Friday, May 31, 2013

31 May - Cowes, Philip Island

Woke up to the first decent day for a while and no sign of rain on the radar either. Rode the Honda to Philip Island via Mirboo Nth, Leongatha, Korumburra and Wonthaggi. No traffic on these picturesque country roads which made for a very relaxed trip. Great weather for a cruiser. Had lunch at Gullivers and then stopped in at the Philip Island Chocolate Factory hoping to take home a few goodies but I found the prices absolutely astounding. I really enjoy peanut clusters but a little bag containing about eight pieces was $15.95. I've never been shy about paying when I see value for money but that seemed ridiculous, so I contented myself with a couple of photos instead.

Started the trip home taking the wonderful coastal road between Cape Patterson and Inverloch before refuelling in Inverloch. The fuel consumption of the Honda continues to amaze me - about 4l/100km. The ride home was very pleasant too with no sign of rain or wind. Altogether an unforgettable day out on the bike.

Total Distance 344 km.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

29 May - The Wall of Death

Found a great video while trawling through the web earlier this evening. It's a documentary about the Ken Fox Troupe, one of the last remaining families who travel all over Europe and perform the famous Wall of Death routing using motorcycles and quad bikes. I particularly enjoyed the fact that one of the bikes they use is a 1920's Indian which is preferred because of its reliability.

THE WALL OF DEATH from benedict campbell on Vimeo.

I remember seeing this kind of act in circuses when I was a kid, it seemed impossible until you understand how centripetal force works. Then a couple of years ago Rosa and I attended the Moscow Circus on the Gold Coast. Terrific show but the highlight was the Ball of Death. This act is truly one of the scariest things I've ever seen. It's one of those where you have to remember to breathe.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

28 May - Lunch in Warburton

A rare sunny day forecast for today, preceeded by early morning fog. Well the fog lasted till about 10:30 and then yes there was the sun and blue skies with hardly a cloud in sight - so Beemer time. I thought a ride to Warburton via Noojee and Powelltown would provide plenty of autumn colours and smells so, that was the plan.

Arrived in Warburton and by now the temperature was up to 17ºC, the town was pretty quiet and no waiting at my favourite cafe (of all time) Three Sugars. The open Bacon and Egg Pie was superb, as was the coffee and it was very relaxing to sit there. During my ride I had been listening to my iPod via the Senna bluetooth unit mounted on my helmet. The iPod is actually located in the top box. Without thinking about it I walked across the road to the cafe and then realised that the bluetooth connection was still loud and clear. I didn't realise the range was so good.

Although it was cooling down quickly the return ride was also very enjoyable. During the winter you've got to grab every day you can and this was a particularly good one.

Total Distance 267 km

Friday, May 24, 2013

24 May - Drouin West and all over

Forecast was fine today (after early fog) so a ride on the Honda. While surfing the web last night I came across (via eBay) a company called Zen Motorcycle Gear. A couple of things caught my eye. First was the range of quality products at great prices and second - it is located in Gippsland. While it is primarily an online business a quick email confirmed that there is a physical warehouse in Drouin West which I could check out. Under a cloudless sky I travelled west down some back roads and quickly realised it was much colder than it looked. After noticing I had started shivering I quickly cut across to Yarragon for a coffee at Coco's Cafe. Thawed out there for 20 minutes or so and then travelled the rest of the trip along the M1 turning off at Drouin near the Robin Hood Motel. After crisscrossing through some small country roads for a while I finally arrived at:

The business is run by Marx (who is also a motorcycle instructor for DECCA) and his wife Chris.
Chris was waiting for me at the top of a very long drive and showed me into the motorcycle gear storage area.

The Zen range of leather and Cordura motorcycle wear is very high quality and exceptionally well priced. Even though I didn't really need it I couldn't resist a very high quality leather Brando style cruiser jacket. If you are in the market for clothing and other bits and pieces I can thoroughly recommend a visit either directly ( or via eBay.

By the time I left Zen, it had fortunately warmed up a bit and the return trip via Neerim, Noojee etc. was very pleasant.

Total Distance 225 km

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

23 May - Change of Name

My more observant readers will have noticed that I have changed the name of my blog to Australian Motorcycle Diaries. Over the last few months as I correspond with people who have taken an interest in my two wheeled travels it has become apparent that most are from other parts of the world, and with an interest in finding out more about Australia and motorcycling in this part of the world. The new title should make the blog easier to find by search engines such as Google.

Anyway, nothing else has changed and I look forward to continuing my conversations with motorcycle enthusiasts from Australia and abroad.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

21 May - Sale, Swing Bridge and riding on dirt

Not great weather today but good enough for a quick ride. Rode to Sale via Glengarry and had a sandwich lunch in Sale. Then back on the Beemer and on to the Sth Gippsland Highway and past the old Sale Swing Bridge.

