Friday, October 19, 2012

First hot ride of the new season: Eildon-Jamieson Road

Today was forecast for 27 degrees and sunny.  It was the first 'hot' riding day of the new season so how could I miss it?  Well, quite easily, perhaps, when I woke up to thunder and rain.  I lay my head back down, but ten minutes later sunshine streamed in through the window, my multiple alarms (yes, I need them) went off, and I stepped forward into a full day of blessed motorcycling.  

I rode via Yarra Glen and the Black Spur to Eildon, where I sat burning myself in the sun and eating some delicious abomination called a 'pig dog' (a hot dog with many things).  Then it was over to the main event of the day, a run on the Eidlon-Jamieson Road.  60km of endless twisties.  

I have done this road in the past, before it was sealed:

But now it is sealed and flowing.  On a road of constant turns, left, right, left, bespeckled by shafts of sun yellow or green depending on whether the trees mediated its light, I felt like a baby rocked in a cradle.  I picked up an easy rhythm, averaging a lazy 60kph.  At the heights I looked over valleys and water. 

And in the low places I sat by that glittering water and green light.

It was another wonderful journey, a day of unfurling speed and pleasure.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rediscovering Reefton

Yesterday was one of those days when you rediscover wonderful, simple pleasures which you had forgotten.

One simple pleasure was that of riding through a warm, summer's day.  We are mid-way through spring and it will get much hotter, but yesterday it was warm enough for me to ride in my open-face helmet, with no scarf, wearing my summer gloves and enjoying the air on my skin.

It is also a simple pleasure to ride with others.  My friend Rosy joined my for the first third of my ride and we leisurely chatted over a long lunch.  I've been feeling a bit lonely on my rides of late.  Although riding often has the function of giving me precious time alone, yet my tastes do come and go, and lately I have wanted to share the adventures.

All of this combined with the pleasure of enjoying that well-trammeled loop, the Black and Reefton Spurs.  I had forgotten what such a delight these roads can be.  I ride the Black Spur often, usually without traffic.  We were to ride the Black Spur before lunch, but because the traffic was banked up for miles outside of Healesville Rosy and I changed direction and travelled via Yarra Junction to Warburton for lunch.  That meant that after she left I began a loop of these two spurs travelling in the opposite direction to usual (I usually start from Healesville with the Black Spur and end at Warburton).

The reason I don't ride the Reefton Spur often is because it is a favourite haunt of sports bikies, which means there are many riders on there whose ambition out-strips their ability.  I don't want to repeat this experience.

However I hit Reefton just after lunch when the roads were more quiet, and only passed the odd rider or sports car.  Otherwise it was an empty, beautiful, never-ending set of sun-soaked twisties.  I doddled along at a cruising pace, feeling full of the pleasure of motorcycling.

As I rode music from The Felice Brothers played on repeat in my mind; songs such as this and this.  What a wonderful day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Bullet goes to Yea

The Bullet was taken on it's first hard-working ride today.  Previously it has meandered along slow twisty roads but today I made a 240km round trip on the more demanding road to Yea, via Kangaroo Ground and King Lake.   

I found that with the current Indian parts the bike feels happy with a top cruising speed of 75-80kph.  It pleases me to know that when it is rebuilt the engine will be an article of modern, high-quality English engineering and production, thanks to the parts available from Hitchocks in England.  I already have the mated Alpha roller big end bearing and Hitchcocks conrod sitting in a drawer, and the rest of the parts will be cheap by comparison.

I am offering a number of photos, from slightly different angles, because I cannot decide between them - this is such a beautiful bike!

And it rides beautifully too!  On the SR500 I used to fantasise that I was riding a 1950s British motorcycle.  Now I am!  There is no pretending.  And while it does not have the ability of the SR to push hard without fear of engine failure, yet it does have all else I could have wanted.  It feels wonderful to sit upright and ride along on a motorcycle that is so beautiful.  Were the roads not sealed it might have been the 1950s (well, the 1950s with mobile phones and roadside assist, and cappuccinos in Australian country towns).  The Bullet plods along at low revs in a way the SR never could, its heavy flywheel rolling away.  That's what I wanted, a bike which is pure old-fashioned torque and plod.

Despite being only 120km each way, it took me two and a half hours in each direction.  These roads include some downhill, decreasing radius corners which I usually have to remind myself to slow down for.  There was no question of that on the Bullet, and I thudded along like a fast bicycle.  I noticed myself becoming increasingly relaxed as I rode.  Everything felt predictable, yet pleasant, new, fresh, and detailed in the sun because the slow speed meant I could spread my attention across more things and take in the countryside. Oddly I noticed how much more a part of the scene I felt.  It is often said of a motorcycle that the rider feels much more connected to the world that does a car driver.  This is absolutely true, magically so.  But I felt that the Bullet can be compared to a modern motorcycle in the same way.  At these slower, patient speeds on this character-filled motorcycle I felt much more connected with the machine and the surroundings than I could on anything modern.