24 February 2009

Superbikes 2009

Day 1
Having attended the wedding of Jo and Stirl in Port Macquarie, I was ready to ride. It was a great wedding, both of them look very happy and the setting was brilliant.

I left Port mac by 9:20, thinking I would be late meeting up with Andrew, Cheryl and Steve. But as it turned out I was a bit early. I rode the Oxley Hwy for the first time ever. What a ride that was. Really had the GoldWing working hard, but loved every minute. Arrived in Walcha at 12:30 and refueled then had lunch and waited for an hour. Getting restless I started out for Uralla hoping to get some phone coverage there. Got within 10 kays and met the others coming the other way. Quick flip around and we went back to Walcha. It was then I found out our firat night was to be at Gingers Creek, 80 kays down the Oxley - back the way I had come. Oh well.
We had a good race half way down the mountain. Andrew and Steve are much quicker than I on their Blackbird and CB1300 bikes and Cheryl on her BMW hangs back a bit, but usually arrives anywhere within a minute or two. She is no slouch.

Gingers Ck is a great little place in the hills. No grid electricity, no phone. But really nice proprietors who are only too helpful. We sat around the outdoor fire, then went for a meal. Very nice. More talk and off to bed. 332 km for the day.

Day 2

Woke up to a damp morning, uncovered the bikes and got underway fairly early. Cold through the mountains, but once up on the Tableland it was open her up for a sustained run of ton plus speeds. Needless to say I was in Walcha well before anyone and was happily sipping coffee by the time the others pulled in.
After breakky, it was down Thunderbolts, with Cheryl leading the way at a cracking pace. The boys all followed merrily until the really tight bits, where Andrew and Steve took off. Andrew's brake light was not working, so Steve had some exciting moments.
After Gloucester, I was given the job of finding the turn off to Singleton. I failed and we ended up out on the Pacific Highway. Oh Well, through Maitland traffic and eventually on tothe Putty Road and some good riding again. Always a good run through there.
Next we turned west across the Blue Mountains and ran into a sharp thunderstorm. A nearby flash of lightening heralded a very loud report and we all nearly jumped out of our saddles. We got a little wet, but could see through the rain so kept going. A bit gingerly down through the western escarpment.
Then on to Oberon for some fuel and SOuth again along a great road - recently sealed - to Taralga for the night. We got in just before the heavens opened up.
A great meal at that pub and we called it a night. 780 kays.

Day 3

Up early and after a quick snack and coffee and a bike wash, we headed of on a shorter day. A quick run down to Goulburn for Breakfast at the Huge Marino. Then through to Canberra. Steve had Never been there so we stopped for a photo. That required a U-Turn and we all got separated for a while. We finally all met up at Cooma for a refuel then on through the Snowy Mountains. it was a hot and dry day with strong winds threatening to blow the bikes over. But once in the mountain twisties, it calmed down a little and we were able to concentrate on a great bit of riding.
We arrived in Tumut early in the afternoon and found accommodation. Then Steve and I decided to ride out to the Blowering Dam and spent a while doing the touristy thing. Then back to the Hotel for a few cooling ales, a meal and bed. I found my room light doesn't work, but I have managed to jag someone's internet so I am typing this up in the dark, using my headlamp cap to see the keyboard. Life's tough.
Only 477 kays for the day.

19 February 2009

Jo and Sterl's Wedding and on to Superbikes

Yet another map:

16 February 2009

FarRide #9 - Charleen's Version

FarRide #9 – Wet Wet Wet!!!!

Our original plan was to leave Brisbane at 11:30pm on Friday night. I was looking forward to a night ride making the most of the still bright recently full moon.

I’d managed to wangle Friday off from work. This would allow time for a general check over of the bikes, a leisurely pack up and a good snooze before leaving.

When we saw the late weather report on Thursday night, and then woke to rain on Friday morning, our plans started to reform. We discussed our options and went for safety. This meant doing the ride in two sections. Leave after 12 midday on Friday and ride to our target of Warialda. Sleep overnight and leave early next morning to arrive in time for check-in.

Our track was Brisbane to Goondiwindi, Moree, Warialda, Tamworth, Armidale, Dorrigo, Waterfall Way and Nambucca Heads.

I believe that wet weather brings out the worst in drivers. I see time and again riding to work.

Most of the drivers we encountered this weekend reinforce my opinion.

We left Brisbane in between showers – time stamp on the fuel docket –12:14pm.

Out along the Gateway and Logan Motorways. The ‘Wing turned up 100,00km on the Logan. I know this because Clint raised his arms in celebration. We pulled up under an overpass to take a photo but it really wasn’t safe and it certainly wasn’t dry enough to get the camera out. There were a few truck drivers and car drivers that seemed to think it was OK to drive aggressively in the rain. Then there are the one’s who don’t think it’s necessary to turn their headlights on. Damned hard to see a vehicle obscured by mist.

First fuel stop is Caltex Warwick. I was coping well with being wet until we crossed the range and the temperature plummeted. The wind had also picked up. So it was a coffee and something warm to eat before pushing on to Moree.

