Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Sunday, 20 January 2008
It was in February 1981 a weekend after my first rally. Mother Hardy’s was held down in Victoria. Inland from Bairnsdale. I can’t remember the club that ran it. After my first rally I wanted to go to another straight away. We would turn to AMCN to give us the dates and places for rallys.
I rode with John (Jacko) who I worked with and his mate Greg. They both had XJ650s. We left from work on Friday arvo at about 3pm and set off down the coast. Being on a 250 I lead at times so as to set the pace. Most of the ride is now just a blur of non stop riding. Fueling up and rising. As it got dark Jacko took over and lit up the road with his 9 inch head lamp.
We got as far as Bega and rolled into the servo for fuel within 60 secs of the locks going on the pumps. The attendant didn’t have the keys. So we slept on the forecourt next to the bikes. At least one car also joined us waiting for dawn and arrival of the keys.
Dawn indeed did bring the keys. Fuelled up we headed for the border. Had we have gotten fuel the night before we would have pushed on until we got to the rally. In hindsight I am glad we didn’t. I don’t know if we really knew the threat of wildlife at night.
The road on the NSW side was so different than that of the Victoria side. This was the first time I had been to Victoria. The NSW was a goat track. There was a visible line in the road from the NSW tar and the Victoria tar. The road was now very smooth and wider than that in NSW.
I remember riding through Lakes Entrance. Then Bairnsdale. Then the dirt road into the Rally site. Remember this is way back for the ‘Adventure Bike’ and chook chasers were frowned upon at Rallys. How things have changed today.
The Rally site was great. Lush and green. We wandered around the rally site checking out the bikes that were there. Learnt about what camping gear is good to take on a bike. There were a lot of European bikes there too. Most people at the rally were from Victoria. Some from other states like us. The drinks flowed on Saturday night and many stories both true and not so true went from camp fire to camp fire. We had travelled over 700kms for a drink. Then another 700 to get home. But that is what rallying was like back then. Oh and it was in the days were you had to bring everything with you and there were no bands.
I took out “Longest Distance Under 250cc” trophy. But as we had to leave very early to head back the way we came I could not accept the award. So they mailed it to me. I have since lost this trophy. It was a piston and conrod mounted on a varnished bit of wood with the award plaque and Rally badge.
At the rally we meet Brad and Andy. Brad was on a GSX750 (first model) and Andy on a Kwaka 650. Andy also wore green leathers. He was of course christened Kermit. I think they lived out west somewhere. They rode with us up to the NSW border and then took off west.
On the way home I learnt a very important lesson. Don’t mess with Semis. I went to overtake one semi. Now on a 250 with a big barn door handle bar fairing on it I had to slip stream the semi and then scoot out and try to get past him. Being that close behind I couldn’t see what was coming the other way till I pulled out. And guess what was coming the other way. Another semi. I had no time to pull back. I ended up riding between the two of them. Both Jacko and Greg following thought I was a going to get run over. Somehow I held onto the handle bars and rode between them. I did do this once more on the way to another rally. Hey I was 19 and thought I could conquer the world. Not anymore.
Between Genoa and the border the Victorian Police placed white tape on the roads. The tape was a certain distance apart. Then a helicopter would time you between these two tapes. If you were going over the speed limit the helicopter would radio a Police car to chase you down and book you. We looked heaven ward for the helicopter. None was seen. So we tried to cut the tape by slamming on our brakes as we went over the tape. It didn’t work. The tape remained in place.
I arrived home well after dark. I was worn out but buzzing from the trip.
So this is what I remember. If you are reading this and knew were this rally was held and which club please let me know. Also for some reason I had black and white film loaded in my camera.
Jacko enjoying a few cold brews.
Brad, Andy and Greg. On the way home.
Lunch time stop Sunday. Where I can't remember. Bikes from left to right. Greg's XJ650, Brad's GSX750, Andy's Z650, my GSX250 and Jacko's XJ650.
Saturday, 19 January 2008
The image below shows the rain as it was falling at 4:50am this morning. Plenty of rain. Raining Cats and Dogs all day in fact. No shine and thankfully no hail. The rain started yesterday and it hasn’t stopped. Well it has now as I write this.
I asked a friend of mine, Kim to come along for the ride too. She had in the last month or so upgraded from a Suzuki 250 Across to a Kawasaki ZZR600. Kim has only been riding for about 12 months. This would be a good run for her to get some open road experience and as it turned out wet weather riding too.
Kim and I meet at about 6:45am at MacDonalds at McGraths Hill. It was grey, dark and wet. The rain was not going to dampen our spirits as we headed out onto the road.
I had suggested during the week that we would have a few stops on the way. That way we could take photos of the great scenery etc. HA HA HA! As we rode up through Kurrajong Heights we hit fog. Right in the hair pins. Not that we could go fast through the corners as it was pelting down. Water was flowing across the road in lovely wide rivers. Plus it was windy. Very windy. Driving the rain at us.
