Friday, January 4, 2013

Ten million butterflies on the Yarra Loop

Caught up with Bulldog, the 'Sargent of Arms' in our ADR crew for a day-ride, and he showed me you don't have to sit on any freeways to get out past Whittlesea and into the mountains.


ADR is only three weeks away but I feel like my throat has been cut knowing I have to go back to work on Monday and there are no more 'free days' of getting up whenever, doing anything, riding a lot and not being chained to the repression of desk life in an office. But today was not for contemplating woes, it was a day to ride and smash butterflies at high speed.

  After our initial meet up at Mill Park Mc Donalds this morning Bulldog took one of the first 'lefts' he could find and it seemed as if we just left the city behind and were instantly countryside. Bizarrely, not ten minutes into our ride, we were cruising great hilly back roads on our way out to Kinglake somehow. I remember a great stretch called Broad Gully Road that was nice and full of sweepers as we climbed up to Arthurs Creek. Our first stop was atop a big crest in Strathewen and could see right across the divide a big run that we had done together once before with Wombat and Murphy, it takes in a few kays of dirt climbing up a massive hill, and so I contributed, by one piece of articulate navigation genius for the day, pointing and saying 'let's go there' and we were off.


Some excellent back roads out that way, some of them dirt but nothing to serious, after the Barry Way nothing seems serious, and before you know it we were on the other side of the valley climbing up alongside the massive power lines we were just pointing at maybe 20 mins ago. Bizarre.



From the top of that road we joined up with a bit of freeway and made our way into Kinglake thinking I might need fuel, but after a quick scout and check of the clock I decided I'd be fine to keep going (MSR bottle filled and at the ready just in case). And that is how I found my new favourite stretch of road relatively close to home. The road from Kinglake to Toolangi is amazing. It's almost like a mini Spur of its own but a bit faster and the national speed limit rather than 80 so it's a bit faster and absolute Hyper territory.

Braaap braaap! (the sound of butterflies smashing against your visor?) From there we run down into Healesville and up through the Black Spur into Narbethong which was more fun going that way, than the reverse I had just done with Big Steve last week. It's strange how some roads are better one way than others. I think that is where we saw our first Police trap for the day. Several officers tucked in a bush that you wouldn't see from the other way with cameras and patrol cars at the ready. A trip across to Marysville and up to the top of Lake Mountain another well and truly spectacular piece of road to rip up on a hot day... gentling climbing uphill 60 & 70 kay sweepers all the way, a couple of hairpins to switch things up and before you know it you're at the top.

 


 And then back down into Warburton for lunch. What a rip snorter of a morning! Could've swung by Big Steve's house if he wasn't already chained to his desk. Sad face. Do lunch at the Warburton Bakery cafe anytime you get the chance, fucking awesome steak and cheese pies. And a map of our entire loop (almost).


Bulldog noted the run up to the top of Mt Donna Buang was really necessary as we were here and that he knew of a good run back down the other side that might take in a bit of dirt. Man that Mt Donna Buang road is superb, some of Melbourne's finest and maybe an hour's ride from the CBD. Two seconds from Big Steve's house! Man he had the life when he had his Hyper (sic) with that road at his doorstep! Quick photo opportunity as we pulled up at the 'Finish'.


From there we ventured down the mountain via the dirt road sign posted as 'ten kilometres of narrow gravel road unsuitable for heavy vehicles or caravans'. No mention of motorcycles. Or butterflies, but there were millions of them. Not my favourite road of the day, a descending gravel road that was pretty fresh and rolly-polly with loose shit. Some amazing natural sights though, and photo opportunities. It was also about 36 degrees and feeling every bit of it!


Yeah I've reverted to the DP bag that hasn't seen daylight in a year again, it's handy for a day ride like this to carry my MSR fuel bottle, some bottled water, tool kit, wallet and phone...look I don't love it, but it does a decent enough job. That road somehow shot us out onto more great sweeping mountain roads and coming down into the Don Rd before heading back into Healseville (I think) and... I get a little sketchy from here how it all joins up but we ended up doing the Reefton Spur then popping back out in the middle of nowhere before being miraculously doubling back to Kinglake heading home. I've got that all mixed up I'm sure, but there were roads and stops and wild sweepers and climbing mountains, dirt roads and absolutely loads of butterflies. Must be the heat.

 I wonder what the collective noun for butterflies is? Bulldog knows roads that I didn't know existed, like the one he took at Hurtsbridge - somewhere it cut across to St Andrews and just about every road was empty and nice and sticky. Some molten lava even, in fact it was that kind of intense Australian scorcher of a day, with a really dry burning heat that patches of molten tar started to appear quite a bit around the place. A few times I thought I felt my front go kind of soft and squishy, dipping in, giving me the shivers, where you just know that didn't feel right. I love riding with Bulldog, he's excellent to follow. He rides a big naked Suzuki Bandit 1250S and IMHO, knows how to ride.

Not once did he take a blind corner on the wrong side for instance, or cross a lane and I don't think I've ever seen him run wide. He rides hard, tips in fast, rides within his limits and I learn heaps, and subsequently go faster, while tailing him. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow, it's all part of the fun. I had the Hyper further over today than I probably ever have before and was feeling good about it. I was thinking about the video Twist of the Wrist II that I was sent (onya Paul!), trying to stay nice and smooth on the throttle, picking a good apex and going for it, tipping in staying smooth and constant on the throttle through the corner, against survival instincts to roll off or stab the front brake when things got a bit scary. It all adds up I'm finding and I think I'm becoming a better rider for it. Maybe it's just because I've covered 2,000 kays on it in the last two weeks and I'm building my confidence on it. Anyway.... good day riding. And so it was that ten million butterflies gave their lives, and I've wound off almost to the zero my first 12,000km mark and she goes into the shop tomorrow for it's first major service (ouch, expensive?) and a new tail tidy, including new indicators :) Do I really have to go back to work next week?