Mirboo North������������� Sunday 20thFebruary, 2011

Tim Emons (leader)

Honda CBR1000

Frank Ferreira (2nd ride)

Triumph Sprint ST

Damir Djikic

Honda CBR1000

Henry Wright (1/3 rear)

Triumph Triple R

Tony Stegmar

Honda CBR1000

Jason Duff


John Willis

Honda XL1000

Geoff Dick


Willem Vandeveld (1/3 rear)

Honda ST1300

Chris Pointon

Suzuki GSXR1000

Ben Warden

Honda CBR954

Cindy Lee (1/3 rear)

Suzuki GSXR750

Pina Garasi

Honda CBR600

Raj Malhotra

Yamaha FZ1

Cliff Peters

Kawasaki ZX10R

Rick Van

Yamaha YZF600

Steve Mudford

Aprilia Motard

Robert Langer

KTM 950




18 bikes, 18 people

I managed to get out one mid-week afternoon to pre-ride some of the dodgy back roads I had originally planned to cover on the first half of this ride. This resulted in some quick changes to the route. The severely bumpy roads and piles of gravel washed down after the recent deluges pushed the risk category to an unacceptably high level. Unfortunately, I couldn�t predict oncoming traffic issues...

A healthy turnout of 16 bikes and riders assembled in Berwick. I noted two unfamiliar faces: second time rider Frank Ferreira on a Triumph Sprint 1050 ST and Geoff Dick riding a BMW R850R. A new red Fireblade caught my eye as it rolled in to fill up. Once the owner�s helmet was removed I recognised Tony Stegmar! He was last seen on a ride I led the January 2009 on a white GSXR1000 that he destroyed in spectacular fashion on the last turn at Broadford a week or two later. Good to see you back Tony!

I met suspension guru and all round nice guy Steve Mudford. (Did I mention quick? There weren�t many corners he didn�t get to mark.) I made it clear I�d have some work for him once my credit card recovers from its recent bout of on-line abuse.

We departed Berwick for a short stretch on the freeway before taking the Cardinia exit to start a succession of long, straight roads through to Bayles. The road eventually began rising up off the plains and into the hills, bringing corners our way. Along here I noticed an unfamiliar bike pulling up to corner mark - Rick Van had joined the ride. He was running late, but must have seen us leaving Berwick.

Entering a right hander on the Invermay East Road just outside of Drouin I was met by a Subaru Outback coming the other way in the middle of the road. The driver decided to flash his headlights at me instead of moving onto his side of the road. I passed without issue, and hoped the rest of the group would do the same. After a short wait for corner markers at the next intersection it became apparent that this was not the case. Reportedly, Frank had run wide as a result of the car, and gone down. Rider ok, bike not rideable. Ben stayed behind to sort out tow truck, etc.

At the next corner Robbie pulled over to corner mark. He locked up the front brake in mud on the verge and toppled over, the brake lever punching a pinhole in his KTM�s engine cover. Temporary repairs were carried out with 100mph tape enabling him to complete the ride.

We emerged onto the Warragul Korumburra Road and made the most of the dry conditions as it was clearly not going to last much longer. Big, grey clouds rapidly descended on both sides of the ridge, swallowing up the views. I thought it might be a good idea to pull over soon and put my wets on. Alas, within another 60 seconds I was soaked! The sudden deluge was so heavy it was spraying up inside my visor.

I put my wets on as I waited for corner markers at the Poowong turnoff. The next bike to arrive was a green ZX10 � Cliff had found us! Not a bad effort considering this road didn�t even feature in my original plan.

Onward to Loch for morning tea. Steve had to siphon some fuel from Cindy�s tank on the way as his motard is only good for around 115 kilometres� if you take it easy!

Ben was already waiting at Loch; the Drouin tow truck had been quick to arrive. Frank�s bike was unceremoniously dragged onto the back of the tray truck by a chain around its front wheel and Frank�s girlfriend was co-opted into picking him up from Drouin. Ben had his maps out and was offering geographical assistance to some other riders who were passing through, on their way home to Eden.

