MMT Storm Chaser Ride
by David P
This ride report was originally published in the September 2010 issue of the Motorcycle Tourers club magazine, ‘Chain Lube’.
Isn’t funny how sometimes things just don’t quite work out as planned?
Allow me to take you back one week before the August club ride. It’s a stunning sunny Sunday without a cloud in the sky, perfect motorcycling conditions. Michael & I are driving to Beechworth delivering a new cast iron fire place to friends who lost their house in Marysville on Black Saturday. I decided that this would be a good opportunity to explore some new roads for my club ride in a week’s time. Mainly the Eildon Jamieson Road, which strangely enough runs between Eildon & Jamieson.
Plan 1: Ride from South Yarra to Lilydale, then continue on to Taggerty via The Black Spur, on to Eildon, Jamieson & Howqua to Mansfield for lunch.
Upon reaching the Eildon Jamieson Road we were in awe of its beauty. As we climbed into the mountains along the twisty road we had spectacular views of nearby snow capped mountains and glimpses of Lake Eildon below. I had been told that there was a stretch of dirt along this section of road, but I needed to find out for myself how long and how bad. The road so far was of good quality so I thought maybe the section of dirt had been sealed. Soon enough our dream run came to an end as we drove along the unsealed section of road. I quickly set the trip meter thinking a short section of dirt would be a small price to pay for what was otherwise one of the best roads I’d ever been on. Pretty soon the road deteriorated to slushy mud, and with the trip meter still counting at 13 kilometres before we were back on the black, this was definitely not an option for the club ride. Funding for the road to be sealed has been approved and preliminary works has already begun. So this will definitely be a ride prospect for the future.
Plan 2: Just follow the Maroondah Highway all the way to Mansfield and make the trip home more interesting going via Ruffy, Caveat & Strath Creek – problem solved!
So, one week later with a revised map in hand I set off to South Yarra. With a forecast for rain clearing to showers I opted for the Dri-Rider Jacket over the usual leathers. Upon arrival at South Yarra it started to rain lightly but steadily. Rolf, Arbel, Max, Glenn, Peter K, Michael & I headed off to Lilydale leaving behind Justin who came along for a coffee but wisely decided it was too wet & cold for a ride, and Adam M who was on duty selling tickets to the 20th anniversary party. At Lilydale we were greeted by John C & John H completing the “Red Honda Club” along with Glenn. Peter K decided to head home as there was no sign of the rain letting up. With a total of 8 bikes we headed towards our destination via the Black Spur. Along the Spur the rain increased and I started to feel dampness seeping in through various parts of my protective gear. By the time we reached Narbethong I was seriously starting to rethink the planned route. Luckily Rolf had a slow leak on his front tyre valve and needed air, so it was agreed that we’d stop at Buxton. Once Rolf had sorted out the leaky valve issue we decided to stop up the road at Butters Café (Where Adam H stopped for lunch on the June ride) to thaw out a bit.
Plan 3: Stop and have lunch at Buxton, cutting the ride short due to inclement weather.
I cancelled our booking for lunch in Mansfield stating “Our bus had suffered mechanical failure” somehow this just seemed like a natural excuse to me? As we peeled off our outer wet layers, we laughed about the amount of water coming out of our gloves like tea being poured from a cold teapot. The fire inside the café was most welcoming. I soaked up the warmth while looking out the window at the steady rain outside…
Once we’d finished our lunch John H & John C wanted to continue on, stating “Are we here for a ride or are we going to sit around and drink coffee all day” Rolf needed no further encouragement so before I knew it we were off to Mansfield as originally planned.
Plan 4: Go back to Plan 2 (Mansfield).
We reached Mansfield a short time later and given we were already wet the group wanted to continue on further. I figured we weren’t that far from Whitfield and the rain was starting to ease so we headed on towards the King Valley.
Plan 5: Abandon all plans and just keep riding.
We were really getting into the groove and none of us wanted to turn back. Rolf suggested we ride to Khancoban where we might see some snow! Glenn hadn’t been along the Murray Valley Highway for ages and was really keen. No-one seemed concerned when I mentioned if we travel that far we might not make it home before dark. We travelled to Tallangatta via Beechworth and Yackandandah. It was great to see Lake Hume starting to fill with water after years of drought. After a fuel stop at Tallangatta we continued on the final leg to Khancoban only slowing as we passed through Corryong. As soon as we approached the base of the Snowy Mountains the road started to become a bit slippery with small amounts of recent snow lining the road. John H went ahead taking some magnificent photos of us with snow capped mountains in the distance. It was freezing at Khancoban. Max was fine on the Beemer with his heated hand grips. I was cold and tired after such a long ride and started to doze off in the General Store while the others warmed up with hot beverages. I could hear Michael saying “Come on. Let’s make a move it’s not going to stop raining”.
…As I opened my eyes we were back at Buxton. Oh, I must have fallen asleep next to the fire at lunch. I looked out the window and it was still raining steadily. Putting on my wet gloves was like immersing my hand in a bucket of ice water, but once we got going it didn’t seem quite so bad. We refuelled at Yea and then continued on to Strath Creek where the sun shined briefly, then onto Flowerdale, King Lake West and Whittlesea. So after all my planning the ride didn’t end up as I expected, but it will be memorable.