Thursday, September 27, 2012

Strathbogie in the Spring

Today the weather was too nice not to ride.  I did another loop that took me through Yea, Highlands up to Euroa, but this time I returned via Strathbogie up in the mountains.  

Quiet places in the sun, all to myself:

And waterfalls and creeks all dancing with light:

Leading to a warm evening....

Another 400km of cruising and contemplating.  Riding is a wonderful time to work through problems and make sense of what questions need asking.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nyah, Damien, Jeff

I just returned from an overnight ride with two friends, Damien and Jeff, to Nyah and back.  I have wanted to share with friends the route which I've ridden when travelling to visit my Mum, a route which has become rather special to me.  

The first step was to head up the Calder Freeway to Woodend and across to the springs and gushing blowhole of Hepburn.  From there onwards we were to pass through nineteenth century gold-digging country for many miles.  This is a country of hills, of soft soil and scraggy bush.  At Maldon we climbed the tower to look out over our route and the surrounding country.   

North of Maldon I led the group on single lane, empty ribbons of tar through green paddocks and yellow canola, through townships such as Eddington, Dunnoly, and Moliagul...stopping here and there to look at the whatever took our fancy.

Our intermediate destination was Melville Caves.  These are named after the bushranger who used them as a base during the nineteenth century to rob gold-rush travellers.  I usually visit them on my own with no people about, which can be eery, so it was a different kind of exploration this time, but a very fun one.

Just after leaving the caves I almost collided with a massive eagle which avoided me with a slow woosh, woosh of its massive wings.  

We made for Wedderburn and petrol, but the station was closed.  So we pushed on through those tiny gatherings of houses and pub that dot the road to Boort.  The light faded as we rode on and on.  At the Kerang I stood, ate a Freddo Frog, and watched a Royal Enfield being ridden up and down the street! The rider pulled over and we had a nice chat.

It was night when we left Kerang.  Damien was riding my old SR500 which he recently bought from me, and he was feeling strained on it, so we swapped bikes and I led on the SR into the night.

It was a beautiful night and the Spring air was delicious in that way known only to motorcyclists.  I loved the the drone and hum of the SR as I chased my headlight into the rise and fall of the dark road. Until that headlight died and all was dark!

The inside of the switch had collapsed.  We had no knife to hotwire the headlight itself, so with limited tools I smashed the useless unit apart and played with the wires in the dark, creating light once again.

As we neared Nyah the air changed and I could smell the Murray River.  It was a wonderful night ride!  This great song was on repeat in my head.

The next day I took the fellows south via a different route, through riverina country.

Given how much activity we enjoyed over these two days I did not take many photos.

We stopped at the Pyramid Hill where once Major Mitchell, the first European to come to this country, stood and reflected on the life that settlers would one day make here.

The further we rode, the more Damien's SR500 began spewing petrol, so in Bendigo we stopped and it was Damien's turn to do some repairs with limited tools - a publican loaned us a bottle opener with which he trimmed the fuel hose.

We sailed down the McIvor Highway and through twists and turns into Melbourne.  Another ride passed into memory to enrich the store.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ruffy to Longwood

Yesterday I enjoyed 400km through my favourite roads again.  The day was overcast but it was as pleasant as ever.  Here are two photos on the twisting route between Ruffy and Longwood.

As always I had the roads completely to myself.

When I reflect on the matter I sometimes find it curious that my enthusiasm for riding simply does not wane, despite the years coming and going.  I guess this makes sense given how I feel when I roll through these empty roads experiencing utter peace and pleasure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Bullet opens up new places, new pleasures

The wonderful thing about the Bullet is that it is so slow, and yet so much fun.  Sitting here on a rainy day, I look up and the sky has cleared.  In my mind's eye I can see the Bullet parked out front.  I put down my book and, on a whim, go riding.  Running through the eastern suburbs of Melbourne there are scenic, empty roads.  These surfaces snake their way through the parklands surrounding the Yarra River, all the way out to the country.  Down these roads I putter along at 45kph like an upright English gentleman.  Sometimes there is a family strolling along the footpath and we wave to each other.

While learner riders have so much fun cruising around the city, for an experienced motorcyclist who does a lot of weekend miles and has to commute every day by bike, I find city-riding a chore for the most part.  But on the Bullet, with the right roads, I can spend all day on green, leafy lanes alongside the Yarra.  Puttering along, having a wonderful time, life in the character-filled slow lane is a wonderful thing.  You would never think I was in the midst of the suburbs.  I wouldn't even consider joy-riding through these areas on my fast 650 twin, but they come alive on the Royal Enfield.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Soaked to the bone

"He who knows how to breath in the air of my writings is conscious that it is the air of the heights, that it is bracing. A man must be built for it, otherwise the chances are that it will chill him. The ice is near, the loneliness is terrible - but how serenely everything lies in the sunshine! How freely one can breath! How much, one feels, lies beneath one!"

Today I rode over the Reefton Spur to see if there was any snow left.  It poured rain and I was sodden and freezing.  But it was still fun to be out.

And what a pleasure it was to descend from the mountain and experience, closer to sea level, the warmth of a Spring day even when it was considered a cold one.  The chill is permanently gone from the air.

It is also fun, in a childish way, to have all the cars slow right down due to their fear of driving in the heavy rain and - feeling the sure-footed-ness of the bike - to over-take them like a Norse hero with a belly full of laughter, the kind of laughter that scorns the storm.

I merely hope, mortal that I am, that I don't fall ill from the chill I experienced on the mountain - I was feeling affected in my soaked and speeding state - as I have glorious rides awaiting me in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The first rite of spring

Today was a glorious day.  Blue sky and sun, a temperate air.  Even as I sit here writing at 1AM the back door beside me is open, and I have just finished a night-time cruise through the city on the Bullet in goggles and a pudding basin helmet, such is the hint of the warmth.  But today's journey was made astride the fast and capable W650.  What a wonderful motorcycle!  Perfect in its power, character, beauty.

That photo is just beyond Caveat.  I rode to my favourite places, beyond Highlands, on empty roads past utopian farm houses.

I rode where ever I fancied.

I had no map to guide me as I followed unknown paths down to rivers, creeks and quiet places.

All the while the sunshine was my companion, harbinger of a golden Spring.  Herald of sun-bleached paddocks in Summer.  And of who I am yet to be: may selves in motion that are yet to come.