Saturday, February 26, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis (Part V)

 DAY 8

After a reasonable nights sleep with only one train that sounded like it went through my room πŸ˜„ we were up pretty early as my mate, Andy had to fly home for work today. This meant getting to Launny, dropping his bike at the local Honda dealer for it's 6000km service and him juggling gear in our storage shed, then getting himself to the airport. I was happy just to tag along and do whatever he needed to do as I wasn't flying home until tomorrow.

Not A Mid Life Crisis (Part IV)

 DAY 6

Despite not needing to be up early, I was up pretty early. The Golden Age Hotel puts on a complimentary breakfast so I tucked into that. There was no sign of the BMW guys. I think they might have been wearing out from all the frivolity of the last few days. πŸ˜†

No problem though as my bike was parked at the back of the group and I could get it out to load up. I was on the road by about 8am, still with no firm plan on what to do. I didn't have to worry for a while as the only course of action was to ride down to Bruthen on the Great Alpine road - and yes, it is pretty great, especially where it follows the Tambo River. No photos as I wasn't stopping.

Through Bruthen toward Bairnsdale and big time civilisation. Boo. I wanted to avoid the highway as much as possible so typed Maffra into the GPS. This took me right at the first roundabout on the outskirts of Bairnsdale and back out into the countryside. 

When the GPS started to take me back North I thought it was getting a bit too adventurous and commanded it back to Stratford - and the Princes Highway. 

Fuel and food in Stratford, then a planning session in Apex Park under the shade of a tree. It was nice not to be in a hurry and I sorted some accomodation thanks to input from users on the Netrider forum. Cheers guys for the suggestions. πŸ˜‰

Looking at my old Hema road atlas I noticed the highlighted road across the ranges between the highway and the coast. The Grand Ridge Road! Of course!! Reading the blurb (it is one of the recommended 50 best rides) and I was sold. Topping it off is that it would take me through Mirboo North. We always used to go through there on the way to The Island.

I thought about getting off the highway to Maffra again and crossing the Princes at Rosedale and then on to Gormandale. I should have stuck with that thought. Instead, I did the highway to Sale, then crawled for kilometres in the 40km/h zone through the extensive roadworks. D'oh!

I eventually got off the highway at Rosedale and passed through Gormansdale. Boy, it was getting hot now with 35C showing on the bike.

The road south out of Gormansdale wasn't a bad one at all but before I knew it I was turning West onto The Grand Ridge Road. I had no idea how long it was but I had a full tank of 91 and all day to explore. Bring it on!

Looking back north east to where I had come from this morning.

And just after that, looking south west some direction, toward Bass Straight.

 (I was sure it was southwest at the time but the shadow under the bike confuses me now…πŸ€”)

It was a cracking day but getting bloody hot! As I got into the tight, twisty sections of the road my speed was down to about 20km/h on the loose gravel corners in case of oncoming logging traffic. Not a problem per se, but with 38C temperatures I wasn't getting much cooling airflow. I was drenched!

I had to turn around to get this photo as I had blasted past before I registered what it was.

I kept going for quite a while before I came to a nice little gully that was more open than the last hour or so had been. I took my jacket off here and had a bite to eat, plus a good slurp of water. Did I mention it was HOT?!!

A couple of kilometres further down the road and the track began to open out a lot more. I could hit 60km/h between corners and the cooling airflow was sensational! I was soon back on the sealed stuff and the speed shot right up. This bit of road into Mirboo North is a cracker and seemed familiar. I think we used to do part of it "back in the day".

I stopped at the Grand Ridge Brewey for a photo. That was all. No beer. 
Steve and I had got on it here once, back in the late '90s and I still don't think I'm recovered enough to go back...there may even be a photo of us at the door....πŸ˜†

Once I fuelled up at Mirboo North I decided against the last bit of the Grand Ridge road as it was HOT and I was a bit too rooted to do any more tight dirt on this big rig. (I've since been told it is sealed - my road atlas is at least 20 years old πŸ˜†) 
No, it was just get on with it, through Leongatha, Korumburra, Koo Wee Rup, Tooradin and into the outer Melbourne suburbs. I eventually found my way onto the South Gippsland freeway, then the Monash and finally Citylink to South Melbourne and my digs at the City Park Motel. I think this was what happened but not sure about the freeway names. Good to see the freeway slowed to 60km/h for extensive roadworks though. It made me feel right at home!

