2023 MotoGP trip


At almost the last minute, I decided enough time had passed for me to get back on the bike again. A trip to the MotoGP at Phillip Island beckoned.

The plan was to travel down west of the Snowy Mountains (via Tumut and Maryville), and to return east of the Snowy Mountains (via Bairnsdale, Bombala and Tarago). Each day was to be short days of riding, of about 380-400km — three days to get to the Island, and three days to return, with an extra day in Melbourne to see ‘the kids’.

Key locations of the journey were:

After Nathan’s excellent service to make sure the bike was in working order (brake pads needed replacing), this would be my first ride with navigation on the phone on a quad lock, powered by a USB cable. The navigation software was Ride With GPS of which, in combination with the iPhone, there are a few things to configure/watch out for.

The only setbacks before leaving were (1) I could not find the waterproof cover for my bike bag, and had to improvise, and (2) I could not find my Jack Miller T-shirt.

Day 1: Bathurst to Batlow via Wyangala, Hillston, Brungle

With short days, I didn’t leave the Shell garage in Stewart Street until a quarter to ten. Unusually I didn’t spot any wildlife near Wyangala Dam, until near Frogmore where an echidna tried to end its life. It was the first of near a dozen echidnas I saw crossing roads. Luckily there were caring drivers who left them live a longer life.

Filled up at Boorowa (see below for statistics). I encountered the first of many Phillip Island trippers at the petrol station.

The photos below are of my walk around Batlow and up the lookout, to stretch the legs. Was it appropriate that I used my Apple iPhone to navigate around apple-centred Batlow?

The Chinese Restaurant at the RSL next door lived up to the stereotype. I was up a lot of the night feeling very nauseous and with pains in the stomach, and constantly running nose. The restaurant also could not accept my credit card (via the phone) because they had not charged their terminal. The RSL took my payment and then reimbursed the restaurant.

Day 2: Batlow to Myrtleford via Elliot Way and Granya Gap

Again started casually, at 9 o’clock. Travelled via the outstanding scenic Elliot Way to Cabramurra. Rode over the spoor, and saw the obligatory Brumbies.

The Granya Gap did not disappoint, at least not for me — passed a group of bike riders having a chat to the traffic police. A costly trip to The Island.

This was a not uncommon occurrence. I passed many groups being booked, and many Traffic Contractors in their inconspicuously parked vehicles. It made the riding in Victoria painstaking at times, but at least there was no letter from the Victorian Police upon my return to Bathurst.

The fuel light came on just at the end of Granya Gap; I was thankful that Tallangatta was not far away, where I ate a healthy salad sandwich (and sadly, no Vanilla Slice) to get my stomach in order again after the previous night’s nauseousness.

Tallangatta was also full of bike riders heading in a similar direction.

Got to my destination, Myrtleford, in heaps of time to do another leg stretch — the Rotary Park Ovens River walk (6.5km), where I encountered a snake, who quickly slithered away before I could react.

Day 3: Myrtleford to Korumburra via Reefton Spur

A longer ride today meant an earlier start, but still only 8:20.

There were motorbikes everywhere, and naturally traffic police everywhere. Passed a group of riders being booked at the start up to the Powerlines from Whitfield. This didn’t inhibit other riders from speeding. A very lucrative weekend for the Victorian Government I’d imagine.

At Marysville, my lunch stop, there lots of rally cars. Apparently there was a car rally the following day near Reefton Spur.

Similar to the last few days, the weather has been almost perfect for riding: 8-24 degrees (C), and hardly any breeze.

Days 4 and 5: Phillip Island

Atrocious weather was forecast for the Sunday; the GP and Sprint races were swapped, and events started earlier in the day.

Gates opened at 8; I left Korumburra at 7:10, an hour away. Caught up with Seby at Lukey Heights. He had come down with Cookie (from the Panorama Motorcycle Enthusiasts Club – PMEC) in two days, staying overnight at Marlo, the mouth of the Snowy River.

The queues for lunch were incredibly long. I kept walking around the track trying to find a shorter queue (and to find the best viewing spot). Eventually got sick of walking and joined the longest queue I’d seen all day (of about 80 people) at Bass Straight. The 8″ rolled pork sub was delicious, and almost worth the line up.

The view of the GP from Bass Straight is a good one, and probably better than my originally intended Siberia, which was too crowded. The race was a beauty with Jorge Martin going out to a 3 second lead, only to have tyre trouble, and losing 4 places on the last lap, with Zarco (Ducati) winning his first GP (after 120 attempts, and aged 31) from Bagnaia (Ducati) and Giannantonio (Ducati) and Binder (KTM). Miller, as is his form lately, did not do much, and finished 9th (although he did push through from 8th on the grid to 3rd after the first lap).

The weather as predicted was lousy on the Sunday, and after the Moto3 GP, the Moto2 GP was red-flagged, and the MotoGP sprint was cancelled. The winds were gusting upto 80kph, and the rain was steady. I didn’t go to the track at all, and stayed in the protection of my motel room, and took a well-needed days rest.

