Snowy Mountains 2002 - Day 2

Rising early on Friday morning, we do the usual drill of showers, br/eakfast and generally preparing. The decision is to do the Alpine way loop clockwise, heading to Thredbo first. We're meeting Chris on the road somewhere, so Cabr/amurra is likely to be the point. A quick text message to him and off we go.

The mountains at the entrance to Thredbo.

As usual, Murray and I take off out front. I'm having a hard time keeping up with him again. The front again keeps pushing wide and the back is down on grip. I drop the pressures again on the front (now 30psi) and remove some of the setup for the bags from yesterday and drop another click off the rear compression while we wait for the others to catch up while we've stopped at the entrance to Thredbo.

These are the sorts of br/illiant roads you find here

Gathered outside the entrance to Thredbo

Once we've all caught up again, we head on down the road towards Khancoban. This is where the fun really starts. The roads get tighter, the traffic disappears and the trees come right to the edge of the road. My bike is feeling better again and once again Murray and I run off from the rest of the group. At one point I stop to grab some pictures of the group coming down the hill. You can see those below. These are the sorts of roads we get around here and I've yet to be shown where to find equivalents in the US. I'm now fully in the swing of things and for the third time this morning we go past the Mille (with pillion). The rider must be getting sick of seeing us now but he's riding an awful lot slower than we are! Anyway, we wait forever for Graeme and Julie to come past.They'd already told us they were going to stop for pictures a fair bit so in the end we just gave up and started ploughing on down the fantastic roads.

Sharon, as pillion on Kevin's bike, Kevin is looking into the corner shown into the next shot

Typical corner on the Alpine way - tight, blind, no markings

Robert approaching and Robin just going out of shot

After a while, the two of us caught the end of the group and passed them. About 30km out from Khancoban, we come tearing around a corner at full pace to be confronted by the sight of two adults and a collection of kids on the side of the road, frantically waving at us to slow down. Duly hitting the anchors, the guy runs over to me with a crying kid in his arms - We've just had an accident. There's a white 4WD ahead of you, this is his daughter, can you get them to come back. Murray's out of earshot of all this, but I turn around to tell him to stay there while I chase the aforementioned white 4WD. After about 10 minutes of strafing the roads I round a corner to find the vehicle sitting on the side of the road. A little close to the corner apex mind you, as I had to hit the br/akes really hard to stop in time (it was also a bit down hill - thank goodness for decent br/ake pads!). So I start talking to him about what has happened, and the trailing edge of our group rolls through while I'm doing so, and I wave them on. The driver turns around and I wander off up the road at a slow pace to find some shade to sit in while I wait for Murray to catch up.

A fairly long time passes, so do a couple of cars and I hear the familiar scream of the V4 engine coming. Getting up Murray pulls up and just points at the left side fairing. Not catching initially, I look again. There's half a bloody paddock stuck in his fairings! The stupid bugger has binned it himself on the way here. Anyway, he explains what happened - backing it into a corner and the tyre has gripped more than usual, attempted to highside and he's caught it but ended up running off the road into an embankment first and going over the bars. Oh well, the rat bike just got rattier. Mounting up we head on to the next stop at a slightly reduced pace (but not by much).

Please replace all divets after taking your shot

At Khancoban, the full stories come out. The driver (of a Volvo, no less) had failed to take a corner and headed straigh off into the bush. He'd travelled up a small ravine (he must have been going because I never saw the car and I was looking for it as I took off to catch their friends!). He'd come to a rest under a tree that had fallen horizontally across the ravine and it has impacted at roof level and pushed the whole lot backwards. a foot or two. Very lucky driver to have not decapitated himself and the passengers. Murray's bike is worse for wear, but still well ridable. Murray is a bit banged up on the shin, but nothing major.

Once again Murray comments on how much fun it is to follow me on the road. Very fast pace and again I'm leaving big black lines from just prior to the apex until the bike is stood all the way up. The strange thing is that it doesn't feel like that at all to me as a rider. The rear never feels like it's sideways and it doesn't feel like it's spinning up (although with these M1s where you can't feel anything, who knows!) and I'm trying to be really smooth with my riding - but using standard racecraft techniques like powering through the corner to maintain stability etc. Still, that's more br/ag points for me so who am I to complain (I really need to get someone to follow me on the RSVR one day on a fast ride to see if it's just a bike/tyre combo thing or a characteristic of my riding style).

