Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blue Light Ride 2004

The Blue Light Ride was once an institution here in Victoria. It was an organised trail ride in the bush around Noojee that attacted up to 1000 riders, sometimes more. Sadly, the event is now a relic from the past. I only rode the BLR twice - the first time in 2004 and again in 2006. Both times were on a 1983 Yamaha IT250K.

It was notorious for being wet and sloppy, and indeed it was both times that I rode.

I recently found these scans of some pics I took at the 2004 BLR...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tallarook Vinduro Report

Tallarook Vinduro, 29 May 2011, Victoria, Australia

I was surprised to discover that I would be in the first three riders away, and that I knew both of the guys quite well. When I discovered this I belatedly tried to form a team of the three of us for the team challenge, but we were overlooked in the final analysis.

The dreaded cold start went without incident for all three of us, and we were soon weaving our way through the rocky course. A tight ‘special test’ type section near the pits provided a good introduction to the loop, which then passed through a paddock and into the bush (forest). The other guys on my minute were on an IT200, and a TT600.

This event had jokingly been billed as “The Tough One”, and it took me a couple of laps to work out why. Initially I found it quite challenging, but not too hard, and couldn’t figure out why everyone kept asking me about ‘the hill’ when I came past the pits.

As it turned out there was an ‘easy’ route, which bypassed a steep hill climb, which I didn’t notice until the third time around. I found my TT600 riding mate there, resting at the bottom of it after a failed attempt, and he pointed out the way up.

This part was pretty damn tough! With no direct run up, the long and steep climb was littered with loose rocks of all sizes, and I had to flog the poor little 175 and run alongside it at times to make it to the top. It was very tempting to forgo it for the rest of the day, but I did successfully climb it four times, and had one abandoned effort too that resulted in an amusing somersault down the hill for me.

There was just over 50 riders present, and several PEs, including Alex’s 400. The day also incorporated a longer trail ride for those with the appropriate road registration, but I didn’t take part in that aspect. I did 12 laps of the closed course, but only 4 of these included the dreaded hill. I have to take my hat off to the rider on the KDX200 who did 18 laps, all of them consisting of the full loop!

My PE ran really well all day, the new rings making it very easy to start. Of course there are other things that need attention, and I’ll see to them in due course. The only bother I had was when I damaged the kill switch after I dropped the bike on the hill, and it was shoring out. I am a bit worried about potential clutch damage from my last hill climb of the day too, but hopefully it’ll be ok.

The next vinduro event is at Harrow in July. This one is always a beaut, and the organisers are talking about a 35km loop, and people coming from overseas to have a ride. It should be great!
(Originally posted on PE Motorcycles Yahoo Group)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Condo 750: Success is relative

Well, I'm pleased to report that I successfully completed the 2011 Condo 750.

There were 80 starters in the bike/quad class, and out of 67 finishers I rolled in at a leisurely 62nd, after a Prologue and two days of solid riding.

I was pretty happy with that seeing as it was my first tilt at a navigational rally, and I was riding a virtually stock Yamaha TTR250.

I'm a Dakar dreamer from way back, but the Condo 750 is probably as close as the likes of me will ever get to it. Even the Australian Safari would require money and time beyond my station in life. 

At this moment it's the greatest, most rewarding thing I've ever done on a motorbike. Will I ever go back? Maybe...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Almost a bad day...

Leave home on Sunday to go and pick up a basket case Yamaha TT250, and some mags for an interstate friend. Just got onto the freeway when the car over-heated.

WTF? It's never done that before!

Anyway, I have a couple of litres of water, so I tip that in and try setting off again. No dice. The gauge goes straight to the limit, alarms are beepin'... I have to get off the freeway and find a service station pronto. Once I start cruising around the suburbs trying in vain to find somewhere, I notice that the gauge has gone back to normal. I figure I'll get back on the freeway and at least continue in the right direction, and stop when I find a garage.

I backtrack only to find there's no way back onto the freeway from where I came. Bugger. Ok, I'll just look in the street directory for the closest on-ramp. Street directory is of course on the kitchen table where I was looking up the best way to my destination.

Driving in circles around Melbourne's eastern suburbs is not the best way to my destination.

Anyway, I figure it out and am soon on my way. I was a bit hazy on the best route, but using some printed out whereis maps I had, I navigate using the sun like Columbus* to both my pick-up points.

The good news is that the car ran fine after that; and I found some near-new Renthal bars in amongst the basket case stuff!

It's all good, as the kids say.

* I don’t know if Columbus actually navigated using the sun.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Victoria Vinduro Fun Day, Castella, Feb 13

This event was a kind of prelude to the 'real' vinduro season, and was intended as a testing/social occasion with the opportunity to get your bike registered under the 'red plate' scheme if so desired.

For me it was good opportunity to catch up with people, and best of all take the PE for a spin!

The last time we held this event was in November last year, and it poured rain all day, ensuring a muddy experience for those hardy enough to venture out. While we have had unseasonal rain this summer, yesterda was pretty much perfect with mostly clear skies and warm sunshine and not the excess mud and water that was present previously.

I was a bit put off when a mate did an early lap and reported to me that the track wasn't too good and he wouldn't be venturing out for a second one. I was quite apprehensive as I headed out, but I guess that's the difference between riding a big bike, and a little 175 - I found the loop really enjoyable. It was very tight, nearly all of it hand-cut single trail. There were some damp bits, and a few minor logs to hop over but nothing too hard. This is the sort of terrain where the PE175N really shines, and I ended up doing 13 laps of the 5km loop! It would've been hard work on a big bike.

One exposed tree root became a bit tricky by the end of the day, as the rear wheel would always skid off it into a deep rut. But once you were prepared for it, it was ok. Amazingly I have now fitted a decent rear tyre, finally getting rid of the ancient rock-hard retread that's been on the bike since I bought it, so this helped my forward progress on the day.

The 175 is in desperate need of new rings, possibly even piston, so the low compression is noticably affecting its performance, and making it almost impossible to kick start. It still roll starts easily enough though!

There was only about 20 or so bikes circulating, and I was the only PE rider. A guy was riding a really nice BSA, which made a glorious sound as he held the throttle open. There were a few Hondas, an Ossa, a Maico and a guy on a KDX200 who was very fast. All in all, I had a great day, and I can't wait for the first proper vinduro on March 20 at Three Bridges.

(Originally posted on PE Motorcycles Yahoo Group)