Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bylong Valley Way

This for me is one of the best rides in the country. It has amazing scenery including one of the best canyons in Australia. It is not closed in by trees like so many riding roads in Australia. Then it has a mixture of curves but mostly sweepers which again are a nice change from the usual tight technical roads. And also you can explore two wonderfully preserved 19th century towns with excellent food.
The route is from Lithgow to Denman NSW.
I don’t have many good photos, my Gopro SDcar filled up prior and I did not realise however this is from the official home page to give you an idea of how grand the views are.
And a few of my own photos.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stoney Chute

Here is a top ride I have been enjoying for awhile that even a local didnt know about so I better make a mention of it.

Stoney Shute Road NSW

To or from Nimbin are a number of decent roads, the original road north to the Kyogle road has been under repair for so long that I don't bother with it - however once fixed it will be a good ride if you can strike it without much traffic. The road south has some nice curves also however these don't extend too far.

A road that is overlooked lies to the south just out of town and runs west to join with the Kyogle road. Stoney Chute road has a bit of everything, scenic rocky outcrops to view, a mix of curves and a small climb then changing to a almost new and perfect curvy road in the middle of nowhere before it joins the Kyogle road.

Take a look next time.

The Channon

The Channon and Dunoon to Nimbin

Part 4 of my series of reports on the roads that lie north of Lisnore

There is a fair bit of road works underway in the far northern NSW which is great news for riders as some roads with unsealed sections are about to or have already been sealed.

A route that should be finished by the time you read this is Dunoon to Nimbin via The Channon. I wrote about this just recently and do not yet have a good selection of photos however I will do an initial post on it now and add more later.

From Repentence creek road head south and you have two options to get to The Channon. The first road aptly named The Channon Road I was unable to find on the eastern side, the western side is freshly sealed and I shall update this route more very soon. The second route is further south via Keerrong - which Google Maps show as not connecting with anything on the eastern side. This road is all sealed and you will come to a Y junction where you need to stay right.

The Channon is a tiny rural community which has a pub that looks appealing for a lunch stop, after here there is a terrific back road that runs over to an area called Turntable Creek. There is a road on to the top of Mt Nardi which is nothing particularly special but offers something different to do if you have never been up there and a respite from the heat of the western side of the ranges where Nimbin lies.

An easy ride down the hills will deliver you to Nimbin which depending on your point of view is a place you either like or not, I am the later and ride straight on to the excellent Stoney Chute road which you will find in another post.

Goonengerry to Eltham

Goonengerry to Eltham

Part 3 in my series of road reports in the area north of Lismore

Near Federal is the district of Goonengerry and here starts Repentence creek road.

Minyon Falls might be worth a look after heavy rain but was just dry and dusty on this day

I have posted about this road in day rides a number of times - its a another fun back road in this area with great scenery and it has been all sealed for some time now. There are two choices to cut across from this road to Clunes first via Rosebank to Eureka or travel a little further south and travel via Corndale. Both roads are a bit tricky in a couple of sections so take care.


You could also ride on to Dunoon or ride to Clunes via Eureka - all good riding. 

Road to Eltham

If you end up at Clunes the ride on to Eltham pub for a good meal.

Eltham Pub lunch

There are more good road options on to Alstonville and Tintenbar but here is about as far South as I go comfortably in a day.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Roads Less Travelled

Despite the heat I had arranged to meet my friend and frequent ride partner today for a long overdue catch up and last ride before Christmas.

I spent a bit of time on Google maps last night to pick some roads less traveled in my favorite part of the world between Murwillumbah and Lismore then worked out a way to link them to end up at a pub for lunch and then plotted that into my GPS. I have thus far never really felt a need to have the GPS navigate for me and it just sits at home when I ride but today was via some roads that probably would not be sign posted which could get tricky.

Tweed river, Condong.

Starting with Currumbin Valley is hard to beat, the road is a top ride, scenic and delivers you over the border before you know it. Then instead of riding via Muwillumbah I veered sideways to visit Condong then before Murwillumbah turned into Reserve Creek Road which climbs up the ridge you can see to the east offering superb views and some excellent curves on what is surprisingly good road.

