Saturday, September 15, 2012

Old days revisited

At last the weather's starting to warm up and those chilly winds are getting less. Everyone tells me it's been a long cold winter but I was lucky enough to spend most of it Queensland so missed the worst of it in the early months.

So time to get the gear out & head out on the road for a bit of a burn. First thing I needed was a new helmet so I went online, did some research and in the end Peter Stevens gave me a better deal than I could get online.
I ended up with an Arai Corsair-V which is a beautiful lid - right weight, comfort and fit for my head. There's even an adjustable spoiler to reduce wind turbulence, however, it still generates a lot of wind noise and maybe even more than the previous Arai Vector I owned!
All the Arai helmets have had the visor vision extended by 10mm which is one of the more noticeable improvements.

So, I got to try it out a few weeks ago when we had a visit from an ex-pat from Adelaide - Pete came over for a week-end visit and we arranged a nostalgic burn down to Deans Marsh with Cam on the Daytona R.
Both Pete & I were itching to get on the Daytona & we both had our opportunity! The rain stayed away and it was the perfect day for a cruise down through the Otways.
We all had the chance to swap around bikes and Cam felt like he was a big sail in the wind when he rode the Speed 3 after the Daytona - he was getting knocked around like Mike Tyson in the upright position and couldn't wait to get back in behind the fairing on the 675R.
Martians was quiet except for a few dirt bike riders and it looked like it might have changed owners - I haven't been there for about a year & didn't recognise anyone. It didn't feel as welcoming and the coffee has definitely gone downhill! We hung around for a while & then took off on the trip home.
It was my turn on the Daytona and the first thing I did was stall it trying to get out on the road :-/
I thought, maybe I'm getting too old for these fast bikes where you need to sit like a jockey! Then I got out on the road... whaoooooo :-o It was awesome - what an experience - it howls and that's just with standard equipment! Once it's up to speed the riding position becomes quite comfortable - the hardest part is holding it back! The adjustable Ohlins suspension is incredible and makes cornering on those bumpy rodes feel uneventful. I loved every bit of it - except for the bits where I had to ride it at 60km/hr - then it becomes painful - mentally and physically :-)
It was great to see Pete & Leone again and I'm keen to get back over to SA later in the year to go an a few rides with Pete into the hills - the roads over there sound fantastic and the revenue collectors aren't as prolific as they are here in the 'we'll get you' state!
Anyway, looks like time to book a few long week-ends away and get a few more kms on the bikes. I can't wait for the weather to get warmer and the days longer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Awesome Geelong Coffee

I have to share my latest discovery that just happens to be right here in Geelong!
Having spent some time in Brisbane seeking out a decent coffee, I finally found an app that I could use to sniff out the best caffeine hit in town. It's called Beanhunter - and it works! If you only want the best coffee then this is the app for you! It kept me alive while I was in Brissy when I found a little South American owned cafe called SIP.
So now I'm back in Geelong, I thought I'd see what was rating highly in my home town. To my surprise it was a coffee shop in an industrial area called Breakwater - not the sort of place you'd expect to experience a good bean! So, I had to check it out... the place is called Cartel and it is truly unbelievable!
Driving through the industrial estate, I wasn't sure what to expect. Walking through the door was like walking into a coffee den - the roaster at one end of a cosy labyrinth with a mix of sofas and classic wooden tables and music that immediately injected a chill out vibe.
The staff are passionate about everything coffee and even tea - there was a tea room with 100+ different varieties. The coffee is roasted on-site and the roasting area is open so you can have a look. They do everything from expresso to plunger to drip coffee - I tried a cold drip filter coffee fr the first time and was amazed how good it was - straight out of the fridge. Some areas looked more like a science experiment from a school lab :-)
It's an educational experience, the staff all too eager to tell you about the origin of the beans, the way the coffee's produced and some background on the way it's grown and harvested. I love the place. There's even a picture of Her Majesty on the wall - what more could anyone want...
After a few amazing coffees & a few sampler expressos I was almost ready to run a marathon.
If you're a coffee or tea lover then you've got to visit when you're in Geelong. If you visit on a Saturday you might have to park a few blocks away as they reckon it get busy - I can understand why!
Check it out online -
Once the weather gets warmer & I get out on the bike then it'll definitely be a stop here on the way.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Where's the whales?

