Friday, July 6, 2012

Wet 'n wild in the Yarra Valley

I'm lucky living in the yarra valley because good riding is never far from my doorstep. One of my favourite stints is the Reefton Spur. While most riders feel the Black Spur (Both can be ridden in a loop) is a better road I prefer Reefton.
The tarmac on the Black Spur is smoother and the corners allow for higher speed but its far more popular (read crowded) than Reefton. The Black Spur is a through road from Healesville to Marysville and surroundings. Reefton on the other hand is sort of the long way. I find Reefton more enjoyable because of the challenge, the surfaces change, there is usually leaf debris on the road, the corners are tighter and more often blind. To call it a motard road would be spot on. I had a new front hoop fitted on Friday morning and the only scrubbing I could get done on it was a commute down the freeway followed by a rather wet ride home. When Sunday came around I seized a break in the family activities to get out and get my new rubber scrubbed in before the weeks worth of forecasted rain.

 Warburton I headed off east towards Reefton, the road starts out quite laid back with straights and nice sweepers heading from east warby to Reefton. As you pass the turn-off to the Upper Yarra reservoir you begin the mountain climb. Between Reefton and the Cumberland junction its around 20km with a 95% corner ratio, while the up direction means you are on the outside from the mountain the corners are more visible. Despite copping drizzle steadily since Warby, I was please to see that for the most part I had dry (albeit freezing) road ahead of me. After half a dozen corners I could see the wear mark on my front getting down enough to start pushing it. This whole section used to be 100kph but was reduced to 80. It's not as much fun on a sport bike, however the frequency of tight bends with uphill pulls from the corner exits makes it the perfect road for a heavy breathing hypermotard.

 I had the pleasure of a 6 month holiday from riding last year partly because of a fine in the new 80 zone so I was pretty careful to cut the throttle at 80 on the straights. This still allows for plenty of spirited corners. Its safe to say the roads were dead, I never had to overtake another vehicle & only passed two ADV bikes and a few 4x4 going the opposite way. The reason for this quietness was pretty obvious, conditions were pretty ordinary. I'd guess my toes were numbing before I was even doing the mountain climb, by half way up the climb a few fingers on my left hand were nice and numb but my right stayed circulated with plenty of on/off throttle action. The road had a high amount of leaf litter mainly because of a few decent rainfalls and windy nights in the past week. Leaves and chunks of bark were all over the road, these bits of debris retain the water meaning they work just like banana peels even when the rest of the road is dry.

Best avoided mid corner thats for sure. As I neared the top of the climb before the Cumberland intersection I could see the weather closing in. At this stage it was a toss up between taking the road across the top of the range then down into Marysville then home via the back spur or hang a u-turn and do Reefton in reverse. Based on the fact that the dirt road over Donna Buang (which I normally take from Healesville home) would be closed for the snow season and the fact that I hadn't seen any police I decided to go back the way I'd came. In reverse the Reefton spur is a different animal all together. All the corners are now with the mountain on your left so you need choose your lines and turn in marks. I like doing the downhill almost as much as the climb because you can manage most of the corners with a downshift and a squeeze of the front brake. I stopped at one of the lookouts for a few snaps, you can still see the effects of the black saturday bushfires here.

 Upon getting down to flat ground I decided to pop up to upper yarra reservoir for a look, I was surprised to find quite a few people there, even campers. I took a quick squirt up to the lookout just as the rain got heavier. From there its about a 20km cruise home and I made it with good time just as I could feel the rain (which despite constantly drizzling had until then not penetrated my kevlars). I was home before dark in time to sit by the fire and down a meat pie to warm me up. Turns out the day was nearly the coldest day on record or something no wonder the fingers were feeling it. Who says you need good weather to have a good ride.