Australia Blog: Day 3 - Ducati Streetfighter and the Old Pacific Highway
Today’s the day we rode the Old Pacific Highway with Jeff Ware, Editor of Rapid Bikes mag, with a couple of mates in tow. Jeff had said he’d try and get ex-GP racers Kevin Magee and Daryl Beattie (his mates, he reliably tells me) along for the ride, but sadly they didn’t show.
Back in the 90s this mountain road, north of Sydney was closed half way as it had collapsed in places. There was no way from one end to the other and the road was mostly empty, so it was the perfect place for a spot of illegal road racing. Jeff and his mates used to race for money up and down the mountains. He told me there were some illegal amphetamine factories up there too. Judging by the gurning lady in the kitchen of one of the biking cafes en route, I’d say there’s still some left over.
Although Jeff (on an 2009 Yamaha R1) knows the road like the back of his hand I still fight to keep up on the Streetfighter. My eyes are mostly on stalks and I have a few close shaves.
On std settings the Ohlins forks on the Ducati Streetfighter are way under-damped and it bucks and weaves everywhere, especially in fast direction changes. I wish I had my tool kit with me to firm the front end up (why are the forks set-up so soft on Ducatis?).
Hard braking into one bumpy corner, the forks are already on their bottom stops, I hit another nasty bump and the rad scrapes the floor out as I turn in. At the next stop coolant is leaking out almost as fast as the sweat is leaving my leather-clad body in the 36-degree heat. Rad weld to the rescue – and it works!
Being a popular route for bikers there are loads of police patrolling the road, diligently enforcing the paltry 60 km/h limit. Finding a quiet stretch of police-less road is like dodging the search lights in a prison break...
It was a long day’s riding and the thing that struck me when I got back to my hotel was that there wasn’t one single fly on my visor or bike! What with the dry roads as well, everything stays so clean in Australia. That’s good for my OCD.
Tomorrow I’m off to see cool retro specials builder, Deus in heart of Sydney’s city.