Me and Andy arrived at the eagerly awaited 10mile last after a bike swap and found Kimmie stuck behind a ute. Not sure why Andy never overtook Kimmie and the ute but I wanted to pop the cherry on my new camera and wanted a bike in front of me so I stuck around behind Andy and this is what we did -
NOTE - With all videos, make sure you turn the setting to 1080p and let it buffer for a while before viewing, you'll enjoy it more that way
Confusion at Bulga – Mr. Confused was waiting for us on his gleaming blackbird piled with luggage. A tall and well built fellow with home-made goggles and an earnest expression, he gave off a positive vibe which is always welcome when you’re riding with someone new. He’s pretty quick too and not averse to throwing the big bird into corners with gusto. As we gained a member, we lost one as Conan decided to turn back from Bulga.
The Golden Highway to Sandy Hollow is made of beautiful surface snaking along in looping sweepers through a verdant valley hemmed in by green hills. It is gorgeous countryside and the scenic beauty is almost a match for the quality of the surface, almost!
At Sandy Hollow, we meet Andy’s mate, David, who’s got a beautiful black diavel which he rides like the devil himself! Dejan sets off followed by the 2 diavels setting the pace on the Bylong Valley Way, which we’ve come to see from so far away. The scenery is spectacular and I’m happy to sit mid-pack behind Karl, to take it all in. Rugged cliffs appear with lazy streams flowing at their base, open green meadows host elegant horses cantering about and amongst it all, a thin sliver of black snakes its way through, carrying an eager flock of 2 wheeled pilgrims. I stop to setup my camera and find Karl and Wayne stopped up ahead, about to turn around to check up on me. It’s comforting to know you’re riding with people who care and will look after you. I give them a hotham salute in return for their concern and buzz past. Next it’s my turn to be buzzed as Wayne thunders past and shows me a thing or two about riding backroads. It was quite a sight to see him attack bumpy corners at insane speeds, completely unconcerned as his luggage rack bounced around behind him.
Dejan’s grief – I was enjoying the sweeping road till I came around 1 particular right hander and saw a few bikes parked on the side.
I recognized them as our group and panic gripped me as I thought “Fuck, someone’s come off”. I was relieved to find it was only a mechanical issue. A rock had shattered Dejan’s radiator and his dreams of blitzing Nerriga Road. He was covered in the green stuff and was sulking like the hulk! Anyway, we sorted out his towing arrangements and Mario went about hiding and camouflaging the bike with some strategically placed branches which would’ve confused even the most wily bike thief. Just to be doubly sure, I marked the territory around the bike with special radioactive fluid, the very whiff of which would render insane humans and animals alike. The bike taken care of, we worked out the logistics of getting Dejan to Rylstone, where he would wait for his lift to arrive from Sydney. After much toing and froing (not of the bad kind, that came later) we decided that the most “desirable” arrangement was for Dejan to ride Pete’s SV, Mario to pillion coz he was dying to be a bitch and for Pizza to ride Mario’s R1. Everyone was happy, coz they got to ride something they enjoyed. Dejan was happy to be riding at all, Pizza was riding one of the fastest bikes in the known universe (a highly “cultured” R1) and Mario was riding Dejan and I was just pissing myself witnessing (and recording) this procession. While Mario was loving every moment of it, Dejan soon realized it was not a happy situation for him and he avoided braking completely, to keep his dignity. I must say that the suspension on Pete’s SV is pretty rugged, not many bikes could’ve stood up to the “rocking” the poor machine received in that 30 odd minutes.
A lesson in Culture - We had a fantastic lunch at the Rylstone hotel and we were just sitting around shooting the talk when a loud roar was heard behind us. Karl’s gave us a sheepish smile and a master class in professional burping. The second one was so thunderous, the local seismograph recorded a class 5 tremor . It was then that Jeff took centrestage and proceeded to give us a lecture on culture and its many manifestations. That lecture helped sustain us through the rest of the trip, Jeff you have no idea how popular your thesis on culture has become! It was time to say goodbye to Dejan who had been such a great companion thus far. The parting must’ve been especially hard on Mario as I spied a tear in his eye just before he put his woggy aviators on. It was obvious they had bonded in a special way on that ride into town.
David’s local knowledge came in handy as he lead us out of Rylstone on a scenic back road that I enjoyed very much. David’s a pretty quick rider and he set a pace that helped keep the sphincter tightly clenched, which was well enough as the pressure on the little chap was immense from the humungous lunch.
Said goodbye to Jeff at Ilford as we turned off towards Sofala and the next 1 hour or so was the most enjoyable bit of riding I had done all day. As fun as the Bylong Valley Way had been, the road from Ilford all the way to Bathurst was just tops for sheer riding pleasure. It’s all 3 dimensional sweepers, the 3rd dimension provided by very enjoyable elevation changes. The road winds through forests and scenic rolling hills, you go round a sweeping left hander climbing gently, over a blind crest and the road immediately drops and tracks right into a gorgeous right hand sweeper and you can see the next left wrapped around the side of the next hill. You’ve got butterflies in your stomach, a huge grin on your mug and your right hand automatically cranks the throttle back as the engine howls in approval. It came together for me in that section, it really did . It nearly didn’t for Mario though as he almost ran out of fuel. It’s good we always travel with our dedicated tanker, Karl’s bird. However much we might make fun of it, the tanker came in real handy for Mario that day.
Mt Panorama – The Hero’s track. We headed straight to Mt Panorama and since I’d never been there and never even seen it on TV, I didn’t know what to expect. It just blew me away! It was such an amazing experience to ride around it, even if it only at 60. The feel at the top is like you’re at the top of a circus giant wheel and it’s about to drop down, it’s a rush! As I descended, it just took my breath away and I couldn’t imagine how anyone could think of cranking motorcycles around here, it just seems insane. To be honest, I was happy to just putter around it, taking it all in. We did 3 laps, took some pics and slowly headed into town, each of us pondering the amazing experience we’d just had.
