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Old 11-22-2011, 05:45 PM   #1
7days1shower OP
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Intro & 1st Ride Report - Eastern Australia, Alpine Loop

Hey guys, been a lurker for a while so when I undertook a "longer than usual" ride a couple of weekends ago, its finally given me a chance to post up a ride report here….apologies in advance though if its too long winded or just boring in general, hopefully I’ll get better with time though.

Since this is my first report, I thought I would take this chance to first write a bit about myself, why I enjoy riding, some stuff I’ve done and how I found myself to be on ADVRider. Understandably, this may not interest everyone, so please feel free to go to the 2nd post to go straight to the RR :)

Im a 24yr old working full time from the Western Suburbs of Sydney, NSW (Australia), into cars, bikes and travel :).

Started riding at 17 on a 1988 RG125 that my dad bought brand new and I jumped onto it with only 1500kms on the clock. (Australian licensing regulations means that for the first 1.5yrs I had to get a bike within a certain power range)

Got this as my first ‘big’ bike, a 2007 GSXR600, decided on it by going into Google Images and seeing what looked good. In hindsight, a 750 would’ve been nice for some extra straight line performance (mainly on track – After a dozen or so track days in a few months and nearly 3 years of ownership, ive just ordered my first mods for the bike from Michigan, still on the way to Aus!).

During this time, was also getting into travelling the world and riding whenever I got the chance. I didn’t know about the whole adventure riding scene or that people even rode bikes around the world, all I knew was that I wanted to ride whenever and wherever I could! Done the following rides overseas so far during my backpacking trips.

- 2 day trip from Chiang Mai to Pai in Northern Thailand on a Honda Phantom

- Anniversary run of “GhostRiders Phuket SportBike Club” in Southern Thailand on a Yamaha R1

- Day trips in Southern Thailand on a CBR400

- 5 day trip in Northern Thailand (Mae Hong Son Loop). My first extended duration ride, only 800km, but felt like a lot to me back then. (On a CB400) - I hope to do a small report on this but didnt take any notes back then..

- Quick trip into the Sinai Desert Egypt…my first try at dirt bikes which ended in me coming off… (This is also where I met my first Adventure Riders)

And a quick video, excuse the quality...

So…what brings me to ADVRider. I read a thread on here ages ago about some bikers and a few Jeeps going through the Borneo jungle and thought it was pretty cool, but didn’t give much more thought to it.

During my time in Egypt, I came across a couple of “adventure riders”, but one that really stood out for me was a guy named Mathias from Switzerland (pics above) who told me he had been on the road for 5 years, and his list of countries covered blew me away along with the concept of just riding for such a long time !

That, combined with the guy I was hanging out with in Egypt (an American who turned out to be an ADVRider!) telling me to check out ADVRider….well…brought me here. Since joining, I’ve been blown away by some of the ride reports, lost a lot of sleep and accounted for a lot of lost productivity at work.

So now, what Id like to do is, in 2013, head to Europe and ride for about 4 months :) (Im already heading to South and Central America in 2012 to backpack, hence 2013). Ideally I’d like to ship my bike there, but I still have a lot of reading to do about how to go about this kind of trip.

Also, since I know next to nothing about bikes, I’ve taken it upon myself to try and tinker and learn form the Internet, and as a sort of first step, took 2 days off work to make an extended weekend and headed through the Alpine regions in South-East Australia…..

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Old 11-22-2011, 05:46 PM   #2
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The Idea

Having worked a full weekend prior and with a sunny one forecast for the next one amongst constant weekends of rain, I figured I’d forgo my usual overtime pay and just take the 2 days off instead, making a 4 day weekend and riding as far as I could manage to get a small taste of some long distance stuff and take in some nice roads along the way.

Preparation & Planning

I had only ever ridden to my local twisties or on the track, so getting my mind around preparing the bike, what to carry and the route seemed like a bit of a challenge. However, given that the upcoming weekend was forecast to be fine and sunny (a change from the wet weekends we’ve been enduring in Sydney for a while now), I HAD to make this happen.

Step 1- Figure out where I’m going. The two options I had in mind were either to head north towards the Gold Coast in Queensland or south to Victoria. Gold Coast seemed nice and sunny, but a lot of recommendations were coming in for the roads down south through NSW’s Snowy Mountains and then onto Victorias ‘Great Alpine Road’. At a guess, I figured I could make about 500kms a day and decided to head south on the basis of my mate who had done 11 days down south and kindly gave me his “Australian Motorcycle Atlas” with all the neat little notes describing the awesomeness of each road !!

