Published on October 11th, 2012 | by Guest Writer
BARNEY’S 2012 MOTOGP WEEKEND
My GP Weekend began at about 4:30 on the Wednesday prior. I went from home to the ferry terminal via the Frankford Highway, a terrific piece of road, unfortunately somewhat beset by trucks of various sorts. The demise of Tasmania’s forest industry has eased this a bit though. It was a good quick run, unhindered for the most part, until I came upon a slow moving B-double log truck who was being held up by a group of motorcyclists traveling amazingly slowly. He was being fairly aggressive in his attempts to encourage them to greater haste, and I can’t say I blame him really. As the road twisted and turned I waited, and scanned what was holding the truck up. A newish Guzzi, a couple of V-Stroms and something or other “adventure bike”-ish. These jizz sponges were doing maybe 70-80 km/h. The road was damp, but not enough to be a problem of any kind to anything.
I know this road well and bided my time, and as we rounded the bend leading onto a large uphill straight I made my move. The VFR issued a tumultuous clamour from the pipe and we passed the truck and the bikes who were maintaining a nice safe 100m gap between each of them. As I passed each bike there would be a big flinch and some swerving and wobbling, as these stains obviously were completely unaware that there may be anything behind them. I redlined three gears getting past them and was moving quite briskly as the ride leader shat himself while I blew by in a cacophonic cloud of magnificence. I glanced in the mirror at the wobbling conga line of herd animals who surely now regarded me as something else. I then had some more pressing thoughts as I returned my attention to the road in front of me. Where I passed these guys is a longish straight uphill. It goes over a bit of a crest and then quite quickly goes downhill and becomes a reasonably tight S-bend. I did all the brakey things and leany things and, having survived opened the taps and accelerated out briskly. In that few moments of “aaagh” heading into the turns my brain ran through the whole “aaawww those old bastards will laugh at me and say “I told you so” as they pick my body parts out of the trees.” It was definitely the thought of being embarrassed that got me around the corners.
I arrived at the Spirit terminal and took shelter under a small car porty thing as it was drizzling steadily now. I knew it’d be an age before they put us on board, and didn’t want to join the hundred or so other bovines standing in the rain in the marshaling yard. I sat quietly, nice and dry, and took a photo of my bike.
The damp riders in the yard looked on enviously. I should’ve taken a photo of them. After about 15 minutes or so a Guzzi and some V-stroms went past me, headed into the yard. Each of them gave me the “withering stare”. I looked back indifferently. The rain stopped. I moved into the yard. The bloke off the Guzzi approached me. I said “Gday Mark, howsit?” having realised he is a work-related contact I’ve known for years. Not a bad bloke, but painfully slow apparently. He introduced me to his mates as “That maniac from back up the road.” I gave them all my best shit eating grin and wondered how they’d lived this long.
The rest of the boat trip was uneventful. I had a beer with Wayne of Tas Motorcycle Transport who’d picked up a woe begotten soul whose Goldwing had decided to bust a clutch cable just before riding up the ramp onto the boat. Did him a freeby ‘cos that’s the kind of guy Wayne is.
Off the boat in the morning and off to MidLife Cycles to meet up with capitalist Catch who’d opted to fly over and use the spare bike he keeps garaged at the shop in Melbourne.
Catch and I then made our way out of the fishing village and headed for parts unknown. If only we knew how unknown our parts were going to be. We paused outside the Warburton pub and had a wee, before heading off and traversing the Reefton Spur. I know you Victorians rave about this thing, and it was okay, but we Tasmanians have so much more, so much emptier and police free, it’s hard to get excited about these things. At the top of the spur we came to a T junction. I pulled up alongside Catch and we looked at each other. He said to me: “I think we can go either way, and I think there’s a bit of dirt that way” gesturing to the right. I said to him: “I am unafraid of dirt, and besides there is a pink arrow someone’s painted on the sign indicating that right is the correct way.” Catch agreed and we swung right onto the gravel.
I should warn that I may exaggerate a bit in the next part. I only do so cos that’s what it felt like at the time.
