Tuesday, March 23, 2021

State Of Origin


With some work (and income) finally on the horizon I thought it might be time to take my foot off the gas for a weekend to just get out and PLAY.

My little Bro (Chillertek) and his mates from Sydney were planning a ride up my way as a piss weak replacement for their planned Tasmania trip. 

Unless you have been living under a rock you would know that planning interstate trips in Australia the last 12 months is a bit of Russian roulette, what with snap border closures and hotel quarantining at your own expense for two weeks greeting the unsuspecting traveller. So, the crew decided to Go North, North to Alask.....er....Queensland actually, or to be more precise, to Kyogle, which is just short of the NSW/QLD border and would allow cross border raids while being able to quickly retreat behind the safety of  Gladys' apron.

I missed the first day's riding and shenanigans due to the afore mentioned income producing activities. But I was up at 0415 to get the first flight home so that I could jump on one of my bikes and meet the crew as they headed North. I wish I had a dollar for every sunrise I have seen from an aircraft. At least this morning I could kick back and close my eyes for a bit.

Back in Brisbane I raced home and threw my gear together, loaded the bike, took a quick photo and headed off to meet the boys. Probably not hard to guess which bike I chose.

I had a rough plan to meet the guys as they came off the range from Tenterfield toward Casino but as I rode I figured I was making "good progress" (eh Geoff ) and I would be able to head them off by Tenterfield. With this in mind I changed my route to the awesome Mt Lindesay Road which is a mixture of seal and dirt. This would give me an opportunity to test the big girl on some fast dirt roads after her recent suspension work.

As I was keen to not miss the guys and girls I didn't make too many stops. I did however stop on the famous "Head Rd" a few times as the views are simply stunning.

Yes, it IS steep and it IS narrow so I took The Head climb very carefully as I always do. I didn't stop at The Falls lookout today as I wanted to get up onto the plateau overlooking Condamine Gorge as quickly as possible. There was a bit of traffic on the second narrow climb but to my delight they all pulled over and let me pass. That has never happened before!

I had to stop at "my" Nissin hut though. I love the simplicity of this old war surplus Nissin hut with the way it is plonked, sitting at almost exactly 1000m (3280ft) above sea level, in the middle of a lush green field, overlooking SEQ's Scenic Rim.

One day, one day......

Mounting back up I passed the cars who had let me through again, with all their kids madly waving at me, which were stopped at the Mt Superbus lookout. 

There was no stopping now for me though, as I blasted my way past Queen Mary Falls, Killarney, Legume, Liston, Wilson's Downfall and the F-111 crash site, into Tenterfield.

I thought I would ride through town to the BP station on the southern side of town as the group would have to pass me there.

As I pulled into the petrol station there was a HUUUGE group of riders on loaded adv bikes (mostly DR650s) and I was standing on the pegs looking at them as I peeled in. Stopping at a pump, a big group of bikes came in the Glenn Innes road and I recognised Geoff (Bushpig) and Dave's Tuono. A half a dozen of them pulled in and we exchanged G'days.

My phone rang and it was Steve asking me where I was, clown? "I'm waiting for you was my reply". "Didn't you see me as you pulled into the station" he asked? "Nope" I said...... apparently he and Doug had ridden past at the exact moment I was ogling all of the adv bikes and I didn't see either of them...even though it was just a two lane road....in a small country town.....

Anyway, we quickly saddled up and met them at one of the other servos in town, exchanging more G'days. Then we were off down the Bruxner highway, next stop Drake. This is a very nice bit of road and I was having fun trying to keep up with the leading quartet of R1s, Tuonos and MT10s. I would be dropped on the flip flop turns as I just couldn't turn the big girl quick enough but winding on the throttle hard out of the turns to make that ground back was fun. Luckily the lads weren't going too hard and I could tag along to watch the freight train.

Pulling into Drake we stopped for refreshments at The Lunatic Hotel. Yep, that is what it is called and no, I didn't ask why. Some things are better left unanswered....

The Drake courtesy bus looked a bit underutilised.