I quickly checked in and unloaded the bike. I sure was glad to get off it today as it was HOT behind that big screen!

It was relatively early in the afternoon so I chased up a laundromat and washed some stinking gear.

After loading up the machine I slipped down the road to the Limerick Arms for a cheeky pint, then back to put the dryer on and back to the Limerick for another cheeky one. Dinner was easy to find as well - it's Melbourne. Food and booze is everywhere! Pizza and red wine went down a treat.

Todays distance is a bit less than indicated on the map below because Ride With GPS has done some funny aresarounds on the freeway on and off ramps. Can't be bothered fixing it and the rest of the route is spot-on, so lets call it 500km for the day. 😡


Well, today was a pretty easy day distance wise. I had 4.5km to do to get here...

...because I was going here....

A quick breakfast on the way to the boat then I joined the loading que. I am so glad it wasn't raining (because it looked like it might - bloody Melbourne weatherπŸ˜„ wasn't it 38C just 12 hours ago? ) as we were quite a while. Maybe the experienced hands just board last so they don't have to stand around forever?
Anyway, all that waiting helped me notice that I was 2995 kilometres from Brisbane. The Twin hadn't missed a beat.

Once all tied down I climbed up to Level 7 for a coffee and to watch Melbourne slowly recede in the window.

24 knots became 28 knots once we were through the heads of Port Phillip Bay in open water.

That is Point Lonsdale, to the West.

The other Spirit Of Tasmania mid Bass Straight. The crossing was like sailing a mill pond today. Hooray!

While on the top deck for the above photo I bumped into a bloke who wanted to talk bikes. We ended up chatting for several hours. He was on his way back to Tassie after racing at Sydney motorsport park in what used to be the Barry Sheene Festival Of Speed. We had a good old yarn and he turned out to be Terry Morris, brother of Graeme Morris who was Aussie 600cc champ for much of the '90s! It was great to meet him and hear his stories. I will come and check out the mtb trails at Georgetown too!

Eventually, we were coasting into Devonport. The motorcycle deck was one of the first off so I made haste and was on the road to my overnight accommodation in no time. 

The ride along the river, just on dusk, to Railton was magic.

I found my workmates Africa Twin tucked under cover out the back and wandered into the pub. Despite the late hour the publican and his wife couldn't do enough for me, feeding and near drowning me. Awesome hospitality and just a stones throw from the boat!

Twin Twins.

Not much riding for the day today. But I'm in Tassie now!!

To be continued......

Friday, February 25, 2022

Not A Mid Life Crisis - Honest


Ever since I bought the BMW F800 a few years ago I have entertained the idea of riding it around Australia. The only problem is that I don't have enough time off work to make it happen without it being a somewhat rushed trip (Australia is a BIG place you know!). Now owning the even more capable Africa Twin, the thought has stayed with me and perhaps grown stronger throughout this Covid debacle.

Not A Mid Life Crisis (Part II)

 DAY 3

An early start was on the cards today. I had made an "appointment" to meet my Dad for coffee at the local bakery in Forbes at 10am. I reckon that nobody has ever made an appointment with Dad for a coffee (old timey bush mechanic all his life) and since Mum passed away in mid 2020, Dad has been a bit lost. I thought my surprise visit might cheer him up and get him out of the house.

Now, the problem is when I set the meeting time I only had a vague idea of how long it would take to get from Rylestone to Forbes. With (very) limited internet I texted my brother for a Google Maps appraisal. Maps reckoned it would take 3hours and 45minutes to do the 276km.


So, to be there at 10am I would need to be on the road at just after 6am! Not good as that was just on first light. There wouldn't be many Skippys on the road at that hour...! 😟

I set the alarm for stupidly early, struggled all of my gear out of my room, being careful not to lock myself out of the pub until my stuff was all outside, then fumbled in the dark with the combination lock that was on the shed the bike was in.

