I feel as though I start so many of the blogs with, ‘No riding again this week’. But not today. Today I feel like the only gay baboon in the herd as my bum is still red and numb from riding back from Bright in Victoria yesterday.
I had to pick up my KLR from the Touratech guys who are based near Wanagaratta. They were running a display at the Adventure Film Festival in Bright, so it was a chance to get a couple of things done at once.
I flew to Melbourne Friday morning, caught a bus from the airport to a railway station, caught a train to Wangaratta, then another bus which took a fascinating loop around the region (not) before dropping me at Bright about 90 minutes later. That all went pretty well. It was a hot day, but I was in airconditioning of one kind or another most of the time. The bus dropped me outside the fleabag Alpine Hotel in the centre of Bright, and I was staying at the Bright Chalet several kilometres away, so I threw my gearbag on my shoulder and started walking.
I was lucky, because when I rounded the corner, there was the Adventure Film Festival right next to the Bright brewery, about 500m down the road.
After I’d ticked most of my work tasks off my list I was able to jump on the KLR – complete with a Safari Tank, Touratech ‘Stage Two’ suspension upgrade, Touratech hard panniers, Touratech headlight protector and new Tractionator tyres – and ride down to the Bright Chalet…only to realise I was staying at the Alpine Hotel, right where the bus dropped me off in the first place.
Once I had the bike there was no problem. Tooling around Bright on a warm, sunny afternoon is about as good as it gets, and I really enjoyed it. There were bikes and people of all kinds everywhere, and everyone was clearly loving the place. I got to the hotel, checked in, cranked the airconditioner to maximum cold and started to sort through my gear for the trip home.
The film festival had a fabulous atmosphere. Bright is such a sensational destination, and the outdoor cinema under a full moon on a summer night was really special. Kids and dogs paddled in the shallow alpine stream next to the screen and it was a real experience.
The next day was forecast to hit 42 degrees, so I was up before dawn. The KLR and I hit the road at about 5.30am and rode through Myrtleford, Yackandandah and on to Albury watching a glorious sunrise, heading north.
Here’s the riding bit: It was something like 1200km and I made it home at 7.30pm. There was nothing glamorous about droning up the Hume and Pacific Highways, but I learned a bit about the bike, and I was home in time to be at my desk for tomorrow morning. I have a hectic couple of weeks coming up, and I was really going to be in strife if I lost a day or two.
One thing I did find interesting was the ‘Omni’ brand cruise control the Motorrad Garage people had sent me to try. On a trip like that one it was absolutely brilliant! It’s a very simple mechanical device that makes those long, droning trips infinitely more bearable. I loved it. Here’s what they look like…
It’s a bit early to say how the suspension on the KLR will shape up. It’s clearly and obviously a huge step forward from the stock set-up. Even on the road the supple responsiveness is obvious. Robin Box at Touratech rode the bike to set it up and tune the components, and he was obviously surprised at how well it was working. That tells me a lot. He’s a very experienced rider.
The panniers were magic on a trip like this one. For once I could put my camerabag in a pannier instead of wearing it, and I found myself quickly taking for granted how easy it was to flip the top open and grab a map, camera, cloth, phone or any one of a dozen other items I normally have strapped to me. That made the highway ride a great deal more comfortable too.
Next the KLR goes to Dan Vaughan for some bits and pieces, the most urgent being a front brake that almost doesn’t work. I’ll start with brake pads and stainless brake line and see how things feel after that. The front tyre behaved a little strangely, so I need to have a look at that as well, but otherwise the bike was great. For an old warhorse with 45,000km on the odo it punted along like a good’n. The only time I was worried was in the Sydney traffic. I hit Pennant Hills Road in the hottest part of the day, and it was scorching. The heat coming up from the road matched the searing air and it was bloody uncomfortable. I seemed to catch every red light and I watched as the temperature gauge climbed.
It got to about halfway up the dial and stayed there. So that was a relief.
So I rode a bit of distance this week, and even if it wasn’t a very exciting or interesting ride it was still way better than being at my desk.
PS: I got to ride an Africa Twin at last! I rode Touratech’s Africa twin back to motel for them. It was about 500m, but it still counts. I can now say I’ve ridden one. TF