I got to put a few faces to internet/Facebook names here meeting Scotty, Brett and his wife Marjo. Brett was the super fast guy wheelying everywhere on his MT10 and Marjo had a very nice, matching blue MT07. Scotty was on a puss yellow V-Strom but seemed like a nice guy in spite of this.... 😜

We didn't stay too long here. I swapped Geoff bikes here and he sampled my Africa Twin Adventure Sports while I tried out his 2020 AT1100. 

Wow! The two bikes were chalk and cheese. Mine was way taller than Geoff's bike and his bike seemed way punchier than mine. Maybe the load/fuel slowed mine a bit as 100cc shouldn't make that much difference. Geoff's brakes were also much stronger than mine which helped confirm my theory that there is something wrong with my front brakes. (During the last service I asked that they check them. They cleaned the discs, which made a difference but suggested the pads may be contaminated. This adds up with the original owner saying that he replaced the fork seals at 9000km. I assume fork oil got on the pads so I will be replacing the pads and scrubbing the discs in the dishwasher soon)

I also noticed how friggin bright my lights were while Geoff was following me. With the driving LEDs running all the time, the tall screen and the white hand guards it looks a lot like a police motorcycle in one's mirrors. Maybe this was why people were letting me past so easily this morning?

Arriving in Kyogle we went to the Exchange Hotel where there was a bit of a cock-up with the rooms. Or more precisely, there were too many of us for the number of rooms. This worked out in my favour as I got a room at the other (better IMHO) hotel, the Commercial Hotel, where Steve and I had stayed when in Kyogle two years ago. The down side was I was sharing with Scotty - a world champion snorer according to the other guys. Right, let the battle begin!!

But not before lots of beers and some great food at the Exchange Hotel. I tottered off to bed around midnight and managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep.

Day 1 route -

Day 2

Day two started with a bit of messing around with my drone. It wouldn't connect to my phone/controller initially which I think has something to do with the metal fire escape we were standing on. Once I moved away everything worked normally but I was over trying to mess with it by this stage, so got no real footage or photos. Just two clowns on the fire escape...

and our bikes behind the pub.

We lurched off for a very nice, if slow breakfast at a local cafe. There WERE 14 of us so I guess on top of the local clientele, we were a big group of hungry mouths.

After much faffing around at the petrol station, we were finally under way. I rode Steve's R1 so he could try my Africa Twin. I tried to swap him helmets too but he wouldn't be in it. So, I rode the R1 with my ADV helmet. Actually, the clear air made it run smoother than behind the screen of the big AT!

I was designated leader for the day even though Kwokky and Relphy (fellow Brisbanites) were in the group. It took me a good while to get used to holding onto the front axle of the R1 so I took it pretty steady to start with. The northern end of the Summerland Way is FUN, as is the last section of Mt Lindesay Highway before it crosses the border. I went as fast as I was comfortable with here and waved Brett through as he was having a ball on the MT10. 

Once you cross the border into QLD, the road turns to absolute shite. It is a bumpy goat track and riding a sports bike set for a 110kg rider saw me launched out of the seat multiple times, so I backed right off until we stopped for some photos and a leg stretch at the base of Mt Lindesay.

Chillertek photo.

ChillerTek and Mt Lindesay

The Lads and Ladette.

Marjo hurrying everyone up with "The Force" while Troy fiddles with clickers.

We regrouped in Beaudesert with a splash of fuel so that we wouldn't need fuel again today. The next section of road is pretty mundane and very busy, with road works holding up traffic and Sunday traffic....er...holding up traffic. There were a couple of turns to make and with such a large group I was concerned that we might lose someone. Luckily, we didn't and everyone made the final right turn past Canungra jungle warfare army training base and headed up to Beechmont. Just as the traffic reduced and the riding became a bit more spirited, I crested a rise to see a police road block covering the road. Shit!!
I rolled in to be guided to the officer at the end of the line, thinking "shit, this will be a rego/noise/compliance check" and what a dickhead I was to bring everyone up here on a Sunday. 😳 
The officer opened with "I used to have one of these in blue"! I said "I do have one in blue"! Then quickly explained this R1 wasn't mine, but my brother's and he was on my Africa Twin somewhere behind me. After a quick breath test and a "take it easy fellas, its busy up here today" from the officer we were on our way.
Phew!! That went well!!

