12 January, 2010

Mountain Madness 2010

It never stops in the hectic world of motorcycle touring, and Kimie and I were off again on the annual Mountain Madness jaunt on the 1st of January. This is the 10th time this particular ride has been run and I've ridden around 7 of them - only missing out on the 1st and a couple of others due to unavailability / precarious licence situations.

This year was a rather gentler run than usual as we had two female riders in the group (one on a 250) as well as a support vehicle to accommodate those riders who were not up to the full ride (this included our illustrious leader Loyd who is still recovering from broken fingers on each hand as a result of an off-road tumble on his R1200GS a couple of months back). With a couple of late cancellations we were down to 11 bikes (or 10 bikes and a Burgman as some preferred to describe things) for this trip.

Day 1 started off bright and early as we had all made sure not to grow any cobwebs overnight by overindulging on New Year's Eve. Our route took us out through the Melba Highway to Healesville where the twisty sections of road began. I had prepped B2, my new Burgman, by installing YSS emulators up front and unfortunately I didn't get the settings quite right. Whilst the Burgie performed admirably through the smooth curves of the Black Spur it was not a bed of roses as soon as the road became a little bumpier. Nevertheless this didn't stop us having fun.

After lunch at Myrtleford the group split and Tony and I (and our respective pillions) did a quick ride to the top of Mt Buffalo whilst the rest of the riders continued over the top of Falls Creek (ski resort) to Angler's Rest. We finally arrived at Angler's Rest around 7pm, settling into our cabin, and having a quick meal, before the temperature dropped and the heavens opened.

 The following morning it was a rather subdued ride to Omeo around what would otherwise have been fantastic tight curvy roads. The gentle rain, gravel and mud from water runoffs and tree debris certainly put a dampener on our enthusiasm but the Burgman once again handled the slippery roads with aplomb (due to the consistent power of the CVT) whilst the other riders had numerous scary moments as their bikes lost traction through the curves.

After Omeo it was an interesting ride through an erstwhile brilliant riding road down to Bruthven.

The rain continued off and on throughout the day and as a result the majority of the group elected to take the short cut down the Pacific highway to Eden from Orbost rather than the more interesting ride via Bombala.

By the next morning, howver, the roads had dried out nicely and it was time to make our way back inland to Jindabyne at the base of the Snowy Mountains.

We had lunch at the cheese factory in Bega and made a big mistake in not filling up as I thought I could buy fuel in either Bemboka or Nimitabel, but alas this was not to be the case as both towns have closed down their only service stations. This was particularly worrying as I had been pushing rather hard up Brown Mountain (as attested to by my well ground centrestand) and I knew I wouldn't make it to Cooma. Slowing down to 80kmh we attempted to eke the fuel out as far as we could only to feel the Burgie die 8km short. Tony had been riding slowly ahead and turned around as soon as he saw us stopping. A quick search of the roadside debris unearthed an empty mineral water bottle whilst Tony got started removing the tank of his Triumph so we could drain 1/2 a litre of petrol. This was sufficient to get the Burgie firing on both cylinders again and after putting things back together we rode the 5 minutes to the local Caltex in Cooma and filled up.

In Jindabyne we were spending two nights with a spare day to use at your leisure. Considerate of my pillion, Kimie and I elected to ride the short distance (40km) to the top of Charlotte's Pass and trek the 20km return trail to the top of Mt Kosciuszko - Australia's highest mountain. It was a refreshingly cool 14C day and we (together with many other hikers) thoroughly enjoyed the exercise.

The following day we left Jindabyne bright and early - stopped briefly in Thredbo so Kimie could reminisce about her first skiing adventures there 24 years earlier - and had a wild and woolly ride to Tallangatta as conditions varied between heavy rain with thunder and lightning, and 40C heat.

The Tallangata council pool offered much needed respite from the heat and we - unlike most of our fellow riders - were able to cool down sufficiently to enjoy a good night's sleep in our otherwise uncooled rooms.

The last day of our journey saw us stop off at Bonegila and Beechworth before a leisurely ride down the Hume to home, and an opportunity to relax in our regular surroundings.

Already planning has started for next year’s ride, with Loyd handing over the reins to all comers. Suggestions include a lap or Tassie – with or without a map – so stay tuned.