It was just me and Leon this time. Our destination – the 2010 World Superbikes, Round 1 at Phillip Island. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Leon - brief roadside rest near Khancoban
The ride down was fabulous – on the twisty bit between Jindabyne and Khancoban (which I've hated on both occasions I've ridden it) I practised the cornering and braking tips that my friend Terry had given me after my previous pathetic attempt. Leon was miles ahead and there was no-one behind me, so I attacked the corners at my own pace, no pressure – and loved it! One minor UCM (that's an Undie-Changing Moment, in case you were wondering) near the Tom Groggin rest stop, on a newly resurfaced 15kmh hairpin with lots of loose stuff that made my rear wheel slide a little bit - I hate that feeling – but apart from that it was great.
Before I started riding I always assumed it would be pretty much like driving a car – once you can do it, you can just do it - but it's not like that at all. Every ride is different. Every corner is different, even if you've done it twenty times – I think that's one of the things I love: you constantly feel as though you're learning and developing your skills, and you're constantly vigilant because so many factors can make a vast difference to your ride.
Anyway... after the twisties came the lovely fast sweepers of the Cann Valley Highway, and at Wodonga we turned onto the long boring freeway towards Melbourne. It was starting to get horribly warm.
On the road between Euroa and Merton – a lovely little road with some nice twisty bits – I passed a scene that made me feel a little bit queasy. A big bike had come to grief on a corner, and lay on its side, just off the road. The rider was on his back under a makeshift canopy, being tended by his riding buddy and a couple of motorists, and they waved me on. Nothing you can do here, mate – we'll be ok. It's a sobering thing when you see a rider down. The ambulance came screaming past me a few minutes later, and was still at the scene when Leon went past shortly after that. A sudden and painful end to the Phillip Island pilgrimage for at least one rider... yuk.
Leon and I regrouped at Alexandra (I waved as we passed Alexandra Motorcycles, where mechanic Chris has patched my bike more than once!) and rode the rest of the way to Healesville together, down the wonderful Black Spur with its tall trees and long shadows, finally pulling into Katt's driveway in late afternoon. Leon pressed on towards Melbourne for the night, while I stayed at Katt's and fell asleep very early after a long day's ride of over 700kms. The 2010 WSBK adventure was ON!