Sunday, February 15, 2009

2009 Australian Motorcycle Tour.

I finished watching the Long Way Down for the 2nd time when it aired recently on SBS and I enjoyed it much more this viewing. I still think from a entertainment point it didn't present as well as the original Long Way Round series however I now recognise that for the riders and support crew this trip would have been every bit as good. I am still very jealous.

I have started working out what I shall do in the way of a major ride for this year. Given the woeful state of the Aussie dollar overseas is out so I am going to do another motorcycle tour downunder - this time on the Buell.

I was thinking April before it gets too cold down south and it turns out that the 2009 Buell owners get together (AKA Buell Muster) is happening then too. This year the meeting place is Jindabyne so I will incorporate this into my tour.

Here is my outbound route. This also features a side trip from Bright over to Mansfield (exact route yet to be finalised) before continuing south over the Great Alpine Road. I then swing north east towards Bega over some new (to me) roads which I am reliably informed are up with the very best riding in the country.

I will stay a couple days at Jindabyne and do the ride day with the other Buell owners that runs up the Snowy Mtns h-way and criss crosses Mt Kosciuszko via the old Hydro scheme service roads into Victoria and back on via the Alpine way to Jindabyne.

My return route takes me on some more new roads namely via the Tablelands Way route between Goulburn and Lithgow (recently sealed) and then I shall try riding Lithgow to Singleton via the western side of Wollemi forest which has few K's of dirt but otherwise looks good to go on Google street view.

Anyone reading this and contemplating similar should know there is also a few k's (good) unsealed road near Bombala on the Victorian side - however its preceded by 100+ K's of sealed non stop corners which many riders have recently spoken very highly of so I don't mind a little unsealed surface to enjoy the rest of whats on offer.

I have had a few people write to me about tours they are doing since starting this blog and I am always pleased to hear of people getting out on their bikes. I recently received an email from a reader asking my suggestions for a ride to Phillip Island. I was already in Motowhere doing my tour so I added my ideas for a ride to the island from the Gold Coast. Outbound Route. Return Route. which are along the same lines as my ride with a few changes since I do the Alpine loop with the Buell owners I avoided that on my ride and I also am doing the exploration bit north of Lithgow where as I suggest other riders return via Putty rd.

On the subject of touring here are a few things worth knowing -:

It is much cooler in the southern states than here. You can leave here in summer gear but by the time you pass the mid north coast the temperatures drops dramatically. I left Brisbane and it was 30 degrees and muggy tropics type weather. In Bright Victoria it was 2 degrees at 7.00am in the morning and cold all day on the bike. My advice is take some warm gear no matter what time of year.

Know before hand it might rain all day on one or more days and then do not shy away from buying a good rain outfit, rain covers or waterproof footwear and gloves. (or waterproof items)

Carry a map (Australian Motorcycle Atlas is still good)

Definitely have a puncture repair kit.

Review each leg the night before and have a plan in your mind for fuel because it is very easy to get caught out in some areas like the Snowy Mtns for example where one possible route you can take requires a fuel range of 220km which not every bike can manage.

Worth knowing a few phone numbers for breakdown services in each state (eg NRMA) just in case you get stranded somehow.

Comfort. If you have never ridden far then you won't realise how important this is until too late. Set your suspension a bit softer. Consider getting a Airhawk seat pad if your riding a bike with a typical thin narrow seat. If you are on a sports bike then realise these are not designed to tour and think about suspension, seat, wrists and knees.

Take regular breaks and get some ear plugs - the soft silicon swimmers ones from chemists I find work best and are not bothersome like the foam ones.

Pack as light as possible. Honestly have a few trial goes and think how to reduce the things needed then when finished trial fitting your luggage to your bike securely.

Protect your duco from the luggage even if the manufacturer says will not mark or scratch. Get some dust between bag and paint and by days end your paint will be damaged. I find the rolls of non slip rubber matting sold in Coles/Woolworths do a good job.

Lastly - have fun and don't focus on covering ground. Rather take the time to stop at lookouts and other photo opportunities as well as to recharge over a morning coffee or afternoon tea. It will only add a tiny bit of time at days end yet actually make the trip enjoyable rather than just an exercise in distance riding.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ride Report - back on the road at long last!

