Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my readers out in the blogosphere. I hope you all have a merry christmas and a happy new year and enjoy your break.

Christmas these days is just for my kids but this year I bought myself a last minute Christmas  present.

Yes a new pair of boots. After last months ride one of the soles had started to come apart. They are over 8 years old after all. They are not race boots as I was after something simple, with

I wish you all the best for 2020, may it bring you something special.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Bushfire Hell

For those readers that are not from Australia and maybe insulated as to whats been happening down here we are currently in the middle on one of our worst bushfire seasons in living memory and the bad news is it only just turned to summer two weeks ago. Spring has seen some of the biggest fires across the state. Currently there are over 100 bushfire's burning in NSW, with over 40 of them still out of control. They first started up the mid north coast of NSW but now consume the whole eastern seaboard.

For the last 6 weeks smoke has covered Sydney creating the worst air quality readings in the world. That's right even worse than India. The air quality index for some parts of the city(Prospect) was above 2234 – more than 10 times the ‘hazardous’ threshold of 200. Bushfire's have burned over 2.7 million hectares in New South Wales this fire season. You may have seen pictures on the news such as this one below of Sydney harbour shrouded in smoke.

Pic Left: A screen shot from the fires near me app about 2 weeks ago showing 80+ fires raging all across NSW.

Photo Right: Local shopping centre on the way home Friday afternoon about 5pm two weeks ago. The sun was blocked by smoke, with an eerie red sun with an red/orange glow everywhere.

Silverwater - M4

The photo above was taken 1 week ago from the overpass on the M4 motorway in Silverwater right near my work. You can only see for about 200m before the smoke haze blocks out everything. Normally on a clear day you would see the skyscrapers of Parramatta from here.

Leaving work on Friday afternoon my Ute was covered in white ash from the fires.

Looking on the weather map provided a fascinating view as you can see to the right in the pic. It looks like Sydney is getting a belting of rain. Unfortunately for us there's been no rain recently and what the weather radar is actually picking up is the cloud of ash from the bushfire's.

The largest fire around Sydney has been the Gospers Mountain fire which has engulfed an area of over 500,00 hectares. That is actually much larger than the entire Sydney basin, and for those that have not visited Sydney before that is a huge area. The map below from today shows the area of the fire(in black) and you can see the Sydney metro area just below it.

The Gospers Mountain fire has engulfed one of Sydney premier bike road's, namely the Putty Road. If you regularly follow my blog then you will have seen many pictures from this road as I ride it fairly often.

On Sunday I decided to head up there and take a look around and see what damage has been done. I wasn't prepared for the devastation I witnessed. As you can see from the following images the terrain is so steep and rugged bushland there is no way to get in and fight these fires except from the air.

There's a larger gallery of images at my facebook page.

Here's a short video I took whilst I was out on the road. It really shows the devastation of this fire.

The road was blocked at the Grey Gums cafe where I stopped for breakfast and coffee. The young lass that manned the road block told me that the fire was only 16 km north of the cafe heading towards the cafe with RFS services back burning to try and stop it.

After a very nice coffee and bacon & egg roll for mid morning breakfast it was time to head home but not before putting in a donation to the RFS at the Grey Gums. Let's hope the everyone can get out and support these guys and help them get back on their feet. I stopped a few times for photo's on the way home, which again can be found in the gallery above.

Thanks for reading and lets hope for a smoke/fire free christmas.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

2019 Phillip Island MOTOGP Report - 24th Oct - 27th Oct

This years MotoGP was to be a family affair with my older bro and his son coming along, Geoff couldn't make it walking around with his leg injury. They were flying down to Sydney on wednesday night and we were to drive down together on thursday morning. My two girls were both excited to be seeing their cousin, but getting in late they were both asleep by the time they arrived so Will left them a parting present - this picture. They were most upset.

Thursday 24th

The trip down this year was somewhat more enjoyable with someone to talk to at least, otherwise it's a pretty uninteresting drive down the Hume Hwy motoring along at 110kmh on mostly dead straight roads for 7 hours. We turned off the highway and headed through the back roads around Yea. It was along here that Will saw the signs for Bonnie Doon and immediately said we have to stop in for a photo. No problemo mate, "We're going to Boonie Doon, we're going to Bonnie Doon....". So that's what we did. For any International readers if there are any left the Boonie Doon joke gets it origin from the Aussie movie called the Castle

We took a few photos outside the Boonie Doon Hotel and I asked Dave to take a photo of me in front of the truck out the front. Sounds simple enough. 
You had one job, one job........

We made it onto the Island around 3.30pm and headed straight to the IGA in San Remo for supplies for the weekend as we were camping, probably for the last time but more on that later.

