02 June 2011

FarRide East #16 to Euston, NSW

The date of this FarRide was a bit significant for us. One day before the anniversary of our unsuccessful attempt at FarRide East #13. But I didn't let that faze me when picking the day for Euston.
We were going on two bikes and doing two distances. Me my second FR12 and Charleen her fourth FR10 and so she would then qualify for FR12 as a rider(4xFR10) and as a pillion (7xFR10 + 1xFR12). Anyone else done that?

Departed Carina bright and early 5:00am Friday morning. Charleen on an RDO and our aim was to get to Parkes which is around 600km from Euston. Brissie to Parkes was over 1000km itself so no time to waste. Traffic was light out of town but it always feels good to get past Willowbank and on to actual highway. Straight in to thick fog!! Of well, nothing to do but take it slow and hope we get out soon. It wasn't too bad and we were soon back up to speed with two sets of HIDs cutting into the night. I found that with Charleen sitting a hundred metres or so behind, her HIDs were not a bother, rather a comfort to know she was there.

Up the range and we were only delayed for the standard six minutes. There is some massive work going on there since the bad rockfalls of last summer. It looks like they are getting ready to blast a large boulder that is now overhanging the road. The temporary "fence" is a long row of 40ft sea containers filled with gravel and stacked two high. Other parts have been down to a single lane for months now - 3 teams of stop/go working 24/7 - and standing up looking over the safety fence you see, well, nothing.

Brekky at Warwick where we made a slight change in plan. We decided to go straight down the Newel Hwy and get a docket first place after midday, then get as close as possible to Euston riding into the evening as it might be warmer then than a 3am start from Parkes.

Just after midday we stopped at Bellata and got start dockets. 1050km from Euston The FarRide proper is on!
Every now and again we went by, or were passed by, FR#23 RobMac on his new Beemer. Doing a similar plan to us.

On in to the night we sailed through Parkes and Forbes. I knew FR#330 Paul was staying at West Wyalong so we called him to get us a room at the same motel. That would take us to under 500km and we could get a slightly later start next morning.
Only thing left for me to do that evening was to do my extra 200km to put me into the 1200km class. I headed out alone and did a nice triangle down to Temora, 62km, west to pick up the Newell again then north back to West Wyalong. 180km added to get me well over 700km for the afternoon and a simple ride in to Euston in the morning. Charleen had the room nice and warm for my return and we were both refuelled and ready to go.

Alarm at 4:00 but plenty of time for a coffee, pull on all the gear we had and away by 5:00. We only had 468km to do but I need to get there early to set up for checkin.
We did some Bazz impersonations before leaving.

Riding out of town we were joined by Paul and the three of us headed for Hay.
On the way, the obligatory stop for the Sunrise Shots

A big brekky at Hay and a few bikes started rolling in. All were well on time so there was no hurrying.

Off we went and were joined by a couple more bikes, Brookster and a little later MIXR. The five of us rode a nice leisurely pace across the Plains and in to Euston.
Lots of bikes outside the little cafe - riders who had left ample time for problems and had none.

We parked in an empty bike park at 10:30 but it didn't stay that way for long. Riders drifted in single or in twos and threes. I saw Ricecooker doing Laps of the town - getting up the kays I expect.

The checkin went well. Paul and I had lists and Charleen wandered along the line getting everyone to circle their docket times. We've found from experience that searching for a time on a docket takes up valuable checkin time. So does writing down the distance and that info is superfluous anyhow as many riders are only half way through their ride.
So it was look at the docket time, ask the first name, find it on the list and tick - NEXT. Only a few seconds each and with two checkers we got the majority of riders through in 15 minutes.
Then there were a few stragglers and one group of three so busy arguing over whose speedo to use, nearly missed out, getting to the table with seconds to spare.

The deadline past, Paul and I collated our lists and we were just about to pack up and three riders came in the door. Six minutes late.
I asked if they knew the time and they did. They wanted us to relax the rules just for them. Sorry guys - a time window is a time window. We invited them in for lunch anyway, but three very disappointed riders stalked out muttering. It is a pity they didn't stay as I know all the other riders would not have laughed much and would have been encouraging and sympathetic, urging them to try again. it has happened before and those who try again usually get it right the next time.

