Is it a Koala? Is it a Wallaby? Is it one of the 6 of the top 10 Deadliest Snakes in the World? No! It’s Days 6 and 7 of Karl and Yaegan’s Hedonistic Motorcycle Adventures through South East Australia!

Day Six

Road to Cape Jervis with Kangaroo Island in the background

The Road to Cape Jervis- Kangaroo Island is just visible in the background

I woke up with the sun. I decided to get in touch with my trendy-inner-wanker/hippy, and did some taichi on the beach, which, although being supremely peaceful, left me feeling very silly. Whatever. Yaegs woke up, and we took it slow. After quickly taking down the tent, we hung about and read for a half hour. The plan for the day was to make it onto Kangaroo Island (KI), which meant a five-hundred-or-so k day. The first few hundred k’s were high-speed, low-interest riding – essentially, more of the same long, straight roads that had bored us shitless yesterday. At least we weren’t riding into the sun, but rather chasing our shadows, à la Ewan and Charlie. Once we crossed onto Wellington, and turned ninety degrees to now be riding into the south-east, the roads changed and we were blessed. We followed the roads down into Victor Harbor (note the American spelling – like Kingston S.E., another thing that we wondered about but never got to the bottom of), and were slowly drawn in and enchanted. Our brains were so relieved to be done with straight-line riding that every corner was a godsend, and our bikes responded beautifully. We tucked and turned in, every corner a little piece of bliss. When we got into Victor Harbor we were both enthused and excited again. Feeling thoroughly over burgers, we went into a Lebanese joint for lunch.

Next on the agenda was Cape Jervis, from where we could catch a ferry over to Kangaroo Island. We were led through the Fleurieu Way (said as French-ly as possibly), past many wineries and vineyards, and on these great, small country roads. These roads ducked and weaved, bobbed and sailed, with crests, dips and corners enough to make you feel so glad to be riding. After dealing with Victorian drivers, we were pleasantly surprised to find South Australian drivers pull over and let us through.

Sadly, when we arrived at Cape Jervis, we found that all of the ferried for the day had been booked. We decided to head up into Hahndorf (a.k.a. Little Hamburg), an old German settlement in the Radelaide hills, and make a decision from there. Heading onto KI wasn’t going to be cheap, but we had heard such amazing things. We travelled through the same great country roads to Hahndorf, and, over a few beers and a ridiculous amount of meat and sausage, we decided to change our plans. We’d head back to Cape Jervis and KI tomorrow, spend the day and night on KI, then come back tomorrow. The meant missing out going to the Barossa valley, home of some of Australia’s biggest boldest reds. Whilst the prospect of not getting a good Shiraz saddened me no end, I made amends by deciding to pick up a cheeky Reisling from the McLaren Vale on our way out of KI and on the home run.

Day Seven

Beach Side Camping

Our humble home- note the abandoned cottage, location, location, location

We woke up early, still stuffed full of several varieties of German sausage and feeling vaguely ashamed (you know what I’m talking about), and booked our ferry over to KI. We made our way back to Cape Jervis, thoroughly enjoying the road. Due to a navigational error, we ended up on the same track as had been used for the Tour Down Under (an atrocious name, I know). We overtook cyclists on both the descent, then, after realising our mistake, the ascent, which made us feel very clever. About twenty k’s out of Cape Jervis, we realised that we didn’t have quite as much time as we had thought, which necessitated some quick riding and aggressive overtaking, which the Sprint relished. I’ve realised that by commuting on it, I’ve never really taken it for the rides that it was built for, that it was designed for – lots of corners at high speed seemed to be just what the doctor (mechanic?) ordered for the bike, and it was responding beautifully to the prescription. We made it into Cape Jervis with five minutes to spare, loaded our bikes onto the ferry, and thought of our plans for KI. I had heard that the west coast of the island was amazing, so we decided to aim to camp over there, and, on the way, check out the descriptively named Seal Rocks, Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch.

We landed on the island at about lunch-time, and so stopped in at the local pub, which had a beer garden that went all the way to the edge of the cliff, which we thought was a fairly dangerous and poorly-thought-out combination. We filled up with petrol, which was incredibly expensive, and set out. The roads on KI were very well maintained, though quite straight, which left us with no choice but to tackle the KI Speedway! (our wording), and open the throttle a bit. We both did, and were both quite scared at just how fast our bikes were going. Seal Rocks were about a hundred k’s away, so we arrived there in the early afternoon. Before the car park, there was a small section of gravel that made us slow down – perfect timing, as around the corner, a wallaby (much like a kangaroo, only smaller – and there’s nothing wrong with that!) was sitting on the road. We both pulled up next to each other, glad that we hadn’t taken the corner at speed. As we were tossing up just how well the wallaby would respond to a game of chicken, and just how our bikes would respond to a wallaby, the bastard hopped away, into the scrub. Our little touch with nature, except not in that way prohibited by the court order.