Step 2- Bike & Gear – As I was on a fairly short time frame to prepare, I was lucky enough to have friends lend me a tailpack and tank bag, in addition to a backpack on my back with my DSLR and netbook, this would provide me with enough room for the 4 day trip.

Aside from that, I made the rounds of the local bike shops and got myself a puncture repair kit, a hand pump and tyre pressure gauge. This, combined with a few spanners and the bikes tool kit would be my support for the trip. Even though I am mechanically inept, it was nice to have something with me so at least I could take care of the simplest issues. I also took out a ‘premium’ roadside assistance policy in case I needed a tow in a really bad situation.

As an example of my mechanical ineptitude, during the task of bleeding the brake, I was doing up the rear reservoir only to drop one of the screws….somewhere within the bike. Took me a day or so of fishing around to finally figure out where it went and to get it back out !!

Aside from that, the bike was pretty fine. I also replaced my low beam globe which had been blown for close to a year only to find that the fuse had gone too. A last minute dash to some shops had me well stocked up on fuse for the trip too.

Step 3- Route planning - The next few days at work were spent on Google Maps mapping out how I was going to get around. I eventually came up with the following loop starting and ending in Sydney

This missed out on some of Sydneys key riding roads and got me straight down the highway to Victoria to enjoy what they had to give me there ! What suddenly worried me though is the fact that the route I was taking through NSW Snowy Mountains region would coincide with the annual “Snowy Ride”. A ride in the region that attracts about 3000 bikers over the weekend. I suddenly panicked and started thinking if I should alter my plans and head north, would there be any accommodation for me, would there be cops everywhere? I eventually calmed down and just decided to stick with what I had, and just try to stay out of their way, pass through the Snowies on Day 1 and get to a quiet area…

Once again though, my good friend JT came to my rescue and emailed me through a Google map layout of the ride he proposed. Comparing this to the Atlas confirmed that most of the key roads were covered in this loop, the only adjustment I could see was that down south I was getting mighty close to the Tasman Sea…so why not visit a town right at the edge of Australia? To some this may seem odd, but I’ve developed and odd interest in getting to certain points as little personal achievements (eg. Visiting the 7 Wonders of the World, trying to visit as many oceans as I can). That and I generally like being near the water…

Now, my mate had told me to just pull into town, look up the local pub and find a room. When I’m backpacking, I never book ahead nd have no problem, but for some reason, I was just paranoid about being caught short so did a bit of searching to find roughly evenly spaced accommodation so at least I had an aim for each day and knew where to look first for a bed to crash. The 3 points I came up with were
- Khancoban, a small town along the Alpine Way (NSW) just past the Snowies. This would ensure that I’d be past the hustle of the Snowy Ride but not too far on as the Alpine Way and the roads leading on from it are quite technical, not the best to attack these after a full days ride.
- Lakes Entrance, Victoria – A town along the southern coast of Victoria looking out to the Tasman Sea. They also boasted having a YHA (Youth Hostels of Australia) with whom Id just taken a 2 year membership the weekend before. A great chance for me to interact with other travellers and immerse myself in backpacker culture!
- Bega, NSW – Coming back up along the coast of NSW there are several towns that are suitable candidates, however this name stood out because it is regarded as the cheese capital ! (You’ll see what I mean in photos later on…) Plus they also had a YHA !

So I had a route…had an idea of where to sleep…had a bike…had some luggage…time to ride :)

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Old 12-07-2011, 05:36 AM   #3
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Sorry for the delay in post to any reader out there. I have not been well so not had a chance to type this all up. Unfortunately this delay in posting has also resulted in a loss of detail in my memory so I shall try to keep it short and accompany with photos.

Day 1

I had intended to wake up early and depart home around 7am, before the peak hour rush hits the roads. I estimated this would give me a good 12 hours on the road before sunset. However, in a style I have become accustomed to, I staye dup late packing my gear, woke up late and hence set out at 930am. Not too bad, but I just had to be on the ball as I had a fair bit of highway to cover today and needed to get past the Snowy Mountains region in order to avoid being caught up in the Snowy Ride.

Excuse the photo, my dad tried to snap one offf but instead got 2 crap ones, Ive tried to stitch them together !

As I hit the main arterial highway between sydney and Canberra (capital of Australia) I started seeing more and more bikes with luggage loaded on the rear. Although I wsa concerned about finding accomodation due to al lthe bikers out, it was a buzz to be out with so many other like minded people.

