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.

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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.

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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Video of the Motorcycle Trip in Chinese Countryside

The final edit of my trip across Beijing on “Mafan,” my Jincheng 250. The song is “Girl is on my Mind” by the Black Keys. Also be sure to check out our Youtube page, RubberOnRoad08,  for some of our other videos, and future Rubber on Road video updates! Hope you like it!

A New Site for Planning Scenic Drives

Here’s a great site, called MyScenicDrives.com, that’s started up on the West Coast, that identifies scenic drives all over the region. The site provides a Google Map with highlighted overlays of the drives, which you can click on for very detailed descriptions. You can also see nearby hikes, vistas, food stops, and hotels. They are in the process of expanding east and to Canada, so keep an eye on it to see if your region gets included in future updates. And this site isn’t just for motorcycles, but useful for any road travelers looking for a good place to travel over the weekend.

If you’re interested in a useful iPhone app that can give you route suggestions, check out our review of the Greatest Road app, along with other Smart Phone apps that come in handy when driving by motorcycle, here.

Update April 13th: Greatest Road App now free for a limited time! So make sure you check it out while you can.

Some Rubber on the Road Scenic Drive Suggestions:

Mapquest for the iPhone: A Perfect Motorcyclist’s Companion

I just recently added this update to our Motorcycle App Review section, but I thought I’d give it a new dedicated post as well since I thought it was such a great app.

Mapquest– Free turn-by-turn directions.

This is an absolute must-have app. I only discovered this while on my 2 month trip around the US but it was a huge time saver. Obviously a bit issue with being on a motorcycle can be figuring out directions. There’s always the option of having a gas tank mount to hold some directions and a map, but that can’t be always safe looking down while driving trying to figure out if you have to make that exit approaching at 70mph. Of course memorizing them is not very reliable and you’ll find yourself second guessing yourself more often than not at the last minute.

I found the Mapquest app to be a perfect solution to this. I typically like to listen to music when I ride (a decision which some might question from a safety standpoint, but that’s for another post), and this app work perfectly in the background with the new iOS 4.0 in my iPhone as it would unobtrusively turn down my music and announce on-coming directions and then turn the music back on when it was done. It also has an auto reroute feature if you get off course, automatically adjusting its directions. There are options for shortest time and shortest distance, as well as the options to avoid highways, toll roads, and “seasonally closed” (all of which are nice for motorcycle riders).  Since it is built in with Mapquest capabilities, you can search for restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, etc. and get directions to them as well.

I found one important feature missing was that there was no option to turn on warnings. This was big on a motorcycle because you couldn’t just look down and check what the status is (unless you had a mount for your phone, but I carried mine in my jacket pocket), so I would find myself in the familiar trap of second guessing myself and my phone’s battery power only to pull over on the side of the road and discover I was still 5 miles from my turn. It looks like they might have added this option though in a recent update with “Walking Directions Alerts,” though I haven’t had the chance to test it out. I would recommend however not totally relying on the app, quickly reviewing the directions before stowing your phone away, as sometimes it can crash or your battery may die, leaving you endlessly waiting for the next turn (the walking alerts may do a lot to alleviate this concern though).

Oh, and did I mention the best part? It’s free!!

HD1: Harley-Davidson Online Bike Builder

Harley is coming out with what looks to be a very cool feature: an online, build your own H-D bike program which gives you the option to fully customize your bike before you buy it. The program is called HD1: Custom of One. Maybe not the best name but it’ll do!

The tool itself is not quite live, but if you follow this link on the site you’ll see the main dashboard with navigation buttons to the different parts of the program, including Bike Builder, Factory Customization, Fit Shop, Consultation, and Parts and Accessories (each button is clickable bringing you to an explanation of each step). And on the side of the page there’s a countdown to when the program goes live (February 4th).

The idea will be to build your bike, bring it in to a dealership to finalize the design, and then wait while your bike is built! I think one of the coolest aspects of this initiative is that even for those who aren’t necessarily ready or able to buy a Harley quite yet, it could be a lot of fun to fool around with the tool and build and print out your own bike designs.