Ride Report: Snowy Ride 2018
Dates: 31 October to 6 November 2018
Ride Organiser: Roger Foot
Participants: Roger Foot, Honda VFR800
Stewart Tepe, Honda Shadow 750
Sam Bateman, Aprilia RSV Mille R
Nick Chronopoulos, Yamaha FJR 1300 AE
Steve Bailes, Honda Goldwing GL1800 (Sans GPS)
Greg Gleason, BMW K1300 Motor Sport
Colin Voss, Aprilia Caponord 1200
Shane Dwyer, BMW R1200 GS
Pat Ryan, Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200 XCA
Reporter: Pat Ryan
The Honda Snowy Ride is an annual event held at Thredbo and surrounds in the Kosciusko National Park since 2001. It raises money for cancer research in memory of cancer victim Stephen Walter and prior to this year’s event had raised in excess of $7 million.
Roger has attended most of the rides and each year organises a group from Ulysses Melbourne to join him. This year the nine riders above went up together and met up with Mick Hedger and four of his mates who left a day later.
Pat and Steve rode to Jamieson on the Wednesday, a day before the official start of the ride, to stay at Pat’s place up there and to meet the main group in Mansfield on the Thursday morning. No ride is ever straightforward so we went up the Break O’Day Road to Yea just to get warmed up for the winding roads we were to experience the next day. From Yea to Molesworth and a deviation up the Whanregarwen Road to Alexandra. This is one of the best high speed winding roads within cooee of Melbourne. From there it was on to Yarck, Mansfield and Jamieson.
Thursday dawned and Steve and Pat headed into Mansfield to find the carwash as Steve was a little upset at his bike being dirty after doing the six kilometres of gravel road out to the farm and six back in the morning. With sparkling clean bikes we arrived at the BP a little before the rest of the group who had met up at Yea having come from different parts of Melbourne.
After fuel and refreshments off we went from Mansfield on the Whitfield road. This road crosses the mountain range passing through Tolmie and through some wonderful winding and twisting sections before the steep descent into the King Valley. Regrouping at Whitfield as some are quicker on the tight sections than others, we hit the flat roads through this beautiful valley past Moyhu to Oxley where a right turn took us onto the Snow Road. Through Milawa and Markwood and a series of small settlements until the roadworks started near the Carboor turnoff. Roadworks are necessary so that we have good roads to ride on; but why we needed wet slippery sticky clay which adhered all over our bikes I don’t know. Through to Myrtleford for fuel and a coffee stop where we all admired Steve’s no longer pristine bike – Them’s the breaks!
From Myrtleford it is a fast run to Bright then the road gets a bit windier to Harrietville and soon after the ascent of Mt Hotham along the Great Alpine Road begins. It is only 30 kilometers to Hotham but it is the start of the more testing sections of our ride as it consists of very tight turns, one after the other, as we climb to the top of the mountain. All made it safely however and we continued on the Great Alpine Road down the 60 kilometers to Omeo.
After the top of Mt Hotham the road crosses the high country through Dinner Plain with views as far as Mt Kosciuszko. The character of the road changes as you head down the other side with a good wide bitumen surface and sweeping bends. Instead of slow tight corners suddenly we were flying down the road and around bends without slowing with a very good pace set by the lead riders and most of the group enjoying the exhilaration of this fabulous road.
Omeo was a good place to stop for fuel and a short break before tackling the extremely tight turns to Anglers Rest which was our destination for the night. It may only be a twenty eight kilometre trip but you know you have been riding by the time you finish this one. Mostly third gear for the writer with second occasionally and fourth when it straightened a fraction kept us on our toes.
The Blue Duck Inn at Anglers Rest is an old pub (built in 1900 and moved to the current site in 1920 as the road was not built passing the building as expected) with small bunkhouse rooms in a separate building set on a 270 degree bend in the road where a wooden bridge crosses the Cobungra River. A truly beautiful spot where we spent an enjoyable late afternoon recovering from the ride and swapping tales over a beer or wine. Good meal served at the pub. No phone or internet which was rather refreshing for most.