Turned out to be an excellent hotel, the KnickerBocker, highly recommended. Well done Kimmie and a huge thanks for organizing the acco. The dilemma now was whether to ask for a refund on the unused accommodation for Dejan, Pete and Sav or just spread out and spend a more comfortable night at the expense of those less fortunate than us. I’m glad to say that the vote was unanimous that we should ask for a refund. The hotel staff were happy with that and only asked for payments for the rooms we were using which left us with another dilemma, what do we do with the money we now have left over from the cancelled acco. Booze it away or return it to those who bailed on us at the last minute. I’m glad to say that this time the decision was not unanimous as me and Pizza vociferously canvassed for option 1, our argument being that those who ditched us in this most glorious of adventures didn’t deserve our sympathy. And besides, what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them. Arguments from the other side were all airy-fairy and words like principles, honesty and even national honour were thrown in, losers! We finally had to give in to Kimmie’s gentle persuasion and Mario’s threats of violence (why is the man so violent?) and paid for our own booze, what a golden opportunity missed.
We had a late start the next day so we all made the most of the night. Riding techniques were discussed, cornering speeds were boasted of, top speeds were thrown around the table, brown pants moments were confessed and offs were described and it was only 8PM. That’s when the night really took off but you just had to be there ;-)
Day 2 dawned late, actually it probably dawned at the regular hour, I just slept in. After a substantial breakfast, which I demolished with such class that it was talked about well into the day, we went out to retrieve our bikes from the Bottle-O. There was some excitement as the heroes of Sydney Riders helped the publican deal with some nasty anti-social types who’d wreaked havoc in one of the rooms the night before. As we got underway under bright blue skies, I lead a freight train onto the long sweepers on O’Connell road to Oberon and was setting an easy pace, enjoying the rhythmic bends when we came upon a hill climb. I don’t know if it was the late night or I was just not thinking straight but that road confused the fuck out of me and and I couldn’t work out which way the corners were going. I slowed down to crawling and sent a domino effect down the chain. Apparently I almost caused a 6 bike pile up by slamming on the brakes and was later named “The Bavarian Roadblock” by Andy . Sorry fellas! Mario had had enough of my pansy riding and zoomed past me after the tight stuff, followed quickly by Andy and Kath.
An uneasy Taralga run - We met up with Dean and Con at Oberon who’d ridden up from Sydney in the freezing cold, braved a puncture and had still made it before us and are thus the recipients of the HTFU award for this trip. The bike hadn’t been feeling “right” since morning, I felt it moving around in an unusual way a few times. I thought it might be the tyre pressure so I checked at Oberon, they were fine . I thought it’s all good, let’s get on with it. Stuffing around with checking the bike saw me leaving last from the servo, well behind the group. With a group like we had and the road that we were embarking on, I knew chances were slim of catching up but I gave it a shot anyway. But very soon I got the “something’s not right with the bike” feeling again. In the middle of a corner, leaned over, the back would sway around and the whole bike seemed to be flexing like a motogp bike. It suddenly hit me how much riding fast is about confidence and “feel”. I knew my tyres were wearing thin, the seed of doubt was sown, confidence ebbed from me and with it my speed tapered off. I was thankful when Dean, who was leading the run, backed off a bit to slow down the hitherto hectic pace and I was able to follow him for a while
On to Nerriga - We had a wholesome lunch at Tarago and then proceeded down the back road to Nerriga. None of us had done this road before so we were all a bit cautious. It turned out to be an interesting single track, narrow, bumpy and a bit dangerous but quite fun all the same. I was very surprised by how many oncoming cars we came across on this unknown backroad, many of whom strayed well into our side of the road, keeping us on our toes. There was a short section of gravel after which we crossed the Shoalhaven river via a causeway. It’s a beautiful spot for a camp or picnic. Then came the section that everyone had been waiting for all day. All day Mario had been asking me “Where is that Highway, just tell me when it starts so I know when to turn the camera on”. There were high expectations from people on Nerriga road but I had no doubt that it would impress the most demanding of riders. And boy it DID! It really is a gem this road, I had an absolute blast as did most of the others. The K12 was still moving around but I got used to it and just gave it a go anyway and it seemed to sort itself out. My theory now is that its actually the panniers that upset the bike at high speeds. I’ve never ridden a bike with panniers before and I think at high speeds they catch too much wind and can cause the bike to move around. As convenient as they are, I’m going to have a long hard think before I put them on for a spirited ride again .
It was close to 4 by the time we got out of Nowra and everyone just wanted to get home so we just Princessed it back, saying our goodbyes at Berry.
All in all, it was an epic trip. Some of the best riding roads around Sydney, absolute cracker weather, a great group who all got along famously and rode spiritedly yet safely and looked out for each other.
I think I just described the term “Perfect motorcycling weekend away”.
Thanks to Pizza for dreaming up this ride and letting me steal it. Thanks to you all who shared and enriched this experience, it was great to ride with you all, I will treasure it.
Mario - Super Mario – Yamaha R1
HarryD – The Bavarian roadblock – BMW K1200R
Andy – The Devil – The Diavel
Kath – All things nice – BMW S1000RR
Karl – Big Bro – Bluebird
Kimmie – Mama Smurf – Whitebird
Wayne – Crystal clear – Blackbird
Pizza – The hard worker – SuzukiSV 650
VFRJeff – The Cultured one
Dean –Gsxr 1000
Con –BMW K1300R
Conan – Suzuki DRSM400