This wrought iron structure, built in 1883 across the Thomson river was the first movable bridge built in Victoria. Its function was to allow steamers, which had travelled up the Gippsland Lakes to enter the port of Sale. Much of the machinery installed in the gold mining town of Walhalla travelled via this route. In its heyday, the bridge opened up to 20 times per day. Today it opens on Saturday's and Sundays between 3 and 4pm. Found a short video (below) of the bridge opening.

The lower seat on the Beemer has made my riding a lot more confident and I was keen to try a stretch of dirt road. Turned off the Sth Gippsland highway at Stradbroke to take the 11km dirt road which ends up in Gormandale. All went well and after a short but pleasant ride I reached home at 1:30.

Total Distance 136 km.

Monday, May 20, 2013

20 August - Bike Safety Videos

Much too wet to ride today and a bit of painting to do. Maybe better luck tomorrow. This evening, while doing my usual catchup with a lot of interesting motorcycle blogs I came across the this interesting web page which features the "Ride On" motorcycle safety videos produced by the Australian Government.

After an introduction by Wayne Gardner, the videos cover:

- Bike Control Skills
- Mental Skills
- Self Control Skills

The videos cover a lot of useful information even for experienced riders

Click here to go to the Ride On page

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

14 April - Why We Ride

A few years ago, when I first started riding again, I spent many a long evening searching the web for information, inspiration and to overcome the initial fears which are inevitable when you first climb on a two wheeled vehicle, especially if you're aged 65.

At that time I came across a video which made all my concerns seem laughable. It told the story of a group of aged Taiwanese men (average age 81) all with severe physical problems, who nevertheless undertook a 13 day motorcycle journey. As well as telling this inspirational story the short video in my mind captured something I've always had difficulty explaining to non riders - why we ride!

I was recently reminded of this little gem so here it is - enjoy!

14 May - Marley Point

Today was a bonus day - the BOM forecast rain and it was actually fine. Obviously a day to take advantage of and I really felt like a sedate cruise on the Honda. Rode through Toongabbie, Cowarr, Heyfield to Maffra and had lunch at the bakery in the main street. The skies were still clear and so I decided to visit Marley Point on Lake Wellington. Being the middle of the week the place was deserted but it's not hard to imagine how busy it would get on days of sailing events. Marley Point is the home of the Lake Wellington Yacht Club which has been hosting the annual overnight yacht race since 1960.

Last night I came across a great blog owned by Gary France who after walking past a Harley Davidson shop in England made a decision to:

1   Retire
2   Buy a Harley Davidson bike
3   Ride the HD across the USA (21,000 miles)

Gary kept a blog on the trip and published many fine photographs of his experience. Eventually, after many suggestions from readers he was persuaded to use the blog material to publish a 400 page book of the trip. I've permanently added a link to his site on my blog. It is definitely worth a visit. The photos and videos are great and the blog is a must for anyone who has ever dreamed (however briefly) of undertaking a motorcycle adventure.

Total Distance 185 km.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

9 May - South Gippsland

The BOM forecasted a great day today - sunny and 24ºC. I was keen to try the new seat on the BMW for an outing so by 10:00 I was headed for Mirboo Nth for my first coffee at the Bullock Dray. The next stop was Kelly's Cafe Bakery in Korumburra. I was able to sit in the warm sun and enjoy lunch.
From here a rambling route to Inverloch and Meenyian, and then home through the green Gippsland hills via Mirboo Nth, Boolarra and Yinnar.

The new seat makes the world of difference. The extra contact with the ground has taken all the worry out of stopping and manoeuvring the bike. No more 'oh shit' moments on sloping or uneven surfaces. Strangely, although there is less padding in the seat I think it is more comfortable than the standard seat. Removing some of the foam has created a sculpted, wider area you can move to, once up to speed. So a great day. Got home, checked the oil, and lubricated the chain and she's now ready for the next trip.

Total Distance 230 km.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

1 - 2 May - Port Melbourne

Rode the Beamer down to Port Melbourne this afternoon, to have dinner at a great Indian restaurant in Sth Melbourne with my friend Marcus and an ex SMS colleague Paul. I checked the weather radar to find that it was raining heavily along two thirds of my route down the Princes Highway. The thought of chickening out and taking the car flashed through my mind briefly but I put on my wet gear instead. Just as well it rained all the way from Moe to Berwick. Had a great night out with the guys and the next morning called into Southbank Motorrad (where I bought the bike) to check out an extra low seat hoping it would give me a more secure grip on the ground at standstill. The seat checked out fine and after fitting it, and tying my original seat down as luggage I had a great trip home. The sky was blue and no sign of rain. Altogether a successful trip - even a trek through the rain can be enjoyable. My enjoyment was short lived though - when I got home I discovered the seat covering had started to split at a seam. Rang BMW who promised to have a new one ready at 10:30 the following morning. Took the 7:45 train to Melbourne Friday morning and was home with the new seat at 2pm. This one looks OK so I'll take it out for a trial soon.

Total distance (by motorcycle) - 320 km.