Days 6: Melbourne

This was a day to test out my ‘wets’ and the waterproof-ness of the iPhone and USB connection, as I rode from Korumburra to Malvern (near Monash Uni Caulfield campus). The morning was a slight easing off of the previous day, with strong winds and steady rain, easing off as I approached Melbourne.

I caught with Frances and Marnie at Higher Ground opposite Southern Cross Station. Marnie had to go to work; Frances and I saw Killing of Flower Moon at Melbourne Central’s Hoyt’s MaxScreen theatre. The movie was nearly three and a half hours long, but Scorcese kept the pace of the movie such that the time went quickly. An excellent movie with strong themes.

Overnight I stayed at Evancourt Motel. I’d stayed there several years back with Rob and George. It was OK then, but now aims at the poor student market.

This was the first time I’d ridden in city traffic for over a decade. I was at a heightened level of attention!

Days 7: Melbourne to Orbost

Sort out interesting roads to avoid a boring M1 and Princes Highway ride. Check out the map for day 7 below. Without the iPhone and RideWithGPS as navigation, I would not have been able to take this route, with many turns and changes of roads.

I think I’ve found a solution to needing more power.

Lunch was at Stratford (because it is on the Avon River!). I had a chunky steak and pepper pie which was supposedly award winning. It was OK, but I doubt whether there were many in the competition for the award. The obligatory Vanilla Slice for dessert was also just OK.

I chatted to this guy who used to race Superbikes successfully around Phillip Island in the 90’s. Finished 8th I believe.

Days 8: Bonang Road

This is the day I had planned for, for many years. I’d done the Bonang Highway many years ago with the Wanden Valley Wankers on my Suzuki GS500F learner-legal bike. I had it on my plan for my return trip from the Australian Superbikes in February 2022, but heavy rains meant a last minute change to the itinerary.

The sign says it all –105km of twisties. Motorbike heaven!

The forecast was for snow later in the day, so an early start (7:10am) was in order.

I passed one vehicle in the 105km. I had the road to myself, in the nice early morning ambience. Well, apart from 7 kangaroos, which caused some apprehension, and finger-crossing.

There was a small section of dirt of only several kilometres. It was in very good condition, with road work and politicians promising the Bonang Road will be fully bitumised by Autumn 2024. [Whether this is a good thing or not is up for debate — a fully bitumised road will mean more traffic, and more police patrols.]

I stopped for raisin toast and tea at Bombala. Chatted to a lovely couple (Steven and Meredith). He now only trail bikes; they moved there a couple of years ago. He suggested an alternate way to the coast, via Pambula instead of Brown Mountain. It was a 60kph speed limit for large parts, but if this was ignored, it was a fun way to go. It was 20km further than originally planned.

It was great to be back in NSW where some leeway on the 100kph is permitted.

With cousins in Merimbula, I thought of detouring and saying hello, but remembering the reception we got last time, gave that idea the flick.

Arrived at my destination — Moruya — at 1:40pm, beating the predicted cold front. Phew!

Days 9: Moruya to Bathurst

With strong winds predicted for the afternoon, and the possibility of rain, I left early at 7:10am. It was a pleasant time to ride, in the early morning, up through the twisties of Clyde Mountain (Kings Highway).

I stopped at Trapper’s Bakery in Goulburn for raisin toast and tea.

I enjoyed the day better than expected. So much more fun riding in NSW. Still lots of road repair from the floods last year, but the roads are much better than last trip (whenever that was), with no really dangerous potholes encountered.

Got home at 12:40pm after over 2000kms of riding. Can’t wait for the next trip.

Statistics and Maps

The rides as recorded in RideWithGPS are:

Daily Statistics

Fuel consumptions

Ride with GPS and the iPhone

When using RideWithGPS on a phone for navigation, there are few issues/configurations that are worth mentioning:

  • it works well in the rain; today’s phones are waterproof
  • using bluetooth earplugs (mine were Earmold) was a big advantage, as directions were given in advance, saving having to constantly check on the screen.
    • take RideWithGPS’s ‘continue straight’ instructions with a huge grain of salt. It means continue on the same road, even if it means a sharp right turn.
    • if there is a long time between instructions, the bluetooth earplugs may disconnect. To prevent this, on rides like this, I played music.
    • the bluetooth earplugs did not need recharging during the day, although I did have a power bank just in case.
  • sometimes RideWithGPS does not choose the optimum route, especially through towns. I checked the prepared routes beforehand, and modified them where necessary, or just ignored the instructions until I was through the town.
  • RideWithGPS is not very good if I deviated from the planned route. I was ‘on my own’, until I got back onto the route. There is a facility to navigate back to the route, which I never tried. Normally I deviated from the planned route for a reason, and am assuming that RideWithGPS would take me a different way to that which I wanted to go.
  • RideWithGPS and the iPhone in a quadlock allowed me to plan routes that ‘were off the beaten track’ (but still on bitumen).
  • Advisable is to turn all iPhone notifications to either off or temporary, as, with gloves, it is impossible to clear the notifications and blocks important information from RideWithGPS.

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