Loaded up and on the road I took it very steady at 80km/h. It was a bit foggy this morning so that didn't help with the Skippy spotting. As I made my way through Kandos it started to feel cold. Maybe the loading exertion was starting to wear off but the temperature guage did indicate 10C. That is cold for a Queenslander where the temperature hadn't been below 26C overnight in the previous week!

A few big eastern Greys loped across the road just to the west of Kandos and even the 80km/h felt fast as I braked to give them more room. Breaking out of the tree cover I had the most beautiful vista across the valley. 

Now THAT was singularly worth getting up for!

Just a few kilometres further on I turned south on the Castlereagh Highway and looking back East was just - WOW! As much as I hate early starts these days, the reward is worth it. 

I followed a delivery van for quite some time toward Sofala. I was happy to have him running interference for any potential roos that may be loitering by the road. Yes, I know (and have seen) plenty of roos jump between oncoming traffic but it made me feel better nonetheless. The twisty bit of road dropping off the range just west of Wattle Flat is hot mix asphalt and would be my second home if I lived in Bathurst or the surrounds. What an awesome bit of road!

I blasted straight past Sofala. Having seen it a few times it doesn't do anything for me these days (but if you haven't seen it, it is a must do). No, I didn't have any time to waste this morning. I really wanted to get to Orange ASAP so as to guage how I was tracking re my 10am appointment. Bathurst is always a slow traverse but I did find a new short cut that meant I didn't have to get on the Great Western Highway at Kelso and dawdle all the way through every traffic light in town. Hereford Street,  new bypass has been built since I last came from that way and I reckon it saved me 10 minutes.

There were extensive road works between Bathurst and Orange which again slowed progress. On the outskirts of Orange I elected to take the new-ish town bypass, again to save time. 

Well, what is the point of a town bypass if businesses move out of town to be lined along it and then the speed limit is dropped because there is so much traffic exiting and entering the road to access said businesses? Logical I guess but annoying too.

Luckily, I was running well to schedule and I decided to stop at the brand new to me Maccas for a muffin and a coffee, plus to catch my breath.

I also grabbed some fuel just up the road and was right for the last 120km or so. You can usually wind the wick up a bit west of Orange (well, you could 25 years ago) to make up time. At least when I got stuck at road works it was pretty easy to round up the conga line of traffic.

I made a super quick (as in just ride up onto the footpath) photo stop in Eugowra to get some snaps of  some of the murals. Eugowra's claim to fame, apart from being our family's settling place once off the boat in the late 1800s, is the hold up of the gold stage coach just outside of town in 1862. Ben Hall and his gang did many a dastardly deeds back in the day and I sort of find it slightly unsettling/amusing that all these small towns cash in on this past infamy. I guess you do what you gotta do, then and now. 😢

With only 34km or so to go I made it at 10:02! I hopped off the bike and wandered inside. No Dad, despite his car being outside. Wandering back out to the car, there he was, sitting in it. There was no way he was going inside by himself to wait! Did I mention he doesn't get out much? 😐

I spent the next three or four days hanging out and helping with some jobs that he can't do any more. I can see it is frustrating for him as he was one of those guys that never asked for help because he COULD do everything himself. Mechanic by trade but capable of tacking any job. They don't make 'em like Dad any more.


After a few days at home I was coming into my reserve days. I had planned to just drop the bike in Sydney at Steve's house and fly home but as I hadn't been called in to work by the Saturday night I was rolling into another bunch of days off! Good for me, bad for the airline - things are still pretty quiet as far as air travel goes. This gave me another 7 days clear so I decided to go for it and booked the boat to Tassie for the Tuesday morning. A day sailing was the cheapest all week AND it happened to suit my time frame. YEAH!!

A quick tub for the steed to knock the bugs off and I loaded up, bid Dad farewell and hit the road toward But not before I was stopped by probably the only train to go through Forbes each day. And my, wasn't it a looong one! 😏

I was in Grenfell in no time at all, despite stops for photos, so snapped a photo of their silo art as well.

Next stop, Young. The road from Grenfell to Young is an interesting ride and every time I do it, it takes me back to the mid '90s when Steve and I heading to or from Phillip Island for the races...or us heading to the Snowies for a weekend. Good times and this is what it looked like.....

