Sunday, March 30, 2008

Squids go wild

Crazy Supermotard action - keep watching it gets mighty wild - just wish they had some protective riding gear.

I keep thinking about supermoto's... they probably are the most fun type of bike to ride. I have always had my concerns however about doing any distance on one. This is something I can compromise from the point that I don't want or need a proper tourer but I do need certain comfort and practicality level as far as fuel range and highway riding.

Still one of these would go a long way to opening up more places to me with their lighter weight and extra suspension travel it leaves no excuse for avoiding unsealed roads.

No riding this weekend as I had to do some work related stuff last night late which left me unable to attend the ASF 2008 Fools Run at Casino NSW on either day. A shame, weather did look bad yesterday (but great today), anyway I am trying to achieve something this year in my new line of work and if that fails then I shall consider opportunities elsewhere.

Spent last Sunday zig-zagging to avoid showers. Started heading down the Tweed Valley but it was wet so turned back to Beechmont and then further retreated briskly over the back of the range to Canungra Outpost Cafe to get away from rain.

Saw this Can Am 3 wheeler there. Smart looking machine and quite the crowd pleaser, I beleive this colour is a special order and not sure where you can buy one. Good to see this sort of vehicle on our roads, there has been a number of hybrid type vehicles available in Europe for some time now but nothing here. The narrow minded will no doubt say get a real bike however I see this as an excellent alternative and will allow people who otherwise may not be able to physically or otherwise ride to enjoy some of the freedom and excitement.

Test only

Monday, March 24, 2008

Twist the Throttle

Discovery Channel have made a series about each of the major motorcycle manufacturers. This includes company histories, tours of the factories, interviews with senior company members and (basic) test ride reviews of two models from each maker - mostly on location in Italy, Germany, Japan.

While I have seen some good documentaries about Japanese companies on NHK and Fuji TV in Japan (eg how Casio developed the digital camera was exceptional) this is to me the first English speaking footage I have seen and it is also focused on the motorcycle sections of these huge companies. Some of the the European footage might be even first time filmed.

And its all available to watch free on their site now, there are 4 or more 22 minute episodes on each make which I imagine are 30 minutes with ads on TV however the only thing you have to put up with is the series named being repeated often and a sometimes slightly basic approach. The video can be enlarged to a reasonable size and will even automatically play all episodes for a particular manufacturer automatic.

I cannot recommend viewing highly enough, The history and tours through museums is superb and the vast differences in manufacturing between say Honda and Bimota is amazing. Wonderful effort that is not perfect but has alot of good and unique content all made free and should be congratulated.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Australia's best motorcycle roads. Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric

Snowy Mountains region riding

Did you know the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme took 100,000 people from 30 countries 25 years to build? and that it has 145kms of tunnels, 80kms of aqueducts, 16 dams and 7 power stations and has been called one of the modern engineering wonders of the world?

There are 3 main sealed routes that run across Mt Kosciuskzo that are part of the network of original service roads constructed for the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme. I have already spoken about the most well known of these, the Alpine way which runs between Jindabyne and Khancoban. This is the road more often spoken about on forums yet the other two roads are also worth riding and when combined with the under rated Snowy Mtns h-way make an interesting way to traverse the border of NSW and VIC.

Now you may find all three of these roads may not always be so well surfaced and bumpy in parts . The surveying can be quite unpredictable which besides the need to hug the mountain in places also simply reflects that they were made as merely service roads originally thus built simply and cheaply.

The route I took on my last trip was down the Snowy Mtns h-way to Kiandra then on the roads referred to as Link Road/ Elliot Way then at the end of this I turned left towards Tooma on what becomes Ardenside road to Tintaldra then on to the C546 road to Corryong.

This is the longer of the two options your have around this part of Mt Kosciuskzo and from Tumut is about 220km so make sure you have enough fuel as the only bowser is at Cabramurra. Australia's highest town is actually off this road and on the another route however is not far to detour to and worth a look either way. Note the sole pump here works like this you have to pay over at the shop the exact amount of fuel you want then go back other side to pump it.

On this 1st route you will hug the mountain in a number of areas on tight twisty sections of road that snake their way steeply down the mountain. Glimpses of the upper part of Talbingo reservoir are spectacular as you ride up numerous switchbacks climbing out of the valley before you enter a forested section of roller coaster dips and more gentle corners. From the junction of Ardenside rd the surface is improved and the road is faster flowing with superb views as you ride on to Tooma and to Corryong.

The other route over the top I took on my return from the Moto-GP and it runs like this. From Corryong ride towards Khancoban, there are a number of roads saying Cabramurra on the north of Corryong so stay on the Alpine way and then take the second road called Tooma Road. This is another service road however it is the more significant one, wider in many places, more direct and better surface.

This will take you past two dams, and as you cross the ridges of the mountain you will rise and fall a few times. The road like the first above has some steep sections however neither are particularly steeper than any of the popular mountain roads that you will have ridden before regardless of what you may have read elsewhere, eg Northbrook Parkway Mt Glorious descent is still as steep as they come. Tumut Pond is the second dam and its rather interesting. The air is so clear up in these parts that sky takes on a different hue and everything has more contrast than normal.

After this you climb again and come eventually to Cabramurra. This is alot quicker route than the first and when you rejoin the Snowy Mtns highway it is a easy and smooth flowing ride down to Cooma or you can cross over towards Jindabyne/Thredbo and ride the best bit of the Alpine way.

This area has so many good roads to explore by motorcycle you simply cant help but have a good time just take it easy and take plenty of warm clothes.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Last ride of summer

Ride report - The Scenic Rim.

I was heading south but at the last possible moment I turned west. Glad I did too.

I think we may be approaching the end of the really hot days of summer already, not that autumn in the sub tropics is cold however it was a bit cool this morning out and positively chilly in the mountains with just the summer mesh jacket. Time to get the leather back out.

I am not sure why I have not spent more time in the area referred to as the Scenic Rim, I guess there are simply so many great roads in the southern hinterland that it is my natural first choice. When I do then feel like a change I mostly ride the northern roads, which contain a couple of gems but otherwise are over rated and over policed.

The approach to Kalbar

From Yamanto you can enjoy a brisk pace if you want on the low traffic run to Peaks Crossing and then you could simply stay on the main road to Boonah however the nearby minor roads that lead into Roadvale and Kalbar offer spectacular views of the rim and make for a more enjoyable ride.

Historic Kalbar

After stopping to take a stretch and look at Kalbar I rode on to Aratula via the Moogerah dam road then Charlwood road. I think I have already mentioned the bakery at Aratula has excellent coffee and cakes at very cheap prices.

Most people know you can cut across to the Boonah-Rathdowney Rd via Mt Alford however here are two more side roads. From Mt Alford you can take Ganthorpe road to cut straight to the road to Rathdowney and if you were heading to Queen Mary falls then you can go straight to that road from Mt Alford via Dwyer Ridges road - which is a great bit of road in its own right with many turns as it hugs another mountain.

Dwyer Ridges Road

It turned rather cold climbing the range to the falls, some light drizzle had suddenly blown in however I rode through this and had some hot food and coffee at the falls cafe letting the rain clear away before heading back down the hill and with more dark clouds building to the west headed home for an early finish.

Above - Ganthorpe road brings you out here and the mountains await.

View back to the valley is outstanding.

More photos of the area in the archives and more on the short cut roads I took today and some others can be found in my side roads post which has been updated.