Still, there's no sign of Graeme and Julie. Must be some great photos they're got. A bit of lunch and on we head towards Cabr/amurra.

Mounting up we head off for the northern part of the road. We're on the western side of the ranges now and so the first 20km or so are fairly uninteresting. A few corners with plenty of straight bits in between. We amble along here at around the 140 mark, no point going really silly. The roads are nice, but not much to do. There's a fast right hand sweeper, under a set of power lines and then suddenly you hit the first 35 marked corner and the ride is on! I'm riding solo at this point, not sure if the off has spooked Murray a bit, but I know that the others aren't that far behind, so finding a nice corner, I setup with the Camera beside the road and wait for the others to come through. Some of the results you see below.

The start of the northern part of the Alpine Way, looking east towards the Snowy Mountains

More twisties to play with. No markings but would normally be marked at 25km/h (taken at usually 70+). The mighty Vtr on the side of the road.

Looking in the opposite direction to the other shot just as Gordon (solo on Sharon's bike) leads Robert through the corner.

More frolicking in the corners ensued. A couple of times I've stopped off for some photos like Tooma Dam, shown opposite. As I said earlier, this place is under a severe drought (worst in 100 years they say) and this shows how bad it is. As in indication, the normal fill level is at the line of scrub you see at the middle of the picture. The little island in the mid-foreground is normally under 2 metres of water or more.

Tooma dam looking rather empty

Just after leaving the dam the road tightens up again. Back in enjoying the fun and I come flying around a right hander and notice a much tighter left hander. I'm fairly hard on the br/akes for this one and using just a fraction of rear to help slow down when I notice that the rear is starting to come out on me. Not unusual, so I treat it like I'm backing the bike into the corner, but that doesn't work either - it's still coming, now I'm at the point of playing flat-tracker. The rear has locked completely under engine br/aking (no slipper clutch and my br/ain is too busy dealing with everything else at this point) and then the front locks and slides sideways. I'm still travelling a little bit now and have adopted the classic flat-tracker riding pose - front (right) foot out, crossed up handlebars, trailing foot half off the peg and the bike tilted to the left. I slide into the corner gravel like this and come to rest about a foot off the side of the road, and then place the left leg on the ground. Couldn't have looked more professional if I'd tried to do it! Couple of quick br/eaths, kick the bike into neutral, fire it up and off I go again.

More twisty roads (no, that didn't slow me down) and we come to Tumut dam. There's a nice resting spot three quarters of the way along so I pull over there to take some more photos and wait for the rest of the crew to catch up. First Gordon, then Robin and Murray, Kev and Sharon, and finally Robert. Robert gets off and is looking rather pissed at himself. Then explains that he's dropped it in some gravel on a corner. Usual thing - front wheel slide, stands up, hits br/akes and slides off the side of the road and just a slow-speed drop on the right side.

While we're doing this, the unmistakable roar of a V4 comes down the road from the opposite direction. It's Chris! We'd been running a bit late due to the other accidents and he's taken off down the road to come find us. About this point we all realise it's really hot, so Adam strips off and jumps off the dam wall into the dam. That's about a 20 metre drop to you and I! Sharon got some photos, but I wasn't quick enough to get them. As he's crawling out of the very cold water (it's snow run-off water) myself and Chris meander on to Cabr/amurra in search of a bite to eat and a catch up chat. Lunch (meat pies!) and a glue-up session for my boot follows.

Tumut dam, where Adam went for a swim. The ledge casting a shadow is about the same height as the forground that he jumped from

Looking north up the valley from the dam wall.

Before leaving Cabr/amurra, Robin and I swap bikes. One of the things I wanted to do during the weekend is to let others have a ride of a well set up bike. Robin, as a (relative to us) newbie rider was the first to answer and so he got first ride. In return, I got to have my first ride on a Cbr/6. I'd ridden a newer F4i on a track day run by HRCA before, but you really don't get to test it out in those conditions. This time, I had the perfect stretch of road before me - The Snowy Mountains Highway. This is an A1 piece of motorcycling road. Smooth hotmix, no potholes, br/ight yellow line markings and 10 foot high orange posts to mark where the road is going over the next rise. Heavenly!

