VJMC Ride Report Part 5 – Day 4.5 – A Surplus Of The Letter M, A Stop In Bat Country, Techno-Fails & Arriving Too Late For Dinner

Part 5 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here, Part 2 herePart 3 here and Part 4 here.

Day 4.5 – Sunday Afternoon/Evening

My riding companions had left before 1 pm, hoping to get back to Newcastle before dark.
After waiting to see which bikes had won in the show, I headed off to meet them.

Having forgotten to get fuel before leaving Tamworth, I pressed on to Murrungundi for fuel. This must have been the most expensive fuel stop of the trip – I think 95 octane was about 158 or 160 cents a Litre. Wanting to conserve battery power and arrive at a reasonable time, I didn’t get any photos.

After about 20 kilometres of being stuck behind two cattle trucks that must have been carrying the most diarrhea-stricken cattle in the area before finally taking a turnoff ahead of me, I decided it must be break time. I stopped in Murrurundi to post this observation on Facebook:

Stopped for a break in Murrurundi. Stopped back at Murrungundi for fuel. Musswellbrook isn’t far down the road. Was there a surplus of the letter M when these places were named?

 

I soon had a couple of replies from friends who knew their Eastern States geography:

Then you come through maitland haha

 

You didn’t get to Mullumbimby ?

Of course, by the time I read these I was stopped in Singleton for fuel.

The park across the road from the petrol station looked nice, as there were a few large pine trees. I parked Scarlet while I sat at the picnic table under the gazebo and ate my chicken wrap.

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After looking up into the tree branches for a while, I realised that while the trees may well have been pine trees, it was not pine cones I was looking at! If you can’t see what they were from the picture below, click it for a better view.

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Still not sure? This sign might help…

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Yep. I was in bat country.

After posting that little gem to Facebook I was back on the road.

Just before 6 pm it got very dark just as I was approaching Newcastle. My GPS battery was totally flat and getting this far had already drained the solar battery pack, so I stopped to switch over to Google maps on my phone and use the remaining charge to get safely into town.

Just as I had put the address details in for my host’s place, I got a call from him asking how far away I was and if they should wait for me to arrive before heading to the club for dinner. I was about 17 km away at this stage so said I shouldn’t be long but had to go as my phone battery was going flat. Little did I know…

Just as I got into the outskirts of Newcastle, My phone battery went completely dead. Immediately after that, most of Scarlet’s lights stopped working – the speedo and tacho lights went off, the indicators were only lighting dimly and the tail light seemed to have gone as well.

I pulled over under a streetlight on a busy main road and tried desperately to get the solar battery pack to charge enough to recharge either the GPS or the phone so I could make a call or at least get enough directions to finish this leg of the journey.

After this failed, I switched Scarlet off and had a look at the fuses so I could hopefully at least get her lights working again.

Sure enough, I had blown a fuse. Swapped it out with the spare and checked the lights. All looking good, I tried to kick start her again. Nothing. Thinking maybe she had cooled down too much, I tried putting the choke on. Nothing, only now I could smell fuel faintly.

I pushed the choke plunger back in and the housing came off its mount. After several minutes, I managed to get it back into position. I tried kicking her over again and still nothing.

During this time, no cars had seemed to notice my plight and the few bikes that had come past had also ignored me. By this point I was about ready to literally kick the bike over, or possibly set her on fire. I screamed my frustration with Newcastle and its inhabitants in general to the world, swore at Scarlet, begged and pleaded with her to start.

After a couple of minutes, I calmed down and resigned myself to the fact that I might be waiting a while for help. Not sure exactly how long I waited when finally a car stopped and the driver got out to ask if I needed help. I explained my predicament and asked if he had a phone charger or a stereo with a USB port I could use. He was happy to oblige and even called a friend of his who “knew a bit about motorbikes” to get some advice on how to get Scarlet started. The advice while sound enough was pretty much what I’d tried already but I kept kicking her over until eventually she started.

It then turned out that the young man who had stopped to help was a missionary of sorts who wanted to talk to me about God. Not being the religious sort myself and wishing to politely end the discussion without causing offence, I thanked the Good Samaritan for his assistance and went on my way with enough charge on the phone to get more directions to my destination. This lasted me long enough to discover that I had several missed calls from my host and find a 7-11 petrol station along the way where I politely asked the cashier if he could plug my phone charger in for a few minutes after explaining my misfortune once more. He agreed and I bought myself some sandwiches to eat while I waited.

