Sunday, March 20, 2016

Cross Border Raiders

I had a call from Chillertek of The Road To Nowhere fame last week. It seems he and a few mates had hatched a scheme for a four day ride that would bring them into my neck of the woods.

"Would I mind showing them around?" he asked. 

Would I mind? Hell no! It would be my pleasure!!

So began a few days of frantic activity around my Yamaha R1. I decided that after three and a half years she needed an oil and filter change as well as a bleed of the brakes, both ends. I gave the gig away back here....

I decided to ride down into New South Wales in my own cross border raid and meet them at Kyogle. From here we would retrace the Summerland Way, past Mt Lindesay, back to Brisbane where the group were staying with Rick, one of Chiller's mates who had recently seen the light and emigrated from Sydney to Brisbane.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny overcast with periods of serious cloudbursts. Bugger! I hate heading out on a ride into heavy rain. So, I waited a while. I checked the weather radar and saw that there would be showers all morning along my intended route. Bugger! With it being a 2 hour ride to Kyogle and time starting to work against me I suited up and splashed my way out onto the freeway. Once I had crossed the hills toward Beaudesert the skies lifted and I was able to get out of my rain gear. 

I had a nice dry ride down to Kyogle (well, apart from a few light showers and wet roads) where I refuelled and placed myself outside Dave's Bakery to await the Southerners arrival.

I had plenty of time as I was a little early and the lads were a little late. By the time they arrived I was all pied-out.

I sauntered over to meet them as Chiller peeled himself off his new R1. From the grimace on his face, touring on a sports bike is clearly not as easy as it used to be!

The boys were in good spirits and it was great to catch up with my little bro, Geoff  (Triumph Sprint) whom I hadn't seen since Un Zud and to finally meet Rick (Aprillia Tuono), Stu (Aprillia Futura) and Dave (ZX10). They were soon tucking into some of Dave's Bakery's finest, with Geoff stealing the last steak and kidney pie from some unsuspecting tourist! Nice one Geoffrey!

It was then off to the servo to top up the lad's tanks for the push across the border. This was a good opportunity to get a closer look at the new R1.  And to compare it with the very first fuel injected one.

The lads insisted that I lead even though there was no way to get lost, so off I trotted. Not having ridden with them before I wasn't sure what sort of pace to set, especially as the road was wet in places. There were some B grade racers amongst them and I didn't want to hold them up so I set the pace to "holy shit", then backed it off a hair- to allow for the wet. As I don't ride much these days and certainly not in the wet I was more than a little apprehensive about the grip levels of the Michelin Pilot Power Pures that my bike is shod with.

As we got into the twisty section of road near the Queensland border I waved Steve past as I didn't want to spoil his fun. How fast could he go anyway, with the road wet and more moisture starting to drop on us?

Well, it turns out he can go pretty fr#ckin' quick! He was hooking into the wet stuff at pretty steep lean angles that had me marvelling at how good modern tyres are. This had me thinking "Well, if he can do it then so can I. I have the same tyres".......

Only thing is I don't have the same tyres! He is running some stock Bridgestones that came new on his R1. I am glad I didn't know that at the time. They do say that confidence is most of the battle.......

In spite of the rain this was a fun section to ride and it sure was nice to ride with my little Bro again. It was the first time we have ridden together on our own bikes since we toured Tassie back in 2003! Where has the time gone?

We stopped briefly on the Queensland side of the border to regroup then got stuck into the uber-bumpy section of road that passes in front of Mt Lindesay. Steve shot away through here as it was too bumpy and too wet for my poor old worn out suspension to cope.

We also stopped for a quick shot in front of Mt Lindesay itself. It was raining so we didn't linger.

The rest of the ride into Brisbane was pretty uneventful with a coffee stop in Beaudesert then we battled Sunday afternoon traffic in pouring rain for the final 30 minutes or so. I peeled off for home as my tail light had filled itself with water and my brake/park light wasn't working any more and I didn't want to splash my way home from Rick's new place, in the dark, with no rear light.

Monday morning did dawn bright and sunny, looking like a cracking day for a ride. The lads don't seem to go for early starts and eventually I met them on the M1 heading south at about 9:30am. We droned down the motorway for 30 minutes before taking the Nerang turn off.

I had two options for our return trip to Kyogle this morning. They were the road up to Springbrook or the Advancetown road down the Numinbah valley. I figured that the Springbrook road would still be wet as it is a 15km long series of 25-35km/h twisties, under tree cover whereas the Advancetown Road is more open (and a hell of a lot faster if thats your bag). So, we went down the western side of Hinze Dam along the Advancetown Road.

It didn't take Steve long to zip by me through the series of 35-45 km/h bends. It was a pleasure to watch him work as he makes it look so effortless, despite the still damp road.

We continued on up the valley to the old Tick gate crossing, where we stopped for a breather and took in the view over the Mt Warning caldera.

The lads were suitably impressed with the roads and the views.

Having been an El Nino summer with very little rain, it had finally begun to rain in the last 2-3 weeks and things were taking on their normal, green summer state. Something a little unusual for these southerners who are used to dry, brown summer landscapes.

From here Steve MADE me ride his new R1. I knew that the road coming up was narrow, bumpy and wet so I was suitably concerned! He gave me a short rider briefing then jumped on my bike and shot off.

My concerns were well justified as within the first kilometre or so I found out just how insane a modern sports bike is. The ride is ultra stiff, bordering on fully rigid feeling and the power.....the power is INSTANTANEOUS and COPIOUS!

