Dargo MK II ������������� Saturday 2nd - Sunday 3rd April 2011

It was a last minute decision to attend this ride. I had a few work and home issues to clear up first but it all came together by Thursday night. I was really looking forward to it. I�d never managed to make it to Dargo in the past. The road in used to be dirt many years ago so it didn�t hold any attraction to me. All that has changed now!

Up early Saturday morning. I�d told Billy I would watch for him, Cliff and Danny when they rode past the Todd Road servo on the Westgate.� I arrived around 15 minutes before they came by but they didn�t notice me until I went past them further up the road. All up, about a 70 minute ride to Berwick .

Within 5 minutes of arrival, all 15 riders who had booked had arrived. Whilst filling up, I hear �Thought I�d join the Club!� I look up to see John Willis on his shiny new black Ninja 1000! �Picked it up yesterday� he says. Cool! He did have tape over his Ninja stickers though� Hmm. �What�s with that,� I asked. �I�m not a twelve year old� was his reply. Don�t be ashamed of the Ninja name, my friend. Kawasaki has been using it for 28 years now. Be loud and proud! I think he thought better of it and I noticed the tape was gone shortly after.

John was not alone with a new toy. To everyone�s surprise, Rob Langer turned up on his new Ninja 1000, in black and green livery. A two-for-one deal at a very attractive price. You both look great on your new rides, guys!

Tim is leading, Ben is rear rider. A first for me on a ride. A shameful grab for extra Club points � Only joshing, Ben! J

The weather forecast predicted showers and we rode through a quick shower on the freeway coming in. Now the sun was shining brilliantly and would remain that way for most of the weekend. Dry roads. Yay! J

So off we go, droning up the freeway to the Tynong turnoff. We pass a tax collector next to the Fogarty Road bridge. I hope everyone saw it. We took the usual route through Garfield, Bunyip etc. These sleepy towns didn�t know what hit them, on a quiet Saturday morning.

We cross back over the freeway and ride through towns like Buln Buln, Willow Grove, and Yallourn North to Tyers for morning tea. Then off to Glengarry and around Lake Glenmaggie. Some great roads here. Bumpy in places but good fun. The lake looks huge with all the recent inflows. There are a heap of on-site vans around it but hardly a soul to be seen. Perhaps they all disappeared during the drought.� That may change now.

My bike loves this country and handles the bumps well. When you live out west, you gotta have a bike that handles bumps, hey Pina? All the crew are having fun. I get overtaken by Misho, Cliff, Danny, Billy, John R, Kurn, Pierre, Paul, Tony, John W, Pina, Robbie� while I was corner marking. Ben will have to wait for tomorrow for that pleasure!

After Lake Glenmaggie we made our way to Briagolong for fuel and then Bruthen for lunch. Don�t ask me how we got there. We ended up on the main road between Bairnsdale and Bruthen for a short distance but I�m unsure which way we went � all I know is, it was fun! A great way to avoid the Princes Highway. There was another tax collector pointing the other way along here, the last to be seen for the weekend.

Somewhere along here Cliff copped a rock on his hand from an oncoming car. The rock split in two upon impact and half landed on his tank! His knuckle sure looked sore; I hope he hasn�t broken any bones. At Bruthen Paul helped clean up the wound and Cliff soldiered on.

After lunch we head up the Great Alpine Road towards Omeo. Most people know this road and how fantastic it is. I�m left near the back of the group after corner marking but eventually pass a few of the guys as well as a couple of hapless BMW GS riders who got in the way before eventually catching up to Billy. I haven�t ridden with Bill for a while and enjoyed partnering up again through this fine piece of motorcycling nirvana. John Willis catches up to join in the fun as well. He�s sure enjoying the new Ninja. They must have a shorter run in period these days. Cool!

Tim stops us at Doctors Flat/Connors Hill for a regroup and photo op. Ben takes one of many group shots. The bikes look great all lined up and looking eager to get into some more corners. John�s Ninja is dripping rubber off the rear tyre. Seems some suspension adjustment is in order.

We head north again for a short way before turning west along Connors Creek for a loop back onto the Great Alpine Road and back to Bruthen. Along this narrow stretch I come over a hill towards a right hander and see Billy waving his arms frantically. I hope no one�s come down. Thankfully it was just a warning about a few rogue cattle on the road. I�m behind Pierre and the sound of the big V twin certainly kept the cattle at bay. We pass them quickly and are away.

