The date was set, the nominations flowed in from near and far and didn’t we get lucky with the most glorious weekend. Given the previous few months I was expecting to have some serious track changes and possibly a few scratchings if the weather hadn’t improved.
Karen, Darcy and I met up with a couple of new faces from Ballina, Nick & Craig, then headed out though the Mongogarie bush to just beat the Coffs mob led by Buzz (Onesie Wilson) to the crossing on the Clarence.
Six DRs, two Terras, two 650GSs, One KLR, One KLX 470, One 660 Tenere, a 690 Kato, a 650 Tranny, three magnificent F800GSs and, rounding out the field, an ungainly looking beast: Ray’s Hyosung x WRF, which kept grabbing the bit, rearing and took some serious manhandling to ride round the course.
A quick top up with fuel and some of Mick’s great homemade sausage rolls at the Drake Shop and we were set to head off into the bush. The track was soft and damp with only a couple of tricky spots, and Darcy’s Hill got everyone fired up. The great bush track warmed everyone up and Lianni’s Tranny was the first to have a play in Sandy Creek.
After peeling off a few layers and climbing up out of the bush on to a faster granite road towards Tenterfield, Andrew thought he’d cheat the handicapper and slide his ol’ grey nag off down the road to lose some weight, tearing off a pannier. However, our on-course stewards were having none of that and firmly reattached it. Unfortunately, in the ensuing confusion, he lost his glasses and rode the rest of the weekend constantly asking, “Are we there yet?”
Out Gunyah road and down into Mole River county we went, towards our fantastic lunch spot on David and Sarah’s Mole Station. The dust was starting to resemble the Birdsville races. Darcy was sweep, so Karen dropped back to try soaking him as they rode across Long Gully causeway. Last Saturday it was almost 60cm deep and galloping. This time there only 15cm to 20cm of water. I’m not sure quite what she did, but the end result was the Terra tried to buck her off. She clung on, dragging it to the ground and gouging a groove in the concrete with her tried and tested crashbars. She also ripped the rear brake cylinder off as she dug the spurs in and almost tore the bit from its mouth bending the bars into what must have been a tricky position to then jump back on and catch up to us at dinner camp.
She was a bit stiff and sore but nothing was broken and many hands made light work of settling the Terra down and getting it rideable.
Jonas picked a spot at the Mingoola tunoff where we were all waiting to show how a front brake worked on gravel. It had an interesting adverse effect on the rear brake lever!
We couldn’t see for dust on Springdale and Nundubbermere Roads, and the ‘roos were as thick as the soupy water Gav got me a beauty with in a deep little causeway crossing. I‘d seen the evil glint in his eye as he raced up out of the haze beside me a moment too late.
Time was slipping away so at Glen Aplin a few turned their heads for the sweet sanctuary of the Jennings Hotel and the promise of an early shower. The rest blindly followed me east, then north, then bloody west again as I’d somehow missed a turn. I must get a GPS.
Not to worry, we ducked up around through Stanthorpe, across the bottom of Storm King Dam and back onto a great track to take us into Girraween’s 4WD track. Once again the Tranny had other ideas and ducked off the slippery track into a swamp. Three others tried to follow suit. (Someone may have photos). The late-afternoon light with the bright-yellow splashes of wattle helped make it a fun ride through the big potholes, rock shelves and many steep woo-boys to pull up at the pub tired and satisfied as last light slipped away.
Once the bedding was sorted (make sure e-mails are received. Assume nothing) we settled in for a great night, good tucker, beer and company. Lynne was onto the Captain early and sorted him out with one of the first meals out of the kitchen; (put food in their mouths and they’ll shut up 😉 . A little fundraising for Andrew’s Scrapheap assault resulted in $150 and some much-loved Lube & Oil for Gav!
With brekky devoured we cantered off in very mild conditions towards Mordor-style country where Nigel picked up a stone bruise on his rear tyre. Again, there was plenty of great help sorting it out while the rest of us enjoyed poking around near Draining Rock. I’m not sure if there were any takers for Steve’s lollies. Darcy took Karen’s battered Terra home early from here, needing to catch up with his girlfriend after a frighteningly romantic night in front of a roaring fire with Gav.
Into forestland we roared and enjoyed a great run through Spirabo.
The soft track into Billirimba Falls was awesome fun and at a crowded falls parking area Dean and I gave a bike lifting demonstration. Similar faster, flowing track to the Billirimba lookout with sweeping views of Rocky River country were well received.
As we started arriving back up to Spirabo Fire Trail where Meg and Karen were holding fort, we found two DRZ Queenslanders chatting the girls up. They thought it was Christmas util they started getting swamped by the rest of us.
We headed down the Ten Mile and into Deepwater for a top up and great sandwiches (thanks Sandra). Karen was starting to really feel the effects of her actions attempting to splash Darc, so snuck off home on the DR. We went back out Bezzants to link onto the Ten Mile again. Around Morven Road we went to pull up at Yarnha Road, say hooroo to Doug and Meg heading home on the Gwydir while the rest of us spilled down towards Dalmorton. It was a pretty quick run to Glens Creek Road where we bid farewell to Gav, Craig, Steve, Boz, Jonas, John, Dean, Nigel and Lianni and Andrew. Craig, Nick, Ray, Wazza and I headed for Grafton and home. It seems everyone arrived home safely around 6.00pm – 6.30pm.
Thanks to our sweeps, Darcy, John, Karen, Wazza and Nigel. It was great company, perfect weather and some terrific tracks made a for a ripper weekend.
Don’t forget the next great ride is the Inverell Scrapheap Fundraising Adv ride on August 29. Hope we see you there.