Monday, 20 October 2014

Phillip Island, Day 2. Practice and qualifying for the riders, meeting up with old friends for me.

18/10/14

A good friend responded to my plea for a free ticket to get into the track and snuck me in using his pass. It's a bit naughty, but I'm on a tight budget, so it had to be done. For obvious reasons I can't name him, but thanks Mate. You know who you are.

First stop was the Moto GP Expo where I caught up with a whole bunch of people from my previous life in the motorcycle industry. It was really good to see so many familiar faces.


Suzuki had next season's Moto GP bike on display.

Then it was on to the Moto Guzzi stand where Nathan had my gaskets waiting to fix my ailing, noisey bike. Thanks Nathan, you're a life saver.I will pay you back with a beer or two next time you're in Perth.

Practice got under way and the bikes were in and out of the pits trying different setups to chase that elusive 100 th of a second advantage. There are a million images on the net that you can see, so I'll only post a few here. I still haven't had my camera repaired from our last trip so these blurry photos are from my pocket camera.


Mr Rossi was a huge crowd favourite.


Ninteen year old Jack Miller. Australia's hope in Moto 3.
Has he got the goods?


Sometimes it got a bit crowded.


My arty shot for the day.

On my way out of the track I stopped in for a quick look at the Phillip Island Visitor's Centre. It's only small but interesting and worth a visit if you're on the Island.


Aron Slight's WSB Honda.


Wayne Garder poster, "What a day" alright.
Gardner beat Wayne Rainey by half a second in 
Phillip Island's inaugural Grand Prix.

It was time for me play mechanic. Back at home I spent about half an hour spinning spanners and then the Guzzi was wearing some nice, new, air tight gaskets in the exhaust. It was a pleasure to fire it up and hear that nice quiet burble again. The boys from Moto Guzzi had offered to do it for me, but they had done more than enough already. Thanks again guys.

We rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous at Pinos for dinner.


Well, we had some pizza. then after dinner I did meet a couple of real celebrities...


Tex & Bundy.

Tex and Bundy (the world's fastest moto dog) are famous in Australia. They spend their days fundraising and guess what they ride...a Moto Guzzi Stelvio. You can read more about this wonderful duo on Facebook, just search Tex and Bundy charity fundraisers. You can also read more about their history at:

http://www.motoguzzi.com.au/20130701.html.

Bundy is one of the nicest ladies I've met, and she even gave me a kiss.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Phillip Island, Day 1. Practice for the riders, and a first taste for the boys.

17/10/14

The boys headed off to the track this morning as it was the first Moto GP for most of them. I've been to quite a few GPs, and as it's only practice today so I decided to stay home and do some domestic duties like washing. It also gave me an opportunity to catch up on this blog.


I wandered into town in the very pleasant afternoon sun and poked around in a couple of second hand shops. It's one of my favourites pass times, you never know what you might find. There was quite a bit of Moto GP stuff that I would have liked, but carrying it on the bike just wasn't feasible. Then I saw this...



It's the bear from the big blue house, one of my daughter Paige's favourite TV shows when she was a kid. When I found out he sings, and he dances, I had to have him. He will now be travelling to Tasmania and back across the Nullabour with me before he goes to live at Paige's house.

The boys came back in the afternoon with eyes wide open and talking about how fast the bikes were. Watching the bikes on TV just doesn't give you any perception of how fast they really are. You hear 340 kilometres per hour, but until you're standing by the side of the track, and you see the bikes go past, you just can't comprehend how fast they are. It's mind boggling.

Once again it was time to eat so we had a brisk walk into Cowes. It's amazing who you bump into and we caught up with mates we haven't seen for ages.


The main drag. No cars, just bikes.

One of Cowes top spots, Pinos.


Rex chatting with a couple of old friends we caught up with,
Jay and Mal.

After taking in the sights, and devouring a burger, we were off home for an early night.

Tomorrow is a full day at the track, the it will be into Cowes for a huge Saturday night. The place goes off on Saturday night with a huge crowd and all sorts of fun and frivolity. It's a highlight of the weekend.
Portland to Phillip Island, or,

The Winding Way Round.

16/10/14

It was bloody good day today. 
We got to ride The Great Ocean Road and it was a first for many of us, me included.

The Great Ocean Road runs along the coast of Victoria and has some wonderful winding sections that are motorcycle Nirvana. As luck would have it, this road also features some iconic tourist destinations as well. This can lead to some heavy traffic sometimes and it "could" be frustrating for motorcyclists. It's not though, and do you know why not? Because the majority of drivers pull over and let motorcyclists past so we can enjoy the road. Two huge thumbs up to those who let us through today. Thank you.

