MotoGP Road Trip!

By , October 23, 2010 8:48 pm

Well a few (3!) of us decided it would be a great idea to do a road trip to see the MotoGP (the formula 1 of motorbike racing) at Phillip Island on the south coast of Australia.

So some time ago we bought our tickets and got the camping booked on the island – the count down was on! For weeks and weeks emails were flying around between us getting more and more excited about the prospect of a long trip on the bikes. Much more fun than the odd Saturday morning ride around the local roads.

First night

Trial pack

The plan was to leave work on the Tuesday afternoon and get a couple of hours out of Sydney where we would stay with Bill’s brother at Moss Vale. The ride out of Sydney was slow until we got to some nice twisties and we were at Bill’s brother’s pad in no time.

Early the next morning we got up for the big push down to Bairnsdale over 600km away where we had a motel booked.

Well we woke up to the sound of rain, and the rain pretty much didn’t stop all day! We had a brief dry spell somewhere in the middle which was nice, but the rest of the day was very, very wet! Luckily we knew it was going to be like this so had sort of prepared ourselves. I had bought a waterproof over-jacket a week earlier in preparation. I have a jacket which has an insertable waterproof liner. It’s ok for commuting but if it rains the actual jacket gets wet. Not ideal for a long trip. The waterproof over jacket worked really well, the best $30 I’ve spend in a while that’s for sure because I arrived at Bairnsdale easily the driest out of the three of us!


Gerry was convinced his ‘dryrider’ jacket had kept him dry – even as he was taking it off at the first fuel stop on day two he was proclaiming how dry he was! Until we pointed out that, in actual fact, he was soaking wet.

Other incidents on day two included Bill running out of fuel, in the pouring rain. His bike had the smallest range at about 180km (none of the bikes are really designed for long distance riding, but particularly Bills!) and he ‘knew’ there was a fuel stop at a town called Collector. Well, we pulled in to Collector and it quickly became apparent that the petrol station had now been converted into a cafe!


So we just had to plough on and hope that we would find another station. Soon. Unfortunately that didn’t happen – soon after Collector Bill’s bike died a slow death. He hoiked it onto it’s side to get a bit more fuel from the tank down to the pump (I think he may have been in this situation before!) – that got him another 5km, but no petrol station was in site. So I left Bill and Gerry at the side of the road, in the rain, whilst I charged onwards to the first petrol station I came to – a further 20km down the road. I filled up and bought a 5 litre gerry can which was also filled and strapped to the back of my bike as best I could.

A quick charge back down the road, punching the air as I passed a very soggy looking Bill and Gerry on the other side of the duel carriageway. I managed to find a gravel track to cross to the other side of the carriageway not much further onwards. Much laughter was had as we filled Bill’s tank (actually, 5 litres wouldn’t be far off filling it!!), but that laughter soon stopped when MY bike then wouldn’t start!! Now I’ve never had any trouble whatsoever from my bike and it was very strange that it wouldn’t start. I can only put it down to the shear amount of water around – it really was pouring. I think some water had got into the electronics so it thought the clutch wasn’t pulled in or something (you need to pull the clutch in to start). Anyway – there we were, not more than a few hours out of Sydney and we’ve run out of fuel and had a broken bike!!! Quite funny in a way! We managed to bump start my bike (a first – never jump started a bike before) and carried on our merry way. What a start!!

We had some great roads on the way down and had great fun, despite the rain.

Gerry check the bikes

It was wet!

We arrived in Bairnsdale in pretty good time and pulled into our motel, in the pouring rain (of course), at around 6pm I think. The whole town was full of bikers, all with a story to tell about there trip so far and all with lots of wet gear to try and dry! There was such a big number of bikes in this particular town because the next day (Thursday) was the Barry Sheene tribute ride to the race track a further 280km down the road.

Thousands of bikes do the ride, which is a properly organised and police escorted ride. This means thousands of bikes riding two abreast, straight through red lights, straight through towns where seemingly everyone was out waving flags to see all the bikes pass. Whole schools and old peoples homes were out on the pavements waving us through – is was absolutely spectacularly awesome. The weather was much, much better than the day before which also helped. It was a really, really good day and a great way to arrive at ‘The Island’ as it’s affectionately known in Australia. We also registered for the ride which meant that we actually got a lap of the race track when we arrived. Obviously you are with hundreds and hundreds of other bikes at the time so it was more of a slow punt around – but great all the same.

After leaving the track we headed up to Cowes where we have our camp site booked. So all in all a fantastic trip down, despite the weather on Wednesday!!

A picture says a thousand words...


The next few days were spent watching the practicing and qualifying. Friday was the first day of ‘stuff’ going on on the track, and the weather was spectacularly bad! Very cold, horizontal rain due to the belting southerly gale coming off Bass Straight. It was truly awful for the riders, and not much better for the spectators!

Saturday was a little better, but not much.

Luckily for everyone, race day was a pretty big improvement. Still pretty cold but at least it was mostly dry, sunny and the wind was no where near as bad as the previous two days.

So we set up camp in our grandstand seats and enjoyed all the racing of the day.

Bill & Gerry

Originally we were going to sleep over on Sunday night and leave early Monday morning for the big, huge, monstrous push back to Sydney. But we decided (very wisely!) that we should pack our bikes up before going to the track, ride to the track and park there so we could leave straight after the races and get a few hours under our collective belts on the Sunday night.

It was a great move and we were off the Island pretty swiftly (it’s great having a bike in situations like this! Traffic just doesn’t matter) and got to Sale where we found a cheap 3 bedroomed motel.

The next day (Monday) was a great, great day riding the coast road back up to Sydney in the sun, stopping at little coastal towns for fuel and food. The weather was great and the roads were mostly beautiful – swift, twisty and smooth.

Lovely weather on the way home

We came across a stranded rider at one point – sat at the side of the road with a dead BMW. We stopped to check he was ok as there was no-one else with him. “What’s up” Gerry asked, “out of fuel” came the reply. “Ah ok, well my mate’s got a 5 litre gerry can strapped to the back of his bike which he’s been carrying for the last 1500km” quipped Gerry. The bloke just did not believe it. He seriously thought Gerry was taking the mick. Here he is with a big powerful BMW and a guy on a 400cc single cylinder dirt bike pulls up and saves the day! It was great to help him out, I don’t think he could believe his luck! It transpires that his bike was telling him he still had 100km left in the tank, but it was clearly empty. It’s a fault I’ve actually heard of before with BMW motorbikes – so there you go!

The run in to Sydney was pretty uneventful and I eventually rolled onto the driveway at around 7.30pm. Quick feed, long shower and bed ready for work the next morning.


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