Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DBMA Part 4 - Colac to Arthurs Seat

Daws Brothers Motorcycle Adventures - Colac to Arthurs Seat

Sunday morning saw us up relatively early (well, early for the Sunday of a long weekend!) and on the bikes by about 8:20.  The plan was to take the ferry across from the Bellarine Peninsula over to the Mornington Peninsula, and given our disappointment with the traffic on the Great Ocean Road the day before, we elected to take the direct route to Queenscliff rather than try our luck with the coast road up from Lorne.

The two most important tips from that Sunday morning are these: motorcycle touring is all about layers, and sunax sunax sunax sunax sunax!

I had prepared for our weekender with almost delirious optimism, choosing my vented summer jacket and summer gloves, and packing only tee-shirts.  Given I've got almost 50,000Kms of experience commuting in Melbourne weather I really ought to have known better, but sometimes enthusiasm and excitement can overshadow logical reasoning!  It was a brisk 10 degrees when we got on the bikes, and with some windchill calculations estimating a -10 degree differential, the perceived temperature out on the freeway was pretty bloody cold!  I was wearing both my tee-shirts for that leg of the trip, but instead let me what I should have packed:
  • long sleeve thermal top (I got mine from Snowgum)
  • lightweight long sleeve top (to wear over a tee-shirt)
  • wind-breaker jacket (again, I got mine from Snowgum)
  • non-ventilated gloves OR glove liners
 Embarrassingly I own all these items... it just didn't occur to me to pack them.  But there's a tip in there for new motorcyclists: when you're choosing a jacket for winter / all seasons, ensure that you can put it on with two layers on underneath.  If you can fit a thermal undershirt and wind-stopper jacket on underneath your leather jacket, you're good to go even in pretty ridiculously cold weather.  Still on the topic of buying yourself a jacket - do your research on spine protectors first and decide what spine protector/s you are going to use; that way you can have that spine protector on/in when you try on the jacket.

If you drive a car you're no doubt accustomed to flicking the visor down when you're traveling directly into the sun at a low angle.  Motorcyclists don't enjoy that particular luxury, and there's been many a time I have ridden along with my left hand up shielding my eyes from the glare of the morning sun.  Well, no more I tell you!  My sunax arrived late last week and I couldn't be happier with the results!  It has the same effect as the tinted band across the windshield that many cars sport these days - you can still see through it so vision is not impaired, but the glare and intensity of the sun is cut dramatically.  I can't believe it took me 3 years of riding before I got off my arse and bought one of these.

Anyway, one hour and twenty minutes of highway riding saw us arrive at the Queenscliff ferry terminal in time for the 10am ferry.  I've got to say these guys really have their act together when it comes to motorbikes - no need to tie it down, they just put you in the centre of the boat where there is the least motion, and you can come down to check on the bike at any time during the 40 minute crossing.  We met another rider on the trip across who recommended being at/on the bike when it reaches the other end as there can be a jolt when it docks at the terminal which could be enough to roll a bike off its centre or side stand.  We stayed with the bikes until the ferry had pulled out, and then it was upstairs to the cafe for a finger-thawing coffee and croissant for breakfast.

It's a pretty pleasant crossing as it is - the bay is smooth, there are tables to sit at, the coffee is good and the duration is short.  To be able to make landfall just a short ride from Arthurs Seat - a ride through some pretty picturesque scenery - made the ferry that much better for us on our whirlwind tour of some of Victoria's better motorcycling roads.  But I have to say that it was the dolphins playing in the wake kicked up by the ferry that was the highlight of the crossing.  There's something incredible about seeing wild creatures frolicking in their natural environment.  I would gladly take the ferry again over and over, just in the hope of seeing the dolphins again.  Better entertainment than the zoo for my money!

Off the ferry and onto the last stage of our little adventure, the ascent to Arthurs Seat.  This was my first visit to this particular strip of bitumen but by no means will it be my last!  The two hairpins are a bit too tight for my preference - I definitely enjoy the faster sweepers more - but in terms of Smiles Per Kilometer this is one of the highest scoring roads I've ridden... at least it was on the one clear run we had up the mountain.  Unfortunately we'd timed our visit to arrive just before lunchtime, so by the time we'd stopped there for coffee and scones, there was a (very) slow and steady procession of cars coming up the mountain which prevented us from getting another clean run through the twisties, up or down.

The nice thing about roads like this one is that you don't need to be going stupidly fast to really enjoy the ride.  Most of these corners it would be nearly impossible for me to speed through even if I wanted to, which means that even when I'm pushing myself to corner harder and faster, I still have no fear of being pinged for speeding!  Which is a relief since it really does free up the mind to concentrate on cornering lines, lean angles, and generally not pushing oneself so hard that one is in danger of coming off.

After coffee and scones we had a couple more attempts at the run, but were foiled by cars both up and down.  Finally it was time to say goodbye to Arthurs Seat and we headed off down some of the back roads to find a few more sweepers, before it was time for Ali and I to part company and for me to point my bike back towards home.  All in all a sensational weekend out on the bike, and the kind of trip that we will have to endeavour to do more often! 

Trip Statistics
Distance: 673 km
Fuel: 46.84 L

Mileage: 5.74 L/100 km
Fuel cost: $77.12 total, $25.71/Day, $0.095/km
Accommodation: $95

Food: $30
Coffee: $28
Ferry: $35.50

Total Cost: $265.62

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