Just four months now until we leave for the US of A and the rubber has well and truly hit the road, as they say.
After last Saturday’s outing, the K1600 is out of action for a while which means one of the (many) other bikes is filling in. After a short 15,000km lap around the paddock that is Oz chaperoning Dan Simmonds, the 1200GSA was warmed up and conveniently located to take us to the Superbikes at Phillip Island this weekend.
I should state first up that (once again) we didn’t have the ideal lead in to the weekend. I won’t go into all the details because some stories are just too long to tell. The condensed version is that we managed to combine very busy work weeks and family dramas into the four days between getting back from Dartmouth and leaving for Phillip Island. There were tears (on my side) and a night of minimal sleep (for both of us), but I guess it’s all good preparation. I can say that I’m wishing and hoping that we have a good lead-in to Butt Lite, but I will also say that knowing we can get on the bike and ride even if the days prior have been shite is kind of reassuring.
Anyway, the plan for the weekend had been to leave from Canberra on Thursday around lunchtime, have a stop part way there and then finish the trip to Phillip Island on Friday, have Saturday and Sunday at the track watching the races and then do the ride back in one day on Monday. Basically, that’s what we did last year, though last year I was riding my Honda 800 CrossRunner rather than pillioning, and it all went very smoothly. This year the plan didn’t quite come off. Kiwi’s work required him to be in Sydney on Thursday morning for meetings, and I ended up changing my work plans so I could also be in Sydney for us to leave on Thursday afternoon. We also had to be back mid-afternoon on Monday to get the K1600 to the dealer for the wheel rim replacement. So that meant our riding time was somewhat condensed.
Leg 1 – Sydney to Albury
After a few days of drama and no little stress, we managed to get the bike loaded and be on the road by roughly 2pm on Thursday. Leaving Sydney at that time usually isn’t too bad, but Thursday it was shocking. The major motorways were piled up and even taking the long route so we didn’t get stuck in the exhaust fume soup that is the M5 tunnel when it isn’t moving (5km long and no air flow) it still took us a good hour and a bit to leave Sydney behind us. And the intercom wasn’t working. I could hear Kiwi but he couldn’t hear me. And Kiwi’s visor was smeary. Nothing was right with the world.
We made it to Sutton Forest and stopped to regroup and grab a snack. I found the loose connection for my microphone and plugged it back in, cleaned Kiwi’s visor, we had some chocolate milk, a muesli bar and some jelly snakes and things were starting to look better. Things from here improved. The next stop was South Gundagai for fuel and another snack (for me this involved finishing my lunch!) and then we had to make a call about whether we were going to try for Bright in the Victorian Alps that night or pull stumps a bit earlier at Albury. The difference was only an hour and a half, but it was an hour and a half at the end of a 4.5 hour day to make it 6 hours, or at the beginning of a 6.5 hour day to make it 8 hours… It was also the difference between arriving somewhere we weren’t sure we could get a meal after an hour riding in the dark in prime roo country, or staying somewhere we could get a certain meal and an early night. We chose the latter, and were both glad we did in the end.
A shower was the first order of business for both of us, and getting out of motorcycling gear and into shorts, t-shirts and thongs made the world of difference. We lucked out with our first choice for dinner (we ordered drinks and then realised they were doing jukebox karaoke or something equally dreadful) before settling on a quiet Thai meal and crashing into bed.
Leg 2 – Albury to Phillip Island
Stopping at Albury meant we had a big day ahead on Friday so I promised I would be up and ready to go by 6.15 so we could get to Bright when our breakfast venue of choice, Ginger Baker, opened at 8. As promised, I hauled ass out of bed and into riding gear, brushed my teeth and packed my bag in the space of about 20 minutes. I do a very good zombie imitation when I need to. Thankfully since I’m not the rider, I don’t need to have firing synapses when I get on the bike, and Kiwi more than made up for it getting us out of Albury and to Bright ahead of schedule and without any wildlife encounters to speak of. The sunrise was very pretty though!
We ended up having a delicious breakfast at Food, Wine, Friends instead, since they were open when we arrived at 7.45, and by 8.15 we were back on the road and heading up the hill to Mt Hotham.
From Bright the ride to Omeo was lots of fun, but a bit cooler than expected. We stopped at Mt Hotham for Kiwi to change into warmer gloves, but then kept moving pretty quickly. Our next stop was at Swifts Creek for a cup of tea and some Vegemite toast, and then the last stop for the day was at Sale for fuel, some beef jerky and a toilet break before the final run to Phillip Island.
All up the day went pretty quickly, but I was feeling the fatigue when we arrived at Cowes. To be honest, I didn’t eat enough during the day. When we stopped at Swift Creek I wasn’t hungry yet, and there wasn’t much at the servo in Sale that made me want to eat. Also I have that girl guilt thing that means I feel bad about myself if I don’t eat things that are ‘healthy’ and food on the road doesn’t often fall into that category. I am really going to have to find some staples that will fit on the bike, cope fine with the vibration in the panniers and that make me feel good both physically and mentally. Any suggestions from the brains trust?
After the compulsory shower and change, we had a decent walk from our accommodation into town for dinner on Friday night, where I splurged on lasagne and a couple of glasses of red wine. I collapsed into bed, but at temperatures of 26 degrees all night, sleep didn’t come easily. I think we might have managed about 3 hours all up, and when I surfaced for breakfast and coffee on Saturday morning, I was not a pretty sight…
Speaking of fatigue, it’s getting late, so this post will have to be in two parts. I’ll leave you with a few more photos from Friday’s ride and the promise of stories of fast bikes and a long ride home later in the week.
The view towards Mt Bogong from Tawonga Gap
The ride up the hill to Mt Hotham
Mt Hotham, sponsored by Audi
Kiwi and the GSA at Swifts Creek
Me and the policeman whose radar clearly wasn’t on the lookout for cheekiness or Martin would have been pulled over long ago!