That unfortunately then ends and you have two choices - dirt or dirt. Now I hadn't noticed this on Google street view so with a 50/50 chance of which road would be the least amount of unsealed road I choose the wrong one. My route map (later in post) shows the way I should have gone (and had planned to) towards Round Mountain and Hastings Point however I went south on Cudgera Creek Road. So I cut out the coastal section then went on to Mooball. (fuel there but cafe still closed)

Riding south I planned to go via the old highway/Tweed Valley way as far as possible before joining the highway for last bit south however the GPS had different ideas and rerouted me onto the highway much too soon. I guess the nature of these devices is to try take you the best route rather than zig zag along the side of a highway so I should have put more waypoints in the route.

Leaving the highway via Kennedy drive ran into more dirt. The previous exit would work better so I have placed that into the route to show you the sealed way to go. Anyway soon back on tar at Possum Shoot road - readers may recall this road was a feature in a post a couple of years back. A steep winding climb brings you to a superb vantage point in the hills behind Byron Bay.

Back on familiar roads to Federal for a drink and rest break. Club Fed cafe has closed down it seems which is a real shame. After the break on to Eureka then over to Rosebank and south to Dunoon then got a bit lost trying to find the road to The Channon as by now the GPS had gone flat. Grr, so much for the claimed 4hrs battery life - serves me right for not bringing the power cable. Anyway hey technology abounds these days - so just look up Google maps on the iphone.

You could ride all day on near deserted country roads around here.

So after a detour via Keerrong which the Google maps say you can't actually do I got to The Channon. Nice looking pub there in the middle of nowhere, I saw a few people out the back of it eating so am going to pencil in a lunch there in the future. Leaving there the Turntable creek road over to Nimbin is a beauty! My mate tells me like many roads in that area it was gravel in part until recently so we just got lucky to time to visit after it has been all sealed.

Took a quick detour up Mt Nardi, it is quite high but heavily forested so the views are restricted.

Will revisit this area to capture it better in the future.

Numinbah Valley

Fueled up on the outskirts of Nimbin and then took the superb Stoney Shute road to join on to the Kyogle - Murwillumbah road and enjoyed a bit of fun with my mate for a brisk ride to Uki.
After a late lunch I again did the Numinbah Valley ride in reverse and again confirmed it rides much better in that direction for me. Despite it being a stinking hot day, turned out to be a very good ride.

Wonderful old time self serve fruit stalls that still exist. Seems another world just over the border.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Tour Revised

I have been reworking my route for a 7 day motorcycle tour of the eastern states after Christmas. I want to try out some new (to me) roads, try to avoid routes I know well and where I need to revisit roads then ride them in the reverse direction of travel to last time.

Obviously getting this combination right everywhere is not possible in a mere 7 day ride so I have been playing with the possible routes in a number of times weighing up what works best.

I have reversed the direction of travel to counter clockwise. My thoughts are to ride up the Gwyder highway having previously only ridden down the range. First day considers fatigue being the longest and in full summer weather. I was considering riding via Ebor from Grafton which is excellent however I have done that many times.

Day two. I explore two alternative routes south, Denman to Rylstone and the Tablelands way. I was to have ridden this way on the Buell Muster which I missed due to health reasons.

Day 3 should be very enjoyable with a ride across a road less traveled from Yass to Tumut. A back road near Batlow that I read about. Murry River road will be a highlight and I look forward to riding via Granya and Beechworth which were both recommended to me by readers. Then Buffalo Mountain to end the day.

Day 4, mid way and the main feature ride of the tour. Tawonga pass to warm up then Falls Creek and down to Anglers rest on the newly sealed road. After this looking forward to the amazing vistas as I descend all the way to Tambo valley before turning left to Orbost. Now begins another key ride, the road to Bombala via Delegate. Read much about this road, seen the corners for next 101km sign on a couple of forum posts and am looking forward to it. But wait there is more as this truly is a living large ride day as following Bombala I will ride a series of famous mountain roads down to Bega to end the day.