We were travelling between Goondiwindi and Moree. The rain was pretty heavy. There were lots of vehicles travelling in the opposite direction. The mist from the wheels was making it difficult to see what was in front. I could just make out a semi-trailer, a car towing a large rectangular shaped trailer and Clint on the ‘Wing. It’s easy to pick out the ‘Wing as it has a distinctive pattern of rear lights.

I’d dropped my speed back to around 100kph in the 110 zone because I couldn’t see well enough. I checked my mirrors and there was a white 4WD (no headlights on) coming up beside me to pass. Out of the mist coming at us was an apricot-ish coloured Monaro-type sporty car – no headlights on.

This wasn’t good, three wide on a two lane road. I dived for as far left as I dared, the sporty dived for his left and the 4WD pulled back in behind me. I didn’t see him again – perhaps he pulled over to replace his underwear. Clint told me later that he had seen in his mirrors the sporty swerve to the side of the road – he didn’t realise I was part of it.

Finally we pulled into Moree to refuel. By now I was wet, cold and scared. I had a little melt down when I told Clint what had happened. I thought this was supposed to be the safer option!!!

I agreed to push on to Warialda as we weren’t going to be on that wretched road anymore. A little way down the road, Clint pulled over and suggested that we should stay at Moree for the night.

498km 12:14pm to 6:30pm (7:30pm local time)

After interrupting the manager who was having a family get together and BBQ, we got a room at the Moree Spa Motor Inn for $69. It had undercover parking which was a bonus as it was still raining. We unpacked our gear. I started trying to dry various bits with the hairdryer once I had worked out how to use it.

A nice warm cup of coffee would be nice – checked the fridge – no milk. OK we can work around that. Time for a hot shower – only one bath towel and a face washer, no bath mat. Oh well – we can work around that too. It’s a good thing that only one of us is furry and needs a full sized bath towel. I managed to dry myself with the face washer. Didn’t feel inclined to interrupt the family again.

The whole time we were there, the rain kept on coming down. We were reminded of this, as the guttering at the back of the room sounded like it didn’t have a downpipe. All the water needed to go somewhere. It was slowly seeping into our room.

Time for bed – there’s a cricket carrying on with his noise. Oh well, that’ll help drown out the sound of the waterfall out the back.

Around 2am I woke to a sound of something crunching on wood. Oh no – I thought a rat or mouse was in the room. I didn’t care about the room’s furnishings but I did care about our gear draped over everything in the room. If the rodent was gnawing at the furnishing, it might be gnawing on our gear. I got up and had a look around and couldn’t see where the critter might be. So back to sleep to the sound of the cricket.

Alarm goes off at 4:30am. A quick check of the weather and it looks like the rain will ease once we are a little way out of town. We’re on the road by 5. The map data was showing us as having two hours spare. That’s OK we’ll have a cup of coffee up the road a bit and wait for check-in.

The drizzling rain became more rain. We came up to some roadworks. In the dark, and the wet with a car coming towards us, we couldn’t see where we should be driving. Clint pulled a little to the left and found himself in the dirt/mud. I basically followed him and went a little further to the left. When I looked down, all I saw was potholed wet dirt road. Oh great! Hold on and make for the thin strip of bitumen after the car had passed.

Almost to Warialda, we turned right to head for Bingara, Barraba, Manilla and Tamworth. The rain just won’t let up. I’d made a change to my riding gear. I now had on the plastic liner from my flow through summer jacket, the jacket and the wet jacket. I was a little drier around the chest area but the rest of me, soggy. Somehow my rain pants had ridden up to expose the top of my boots. This allowed water to flow in.

Tamworth was a refuel the bikes and breakfast for us. The “golden arches” was venue of choice because it’s supposed to be quick. There’s also the issue of needing a wee stop with all that clothing on. Like unfolding a Sara Lee – layer upon layer had to be pushed aside. Boys have it so much easier – so I’m told.

We’d lost one of our spare hours and were half way!!! What’s going wrong????

From Tamworth it was on to Uralla and Armidale – 10 degrees C and a wind chill factor of Antarctic proportions. Cornering especially around roundabouts isn’t easy when the road is slippery and your arms and shoulders don’t want to respond with delicate movement to ease the bike around.

The final leg was Ebor, Dorrigo, Waterfall Way, Bellingen and head for the highway.

This was the most challenging in terms of managing the traffic and our time. The traffic was generally travelling at 80kph in the 100 zones with little or no passing options.

We came up behind a bike travelling slowly to the left of the lane. Clint sat behind him for a while as he thought it might have been one of our group. After a while he realised this wasn’t the case and when an overtaking lane came up, we blasted past. If we continued at the other guy’s pace, we weren’t going to make check-in. In hindsight – precious minutes wasted.

At the top of Waterfall Way we encountered a mid-size truck starting to inch its way down the hill. Here luck was with us. We both could see to three corners in front, there wasn’t any oncoming traffic, so we zipped past the truck and tippy toed our way through the twisties. Don’t think I’ve ever had a bike so upright through those corners as it was that morning.