Off early Friday morning we tackled the 86 klms to Mitta Mitta with a continuance of the extremely tight turns we had become used to yesterday. Short break then on to Khancoban through Corryong and Tallangatta and many smaller settlements. Distance was about 155 klms with most of it interesting undulating farming country with sweeping bends and the opportunity to test out our bikes through high speed corners. From Khancoban to Thredbo it is 77 klms but quite windy roads and narrow with no centreline for much of it. As there were some 2,500 bikes expected in the area NSW Police were out in force looking to book anyone they could. We all survived with our points and licences intact but it did ensure there was little if any speeding. Just as well as it is a quite dangerous road.
The weather gods had been kind to us so far in spite of the dire forecasts by Jane Bunn and her cohorts but it finally started to rain about ten klms or so out of Thredbo. Not hard enough to bother anyone but a nuisance anyway. We had copped a lot of strong winds in the higher sections of the ride. It is interesting riding straight with the bike lent over severely to one side in an endeavour to remain upright!
We checked into the River Inn where we had two quad rooms for four each to share and Pat in his own room. As the rooms were not ready we were forced to wait in the bar with a beer and share a few reminiscences of the ride up which was not without incident. Roger’s jacket zip failed early in the piece which he thought was quite good in the heat of the early part of the trip but not so fine in the rain. On the trip home later we trussed him up like the Michelin Man with black tape and he remained dry.
Two bikes decided to take a lie down on their sides on the way up. One in a service station at Tallangatta where Steve did not notice the sloping nature of the concrete and the Goldwing simply keeled over; and the other when Shane decided to stop for a banana in one of the winding sections and his BMW simply decided it would not stand for stopping on such a good road, and lay down in protest. Shane is threatening to ride his Ducati next year in an endeavour to show Sam how to go around corners. This bike is not worried about bananas either!
We finally got our rooms and had dinner at the Inn and a good night’s sleep. Greg brought some excellent single malt whisky along which was much appreciated by the whisky drinkers amongst us.
Saturday morning after breakfast we took off together to do a circuit of the high country. Down to Jindabyne for fuel and then to Dalgety for a stop. The Snowy Ride organisers have setups in some of the towns here where riders stop for a chat or food and get their card stamped. Three stamps and you get an entry into the draw for a Honda motorcycle so worth doing. Each stop was an opportunity for Steve to look for other Goldwing riders who may also be upset that their bikes do not have GPS built in. There was one such victim at Dalgety and after a long chat he was presented with a T-Shirt with NOSATNAV printed on the back. This was to become a recurring theme of the trip.
Rather than go for a ride Shane decided to hike to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. Sounds easy but when you realise it is uphill and nearly 10 kilometers then the same back it is no mean feat for a guy of our vintage. Colin was inspired by Shane’s walk so he did the same the next day. They are obviously fitter than the rest of us. Well done guys!
Next it was off to Cooma for another gathering, and another Goldwing victim and lunch in a local café. Some of us then went to the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre where we watched a short documentary on the Snowy River Scheme and checked out the displays before returning to Jindabyne for shopping and home to Thredbo. By this time Mick Hedger and his mates had arrived and we went there for a home cooked dinner.
Mick organised a platter of meats, cheeses, olives, biscuits and the like for starters and Colin cooked us a Tuna Bake, Steve concocted Swiss Chicken and Sam made a Paella. All dishes were beautifully done as evidenced by the lack of any leftovers for breakfast. The others bought beer and wine and a good night was had by all.
Sunday morning it was a trip out to Charlotte Pass which is always a must on these trips. There is still plenty of snow on the hills and in the pass but not on the road. We and heaps of other bikes all parked at the top of the pass to see the sights and check out the snow and other bikes. Steve found yet another Goldwing rider who also earned himself a T-Shirt. Rumour has it that Honda has only sold 43 of the new model Goldwing in Australia and it seemed like Steve had met most of them.
