2017 PI trip – Day 5 – Corang to Corryong

Can’t remember the last time I was woken up by a rooster. The sun is out but I struggle to get up. Is day 5 and the miles are starting to take their toll on the body. Well irrigated evenings don’t help I suppose. Long day ahead so I better move my butt.

Day starts with another blast through the dirt access road to the property where we stayed at Corang. Bikes are looking filthy and we promise them some love and care later in the day. First blast takes us to Tarago. Another great flowing road with barely any traffic. Engines enjoy the fresh morning air. We merge with the last stretch of the King’s Highway towards Queanbeyan where we stop to de-dirt the bikes and do some maintenance.

The day is warming up when we make our way south towards Cooma on the boredom of the Monaro Highway. One hundred kilometres of straight road. At least the scenery is beautiful. Lunch stop at a coffee shop in Cooma. We are starting to see more bikes on the road now. First news of heavy police enforcement on the area come via the locals.

From here we make our way up to Jindabyne where we fill up and get ready for the excitement of the great alpine way. The first part of ascent presents a nice warm-up for the tire-shredding fest of the descent on the other side. There is still snow on the peaks, even though it’s 25 degrees C up here. The views are mesmerizing. We stop shortly at Thredbo for some photos and quickly get back on the bikes to start the descent.

There are no words to describe this kind of ride. Perfect conditions, good tarmac, amazing scenery, endless kilometres of corners. We swap the lead a few times and enjoy chasing each other down the mountain while listening to the amazing soundtrack of four thoroughbreds stretching their legs on the mountain air. One to remember…

Somehow we make it down the bottom with seeing any highway patrol cars and make our way to the Mountain View motel (aptly named) and the pub for some well deserved beers and meat. The boys like meat.

Strange notes for the day: Ben didn’t get us lost and Ron didn’t hold us up to take a shit. Weird…

2017 PI trip – day 4 – Bathurst to Corang

Morning light at the Mountain is something special. That place has soul. It belongs to the pinnacle of world class racetracks. Tv cameras do not do it justice. Not even close. In its honour we do some laps and act like typical tourists taking photos at every corner. Dan drinks coffee instead. He’s old. Meanwhile we meet a rider with some sort of ugly vehicle he tries to tell us is a motorcycle. We disagree. He tags along for the day.

We head down to town and the boys have some breakfast at a local bakery before we head south staying away from the road to Oberon, opting for a road that runs parallel just to the west. We hit the first jackpot of the day. After a fast flowing initial section the twisty hills make an appearance and it’s a cracker. No traffic, great weather, good tarmac and corners. Bliss. Our new friend’s titanic is bottoming out on the corners and sparks are flying from his centre stand.  It’s quite entertaining to watch. To his credit that doesn’t slow him down much.

We get to Goulburn and try a local Indian restaurant. Namaste. That shall sort Ron’s intestinal incontinence. From there we endure a few kms of the Hume heading east to the turnoff to Kangaroo Valley. Just at the top of the mountain the road is closed for repairs. It will reopen in 15 minutes. We shall wait then…

We filter to the front of the queue so we can have the road to ourselves. They finally start removing the cones and Dan goes. Ben is putting his make-up on and I’m stuck and have to wait for him. A mountain of cars goes through and we endure dozens of tight corners on a steep descent behind traffic. The boys get restless and attempt a few overtakes of doubtful quality. Ben shits his pants again. I wonder if he has enough underwear.

I finally manage to overtake the pile of vehicles and enjoy the second half of the descent. The boys are waiting for me at the bottom of the hill but I’m not stopping. I know there is the climb at the other side of the valley and there is no way I’m letting the cars pass again. The climb is all to myself. Bliss again.

We get to Nowra and Ben tries to find the supermarket. He does… and manages to not see it.  He’s good like that. We buy some supplies for our night at Corang and try to pack them on the bikes. We head off and Ben gets lost listening to the G maps lady. I spot a trend here. A few kms out of town the road opens up and sweepers galore ensues. We can’t believe what we found: no cars, perfect tarmac and fast flowing sweepers one after the other. We make them justice.