Steve on his ZX9R somewhere near Young C1998.

I stopped in Young only long enough to get a photo of the town hall before continuing south. I had a loose plan to make Tumbarumba tonight, which was 4 hours from Forbes and as I left at 4pm, there wasn't a lot of spare daylight.

The road from Young to Cootamundra is a pretty decent ride, as in just interesting enough to keep you focussed. I didn't stop in Coota but bypassed it for the Gundagai road to Coolac. It was warm and I had an idea to stop at thge Coolac pub for a cold one before pressing on. The road was quite entertaining, if a bit beat up in places but I made it to Coolac in good time, jumped off the bike to be greeted with a bunch of G'days from the drinkers on the verandah. bloody friendly place this!

I don't recall it being called the Beehive Hotel but then, I don't think we ever stopped here back in the day. We just blasted past as it was too close to home.

Next was a section of the Hume Highway where I dropped every vehicle as I stuck to the 100km/h my GPS said I was doing. Don't people wonder why all the trucks pass them when they are supposedly "speed limited"? Anyway, past Gundagai to the south Gundy turn off for Tumut. I used to love this road back in the day. It was where you could see the countryside changing and the roads became much more interesting. Well, a lot of the sharper bends have been taken out and the road consists of plenty of big, high speed sweepers these days. Nice on the right bike I guess...

The Poplar trees lining the road into Tumut always give me a flutter in the stomach. I can still remember like it was just yesterday driving into Tumut, on the way to a fishing trip to Anglers Reach at Lake Eucumbene with Dad when I was 7 years old. We had 2 Slim Dusty tapes in the old XB and I was in charge of playing them non-stop-all-the-way!
No Slim today but there would be Lights On The Hill later on.

I have heard my brother rabbit on about the Rosewood Raceway for years now but have never ridden it myself - until today. After I missed the turn at Wondalga and had to U-turn and come back. πŸ™„  I turned left and almost immediately saw the road marking turn to yellow. Oh, this was a good sign!
This road was clearly built to service the logging industry and wound it way through the forests. Well, it would have if ALL of the forests hadn't burned down in the 2019 east coast infernos. Wondering why the price of timber for housing is going through the roof(haha)? Well, because thousands of acres of pine plantations went up in smoke in 2019.This left a perfectly sealed, winding road with almost unlimited sight lines just sitting out here. 
O.M.G. this is a good road!

A few rises were a bit concerning as the sun was level with the road surface and I had a couple of moments where I suddenly could not see at all. Probably should have been going east at this time of day! I saw no kangaroo activity but got a fright as a small deer shot out of the grass on a collision course but then veered off, all in the blink of an eye! There are also very few speed advisory signs on the corners, so the first run across should be seen as a “sighting lap”. 
I’ll be back..😎

I turned left at Rosewood and rolled into Tumbarumba at last light to grab one of the last rooms in the pub. 

The $50 for the room included a free beer. I was just too late for the kitchen but the barman, despite being mega busy, called the bowling club to get their kitchen to wait for me to pop around. He then gave me another beer for my trouble. Fuggin' champion! Of course that made me even later for my Chinese food at the bowlo. πŸ˜„Once collected after a short walk,  I took this back to the pub for another discounted beer (I reckon he was sweet on me....) where I watched the locals knock their balls around while I ate.

Yeah, not a bad day at all.....AND I was headed for Tassie, not Sydney. 😎


To be continued......

Not A Mid Life Crisis (Part III)

 DAY 5

Today was going to be an exciting one for me. I hadn't ridden any of the roads in north eastern Victoria since 1999. That was when I moved from Central West NSW to Adelaide for work and the route to Phillip Island didn't take me that way any more. Also, I had never ridden the Mitta Mitta to Omeo road as it was largely dirt back in the day. 