Sunday night we went upmarket and had dinner at the Denman Hotel Thredbo. The writers offer to shout the first drink resulted in a shock when the bill arrived but this was only an indication of what was to come. Food was excellent but nothing comes cheap in this place which was OK for our farewell to Thredbo dinner.
Monday morning the rain and pestilence that Jane had been promising all weekend arrived so we all rugged up, taped up Roger, and headed off on the homeward trail. First stop Jindabyne for fuel then along some wonderful winding roads with very little traffic to Bombala where we made really good time as the rain had virtually stopped soon after leaving Thredbo. Morning tea at Bombala then on to Orbost. More high speed winding roads as we came down out of the Snowy Mountains towards the coast.
Arriving at Orbost around 1pm we checked into the Commonwealth Hotel, a classic old hotel in the traditional sense with tiny rooms but a good bar and food. Lunch for some was a roll from the bakery opposite before a small group of us went for a walk around town and down to the river. The Snowy River arises from Lake Jindabyne and terminates at the coast just past Orbost. Quite a scenic place with the highlight being the Sensory Gardens which are exactly what the name conjures up. On the way back we met John and Kris Cook who were on their way from Sydney to Sale to visit grandchildren and decided to look us up.
Late afternoon was spent in the bar with John and Kris joining us for a while, all taking turns to play old songs on the jukebox and some playing pool. Meanwhile Stewart helped the local bank manager to install a new motherboard into the ATM in the bar. Not even a wad of notes was offered as a thank you, but the machine did get fixed.
Dinner in the pub was classic pub fare washed down with quite reasonable red wine while we all enjoyed the company.
Tuesday morning was meant to produce huge rain so we left as we were ready. Nick was off before 7am followed by Pat a bit after 7am hoping to beat the rain. About an hour later it started to spit a bit so I put the wet weather gear on. It then slowly got heavier but eased off by Sale where I took a break and refuelled. On to Drouin with about 100klms to go and the heavens opened and I got rained and hailed upon for the rest of the way home. Swathes of water crossing the highway and cars sending great spouts of water at me but I eventually made it to Melbourne where I rode through flooded roads and finally made it home none the worse for wear.
All in all it was a great few days away marked by excellent company and very good roads to ride on. My new bike performed flawlessly and I enjoyed the trip immensely. Many thanks to Roger for organising the ride once again and to all who assisted with accommodation etc.
For photos from various members of the group take a look at the Ulysses Melbourne website where I have put an album titled Snowy Ride 2018.
Added comments from some of the ride participants:
Sam and I had torrential rain from Moe for about an hour. Fuel stop (for us and bikes) about an hour later and fine weather for run home.
We stopped at the Maffra Motor Museum for about an hour – well worthwhile but……..no rear engine air-cooled V8 Tatra. Outrageous really. We nearly asked for our money back (all $8 with seniors’ discount). But rest of the museum was excellent. They rotate cars and bikes so things come and go and they actually used to have two Tatras. To show I wasn’t making it up I have attached photos of said Tatra from 2014. They had two nice Velocettes which compensated for no Tatra.
Thanks to all for making it a great trip. Thanks especially to Roger for organising. Thanks to the excellent cooks and the supplier of up-market whisky. Sorry about all my corny jokes.
Hi everyone all good back at home 12.20 with heavy rain the last 70 klms thanks for the ride enjoyed it even if it was FAST at some points Pat got some photos for you and bike version is fjr 1300AE 2006 Thank you Roger for organizing everything.
I left about 8, caught Sam & Shane, we then caught Roger & Stewart – I was ahead of Stewart and Roger with plenty in the tank, so I tried to beat the rain!! Drowned from around Trafalgar to Pakenham, but by the time I hit Berwick, the roads were dry!! One flood – in Keys Rd Moorabbin, 2 km from my door, otherwise uneventful.