I wear 100% water proof boots. HA HA HA! Oh no they are not. Every lake of water on the road found its way into my boots. Why did I not wear my heavy duty gumboots? I wear throw away plastic gloves under my leather ones. There was no stopping this rain. It found its way in between the plastic gloves and my hand. So now I could have goldfish in both my boots and my gloves.
We needed a break. Lithgow gave us this. We pulled in under the awning of a car repair place and had late breakfast/morning tea. Thank you Kim for the yummy chocolate cake too.
All too soon it was back into the rain. Of course we had not had a chance to dry off. I must say though that my wet weather pants did a sterling job. So to my vented jacket with the rain liner in. Oh and the newspaper down my shirt to keep me warm. I find that if the middle of my body is warm and stays warm I have not problems with my hands and feet being drenched and cold.
Our next stop would be Ilford. We turned off onto route 86, the road that takes you up to Mudgee. This goes through coal mining territory. The collieries must put money into the roads around here as they are good. In places concrete. Very few potholes too. On the whole trip I only had one butt hole clenching moment. Was hoofing along through an up hill left hander when I felt both wheels let go. I was aquaplaning. Must have been one of those road rivers that I didn’t see. Within the blink of an eye I had control again and didn’t end up head on into the 3 cars coming the other way.
We made very good time to Ilford. We got there an hour early. I wish the weather had been better as there were some very old derelict houses along the side of this road that I would have loved to have photographed. I just didn’t want to ruin my camera. Hence the very few photos you see in this write up.
By the time we got to Ilford my Japanese bladder was demanding attention. Ilford only has a café and that’s about it. Squelching into the café leaving a lovely water trail I asked if I could use the loo….”Are you buying something?” Was the reply. “Well yes if it means I can use the loo.” “We are not supposed to let ay use it as we are only a takeway place. But you can use it this time.” You know if I had of stood on their small porch and pee’d there, they would not have known what with all the rain. Kim asked the same question and was told it was due to the fact that they don’t have ramp access for wheel chairs to the loo that they are not supposed to give the public access as they are not a restaurant. That’s for sure. But they did have eat-in tables and chairs. As had to order something to use the loos we both had hot chips and waited for Michael to arrive.
Within half an hour a silver/blue MuZ arrived. He had made it. Drenched and frozen Michael greeted us. It was good to meet him in person at last. We had spoken on the phone and of course I had read his ride reports. He had brought along something’s from his Finland trip. One, being a belt with MZ buckle that was a rally trophy. What a great way to remember a rally by. I asked him if he took out other trophies and he said he took just about all of them. Of course longest distance he won hands down.
Michael's MuZ Traveller.
One of the purposes of this trip was for us to ride together as well. Michael wanted to drop in on an old friend of his in Peel. To get there we took the road that takes you down through Sofala and Wattle Flat. Wattle Flat ain’t flat. It’s very hilly. This would be a great road to do in the dry. The road winds its way around the hills in this area and is in very good condition too. In the dry you could get along at a very good speed and enjoy the corners.
Once at Peel, Bruce, Michael’s mate opened his home up to us. Even though we were all wet as anything he welcomed us warmly. We dripped all over his kitchen floor yet he still made us a great cuppa tea. Michael and Bruce had not seen each other for a very long time. It was good to hear them talking about how they meet. What they are both doing now days. Bruce is a very good screen play writer. He also writes for Metro magazine reviewing movies and interviewing people in the film industry. Thank you Bruce for your hospitality. I hope we meet again one day. I would love some writing tips from you. I just wish Kim and I could have stayed longer but all too soon we had to head back out into the rain. Michael stayed on at Bruce’s place so we said our good buys.
Peel is 15kms from Bathurst. I so wanted to try to get up onto Mount Panorama circuit. But it was just too wet to do the place justice and we needed to be back in Sydney for a birthday cake for Kim. We ate a quick lunch at the Kelos BP servo. We had parked the bikes at the diesel pumps and were standing around eating when a four wheel drive pulls up. He asked us if we had finished with the diesel pump. WHAT! We are not on Enfield diesel bikes.
If we had of had time I also wanted to do Oberon to Jenolan Caves then through to the Blue Mountains. I didn’t think that Kim was up to the roads through there in the rain. So we headed straight for Lithgow. Just before Lithgow the road has been not only chewed up by the rain but also by the semis. There were some huge pot holes. So big that a Land Rover would have been lost in some of them. The rain they are getting out Bathurst/Lithgow way is drought breaking. It is heavy and it is not just a brief shower. But at the same time the roads quickly break-up and become very dangerous.
People in cars have no idea. Going down the hairpins at Hartley a small blue car was right up my arse. Come on. It’s raining, there is water flowing across the road and you want me to fly though the hair pins? FOOL! I pulled over onto the shoulder and let the car go by.
As usual the Great Western Hwy through the Blue Mountains is so boring I won’t comment on it.
We got back into Sydney ok. Kim got her birthday cake. Have a great one on Tuesday Kim. Thank you for coming with me today. You did really well for someone who has not been riding all that long. Anytime you want to do another day ride let me know.