We tootled the last few kilometres into Beechmont and stopped at the famous Flying Bean cafe'. I have never been here on a Sunday and I probably won't ever again! It was BUSY!!
To be honest, we were served very quickly though and as the adrenaline rush of the police road block wore off we settled back to enjoy watching the paragliders and the parade of bikes going past.

Dodgy Bros...plus Brett, Craig and Relphy. Behind is the Numinbah valley and Mt Warning. Our next stop.

Flying Bean cafe'.

We then dropped off the mountain, onto the Advancetown road down along the Numinbah Valley towards Mt Warning and the NSW border. The Advancetown intersection is where we bid Kwokky and Relphy goodbye as they peeled off left and headed for home in Brisbane.
This is a nice bit of road but was very busy on a Sunday afternoon. We stopped at the old Tick Gate on the border crossing for a look over the Murwillumbah valley. I didn't get any photos, so here is one I stole from Steve!

ChillerTek photo.

While stopped I carefully explained to EVERYONE that the very next hamlet we came to, Chillingham, we would be taking the only right turn which is in the middle of town. 
So, how many do you think made the turn?
Doug, Marjo, Steve and I. Out of 12 riders that isn't a good percentage. (it might be 33.3333% in fact)
Well, they knew where were heading so would just have to negotiate Murwillumbah's streets and meet us in Uki. Mean time, we enjoyed some of the best, fast back roads in the hinterland with the run from Tyalgum to the Uki road being a real cracker.

About 3km from Uki the "lost boys" joined onto the back of our quartet, just as it began to rain on us. We were soon outside the Mt Warning Hotel in Uki and very quickly inside it for a refreshing ale. There was a one man band playing and while he wasn't bad, he WAS LOUD, so a few of us retreated to the far end of the verandah so that we could hear ourselves think.

The others were keen to get back to Kyogle and complete the day's riding but Dave M, Steve, Scotty and I decided to wait a while to let the road dry out as it is also one of THE best hinterland roads in northern NSW.

Another ChillerTek image I stole. Thanks Bro!

No more photos for the afternoon as we didn't stop along here (well, Steve did apparently) as the road was dry and the riding spirited. We got split up by a couple of slow moving vehicles and it was fun trying to catch back up. The Uki to Kyogle road is a real hoot and everyone should try it at least once.

ATASportsbike. Chillertek photo.

Rolling into Kyogle I resisted the urge for instant beer and instead filled the bike up. Steve rolled in a bit behind and did the same. Here are our mighty steeds, resting after a right thrashing. I'm not in the league of the sporty boys but it is surprising how quick you can punt a big dirt bike along. It's no slouch.

A short 100m ride back to the pub and I headed for a quick shower. There were two showers in the pub. One was "normal" while the other you seriously had to run around under the rose to get wet. I made sure I got the "normal" one tonight. No more exercise was required for the day!

Arriving down at the bar we were SHOCKED to hear they were almost at last drinks!! 
WTF!!?? It was just after 5pm on a Sunday! 
The other pub in town was already shut and this one was about to pull the rug out from under us!
A crisis was averted as we managed to sweet talk the bar maid into serving us for about another hour and a half, then picking up a "supply" of takeaway beers for our Chinese banquet at the local restaurant. 11 or 12 (I couldn't be bothered to count by this stage) of us tucked into a very nice feed of Chinese inspired Aussie country town reataurant tucker while bantering the night away.
After scoring some ice cream as a desert we wandered back to the upstairs lounge to help finish off the remaining beers and tell some more stories. I bailed at around midnight again and was asleep pretty much as my head hit the pillow.

Day 2 route -

Day 3 

The boys (and Marjo) needed to be up reasonably early today as they had some miles to cover to their overnight stop in Uralla. I, on the other hand, only had to do about half of the distance we did yesterday to get home.
We started with breakfast in another cafe in the main street. This was punctuated by a Coke truck driver trying to shave the awning off the cafe with his pantec truck. The owner didn't look too impressed and the young bloke driving the truck looked a bit sheepish but there seemed to be no major damage done.

Some of the others needed fuel so the better organised of us waited in the middle of the street, saying a few goodbyes. Steve showed us his elastic man arm and you can see the front of the Coke truck on the left of the photo, where it was still embedded in the cafe awning!