I was up pretty early and soon doing battle with the biggest bacon and egg roll I have ever seen. It actually defeated me by just a little bit, but a defeat nonetheless! Do yourself a favour and have the $8 bacon and egg roll at the Union Hotel in Tumby. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Tutoro Automatic Chain Oiler - Africa Twin Installation


As the title indicates, I have finally got around to purchasing a chain oiler for the Africa Twin. I went with the Tutoro as it worked well on the BMW and was pretty simple to fit up. It is also very simple in it's operation with virtually no moving parts and zero intrusion into the bikes systems, unlike some other popular brands which need wiring in or need vacuum to operate. 

When I ordered the oiler I went for the "Patrol Kit'. This kit seemed to have the components that I needed and was a reasonable price at $90 Australian. Shipping was a bit eye watering, no doubt due to Covid induced freight bottlenecks, but if I wanted the oiler, well, I was just going to have to suck it up! πŸ™„

The advice from Tutoro was that there could be up to two weeks of "freight delays" but this little brown box turned up here on the other side of the world in just 6 days!!

Opening up the box and I could (sort of) see all of the components neatly laid out, as well as the quality control packing sheet. All looked in order!

I had ordered the extra 500ml bottle of oil as the kit only comes with a 250ml bottle. Tutoro are adamant that you can only use their oil (sure, sure) and until I can figure out what is going to work in the oiler as a substitute, I needed some extra to keep me going until that time - remember the sell a kidney freight costs - plus it seems stupid to freight little bottles of oil around the world!

My first order of business was to prep the bike and by that I mean clean the grotty chain. I have basically ignored the chain on this bike since I have owned it as it had been abused prior to my ownership and was on it's way out from Day 1.

This I did with some Maxima degreaser that I had been gifted. I would normally just use some kerosene in a squirt bottle but this stuff worked a treat. It also smelled nice and was apparently planet friendly.

Nice and clean...ish - hey, it's at it's stretch limit anyway, so y'know, who cares? The chain oiler is aimed at TLCing the new chain when it arrives. 😎

The included instruction manual is EXCELLENT and if you fcuk it up, well, maybe you should have someone buttering your toast in the mornings because you shouldn't be around sharp objects.... 🀨

Roger that Chief! Lets get this done!

Get started by drilling mounting holes for the delivery tube into the toe guard. Two would be enough.

I decided to mount the delivery tube on the inside of the toe guard as there was plenty of clearance from the chain and it might afford the tube some level of protection.

Next up, the oil reservoir. This can be a little tricky trying to find a place to mount it as it needs to be pretty much vertical - well, within 12 degrees of vertical. At least on an Adventure Bike there are plenty of bars and racks to screw things to! I settled on mounting to the inside of the pannier rack, at the rear - a position I hope will be safe from road debris and my soft pannier bags (when I mount them).

Routing the delivery hose by as safe-ish and (slightly) hidden a route was my desire but the supplied hose was short by about 5 centimetres! This meant that I couldn't hide it behind the pannier rack tube as I wished, so for the time being it looks like this. I will insert a short extension (one day) to tidy it up a bit more.
Here is the rest of the routing. remember, this is a utilitarian adventure bike. It is not a show bike. It is meant for using as the designer intended!

The next step was filling the reservoir and using the priming magnet to get the oil delivered to the sprocket. Simply done by opening the tap four turns and plonking the magnet on top to hold the needle valve open.

And there she goes!

Too early in the day for a beer.....(insert elevator music here to pass the time!)

And there we go!!

I used the "Tropical" weight oil as it is bloody hot here in Brisbane! Well, regularly above the 25 Celcius that they recommend for going up to the "Plus 25" oil.

From here it is simply a matter of following the instructions again, plus a bit of trial and error.

I seem to have the flow rate just right at almost exactly one turn open. This is dispensing just a very, very, VERY thin amount of oil onto the chain. You don't need very much at all, especially when it is being constantly applied. To put it into context, I expect the oil that I bought with this kit to last me a couple of years, as I still have well over half a bottle remaining from the oiler that was fitted to my BMW. Helping that is when off road I turn the supply off so as not to attract grit. Once on the sealed stuff again turning the flow back on effectively cleans the chain.

To complete the job, I had a new chain and sprockets fitted up today, along with the 24 000 kilometres service done (yep, sold another kidney!) and with this oiler I expect to get a lot more than 24 000km out of this chain. chain.....