Victorian motorcycling restrictions for COVID-19 ended one minute before midnight last night so what better than a full day out on the bike today! Where to though? With an iffy forecast last night for today, I decide to hold over planning until this morning. I heard rain on the roof and in the street, as expected, as I lay in bed last night thinking “night thoughts”:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day…

Tomorrow is another day. Vladimir and Estragon will have something to say if I can’t think of anything to say about today. Circa 7 something am and it’s wet outside, also as expected. I check the forecasts east, west and north. A cold front is still crossing the state, tracking north-west to south-east, slicing through. Damn it’s going to be a cold one inland. I estimate wind chill around zero and it is going to be wet but less so if I head west, stick to the coast and use the moderating effect of the ocean on the temperature. Go west, I hear the words and time to heat up and do the Shrek principle. As I prep take away supplies, the rain comes down (hard) on the roof. It’ll pass, all things do, no matter what, they do pass, eventually and if I was afraid of water I’d be a poor pilot. I check the doppler, the 64, 128 and 256 k radar ranges…it’s been months. Time to head out. A few minutes out and it’s horizontal but I know it won’t last, it will clear. The journey has begun.

West. West means the Great Ocean Road, this is the GOR, cousin to the GAR (Great Alpine Road). Shortened as if paying homage to some strange deity through reduction, minimisation of syllables, abandonment of superfluous letters. The transit sections there and back, if thought of as work, can be hard work, a long freeway section before I take my favourite back roads to the start proper. I have no definitive plan, I have many “west” routes etched into my mind, I’ll play it by ear, do I want tighter sections to start or long, fast sweepers? But it’ll be deserted, tighters sections. Enjoy the silence, enjoy the lack of traffic. Enjoy. There’ll be plenty of fast sweepers on the return. Yes. I traverse villages holding memories of past times, different times, as I remember those events signed by their signifiers. They linger like a weak candle all but consumed by draught yet just managing to stay alight, to shine.

The start of the GOR proper and it’s quiet, very, very quiet, so few cars on the road, so few vehicles parked. I espy two “tourists” at the arch and engage my game face, the game is afoot, the curves beckon, the surface wants to be explored, to be felt, the air ready for the bark of a downshift, the puncture of a quick shift. I float outside time, I exist in mind and motion only, I meet well-known corners, banking, cambers, descents, ascents, lines of sight, braking markers, old friends reunited.

Several laps later and I feel partially sated but not so much so that I can’t partake of a return detour to the “dam view”, it’s always wet through there even if it hasn’t rained for many, many days, all that tree cover closing over the road, all that twisty shiny goodness. I head back to the sea and fare thee well until the next time, taking the inland route for fast sweepers, gliding across damp sections, feathering the controls, staying smooth.

Until next time. It’s good to be “back”, to fly again, to be unconstrained, to be free, free to be.