New ride with Tom

The plan was simple, spend a full day getting to Inverell with Tom. Checking out a loop for the Green Valley Farm congregation (if it happens) and grab some photos. The next day score some TLC for my bike from Vince with a suspension upgrade. New England, New Valley, new loop and new suspension.

Chasing rainbows

The sky looked black and menacing with rain falling to the east and a strange rainbow to the south. By the time we made Taylors Arm it was starting to clear, cold and clear. Bellbrook Servo/general store was closed but more alarmingly so was the road ahead according to the sign. After going so far south it didn’t leave many options, either backtrack two hours or go two hours further south for a huge loop. Neither were viable options.

So straight ahead and hope to talk my way through or bypass the problem (whatever it was) seemed like the go. With last week’s attempt to get past a closed road in the same shire a stunning failure, which was playing on repeat in my head we forged on.

Shady

The road-hugging cliffs on the side of the Macleay River were devoid of sunshine and it was a somber fifty kilometers to the closed area. As we pushed past the road closed barriers it didn’t look good, located in a cliff section there were no other options and no roads around.

A friendly foreman was slightly surprised by our presence. I must have been slightly confused as I explained how we came out of Five Day creek and had no idea the road was closed asking if it was somehow possible to ride slowly through the works. To our relief he reluctantly agreed, saying that he shouldn’t but we should be able to squeeze past the excavator, dump truck, and grader but be careful.

Squeeze was right, a landslide had made the narrow road narrower, our bars almost scraped past, with a large drop down to the river moving over wasn’t an option.

Gorgeous Georges

Clear of the roadworks we motored on to Georges Junction and a stop in some sunshine. Turning the tables on Tom I got him to ride through the cold slippery river for photos. Unfortunately he didn’t get stuck or fall off to make the photos more exciting so I just had to settle for a stunning backdrop.

The sun didn’t seem to warm us much and we had a lot to do. With a mountain to climb we set off onwards and upwards.

The road has had a lot of work so we made a good time to Wollomombi.

Running on Empty

The mighty little WR250R had been hard to shake all day; fitted with a Safari tank I figured it would be good for the 250-300km to Guyra. I was stunned when Tom informed me the fuel light had come on at 190km and asked if there was fuel nearby.

My worried look on my face said it all, we were nowhere near fuel so to make Tom feel better I just lied and told him no problem about 40km. Tom is way too clever and experienced and straight away said your 40km is at least 70km, he was about right too.

Taking it easy

There is something about tight granite roads that makes me feel at ease, with the narrow unfenced roads lined with boulders it wasn’t a chore to back off the throttle and savor the run to Guyra. As we weaved and climbed our way through the brilliant scenery, the closer we became to Guyra the slower Tom went. He was determined to get there without borrowing fuel.

Running on fumes he made it to our chips and gravy servo, right on time at 12 noon. We can now say that with gentle throttle you can get 70km on the fuel light. Tom is very thorough when testing a bike, that’s for sure.

Rock on

As we rode through the loose slippery backroads towards Green Valley Farm, we passed some of Tingha’s famous rock farms. We stopped at one of the more fertile spots with a bumper crop of rocks for a few photos,

Tom hasn’t quite mastered the completely sideways with the front wheel 30cm of the ground whilst throwing a huge roost I was looking for,  but a nice spot just the same

I was hoping to leave GVF at 2 pm. Tom being the professional he is, shot his photos and again left on time to check out the loop for the congregation

Paradise

The loop was a ripper, small causeway crossings, tight unfenced farmland, some of the biggest grasstrees through Paradise Station I have ever seen and that was just the first section. There were great views overlooking windfarms. An enduro-style jump invested sandy whooped out track followed that was great fun despite meeting a truck and a 4wd in there, amazing where you can meet traffic.

The loop took us to Vince Strang Motorcycles were we stopped and said hello. We then bolted for a motel, had a warm shower before Vince picked us up for a delicious camp over dinner accompanied with lots of talk about bikes.

Tech time

With Vince, Pat, and Tom working on my bike she scored lots of TLC and a huge suspension upgrade. After years of harassing Vince I had finally scored his one of three factory Ohlins shock specially built for the Australian Safari and some Plex valves and heavier springs for the forks.

Sweet as.

When the bike was bolted back together we bolted ourselves. The rest of the loop had an overgrown grass section in the middle of town, extra tight corners to overshoot and more sandy forest sections with nice erosion mounds to test the suspension. Eventually we made our way back to Tingha as skies grew dark so we straight-lined it for Guyra as the temperature plummeted. Guyra never disappoints.

Whilst we waited for our traditional meal of chips and gravy I slipped on some handguards, put on thermals and a thick shirt, and hid from the wind trying to warm up.

It was uneventful run home, it even stopped raining as we neared the coast, wet roads with water running everywhere and still dry. A fitting end to a great adventure ride, a little drama but all good. Fantastic riding with good people along with a heaps better bike to ride home. Even the weather co-operated everywhere except Guyra.

It doesn’t get much better than that

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