Seal Rocks had lots of seals. We then rode onto Remarkable Rocks, which were pretty remarkable. My favourite part of the Remarkable Rocks was the base of granite upon which they sat, which sloped down into the sea. It was only a couple of hours before dusk, and given the wildlife that we had already seen, we wanted to be well set up before the animals got up (and got active). We went round to the deserted lighthouse keeper’s cottage, which had been deserted for a good century. Again, the sun was setting over the sea, which was the most tropical green near the shore, graduating out to a brilliant blue. Once we decided that it was late enough in the day for the rangers not to bother checking on us (or, if they did, too late for them to tell us to move along), we set up the tent about ten metres away from the cottage and went to work creating a nutritious, delicious and (avaricious?) dinner using nothing but four bean mix, kidney beans, masala powder and cumin. I like to think that that the results speak for themselves.

Ridin’ through Oz, Days 4 and 5: Nothing like “Total Recall”, schadenfreude, and sunsets to lift the spirits!

Day Four

The Twelve Apostles near Petersborough, Australia

The Twelve Apostles (but there are really only 8)

We woke up to gray skies, and quickly reached the executive decision that we were making good time, wanted to hang around the area for a bit longer, didn’t really want to slog it out on twisty roads in the rain, and so stayed another day. We lounged about, went back to see the erroneously named 12 Apostles (there are only eight) and London Bridge (which had previously collapsed, marooning a few people on a limestone stack for several hours). All this sightseeing quickly made us hungry, so we continued on to a nearby cheese factory, where we took part in a cheese tasting, ordered a cheese platter, and then bought some Brie and blueberries for the evening meal. The weather started to sour, so we went back to the pad, watched the overly-cerebral and unnecessarily-complicated Schwarzenegger masterpiece ‘Total Recall’, and whiled away the afternoon on an epicurean bender.

Day Five

Bay of Martyrs

Yaegan and I at the Bay of Martyrs

We woke up to perfect blue skies and almost no wind, and so, somewhat reluctantly, said goodbye to sleepy Peterborough. We were both feeling fresh and keen to ride, and set to move into South Australia by the end of the day. We rode out of Peterborough, passing by the Bay of Martyrs, and winding around the coast.

Sadly, as we moved out and away from the GOR, the road turned into an incredibly boring arrow. No bends, no scenery, just red earth, scrub, and an antipodean sun bearing down upon us in our leathers. However, shortly after thinking this, we passed by some bloke on a pushbike going the same way, and my little burst of schadenfreude made me feel slightly better about our situation. We continued along, and passed through the state border into Mt. Gambier in the late afternoon. For the last few hours, we had been riding with our eyes into the sun – I had a tinted visor, which made life better, but we both were in need of a sit down in the shade – this came along in the town of Robe.

We were feeling like camping, so, five k’s after we passed through Kingston S.E. (this presumably stands for South East, though we were never able to find any evidence either way for this hypothesis), we went down a little dirt road. After coming up a crest, we were rewarded with a view of our own private beach for the evening. Being unsure as to the legality of camping, we hid our bikes off the road, set up a tent behind a shrub (quite a sizeable shrub, mind), and were able to watch the sun set over the sea. We had both been reading, but looked up from our book, transfixed, for the last twenty minutes, as the oranges morphed into blues into purples into darkness, forming a perfect blanket dotted with stars. I hadn’t been away from the city for a while, so was floored by the beauty of the un-light-polluted night sky.

Beach Hideaway

Our Beach Hideaway just past Kingston S.E.

