Semi-convinced that we were sleeping under the stars I packed the mule with a roll-up on the luggage rack and headed off to Warburton.
I took a leisurely cruise up the Eastern, onto the Maroondah Highway. The run from Warragul to Bairnsdale is a 2hr freeway drone, but we made light of it stopping to check straps and bags, talk bikes, routes, crazy drivers that speed up and down and notable bogan sightings.
I was headed straight for Omeo from Bairnsdale where thankfully all of that holiday maker traffic with boats and campers in tow was headed for Lakes Entrance. It's a great run on the Omeo Highway up to Bruthen as the Alpine National park mountains unfold to one side and the Snowy River National Park the other. Perfect day for it too, probably 5 degrees too hot to be honest but I kept moving, checking in quickly and moving onto Omeo where the Great Alpine Road starts.
I love the GAR (affectionately nick named alongside the Great Ocean Road - the GOR) and was ready to pick up the pace a bit after doing that freeway stretch and left Steve behind me and started carving up some corners. It's tight yet fast enough to be a 100km speed zone and not over policed from my experience, but always err on the side of caution as we must have been 10 or 20 kms into it when we started getting waved down of a danger up ahead. We rounded a crest and down into a hard back bending hairpin of a corner where a truck rolled straight into the cliff face. It had tipped coming in from the other direction and there was a few police officers an ambo and a blanket covering the screen. It did not look good.
No stopping for sight-seeing there, we pushed on from Bairnsdale directly to Omeo. I pulled up first which is not surprising seeing it is a 121km run of tricky tight corners and Steve was on the Harley taking in the sights, while I had my eyelids pinned to my forehead while glued to the tank taking in the corner in front of me.
So we suited up, pulled out and headed down into the bottom of the hill and the turn off for Mt Hotham, our next destination. I always get my Hothams and Thredbos mixed up but I know now from this trip that I definitely like the run up to Hotham more than I like the trek down. The down is hard work, and good fun of course, but if I am gonna be picky I want to ride up hill, hard, all the time. Not down. Just endlessly climbing up until the atmosphere is too thin to breathe any more.
Just as we got a few kms out of the town and assorted group joined us and a guy on a Triumph Sprint squirted past me dangerously giving me a fright. He overtook me and a soft-roader on the outside of a blind corner on a crest. Smart arse. I got around the car in the next few lengths of safe stretches, and could see him not too far ahead of me so I kept him in sight and just watched. He wasn't smooth, he was using both lanes needlessly and even though I wasn't going hard or breaking speed limits, he didn't pull away from me.
I tried keeping my speed more constant using engine breaking and a smooth throttle through every corner, and found that I was catching his awkward jerky style - in the corners. Thought I better button off a bit, started to feel like a bad friend always charging off leaving Steve to trail behind but I get in the mountains and on board the Hyper and it's hard not to push it around a bit. He knows that, and had no complaints, except we thrashed past a hundred good picture opportunities so I stopped a bit more frequently from here on.
As I came out of Hotham Heights and down into Harrietville I started to get my bearings again and realised we were going to pass the cheap motel with an awesome pool that has a bar service window in it - and I started to plot to convince Steve that camping on the ground with a blanket and a sleeping bag wasn't such a great idea. At some point my rear indicator decided to give way and had assumed this sad looking limp flappy look.
Checking into a Motel wasn't that hard because once we fuelled up at Bright and headed for Myrtleford, time started to tick on, the riding was slowing down as dusk started to fall hunger was kicking in, when we passed the turn off for the Tawonga Gap Rd run up to Mt Beauty. I remembered how it joined back up onto the GAR again on the other side heading for our original destination. I made the suggestion we checked in and went for a swim vs camping and pick it up in the morning to a fairly solid 'good enough for me' from Steve and we cruised back to Harrietville Hotel Motel and checked in.
Sadly we got stung with tourism tax and paid peak season rates for our unplanned 'unweekend' stop over but neither of us gave a shit really and were just happy to know that there was a pillow at the end of the night, rather than the cold, flat Earth haha... So we pulled in just after 6pm, a solid 10 hour day in the saddle and probably close to 600km run to our resting point for the night in Harrietville. A much-needed dip in the pool and a few drinks later we kicked it in for the next day thinking of the road ahead. It was a great day, a bit different from I expected as I had come to ride closer in packs but Steve was happy to hang back and let me charge ahead which seems selfish and ungentlemanly in retrospect. I should have been in less of a rush and enjoyed the camaraderie of cruising a bit more. Tomorrow.