I’ll start off by saying Phillip Island is absolutely brilliant. It really is like a scene from a post card and looks even better in real life. The fact that you can camp right next to the track just caps it off. Being woken up to the sound of my people is music to my motorbike loving ears. Even if you aren’t a fan, going to the MotoGP is something you have to experience at least once in your life. The speed (348km/h thank you very much) is infectious and the sound is intoxicating. Do it!
Camping track side certainly has a crazy, yet good-natured vibe to it. At night people let off fire works (I’m not talking fire crackers, I’m talking minutes worth of the real deal), the drinks flowed, fires were absolutely roaring, and there was a bar and live band every night, burnouts…you name it and its happening. But while its crazy, there aren’t any bust ups and everyone is just there enjoying themselves. People who are after a quiet experience should probably look elsewhere though.
Its great to camp with so many like minded people. Everyone there was more than happy to talk about bikes, share a beer around the fire, talk about how they got down and impart any knowledge and experience they have (whether its good or bad). Motorcycle riders are grouse.
People there have some pretty serious camping set ups. Pool tables, wooden bars, huge fire pits, sound systems, custom made fire pits (one group had all their name laser cut into their fire drum) and even dodgy little bikes to ride to the toilets and back! We on the other hand kept it simple, swags and a tent with the trusty butane gas cooker.
I set up my Oztrail biker tent properly for the first time and I have to say I was impressed (review to come in the near future). Sure its a bit like sleeping in your own coffin, but once you got used to staring at death it certainly did the job and kept the weather off.
After our dubious directions from security on the previous day, I can safely say the event as a whole was fantastic. It was clean, security and police were present but unobtrusive, the manufactures and sales displays were great, hell, even the food was top notch (our pavilion had an amazing food truck called Those Guys Food). Even more importantly the racing over the 3 days was brilliant.
If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend going on the Friday and Saturday. There are less crowds allowing you to see clearly from any part of the track and you can really immerse yourself in the atmosphere. Plus you get to see all the bikes whereas on TV you generally only get to see the top few guys. But when all’s said and done, you can’t beat race day. The atmosphere is insane, especially in the MotoGP class. People cheer every pass, Italians sing songs about Valentino Rossi, everyone is wearing merchandise from their favorite brands and riders, I bloody loved it.
So, camping was great, the race was great, the event itself was great, something had to go wrong right? Well, this dickhead decided to lose his motorbike key! Not a good option when you are 2000km’s from home and don’t have a spare handy.
It wasn’t until after we watched the first couple of races on Sunday that I noticed my keys weren’t in my pocket. Strange, I must have left them in my bike. We caught the shuttle bus back to the campsite and they weren’t in my bike. OK, now I was getting nervous, where the fuck are they?! I turned my swag, clothes and the tent upside down and inside out, nothing.
I searched the ground nearby, nothing. I asked security but they were as useless as tits on a bull. Ah shit. Way to put a dampener on things. Maybe a drink in the Bundaberg Rum ‘immersion tent’ (which was awesome BTW) would calm the nerves, nope. I came to the conclusion that we paid out money for our pavilion seats, I might as well enjoy them while the races were on. I reported my keys lost to circuit administration between the Moto2 and MotoGP race and we had to run back to our seats to make the race on time.
After the race I had a further look around our campsite with our legendary neighbours but didn’t have any luck. We thought it would be a good idea to check underneath the grandstand where we were sitting in the hope they had fallen out of my pocket. Security wouldn’t let us in after the race had finished so we took things into our own hands. Myself and one of our adventure bike riding neighbours jumped the 9 foot fence and dived under the grandstand to have a look. I know, bad ass right? Too bad we didn’t find diddly squat.
I contacted some locksmiths and Kawasaki dealers who informed me that my ZX10 had an electronically coded key. Long story short, I couldn’t just get any old key cut, I would need to get my master key from Brissie. Thankfully, our camping neighbours offered for us to stay a night or 2 with them at Swan Hill until we got everything sorted. Still, I didn’t have a key. Thankfully, Mrs OnTheBackWheel came to the rescue and express posted the master key to our saviours address at Swan Hill. Don’t fail me Australia Post! The journey was taking an unexpected turn (our route back would certainly be different!) but it was time to make the best of a bad situation. This glass was definitely half full. Also, people really are awesome.
Look out for the next, and final blog post in the near future.