel. My winter gloves had seen better days, and had a few tears themselves. I had also made the mistake of going cold-mode (gloves over sleeves) instead of rain mode (sleeves over gloves.) Finally, while sturdy, my work boots were never completely waterproof. So I had very cold and very wet feet, hands, face, and crotch. I don't even remember where I stopped, it may have been as early as Myrtleford, but I lucked out finding a servo with a huge toilet where I could strip down and change into at least dry jeans and socks. I begged some plastic bags for each foot and tried to position one between my legs to stop some of the flow. Incredibly they also had disposable plastic gloves at the pumps. I grabbed several.

    I had the option from Oxley of heading directly south on what looked like thoroughly entertaining roads through King Valley and down to Mansfield... or hook back onto the freeway and kill some distance with the wet-weather safety of straight lines. I opted for safety, thinking that I could re-evaluate at Mansfield, making a judgement call to loop around the east side of the lake and down to whatever I felt like doing of the Reefton and Black Spurs, Marysville and King Lake before belting into Melbourne. Best case scenario with the rain stopping all that would be reasonably dry by the time I got there. Worst case scenario and I'd have no fun whatsoever. The rain did ease off for about a minute on the way into Mansfield, but that was the best of it. I decided to cut my losses and give up on the Spurs etc, knowing that I had been there before, and that they were within a day's ride of Melbourne so could be done on a day off, or at the very least on the way back a month later. From Mansfield I took the fastest most direct route into Melbourne, eventually via the Maroondah Hwy which was at least more interesting than the Hume.

    I rolled into my accomodation in the CBD as the last light faded soaked, freezing, stiff and sore. I think I spent about 30min under a hot shower before I regained full feeling in my fingers.
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  5. #5 DarkHorse, Oct 19, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016

    The bike - As far as super-light, high performance touring bikes go, the Daytona performed admirably. Really, it was awesome. Didn't miss a beat mechanically, didn't blink an eyelid at the extra load of the luggage, took rough country roads, dirt, snow and rain in it's stride... and then absolutely revelled in the fun stuff when I got seriously up it. I did trigger the ABS a few times, but almost always hard braking into corners when pushing, not tip-toeing through wet or icy twisties. The throttle rocker was without a doubt the best $8 I have ever spent on any bike I have ever owned! Not only did it succeed in it's stated purpose of alleviating strain and fatigue over long distances, but it completely relieved the numbness in my wrist and hand. It took a single adjustment to get it at the perfect angle for me, and then a little while to get used to riding with - apparently I have a habit of twisting my wrist slightly when I brake - inconsequential until there is a little piece of plastic that drags the throttle around when you lean on it. I removed it for the first serious set of twisties just so I didn't have to worry about blip-braking while slipping the clutch, but after that I was comfortable enough to leave it on for the rest of the trip, and in fact ever since.

    Luggage - The tankbag I love. It looks great, suits the lines of the bike perfectly, doesn't obstruct my view of the dash or impede my natural riding position. It packs plenty, expands for more, attaches easily with the magnetic wings and also clips to a strap around the headstock for added security. After the 1500km I have started to notice some scuffing of the paint on the tank, which is serious enough to be beyond just a cut and polish... even if my bike wasn't matte black and therefore unpolishable. With the included rain cover it proved completely waterproof. The tailbag is stylistically less impressive, but functionally adequate. It is slim enough not to overhang the sliver of a pillion seat on the Daytona, holds a reasonable amount, and expands vertically. The strapping arrangement is a little cryptic and took me a couple of goes to get what I think is the right arrangement going on. Initially I had the straps running under the seat, but found that no matter how tight I had the straps the bag still slid forward. Eventually I ran the straps all the way under the tail, positioning the pad on the bolt plate for the fender eliminator, reasoning that physics would thereby stop it moving either way. Cranking the straps down it has been consistently stable since. Unfortunately, even with the rain cover on it couldn't keep the water thrown up from the back tyre out. The subsequent solution is simply to line it with a plastic bag for future trips. There is also some scuffing on the tail-light and surround which has me a bit concerned, but I'll reserve judgement until I can give the bike a proper clean.