We arrived at the track and sorted our tickets and proceeded to set up our tents and camp chairs. Damn it was actually hot like 27°C so we had to sit in the shade and drink cold beer. Life is tough sometimes. Pay attention to that Blue tent with the 58 flag, we will come back to that later too.

So Flyboy wanted to go into Cowes for diner so we went to the bus stop, no busses on thursday night so we took a cab instead. They had a stage set up for bands to play on. Wayne Gardner was being interviewed on the stage when we arrived. We had a beer and listened to him for a bit and took in the vibe.

They block off the esplanade and main street to foot traffic and motorcycles only which creates a great atmosphere. So after a few beers in Cowes we wandered up to Pino's Italian restaurant for some pizza. This restaurant is famous for having riders eat here and the walls are lined with MotoGP and WSBK riders memorabilia. We've been in here in the past and seen Max Biaggi, Loris Caparossi, Anthony Gobert picking up some take away pizzas and a few other riders that I can't remember through the beer haze of time.

Valentino Rossi leathers

Marco Simoncelli Leathers

Various riders Helmets/Boots

Friday 25th

I was up reasonably early this morning the others were still asleep so I thought I'd whip up some breakfast. After a hearty breakfast of bacon and egg rolls and coffee we were ready to hit the track. Weather this morning was looking a bit shite with passing showers but it cleared up eventually later in the morning for an awesome afternoon.

As we made our way up to the main straight it started raining again ,we ducked in the Spokes tent to get out of the rain. They had lounges and a fireplace set up right under a big screen TV. Looks like a great spot for a rest and coffee/beer and it was dry. I think Flyboy wanted to sit here all day and watch the racing.

Will lounging around watching the GP on TV in front of the fire

We looked around through the expo tent to see what was on display. A few interesting things intermingled with the same old stuff. They did have an F1 car here promoting the F1 in Melbourne next year. It's the closest I've been to one of these. The tyres looked very funny though, round on top instead of flat, not what I thought they'd be.

Apparently it was Valentino Rossi's 400th Grand Prix race. They had a huge poster on the wall displaying this fact. Impressive really to be going for this long. We moved on to the merchandise stands as Will wanted some Petronas gear, to which they had none but promised it would be in tomorrow. Tomorrow never came.

Today was the first day of practise sessions so we made our way around to the main straight across from the pit boxes. God these things are loud with the sound echoing back and forth between the pits and stands. Here's a short clip of the bikes coming onto the straight in the wet.

I then pulled out my secret weapon that I only just picked up 2 days before. I said to Flyboy 'here hold my camera whilst I put my backpack on'

He grabbed the camera took a double take look at it and then said 'holy f#ck'.

Ha ha I picked up a 200-500mm Nikkor zoom lense for this trip. It's big and bloody heavy as you can see. I think it weighs around 2.3kg, doesn't sound like much but try holding that weight steady in front of your face all day. I think I'll need a monopod to make it easier to carry and use the camera at these events.

From here we could see inside the pit garages. Here's a couple of shots I took from here.



Some old bloke

From here we made our way around the track in a clockwise direction towards MG and Siberia and took some shots from both spots. Then we completed a lap of the track and then it was back to the campground by the end of the day. The rain was about to start and Flyboy said let's got into Cowes for dinner or do you prefer cooking in the rain. Needless to say we ate well at the local Thai in Cowes that night. Overnight storms and high winds of 40-60kmh were predicted during the night and the following day.

You can see my friday Photo Gallery at the following links to my Road to Nowhere Images page on FaceBook. Clicking the link will open in another window.

Saturday 26th

Waking up on Saturday morning and the camp ground looked a bit different. How so? There were quite a few tents blown down from the strong winds. Flyboys tent was almost blowing over and mine wasn't far behind it. Yep our neighbours tent blew down during the night and their shaded kitchen area had completely blown away. The other neighbor in the green/grey tent had to get up in the night and repeg his tent down as it blew over as well.

We managed to cook up some more bacon and egg rolls despite the harsh windy conditions then we were off to the track for the second day. Qualifying was on today, good luck in these winds glad I'm not out there.

You see all sorts of weird things in the campground at the track.

And also in and around the track too.

We wandered back through the expo on our way around to MG again, mainly to get out of the wind.

I stopped to take some pics around turn 11 whilst Flyboy and Will made their way to MG. I wonder if I can see them in the crowd around there.

Yep, not hard with this lens, it's a monster. A couple more pics from this location.

Old Mad eye's

I wandered around to MG to meet up with them and get some pics from here. Unfortunately a marshalls stand is right in the way with 6 marshalls blocking the view to get pics of the riders exiting MG and with a large crowd of photographers I didn't get many shots in here. Oh well, so we needed some Jam filled donuts and coffee to cheer us up in these windy conditions. 