After the break, we headed south on damp roads enjoying being buffeted around by a howling cross-wind, and completed a quick circuit through Almurta and Archies Creek, then back up towards Loch, taking a detour through Bena and back on to the Warragul-Korumburra Road. I had warned others of a few road repairs on the first kilometre of the Arawata road that had patches of loose gravel when I came through last Wednesday. By now the council had covered the entire width of the road in fresh gravel resulting in a surface not unlike riding on large ballbearings (not that I�ve tried it...). Beyond that, the road was clear again up to the usual three kilometre stretch of real gravel. This confirmed that gravel laid on dirt offers much more grip than gravel laid over a sealed road.

We regrouped at the end of the gravel where Steve demonstrated the handy fuel siphoning pump that ought to be supplied as part of the motard�s toolkit. After a brief break it was gear back on for the final adrenalin fuelled blast through Hallston and into Mirboo North for fuel and a late lunch. We encountered the Shearwater Ulysses group near Hallston including Geoff Shugg on his DL650. He stopped for a chat with Ben.

The strong west wind had dried out the roads. We headed north through the Thorpedale esses, and down the deteriorating twisties into Trafalgar. Still fun to ride, but watch out for the big bumps! Over the Princes Highway and further north Damir and I dispensed with the Crossover sweepers in a flash. I�m sure that stretch of road used to be longer... Sitting close to the speed limit, we putted into Neerim South, before getting off the main road again.

I was enjoying the smooth linear song the �blade was singing on the back road through Neerim East, but John Willis�s bike kept distorting the melody with it�s noisy exhaust belching behind me. Poor thing. Only running on two cylinders. If he rode a �proper� inline four cylinder bike we�d have no chance of keeping up with him.

We stopped in Neerim Junction for a break before the last leg when Ben received a call informing us that Damir had gone down somewhere on the Neerim East Road. Sounds like a car had come around a corner on his side of the road, he took to the dirt to avoid it, but when he attempted to return to the bitumen the back tyre lost traction and low-sided the bike, resulting in possibly a broken thumb and bike in bad shape. Hopefully both recover quickly and are back out harassing lead riders again soon.

Ben, Cliff and Pina returned to assist while Henry offered to fill in rear riding duties for a slightly shortened final leg. We had a spirited run down the hill through Nayook, and, as we reached the T intersection at the bottom, I waited to give way to a dark Commodore approaching from the Noojee side, heading the same way as us. As he passed I could just make out the LED lights mounted inside the rear window, and decided to give him a 5 minute head start. I informed the others, and played bunny out the front, still at an enjoyable pace, though not nearly as brisk as most other times I�ve covered this particular stretch of road.

Right hand fingers at the ready on my new imitation Pazzo levers (thanks for the tip Ken...), I plugged on, �eyes on stalks� as Ben says, until sure enough, the same unmarked car came past in the other direction a couple of km before we reached the twisty bit. (He must have parked up back in Nayook in the 60 zone as it sounds like the same one 90 minutes later when Pina and I went through. Scared me. �Ed.)

The roads here were still damp in patches, so we took it at a fun but cautious pace. We waved to Robbie, Geoff and John as they peeled off north on the Gembrook Road, as we continued south for a lovely final blast to Gembrook. Henry departed here, so this became the official end to the ride after 393km.

I continued to lead through Cockatoo and onto the Beaconsfield Road where Tony waved goodbye, then delivered the final two to Wellington Road with Jason turning off at Kelletts Road and Rick taking Eastlink.

Thanks to Willem, Cindy and Henry for sharing rear riding duties, and of course Ben for assisting at both incidents. Contrary to my reputation, I didn�t get anyone lost on this ride, but I hope one of these days I can finish a ride with the same number of riders that started it!

My social and work calendar is full for the weeks ahead, so I wish a speedy recovery to Frank and Damir, and all the best to the Tassie crew. Today�s wind and rain should have been good preparation for the 10 days you face ahead. Can�t wait to read the stories... See you on the Dargo MK II weekend!


Tim Emons