Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mickey Bourke's Annual Ride

What's the weather going to be like on the week-end was the question I kept asking as it got closer to our day of departure on Saturday morning. We were off on a week-end trip to Koroit staying at Mickey Bourke's pub.

It's a ride that was initiated by Rob & Priscilla from Melbourne years ago and has become an annual pilgrimage. Last year I departed the group at Lavers Hill, deciding to come home instead of heading on to Koroit, but when I pulled away I made a promise to go all the way this year - and I didn't regret it!
We all met at Moriac outside the little general store that has extended into a little coffee shop - even boasting the best coffee in Geelong. A couple of the guys tried the brew & I didn't hear any complaints so can only assume it must be ok. I'll definitely be stopping to try it next time I pass that way. All up there was 9 bikes with the trumpy's having the majority.
Bill was on his new GS1200 - an awesome bike that provided the capability to raise and lower the suspension as he rode along - handy on those dirt roads through the bush! Geoff & Bill had recently ridden the BMW GS1200s to Queensland and back - they're definitely the bike to use for touring - I wonder how the new Triumph Tiger matches up...
Our first stop was at Martians which was being invaded by the Volkswagen comby club - there were all shapes & sizes & colours in the car park - a bunch of surfies had been returned by aliens and dropped off in Deans Marsh!
Next stop was Apollo Bay via Skenes Creek Rd through Forrest and Barwon Downs. It wasn't the best ride - wet roads and lots of cautious cars doing 40 km/hr and not wanting to let us pass-very frustrating. It was good to reach Apollo Bay for lunch.
I think it was Rob's idea that we take a photo opportunity by the harbour - problem was, half of us didn't know where exactly it was. So there was a bit of a tour of the general area before we found our way to eventually regroup and line up for the
group photo.
First lesson learned - don't tie a knot in the cord that holds the ventura waterproof cover on the bag - you won't get it off... especially when you need to get stuff out of the bag. Well, Minger could have been without his pyjamas all week-end if P wasn't a knot undo expert :-)
We left Apollo Bay and there's not much I can say about the ride to Apollo Bay - it was awesome & we all had a fantastic ride through that beautiful rain forest and then the lush green valley up to Lavers Hill - we talked about it non-stop when we stopped. Rob S would have been smiling for days after that ride on the Daytona...

Then the road to Port Campbell which is different but just as much fun - the first and only cop on the trip sat outside Port Campbell in a 4x4 with his radar pointed directly at us - he must have been disappointed when we all saw him and stayed within the limit!

Heading out of Port Campbell there was some great stretches of road with big sweepers and a big burn with the RC8 and the flying Daytona left me tingling (and smiling :-))
It was great to finally reach Mickey Bourke's in Koroit - we were all looking forward to relaxing with a cold drink. It's an old Irish Pub with lots of character & I felt at home right away.

Koroit was a farming town populated by Irish immigrants and had potatoes as it's main crop. Now it's dairy farms with wafts of fresh warm milk hitting you as you ride past the processing plants.

The cider and guinness started flowing in the pub with stories of the days ride. Bill shared his incredible stories of riding a Yamaha 400 across the world from Singapore in the 70s - even riding through Afghanistan and the middle east - made me realised I haven't really lived. I would love an evening sitting just listening to Bill's stories - better than Charlie & Ewan!
The food was perfect and for a country pub it was impressive. Jane's calamari didn't last long when she offered to share.
A few glasses of the local pinot & it was time to invade the pool room and get the jukebox cranked up. It reminded me of a night with the Geelong RATs in Bronte Park Tassie - we played pool, drank beer and rocked the night away with the jukebox bashing out our favorite tunes form the 80s & 90s. Rowan, the youngest amongst us must have wondered what he'd let himself in for - surrounded by these aging rockers singing along to Bob Marley & Queen :-)
Team Mac were doing well on the pool table until we had to call on the reserve when one half of the team disappeared - that's when Team Stokes got the opportunity to claim victory.
After a good night’s sleep - in between truck compression braking, we all had a hearty breakfast & got the bikes fired up.

The plan was to take a ride around the old volcano at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve and stop off in the Information Centre. It's an amazing place & straight away we spotted several Emus in dense undergrowth by the lake. They're huge bird & I'm glad they don't get angry with motorbikes...
It's definitely well worth a visit - lots of local aboriginal history, geology and if you want photos of Emus, Wallabies and Koalas then a few hours there would probably make sure you get a bit of everything.
Priscilla suggested we swap bikes as I'd never ridden a Daytona 675 and I’d mentioned the night before that I'd love the chance to try one.

First challenge was sitting on it – what a difference to the Speed Triple! Once I was on there and the cramps in my hips subsided, my immediately thoughts (apart from being an old bugger) was, they’ll need a winch to get me off again! But, it wasn’t long before I actually loved the riding position – everything feels so compact and busy compared to the Speed 3 but it was amazing how good it felt once we were out on the open road.

That characteristic howl that comes with the 675 engine takes on a new meaning as you open the throttle. We headed back in the direction of Warrnambool and then took off up the Hopkins Highway towards Mortlake – a fairly boring road with a few good sweepers here & there.

In the end the Daytona felt so good I didn’t want to get off… but Priscilla wanted her beautiful bike back :-)

Cobden was the place picked for a fuel stop – according to Rob’s GPS it was a Mobil servo but when we got there it was a Shell servo that had just stopped trading that day! I think I saw Cobden 3 times within half an hour & at one stage started feeling dizzy – ahhh technology, whatever happened to good ole paper maps – maybe it’s the baby boomer in me J

A stop for lunch at Bucks in Camperdown and then it was off to somewhere – we didn’t really know where… all was going well, scenery was awesome and roads exactly how you want them on a bike.

Next we doubled back through Terang, Timboon, Scotts Creek and Simpson making our way towards Lavers Hill.

Then came the elephant in the bush – a dirt road up ahead. My first thought was – we can trust Rob, it’s probably only a couple of kilometres. Big mistake – 14 km’s later and a bush dirt road with corrugation, mud, stones as big as boulders, all in the depths of the rain forest.

My mind flashed back to a few years ago – crossing the mountains on a dirt road one of our ride group got separated and stuck out on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere with a puncture – it was a nightmare. But in the end we made it to the bitumen & I could understand Charlie & Ewan’s joy when they kissed the bitumen road after days on dirt. We all had a good laugh about it as we pulled up - we'd survived...

Lavers Hill was at the end of the road from hell and it just got worse – the sky opened up with hail and the temperature dropped – this was really testing us. But we pushed on, up the Cape Otway road and it dried out giving us the last taste of excitement as we pulled uphill towards Geelong.

We soon reached the point of separation; the Melbourne crew pushing on to get fuel and on to the highway back home and the two Geelong bikes having just a 30-minute ride to a warm shower.

It was a great week-end, plenty of great roads and good company – I’m already looking forward Mickey Bourke’s 2012 J

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