Papua New Guinea, Highlands trip ends 20 minutes after it starts

Motorbike/Motorcycle, Papua New Guinea, Travel No Comments

The plan was to have a ‘long weekend’ trip to the highlands this weekend. I had planned to go as far as Togoba today, preach at Wabag church on Saturday, then travel Porgera-Laiagam-Mendi on Sunday, to Tari on Monday, and back to Lae on Tuesday/Wednesday.

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I departed Lae at 6:00am this morning, and by 6:20am, the trip was over!! I didn’t even make it as far as the Nadzab airport.

I was cruising at 120km/h, when the bike popped out of 6th gear into what seemed like neutral (the engine freely revving, with no power going to the rear wheel). I selected up into 6th again, and about 5 seconds later it popped out again. So I changed down to 5th, and that is when the fun started – it sounded like someone had thrown a box of nuts and bolts into my gearbox. Fortunately the rear wheel didn’t lock up till I was just about stationary, but when I stopped by the side of the road, I couldn’t move the bike forward or backward.

The ever friendly and helpful locals assisted immediately. These boys carried the rear of the bike (as the tyre wouldn’t turn), so that we could move the bike of the main highway.

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Just 20 minutes later, my bike was in the back of a ute being ferried back to Lae. I guess I will need to fit a new gearbox before I can consider this trip again. L Once again, my dream of traveling the Highlands highway has been postponed.

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Of course the good news is, that this happened while I was still so close to Lae. I would have had additional challenges if it had happened a few hours out of Mendi.

I am back in Port Moresby tonight, wondering how to best go about repairing the bike.

Australia, Sydney-Port Stephens-Wiseman’s Ferry-Sydney (Weekend Trip)

Australia, Motorbike/Motorcycle No Comments

Friday

Elevation Profile

Total Distance: 231km

On Friday 11 November 2011 we travelled from Sydney to Port Macquarie. The first part of the trip was with two bikes (Branimir and Danijela on one, and Ben and Rebecca on the other).

This was a quick stop on the old Pacific Highway between Hornsby and Gosford.

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A quick stop at Hamlyn Terrace, where Malcolm and Marcia joined us – each on their own bikes.

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A quick stop by the side of the road to finalise arrival information for our accommodation.

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The house we stayed in over the weekend.

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Making dinner!

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Saturday

In the morning, we took a relaxing stroll along the beach to the marina.

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After lunch, we went for a walk at the Tomaree National Park.

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A quick swim at the beach, before heading back to our accommodation.

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We walked back to the marina for dinner.

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Sunday

Rebecca and I decided to quickly drop in on one of our relatives before heading back to Sydney.

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They live right on the water at Port Stephens, but the fog was so heavy that morning, that we were not able to see the sea at first. After a while it started to clear.

 

Elevation Profile

Total Distance: 248kms

Getting ready to ride back to Sydney.

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We stopped for lunch at Wollombi, and then took a look inside the little church there.

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We had another little stop outside the Settler’s Arms Inn, in St Albans.

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I ended up getting an urgent e-mail regarding work, which needed immediate attention. While dealing with my e-mail, the others had a little rest.

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And then we hopped onto Webbs Creek Ferry.

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We indulged ourselves by buying ice creams, before parting ways. Malcolm and Marcia went via Wisemans Ferry back to Hamlyn Terrace, while the rest of us returned to Sydney via the Old Northern Road.

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Day 07 – Haage to Munich (Germany)

Germany, Motorbike/Motorcycle, Travel 1 Comment

I left on Saturday night at about 10:45pm, and rode through the night. There was no traffic on the Autobahn, and it was easy going. At first it was 18 degrees Celsius, which was nice, but within a few hours the temperature had dropped to 11 degrees, which wasn’t so nice. So I had a few stops along the way. At one stop, which lasted about an hour, I sat and read a German computer magazine.

As I neared Munich, the sun was starting to think about rising, and it was very pretty. There was a bit of heavy fog, but nothing too concerning.

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I was already passed the center of Munich when the sun finally poked it’s head over the horizon.

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And then a little while later, I was admiring the sun rising over the Starnberger See (Lake).

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I decided that I had time to circumnavigate the lake – and it was well worth the ride.

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Notice the snow still on the mountains in the distance?

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But it was shaping up to be a great day! Virtually no clouds to be seen anywhere.

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The road was very relaxing – the greenery was stunning.

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I bought some pretzels for breakfast and sat by the lake. It was so peaceful.

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And it wasn’t long before I had circumnavigated the lake, fuelled up the bike and packed all my stuff.

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I travelled 2750km in 5 days (plus two days without riding), and had averaged 100.6km/h for the whole trip despite snow and rain.

It was a wonderful experience, and I can highly recommend it to anyone. Frankly, if I hadn’t had to go to Berlin, I would have spent a few days touring the Black Forest instead. That would have made this trip perfect.

And as for AllRoundRent? I have not heard from them since I returned the bike, so I presume they were happy with everything. I certainly was, and will rent from them again!

Day 02 – Ravensburg to Kloster (Germany, Switzerland)

Germany, Motorbike/Motorcycle, Switzerland, Travel No Comments

Elevation Profile

I started early on the second day. First item on the itinerary was to have breakfast with my cousin in Bräuningen, Black Forest. As you can seen from the photos below – it was beautiful sunshine in the morning but only about 8 degrees! The traffic was also heavy.