This was Will's first full weekend at MotoGP. He did come down last year but they had to go home before sunday's race due to flyboy having to work. It was great to see father and son loving racing and quality time together. Awesome. We sat at the back of the clubhouse for about half hour to get out of the wind.

We decided to walk back around to the main straight as there was rain coming and there was a few more options to get out of the rain around there than at MG. We didn't make it as the rain came down but we found a covered area out of both wind and rain, small miracles and all that. We didn't have to even use our umbrella's except for poking Will in the Ribs when he wasn't listening.

From here we decided to head around into the ASBK paddock area on the inside of the track. After looking at the bikes we then headed around to look out on Honda corner. It was a little far away to get good shots but still a few turned out ok. You can see how windy it is in some of these pics by the whitecaps in the ocean in the background.


The MotoGP boys came out for Free Practise 4 but it was soon ended by Miguel Oliveira getting blown off the main straight at over 300 kmh with a huge crash that saw the session red flagged and a safety meeting called.

Here's the crash.

The bike soon came around on the back of a trailer into the back of the pits right by us. Here's a pic I took of the bike. It was well and truly munted.

Miguel Oliveira's KTM
The result of the safety meeting was that all racing was cancelled for the rest of the day due to to the windy conditions. So we have racing on tomorrow and no one has qualified yet. This should be interesting.

So what is there to do when the racing gets cancelled and there's nothing to do. You bet it was beer o'clock for sure. So we made our way into the Panhead brewery compound.

Cheers Bro

Their beer was actually quite good and they were playing all my favourite rock music from the 80's, 90's, Metallica, Pearl Jam, ACDC you name it they played it. I didn't want to leave. A rain shower passed by us as we sat  drinking and enjoying the quiet, it left a beautiful double rainbow. But we're not here for rainbows so it was more beer for us. Will was off getting food as it started raining hard. I Said "Bet you $50 he gets soaked". Flyboy said "No he's a pretty sensible kid he wouldn't walk in this rain". A minute later Will appears through the rain absolutely soaked.

The weather was again shite at the campground and Flyboy said 'let's go into Cowes for Diner and get out of the cold'. Hopping on a bus into Cowes was a good choice. We did happen to see 3 magnificent ZXR750 specimens in captivity in the main street of Cowes. My best mate had a 93 model in green and I loved that bike. I noticed the first bike was on historic plates too. Warren would have loved this.

Saturdays Gallery is a bit short on pics as the racing got called off early today.
Saturdays Gallery

Sunday 27th

Today was race day and lucky for us the winds had died down from last night to be quite mild. We cooked up some breaky, again bacon and eggs in wraps. Good call bro this saved us heaps of bucks.

We headed of to the track earlier so we could get a good spot at Siberia, by the time we got there, most of the best spots were gone already but we found a spot on the hill, not near the fence but we did have a good view.

So here is the view of the track from where we were sitting on the hill. Not bad we can see quite a bit of track from here. I've always liked the view from Siberia.

Flyboy and I left Will to mind our seats as we were in desperate need of coffee. Bugger me it was at least a 30 minute wait for coffee's as the line was like 3000 deep. It would have been quicker to get a beer, but I really really needed coffee. I gave my camera to Flyboy and told him to take some shots whilst I waited, he was busily snapping away.

 The old boy got some good shots to, like this..... one job bro, one job.

But after a little practise I even had him taking some almost passable one's.

The MotoGP officials decided on qualifying in the morning with the racing to continue in the afternoon as planned. The racing was excellent as usual with a last lap thriller again with Marquez taking the top spot.

Dovi congratulating winner Marc Marquez

It was a good day for us Aussie's with Vinales departure elevating hometown hero Jack Miller into 3rd spot and onto the podium. He was well pleased with his result too in front of the home fans.

Jack Miller the hometown hero

After the race was over the riders were allowed to do a warm down lap this year and after that was completed you could cross the track to the main straight where they have the podium celebration.

Flyboy plays in the kitty litter

We walked up the track to the main straight. By the time we got there it was the end of the champagne spraying. We witnessed Vinales bike coming back into the pit garage after his last lap enthusiasm didn't end up as errr.... enthusiastic as he was hoping.

Jack Miller's fans were out in force and were heavily lubricated. 

We made our way back around to the camp ground via the main straight and turn one. The banking on turn one is extraordinary that's why they can hit it at over 200 km h.


Tonight we stayed in the camp ground as the weather wasn't as bad as the other nights and we cooked ourselves some sausages and had a good chat to our neighbours washed down over some beers. We met an old friend by accident that we hadn't seen in 20 years and had a decent chat. Another good weekend of MotoGP action. Thanks for the great weekend away bro and Will. Next year Dave said he won't be camping. He's had enough of the fickle PI weather and we should get ourselves a house and be more comfortable. After this years wind and rain I agree with him. Thanks for reading.

Sundays Galleries