    Gear - The good - helmet was fine, I just wish I had opted for the clear visor and splashed out for a pinlock anti-fog insert. The fog-off mask does work fine as long as it's positioned perfectly and seals around my nose. The Earmolds worked 95% of the time - the connection where the tube meets the speaker can be a bit touchy now, but I might just be due for a new pair. They did start to ache a bit after a few hours, but they have always been the worst-fitting of the few sets I have owned. The only other issues were due to my waxy ears, which can usually be resolved by pushing some of the tube through the plug and trimming the end off. My Scott jacket was great, despite missing the lining. Warm and waterproof, my only gripe is the fiddly little zips at the cuffs which can be difficult with gloved hands. The compression tights and bike short combination were nothing short of awesome - seriously anyone doing long stretches in the saddle should do this. The Daytona seat is usually one of the least friendly out there, specifically the edges vs my inner thighs. This trip my specific saddle-soreness was virtually non-existent, and my general leg soreness was much less than I expected given the amount of work I was doing.

    The bad - Racing gloves are simply not appropriate for long distances in the cold, let alone the wet. In hindsight I should have just left them behind, because even as a spare they take up a lot of room. My 'winter' gloves were too badly broken down to cope too. I now have a shiny new pair of Dri-Rider Hipora lined touring gloves, which are getting extra water-proofing treatment as well as a pair of thermal inner-gloves, and the extra plastic gloves to ensure they never get wet. Even the oil-skin-esque Draggins were naively optimistic in any serious rain... and I got serious rain. I now have a new pair of Dri-Rider waterproof textile pants with a removable thermal lining. I had a bit of a stuff around ordering a pair from Sydney which fit perfectly around my waist, but the knee pads were actually shin pads. Thankfully BikeBiz were wonderful taking them back and refunding me, and Peter Stevens happened to have a pair of the short-leg version (which I didn't know existed) in stock. My old work boots are being retired, and I have a shiny new pair that are also getting additional water-proofing done before I ride back. I will also add plastic bag socks at the first hint of rain.

    Route - demanding, but possible. With an earlier start on the Friday I could have done the RNP and coast road as well, and avoided the sun-in-the-eyes and then dusk dirt road on the way into Braidwood. I don't think I'd change a single thing about the second day, except maybe a slightly earlier start or shorter lunch break. Possibly reconsider the Alpine Way any earlier in the year, or depending on conditions. Day three was completely a victim of the weather. Unfortunately the way west out of Omeo doesn't give you many options - you can go almost straight north again 200km out of the way, or straight south pretty much down to the coast which then cuts out a bunch of fun stuff. Or you have a choice between Falls Creek and Hotham... so snow or snow if there is still snow around. The planned route is a long day, but doable and would be amazing in the right conditions when you include the Marysville area as well.

    Summary - this was a trip I have been wanting to do for years, and I am absolutely glad I did. The weather on the final day was a bummer, but completely compensated for by the incredible day of riding that preceded it. Apart from anything else, riding a supersport rocket through dirt, snow and deluge satisfied my craving for adventure, and pushed me well out of my comfort zone - something I need psychologically every now and again. I'm now sitting down on the Island, enjoying a few days of relaxation before the race and then the return ride... both of which I am looking forward to immensely.

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  7. EPIC mate
    catch up with us saturday
  8. That was a great read.
    Don't miss the ride through the Yarra ranges on the way back. The Warburton to Yarck stretch is tight, twisty corner after corner craziness not to be missed.
    Looks like Friday's weather is going to be interesting.
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  10. Great write up
    That throttle control gizmo, where did you get it?
  11. Great write up — thanks! The mates I was going to the Island with last year thought I was nuts for wanting to take a Daytona (before I fell off the thing), but glad to know it can be done for next year... :sneaky:
  12. I can only echo Uncle Greg's comment: epic!!!
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  13. Great write up and pics DarkHorseDarkHorse - enjoy the race this weekend and safe travels back.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  14. Excellent report,agree 100% on just about everything reported. Loved how you had an issue and found a great fix,exactly the same fixes have worked for me over the years.Recommend this for all new touring riders.
  15. Awesome trip and RR, nicely done :cool:
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. I'm pretty jealous right now, that sounds truly epic (y)
  17. I got it from MCAS. Any decent sized accessories shop would have them. Mine was a X-Tech brand, which is just their cheap generic brand. I know Oxford do a version too which should be available anywhere.
  18. Of course it can be done. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but it can be done! Highly recommend the bike shorts though...
  19. Thanks all. It was a pretty intense few days, but I loved it... even the wet and the cold.

    Now I just need a little less wet the next few days - it didn't stop raining all day today, to the point where the cancelled MotoGP and Moto2 practice sessions.
  20. I was totally up that mountain then! Nice write-up DH. :)