Another quick ride on those great corners and we�re in Bruthen again. It�s quite warm by this stage and I feel blessed that we haven�t needed the wet weather gear most of us have packed. I begin to wonder where Dargo is from here. I�m sure I saw a sign 4-5 hours ago while corner marking that said �Dargo 63 km�. Tim must know a secret Shangrila-type way into Dargo, me thinks.

Off we go again. Back the same way we went this morning. We stop for a re-group and I see that same sign � �Dargo 63 km�. I think we were lost and it took us all day to find our way back to this spot, hey Tim? LOL!

So now we are on the road to Dargo. And what a road it is! Magnificent! I won�t be waiting so long to do it again, I can assure you.

Was that Tim�s or Misho�s yellow �blade by the side of the road? He�s fiddling around with his clothing, so he�s OK. Must have been Misho as no one has stopped and Tim�s leading.

Corner after corner of clean, well cambered, fast and slow corners. What a buzz! Around a corner and whoa! A calf standing right in the middle of the road! It runs off � no worries. Twist that throttle again, baby, and I�m off.

It was around 5pm or so by now and I was thinking wildlife might begin to appear, but I wasn�t really expecting a cow. Didn�t see anything else.

I arrive in Dargo and Cliff, Danny and Misho are there already. Ben arrives and after a quick check of who�s in which house, we settle in. Great accommodation. Clearly somebody�s house who has let it out while they�re away. Quite new and beautifully kept garden and outdoor areas. I wish we could stay for a week!

Off to the pub for a drink and dinner. A bit of a chat, a few games of pool (thanks Paul and Kurn), then back home. Gee, it was dark and I forgot my torch. Bill and I would have walked out of town if the little garden lights at our house weren�t on. Kurn and I then went over to �Up Dargo�, the house on the river where the lads had a warming campfire. Another quick chat, then home to bed.� I slept well after the 700 kays for the day from home.

Next morning Ben served us up egg and bacon rolls with coffee from the Dargo Store where Lyn was working. I don�t know Lyn but I believe she is a member/ex-member. A great breaky and much appreciated. Thanks guys!

The sun was shining with not a cloud in the sky. Another great surprise, given the forecast.� As Ben�s reward, Robbie took over rear riding duties, but not before a friendly debate with John Rousseaux who had his eyes on the extra point. Robbie soon put paid to that idea. Sorry John. Ninja�s rule!

So off we all roar, back down the Dargo road before turning up Beverley�s Road, a great little road that was smooth, up and down, and quite fast. Loving it. We stopped at Briagolong for fuel.

Our lunch destination was Licola. Most of us know what a good road it is. The weather had turned quite windy but remained dry. We had a blast along the Licola Road. On arrival, I decided to hang out and have lunch and relax on the grass while most of the guys went up the Wellington River Road. Pina jumped onto the back of Danny�s GSXR for the trip.

I got talking to an older bloke on an R1 who had just moved to Maffra from Atherton in Queensland. Quite a change for someone who has never lived down south before. He cited the 60 km/h speed limit now imposed on the Gillies Highway as the reason for him moving down. Quite a logical reason for any self-respecting motorcyclist. I hope he�s ready for a cold winter!

After Licola we headed the usual way back to Tyers for afternoon tea and fuel. From here we took the great Tyers-Walhalla road to Rawson. I was in a freight train with Tim, Cliff, Danny, Ben, Misho and Billy � in no particular order. The road has fantastic fast sweepers that are highly recommended. We then cut across to Erica and down the equally good Moe-Walhalla road.

The guys were really hooking in and I came up behind a car that I couldn�t quite get around, or so I thought. Ben, however, didn�t draw the same conclusion and was around me and the car in one fell swoop. Hmm. I must reassess my risk/reward strategy if I�m to keep up with these guys. Tony also joined in as well as Kurn, the two John�s, and Paul. Pina was in there somewhere as well. In this fast stuff, you�re riding great, girl.

Back up to Willow Grove, Hill End and down through that goat track known as the Icy Creek Road. What a piece of crap it is. I�d rather ride on dirt to be perfectly honest� lol .[It was unusually slippery� Ed.] This led us to Noojee and the ride breakup.

This was one of the best weekends of riding I�ve done in a long time; on a par with the Tassie ride days. A great crew with no incidents which made it even better. We had a few damp roads in the last hour or so but the rest of the time, the roads were dry and the sun was shining.�

Thanks Tim. You put together a great ride and do it with such enthusiasm. And always with your trademark smile. Love your work. I look forward to doing it again next year, if not before.

Mark Copeland

PS I must also make mention of the fine trip back to Berwick Cliff led Danny, Billy, Tony (to Gembrook) and myself on. Thanks mate. It was an excellent way to finish off the trip.