Catch and I took turns leading and sucking each others dust. The gravel was thick, deep, loose and dry. Puckery moments were frequent, but we kept up a good pace. I was leading at one stage, and because I’m a good riding buddy I check my mirrors every so often to make sure my compatriots are with me, and I performed my check and noted Catch’s headlight was absent from my view. I pulled to the side of the road. I was on a steep hillside with many many burnt trees rising around me.
I sat and waited. After a while I thought I’d best go back, and headed back up the hill scanning the road for skid marks and the sides of the road for bike parts. Happily enough up at the top of the hill I found Catch and a pulled apart XJR.
He told me he had a puncture. We both had puncture kits of different types so we weren’t too worried. The hole was too big for plugs and we pumped a whole tube of slime into his wheel. We blew the tyre up with my handy dandy compressor and all was well. We kitted up and headed off for about another mile when the tyre gave up the ghost forever.
We were in a gully, with no phone reception, no more slime and no idea. After a bit I decided to grab Catch’s roadside assist card and ride up the road a bit trying for phone service. After about 3 kms I got to a large sign that read “Gap Getaways” near another sign that proclaimed I was at McAdams Gap. There was a driveway that led up the hill, so I went up there and there was phone service up at the top of the hill, as well as views of hilltop after hilltop stretching off into the distance.
I rang the roadside assistance people who had great trouble ascertaining where we were. I was looking at Google Maps on the iPad while talking to the girl but simply couldn’t find anything to reference. I asked if she understood coordinates. I told her how far we were from Woods Point. She was really struggling. She kept putting me on hold and disappearing for extended times and then coming back to me to ask if I needed a hire car or a hotel room and other such things. I kept telling her that we needed someone with a trailer or someone who could come out and fix/replace a bike tyre. Eventually she came back and said that because we were more than 50k’s from “transport” there would be an excess.
I asked her how much and she put me on hold again. I figured: “surely an excess is a fixed amount?” she came back and said that as we were so far away it would be $750. I wondered aloud at the enormity of this. I assume that rather than “excess” she meant “charge”. I also assumed that the 15 minute periods I spent on hold were while she rang towing places and got prices. We were about 60 kms from Marysville. I didn’t think we were $750 away from anything.
I less than politely declined the kind offer of really expensive free roadside assistance.
A gentleman called John rang back and got all defensive and said they’d give $250 towards any help we were able to get ourselves. I said: “Thank you John, now I must go and attempt to provide roadside assistance to my friend.” This all took about an hour and a half, standing on a mountaintop with an icy storm blowing in. Catch had been sitting by the side of the road in a gully with no idea what was going on. I rode back to avail him of the situation. We stood around for a while and wondered what to do. I decided to ride back up to the Gap Getaway and see if the publican could help us.
I should mention that I’d put out the word on BIKE ME! that we were in a bit of strife while I was talking to the young lady and people started ringing to see if they could help.
The publican rang a couple of mates, but we weren’t getting anywhere. Anyhow, as it turns out, BIKE ME! member Noodles went above and beyond, knocked off work, rented a van, grabbed his set of tie downs and drove the 4 hours to rescue Catch.
I rode back down to where Catch had been sitting in the cold for another hour and told him what was happening. We hid his gear in the scrub and left the Yamaha and I doubled him up to the pub. Two fat blokes and a ton of gear on a roadbike on a really shitty road does not a fun time make. There were some unpleasant feeling moments. We had a beer in the pub. I was now about 5 o’clock and I was getting edgy. My choices were:
1. Hang about until Noodles got there with a van and try and stuff two bikes in and return to Melbourne with them
2. Ride back to Melbourne, or
3. Push on to Mansfield and catch up with Catch in the morning.
I chose the latter, opting to leave Catch at the pub to await Noodles. I wasn’t keen on riding that road in the dark.
And that road went on forever. It was slippery and dusty and so fucken remote. There is very little in that part of the world. Matlock is an intersection, Woods Point is a cluster of buildings in a steep gully. I think they eat solo travellers on motorcycles. A1 Mine Settlement is a mine. There are a fair few brick chimneys poking out of the scrub indicating where houses were before the bushfires a few years ago.
I stopped and had a wee and took a photo.