Day 5. I will try the coast road from Tathra which I hear is good. I am looking forward to later in the day riding the King Highway from Batemans Bay up the valley and spectacular range which I have only descended previously. Another ride over the Tablelands way and some sightseeing late in day.
Day 6. I start with Putty road and then via Dungog and over to Wingham, should be rather good. Some back roads to Wauchope to avoid the brain numbing Pacific highway and last night away at Port. No particular highlights, just should all add up to make for a nice day.

Final day. Some highway then back roads much of the way to Mclean. Will check some more of the water features on the Waterfall Way at Dorrigo and venture back to the highway to avoid the mindless lower section of the Summerland way from Grafton. Cut across from Woodburn to Casino and the start of the good Summerland way. I might take the Lions Rd to lower the distance for the day - however if feeling fine then I will ride the extra to enjoy the superior Mt Lindsey.

Well that is a quick look at my chosen route. I ordered a new tank bag this weekend - tell you about it next weekend perhaps.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Ride Report

Full Summer outfit today, Alpinestars jeans, Dryrider Airflow mesh jacket, both have armor yet are very cool on hot days.

Less work, more life...

Work has been a bit overbearing of late. I swear some people seem to have no passion in them except for their jobs. I wonder if they will wake up at some point and realise life has passed them by.

I am only a noob at the whole corporate ladder world. I have spent most of my life until recently indulging in hobbies and pursuing passions. So whilst I have had remarkable success in new jobs of late I have dropped the ball as far as having time enjoy my personal interests. You can work so much that you don't have time to think about anything else.

With this in mind I said to hell with it and went for a ride. I decided to do a loop via Mt Lindsey, Summerland Way, Kyogle, Uki, Numinbah Valley, Advancetown. It was a very hot day, so I elected to go in that order so to be able to ride non stop back via the M1 rather than get stuck at lights if I had ridden the reverse order and come back via South West suburbs. This worked well going to as less traffic in morning so cleared the road works going on past Browns Plains with out slowing.

Remarkably fine day despite the early heat. So many motorbikes out, I recalled I saw many last time in the south west also so this area must now have become popular, once I could have ridden Mt Lindsey and been lucky to see one bike after passing the turn off to Boonah south of Beaudesert.

Took some tranquil time out near Grevilia at the stream that follows the Summerland way.

Corners near Wadesville - Woot!

Had a look at the shop at Wadeville which I have been going to turn down for some time, didnt look so inviting so I carried on. I also have wondered if the shop/cafe in Cawongla does much in the way of meals. In the end I rode on to the Uki pub where under a shady veranda I had a good bite to eat and some cold drinks while enjoying the outlook to Mt Warning.

Always nice stopping at the Uki pub.

Uki has a ever growing market day happening these days. I didn't look but wondered about the chances of making a living in some other form to what I do now. Numinbah flows pretty good from south to north, actually I think nearly all of today flowed well in the direction of travel. Uki to Murwillumbah is better southbound, I'm certain of that but the rest was sweet.

Numinbah valley

I managed to get some clean thoughts happening today. Motorcycle riding is a great way to refocus. One thing I was thinking of today is to maximise that 'defy gravity hang time' in corners it's best to be slower and smooth, no need to try and take any corner overly fast but rather try and make each corner last a little longer - that delivers more of the good stuff.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Nolan N43 Helmet review

Update 2012.

The N43 is now released in Australia for anyone still thinking of one. Now with a few years of ownership I want to give a long term update. I have criticized the helmet in my comments below but I always end up back using it again. The reason is the vision is the best. After using it regular full face helmets feel very closed in. In fact you need to move your head about a lot to obtain the same vision you have standard with the N43.

Yes it is more noisy than a closed in helmet but that's the compromise, want a great venting helmet then it will not be a quiet. Always wear ear plugs and it will be no problem, Don't ignore and like every mature rider that ignored discover you then have permanent hearing damage cause it crept up on you.