Everyone rugged up and donned their wet weather gear this morning because it looked like it was going to be pretty miserable, weather wise. Luckily we only got a smattering of rain in the early part of the day, and sun shine for the rest of the time.

Our first tourist stop was The Bay of Martyrs.


Do those of us that you can see look like
we're having fun yet?





Next stop was The twelve Apostles. Well, there used to be twelve, but they keep falling over. Now there are actually only eight left.



I tried to push over another one.





Back on the road we continued our run down the Great ocean Road.

Uncle G and Mark enjoying the ride.

   Uncle R did a good job wrestling the Harley,
and keeping up.

Next stop was Apollo Bay for a quick lunch and more fuel.

Apollo Bay Bakery makes great pies.

Then I stopped at Wye River and had a happy snap taken outside the hotel. Suzanne's parents used to have a holiday house in Wye River so it's a very sentimental place. And so is the hotel...


The Wye River Hotel.

Then it was a quick ride to the end of The Great Ocean Road. It was a fun day.


We had decided earlier to take the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento. It doesn't save much time, but it will give our backsides and brains a forty minute rest.

A ferry like ours making a return trip.

A coffee was now the order of the day, but Sorrento wasn't playing the game. Most of the shops there close at 4 pm. Damn! Oh well, we'll just have to wait until get to Phillip Island for a coffee. It won't take long.

It shouldn't have taken long, but we had a few dramas with a bloody road works detour. Having a detour sign at the start of the detour is fine, but you need to follow it up with a few more signs so people can find their way back to their original route. After a bit of stuffing around, and some Google mapping, we were back on course.

We finally pulled into the driveway at our awesome house on Phillip Island at about 7 pm. We'd covered just over 4,000 kilometers in the last six days, and our backsides knew it.


Now it's Moto GP time.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Port Pirie to Portland.

15/10/14

It was 6:30 am. Rex, Uncle G, and I were all fuelled up and ready to go. Where were the others? Not here that's for sure. After waiting another fifteen minutes we decided to start the day without them. We'll catch up somewhere later in the day.


It was bloody cold, in fact it was three degrees when we left Port Pirie, and dropped to one degree when we were on the open road. Throw in a bit of wind chill and it's freezing. Literally. Luckily after an hour or so, and a sun rise over the hills, the temperature climbed to around a bearable five degrees.

A couple of hours later we were battling Adelaide's peak hour, and admiring the beautiful, old, stone buildings they have there. The traffic and going nowhere fast. That was until I rationalised that If I'm on a motor "cycle" I should be able to use the cycle lane. That worked a treat and the three of us were soon filling our bikes and bellies just the other side of town.

Before we knew it we were enjoying the winding road through the Adelaide Hills and on our way again. Uncle G was keen to travel via Robe as he had heard it was a nice ride. There were no arguments from us so Robe it was. A right turn just after Tailem Bend had us riding south past some huge lakes and into Meningie.


Rex, me, and Uncle G outside an old church in Meningie that had been converted into a house, and it's for sale.

The lakes were truly enormous. Blurry photo courtesy of
on the move photography.

We followed the road into Kingston where we came upon this...

Yup! It's a giant lobster, but not just any giant lobster, this is "The Big Lobster"

Unfortunately the restaurant that Lenny, yes, that's his name, represents is now closed, so we had to settle for a pie from the bakery across the road. It was a very nice pie though.

Just as we finished lunch the rest of the crew rode into town. We were once again the six amigos.

We were now only a few hundred kilometres from the South Australian Victorian border, and hopefully some winding roads.

We're on Victorian soil, and guess what...

...it's raining!

I can hear all the Victorians now, "Oh you should have been here yesterday. It was a glorious day".

We found our way to Portland and rode straight to our stopover. Uncle D had once again done a great job with the accommodation and we had two very nice cabins between us. The boys decided that a BBQ was in order so copious amounts of  meat and delicious salad were devoured along with another carton of Coronas.

We're all pretty keen to see the road tomorrow as we'll hit The Great Ocean Road, and finish the day on Phillip Island.

Let the fun begin. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Streaky Bay to Port Pirie.

We're nearly there.

