02 June 2015

East #35 to Eungella

As well to write this while still fresh in my mind.
Our FarRide East #35 to Eungella was decided a while ago when Charleen ordered Friday off work. We decided to take The Twins, our twin Honda CB1300S bikes.
We also have Sena bike to bike coms which are great for two or more riding together.
The bikes are pretty standard but each fitted with a pair of 3000 lumen mini LEDs attached to high beam. I also tacked on the TomTom and the SPOT.
We fit all we needed for the weekend in our topboxes and wore all our warm gear as we expected some cool riding.

Our start point was Kilcoy. Mr Google tells us it is 1070km from Eungella Chalet via Valkyrie, a small town on the Fitzroy Development Road. We chose this way to stay away from the Bruce Hwy. I've grown not very fond of that highway over the years.
Target for Friday night was Biloela and a booking was made at a local motel with advice we may be a little late.

The ride up the Burnett Highway is always a good one. It runs pretty much parallel to the Bruce as far as Rockhampton and for me is the much better of the two. Compare we overtook maybe half a dozen trucks and about twenty cars all day and never saw one police car. Contrast that with the constant traffic on the coastal road and a news item that night of Qld police doing a blitz for the weekend. We all know where. One rider may disagree with me that they were all on the coast.

Charleen and The Twins at Gayndah

Friday was fine and cool so we didn't overheat in our winter gear.
A restless night's sleep, you know how it is, and the alarm sounded at 3:30am for a 4am departure. Like clockwork.

The morning was clear and fresh with thousands of stars in the sky. Lovely.

About 20km on the road to Dululu Charleen mentioned it was nice not to see the fog we had on our last FarRide through here.
I'm not sure if all the fogs in the world were thrown at us at that moment. Maybe not. It took a good five minutes before we were pushing our way through a fog the world's best pea soup chef would have been proud of.

First casualty was the visors. They were flipped up. Next our clear safety glasses. Pulled down and it was eyeballs to the wind as we slowed to under 60kph and stuck to the white line.
This was how we travelled for most of the next 100km until we got to the Capricorn Hwy where we turned west and things began to improve. Must be the coal trains warming the place up.
Finally at Dingo 24hr servo at 6:03, exactly when TomTom predicted we'd get there. She must have known about the fog, or wasn't aware of the 110k zone now on the Capricorn Hwy.

Refuel and a quick iced coffee and a snack. It was now starting to get light with an overcast sky. I think it was just the Fog looking for us.
North along the Fitzroy Development Road. This road was originally built in the mid-twentieth century to allow the fast transport of cattle and for many years was a single lane of bitumen which was "owned" by cattle trucks. Woe betide any other vehicle who dared challenge the big semi-trailers for that bitumen strip.

Nowadays, however, it has been widened to a good wide two lanes and although a little undulating, is capable of allowing riding at a good clip.
263 to the next fuel at Nebo and now to make up some time with clear air and an empty road.
Lasted for a good 50km before the fog descended once again.
Not quite as bad as before but we still needed to open the visors. Travelling a bit quicker we were able to keep the glasses fairly clear with the breeze and we were still making fairly good time. Until I spied some flashy lights ahead.

Out of the gloom ahead appeared this huge piece of machinery on a low-loader. It looked like the body of one of those mining dump trucks and was three times the width of the low-loader, just missing road signs on both roadsides. With two police escorts and two normal escorts they were travelling at 80kph in the fog and sending any oncoming traffic right off the road. Would have been scary for them.
We were stuck behind this behemoth for about 20 minutes until there was a wider bit and the escort waved us through. We rode under the overhang and were on our way. Overtook the police car on his left (!?).

Stopping for a glasses change

Ten minutes later we were out of the fog and pulling up to change to sunglasses and wipe down the visors. Our helmets and balaclavas were soaking wet from condensed fog, but we were fine. Just underway we overtook a stopped ST1300 with the Strangs mounting up. Waved but didn't stop as I guessed we'd all stop at Nebo for fuel.
We had a good quick run the rest of the way to the Peak Downs Hwy, right turn and 30km to Nebo and fuel.
Sure enough Graham and Teela turned up not far behind and they stopped for breakky. We continued on to be sure to be early at the Chalet.

60km to Eton and we turned north to make our way through the cane fields to the Mackay-Eungella Road. We saw several bikes here and there all timing their arrivals nicely.
The weather was now fine but cloudy up in the mountains all around and of course the Chalet is up in the mountains.
Sure enough as we entered the last 5km climb the fog closed in again and the road was wet and slippery.
Everyone knows about the metal grids on sharp low speed corners on this bit of road. When they are wet it is even more treacherous. I'm guessing no one was having red hot goes at the twisties on this morning.

Hackle arrives in the fog

There were just 31 people to check in and they all made it on time. There were seven newcomers who all looked like they had enjoyed the ride.

Lineup for Checkin

We all gathered on the lawn for a photoshoot and then it was time for lunch. The chalet serves some good meals – every one of them with chips!

Posing with that fabulous backdrop

Half a dozen or so riders were staying the night but most of us had places to be so within an hour or so most had gone. Charleen and I mounted up on The Twins and tippy-toed down the mountain to retrace our route.

Normally we don’t like to “out and back” a ride. A loop is generally better to see more of the countryside. But the road up was so good and the prospect of the Bruce so daunting that we headed back to Nebo then down the Fitzroy once again. Saw only the barest few vehicles all the way.
We pulled up at Dingo just on dark and found digs at the Dingo hotel-motel. The pub isn’t much to look at but has several rooms built out the back. They are reasonably quiet, the shower hot and strong and bed was comfy. We opted for a meal at the 24 hour servo, which was quite reasonable. After such a day we had a good sleep not even hearing the 100 carriage coal trains that rumbled through every so often.
Sunday morning and we still had 780km to home. It was light and cool as we left but we soon found some morning fog on the Capricorn Hwy after Duaringa. Even came across another of those large wide loads, but this time going the opposite direction to us so we just rode outside the fog line and ducked under.

We got a good look at the Leichardt Hwy down through Dululu to Biloela – something we had only ridden on without actually seeing the morning before.
In Gayndah we pulled the lining out of our jackets as the day was warming up considerably and powered on down the Burnett Hwy. Our good pace was interrupted through Goomeri which was holding its annual Pumpkin Festival. There was a wide detour through the narrow back streets and we came out of town behind a semi being followed by a dozen or so cars. Time to put in some serious passing manoeuvres. One by one we picked them off using the excellent acceleration of the 1300s. Once past the semi we were free and clear with an empty highway stretching out in front.
A great ride.
Through Nanango and Blackbutt then down the Range and we were getting back in to civilization again, evidenced by the crazy things people do in cars. One good thing about bike to bike coms was we were able to keep each other informed of the nut-jobs around us. Two pairs of eyes are better than one.
Back home in Carina just on dark and our FarRide East #35 was done and dusted.

Thanks to all participants for your good company and good nature. Charleen and I had a great weekend.

Look! Rabbit ears!

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