Coalville������������ Sunday 27th �May 2011

Damir Djikic

Honda CBR1000

Cliff Peters

Kawasaki ZX1200R

Ian Payne

Honda CBR1000

Mark Copeland

Kawasaki ZX10

Tony Stegmar

Honda CBR1000

John Willis

Kawasaki ZX1000

Paul Southwell

Honda CBR1000

Jason Wilson

Kawasaki ZX9

Tim Emons (lead)

Honda CBR1000

Rob Jones

Suzuki GSXR1000

Ben Warden�

Honda CBR954

Darryn Hutchinson

Suzuki GSXR1000

Pina Garasi

Honda CBR600

Chris Pointon

Suzuki GSXR1000

Steve Mudford

Yamaha FZ1

Cindy Lee

Suzuki GSXR750

Marc Marais

Triumph 675

Peter Ng (5th ride)

MV Augusta Brutale 1078

I dubbed this the �Thorpedale Quilt Show� ride after passing through a week earlier on a pre-ride and noticing advertising banners hanging in the town. Unfortunately, the banners had been removed by the time we arrived � maybe next year...

Preparing to leave home, I was faced with that tough annual decision � with a forecast top of 14 degrees, do I stick with the regular gloves, or is it time to break out the thick winter ones? Given that this is the last ride before winter, I decided to stick with the regulars and kept the heated handgrips on low for most of the day.

The punters kept on rolling in until we had a field of 18 bikes and riders. Notable inclusions were Club President, Ian Payne, not seen on a ride since Tasmania, Steve Mudford riding an FZ1 kindly offered to him by Raj, Cindy Lee desperate to squeeze in as much riding as possible before taking an enforced break (I wonder if you can suspend your registration for that period?), Peter Ng out for more fun on his beautiful Brutale, and Darryn Hutchinson who said he hasn�t seen me since Noojee � my mind reeled back through the last dozen times I�d been through there recently! I wasn�t surprised to see Rob Jones, given the ride�s close proximity to the Grand Ridge Brewery. As for the remainder, what can I say? You are the hardcore MSR!

Enough socialising. Helmets on and we head east on the freeway, round up the series of roundabouts at the Nar Nar Goon exit, take the usual back roads to Longwarry and back across the freeway. Time to let our engines sing, winding it out on the fast sweepers towards Jindivick, the roads mostly dry apart from a few wet patches, usually mid-corner.

My head was still waking up as I wound up the pace, but obviously not enough for Cliff who sailed past and threatened to disappear from sight. I guess having endured the freeway ride all the way from Geelong had increased his appetite for a fix.� I gave the bike a bit more and enjoyed the chase until he waved me past again coming into Jindivick. (In hindsight, he should be writing this article!)

No room for outlandish behaviour the other side of town though, with nasty gravel patches, big holes, bumps and slimy conditions keeping things cautious until we reached Neerim South. Back to regular pace as we blasted through the Crossover Sweepers, and the Old Sale Road. Through Willow Grove the suspension had a good workout on the bumpy twisties as we made our way to Moe for morning tea.

Ian had been rear rider up to this point, but had lawns to mow back home, so Paul took over for the next leg.

After a slow cruise through the southern outskirts of Moe we picked up the Coalville road which was in pretty good condition for this time of year. Last time we came down here it was all wet, green and slippery. Now it was only patchy wet, green and slippery...

We made the most of the grippier roads through Driffield and Yinnar, kept to a more cautious pace down to Boolarra, then got stuck into the good twisties all the way to Mirboo North. There was plenty of loose gravel around on this road, but usually not in big enough piles to be a concern (especially if you�re leading, you�re not being peppered with rocks from the bike in front... I cracked my right hand mirror on last week�s ride as a result of a rock thrown up from the bike ahead).

As we fuelled up in Mirboo North I heard reports that Steve had holed the FZ1�s radiator, a victim of the gravel. Tools were out and panels removed to gain access to the radiator filler cap and StopLeak was administered. But the hole was too big to plug and continued to flow freely. Steve and Cindy were forced into early retirement and begin the lengthy recovery involving pillioning back to Melbourne on Cindy�s bike (with no pillion seat) and returning with a trailer, eventually arriving home at 8.30pm.