I do find I get a pressure point effect with it occasionally. This is not the only helmet to do that but still no denying the liner is not as plush as a Shark of Arai and not as comfortable a design. I find wearing a summer Buff on my head eliminates this without making it hot in summer and also makes the helmet better in winter. 

The internal sun screen does not come down as far as I would like but you can force it down a bit more. Factor in the cost of a tinted main visor as the unlimited additional lower vision means lots more road and instrument glare. I have their light smoke visor and the combo with internal screen covers shady winter roads to blazing late afternoon summer sun.

Final verdict is not perfect but if I was purchasing another helmet it would likely be one of these again.

Original post below:

As you may have spotted in my last post I purchased one of the new Nolan N43 helmets recently.

I first ordered one from a eBay retailer in Italy. This is where Nolan are based and the helmets seem much cheaper from Italian retailers. Unfortunately the seller tried to increase the shipping from 20 euros to 120 euros after the sale. Eventually I got the sale cancelled and decided to purchase from Germany where the helmets were slightly more expensive but the retailers seemed much more professional and had no problems with shipping.

I ordered the white with black splash graphics, which is more expensive than plain colours however makes a difference to the look of the helmet and appealed to me enough to option the graphics. I wanted a white helmet specifically as every safety study I read says that the number one thing you can do to increase visibility on the road to approaching vehicles is wear a white helmet.

To the helmet itself. The finish is very good, it has a feel of above average quality to it. The liner is quite comfortable, it is not up to the plush level of a Shark or Arai however it is well above the budget liners. A slightly less dense weave in my experience translates to less perspiration in summer than the super plush liners which I find to overly warm on humid days.

Now to that unique design. the helmet has a smaller than normal chin bar area. This is made of a super strong material to let the helmet pass the strength tests for a full face yet offer forward vision comparable to a open face helmet. The amount of forward vision you have is incredible and whilst the gains are in your lower viewing area I was delighted with the result.

The chin bar can be detached to convert to a full Jet style helmet. In use I found the chin bar to be so low in my line of vision that I could barely focus on it so for me it felt like a Jet helmet but offered the normal full face protection with the bar in place and I could see little difference with the bar removed however some people no doubt will find this option appealing and it's amazing what Nolan have achieved to make this work.

The helmet has these massive vents on the top as well as a series of venting at the rear. Without a doubt it disperses heat from inside like no other helmet I have ever tried. I was wondering if such large vents would make much noise however that was not the case and noise was not as much as expected

The helmet has wind noise similar to other good vented helmets on the market however less than noisy helmets like KBC. It doesn't get excessive lower helmet wind noise but is more than the quietest helmets. By this I mean the wind noise that full face helmets generate at the area between their bottom edge and rider's neck at highway speeds.

Now to a couple of things that didn't work as well as I had imagined.

The internal tinted secondary visor can be operated by a slide control on the side of the helmet. This is easy to use however the tinted screen doesn't come down as far as I want it to leaving the lower edge of the tinted visor a tiny bit too high for my eyes. I am hoping there is some way of adjusting this internally as it has some tinted screen in reserve. Related to this then is the fact that you now have this extra lower forward vision however the tinted visor only shields straight ahead vision from glare. So you are exposed to more glare from the road and dash that was obscured previously from your line of sight. The great thing about this sort of system however is in the rain forest or mountain roads where it is impossible to make out the road condition clearly with a tinted visor I could slide it up and see clearly the condition of the road. This would be doubly valuable on winter mornings when with a tinted visor you often cannot make out the still damp sections of road hidden in the shadows.

Back to that new lower vision, something that all Jet helmets must suffer from is you have no breath guard or ability to have the visor slightly open to draw in air as the Jet style visor goes to the front lowest point of the helmets. This was not such a big issue for me in use so far, once moving I always have fully closed my visors anyway after being struck by a bug in the eye years ago that came straight through my slightly open visor. In towns going where the speed was very low I flipped up the full visor leaving the tinted one down and this worked very well, better than flipping up a conventional visor as your eyes are still protected by the tinted one yet your face has extra amount of cooling air upon it.