We turn off to the b & b on a little dirt road that turns into 2 kms of full 4×4 challenge. The duc complaints that it broke a finger nail. And asks for coffee. The guest house is nothing short of amazing and so are our hosts. They even offer to drive us back to Corang, 15 kms up the road, so we can buy some booze from the local. They wash Ben’s underwear. And our plates as well, after chef Ron cooks a large bbq with the lot. Ron snores now. Nothing new.

2017 PI Trip – Day 3 – Maitland to Bathurst

Woke up to the sound of thunder… no, wait… is just Ron “hibernating bear” snoring. I decide to record proof. I have to move the phone away from the source as it complaints about volume levels. Should have brought noise cancelling headphones…

Dan is up. I meet him for some morning fuel (coffee) across the road while we wait for the sleeping beauties to wake up. Morning is perfect. Warm and no signs of rain. Ron finally wakes up and has cold steak for breakfast and then takes a shit. It stinks.

We meet a local rider on a german steed. He kindly offers to lead us down to the putty. We wait for Ron again as he takes another shit. Head south through the Hunter vineyards and meet up with another local. And we putty. We putty a lot. We love puttying.

Stop for a coffee where everyone does. Flies greet us. They love us. Our new friends need to go back and it’s time for us to grab some apple pie. I’ve been craving Belpin apple pie for months! After a few corners uphill we stop for some warm pie and cream. As good as I remember. I’m coming back for more.

We head towards Lithgow on Bells with Ben leading the way with a map loaded into G maps that I gave him. He obviously decides to change it immediately because he saw a squiggly line. We end up in a dirt road at the bottom of a valley and immediately decide to tell him his an idiot and turn around. I look at the map and find a way back to the original route through an amazing scenery of mountains and a man made lake. Ben decides he’s Marquez but quickly realizes that he’s not. We tell him he’s an idiot again. We make our way towards Oberon on perfect sweeping bends that make our steeds sing and our souls heal. More petrol for the duc and we head to Mount Panorama for the mandatory lap of the road of the gods. Check-in at the hotel overlooking the track and Ron takes a shit.

End the day with a few drinks at the bar and a walk through the track before heading back to the hotel for dinner. It took a while to order because we had to wait for Ron to take a shit. But the food was great and the company even better. Time to go to bed now. I need to go to the toilet but have to wait ’cause Ron is taking a shit.

Extended Helmet Therapy

It’s 11:42PM, in Maitland NSW. Hugo is snoring like a freight train in the bed next to mine. Where the fuck are my ear plugs? Oh! wait.. I have a bottle 8% Ginger Joe’s Ginger Beer. ¬†That’ll satisfy the thirst and make me not care about the human chainsaw, and help me to forget about my sore muscles ūüôā ¬† Drinking it on my own because Dan and Ben are in the next room with the lights off. ¬†Me? I can’t sleep so, peck away at this keyboard by LCD light I shall!

Anyway.. ¬† 18 minutes until day 2 of our trip from Brisbane/Gold Coast QLD to Phillip Island for the 2017 MotoGP comes to a close. Day 3 starts tomorrow, when we wake up early (not as early as Hugo. ¬†Some of us are human and need more sleep that isn’t snore filled) ¬† We just had an epic day of riding and covered 450 some odd k’s, including heading down Thunderbolts way (part of the Australia’s New England High Country. ¬†https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderbolts_Way). ¬†Of course, we obeyed the speed limit at all times, Officer Rod Updeinenarsch! ¬† How could you suggest otherwise! ¬†You and your brethren can give us all the dirty looks you like as we roll past. ¬†Really I know you are just jealous, even if you don’t understand it, or admit it to yourselves. ¬†No revenue for you! Not this time! sorry ūüôĀ

This 15 day trip has been brewing in the brain for at least 2 years. ¬†Yep, I’ve got the nomads blood in me! Sitting still for an extended length of time, really gets me antsy! ¬† I bet my ancestors were on horseback, hoofs thundering through the hills in search of the next adventure. ¬†Maybe that is just what I tell myself so that I can justify my addiction to motorcycles. ¬† Either way, the desire is there, and if I don’t give in, I become a very cranky and irritable bastard! ¬† Just ask my wife!

