VJMC Ride Report Part 6 – Day 5 – Open Road, Sydney Traffic, Old Codgers And What’s That Burning Smell?

The thrilling conclusion to 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,  Part 4 here and Part 5 here.

Day 5 – Monday

A forum member from Sydney had also stayed overnight in Newcastle with my riding companion on the way up. He was keen to get home, so we headed off from Newcastle around 9:30 am. We had originally planned that I would travel back to Sydney and show him the Rising Sun Workshop, as it wasn’t far from where he lived. He’d  mentioned he was pretty tired and might want to give it a miss, so I led the way along the highway after we’d refueled.

Despite being on the supposedly slower bike, I eventually found myself a fair way ahead of my riding companion.  After stopping to make sure he was still behind me and seeing him give me a wave as he went past, I pressed on toward Canberra through suburban Sydney. After getting through the worst of the traffic, I stopped on Pennant Hills Road for fuel and an early lunch at about 11:30.

I’d evidently not communicated clearly that I was going to head on to Canberra without a long stop in Sydney, as I had messages waiting on the forum chat, in my inbox and on my phone asking where I was and checking that I was OK. I made sure to reply that yes I was OK and that I was heading on to Canberra.

I made a mental note to get an e-pass for the following weekend after getting stuck on the toll roads due to missing a turn, then stopped for a break and a can of energy drink at the Frank Partridge VC Rest Area at the start of the Hume Highway shortly before 1 pm. I parked next to a couple of other bikes and chatted with the amused riders, who were on their way home to Mittagong. They described themselves as  “old codgers on overpowered bikes”

They remembered bikes like Scarlet from their younger days and had a few fond memories to share about the CB250RSs they’d ridden and been around back in the day. I told them where I’d ridden over the past few days and that I’d grown up as a pillion on a similar bike.

They agreed with the general consensus that I was probably mad, wished me a safe journey home before continuing on their way and said if I got stuck around Mittagong at all to look for them in the pub.

I’d rested enough myself, so it was back on the highway and onwards until a well-earned stop for fuel and McDonald’s in Goulburn – less than 100 km from home!

I parked in the McDonald’s carpark at about 3 pm and could smell something burning. After inspecting the makeshift saddlebags I realised they’d slipped a bit and the one on the rights had been sitting on the muffler for an unknown length of time – it was quite warm and one of the tie-down straps had melted through. As there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point, I had some food before re-tying the saddlebags and hoped for the best on the last leg home.

Having rested for long enough to eat and refuel, I remembered to get another photo as I hadn’t taken any so far that day.


If you look closely at the full-size version, you can just make out the sign for the roundabout behind the trees above Scarlet. Here’s a close-up in case you missed it!

Roundabout Sign

I finally made it home just before 5 pm. Scarlet looked pretty good after such a big adventure!


The cheap backpack I’d used as a saddlebag was very toasted by this point though.


Strangely the one on the other side was pretty much OK by comparison!


After emptying the contents onto my bed I assessed the damage.

The toolkits that had been in that bag were almost completely wrecked.


The metal parts at the bottom had conducted the heat to the rubber and plastic.


This was once a ratchet screwdriver.


The craft knife I was able to at least salvage the blades from.


The roll of electrical tape fared the worst. The rubber holders for the sockets and ratchet screwdriver bits had fused with it and the ratchet handle had a plastic cover that melted into the spring. The pliers and other screwdrivers came off pretty lightly and can still be used as backups though.

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The workshop manual was a bit worse for wear but still perfectly readable. Even now it still smells a bit odd though…

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The small cheap socket set I’d left in the blister pack fared a little better – maybe the spacing in the packaging helped?

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Approximate kilometres travelled:

  • Day 1: 410
  • Day 2: 375
  • Day 3: 200
  • Day 4: 300
  • Day 5: 425
  • Total: 1710
  • Average number of hours riding per day: 6
  • Average kilometres travelled per hour spent travelling: 57
  • Fuel purchased according to receipts: 54.22 Litres
  • Estimated extra fuel purchased: 20 Litres
  • Estimated Average Fuel consumption: 23 km/Litre, 4.34 Litres/100km, or about 65mpg

Other figures for those interested:

  • Toolkits burnt: 2
  • Toolkits requiring replacement: 1
  • Backpacks destroyed: 2
  • Helmets bought: 1
  • Pairs of knee guards bought: 1
  • Cases of beer bought: 1
  • Cans of energy drink consumed per day when riding alone: 2
  • Pub meals eaten: 4
  • Pub meals missed out on: 1
  • Total cans of energy drink over 5 days: 6
  • Times GPS battery went flat: 10
  • Highest number of curse words per minute on the evening of Day 4: 20+



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.