After about 10 minutes, I was able to check my messages and get Google maps to work for long enough to write down the remaining directions. My host and his other guest had already been out for dinner and returned and the other guest had gone to bed exhausted from the ride. It was only about 8:30 pm but I was finally able to rest after a VERY long day.

I guess that’s what I get for stopping in bat country…

END PART FIVE

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VJMC Ride Report Part 4 – Day 4 – Blue Ribbon Street Show, Then On The Road Again

Part 4 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Day 4  – Sunday

Early Sunday morning, I got up and packed Scarlet so I could leave for Newcastle after the street show, then rode to the main street.

On arrival, I unpacked her again and sorted out my registration.

The club members very kindly let me leave my bags and riding gear under the marquee tent.

I then set about taking photos of all the bikes on show. As there were about 50, I won’t post them all!

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Scarlet

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A couple of Hodaka Wombat 125s – the only entries in the “Other” catergory.

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My host’s Yamaha FZR250

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A couple of Honda Mini Trails

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A very nicely restored 1979 Honda CB1000Z 6

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A CB350

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Some nice classic Suzukis as well.

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A nice selection of Kawasakis.The two in the foreground of these pics were my favourites, although the orange and chrome one is not a colour scheme I’d normally go for!

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A few very nice classic Yamahas (one may look familiar)

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During the show I went and bought some tie-down straps and cheap backpacks as my trusty old backpack I’d used as a saddlebag was literally bursting at the seams.

My riding companions had left earlier hoping to get to Newcastle before dark. After waiting to see which bikes the winners were, I headed off to meet them.

END PART FOUR

VJMC Ride Report Part 3 – Day 3 – Blue Ribbon Ride And Murdo’s Museum

Part 3 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Day 3  – Saturday

Early Saturday morning, we headed to the meeting place for ride registration – the carpark next to the local Yamaha dealer!

At first it seemed like not many people had turned up for registration. It was just after 9 am on a Saturday morning, so not too bad a turnout…

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Over the next hour it got a lot busier.

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By the time we were underway, there were about 50 riders officially registered. Not bad for a charity ride in a town better known for its country music festival!

After about 60-90 minutes, we stopped in Quirindi for those that needed fuel to get it. Scarlet was thirsty by then so I was one of them.

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I parked Scarlet next to a bigger Honda from roughly the same era (I think it was a ’78 model?). You can see the Aussie Trike on the left as well.

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After everyone had refueled and was ready to go again, we were off again for another hour before stopping at the Nundle Pub for lunch.

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Unfortunately the management had somehow forgotten the let the weekend staff know that about 50 hungry motorcyclists would be arriving that afternoon despite several calls from the ride organisers during the week before the ride. While the food was good, it took quite a while to arrive as there was also wedding reception happening at the same time.

Finally after everyone had eaten plans were made by some to ride further and others to head back to Tamworth. My fellow 2fiftycc.com forum members and I all planned to meet up at “Murdo’s Museum”, also known as the garage of a man with a passion for vintage motorcycle restorations whose garage has been converted to showcase his amazing restoration work.

Unfortunately I lost the rest of our sub-group and ended up lost in Tamworth and I’d forgotten to get the street address of my host’s house. Thankfully with the aid of a mobile phone, bluetooth headset and Google Maps I was able to call and find my way there within only minutes, as Tamworth is not a very large town!

It turned out that Murdo’s place was not far down the road, so I again followed my host’s car on Scarlet.

Murdo had a story behind every bike in the museum, and while I can’t remember any of them in detail, he assured us that every bike in the museum bar one would work if topped up with fuel or oil. That one was apparently next year’s project!

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1965 Honda C50 stepthrough. Apparently they made these for quite a long time.

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1981 Maico Mega E 250 – not a lot of these in Australia and Murdo described this as “a bit of a League Of Nations” that he has owned since it was new.

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1972 Honda SL125 – this one is the “museum piece” restored to original configuration.

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Murdo had a few parts left over once he finished the SL125 restoration, so he made them into a few more bikes. This one is a café racer version…

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A dirt bike version…

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And a chopper!

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Yamaha/Suzuki 250 drag bike, with a custom-built frame and exhaust, along with a few other specially-fabricated parts.