Out onto the flats and the traffic was plentiful and slow. If we managed to pass one car there were ten more in front and limited opportunities to pass.

Finally we reached the highway. A quickish run to the Nambucca Heads turn off, every passing opportunity taken. Minutes counting down on the GPS. Will we make it in time? We turned for the V-Wall. Oh no – missed the turn. U-turn and head down the twisted slippery road and the tavern. Bikes parked. Wow, look how many have made it! Quick up the ramp and present ourselves at the check-in desk. Number of kilometres – 1045. Starting docket for verification presented. Time in 12:15pm. We used 7hrs 15min to travel 547km. The two spare hours were needed and then some.

Time to peel off the wet gear, greet friends and meet new ones. Time to relax in good company.

Thank you to the patient staff at the tavern and the White Albatross and a big thank you to Graham, I was supposed to help you with check-in.

Sunday, I woke to the sounds of bikes leaving. I went for a wander to have a chat with a few folk while they were packing up to head for home. For us it was to be a leisurely run up the highway with a stop at Nana Glen to pick up our tent.

Around 9:30am we were packed and on the road. It was drizzling light rain. Thankfully the heavy stuff had moved south. Davo and MichealP shouted farewell from the veranda of the tavern. Fuelled up at the local Caltex, we were set for Nana Glen. Said goodbye to RoadBandit, again. We only got as far as Valla Beach when the traffic came to a standstill. Clint checked the GPS. There was a road around, it might be dirt. I didn’t want to do dirt riding in the wet but agreed to having a look. We were looking for Jackson Road – couldn’t find it on the pass south so turned around and headed back up the highway. The way the southbound traffic was coming through in bunches made us think that there was some traffic control and that we would get our turn to pass by whatever was blocking the highway. We found Jackson Road as we travelled along the very left of the highway. Jackson Road was an overgrown forestry track. GPS are delusional, did you know?

We snuck up the left to as far as we dared. We were within the first twenty cars. I asked one fellow how long had he been stopped. At least half an hour and at least one cup of coffee was the reply. We didn’t have to wait long when we got the nod to move off. Every so slowly, we all filed past what was the cause of the highway blockage. Oh no – it was a bike. I took in as much detail as possible to describe the bike – burgundy Yamaha, Victorian plate, rego #####. Hope that wasn’t one of us. Bad enough it’s a bike. The bike was bent up, the Armco was dented and there was a lot of sand on the ground covering whatever fluids were there. Definitely an unsettling site. Took me a little while to bring my focus back to riding.

We pushed on to Nana Glen and phoned Davo to let him know and find out if it was a FarRider. Davo gave us the news that it was Nico and that he had been taken to hospital. He had injuries but was OK. Phew!!!

After an hour or so catching up with friends, we eventually headed for home. There were some big black clouds hanging around. Clint offered the rain gear. I declined. I wasn’t that impressed and felt that I would be just as wet with or without all the plastic on.

There were a few showers around the Grafton area. The rain started from Maclean and just got heavier. I was following the ‘Wing’s lights again. The mist and visor fog got the better of me. All I could see was the ‘Wing getting further away and the left white line. I knew the wire rope barriers were to my right and I didn’t like the thought of being near them and not fully in control of the bike.

Eventually, I could see a car parked on the left. I figured that I would be able to pull up there with the car. I pulled over, cleared my visor and waited for a slower car to follow. I pulled in behind a red sedan that was travelling at about 80kph. I followed that car through Woodburn. The driver wasn’t taking any chances with the speed camera there. He slowed to 40kph and stayed at that speed for far more than the speed camera covered.

Clint had ridden through the rain and was waiting for me at Broadwater. I was soaked. My feet were sloshing in my boots. Clint didn’t look any drier. Oh well – push on for home.

At Terranora my fuel gauge was warning me that I was running low. Pulled up beside Clint and signalled “need fuel”. Not far, he said. We kept riding, through Coolangatta, through the Tugan bypass and onto the freeway. I was starting to get a little worried. We were carrying extra fuel, but I didn’t want the bike to start coughing on the highway and get caught up in the traffic. By the time we reached he servo at Reedy Creek, I was feeling rather stressed. The trip meter was showing 375km since last fill up. I’ve never done that before! I worked out that I might have had about 1.5 litres left. Still good for another 30km, maybe.

Full of fuel and head for home. Arrived home at 5:53pm – 1516km in total for the weekend.

Washed and polished the bike, lubed the chain – ready for another week of commuting.

As much as the rain was a pest and spoiled the trip to a certain extent, I am happy knowing that I can ride in those conditions for that length of time. I’ve been in rotten weather before, but not for hours on end. This weekend was a good experience – hopefully, I’ll never have to repeat.

13 February 2009

FarRide #9

This weekend is FarRide #9  to Nambucca Heads.  We will be traveling via Goondiwindi, Moree, then in to Tamworth and back up to Armidale then east down to Nambucca.  ALl this to get 1000km in the 24 hours leadup to check-in time of 12md 14th.
Here's the map (It'll look like USA until we get started)