So to sum up then. If I can get the internal tinted visor slightly lower then I really will be very happy with this unique helmet. Even if this is not possible I do not know if I can revert back to my conventional full face after experiencing the extra forward vision this helmet offers as well as safety when on heavily shaded roads.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Railway Excursion

Finally well enough to go for a ride. So excited I even woke up extra early!

Haha, and then back to bed to nap a bit longer

I had this idea for a ride to try trace more of the old Murwillumbah to Lismore railway line. It has not been used for years and the government is looking at the 'walking path' conversion option like has been done elsewhere (with little success or general use).

I more or less follow much of the line whenever I ride to Clunes via Mullumbimby. Stokers Siding station is a cafe I sometimes have a coffee at. Burringbah, Mooball, Billinudgel all regular places I visit and all once upon a time stations on the line. The line veers then to the coast and Byron Bay which I avoid at all costs before returning inland to Bangalow.

I really need to get a tripod, must be sick of pictures of my bike.
Or I could change bikes more often...

I rode today as per above following the line from Muwillumbah before taking the Coolamon Scenic drive over to Mullumbimby from Billinudgel. Continuing south on the Coolamon Scenic drive I went via Corabell then on a whim decided to try the Binna Burra Rd to get me over to the area of the same name which was a railway stop south of Bangalow. That road was not in good order so give it a miss.

The train doesn't stop here anymore

Tried to look about Bangalow but it was market weekend and there were way too many cars and people, the place was grid lock. Bangalow for me has joined Byron bay on my why bother list.
I did however have a great run over the Bangalow to Clunes road. It is a great bit of road for a motorcycle however now days always carries too many cars for you to get a decent run. Its not that you need to speed, the 100kph limit is fine, just the cars rarely get above 70/80kph which is enough of a difference to totally spoil the natural flow of the road.

A slower pace around here. I like it. Alot.

I stopped at the Clunes hall. There is public toilets, some shade and of you want to wash up before going to the Clunes cafe then keep this in mind. Today however I decided to look for another place for lunch. The cafe was a favourite of mine but it has slipped a bit recently. So I rode on to Eltham, which just happened to be yet another one time railway stop.

The old Eltham station used to be just left of my bike. Station cottage is still there.

Actually I had been meaning to try the Eltham pub for lunch for ages. I have been down the roads to and from it on many occasions when riding with my mate from nearby Alstonville. Well it was really an enjoyable stop, nice food, very friendly folk, a fantastic spot for lunch on a hot summers day with a refreshing ale.

If you were contemplating a ride down there but worried about the time frames then leaving Brisbane at 7.30am I was at Eltham at 11.00am (remember thats 12..00pm NSW daylight saving time) I stopped at a few places in route as the photos show plus fuel at Currumbin before riding via Currumbin valley.

Currumbin Valley - still a firm favourite no matter how many times I ride there.

On the return I went via the Repentance Creek road and the Tweed valley way to Mooball. From there I noticed a storm forming on the border ranges so cancelled my other route ideas and headed straight back over the Currumbin valley. (btw Mooball cafe/servo is reopening, I stopped in for fuel and talked to the new owner)

Alas I ran into a small rain storm on the way home and despite stopping when I returned to the road I rode right into it again by Nerang and got quickly wet through in a very heavy downpour. My camera and phone are now not working 100% however I hope they will be ok.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Road report - New Zealand South Island 2009

Lake Tekapo

I have been wanting to visit New Zealand for a long time and always something seems to crop up. I finally got the opportunity to visit the South Island last week albiet at a time of year that is far too cold to ride a motorcycle. So rather than say I'll go when its warmer I decided to do a recon by car for a week and then know better what I would do in the future riding over there.

First up I was surprised that I could not get my GPS to work there. Despite advertising that it comes with New Zealand maps it seemed to lack details. It eventually showed my location as in New Zealand at Christchurch but would show the vehicle icon off the road and only seemed to have a few roads for the city. Then I could not input an address as system seemed to then think I was in Australia.