A few shots from around the venue

A great lunch. Good food. Good friends. Lots of new FarRiders. All over too soon.

We had completed our FarRide but were still a long way from home, so we set out to return and get as far as we could.
That sure ain't the way to go.

We made it as far as Hay and stopped for a coffee.
Charleen hit the wall. Two days of cold early starts, over 1800km and an exciting time with friends all took their toll. She looked just about spent. But we still needed to get back home for her to go to work Monday.
I phoned the West Wyalong motel and got our room and we set out with Charleen taking the lead. Now she had something to think about. A pace to set and keep a sharper lookout. We made it no trouble with her running on a bit of adrenalin.
We met up with Russell and Glen whilst refueling and they also made the decision to stop for the night. Our motel was full, but the one across the road had a vacancy. Paul was back in his room as well, having left Euston earlier than us and completing his FR10 with a little run down towards Temora.
We all agreed to meet for a meal but the little snack bar shut as we were checking in. Bugger.
Charleen and I settled for some tinned food we carry for just such occurrences and hit the nice warm sheets.

No alarm Sunday morning, thank goodness and we were under way by 7am. Paul was sleeping in and I saw Russell and Glen's bikes still parked, but there was movement.
It was still cold and now Charleen was without all her warmer pads, having used them up for the FarRide. Stopped in Parkes for fuel and breakfast and they were all out of bacon!! Had to settle for sausages and eggs and coffee.

It was time to get off this damned Newell, a road I have driven too many times to make it enjoyable on a bike. So a little detour through Narromine then back on the Hwy to Coonabarabran then off again and up my favourite central ride. Through Gunnedah then up through Barraba, Warialda and north to Texas.
Fueled at Warialda and had a little delay when I noticed Charleens rear wheel hugger had come loose. A bracket was broken. We removed the hugger and it fit nicely in the Wing's pannier.

The sky ahead was dark. Heavy with black clouds. Must be South East Qld on the horizon.

We rode in to the rain and the dark and the skippies. They were everywhere and we were needing to brake far too often. By the time we turned at Yetman the ride had turned miserable. Nowhere to stay there though so it was push on to Texas with the pace considerably slowed and thunder and lightning ahead.

At Texas I decided to pull the pin. One year ago to the day, on 29th of May, we were riding a GL1800 in the dark and the rain on a FarRide. I had on a Dunlop rear, was in cruise on a straight road when the rear wheel shot out from under us and down we went. Hospital and later knee surgery for Charleen and many monies lost getting through the insurance and replacement minefield.
And here I was on an identical bike, identical rear tyre, identical conditions, even an identical date!! Thankfully Charleen was following this time on a nice sure-footed set of PR2s.
Someone had told us that having a crash was often due to a "swiss cheese effect". Each slice of cheese has a hole and when the holes happen to line up you can pass right through the cheese. It is a little bit of a strange metaphor but I had visions of slices of cheese slowly turning and lining up.
So we stopped in Texas, got a hotel room and went and got cheeseburgers for tea.

The ride in to Stanthorpe next morning was lovely. Sure it was cold. We were expecting that. It was a bit foggy. Expecting that too.
The road was still wet and still plenty of hopping wildlife, but that was to be expected as well.
The scenery from the ridgetops that the Texas-Stanthorpe Road follows was unexpectedly spectacular. Under the clear sky were mountains and valleys covered in mist with trees poking through like ghostly sentinals. Shoulda tooka photo. But there was that cold, that wet, that narrow road. So we just admired the view and rode.
Morning coffee at Stanthorpe and brekky at Warwick and we were home before lunchtime. A leisurely finish to an unexpectedly long, tiring, exciting and very satisfying FarRide weekend.

Charleen: 3208km (1066km for FarRide)
Clint: 3388km (1220km for FarRide)