I cannot emphasise enough how much I did not enjoy this road. Except the last bit. Once the gravel stopped and it became bitumen it was really nice and quiet, twisty and smooth. I went all fast and swoopy, as I’d been doing 30-40 km/h for hours and it felt really good to wind it on a bit. I went really fast along the straight bits toward Mansfield as I was beyond caring.
About here I shall include a map for your edification and reference.
- A. Where the pink arrow was.
- B. Where I found Catch.
- C. Where I left Catch
- D. the entrance to the weirdest pub in the world.
- E. approximately where the gravel stopped.
Street view works for most of it. Go and have a look.
I arrived at the Delatite Hotel in Mansfield at around 7:30 or so. The sun was just setting. I rode straight past it. I went back and there were all these blokes waving their arms about. It was a welcome sight. There was talk and laughter and man-hugs and many travellers tales involving speed, punishment and violence. Me, I was just tired and full of dust. That first beer that Boris pressed into my trembling hand was like ambrosia. I ate and drank and unwound before making my way to the presidential suite Catch had booked us.
The bed was comfy and the sheets smelt clean. It was okay. Nothing bit me.
I was woken around 6 am by some Serbian pichka stomping up and down the corridor in his boots and shouting. I ignored him and went back to sleep.
I arose when most of the others did and went and enjoyed my sumptuous included breakfast of toast and cheap instant coffee. People headed off in different directions. Jamie headed off to look for a bike shop that could fix broken Ducatis.
I headed for Melbourne via the Black Spur as I’d never been there. Again, not so impressed really. I stopped for a wee and a photo.
I arrived back at Midlife Cycles at some point and washed the bike a bit. I think it contained about a yard of dust and gravel. We proceeded to the Holy Isle via a fairly direct route I think. Arriving at our sumptuous Buckets-provided lodgings, I found Zepplin and family already ensconced with the fire lit.
Catch and I went up the road and got a souvlaki and went back to the house and drank beer.
Cowes was a bit boring Friday night.
Saturday we arose early and did the Woodsy memorial ride before breakfasting at the Euphoria with the collective.
We spent Saturday arvo at the track and watched Stoner blitz everybody. Repeatedly.
We did the Saturday night thing at the Euphoria amidst much hilarity and general bonhomie. I think I started many conversations with many people that night and didn’t finish many of them. If I did wander off on anyone please don’t think badly of me, I have a short attention span and am easily distracted.
It was good to meet people I hadn’t met before and it was good to catch up with old friends.
Sunday Catch and I had a master plan which came off to perfection. First we went to the Coffee Nazi’s shop for breakfast. We noted he had put up a quiz on the board in the shop.
We then went up to the track in the middle of the day just a bit before the Moto3 race. No queues. Rode straight in and parked, walked in the gate. Quick as.
We left straight after the Moto2 race. Again straight out of the bike park, no queues, no cars on the road, no coppers. We went straight to the Rossi Supporters Lounge and watched the race in an emptyish room on a big TV, seated in a comfy chair with an icy beer.
Mick passed comment.
It was perfect really. I’m guessing Rossi is looking forward to next year when there is no chance Stoner will beat him to the finish line by 30 seconds or so.
Sunday night We did the Big Fat Greek dinner which was excellent. Res was in hysterics pretty much the whole time.
Monday, Catch and I rode through Gippsland to Wilsons Promontory and just had a generally pretty decent day bumbling around on bikes. We gently raped roads and stopped and looked at views and things.
Tuesday we made our way back to Melbourne, after assisting Mick with some logistics involving cars and that. We got to the shop and washed bikes and talked to the nice ladies in the coffee shop next door and had many coffees before going our separate ways.
I laid in the shade of a palm tree near the ferry terminal and read as I awaited the boat. It was about 33 degrees in Melbourne on Tuesday and I was a sweaty and tired mess.
I boarded, ate and went to bed. I’d unfortunately been billeted with two really snorey bastards and didn’t get a lot of sleep.
The hours ride home was nice, and I arrived at the house to find my darling wife had taken the day off and was in bed all ready to receive me.
It was a pretty decent week really. There’s probably lots I’ve forgotten to say.