The recent fires have left a lot of uncertainty about Dualsport Australia routes being open after fires smashed some areas. This opened up some opportunities to get some longer rides in and a chance to redeem myself with Troy, a local bloke with a new DR whose first ride with me had been a tad er adventurous. That first ride story will be in the next issue of Adventure Rider.
With the Bellingen, Nymboida, Bellbrook, Armidale, Inverell, and Narrabri areas ticked off as open, the next major area was between Kempsey and the Oxley Highway, a huge forested area just itching to be re-explored. This usually makes a great 2-day ride but I have been trying to limit rides to one day only which has caused another problem.
Despite getting around three rides a week in over the last month or so I have been longing for more saddle time. I know with people locked away and unable to ride, I am unlikely to get much sympathy but unlike an all you can eat buffet the riding hasn’t filled the void. The problem has been all my rides have been between 100km and 300km in length, great fun but an early, early Sunday start was locked in for a longer 500km loop.
Troy was at the servo at 630, me a few minutes later and with the warm weather lately, we both dressed lightly so not to overheat if track clearing was called for.
The first 15km was a burning, shriveling cold run down the road to get over the first two major rivers, then thankfully straight into the bush. The tighter surroundings and the more energy required riding warmed us slightly before a zig-zag approach to stay on dirt roads was implemented. With great pride, we rocked up to Willawarrin for fuel just as it opened, right on time. This gave us a 6-hour window to complete the loop and refuel so we can get back home.
Filling the bikes to the brim with fuel and quickly showing Troy the hidden delights tucked away in the memorabilia laden shop. No doubt this great shop has helped the locals through lockdown without them getting bored and keeping a smile on their faces.
Means what it says.
The Toorooka Bridge has always been my “gateway to adventure” and under bright blue skies, I thought it wouldn’t disappoint today. It didn’t but I was slightly unprepared for how soon it would start.
Immediately after crossing the bridge at an intersection, we were greeted by a ‘road closed due to landslip’ sign on my preferred route. Both roads go to roughly the same area but straight ahead was shorter and had a nice creek crossing.
We will show them road closed I thought as we roosted off straight ahead. The crossing was in lots better heath than the drought-induced green dribble it was a few months ago, but still below the causeway.
The signs across the road had well-worn tracks around them; the first bollards had bike tracks hugging the edge over a decent drop so we carefully followed those. The landslip was minor and the next set of bollards the track was on the cliffside and no dramas.
I was chuckling to myself, upshifting when at the next grid a gate had been chained and padlocked on both sides. The gate on the side was also chained and locked, so too the farmer’s gates lining the road so no paddock deviations today.
With no alternative, we backtracked and took a scenic fun 30km detour around as we should have at the start.
Willi Willi woop woop
My first thoughts when I first rode these area years ago where ‘this must be what a BMW motocross track looks like. The Willi Willi roads are a hoot, fast, flowing, undulating, loose and slippery, a throttle on approach makes for great time and heaps of fun. Troy being from a rallying background lapped up this section, although a slight overshoot on a tighter corner had him checking fences, but overall he loved it.
Troy gushed about how he prefers this type of riding so much more than our last ride, which was easy to believe. He hadn’t even damaged his bike yet today, much better than last time.
As the roads became narrower and unfenced, littered with land mines from the local livestock the forest beckoned.
Med well done
The first sections of the forest had been freshly bulldozed and were quite loose and dusty. As you dove deeper into the bush the trail became rougher. After the fire lots of loose rocks had tumbled onto the trail, the lack of traffic meant a slower run as you picked your way through chasing a smother line.
Some areas had been left untouched, others that I had remembered as being dark were flooded with light after the fires had destroyed the undergrowth. Most of this area showed signs of regrowth.
The creek crossings were low, so still dry in this neck off the woods and eventually we popped out at upper Rolland Plains. A chat to local reviled lots of bridges burnt out around here closing most of the alternative routes but the disc is all good.
Burnt to a crisp
The ride had been cool all day, but as we climbed through charred remains of mostly dead trees the temperature dropped to the cold side of cool. We were probably at the furthest point from home and at 130 we only had 90 minutes left to grab fuel before they closed which was looking increasingly unlikely.
As I zipped up the vents in my jacket to try and get warm, Troy’s jersey looked like it was lacking warmth. If Troy was cold now it wasn’t going to get better. A deeper crossing presented a photo opportunity; Troy didn’t see me cross, saw the camera out, and hit it hard. A huge wall of water floated high then dumped all over Troy, at least the mountain water was nice and chilled.
Another scenic crossing was hit at a reasonable pace and fresh trail work started, the road has been dozed and trees stacked up. This area is usually rough and still was rocky, Troy asked if I expected this area to be so rough or had it been messed up, I didn’t have the heart to tell him this was smoother than usual, and there was still 30km to go. I just told him it was very short and would be over soon.
Time was getting away, so I was keen to keep things moving. Long flowing ridges upped the speeds, the fires had improved the views and we started to cover the ground. We still just missed the fuel so we B-lined for Macksville to refuel bikes and bodies.
It was getting late and Troy had dinner commitments so we split, it was great to give Troy an enjoyable full day ride without the crashes or overgrown log fests like our first ride.
Redemption Ride, maybe I am not mean after all.