Day 2 and 3 of Easy Ridin’- Cruising through Oz: “Brando rode a Triumph in ‘The Wild One’ – end of story”

Day Two

Marlon Brando in the Wild One

Brando- the only fail-safe way to end any argument

After playing gentlemen and giving Susie (who used to own a Honda CB400) a quick ride, hopping from island to island, we headed into Bega, a town best known for producing so-so cheese, for brekky (or breakfast, as it is traditionally known). As we were preparing to skip town, a big gang of Harleys ridden by people of various states of obesity and decline crawled by – an old bloke walking down the street winked conspiratorially, then proceeded to spend at least five minutes slagging off Harley Davidsons and those who ride them, and finished with the line “Brando rode a Triumph in ‘The Wild One – end of story”. Today was going to be a big-ish day – we wanted to be down in Melbourne by nightfall. We continued down along the Princes Highway, which was lovely coming out of Bega – windy, curvy, hilly, all with a bucolic idyll as a backdrop. Before lunch, we cross over the border into Victoria – unfortunately, our progress was immediately slowed by Victorian drivers. At one point, I had to drop back into first and was travelling at 50 km/h on a highway. It was like some mass exodus from rural Victoria, led by a caravan owning Moses, beseeching the world “Let my people go slowly!” Very frustrating.

We had a late lunch, and trucked along. The road was interesting, and the caravan convoy had mercifully thinned. Towards the end of the day, the road got very boring, the weather turned up a few degrees, and we were just slugging it out. We ended up getting into Melbourne about eight, just enough time to catch up with my parents (who were coming back from test-driving a four-wheel drive) for a few drinks. We decided to make the most of our big day and take the next day a little easy, and so we went out with a few mates to some of the wankier establishments about town.

Day Three

We woke up late, and continued our wanky Melbourne adventure by heading into a hidden restaurant (through an office building, down some stairs, through a black curtain, turn right, down some more stairs and hey presto!). Yaegs had a mate who very kindly offered us her pad halfway along the Great Ocean Road at Peterborough, and so we only had a few hundred k’s of riding today. The first hundred or so were getting out of Melbourne, and were just boring highway riding in a high wind.

We stopped off at Torquay for a sit down and to steel ourselves for the next bit. We’d both driven down the Great Ocean Road (GOR) before, though admittedly only a small section, and admittedly in a Toyota Prius (quelle horreur!). Now, on high-performance machines, we promised each other that we’d be very responsible, very safe, and not speed. Sadly, this resolution lasted about fourteen corners, where we both gave it some stick. Again, some overtaking was required, in situations that were sometimes a little hairy. More than once, we got close to using the “Ross Bowey Lane”, which is that little lane in between those two lines painted in the middle of the road, just wide enough for a back tyre.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Maxin' out relaxin' all cool- Torquay

The first section of the GOR was winding right along the cliff, and just spectacular. Sharp, hairpin bends, with a vertical rock wall on one side and the Southern ocean beating down on the other. There was roadwork in some places, due to the floods a few weeks previously, which gave Yaegs and myself a chance to regroup. I was very surprised to find a second, different section that followed the coastal part, which was ripping through the rainforest at a higher speed, with some terrific high-speed corners. This was easily the most entertaining and riveting riding I’d done – I was starting to feel more confident on my bike, which allowed to me take corners faster and lean in a bit more. The scenery was brilliant, and the rich, earthy smell of the rainforest was tempered by a fresh sea breeze. The late-afternoon light left dappled shadows across the road, and the entire world seemed to be tinged orange, making everything seem hyper-real. Just beautiful.

We were both sad to see Apollo Bay come, as it meant that the best parts of the road were over. We enjoyed yet another burger for dinner (some say that variety is the spice of life, but then there are also those that say that eternal beauty can be found by bathing in the blood of virgins, so there’s obviously a wide variety of opinion on the subject), which was very good for two riders with dangerously low cholesterol levels. After washing down a tasty burger with a delicious beverage, we made the last hundred k’s or so to Peterborough, where we came upon (ew!) the pad we’d be crashing in – seven bedrooms, two kitchens, and a view of the ocean. We walked up to the bottlo, bought some ales and an invalid stout, which we saw as just the thing to help revive our bodies and relax our minds, both of which had been drained (ew?) by the GOR.

Easy Ridin’: Cruisin’ through Oz

Map of Motorcycle Route-Australia

Our route in SE Australia


We’ll be having a guest writer for the next couple weeks, as friend (and now contributing writer!), Karl Kruszelnicki writes about his two week motorcycle trip with his friend Yaegan around South East Australia, down The Great Ocean Road and up through the high country to “Radelaide”. If you want to keep up to date with all the updates of the trip, be sure to subscribe to Rubber on the Road on the right side of the page, or you can follow us on facebook by clicking here.

Radelaide: It’s OK!

