Friday 24 September 2010 Ė Iím finally on the road. Left Melbourne this morning and managed to successfully navigate my way down to Geelong and then the Great Ocean Road. And what a great way to start my trip - one of world's classic bike rides. And it didn't disappoint - lots of long sweeping bends, steep cliffs dropping off just feet from the road, fantastic views and load of interesting places to stop and explore. Made it to Apollo Bay by 4pm and as I was starting to lose my concentration and, to some degree, control of the bike, I decided to stop and book into the YHA. Will stay for a couple of days so I can explore some of the local area by foot Ė maybe see a Koala or two if Iím lucky. Only a couple of scary moments Ė the first when the tailwind of a passing truck nearly blew me off the road, the second when another biker came hurtling round a bend on the wrong side of the road and nearly went straight into me. Other than that and a moment of getting a bit mesmerised by all the bends, a fantastic run.
Wednesday 22 September 2010 Ė Iíve got the bike! And its perfect. Took it for an inaugural ride after I picked it up and it runs like a dream. Feels light, holds the road well, and, now that theyíve replaced the exhaust with a quieter one, speeds along like a big yellow stealth bomber! Although I like the name Yellow Peril, I think Iíll just call it Yellow as Peril may prove to be a bit predictive!
My friend showed me how to get out of Melbourne but then left me to my own devices so coming back into Melbourne was a bit of a hair-raising experience. Its funny how roads look completely different when youíre in the passenger seat and not really paying attention. Nevertheless, I managed to navigate my way to the correct exit and back to my friend house again.
Thursday 23 September 2010 Ė for the last few days Iíve been suffering from an attack of the runs. They seem to be of the nocturnal variety and last night was a particularly bad dose. As a result Iíve not really been eating very much over the last few days and by the morning I was a bit of a quivering wreck. This meant I couldnít go back to the bike shop to get the top box fitted in the morning as planned. However, after several cups of tea and some light hearted conversation with my friends, I felt well enough to go back to the bike shop again. By the time I got back I was feeling considerably better and it felt as if the previous nightís attack had been a final purge to cleanse my system for the journey ahead.
Just got a call this morning saying that all my paperwork has been cleared and that I can go and pick up the bike tomorrow. Whey hey, I'll be able to get on the road soon!
Sunday 19th September 2010 Ė My friend that I'm staying with and I managed to have a day out together today. We went to a place called The Homestead and walked around the grounds. In the bush we could see a "mob" of kangaroos so set off in pursuit. We managed to get quite close and there was one giant buck who kept a watchful eye on us while his companions bounced away. As they all bounced off, we changed our direction and started walking away. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a giant buck had come after us and was standing up on his hind legs watching us just about 10 feet away. For a moment I thought he was going to charge us but as we hastened our speed he bounced off in the opposite direction. Bit of a scary moment though!
After lunch we went to meet one of my friend's friends, who, apart from playing on of Paul Robinson's wives on Neighbours, is now heavily involved with animal welfare. They have a houseful of cats, dogs, ducks and chooks and she has a friend who runs an animal shelter. She offered to take me there so hopefully Iíll be able to take her up on her offer next week sometime.
Wednesday 15th September 2010 Ė after 3 days of fruitless searching for a bike, I finally found one today. On Monday my friends took me into Elizabeth Street in Melbourne to look at what the bike shops had to offer. Somewhat tired and jetlagged I found it difficult to put UK prices out of my mind and was shocked at how much Ozzie second hand bikes cost. One guy offered us a 22 year old Honda for $8,000. I just laughed out loud. Getting increasingly depressed and alarmed we eventually came across the Triumph showroom. It settled me greatly to see some Bonnies again even if they were completely out of my budget at $15,000.
The next day, we started trolling through internet ads and bike magazines all to no avail. Then, my mate found a Moto Guzzi California for sale on e-bay. We arranged to go and see it the next day. Unfortunately, it turned out to be in fairly poor condition and also had the twin problems that (a) my legs wouldnít reach the footstand and (b) it had a heel operated gear lever. It was surprisingly stable though. Nevertheless I decided against it. On the way back, my pal remembered there was a Suzuki dealer nearby so we swung by to see what they had. Immediately Lou picked out a bright yellow SV650 with upright handlebars. One of the girls on the Moto Guzzi run had one of these and let me try it but, because it had dropped bars, I didnít find it very comfortable and discarded it as a choice. However, the upright bars made all the difference. I took it for a test ride and as it was nice and light, felt good and was within budget at $4,700 I decided just to buy it.
It turns out that you need to have a local address to register a vehicle in Victoria though so I then had to spend the next day running around getting bank statements and telephone bills to prove my address so this delayed the delivery. Hopefully Iíll get the paperwork sorted tomorrow and will be able to pick up the bike on Wednesday.
Sunday 12th September 2010 Ė my first full day in Australia and my mate took me on a Moto Guzzi Owners Club ride out. At the first stop I found my knees had completely seized up from being on the back of his Rosa Corsa which has pillion pegs about 6 inches below the seat! Noticing that I was having difficulty dismounting, one of the other owners organised for me to go pillion on the back of 2 other riderís bikes that had more leg room. The first one was a California model and the driver had us sweeping through bends so smoothly I actually forgot my usual fear of cornering. The second driver had an even more comfortable bike but was a much faster driver, so much so, that we overshot a left turn and had to do a U-turn to rejoin the pack. For some reason the driver crossed over onto the right side of the road and then turned straight into the path of an oncoming car in the left lane. Just as I was imagining the pain of taking a full broadside hit and ending up in a wheelchair, the driver had the presence of mind to accelerate onto the grass verge at the side of the road. Luckily we just missed the car, but ended up in a bog instead. Another rider came to our assistance and together we managed to push the bike free of the marsh. After that he slowed down a bit and at the next stop I was handed back to my friend's capable charge. Not bad for a first day adventure!
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