Damn! I started writing this last night, and it looks like all the Caperers logged on and checked it half-written. Serves them right for being impatient. Here goes…
It’s Sunday night and I’m just back from 500km or so with a great bunch of people.
The ride was the shakedown run for the Coffs KTM Cameron Corner Caper, and seven dedicated, hard-ridin’, dualsporters (plus me) spent a very pleasant day scientifically assessing some ideas and new techniques and so forth. NOT!
Nah. We should’ve done all that, but instead we roosted around some sensational scenery and had frickin’ GREAT time. Whether or not much was established remains to be seen.
The group kicked off with Caperers Dean on his brand new 690 KTM and Johan on his very new KLR650. Johan showed his commitment by arriving at Coffs KTM with the bike fully loaded, just as it would be for The Caper. He had all kinds of spiffy bags bolted on to luggage racks and crash bars, and the bike looked a million dollars. Deano’s KTM still had the shop shine on it, he’d fitted a gel seat and was carrying a fuel drum. These two guys were SERIOUS. They even stayed excited after they found Gav and I sprawled about in the Coffs KTM front garden, grumbling about the lack of coffee shops open on a Sunday morning.
As the 8.00am departure time approached, Coffs locals – and experienced adventure riders – Pottsy and Sando arrived to add some class and credibility to the leadership of the ride. Pottsy’s DR650 is an absolute work of art (see the “Show Me Yours” page), and Sando’s DR650 looked well set-up, as did Sando.
So off we all went for a day of scenery and taking notes.
Things got off to a bit of a non-start when Gav’s BMW began blowing fuses not far into the morning. It’d happened the day before, so Gav was prepared and was able to whack in new fuses to keep the group moving, but he resorted to roll-starting down hills whenever the option was available.
Pottsy and Gav led us all through some of the most sensational backroad riding ever, up through the hills behind Coffs towards Nymboida and Coutts Crossing. Jonah was taken by surprise by some of the loose, sandy turns and came unstuck from the KLR a couple of times, unfortunately smashing his windscreen in the process. He dealt with it all in good humour and declared he was working on the Mad Max look for his bike as he picked up luggage bags and shards of lexan from the surrounding bush.
The Crossing provided much-needed coffee. Gav bought five dollars worth of fuel and $10.00 worth of fuses, the group grew by two BMWs as Dave and Karen joined the throng, and off we went again, heading for the incredibly beautiful surrounds of Dalmorton.
Everyone thrummed through the Ghost Town and tunnel, loving the perfect, warm, sunny weather, stopping to take in the sights and congratulating each other on how clever we all were.
Gav and Dave spotted a small bikkie and honey stall with an honesty box – how anyone ever bought anything from it out there in the middle of nowhere is a mystery, but obviously they do. And after all, we did – so a couple of the team stocked up.
Dave showed an unexpected selfish streak by grabbing the only bag of hundreds-and-thousands cookies before I even got to have a look. He was chuckling away as he tucked them in his panniers and I made do with some second-class nutty variety.
The run into Glen Innes got a little rainy and that was good as well. It meant everyone was able to see how their provision for wet weather would stand up. From the look of all the wet, dripping faces, slopping socks and boots, and unimpressed expressions at the Glen Innes Maccas, it’s something that needs a little more attention.
By that stage the day had well and truly run away, and Pottsy and Sando headed us towards the coast via Wards Mistake, where a reasonably heavy shower turned some parts of the road into a frictionless slurry of devil-spawned mud. Dave and Karen seemed to enjoy the section – why else would they be riding in zig-zags all over the road and sticking their feet out both sides all the time? – but it didn’t last long. The sun was soon driving down in its happy mid-Autumn way and everyone pushed on to finish the day with no casualties at Ebor.
There were a couple of small medical matters resulting from the incredible level of rider commitment. Gav claimed he was stung under the nipple by a bee. He insisted on showing the resulting injury, gleefully baring his boob beside the road to reveal what looked suspiciously like a self-inflicted hickey. The other issue was with Dean, who found the gel seat on the KTM still way too hard. Apparently his bum was glowing like a furnace with an open door by the end of the day.
So there it is. All in all a truly fabulous day of dualsporting in great company, with a few bits and pieces for all riders to work on before The Caper in four weeks time.
As for me personally, the mighty Dominator carved through the morning session like the grand old girl she is. That kind of dualsporting is mother’s milk to that bike, and I was having a ball. But then Pottsy handed over his DR650 for a short blast through the forest.
For the rest of the day the Dominator felt like a loose-jointed, creaky, asthmatic, under-powered, under-suspended piece of crap. It’s just lucky that description suits the rider as well.
The shakedown crew. Good work, everyone.