I arrived home soaked. The water got through the plastic bags I had on my feet inside my boots. At least my jacket didn’t leak that much. Just at the zip at the front. The wet weather pants keep me dry. I hate having a wet crouch.
The bike went ok today. The head winds knocked off some of the speed. The panniers didn’t leak at all. The speedo was very hard to read as it got water inside the glass. All up I did 476kms. Kim did 500 and Michael did 441.
Notice how the speedo is hard to read. Cheap East German junk. The Jap tacho is fine.
Now for a nice sunny day and another ride.
Map of the route we took.
View Larger Map
Photo credits: Michael Barnes, Bruce Andrews and myself.
Kim, myself and Michael.
Kim and me getting ready to leave Bruce's place at Peel.
This is how wet it was. Me leading Kim out of Peel.
Michael about to leave Bruce's place.
Friday, 11 January 2008
Lilly asked me at the start of the week if she and I could go for a ride. A long ride. I love it that the girls all like being on the bike. So how long would a ride be for her? At first I suggested Kiama and then up to Robertson to the Pie Shop. Lilly is a bit of a Pie connoisseur. I traced out the route with Google maps and it was a long round trip. Way too long for her. So I suggested we do 2 ferries, Sackville and Berowra Waters Ferries and then up to Pie in the Sky. Once at Pie in the Sky we will decide were to go from there. We would ride on Friday.
Here it is Friday. It is a beautiful summer’s day. The bike is packed. We are ready to ride. We head off at around 10am. Traffic is light heading north west. Soon we are through Windsor and turning off towards Sackville. But first I take a bit of a detour. I love old buildings from the convict times here. So we turn off and visit Ebenezer Church.
This is the oldest Church in Australia. Established in 1809. This is a beautiful sandstone building. It is still used for worship services. It has a grave yard that is rich in local history. Above the door to the church is a plaque listing the names of the men from the area that died in World War One. Even though there are only 20 names on the Honour Roll this still would have been a big loss for the area. Three familles lost 2 or more of their men. After reading through the grave stones it was time to mount up and head off back to our first ferry.
So far we have had the back roads to ourselves. At Sackville Ferry we queue up with several four wheel drives. Once on the other side of the river we over take the four wheels drives and scoot off away from them. The road from Sackville to the northern Road has some very nice sweepers but also some tight rough sections with gravel across the road in some of the corners.
All too soon we are in Glenorie and I am looking for Wylds Rd. This will take us to Acadia Road and down to Berowra Waters and the ferry there. Now the road is very tight and sign posted at 40k/h.
Lilly is handling the ride well. She is the perfect pillion. So much so that I don’t notice her in the corners. So she is really in tune with the bike.
We are again queued up in traffic for a ferry. Lilly tells me she has a cramp in her left knee. This is caused by the position of the panniers. They can’t be moved back at all. We cross the river on the ferry and stop so she stretch her legs. We are parked right in front of a Memorial dedicated to a Rex Jones who drowned here at the ferry in 1936. He must have been someone of importance in the area to have this stone laid for him.
It is getting hotter and we are close to Pie in the Sky. The road takes up from the Ferry via a narrow twisting road that has some wonderful views down into Berowra Waters.
Onto the Old Pacific Hwy and we are at Pie in the Sky. There are some bikes here. BMWs. Most have Ulysses stickers on them. Lilly orders a chicken and corn pie and I have my brought from home sandwiches.
So where should we go now that lunch is finished? I don’t want to go to Road Warriors. We are not ready to go home yet. So lets explore a bit. We head north for a few k’s and turn off to Brooklyn. This small village sits right on the water. It is your typical waterfront place. Many slipways for small boats. The businesses offer support to the boating community and the weekend fishermen. One Fish and Chip shop will have us come back to sample their food.
We sat in the shade for awhile eating a cold lemon Calipo each and watch the people go about their business. Lilly soon realised that this is where they took a ferry to Nelson Island for school camp last year.
It was time to head for home. Lilly was happy with the length of the ride so far. Not too short and not too long. So I had picked a good ride for us.
We headed back up onto the Freeway. This was a mistake. I can handle all the semis. I can handle the silly car drivers. It was the road works that made me turn off and get back onto the Old Pacific. I am glad we did as we took another detour. This time down through to Galston Gorge. Lots of hairpins as the road winds down to the bottom of the gorge. By now there are lots of cars about. We are technically back in suburbia.
We stop at the top of the gorge to have a look around. In the bushes are many spiders. Families of them. All inhabiting the same bushes.
Back on the road and the first hairpin I hear some very loud squeaking sounds coming from under the seat. Every bump brings a pig squeal from the rear shock mounts. I did grease them when I changed the rear shock. But it is very hot today and even more so down there next to the exhaust. We pull into a servo and buy a can of WD40. A few squirts and the squeal has gone. I know that this week coming I will have to drop the shock and re-grease the mounting points.
180kms and we are home. This was not a big adventure ride. It was not a ride to far flung places in Australia. It was a ride because my daughter asked me to take her on one. We had a ball today.