Trip to 2012 Phillip Island World Superbikes California Superbike School


In February 2012, I (Greg Vinall) biked from Bathurst to Phillip Island for the first round of the World Superbikes, followed by the California Superbike School. The trip included some great roads...through the NSW Snowy Mountains, over Mt Hotham, up through Warrigal, Reefton Spur and the new road around Lake Eildon. There are some nice piccies (click on the menu to the left).

Interesting was the return trip through the wettest period of rain in NSW and Northern Victoria history....proving that my 'wets' are not as waterproof as first thought.

The route can be seen on Google Maps and the itinerary can be found here.

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Day 1

Suzuki GS500F ready to go The route for Day 1 took the bike from Bathurst to Canberra via Oberon, Black Springs, Goulburn, Taraga, and Queanbeyan, a total of a little over 300km -- A nice short start to ease the body into full days on the bike.

Nearing Goulburn, a huge bump lifted everything off the bike, bar my hands - body and luggage included. Luckily the backup strapping held, and I was able to stop to re-apply the main strapping hooks, although I did not realise the loose luggage for several kilometres. It could have easily been a bad start involving a return trip home to repack.

After a quick visit to my sister's, stayed the night at James and Cheryl's. Reminisced over our previous Phillip Island trip in 2009 for the MotoGP. The red wine complemented Cheryl's delicious spicy chicken!

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Day 2

David, Greg and James at Berridale BakeryJames and his brother David didn't miss the opportunity to have a burn through the NSW Snowy Mountains , as far as Khankoban. (See photos) It was great fun riding with them, James on his new Suzuki V-strom, and David on his Yamaha TDM900. We stopped at the Berridale bakery for morning tea, before enjoying the bends from Thredbo to Khankoban.

After lunch , James and David headed back via Cabramurra. I continued on my intended path via the Murray River Highway.

The Victorian Police lived up to their reputation, picking me up only 20 minutes into the state, at Walwa. Luckily he was only picking up statistics to prove that he was actually working. He was very friendly and we had a pleasant chat.

Twisty roads on the Murray Valley Highway just short of Tallangatta and leaving Tawonga to head towards Bright were the highlights of the rest of the day.

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Day 3

Mt HothamIt would be hard to find a better road than over Mt Hotham. Tight and twisty left-right-left-right corners up the mount, an absolutely beautiful view at the top, and fast long corners on the way down to Omeo.


I did manage to drop my bike at Mt Hotham, but only because the bike-stand slipped on some loose gravel.

Tried to find a more interesting alternative after Bairnsdale to replace the long straight stretches. Turned off at Stratford (where there was another Victorian Police in waiting.) and went via Maffra. The roads were still straight, but not as long, being puncuated by little villages. Further on, the Old Sale Rd was better.

It was my eldest daughter Frances' 19th birthday. Celebrated with dinner at La Porcetta's near her new Monash University, Caulfield Campus.

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Day 4

My aging body was tired, and my bum numb, after 3 days on the bike. It was nice to have a free day catching trains and trams and checking out the Botanical Gardens.

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Day 5

In every good experience, there is usually a downer. Today was the day. It was stinking hot - 38 degrees -- with no wind and little shade.

Sadly, Oscar McIntyre passed away in a support race. He was only 17. He collided with Luke Burgess and Michael Lockhart. The Superpole was cancelled, and there was several hours where there were no announcements and no activity.

I caught up with Lindsay Apps from Young and a member of the FL Tourers, and his VFR.

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Day 6

Tom Sykes and Max Biaggi The action really started on race day. So many races, all closely fought, and of the highest quality.

The supersports and australian superbikes were exciting -- well done to Ozzie Broc Parkes.

The World Superbikes were brilliant!

In race 1, Carlos Checo unfortunately high-sided coming out of turn 12 into Gardner Straight, leaving the race to Max Biaggi. In race 2, Max Biaggi was phenominal. He ran off at turn 1 on lap 1, and rejoined at the tail of the field. A magnificent ride saw him overtake all but the eventual winner Carlos Checa who atoned for his race 1 crash. Max passed into second place on the last lap.

Australian Bryan Staring deserves a special mention for a great ride to finish 10th in race 1.

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Day 7

Apart from getting some stitches removed, this was a day of anticipation...for the California Superbike School the next day. Heavy heavy rain was a bad omen which luckily proved false.

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Day 8

Greg at the California Superbike School What a day! Over 40 laps racing around Phillip Island, learning all the time. Life doesn't get much better!

Without exception, those from FL Tourers said: "Don't wait! Do it is worth every cent". And they were right on the money.

I did Level 1 of the California Superbike School; we were taught about the importance of the throttle, quick turns, relaxation, two-step turns, and sighting the apex. The emphasis was on learning the skills, and not on outright speed -- just as well, on my underpowered GS500F.

The coaching was first class...they follow you around the track, and instruct as you ride. The organisation was very professional. I am already in anticipation of Level 2.

The day was finished off in great style, with Jim Smith and Jason, at the Thai restaurant overlooking the bay, making the most of the opportunity to talk about the superb day with similarly interested people. Jim did Level 4 for the second time (and not because he failed!), while Jason would have done Level 4 again, if his BMW has not had electrical trouble and broken down. Poor guy!

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Day 9

Lake Eildon All adventures must come to an end, and today was the beginning of the end. But, there were some good roads planned: up through Warragul to Warburton , Reefton Spur, Lake Eildon, and Mansfield to Whitfield.

It was a good test for my new AirHawk cushioned seat, and after a few air adjustments, it worked a treat -- even allowing for the wrong size that I bought!

As recommended by Fearless from the FL Tourers, the ride from Wonthaggi to Launching Place was excilarating and scenic, although the signposting in Warragul was a bit scant. At least I know the Warragul roads better!

Reefton Spur was different. I thought it always rained through those parts. Not today. It was brilliant, and less tentative on the turns. Oh, by the way, the speed limit has been reduced to 80kph, just like on the Putty Road!?

Thoroughly recommended is the relatively newly sealed road around Lake Eildon. Twisty is an understatement. And the countryside is beautiful. Much concentration is needed to analyse each corner (and there are lots of them) while enjoying the scenery. And the view of Lake Eildon is outstanding.

It was a long day of concentration, and it did not help when the road I had on the map was closed. If I only had a smartphone or GPS...waterproof though. Finally found my accommodation at Ebden, only to find that there were no food shops, and it was pouring with rain, with little enthusiasm to get back on the bike to the next town.

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Day 10

What a conundrum to start the I risk taking the bike through impending/existing floods, or stay a few more days till it all settles down. There was no wifi at my accommodation, so there were some early morning calls to my darling wife for weather and road reports.

Tumut was flooding, so returning via Batlow and Tumbarumba was out. Olympic Highway was flooded, so a detour via Grenfell was necessary. The Gundagai - Cootamundra road was getting close to being an early start was essential.

It was a good test for my wet weather gear. I felt confident as it hadn't failed me in the past, but today was a different kettle of fish, and it failed. Heavy rain was everywhere, and strong winds at certain points made keeping the bike on the road difficult.

I only just got through the Gundagai - Cootamundra road. There was water across the road, with the local authorities deciding whether to close the road or not. I got through, and luckily the turn-off to Young was just short of the flooding that closed the Coota road. The rest of the trip, including the deviation via Grenfell, was pretty uneventful, apart from the incessant heavy rain.

In a masochistic sort-of way, I enjoyed the a scout camp with it's mandatory rain and mud. [You may notice that there are no photos of Day 10!]

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