14/10/14

The exhaust leak on my bike is getting worse. It's at the point now that I'm calling it a Moto Davidson. It sounds like a Harley, and is as noisey as one too. Now I'm not the sort of person who likes to ask favours, but something had to be done. I sent off a text message to Nathan from Moto Guzzi Australia to see if he could arrange for some gaskets to be posted to Phillip Island, or if he had another suggestion. A few minutes later it was sorted. Nathan will  be at the Island, and he'll bring the gaskets with him. Brilliant! Problem solved. Thanks mate.

We have an easy 500 kilometre ride to Port Pirie ahead of us today so we took advantage of a bit of extra time to have a wander around. Streaky Bay is a really nice little seaside town and I reckon if you wanted a very relaxing holiday Streaky would fill the bill nicely.


Rex and I wandered down to the town jetty and saw a couple of dolphins effortlessly gliding through the water. I think I want a pet dolphin. Am I allowed to do that?


 Uncle G practising his male model pose on the
Streaky Bay jetty.

The Streaky Bay Hotel (I wonder how they came up with that name?) home of great, cheap steaks.

In the service station they had a 5 meter, 1,500 kilo white pointer that was caught in the area in 1990.

Big isn't it? How big...

This big.

We decided against going for a swim and thought it was probably better to make our way toward Port Pirie.

Just a few more ks in a straight line.
This should change when we get into Victoria.

We had a quick lunch and refuel break in Kimba, and while we were there someone took advantage of my mate Rex's poor seating choice.


500 ks later we were looking for the caravan park in Port Pirie. We found it after a bit of running around, and with directions from a helpful police officer.

Our on site cabin was a little on the small side, and only had a double bed and four bunks. That's no big deal, I'll throw my sleeping mat on the floor and sleep there. Unfortunately Rex and Uncle G couldn't fit in the bunks, so Rexy made a few quick calls and organised a cottage for us just down the road.

Great little stone cottage.

This three bedroom cottage was fantastic, and reminded me of the house I grew up in as a kid. Not very big, but with incredibly high ceilings. I felt right at home. Some of the boys stayed at the park, while Uncle G, Rex, and I bunked down in the cottage, and enjoyed the best shower of the trip so far.

We enjoyed a few laughs over dinner with the new owners of the Family Hotel which was just around the corner. After a lot of talk about duck, racks of lamb, racks in general, and all sorts of other nonsense it was decided we should call it a night.

Tomorrow is another big day with around 900 ks to be covered. It was decided, after much discussion, that we would be "fuelled up and on the road" at 6:30 am.

I have a feeling it's going to be cold.
Eucla to Streaky Bay. We're finally out of Western Australia. 

13/10/14

We had a big night for snoring in our room last night, and for once I wasn't the main protagonist. Mark pumped out some serious volume, and sounded like he was fighting some sort of angry beast in his bed. Uncle G was so impressed that he was up videoing Mark at two am.


In the morning, with snoring sounds still ringing in our ears, we bolted for Border Village which is about twenty kilometres down the road in South Australia. After two days, we'd finally made it out of Western Australia.

After a healthy breakfast of bacon and eggs we were ready to head east and put another 600 kilometres of straight road behind us.


I suggested we skip Phillip Island and head to Auckland. I was overruled and there were many comments about not being able to hold our breath etc.

Just as we were mounting up, a guy came over and asked if I was the rider who slowed to check if he was OK when he was on the side of the day yesterday. I was, and he proceeded to tell me his story. He was riding a Honda Valkyrie towing a trailer and sadly he suffered transmission problems, which was why he was on the side of the road. He ended up being towed into Border Village by a four wheel drive. The sad thing is that as he was being towed, the tow rope went slack, he ran over it with his front wheel, the four wheel drive took up the slack, and pulled his front wheel out from underneath him. As a result he went down the road. The poor guy now has a crash damaged bike, a buggard gearbox, and a few grazes as well. Not the sort of ride he was planning.

Leaving Border Village it was a short ride to our first stop on the Eyre Highway. It was here that we witnessed an attempted murder!

Attempted murder.

After we sorted that our we did the usual Great Australia Bight tourist stuff, taking photos of the coast.




The obligatory tourists on a cliff shot.
Uncle G, me, Mark, Uncle R, Rex, and Uncle D.

The cliffs on the coast are spectacular and photos just don't do them any justice. It's a long way down and if you went over the edge I don't think there would be any coming back.

The clock was ticking and we still had some ground to cover so after the photo session we were Eastward bound again. We had a quick fuel and food replenishment stop at Nullabor Roadhouse. It was eerily quiet here, and the wind had died right down so the place had a sort of surreal feel to it. I could imagine Mad Max rolling up in his Police Interceptor.

