It’s all in the planning
I’d been to Dungog by the bush in a day before, so I knew it was possible. Nine years ago Ozzo and I had made a break for it, but time had softened the memories of what had become a fantastic ride in my mind. The raging rivers lapping over seat height, the massive trees down, starting in the dark and finishing in the dark were special circumstances and not likely to be repeated.
In fact I’d planned everything down to the breaks, and I was confident we’d be watching Dakar with a cold beverage by 5.30pm. I was so determined in fact, that Tom and I had prerun the four hours to Taylors Arm last week. That cleared the way to start on the dreaded blacktop and save a heap of time.
It’s not dark
We were already in front of the previous trip as the sun rose as I waited a few minutes for the crew arrival. I guess technically we all started in the dark but at different places, so that doesn’t count. The crew arrived promptly (you only have to leave without a good mate once or twice. They usually find you anyway) with Cain being fashionably one minute late joining Tom, Dean, Phil, Karen and Dave and little old me.
After a quick exchange of pleasantries and a considerably longer exchange of payouts with the usual three letter jokes (KTM ,BMW) followed by personal insults for those lucky enough to be on good bikes, we were on our way by 6.10am.
The mindless, boring highway soon passed, followed by nice tar corners to at least wake ourselves up, and we were at the Pub With No Beer.
Then the dirt started. Dave had volunteered to be sweep, secure in the knowledge that, thanks to watching the radar the previous night and noting the heavy rain, he’d have no dust. As I looked at the massive cloud of dust I was leaving, I was glad he had such a positive attitude. I’m sure it made a difference in the still morning air.
Stop, revive and stuff
That’s stuff as in other stuff, not, “Get away from me with that, you mongrel!”
The refuel that no-one wanted was full of excitement and had Tom going and gasping and wishing he could buy up and go straight home. He just loves those old bike magazines. Meanwhile there was lots of giggling coming from the back of the shop, but the door was closed as I went to investigate.
Dave and Karen emerged later, Dave saying, ‘Nothing to see here!” Apparently there was only rider aids in the backroom. I’m guessing it was Onesie rain-suits and the like.
Soon the group was strutting their stuff back and forth along the runway – er…causeway – working the camera in the flattering early morning light. They felt they were supermodels, all of them.
Willi Willi was fun as usual, fast flowing and dusty. I was starting to wonder if Dave was looking at Austria on the radar (maybe wishing it was still part of the Fatherland. You never know with BMW owners).
Splash and dash
Back into the cool forest we cruised along with everyone enjoying the flowing ridgetop trails, a small creek crossing offered a chance to regroup and take photos.
Apparently a splash contest broke out, won as usual by the person on someone else’s bike, which made a huge difference in entry speed as Tom kept it pinned through the deepest part.
Karen thought she was in with a chance. Upholding family honour, she also kept the Terra pinned, but her slim, Italian lines merely parted the water and, spotting Tom grinning truimphantly, Karen let out a squeal of disgust.
We picked up an extra 990 just out of the bush. Gibbo used the “some of us have to work line” line for his reluctance to get out of bed earlier. Note to Gibbo: your ‘work’ line would work better if you told your staff to say you were ‘here a minute ago’ instead of ‘haven’t seen him for weeks’ line they trot out now. To your credit, they do sound happy.
Beachwood came quickly with a quick refuel in Wauchope where everyone was interested. It was bloody handy having fuel everywhere on a ride. We doubled back to Beachwood for lunch.
Cain showed us the importance of proper nutrition buy getting a salad, while we pigged out on pies or fancy pancy gourmet pies for Tom.
With Cain’s inside knowledge of the human body he showed the advantages of preparation.
Knowing the day was 520km long and throwing around a 990 could cause cramps, he cunningly added extra salt to his salad. I must admit we were all surprised the salad needed the whole shaker of salt, but who are we to question? Although I intend to bring it up next time I visit my doctor to see if there is something to learn from this behaviour.
With the talk returning to the Willawarrin backroom and the benefits of Onesies I was left a bit confused; besides, it’s rude to listen in and they seemed happy.
Soon we were blasting along flowing dirt. A couple of quick photostops including the oldest suspension bridge in Australia.
I’d use a nice close-up photo of Phil, but he passed me three times on the Gingers Creek tar section. At least he didn’t have to resort to distracting everyone at the lights then dump the clutch while cutting everyone off. That, apparently, was very successful against the big bikes.
Trying to make swim time we leapfrogged through a few gates, left Dean on a corner to play with his Onesie, and started carving corners…after the slippery, rutty stuff anyway. Soon Gibbo and I were far ahead, and even after numerous photo stops the crew was nowhere to be seen.
It was while relaxing by my bike I noticed another unsuccessful attempt to steal my wheels (no doubt foiled by the killer poodles) had left the axle slightly loose. But worse still, Gibbo found my new ‘tool-less joining link’, with its super-quick action currently under durability testing, which is going swingingly well with 20,000km passed so far. Being a sharp businessman, Gibbo suggested I hide it from the rest, and run one of Dave’s.
He’s a smart boy, Gibbo. We don’t want the press getting hold of the idea just yet.
Seeing Gibbo was so nice in keeping my technical innovation under wraps I’ll run a nice photo as the next section is missing a photo.
Abducted and Probed?
We all took turns looking for them, even back as far as Gingers Creek, but to no avail. Then they turned up, beating us to Gloucester. To make matters worse their stories didn’t match and frankly, sounded far-fetched.
Tales of impossibly steep downhills, slippery creeks that Tom may or may-not fallen off in…twice. In some versions there wasn’t even a creek. No. Until proven otherwise I’m going for aliens.
In The Cells too long
Running late and finally given-up after seeing mystery circles in the mud, I was hooking in to regroup. I was pleased to find the crew had the same idea and headed for Gloucester. Soon the corners opened out and the speed picked up and phone signal revealed the missing boys were also close to Gloucester.
We soon regrouped, grabbed food and drinks from a supermarket for later, and bolted. Gibbo was looking pale and seemed especially keen to get going. Apparently he was almost abducted by some unlikely creature as well. Maybe even an alien.
Karen and Dave went for the long way on tar, and we took the shortcut back into the bush. It still wasn’t dark yet.
There was a look of surprise on the other riders as they scurried to get out of the bush before dark as we rode headfirst into it. At around 7.00pm light was poor. Luckily, there was a lot of rocks to reflect the light (or deflect your front wheel) and we finally found were it had been raining.
As I’d told the guys the shortcut was around 60km long, they were getting expectant at the 50km mark. At the 80km mark the bush opened slightly to show nothing but trees in each direction, but 15km later we were there. It was 8.30pm, but you could sorta see, so we were technically in before dark.
Rain Rain go away
We over achieved on the nice bit and ended up retreating from a nasty hill that claimed Tom.
Everything was soon linked back up, compromises made, gooey clay avoided, and everyone not wearing a Onie was wet, at least in places. Food and warmth were acquired at Karuah, where we made the hard call to join Tom and Cain and run back the highway. Tom, anyway. Cain pulled out into the murky rain and disappeared on his 990. With fuel to spare he wasn’t stopping for anything.
Any Port in a Storm
We stopped for a break at Port, thoroughly sick of the road, so Phil and I decided to go sand-whoopin’ down the coast, then dirt freeways to sneaky lanes back to Clybucca and back on the highway for more rain.
All in all, completely different to the three-day ride planned, but fun none the less