Overall very disappointed in GPS's lack of ability to perform as claimed. As I have mentioned previously to my way of thinking tracing a route you want to take on a PC map site then transferring that to the GPS should be a basic core function on all GPS units. So after paying for a mid spec model to simply gain this function (Garmin Nuvi 660) it seems I am still unable to do so for outside Australia.

Sorry for the small rant there - as it turned out you don't need a GPS - well not on the South Island anyway. I navigated into and out of Christchurch quite easy as it's very small by comparison to Brisbane. After I left Christchurch I did not as far as I can recall encounter another traffic light until I returned such is the nature of the areas I went which are scarcely populated. The countryside is mostly sheep farming with beautiful lush green fields in the valleys which extend up the hills and mountains either side of you. The road is often the only one in the area, there is very rarely any side roads along the way.

Mt Cook

Roads often wind through gorges which would be great riding

Beautiful lake Te Anau

The road into Milford sound - it was a fine day back in Te Anau

Nearly everywhere has incredible views of (at this time of year) snow topped alps and there is many mountain steams and lakes. The towns along the way are mostly very small, even the major towns are relatively small by comparison to the major country towns here and can be navigated very easy.

Those mountains of course provide some stunning roads as well. However I encountered what is possibly a show stopper for riding in the way of what is called grit. The mountain passes all had signs warning of ice and grit. This grit turned out to be a sort of 'road base/crusher dust' which was like a fine kitty litter which had been liberally spread onto the road where ice is a problem, often on the corners. Now as you can imagine this is extremely dangerous for riders and I was not surprised I never so a single motorcycle on any of these roads. Do they sweep this up before summer? - I am guessing yes or you would never have heard the south island is great for riding.

Fiord scenery south of Queenstown

Euro style switchbacks leaving Queenstown heading to Wanaka
Lake Hawea - roller coaster roads and big mountans

Lake Wanaka - the road hugs the side of the mountain all the way

So assuming the roads are cleaned up then yes it is certainly has some superb roads. I found the West Coast to be wonderful - like a huge Great Ocean Road that goes on and on. The roads I took across were the Lewis Pass and Buller Gorge and from Queenstown via Wanaka and Haast.
I know also the Arthers Pass is famous for riding and as such I have come up with an idea for a ride which I plan to return to do.

My idea is fly into Christchurch and hire a motorbike. Ride over Arthers Pass and down the West coast and over the alps again to Queenstown. Queenstown is a real tourist town, not very big but with a good number of places to eat and drink which offer a variety of food. And here is something I found weird in New Zealand, outside of Queenstown and Christchurch all the restaurants and cafes seem to have more of less the same menu. You can walk up and down the main eatery area in a town and check each menu and see the same items every time. There is the lamb dish, the steak dish, the venison dish, the salmon dish, the risotto dish and lastly usually sausages and mash potato or fish and chips. It's odd and slightly disturbing...

Anyway after Queenstown I would return back over to Wanaka via Tarras then up the west coast and then cross the alps via Lewis pass. Depending on how the flights worked you could make it a four or five day ride holiday that is both affordable and amazing riding.

The Gates of Haast - spectacular road and scenery

Westcoast - like the Great Ocean Road - except 20 times longer, few cars and open road speed limit.

Buller Gorge is a series of perfect sweepers in a stunning valley

Much of Lewis Pass was difficult to capture but it is a HUGE mountain pass that offers a bit of every sort of riding you could wish for.

End of Lewis Pass Eastern side.

I did not go on the famous Jet boat rides this trip, I decided to take a helicopter tour of the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers and that proved to be one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. Highly recommended.

Franz Joseph Glacier

So thats a wrap of my recon of the South island. I had previously planned to one day ship my bike over for a couple of weeks riding however I now think a shorter trip as detailed above would make it much more affordable as well as cut out any highway type sections which I identified this time round to leave just pure riding roads.

Regards, IC.