Once the troop headed south toward home I decided to cruise back along the Uki road, with no real plan in mind. After a while I thought it was as good a day as any to check out the little hippy town of Nimbin. I had never been through and decided I had better rectify that. 
Turning off the main road I was instantly on a narrow, winding goat track of tar. It must have become too "goat tracky" because I was soon parked at a road works stop and go sign for about 15 minutes. It was on a steep hill so I couldn't get off the bike. I also couldn't get my left leg to reach the ground, lest the mighty AT topple over and crush me, so my right leg was pretty damn knackered from supporting us by the time they waved me through!

I stopped soon after getting through the road works as there were some interesting rock formations on the hills above the road.

Arriving in Nimbin itself I found a VERY busy little village. The main street had no parking spaces left and after a couple of passes looking for a likely spot I gave up and headed out of town, pulling into a servo for a bottle of water and to plan "what next". 
It was nice having all day and not far to go.

I decided to go take a look at Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park. We used to race the Freedom Marathon on mtbs there when the kids were little, so about 8-10 years ago. It is a lovely place and I figured the falls would be roaring with all of the rain we have had.

The road out to Tuntable Creek and The Channon was very tight and narrow so I took it very carefully. It wound through a tunnel of trees and vines as this is definitely rainforest/jungle country. I was tempted to stop for a photo but decided not to at the time. I'm kind of wishing I did now though I am not sure how I would have captured it well because it is quite dark under the canopy.

I had the GPS on the navigation case and with it's "adventurous routing" active it started to get adventurous!

I quickly recognised sections of road that I had raced on the mtb years ago. Unfortunately I soon came to some temporary fence and 'road closed" signs. The road behind looked like VERY wet, slippery clay. I figured that they must be working on the forest roads and as this was actually the back way into the falls, I would turn around and take a look at the "front door".

It was a nice, cool, quiet road so I wasn't at all concerned by the reroute. In fact, it was awesome as I got to do the road twice!

The Dunoon rd was a real pleasure to ride, with a series of left/right/left/right/left/right flicks that went on for quite a while. 
Turning up the Minyon Falls rd I came to a locked gate, manned by...a...man. 
I stopped the bike and said G'day. The falls were obviously closed so I asked what was up. He said they were replacing the board walk from the parking area to the falls lookout and would be another 4-6 months. 
They must have the slowest carpenters in Oz working on it as I don't recall there being that much boardwalk. He went on to say he had turned away 93 cars on Saturday and 67 on Sunday. 
Clearly, this is why they had the gate manned. Otherwise people would find a way to get in there. 
I know if I had my mtb with me I would jump the gate and go for a pedal. They have a whole forest/national park closed so that they can replace a board walk that isn't even on the main access road through the forest?  
Just bu11sh1t!

Turning around I stopped for a very quick look at some sculpture works by the side of The Falls Rd. The guy is very talented but unfortunately I didn't want to get off the big bike (sloping ground) to get any decent photos, so this will have to do.
You get the idea.

I was a bit over it by now and decided to just make a bee line for home. Instead of doing the Burrinbar range rd I just hopped onto the freeway and buzzed home. I really need to do something about my speedo as it is over reading by 10km/h at 110km/h. So, that is showing 120 at an gps indicated 110. That is 10% ish more kilometres winding onto my odometer. I'll have to look at a speedo healer.

I also noticed that as I came up behind cars in the right lane, they all pulled into the left lane. Like immediately! This happened for the whole 130ish kilometres home and NEVER normally happens.
I think with all the lights, the tall screen and the white front it really must look like a police motorcycle in people's mirrors! 

I arrived home to the regular Pademelon welcoming committee, who were busy mowing my lawn/shitting out weed seeds and gave the bike a wash. It actually had real mud on it this time! (just a little bit)

It was great to catch up with my little Bro after almost 12 months apart. He has a great group of mates who make me feel welcome, so thanks to all of them for inviting me along on the ride.
I only did 989km for the three days so definitely am the "candy ass" of the group for this ride but I was just happy that the work situation allowed me to get along for a part of the NSW vs QLD ride.

Cheers folks!

Day 3 Route -