I have never ridden anything with such a light-switch throttle. It is seriously ON or OFF. I was having some difficulty in the narrow, bumpy wet conditions and to be honest, wasn't enjoying it at all. That was until Steve said "Let me put in on Mode 3".

You see, Mode 3 is apparently the wet weather ignition setting. The throttle response went back to slightly more docile than my R1 but the insane power was still there if you wound it on.

Here is Steve asking me if I had tried the flat shifter and demonstrating how it is done......

Yep, just hold it FLAT and shift up. The ignition interrupter will take care of the shifts..........

Needless to say, I didn't take advantage of this chance to explore the engineering advancements since my old R1 ! These things are absolute weapons and no way could I hold it wide open on a public road!! I must be getting old.

Closer look at the fun section.

We had a morning's worth of winding roads to ride but we needed a caffeine break so took the opportunity to imbibe some of the good stuff in the little hamlet of Uki.

I was still trying to come to terms with the power and handling of Steve's R1 compared to my old version. What was glaringly obvious was that my suspension was shot. Fair enough, the bike is 14 years old and I am sure everything is original.

During the conversation it came to light that Rick was driving down to Sydney later in the week with a half empty bike trailer (he was racing Post Classic in the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed). My gears slowly turned over and we hatched a cunning plan. I would send my bike to the suspension gurus in Sydney that Steve had seen for his old R1 suspension upgrade.

The ride out west to Kyogle was far better than I had remembered it. The road was a good mix of fast bends, tight bends, smooth bends and bumpy bends. I think there was straight or two in there but they were bent over a hilltop..... Unfortunately I hit the wrong button on the GoPro and all I got was burst of pictures of the palm of my hand along here. The curse of the GoPro operator stikes again!

The Mt Burrell store looks like a great place to stop for a coffee and feed. I will have to return to find out.

Once in Kyogle again everyone was grinning about the ride as they filled their bikes up and sipped on an ice water. The lads were debating on which way to go back to Sydney and Dave (ZX10) and I both argued for the Bruxner Highway up to Tenterfield. This was agreed on and I hear the guys had a great ride up there as it is quality road with little traffic.

Rick and I however turned north, back along the Summerland Way back to Brisbane. We were home in about 2 hours and I soon had my bike washed and ready to load into Rick's trailer for it's trip to Sydney.

It was great to catch up with my Bro and his mates. I put almost a year's worth of my normal mileage on the R1 in the 2 days and it has definitely sparked a bit more interest in the motorcycle. I am looking forward to heading down to Sydney to pick it up after it's nip and tuck at Teknik Motorsport.

Keep an eye out for the ride report in a month or so, as I plan on joining Steve and the lads for a lap around their (and my old) home roads before I bring it back home.

Steve's write up on his entire 4 day trip can be found here.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

High Time For Some TLC

Now before you get all excited that this might be going somewhere interesting, I am referring to giving some TLC to my much neglected R1.

Sharing the shed with the Tour Divide rig.

Yep, I have had it in the shed for just over 4 years now and in that time a mere 3957km (2473mi) have rolled under it's wheels. Some may say that this is criminal and a bike deserves to be let out but I counter with my original plan that this bike is a keeper that I want to limit the kilometres (metric miles) that appear on it's odometer.

However, it has been 3 1/2 years and 3177km (1985mi) since I last did an oil and filter change on her. The mileage was probably ok but the 3 1/2 years in this humid environment probably wasn't so good with moisture ingress bound to have occured. 

So it was off to Ultimate Motorcycle Spares for some Motul 5100 and a filter. That rocked me back just shy of 100 beer coupons but divided by 3 1/2 years I guess I can live with that.

I had ridden the bike to go test ride another bike (no, not this but something similar...) , so it was nicely warmed for the old oil to be dropped. Shit that stuff stays hot for a long time though!!

While I waited for the oil to drain I cast an eye over the bike, something I haven't done for at least a few years. Just taking some time to eyeball my bikes, be they motor or pedal, is something that I rarely get to do. My spare/down time is unfortunately spent in a hotel room on the other side of the country and when I am home it is always ALL SYSTEMS GO! It was actually quite relaxing to just sit and sip a cup of tea and relax.

Until I noticed that a bolt was missing of course. Yep, I had noted that when the bike had it's swing arm resprayed a few years back I couldn't get any torque on the bolt that holds the chain slider (and my registration label holder at the time. You can see how they put the rego label on the race stand pickup! ;( ). It had been stripped when they put it back together. I didn't say anything at the time because I felt I had a great outcome with the battery distributors going above and beyond to make my bike right after their product screwed up.

So now it is missing so I will have to look at getting a helicoil or similar to anchor the slider.

Anyway, the job took almost no time to complete but what is with these "easy pour" spouts? 
I think it took longer to pour the oil out of the silly spout on the Motul bottle than the whole rest of the job!

It looks like that new chain finally needs some lube and while I am at it I am sure the brakes need bleeding. 3 1/2 years since I did that little chore and in this sub tropical humidity I guess it is past due as well.

Why this sudden burst of action I sense you thinking? Despite what I wrote above, I do reserve the right to actually put some kilometres on that odometer and well, it looks like I will be heading out for a ride this coming Sunday and Monday and I want everything to be in tip top shape for lots of this.....

I have some visitors to show around the roads of northern New South Wales and South East Queensland and I don't want to let them down......