Monday, January 29, 2007

In Heaven on The Great Ocean Road

One of the great pleasures/rewards about taking people for a Harley Ride is going down the Great Ocean Road. That was exactly what I did yesterday.
The Great Ocean Road is a motorcycle riders's heaven. Its where one can become engrossed in the real joy of riding a motorcycle along a challenging stretch of road that twists and turns. At one moment you are at sea level, the next you are 60 metres up above the oceans riding along the edge of a cliff.
Yep, that was me yesterday - my passenger on the back taking in the majestic panoramic views while I (at 110% concentration) charged along this fantastic stretch of road.
But, don't get me wrong - I wasn't going at breakneck speed. Actually, that's not the way to enjoy the Great Ocean Road. In fact you can't actually ride it at much above the speed limit, because the road doesn't let you.
Here is what its like. As we head into a bend you hear the engine howl as the brakes are applied and I go down a few gears. Then its off the brakes as we smoothly negotiate the bend and as we see a clear line out of the corner and the bike begins to straighten up the bike accelerate as the throttle is applied and the next corner races up towards us. You can now hear the scream of the "Harley sound", music to ones ears. Again the engine begins to howl as I brake and change down a few gears, getting the corner set up just right. Then its through the bend and off to the next - and so on for what seems like forever. Heaven - I love the Great Ocean Road.
What does it look like? Here are some images I took recently:

Here is a Youtube clip of the 45 minute trip from Lorne to Apollo bay compressed into less than 10 mins. No, we don't ride this fast, but this is the closest we can bring you to what it really feels like.

Melbourne on Google Earth via Panoramio

I discovered a great application last week - I now have images of Melbourne mapped on Google Earth via a handy new Google application called Panoramio.

You can view my photos of Melbourne (and some other places) via This Link

I took this picture of the Melbourne Skyline and inserted it into Google Earth, where hopefully others will see it soon.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Years Eve Melbourne

For the last 8 years or so I and several other Harley Riders have spent our time working on New Years Eve.

It all started back in 1998 when it was discovered that there were never enough taxis in Melbourne to service the enormous demand created by having 1/2 a million people descend on the Melbourne CBD for the night. Our solution? Supplement the taxi shortage with Harleys fitted with sidecars.

This year saw us back in the city again. However, this year we decided to do a "distinctive uniform" - so that people would be able to recognize us as legitimate transport. Before midnight we spent our time doing short joy rides from the Docklands precinct. After midnight, we got down the serious business of getting people home.

This photo was taken at the 2006 Albert Park F1 GP, which was where we first tested the new uniforms.

The uniform is not used all the time - only when we are working "off the street" where the public can come up to us and hail us like a taxi. I wore my uniform on Oaks Day at the Melboune Cup in November 2006, and from 4pm to 8pm worked "flat out" servicing the demand at the taxi queue at the end of the day. The window opens at 4pm as the supply of taxis is quickly drained and then slams shut at 8pm as the number of people wanting taxis subsides, and its over for another year....

How many people have we serviced this way over the last 10 years? Answer - tens of thousands.

Monday, January 01, 2007

What a Month

December is always a busy month for the Harley Rides industry, and 2006 was no exception.

The first weekend of the month saw the demand for sidecars stretched to the limit for Corporate Family Christmas parties. We had 3 on Saturday 3rd Dec and 4 on Sunday the following day. I started at 9 am on Sunday doing a 3 Sidecar job for Tourism Victoria, where we took a group of Travel Agents from New Zealand for a familiarization tour of Melbourne, then did several hundred short rides at the GTV 9 Family Christmas Party and ended the day taking an 80 year old and two of his grand children for a sidecar ride.

From time to time we get some pretty special requests. On Wed 6th December I received a call from the Herald Sun newspaper to take a special little boy for a ride. Tyler Fishlock lost his sight to cancer early in 2006. He is only 4 years old and had asked Santa for a Harley ride. The Herald Sun obliged and I was called upon to do the job. Tyler is an amazing child. But it was his parents Georgette and Brad who impressed me most. They have given up a lot this past year and are facing the challenge with amazing strength.

This is Tyler seated on John's Heritage Softail

Then not one week later I took another visually imapaired girl out for a Harley Ride. Krista loves Harleys and was given a Gift Voucher for a 1 hour ride by her friends as a birthday present. It was a pretty interesting experience for me as we cruised up into the hils and she took in the smells and felt the wind in her face.

The month ended as busy as it started after Christmas Day. There were a massive number of tourists in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Cricket Test. We picked up quite a bit of work from them and one afternoon after the match (and the game) was finished took Ian Botham away from the MCG to Pier 35 where a helicopter was waiting to fly him down to his home on the Mornington Peninsula.