The ‘plan’ was to stay overnight with Wilson and family, do five locations for the Adventure Challenge on Saturday, and be back home Saturday night so I could do some work on Sunday. Never mind the radar showing rain pushing up past Port Macquarie into places we planned on going…
So Friday after work we scootled down the highway to Wilsons.
At 7.00am Saturday the radar was still showing the same thing, but Dave was sure it wouldn’t be too bad. “We could at least give it a go,” he said.
By the time we’d got to Macksville to fuel up, and were starting to get wet, we decided we would modify the ride and end up back at Wilson’s by lunch time.
The Pines picnic area in Yarriabini National Park is only a little way off the highway and well worth visiting. This place is simply beautiful. And for Dave it holds special significance because it’s the first time he’s had someone witness him actually seeing a lyre bird. When we ‘d stopped Dave doing his little victory dance, and the lyre bird had walked off in disgust at his antics, we followed the road around and back into Macksville to a lovely old-fashioned cafe for coffee and food while waiting for a break in the weather. From there we planned to go to Bowraville, take Horseshoe Road past Mt Killiecrankie on to Bellingen and back home.
In honour of Craig, we took Wilsons Road to Bowraville (I won’t mention that Craig got lost in Bowraville). Craig had said the folk museum there was worthwhile seeing, and because we were only doing a short ride, stopped in there. It truly is worthwhile stopping at for a couple of hours. Craig was excited to show us the very first DR they have there too. They have incredible collections of cameras, mowers, rocks, sawmilling equipment and even a full church.
Horseshoe Road, even in the light rain, didn’t look too bad when we set off. The deeper we went in however, the harder the rain got and the more the track seemed to deteriorate and we were lucky to go 20kph or 30kph and hour in most sections! (Well may you laugh, but we did stay upright). When we eventually got to Kilpotray and saw the warning signs, we knew that was one track we would never take on and said a silent prayer for those riders foolhardy or talented enough to take it on.
At Killiecrankie lookout I made an executive decision not to walk up to the lookout to see the same fog and rain we’d been riding through. We were halfway there and had been riding for what seemed like hours (probably because it was). We found more clay, puddles and rain as we kept going, slipping and sliding. But no-one else was out enjoying Horseshoe track…
Not long after Killiecrankie, Dave stopped, thinking he had a stick jammed in somewhere. We couldn’t see anything but it was making noise like there was one. Eventually the noise stopped, but after 32,000km, his front sprocket and chain need replacing.
Now, I haven’t mentioned that we don’t have a GPS and rely on maps. Well, Dave had taken this a step further, writing all the directions on a piece of paper which he taped to his bike. Except the Horseshoe Road section, because that was straightforward…he said. When we came to a part where one road went straight ahead and one doubled back around to the left, Dave went over to read the sign. And yes, we needed to go straight ahead. All I can say is, thank goodness I had knobby tyres, thank goodness I had been on some of the challenge rides to get some skills I would need for that road, and thank goodness I didn’t have a weapon. The road ahead and down was ridiculously steep, rocky, tight, twisty with mud and clay just for good measure. In some ways, falling off would have been a relief. I was swearing rather loudly at the track all the way down to ….A LOCKED GATE!!!! Dave and Craig consulted the map, had no real idea of where we were, we couldn’t go forward, which meant backtracking. That’s when I started swearing at Dave. Going up was just as horrendous. If I hadn’t already been down this way, there would have been no way someone could have convinced me to ride down after coming up there.
The two of us who could read signs pointed out to Dave that Horseshoe Road actually doubled back and Middle Camp Fire Road went straight ahead. He kept mumbling about being worried about his bike and that’s why he got it wrong. I’d like to say the road got better, and it was better than the firetrail, apart from all the clay and big washouts. Eventually we made it onto the Waterfall Way, wet and muddy, but unscathed. A diesel spill up the road meant we had to continue our slow and steady pace. Coffee has never tasted so good as the one we had after that ride back at Wilsons late that afternoon before toddling back home up the highway.
In all, it wasn’t the ride we planned, but we can say it was most certainly an adventure ride!
On another note, and in fairness to Dave who thinks I am picking on him, I came home from work Friday to find he’d installed Barrett racks on my bike. A very nice surprise because I had no idea he’d ordered them!