In Australia we get used to seeing dead kangaroos on the side of the road, but it was really sad to see a lot of Wombats on the stretch of road heading into Ceduna. These poor little buggars wander onto the road and get cleaned up by vehicles.

Our next stop was Ceduna for more fuel, then it was a final blast into Streaky Bay. After 600 kilometres were checking in to our accommodation for the night. While we were at reception I spied this notice...

We didn't see any. I wonder what they were.

Uncle D had booked the accommodation at the Streaky Bay Motel and Villas and he'd done really well here. We had a luxury cabin in the middle of town. I'm happy to recommend this place if you are ever in Streaky bay. Here's the web address: 
http://www.streakybaymotelandvillas.com.au/

We feasted at the Streaky bay Hotel and I have to say my $17 porterhouse steak with Kilpatrick and cheese topping, with a huge side plate of tasty vegetables was delectable, and the beer wasn't bad either.

Talking about beer, as we're settling into the trip our beer consumption each night is increasing. We accounted for most of a carton tonight. 

As I was a late starter for this trip Uncle D had only booked accommodation for five, so I scored the lounge. It's funny, but after a long day on the bike you can sleep pretty much anywhere. Luckily this was a very soft, comfortable, leather lounge, long enough for me to stretch out on. With my sleeping bag to keep me toasty warm I drifted off to sleep thinking about our easy 500 kilometre ride tomorrow with a backing track of Mark's snoring in the other room.

We were all in the land of nod in no time.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Kalgoorlie to Eucla. A leisurely nine hundred kilometre ride. 

12/10/14

We had a few kilometres to cover, so after an early breakfast we twisted the throttles and left Kalgoorlie in a cloud of dust. We had to keep moving today if we were going to make Eucla before dark.

After about an hour we found this on the road...


This is a bucket off the back of a dump truck. Unfortunately it is just slightly wider that both lanes of the road, so we couldn't get past. It took a while, but eventually the truck moved over and let us past. The down side was that when he moved over the left, the left side wheels were in the gravel and created a HUGE red dust cloud that we had to ride through. Some of us were worried about not being able to see (a minor problem) while other were more concerned about their air filters. Me? Well I'm partial to being able to see where I'm going.

Speedy selfie. Check out the sky.

Our next stop was Norseman. They sky was looking threatening so the crew decided to don wet weather gear. It was here that Rex lost his Buff. A Buff is a neck warmer like a scarf, but a tube that slips over your head onto your neck. The last Buff Rex lost was left at our house and Suzanne purloined it for our European trip, so Rex is a little careful with his Buffs now. It was eventually found...around Rex's neck. With that out of the way we were on the road again, and it didn't rain.

We now had a quick 200 km ride to Balladonia. The road is that straight, and it's so barren on the sides, that I swear I could see the curvature of the earth. Here's a 360 degree look around on the road.

video

There's not much to see.

Further down the road I decided I'd stop and take a photo of Madura Pass. Here it is...

Madura Pass.

It's not very exciting is it? Well, I can tell you, after about 1,200 Km in a straight line, Madura Pass is bloody beautiful.

Once I had taken advantage of my photo opportunity I had to catch up with the gang. I rode pretty hard, and after a while I realised they may have stopped at Madura. Oh well, there's no point in turning back, so I knocked off the rest of the 900 Km day and rode on to Eucla.


As I rode into Eucla, I realised that my bike was making an unusual noise. It was louder that normal. After a quick check I discovered that an exhaust gasket had given up the ghost, and I had a bit of a problem. What can I do in the middle of Australia? I'm not sure how, but I'll sort it later.

While I was waiting for the boys to roll up I pondered what went on in my mind during that day. When you ride for hour after hour after hour, in a straight line, with nothing to look at, your brain does funny things. At one point I was thinking about the Dr Who movie I saw recently. That led to me thinking it was really good that they included Tom Baker (a previous Dr Who) in one scene, which led me to thinking about meeting the person responsible, telling him it was a nice touch, and saying thank you. I told you it was weird didn't I?

The boys took their time and cruised into Eucla just after sun set.



It had been a big day, and happily we managed to get to Eucla incident free.

Our accommodation in Eucla was a single room, for the six of us. There were four beds, and two fold-a-beds. I lucked out and ended up on a fold-a-bed with Uncle G next to me. It was a nervous nights sleep let me tell you.

Uncle G giving me a good night cuddle.

After a loooooong ride, a good feed, and a few drinks, it didn't take long for the room to go quiet after the lights went out...
...except for the snoring.

It's all good.