I do get away for 2 day escapes here and there to keep my insanity in check, but I’ve been feeling the call to throw a bunch of things into a bag, climb onto my bike and disappear into the hills on an extended trip; ¬†rolling into small towns, eating in places we’ll probably never visit again, and sleeping in a different bed every night; spending time winding the throttle of our bikes until the RPMs howl while hearing the exhaust note echo through the hills as we scream down the road (yes yes, at the speed limit, Officer Rod).

So finally this year, the motorcycle gods heard my silent calls and blessed me with the time to fuck off into the great wide open, and as it happens they also blessed my above mentioned nomadic compa√Īeros with the same. ¬†Originally it was 6 of us that wanted to go along, but 2 were robbed of the glory. ¬†So in the end 4 of us carefully planned our escape across 3 Australian states and one territory, in search of winding roads, petrol stations with 98 Octane and motorcycle racing glory that is the MotoGP. ¬† We left Saturday morning!

Ahh finally some time to get centred; to find some peace and tranquility! My bike, my helmet and my thoughts!

Some of you inherently get that, but others? You scratch your heads and ask: ‘how the fuck does anyone find relaxation and mindfulness by wrapping ones legs around a motor and 2 wheels while barrelling down the hill at adrenalin fuelled breakneck speed, with only leathers and a helmet, skirting certain death and infamy as an organ donor?’ ¬† Surely thats just some crazy shit, that can be diagnosed using the DSM manual and cured with medication right?

Nope! It’s true it can ACTUALLY reduce stress and make you happier in the long run. ¬† Don’t believe me? OK.. let me drop some science on you non-believers! ¬†According to the Ryuta Kawashima Laboratory of the Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University.”Incorporating motorcycle riding into daily life improves various cognitive functions (particularly prefrontal cortex functions) and has positive effects on mental and emotional health such as stress reduction.”

Wait.. What? They make you smarter!? ¬†But but but it’s so dangerous! ¬†You could die! ¬†Ok…. sure, that is true. It’s dangerous! ¬†But so is walking across a busy street, smoking a cigarette, posting extremist political shit on Facebook, eating too much crap at your local cheap Chinese buffet or visiting McDonalds more than 3x a year!

Yep, improved cognitive function! ¬†AND!!!… get this. ¬†It can bring you tranquility and allow for some self exploration! ¬†Now this isn’t a novel idea. ¬†It’s been around for quite a while now. ¬†Seriously! Ever heard of the book by Persig (RIP) called ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’? ¬† Yes? ¬†Did you read it? If no to either of those questions then, shame on you! ¬†Download it here!¬†and relieve yourself of your risk averse misconceptions! ¬†You’ll thank me! ¬† ¬† If you don’t then WTF are you doing here reading this blog anyway? We are way to different, and anything I say will just sound like gibberish to you. ¬†Stop wasting your time and go crochet sometime would ya!? ¬†Don’t forget to pick up a big mac on the way home ok?

So.. Those that are still here…….. ¬† ¬†Science!…. Motorcycles might kill you, but riding them has been proven to make you smarter! ¬†They¬†will¬†make you happy! They will help you to better deal with stress, because yes life is stressful, that shit isn’t going to change! ¬†Not in our day and age! ¬†But think about it for a second. ¬†If you are happy and able to cope with stress better, then maybe you will be a nicer person to those around you!? hmmm? hmmm? See! ¬†a bit of altruism there! ¬†Anyway, google that stuff! ¬†Check out that cool rabbit hole! I’m not preaching anymore! If you are already converted, then go get on your bike, or buy one, borrow one! ¬†Hell get on a scooter! FFS! Go Zen out!

As for me, I know this to be true… ¬†riding clears my head, I can have the shittiest week ever! Go from one royal fuck around to the next but if I get on my bike and go for a ride, helmet on face, wind rushing past, my mind gets quiet! ¬†I’m in whats called the here and now! It’s momentary zen! ¬†My blood pressure actually goes down! ¬†Yeah… I’m in my 40’s and have to think about that shit! ¬† No doc is writing this guy a scrip for statins! Hell no!

Fuck! ¬†Lucky me! ¬†13 more days of this, and a world class motorcycle race parked right in the middle ūüôā Fuck yeah!