The first rest stop I pulled into off the highway I was asked straight away by a bloke on a Triple if I was headed to the Snowy....nope just a coincidence mate.

I made every effort I could to stick to the highway speed limit of 110km/h however it was getting real boring and couldn't help twist my wrist here and there. I did keep it under control though, i was told that cops were usually out in force for the weekend along this route. My salvation was in the form of 3 other sportbikes flying past me. I took this as my invite, inserted myself into the middle of the pack and hoped for strength in numbers.

This was thwarted by seeing the signs for "average speed cameras". These work by taking aphoto at one point and then at the next point calculating time elapsed. You get there too quick and you've been a bad boy. I wasn't sure if these applied for bikes too, but just to be on the safe side....just happened to get off the bike for a stretch right before the end checkpoint

Following this, passed through the towns of Cooma and then onto Jindabyne, both of which were checkpoints for the Snowy Ride, meaning a LOT of bikes every where, and also police checkpoints for alchol testing. These were the friendliest cops I have ever come across in my life, with a heavily modified car I am often on the wrong side of the law due to vehicle defects but seems bikes are well tolerated in these parts. Even had a brief exchange with one officer of the law who commented on my helmet pointing towards the road and telling me "hope it doesnt show the speedo" (Will put a video of this exchange later)

At Lake Jindabyne

Late lunch at Jindabyne

I was starting to get worried that i was going to run out of daylight to try and get to my first target of Khancoban so I got a move on. However, during the last police checkpoint the cop had mentioned to me to be very wary of the upcoming "Alpine Way". This was regarded as a good motorcycling road in my atlas however he warned me of it being very tight, oncoming traffic being head on and also wildlife as the sun was setting.

Although I was lucky enough not to experience any (living) wildlife, I had a few moments where I was up against the guardrail thanks to over-zealous bikers coming straight at me with no regard for how much road they left me.

From Jindabyne to Khancoban

Needed a couple of extra breaks due to tensing up in the really tight stuff. Got to fix those bad reflexes of mine

One of the main reasons I chose this "Alpine" route was to get the scenery of snow capped mountains in the back. I just wanted to feel like the European ADV'ers on here. Sadly, as it was November this was the best I got

The Snowy region is well known for its hydro-electric schemes. In front of one of the power stations (Murray 1)

I finally got into Khancoban as the sun was setting and got myself into the only place that resembled accomodation for the night. I had looked this place up before I left as a fall-back with the intent of finding a place myself, but there really was no choice. And at $60 a night it wasn't the cheapest either. Great bed though !

The place was mainly a pub, so as the sun set, all the workers from the hydro plants came down, as I sat there eating my steak it was fun to eavesdrop on a lifestyle so far from mine (I work in a climate controlled cubicle farm, these guys work outdoors all day). I guess the main draw was...the bottleshop !

Day 2

After an early night and a good rest, I was up late again. Got the chain cleaned and lubed and faced my first problem. i had wheeled the bike to right in front of my room, over the grassy terrain. Didn't expect the mornign moisture to turn it into mud. Taught me a lesson in planning where I ride haha

Went around to the general store to get my breakfast of a couple of chicken burgers, fuel for me, went to the servo, fuel for the bike, time to hit the road.

Today was to be the fun part of the ride, takin gin some of the more scenic roads, the remainder of the Alpine Way, the Granya Gap, The Tawonga Ga pand arguably one of the best motorcycling roads in Aus. The Great Alpine Road.

The aim for today was the seaside town of Lakes Entrance. My firend had mapped out a town called Bruthen along the Great Alpine Road, but I get a kick out of getting to the 'end' of something and even seeing new oceans just to say I have. Started when I got to see the Mediterranean for the first time this year in Egypt. So Lakes Entrance it was

After leaving Khancoban, I headed North-West. I had the choice of taking either the Murray River Highway or the Murray River Road. Not a hard choice! The river road wasnt't spectacular but it wasn't bad either, plus I got to see the Murray River, an important waterway i had learnt about in school (who woulda thought I was listening in Geography)

I wasn't quite sure if I had missed the turn-off to Granya Gap (which I was told was a delicious piece of road) but after one uturn, as the road started twisting and turnig, I knew I was o nthe right path

At Mt Granya lookout

Biker friendly services at service stations. Sadly, my helmet remained bug free for all of about 1 minute

Looking out over the next tasty piece of road, the Tawonga Gap. There just happened to be a "Rod Run" on this day. An annual event I found out about whilst stopped here so American muscle cars were plentiful !