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.


Still not sure? This sign might help…


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…


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!


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!


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.


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…


VJMC Ride Report Part 1 – Day 1 – Better Late Than Never!

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

Back in September, I had organised some time off work so I could ride up to Tamworth via Newcastle for the 2014 VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend. Being my first major road trip as a rider, I was pretty excited.

First up, I prepped the bike with stickers from my favourite motorcycle forum.


Day 1  – Thursday

On the Thursday morning, I packed the bike. Not having proper saddlebags, this took longer than expected, so I ended up leaving the house by about midday.


After about an hour, I stopped in Goulburn for fuel and a late lunch.

Thinking I’d hit reserve at almost exactly 100 km since the last refill, I opted for an extra fuel supply on board. I bought a 5 Litre fuel can, filled it up and put it on the back.


At this point I hoped Scarlet would get further on a tank when she wasn’t loaded up like a pack horse…

…still, at 7 L/100km I couldn’t complain too much!

At about 3 pm and another hour down the highway, I stopped at Pheasants Nest for energy drinks, more fuel and to rest my numb backside!


The speedo got stuck showing 110 km/h when I stopped and either the tank was getting smaller or something was blocking the fuel line – I needed to switch to reserve before I’d done 70 km this time. Good thing I had a GPS to give me a more accurate reading of my speed and that I was meeting up with knowledgeable motorcyclists with fully kitted-out workshops!

I powered on through Thursday afternoon Sydney traffic and stopped just after the Hawkesbury River Bridge on the Pacific Highway just after 5 pm.20140918_170053

I refueled from the fuel can, then returned a phone call from my friend from the forums I was staying with in Newcastle. He’d called to check on my progressand to find out if I wanted to go for a pub meal for dinner when I arrived.

I looked around after that and saw an amazing sunset, so I took a few photos before hitting the road again for the last stretch to Newcastle.20140918_170548 20140918_170609 20140918_170616

I made it to Newcastle just after dark. My friend and his adult son (who is about my age) helped me unload the bike before we headed to the pub.

Over dinner, I mentioned the speedo, a slight problem with the left indicator switch that I’d noticed and that I wasn’t sure if Scarlet had been burning oil, so after dinner we hit the switch assembly with contact cleaner and topped up the oil. I removed the dodgy glue I’d used on the speedo needle and asked my host if he had any Wite-Out or something similar to repaint the end of the needle before I glued it back on. He didn’t, but made a phone call to a lady friend and a short car trip later I was sitting with biscuits and a cuppa while waiting for some white nail polish to dry on the speedo needle. After the nail polish dried, the speedo needle went back on the bike with superglue to hold it on this time.

With all that going on, I forgot to take photos, then noticed it was after midnight and I had a full day of riding ahead to Tamworth, so it was well and truly time for bed.


Read Part Two here!

Status Update – Road Trips on Scarlet And Things To Come

It’s been a while since I posted an entry here, as I’ve been alternating between riding Scarlet long distances and repairing the new issues I’m finding on the rides.

I have plenty of photos and updates to post, just not much time.

Ride reports to come on my recent road trips over the last two weekends – the first to the 2014 VJMC Tamworth Blue Ribbon Weekend (via Newcastle) and the second to the 2014 Sydney Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.

So this post is not totally devoid of photos, here’s a picture of Scarlet in her first bike show (more to come in my Tamworth Ride Report):


And another with me in my dapper and Scarlet before the DGR last weekend (ride report to come for that one too!):


She currently looks a little different as I discovered a leaking fuel tap, among other things. As the fuel tap was a different size to the other two, I’ve swapped Eric’s tank onto her while I find the parts for a permanent fix.



So, lots of updates to come in the near future while I wait for parts to arrive!