Well I never thought I would be off the road for this long. Been quite some time since my last ride report.

What a beaut day for a ride - after the gloomy weather forecast of showers and heat it turned out to be a fine and mild morning with just some heat mid afternoon on the way home.

I wasn't ready tackle the ride I want to do to Tenterfield - after all just 70km on the new bike so best I visit some familiar places before I try do that 700km outing. Besides what has caused me so much grief recently - my hand dermatitis - is still somewhat discomfortable (they were quite sore by days end)

So my favorite the Tweed Valley beckoned me. Have a look at todays route here.

Small stretch and check over the bike just across the border before the descent.

This is the welcoming view every trip I make to this region.

I went south to Burleigh where I refueled then over Currumbin range and stopped at the chemist in Murwillumbah to buy some ear plugs after leaving mine behind. Then I went south to Uki and then to Billinudgel via Stokers Siding, Burrinbah and Mooball. I then rode over to Clunes for and early lunch via Mullumbimby and Federal.

I think I am going to seek out some new places to eat. The cafe at Clunes has slipped a bit along with my other regular stop the Spinx cafe at Kunghur.

After lunch I returned to Mooball via Rosebank and Mullumbimby. I tried for fuel at Mullumbimby but they had no Premium so I rode on and expected to hit reserve but had 185 km on trip meter by Mooball and still on main tank - which only holds 11.5 litres so that is very good economy on a very tight new motor under 500km old. Before I installed the mid pipe (cat removed) on the MV Agusta I was hard pushed to get that from its full 19 litres.

Moo Moo Cafe is unfortunately closing March 2009

Looking across the valley to where I took the other photo above.

These guys are missing everything

After fuel and a comfort stop at Mooball where the public toilet plays music (check it out next time) I rode over the back roads that criss cross the highway north to Tumbulgum via Cudgera Creek and Farrants Hill. I decided to stop for an early afternoon tea and watch the ski boats for awhile on the Tweed river before riding back to Mudgerraba caltex via Currumbin range again - which I prefer over Numimbah.

Ah, the good life!

It was quite warm on the way home with the heat reflected off the barren M1. However its not that long and when the speed limit is 110km you not only cover the ground quickly but with good constant air flow so I could feel the heat but then had a wind cooling factor to make it bearable. It wasn't until I got to the city I had to slow for the last couple of Km. I still don't know why people say they would rather ride north because of the trip on the M1. In summer having to slow and stop at lights makes the return from the north hot and laborious in comparison.

The Buell performed perfectly. I had forgotten how good these motorcycles handle. It doesn't just handle better than the MV Agusta, it is in another league as far as handling goes. It's always so composed and precise over any surface yet still gives you a compliant ride. There is no uncertainty entering corners and it's just so planted and confidence inspiring. And all I had to do was set the suspension to the settings provided by Buell per my weight.I spent alot of money at a professional suspension shop on the MV and despite my delusion at the time didn't come close to the same result.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mods finished - ready to ride this weekend.

I have finished the alterations I wanted to make.

First up was rider foot pegs:

Beautiful crafted items from Knight Design which give an extra inch of comfort for your knees.

Next was what turned out to be a rather big job. Fitting the Convertibars:

The process was removal of existing bars and triple clamp. Installation of the special Convertibar system and then reinstall triple clamp. Reroute some wires and cables, install longer clutch cable and brake line. Refit all controls and adjust everything, removal of mirrors and installation of bar end and mirror block off plates. The Mirrors are from Oberon and swivel up or down as required and the block off plates are from Dark Horse Moto. These allow full movement of the raised bars which other wise would foul the factory mirrors when near to full lock.

The Convertibar system is expensive but very impressive. You can adjust your bars up down back and forward however you like simply and in just a couple of minutes. They have guys stunt riding with them and they are claimed to be stronger than regular bars.

So finally all set for a long ride again. Just got to fit my trusty Airhawk and give everything a wipe over. Now for the weather to do its part for the weekend.