Anyway, its late! ¬†Ginger Joe has worked his magic, my battery is at 4%, and Hugo stopped snoring.. I better get some sleep before he starts again! ¬†Got another awesome day of riding! More mountain ranges, the thrum of my V4 Aprilia, while I quick shift through the gears, flying past amazing scenery, having good laughs and good times, and collecting stories to tell later! ¬†Gotta savour that shit! ūüôā

Until next time!  Keep your throttle hand strong and stay upright!

Ronno.

 

 

2017 PI Trip – Day 2 – Glen Innes to Maitland

It’s 6 am. Still dark outside. Looks miserable. I can hear the wind on the old hotel roofing. A shower will make me feel better. A shower always makes me feel better. And tea… tea helps. Dan is up. He also gets up early. Good. Someone to chat to until the coffee shop is open.

It is cold outside. Ten degrees (C) and windy. The town is deserted. Getting close to 8 am and the first coffee shop is finally opening. Coffeeeeee. Ron is late… nothing new. I guess a bear needs longer sleep.

We finally head off. First leg leads us south on the New England Highway. One hundred kms in the cold with not much to entertain us. Scenery is beautiful though and feels a lot like a scene from Ireland or Scotland. Plus sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.

First stop at Armidale for petrol. Dan and his sexy steed are harassed by a sexual predator. He menages to fight her off bravely. Lucky ducati.

Twenty more kilometres get us to Uralla and the start of Thunderbolts Way. Fast open road takes to Walcha and the temptation to turn left to the Oxley. We shall resist this time (only since we are doing it on the way back). More sheep and we finally get to the start of the climb that will take us to the lookout at the top of the mountain. By the blessing of the road Gods the view is clear and we are presented with bliss.

The boys have fun on the way down and then we ride one of the best pieces of tarmac in the country. Someone made a rollercoaster of sticky bitumen and placed it in the middle of picture perfect grassy hills with a lovely creek to top it up. Thank you Captain Thunderbolts. We salute you.

Lunch at a cafe in Gloucester in gorgeous sunshine. Last lamb curry was good Ben. Sorry it was the last one. Wanted some? We toss around different choices for the last leg. The lovely old ladies at the tourist information centre provide the solution: “Why would you take the highway? There is a nice mountain road here. Take a look.” Lovely ladies.

We go through Dungong. Ben’s duc is playing up. Cutting fuelling on hard acceleration. He decides it’s a good idea to overtake a car just before a corner. Bike cuts out a few times. We shake our heads. He shits his pants.

We ask Ron to listen to the nice google maps lady. They are not good together. Ron gets lost. Repeatedly. We tell Ron he sucks. We find the hotel without him. Perfect location. In a 20m radius we have a petrol station, a pub, fast food joints and a bottle-o.

Duc is fixed (not sure if this is the correct word to use) by disabling the quick-shifter. Problem solved. It took one guy fixing it, one watching and 2 guys drinking booze while on social media. It’s called productivity.

2017 PI Trip – Day 1 – Gold Coast to Glen Innes

Can’t sleep! The excitement built up over weeks of planning and preparation prevents me from relaxing. Every time the eyes close, images of winding roads, warm weather and elicit speeds form on my mind. Is it time to go yet?

Daylight. Finally. Final preparations, stuff a couple more useless things into the bulging bags attached to the rear of the bike, kick the tires one last time and kiss the wife goodbye. Time to meet the boys and… bliss.

Ron is late again. What else is new. Got confused with daylight savings he says. Blame QLD. Weather is closing in from the ocean and the radar pictures are not pretty. I decide to escape and wait for him in Murwillambah that looks to have a nice patch of blue skye overhead. The hairy one finally decides to grace us with his presence and we decide to continue west, escaping the big bad boo-boo clouds as much as possible.

We head through Uki, over Mt Burrel, where we finally get our first bit of rain of the journey. Tires are making our lives much easier on the tricky conditions. The amount of confidence transmitted by the Metzler Roadtec 01s fitted to our bikes, allow us to cover pace at a rate that wouldn’t shame any rider on the dry, much less in bumpy, unkept surface of the roads around this area. We drop down the mountain to Kyogle just in time to meet our other two companions, Dan and Ben for the trip. A quick check of the radar highlighted that our choices were to go south and drown in golf sized balls of icy water or keep heading west and avoid as much of it as possible. No problem, the Bruxner Hwy is not exactly a terrible place to be on two wheels.