I thought about heading into the town of Bright where they would all congregate but I had to keep moving :(

After the Tawonga Gap, i was officially on the Great Alpine Road, and the terrain started to change accordingly. The trees appeared ghost like, the road markings were yellow instead of white (for snow visibility I assume), and the road was awesome !

The only thing eating away at me was, that before starting the ascend up the GAR, I had failed to find the service station marked on my map, so fuel was a slight concern, but once I started making my way up to Mt Hotham, a popular ski resort town in winter, all my worries were gone

Towards the top of Mt Hotham, Victoria. This was also an achievement for me as it was the first time I had taken my bike interstate !

I have run wide in the past, however knowing that running wide here meant going straight off the edge...i didn't really attempt much knee down action. The coloured poles mark the edge of the road, in some places, no barriers, only poles to let you know when you're screwed

It was sad to have finished the Alpine Road, hope to do it again one day (maybe tomorrow???). Now to focus on and get to Lakes Entrance !

The road down was nice enough but as the sun set, I was getting stressed out...

Finally got into Lakes Entrance and checked into a backpacker hostel, but before I could get too well acquainted with my dorm mates, it was time to try my hand at some fancy photos

After that, it was time to head back, have a meal and socialise with my new British friends !
I shal post up the next 2 days ride tomorrow....will include a new first for my bike. Off road !

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Old 12-12-2011, 05:21 AM   #4
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Day 3

Having stayed up late into the night chatting away with other backpackers reminiscing of my past trips and discussing my upcoming plans for South and Central America, it was once again a late start on day 3. I had contemplated having a run back up the Great Alpine Road as it was a bright and sunny day, but having checked the weather forecasts, I was sure that it was only a matter of time before the clouds rolled in.

With this in mind, I decided to take on the next part of the trip, the road to Bega via Bonang and Orbost. On my atlas map, this seemed very tight indeed and even had about 50kms worth of dotted lines on it indicating unsealed roads. Surely may mate wouldn't send me on a sportsbike off-road..?

Parked outside Riviera Backpackers in Lakes Entrance, Victoria

As I got out of town, the roads got tighter and twistier, this sign was a sign of things to come, at this point I was thinking, hell yeah !!

However the further I got, the tighter it was, no high speed stuff here, especially with a lot of leaf liter on the road and the occasional big branches. Wasn't quick enough to avoid one which flung up and got me right in the shin...was going to be feeling that for a while.

At this stage it was all on sealed roads but due to how tight it was, and how hot it was getting I found myself taking more reular bbreaks to just get off the bike and into the shade, was getting tiring.

I thought that was bad, until suddenly, there was no more road...

It was tough at first crawling through all the dirt and gravel, but slowly I got my confidence up and with that, my speed. Did suck when I was passed by a camper-van kickin gup a huge dust storm though.

After a coouple of hours of this where I was really regretting not taking the easier coastal road, it suddenly opened up and I was thrown into the other extreme, wide open sweepers, nirvana !

Todays plan was to try and make it back home, a mere 800km, which I thought I could do as a stretch as I had been doing 600km a day for the last two days, so instead of turning off to Bega I decided to keep heading up to Sydney. About 10 after the turnoff, my body just started to fatigue and I had to pull over on the side of the highway for a breather. There was no way, I was going to make it to Sydney, 450km away, it was already 330pm. So having only covered 400km in the day and with rain setting in, I found myself at the Bega Backpackers and settled into the historic town that loves their cheese !

Cheese Training...

Cheese Heritage :/

Day 4

The next morning, thankfully the skies had cleared up for the slighly less exciting ride back home. Still taking in some key roads along the way

Kangaroo Valley

I didn't take too many photos on the way home as I wsa back on the highway, but moreso, those rains I had worried about in Melbourne, had finally hit Sydney in a big way. So with my boots full of water and my leathers drenched, i slogged it out and was finally back home after my first touring experience :)

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Old 12-12-2011, 11:04 AM   #5
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Top stuff. I love reading about and seeing photos of Aussie. I'd seriously like to do some good riding there one day.

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Old 12-12-2011, 03:45 PM   #6
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Thanks mate, Ive only travelled to NZ but definitely some roads worthy of riding there. One day.

I have some videos I want to upload too but need to get them to a couple of minutes from hours of footage :/
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:39 PM   #7
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Good stuff! Thanks for taking the time to post the pics - it's great experiencing the trip with you. Looking forward to seeing the videos
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