As the panels were re-fitted, the helpful bystanders offered such handy advice as �tighten the screws until you hear it crack, then back off � of a turn�. (Don�t worry Raj, Steve is a gentle man with a screwdriver � quite unlike his handshake). To make the trip back to Melbourne more frustrating, I pointed out that we were just heading into the best part of the ride!

Chris headed home from here as well, and the call of the brewery had already taken Darryn and Rob captive, so our numbers had dropped to 12.

My original intention was to have lunch in Mirboo North, after completing the loop, but decided to change it to Leongatha as we were going to be passing nearby there halfway around, and it would work better for spreading the distances over the following legs. I�d overheard our European brethren complaining about the standard of the coffee available at morning tea in Moe, and I required a decent fix too, so I googled Leongatha+coffee and came up with the details for �Number 9 dream�. I phoned ahead to make sure they were open, and it was settled.

I headed out of town with a smile on my dial as the sun had started peeping through, and I knew the glorious roads that lay ahead. An entree of open sweepers down to Mirboo, into the main course of downhill tight twisties opening out into big fast corner country with beautiful glimpses of the rolling Gippsland hills with fantastic, clean grippy surface all the way. Then up �Loves Lane� with its tight uphill corners, over a rise at full steam and #$^@&*! - lashings of thick� mud dropped from farm traffic ahead! Hard on the brakes, then ease off as I hit the mud. Too late. The front�s locked up, bars pull sideways, legs fly off the pegs to be used as involuntary counterweights, look at the muddy verge that the bike�s about to spit me down. Front regains traction, wobble around, feet back on pegs, all is good with the world again (and still travelling at a decent pace). It must have looked hilarious to John who witnessed the whole show from behind.

We loop back around to Nerrena Road for the final hit of undulating sweepers before burbling into Leongatha for lunch. Numbers are now down to 11 after a �lack of corner marking� incident sent John on a detour that would�ve had him rejoin the group if he�s turned left instead of right at the end of Mardan Road. He made his way back to Mirboo North and awaited our return.

I chatted up the barista in the cafe, and my order jumped the queue � my coffee was finished before Damir�s arrived, and he�d ordered before me! Plenty of laughs over lunch, but as usual, I can�t remember exactly what was so funny.

Next we headed north on Wild Dog Road to Fairbank, then blasted up towards Hallston. I spotted a familiar green Kwaka in my mirrors, closing in rapidly � not Cliffy this time. I got on it, enjoying the quick run up this great stretch of road to the next intersection. Hallston came and went, as did the 20m gravel corner. We picked up John on our way back through Mirboo North. Pina jumped back on her bike after getting an adrenaline fix on the back of Ben�s bike for the loop, and took over as rear rider.

The �Thorpedale esses� caused me to crack a smile as always. As we descended the bouncy twisties off the range, Damir managed to overtake most of the group as we waited at an automated roadwork traffic light half way down. We pulled in for fuel in Trafalgar.

Jason approached me holding his pointy Leatherman pliers, asking if I had a steady hand � the rubber end had come off one of his earbud headphones and was now lost somewhere inside his head! I had a quick look, but couldn�t see any sign of it, then ran the other way hoping someone else would take over. Note: First Aid is not my strong point! He managed to poke around in there himself, using the bathroom mirror (not that it could�ve helped), and retrieved it.

Ben and Paul left us here, and the remaining 10 riders continued back through Crossover, Neerim South, Neerim East (Damir didn�t recognise the corner he left his previous Fireblade on), Nayook and the final blast into Powelltown for the official finish, 375km from Berwick. Jason noticed Marc puffing on his �e-cigarette�, and clearly expressed his fascination that such a thing existed!

Thanks to the four rear riders, and to the rest for your fine company. A most enjoyable day out in the hills, home in the dark with a satisfied soul.


Tim Emons