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1974 Yamaha YB100

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1967 Yamaha YDS5 250

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Honda (1970s SL100?) trailbike conversion

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1981 Kawasaki KE 175

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The Virago apparently belongs to his wife – she gets to park it with the others though!

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Yamaha DT250 – this one was described as “next year’s project.”

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Murdo ushered us out as it was getting on towards evening and he had to prepare “something special” for the VJMC Club Dinner that night.

I went for a beer run to ALDI and picked up an open face helmet that was going cheap in preparation for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride the following weekend.

After a getting changed and having a couple of cold ones while reviewing some raw GoPro footage of the ride from one of the other riders, it was off to the Bowling Club again.

Before the Club dinner, I caught up with my girlfriend and her family. She’d flown up to come see Scarlet on show and as she happened to have family around that general area, she was staying with them. As they had a long drive home they left before the formal proceedings began.

There was a raffle with tickets donated by the Bowling Club and prizes donated by local businesses and all proceeds going to prostate cancer research. Despite buying a lot of tickets, I didn’t win anything in the raffle. One of my travelling companions bought twice as many tickets and won an open-face helmet. He asked if I be interested in it as it was too big and he prefers full-face helmets. I told him I’d just bought one and it’d be too big for me too, so I think he kept it to sell later.

Word had got around just how far I’d travelled on Scarlet to attend the VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend so a special Long Distance Award was presented to me for “riding so far on a half-finished restoration job” – It was a can of Inox, a can of Cobra Care detailing spray and some stubby coolers. I should have got a photo but completely forgot to do so!

Murdo then unveiled his special presentation – the SL125 Chopper we had seen earlier at his museum. He’d glossed over the details when we saw it earlier, as it was finally being revealed to the local VJMC members for the first time that evening.

I wouldn’t do justice to his entertaining explanation of the way the project came to be here, so I won’t try. Suffice to say he is an inspiration to those new to restoring or customising bikes and has an amazing way with words!

After dinner, I headed back to my host’s house to give Scarlet a polish with my new loot, then went to bed in order to get up early and show her off!

END PART THREE

VJMC Ride Report Part 2 – Day 2 – Over The Hills And Far Away

Part 2 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here.

Day 2  – Friday

On the Friday morning, I packed the bike again. All the bikes in the background belonged to my host – I’m not sure how many of them work!

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We rode to meet up with our riding companion for this leg. He rode an Aussie-Trike – essentially a VW Beetle engine in a custom frame with a motorcycle front end.

We left sometime after 10 am and stopped in a place called Dungog just before midday. As we only stopped long enough for a toilet break I chose not to share photos of that with the world.

Another hour along the road and we stopped for fuel in Gloucester. I’d only used 7 Litres over 166 km so was pretty happy with Scarlet’s performance on this leg of the ride, although the speedo was still not entirely reliable.

We had a pub lunch in Gloucester at a place called the Broad Axe Bistro, then it was off to Walcha along Thunderbolts Way and through the Great Dividing Range. I’ll have to take more photos next time. Scarlet was struggling up the hills unless the fuel tap was in the reserve position but otherwise still going strong – the indicators were working fine since the switch contacts had been cleaned. We stopped at Carson’s Lookout for me to top up fuel and for all of us to check our oil levels. We recharged with coffee from a thermos and protein drinks, then I took my first ever panorama shot with a smartphone. Click it to see a really big version!

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After a few more performance issues with Scarlet and unexpectedly stalling before Walcha, it was decided that I should lead for a while as I had been falling behind. After I hadn’t seen the others behind me for about 30 minutes I stopped as I didn’t have mobile phone numbers for either of them. It turned out they were only a couple of minutes behind me – surprising how far that seems when riding on winding country roads!

We made it to Tamworth by a little after 5 pm, just as the shadows were starting to lengthen.

I finally remembered to take a photo of the bikes when we stopped at the caravan park my riding companions were staying at.

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My host for the night met me at the caravan park in his car and I followed him back to his house on Scarlet.

Two other forum members had lowsided their bikes that afternoon – thankfully no injuries other than pride!  After I’d unpacked, changed out of my riding gear and shared tales of motorcycle woes over a refreshing ale (or was it lager?) we walked to the local bowling club for dinner. We walked back again and as far as I can remember I was out like a light.

Just as well, as I had another full day of riding ahead in the morning…

END PART TWO