The BikeMe Pilgrimage camping weekend is held every year in memory of the Bathurst Motorcycle races. The motorcycles stopped racing at Mt. Panorama years ago but some hardy souls continue toasting the memory of those heady days of racing and rioting. The Pilgrimage is always held at the coldest time of the year in one of the coldest places in Australia, Sofala. The temperature dropped below freezing and only the toughest and the stupidest answer the call. And I'm not tough.
As the day approached, things started to unravel a bit though. First the Husky refused to start. I charged the battery and it started. Then 2 days later it refused to start again. I changed the Battery. It started. Then I got sick. I took 2 days off work to give myself a chance to recover in time for the Pilgrimage. It worked, I felt good enough by Friday to consider going. Maybe not good enough for a sloggy dirt ride and camping in sub zero temperatures but good enough to get out of bed at least. But if you can get out of bed, you can ride a motorcycle!
I was pumped (full of panadol!) and keen to hit the trails. The track to Cox’s river campground is slow and slippery going. The track is narrow, clayey and covered with those marbley little pebbles that make going doing steep downhills a real arse clenching experience. And to make it even more interesting, there were quite a few 4WDs coming the other way at regular intervals. I was super cautious. Just where I hit the 6 foot track, I overtook a couple of 4WDs, then came around a steep downhill right hander and stacked it. It was a rookie mistake. The front wheel got stuck in a little rut and because the track was narrow and I was heading straight for the edge of the cliff, I tried to turn while the wheel was in the rut and the front washed out quicker than Snowy can say “IED”. I fell on my right shoulder (and it started really hurting like a bastard the next morning!) but had the presence to keep a grip on the clutch and keep the motor going. Picked it up quickly as I knew the 4WDs I had just overtaken would be coming around the corner any second. Too late. Just as I was picking the bike up, they were there and my embarrassment was complete. Well, actually no. there was more to come. I couldn’t get back on the bike. Picture this. I’m standing on a steep, slippery downhill slope at the edge of the road with a steep cliff a few feet away. The front is slipping even with the brake pressed. The bike is loaded so I can’t just swing a leg over and need to contort my left leg straight in front of me like a high kicking Cossack dancer while holding the front brake and maintaining my and the bike’s balance to avoid us toppling over the cliff. All this under the watchful stare of 2 families worth of 4WDs. The pressure was on and I took what seemed like 5 minutes to get on, while the 4WDers waited patiently, with not some slight amusement I’m sure. I overtook them again down the road but.
Coxs river campground is beautiful though and well worth the effort to get there.
From there I headed up on fire trails through the Kanangra Boyd National Park towards Jenolan Caves.
As good as the 6 foot track was, it was nothing compared to the ride from Sunny Corner to Sofala. That is just a sensational ride.
It hadn’t rained for a week around here but it was still wet enough to keep me on my toes and I had a few interesting 2 wheel sliding moments.
And the ride the next day was a lot less enjoyable on account of the shenanigans of the previous night. That tends to happen though. No-one goes to a BikeMe event counting on being fully functional on the ride back home. It kinda defeats the purpose.