Map of the motorcycle route around Australia

Close up of the route through in Australia

A mate of mine, Yaegan, and I have both been riding for a few years, and have been thinking of a big-ish trip.  Recently, we realised that we both shared the amazing fortune to be unemployed in summertime, and thought that it was as good a time as any to get stuck into it.  We had a rough idea of a few roads we wanted to ride and a few towns that we thought would be fun, and eventually gave ourselves a fortnight with a rough goal of Radelaide (not to be confused with Adelaide, the capital of South Australia).  In a very wanky Robert-M-Pirsing-Zen-like way, we were focused on getting in some good kilometres (or five-eights of a miles), rather than working to kick up the odo.  As such, we tried to stick to windier, smaller roads wherever possible.

Preparations

Setting out with the Triumph and SuzukiAfter tens and tens of minutes spent poring over maps, we thought that it’d be nice if we could ride down the coast (the Great Ocean Road played a large part in these calculations), and then ride back up through the high country. I put my Triumph Sprint ST 955 in for a major service, which included new tyres, chain, sprockets, gaskets, valve clearances, whilst Yaegs adopted more of a laissez faire approach to maintenance for his Suzuki GS 500. I’ve got a Ventura rack and a tank bag, and was able to strap-on a waterproof bag to the rack, whilst Yaegs used a tank bag, built-on storage compartment and a backpack. We thought it’d be more fun (read cheaper for unemployed students) to camp, so we brought along a tent, a little gas-cooker. As space was at a premium, we packed fairly light – the only concession we made to comfort and fashion was to pack more than one pair of speedos, arguably eclipsing both the refrigerator and the bionic ear as the greatest Australian invention ever.

Day 1

Wallaga Lakes, Australia

Wallaga Lakes

After final packing and checks, we didn’t end up getting away until about half-ten. We decided to start the trip by heading down through the Royal National Park, with it’s many twists, turns and hills. Unfortunately, we had to get there first, which put us at the mercy of the many dickheads on Sydney’s roads. Shaken, but not stirred (???), we made it into the park, and were immediately rewarded. Adrenalin was running high, the bikes were on song, and the corners just melted away. We stopped in at Yaegs’ cousin’s pad outside Wollongong, and then went to get some lunch. It was about three, and we felt that the day was slipping away from us, and we hadn’t gotten as far as we had first planned. We made plans to have dinner somewhere around Narooma. Thankfully, the road got better, the traffic lighter, and the scenery just beautiful, with the road cutting through these enormous red cliffs with long, fast corners. I began to understand the concept of “candy miles” (which I tried to Australianise to “lolly kilometres”, with varying degrees of success) – this was riding that just invigorated you. The fresh air of the rainforest swept into the helmet, the road was good enough to travel a bit quickly, and there were enough corners to keep you focused. At Narooma, we tried to contact Narooma’s Favourite Son (my wording), Brogan Murray, with whom we played for state, but unfortunately we couldn’t get in touch. Two elderly men felt compelled to compliment me on owning a Triumph. It was approaching dusk, and we didn’t want to risk any head ons with Australia’s notoriously stupid wild-life (google a wombat, I dare you), so took a little side-road down to Bermagui, and were rewarded with a little island, linked by old arch-bridge where we set up camp for the evening. Thanks to some visionary forward planning, we had a few longnecks of both pale and sparkling ales to keep us company. We were also lucky to meet two Germans, Susie and Frank, a man who distinguished himself by catching prawns (on the barbie!) with his bare hands.

Weekend of Motorcycles in Beijing

Changjiang 750

A CJ750 I saw in the street with a cool WWII look to it.

Just a quick update on all things motorcycles in Beijing, China. The weather is starting to get really nice here, highs in the high 20’s pretty much all week and that means more bikes are starting to turn up to take advantage of the nice weather. One of the most popular bikes around here that I’m starting to see a lot more of is the CJ750, from Chang Jiang. It’s actually a sidecar motorcycle, which I’m not the biggest fan of  as I feel it takes way the best part of riding (leaning and turns!) while adding the worst part of cars (getting stuck in traffic), but it’s got a great look to it and the design is based off of a Russian bike which is in turn a copy of a BMW with an opposed twin engine design. (I plan on writing more about the CJ750 in a later post dedicated to the subject, so make sure to subscribe from the top of the right sidebar for future updates). There were plenty of other bikes out as well though.