After a stop in Casino for some fuel (both for the bikes and our stomachs), we started the 120 odd kms of fun in the run to Tenterfield. Drenched by rain during the first third of it, a miracle allowed for most of the remaining kms to be made on semi-dry conditions and for our steeds to stretch their legs. Not much traffic, beautiful countryside, a few mates and a great twisty road. Did I mention bliss?

Quick refill in Tenterfield and the final leg of the journey for the day started with a final belting of icy water that apparently hurt Ron’s nipples. Or so he says. Final stop at the Great Central Hotel where our host Tony made us feel extremely welcome and provided with a regiment sized meat feast that will keep us going for days. Props for the two country girls that walked 42kms of one of the amazing local walking trails in terrible weather and we’re in great spirits. You’ll make it next time girls!

Our filtering behavior

Here, on the land of koalas, kangaroos and “oh crap I didn’t know I was a dual-citizen” politicians, most of our states have finally decided to legalize what most mottorraddicts have been doing for most of their riding lives: filtering.

I’m not going to discuss (this time) what I think of each of the different aberrations… pardon… implementations of the filtering laws in each state (never-mind the fact that they are different per se).

What I would like to point out are a few facts that “we” (the blokes and gals on two wheels) seem to forget while taking advantage of that privilege:

  • Most people on cars don’t like you, the fact they are stuck in traffic and most certainly the fact that you are not.
  • Most people on cars aren’t aware that you are coming in-between vehicles or in the emergency lane.
  • A lot of these folk are not aware that filtering is legal and they most certainly do not know the specifics of the rules.
  • A small percentage of them are just absolute idiots that have no place on the road (and that’s ok because a small percentage of “us” are just idiots that have no place on the road).

I think most of you agree with this facts.

Having that into account, taking into consideration the risks associated with the task (to filter) and the benefits for all of us if we can reduce the percentage of drivers in the categories above, it strikes me as… let’s call it short-sighted the behavior we sometimes produce while filtering.

Instead of trying to point out all the things that you might be doing that annoy the drivers, I thought I would put down a small list of things that might put us all in a better light:

  • When a driver moves to the side to give you some room, give him a courtesy nod or a wave. We all like some positive reinforcement.
  • Filter at a small speed differential from the cars around you. Not only that will save you from being the next star on the latest youtube video named “Mum, I butt-raped a van!” it will prevent you from scaring the crap out of drivers that are not expecting you.
  • Indicate when moving from behind vehicles to filter and to/from the emergency lane.
  • Avoid snaking around between lanes. You are already faster than those poor folk on their cage-mobiles. No need to show them your Gymkhana skills.
  • Check your mirrors regularly for other riders while filtering. Let them go by if they are of the impatient kind.
  • Finally, if you find an idiot obstructing you, wait patiently and ignore him. A confrontation of any sorts is what he’s looking for and any of those episodes of road-rage just serve to stress you and everyone around you. Nobody likes stress.

Happy commute.

Naked and not afraid

I prefer them naked. Yes, I’m a fan of the dressed up kind, in all sorts of shapes and guises, but when I’m committing to a relationship, I like flesh… or mechanical bits in this case.

Had my fair share of partners in crime of this sort over the years, from indestructible oriental commuters (CB500, FZ6N, MT09) to euro, erection inducing, time-warping machines (Streetfighter, Tuonos, SDR). Love them all to bits.

The extra exposure to the environment, savings on chiropractor bills and the amount of performance the latest generation can produce is the perfect recipe for my kind of soul-food. Doesn’t really matter which one you choose. You can’t go wrong. They are just different takes on your favorite meal.

Do yourself a favor and take a few of them for a test ride. While they all share the same basic ingredients, it’ll surprise you how different they are in character and execution. Not “better” or “worse”. Forget what the spec sheets say, if they have another two and a half hp or if they weigh 100 grams less if the radiator isn’t filled up to the max line. It won’t matter one bit. Find the one that tickles you in that weird spot and leaves you giggling like a school-girl that just had a Bieber-glimpse.

You can thank me later.