Jumping on the bike, the suspension felt quite soft relative to mine (close to race setup) and I had to remember to rev the crap out of the bike again. Three or four corners in and I'm starting to feel quite comfy on the bike. It's a little asthmatic up top, but it seems to be doing Ok. Just as the road starts to tighten up a little I find myself in behind Chris, who is now leading. Four corners later and I find myself continuously running up the back of him and having to back off. It feels as though the engine hasn't been revved out to redline in a very long time because each time it gets about 12K it stutters a little. Each time I do it, it stutters less, so it must just be carbed up a bit. For the last three or four corners I've been looking for a good oppourtunity to pass Chris, he's starting to hold me up now. Finally the oppourtunity arrives and it's this lovely 65km/h right hander with a long uphill stretch after it and a left at the top of that, and you can see this from a couple of corners away. So I position myself at the right spot, pick the gear and then just fly up the inside of Chris in the middle of the corner and take off up the hill. As I'm pulling along side him, I see him look over and then twist the throttle to the stops. Sorry Chris, not your day today! :). With that, I'm away. The road turns into 20km of 35/45 corners and this is br/illiant 600 territory. The bike, despite appearing soft on the suspension is just railing around the corners. A fraction soft on the rebound both front and rear, but everything else is perfect. Nice br/akes, nice engine now that it's freed up a lot and great handling. To give you an idea of just how nice this bike is on these roads, I'd pulled into Adaminaby, refueled the bike and taken a leak before Chris showed up. I must have pulled at 10 minutes on him over a 60km section of road. Fantastic!

The rear tyre after day two. Note the glossy appearance to the left edge from where I've been spinning it up on the road the day before.

For the next section, back to Jindabyne, Robert has taken my bike and I'm on his VFR. Murray is back to flying form again so he, Chris and I take off at Warp 9 on these roads. We're back to open-plains fast sweepers, perfect VFR territory. Rob's bike is a little soft on the suspension setup, but the front feels like it has had some work done to it compared to other VFRs I've ridden. (Chatting with Chris later, he's done springs and valving work to it).

We arrive back at about five just in time to wander around the carpark to see if Honda were still doing test rides. Everything was closed up so I guess not. The three of us decide to head back to the lodge, and get packed up, as Chris has not yet checked in.

Upon arriving at the lodge, a few familiar bikes are noted. Trevor's immaculate green 97 VFR is spotted as well as Ross' ST1100 as well. Pulling up and starting to remove the various bits of motorcycling apparel, we're greated to the site of Graeme hobbling out of the doorway. WTF? And so we get the story:

Just outside of Thredbo, there's a nice section of road called Dead Horse Gap. When I passed through there there was gravel and horseshit all over the road. You really had to slow down and slalom through it all. Well that is where he came unstuck. He'd avoided the first, but the rear has caught a second pile and gone sideways on him. I think at this stage he's panicked a bit and with the weight of a pillion the back and front of the bike have swapped ends and deposited both on the ground. He's badly bunged up (large chunk out below the left knee and lots of br/uising) and Julie is just really sore. Julie had gone with the owners of the lodge to fetch the bike (ripper mob this lot! That's why we come back here all the time).

At some point later, the bike arrives on the trailer. All the rest of our group has turned up by then and been given the story. It's a pretty sad sight to see a less than one month old bike turn up in a trailer looking very much worse for wear. Casting an eye over it, it appears that there's not too much real damamge done. A lot of cosmetic stuff, and the most serious seems to be two missing mirrors and the screen. So us mecahnically inclined guys rip the thing of the trailer and set to work fixing it up. A bit of gaffa tape here, a large amount of force there and Hey Presto! - A straight bike. Everything runs, and just to make sure that it's still straight someone needs to take it for a quick run. Hmmm... Ok, so who's had less that four beers? Right - Chris, you've had two, take it for a quick fang. One wheelie (sure it was the VTEC Chris) a couple of gear changes and something almost resembling a stoppie and the bike is pronounced as fit to ride.

The crashed 02 VFR after "repairs"

We have the technology! Gaffer tape makes the world hold together

The aus_vfr gang discussing the afairs of the nation

By now it's getting late and we're on the happy side of pissed. Tonight is the 1st anniversary of starting the aussie VFR list, so there's a dinner to celebrate it. Much fun was had, lots of chatting, drinking and eating (mmm... Galway Pipe Port, Cheesecake and an Espresso) was had. About 25 turned up, most of them in the photo. And you might be wondering how a Vtr rider managed to get into the VFR list dinner? Well, I also own a baby VFR. Sure it only works on the track, and you can't exactly go touring on it, but at least I qualify! I was on the list for a while but the traffic of that and the other lists I'm on became too much so I dropped off.

Back to Day 1 On to Day 3 and 4