Harley Davidson Beijing

My Jincheng 250 sitting outside the H-D shop parked next to a few better known model bikes

On Saturday, I went with some friends to the Beijing art district, 798 (also known by its Chinese, Qi Jiu Ba), where a lot of bikers apparently frequent. I saw a bunch of guys on Harley’s driving through at one point. I could actually tell what they were riding before even seeing them, just from that old familiar rumble that I’ve missed so much about my Dyna, which is sitting in garage back home. It looked like they were from a local riding group as they all had matching patches on their backs, but I wasn’t able to catch the name.

On Sunday, I went with my girlfriend first to get her a proper helmet since she was a little wary of the bucket helmet she had been using. This gave me an excuse to go to the Beijing Harley Dealership for the first time! Great to see some of the bikes. I even asked if test riding was a possibility, but for some reason I didn’t seem enough like a viable potential customer to be allowed a ride…

Getting a New Chain on the Jiancheng

Getting a New Chain for "Mafan" my 250cc Jiancheng

Final stop was my local motorcycle mechanic out in 将台乡, near the 5th ring road. I had been having some problems with my chain being loose and wanted to see if he could tighten it. Unfortunately it was tightened as much as possible, which meant I needed to replace it as the installed chain was too long somehow. He didn’t have any chains on hand, so he referred me to a friend a couple doors down. This was a very Chinese situation. Could you imagine a mechanic in the West saying he doesn’t have a part, check with the guy down the street?? Well, bought a new chain and had it installed for a grand total of… US $13! (An hour of labor at a Harley Dealership will run you about $80) Not only that but the guy will be finding me a windshield to install next week (for RMB 65) and my usual guy is finding my girlfriend a motorcycle jacket (about RMB 500).

So with Amy almost fully kitted out with new gear, and my bike running relatively smoothly, I’m looking forward to taking advantage of my first full official riding season in Beijing, China!

Africa Bike Week in South Africa: A reader’s story

Below we have a reader submitted story about the Africa Bike Week in South Africa, the biggest gathering of motorcycles in Africa. Gerald Young and his wife talk about their trip to the rally and submitted some fantastic pictures as well. Below is his write up of the event and pictures. He and his wife had quite an adventure on the ride over and back, so if you’d like to read the entire account, click here.

Hi Bucko and all the Sporty fans out there,

This is Gerald reporting from sunny South Africa again.

Well the Africa Bike Week has come and gone so I thought I could recap on how it all went down.

The Africa Bike Week is a Harley bike rally, targeted mainly at all Harleys in South Africa, held from the 28th April till the 1st of May each year, although it is open to all bikes, with many other types of bikes in attendance, including Super Bikes, so as I’m sure you can imagine the thousands of bikes in attendance.

The event was held in a town called Margate on the Kwa- Zulu Natal south coast  which is about 110 miles from Durban. The whole town gets geared up for Harleys and almost every shop it seems had Harley and Africa Bike week memorabilia for sale. The main beach road, i.e. Marine Drive was closed for motor vehicles and only bikes could drive along the beach front. Even the street and business names were changed for the occasion, such as, Harley Street and Tennessee street, The main Hotel, Margate Hotel, was changed to the Harley Davidson Hotel and was the Head Quarters for H.O.G. for the duration of the rally. There were also 2 stages set-up with live shows held and bands playing ear splitting music all day into the wee hours of the morning. Best of show bike competitions were held and the streets were packed with hundreds of stalls where HD dealers and HD clothing shops could sell their wares, but of course at  ridiculously escalated prices. The air had that fun fair atmosphere, and let me tell you, it was a ‘jol’

Harleys were parked on both sides of the streets and the roar from many Harleys was a sound you could never imagine. Even in the town itself and the outskirts there was constant thrum of Harleys going back and forth. It was  joyous mayhem!

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Stuck in 4 lanes of traffic packed with trucks… on a 2 lane highway. A photo diary of the joys of motorcycle travel in China!

When we ran out of room on the side of the road, the only option left was to go through the middle.

Another motorcycle trip 100km outside of Beijing turned out to be quite eventful. On the way to and from Songshan Nature Reserve, we hit relentless wind, aggressive drivers pushing us off the road, rain that turned out to be saturated with mud, and some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. There was one point where we had to drive off road because the oncoming traffic not only took over our lane but also the bordering emergency lanes, leaving no room for traffic going the other way for about 10-20km, and this congestion was almost entirely made up of trucks. It wasn’t all bad though, we passed under the great wall, past the ming tombs, and there was some pretty spectacular scenery. Take a look at the photo diary of the trip from start to finish below:

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