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Then I headed for the Touratech shop in Niederschach, also in the Black Forest. I bought quite a few things, but was disappointed that when I asked about the MwSt (GST) refund, they misinformed me. I found this out a week later when I tied to get a refund at the Munich Airport. I am now waiting for them to address this. However, it was great to browse the store and see the items before buying them.

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From there I headed to Schaffhausen to the Rhine Falls. The weather was looking very dicey – it looked as though a cloud burst could happen at any time … but I was lucky – I outran the weather.

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If you take a close look at the map, you will notice that Schaffhausen is in Switzerland, and that after leaving there, the road crossed back into Germany, before continuing on in Switzerland.

While I didn’t really spend any time in Zurich, I did like the character of the city.

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Solar Panels can be seen all over Switzerland.

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The road provides views of the Zurich Lake to the side and snow covered mountains in the distance.

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A nice mixture of old and new forms of transport with majestic mountains in the backdrop.

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Below is a picture showing how two lanes become four on the Swiss Autobahn (the same as in Germany). Cars find it difficult to pass, due to the lack of space. Wide cars, such as the S-Class Mercedes allow just 20cm on either side of the car (sometimes less if the truck/bus being passed drifts just a little) – there is not much room for error at 80km/h. I was actually trying to take a photo of a truck/bus being passed, but in 20 minutes of waiting, did not see any.

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After the Zurich Lake, come two more lakes: the Obersee and then the Walensee. Pictured below is the Walensee, which is where I choose to have dinner – the scenery was just stunning! I enjoyed an authentic Swiss Rösti while watching the weather change several times.

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And the Autobahn continues against the backdrop of the amazing mountains.

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I then started up into the mountains towards Davos (which BTW, is Switzelands highest town).

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A new tunnel leads into Davos, so that one doesn’t have to drive over the pass in winter (the road was often closed), but I didn’t take the tunnel – I wanted to go over the pass.

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Fortunately I didn’t take the tunnel, because I ended up driving through Kloster instead – and decided to stay there for the night.

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I stopped at a hotel, where the rate was reasonable – it is still low season, so most of the hotels were closed. The room I rented had this view from the balcony.

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Day 01 – Munich to Ravensburg (Germany)

Germany, Motorbike/Motorcycle, Travel 1 Comment

Elevation Profile

Arriving at Munich Airport, it isn’t half obvious that this is the home of BMW! This engine grill is in the luggage collection hall.

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Of course for Audi is trying to make an impression too – this is a three story poster outside the arrival hall – the reason I took the picture was because the of the fairly clear sky.

The weather reports for this week were rain all week everywhere I wanted to go, but I feel very blessed to have had GREAT weather.

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Wonderful sunshine as I caught the train from the airport to Marienplatz (in the heart of Munich).

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I went to Marienplatz so that I could find a bakery and buy a pretzel for breakfast!

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And then I caught the subway to collect the motorbike. The subway is a long way down – look at the length of the escalator … and I am already a third of the way down, because that is how long it took me to get my camera out.

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I got to AllRoundRent by about 8:10am, but they don’t open till 9:00am. My experience with them so far is that they are a good business to deal with. I wanted a RAM mount fitted so that I can mount my own Zumo 550, and they ensured that happened. They were also very good in getting the paperwork done. It can take a little while when collecting a bike so don’t (like I did) have a tight schedule and hope to be out of there within 1/2 hour. I spent about 2 hours there, much of it chatting about related things (my choice), and during this time I saw how they deal with a variety of customer issues. From what I have been able to tell, they do deal with people fairly – though they are running a business, and do charge for everything to which they are entitled.

This is the office office of AllRoundRent, and the bikes out the front are weekend returns while they are closed.

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I was grateful to get a bike R1200RT with ESA (because I had never ridden a bike with this feature), and really like the location of the RAM mount. The bike also had heated seats and hand grips – which came in really hand when riding in the snow!

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It did take me a couple of days to really get used to the R1200RT, having ridden a R1200GS extensively. The steering geometry is different – and that is quite noticeable at slow speed. However, it really loves riding on the Autobahn – I loved my ride to Haage (near Berlin) and back. It is a great cruising machine! I particularly liked the fact that you don’t get wet when riding in the rain (except for your feet) – the fairing is designed in such a way that if you are moving, you won’t get wet.

On day one I only rode to Ravensburg, which was good, because I had only little sleep over the previous 56 hours (I had only slept on the plane).

Day 14 – Oputama to Gisbourne

Motorbike/Motorcycle, New Zealand, Travel No Comments

Elevation Profile

We woke up the next morning, and the rain that had been forecast for many days materialised. However, we were fortunate that the next stop was at a friends house in Gisbourne, and that we were able to pack up almost everything relatively dry. The tent was a little wet, as a shower came over at the last minute.

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As we left Oputama, the weather looked like it was going to spare us. P1020633

However, on the way to Gisbourne, the rain really was heavy. We arrived at our friends place completely soaked.

Day 13 – Hastings to Oputama

Motorbike/Motorcycle, New Zealand, SDA Church, Travel No Comments
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