Road Trip

Well, I’ve had my bike about six weeks now and still haven’t done any serious long-distance travel on it. So yesterday, disregarding the forecast for possible rain, I went for a ride down the Great Ocean Road and back. I took a few photos, but mostly this was a trip about proving to myself that I could do 540 km in a day on a motorcycle, and revisiting one of the more enjoyable stretches of road in Victoria.

I set off at 7am took the freeway into the city and then out again along the M1, which now ends slightly after Geelong. Shortly after that, I reached the town of Torquay, the start of the Great Ocean Road, and stopped to stretch my legs and reassure myself that my hands could still move. Doing 100 km/h on a small motorcycle is a lot more physically demanding than it is on a car.

After Torquay, there’s almost 100km of beautiful winding road to Apollo Bay. I’m still not particularly confident when it comes to going fast on roads like this, especially when you’re sharing it with buses that only approximately fit in their lane and Europeans in rented camper vans who are still getting the hang of driving on the left hand side. Fortunately traffic was pretty light. The only slightly harrowing moment I had was entirely my own fault: feeling like I was going a bit fast through a corner, I reached for the front brake, which pushed the bike more upright and sent my veering off to the edge of my lane. Luckily, my bike’s ability to corner is far greater than my own confidence, even on slightly damp roads, and I was able to correct my position with no major drama.

At Apollo Bay, I stopped for a cuppa and second breakfast.

After Apollo Bay, the road gets faster, with fewer tight curves and more sweeping bends that you can take at 100 km/h. In practice I was doing a little bit slower than that because going around any kind of corner on a bike at 100 km/h still feels to me like everything is happening all at once. After another 100 km, I reached the Twelve Apostles, a beautiful rock formation formed by erosion of the coastline.

The Great Ocean Road goes on for a bit further, but this was enough for me. At Port Campbell I turned off onto the country back roads that lead back to the A1 to Melbourne, through the dairy country around Cobden. Cows on either side and almost no traffic made for quite an enjoyable ride. Eventually I reached the main road, filled up with fuel at Colac, and rode the final 160 km home.

Sunday Afternoon Links

  • The Most Dangerous Gamer. “Blow has decided to use his money—nearly all of it—to finance what may be the most intellectually ambitious video game in history, one that he hopes will radically expand the limitations of his chosen field. […] With The Witness, produced with about $2 million of his own money, he plans to do nothing less than establish the video game as an art form—a medium capable of producing something far richer and more meaningful than the brain-dead digital toys currently on offer.” This sounds fascinating. I don’t normally play computer games, but I think I could make an exception for one that aims to express existentialist philosophy!
  • The Siege of Academe. An interesting article about tech startups challenging the authority of universities. For all that I cringe reading the San Francisco hipster stereotypes (and worse, realising that I fit half of them), it does seem that in the long term, people are going to be getting their education from something quite different from the sandstone universities we all know and love. Maybe the brief few decades from, say, 1970 to 2040 will go down in history as the heyday of traditional university education.
  • Natural Philosophy (on The Policy Tensor). This is a broad article on mathematics, philosophy, science, economics and how everything fits together with everything else. The conclusion stands on its own: “If we are serious about our intellectual endeavour to make sense of reality, we have to go back to being natural philosophers.”

Sunday Afternoon Links

I’m going to branch out a bit from my usual photography posts and start posting weekly-ish links to things I’ve encountered along the internet. I’m not going to make any attempt to be timely or provide the latest news, just pass on a few things that I found interesting:

  • The Martini FAQ Apparently stirred might be better than shaken. Since reading this, I’ve been meaning to go and buy some vermouth and experiment with making martinis, but haven’t got around to it yet.
  • Australiar and the Idiot Dilemma. A fantastic rant by Geoff Lemon.
  • A Software Architect’s View of the Design of Double Entry Accounting Systems. Wow, now that’s a nerdy title! I also found it quite interesting, despite knowing almost nothing about accounting, because it goes into the history of accounting systems. The thing that surprised me most: they were invented to keep track of debt (what you owe and what people owe you), not of money, partly because debt predates currency by a long time.
  • How Feasible is a Guaranteed Minimum Income (John Quiggin) and What Is Income Support For? (Don Arthur). Interesting analyses of two different aspects of “the dole”, addressing topics which mostly go ignored when people talk about it.
  • The Great Abbreviators. “The danger of abbreviation is ‘quarter-truths’ and ‘half-truths’. The danger is pseudoscience. The danger is contextless, irrelevant sound bites sold as authoritative insight. The danger is equating ‘the truth’ with talking heads and ‘expert’ opinions. The antidote is responsibility.”
  • Prog Spring: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five. I like prog rock and I cannot lie.

My Growing Collection of Two-Wheelers

I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like
It’s got a basket, a bell that rings
And things to make it look good

— Pink Floyd, Bike

Riding a motorbike has reminded me how much I used enjoy riding my pushbike, too. So, er, I went and bought one. I’ve only ridden about 10 km on it so far, but it’s been fun in a very different kind of way to a motorcycle. First impressions: my legs aren’t as strong as they used to be! It should be ideal for the trip to university, about half of which is along a dedicated cycle path (the Upfield Bikeway) and the other half along roads with bike lanes.