Brisbane River
After 5 months in BrisVegas it was time for my final flight back home to Geelong last week & the thermal long-johns have been on ever since :-) At least we're heading towards Spring in the next few weeks so with a bit of luck the sun should start moving higher in the sky so the days are longer and warmer.
Point Addis lookout

Anyway, the weather didn't stop a couple of us getting on two wheels & taking a trip down the Great Ocean Road last week.
It's been so long since I've ridden the GO road that I forgot how beautiful it is. The scenery really is breathtaking, and with the road snaking along the cliff edge it's got to be one of the most amazing places in Australia.
We'd heard there'd been a few Southern Right whales spotted along the coast near Apollo Bay so we were well armed with cameras ready to stop at a moments notice. The pillion on the Speed3 was the lookout!
The Arab Cafe - Lorne
It was the perfect day for a ride, sun shining, no rain and no wind. The road was a bit wet in places and there was quite a bit of damage to the bitumen just before Apollo Bay, but overall it was a steady, smooth ride with very little traffic to hold us up.
Our first stop with The Arab cafe in Lorne for a coffee - great to be sitting outside that iconic bike cafe again & the R1 still hangs above the serving area at the front. It's all kitted out ready for bikers with the outside coat hooks for jackets and little shelves outside for a bunch of bikers to rest their coffee cups while they tell each other tales of their motorbike adventures.
As always happens with bikers, we got chatting to another guy who pulled up on his latest purchase - a Spyder! He'd ridden bikes of all shapes & sizes all his life & decided to give the Spyder a try - he was actually still learning how to ride it - very different to riding 2 wheels he reckoned. Interestingly, he'd spend some time working in Leicester and because of his connection with the fire service, he did a tour of the Triumph Hinckley factory after the 2002 fire. He had some great stories.

As we were about to get up & leave we were visited by a friendly cockatoo - he was a cheeky fellow - came right over to us & gave a few naughty squawks asking for food!
We jumped back on the bikes for the best part of the road - the ride from Lorne to Apollo Bay. There was still no sign of whales but it was like a having a tonic getting out on those roads again and experiencing the awesome scenery.
With no whales in sight, we stopped for a bite to eat in Apollo Bay. Looking back at where we had come from looked bleak - dark clouds & overcast. It made us shiver thinking about riding back again.
Our assumptions proved right - as we headed back along the winding Great Ocean Road, the temperature dropped and even with double layers and thermals, it was chilling right through to the bone!
A quick ride via Bells Beach and a stop at Torquay but still no whales - maybe they've all gone north to Queensland where it's warmer :-)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Beautiful one day, perfect the next

Queensland... the longer I work and live in beautiful Brisbane the more I realise how wonderful this sub-tropical region really is - it's but still 20c on most days and the leaves are still on the trees!

Even the wildlife is amazing - there's a rustle in the bushes - then a bearded devils runs down the path in front of you...

It's been 4 months now since I agreed to come north and work for a few months - it wasn't hard! With thoughts of Winter in Melbourne and travelling on a public transport system that's overcrowded and unreliable, it was easy to say "Yes"!

The month after I started working in Brisbane, the commuter train from Melbourne to Geelong got stuck for 5 hours - easy to predict the Victorian public transport system! I've already sent Myki an e-mail telling them how fantastic the Brisbane GO card is for public transport - it was cheaper and it actually works!
The only thing left to do is get the Speed 3 up here to rip up the roads on the hinterlands around the Sunshine and Gold Coasts. I got a quote last week from a company called Bikes Only - the Triumph dealer in Brisbane recommended them - now I just need to organise it. I'm working with a bloke that tells me about his brother & the 5 Trumpy's in his garage - he's been giving me maps showing me some awesome rides and I plan to meet up with his brother on his Thruxton once I've got my wheels on the ground up here.
Another guy was telling me how good it is on the Queensland Raceway track - they have ride days that are cheap and it's easy to get in a few laps in the sessions.
The only thing I struggle to understand is the football up here, though the Lions are starting to draw the crowds. State of origin has everyone buzzing at the moment - lots of maroon jumpers in the street. If Queensland win the decider I've been told not to expect too many people at work tomorrow - where else but Queensland!
A couple of week-ends ago I had a surprise visit - Cameron, that's Leone's boy, turned up on his new Daytona 675 R. What a bike - Ohlins, Brembo's the works - it looks awesome & I'm sure it's amazing to ride.
I hear Pete's coming back in a couple of months & he'll be throwing a leg over that babe for sure! Cam's already made some additions with short levers and I'm hoping he gets that arrow nderseat pipe on there at some point. He's gonna have fun...
It was great to catch up with Pete & Leone recently when they drove over in the Roller - life in South Australia is definitely suiting them well. Next time Pete comes over I think it'll be time for a burn down to Deans Marsh to catch with with some old faces.