Friday, January 27, 2017

Starting 2017 with a bang

How lazy am I? Its nearly the end of January and I haven't even been out on a ride yet, although I do have a few reasons for this. Someone take me out into the back paddock and just put me out of my misery, please. I've been busier than a blue arsed fly what with work and other family commitments, and the result is that riding has been on the back burner. Time to change that and quick smart. Too much work and not enough play. I organized a quick fang up to Tarlaga for lunch and then back again. A call to Bushpig and plans were hatched and we were soon under way, and he even invited his friend Saint Pat.

Meeting up at Bushpigs place we headed up out of Sydney along the Bells line of road, one of Sydney's classic biking roads across the blue mountains. We did notice however on the way across the Bells Line some of New South Wales finest hiding in the bushes with their hair dryers. Not sure if they were drying each others hair do's or trying to burn out our retinas at distance so we couldn't read our speedo's in the hope we'd mistake 80 for 60kmh, but none the less they stayed firmly where they were planted, in the bushes.

Riding across the bells line with its twists and turns I'd noticed that my bike wasn't handling like it normally would. You see I've been a bit lazy and still have the mismatched tyres on the bike. The rear is not the original size or matching brand for the front. It was tipping in nicely but the rear didn't want to follow at the same rate, a bit of a weird feeling really, but never the less I adapted and pressed on.

We stopped just after Mt Victoria for our first stop just past the lolly shop for a break and a bit of a chat. We turned into Cox River Road as I'd recently heard that it had been sealed all the way through, which turned out to be false. Cox River road still has a couple of kilometers of dirt on it, but its really easy riding dirt.

Three Gems in Little Hartley

Main Street of Taralga
We then continued on through to Oberon via Duckmaloi road for our first fuel stop of the trip. All the bikes had used within a half a litre of each other, so not much difference.

We headed down to Taralga via Shooters Hill road rather than the more direct and more boring route of Black Springs. Shooters Hill road is much more scene up through the pine forest to I might add so if you're in the area you have to pass through this way. Saint Pat and myself had swapped bikes at Oberon and were trying each others bikes out. The Ducati 1098 wheelies straight off the throttle coming out of town, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.................... It was a very narrow bike in comparison and handled very well. I don't think it turned quite as quick as the R1 but was still very good. Comfort wise seemed about on par and it also had a hard seat and it felt a lot like you sit down inside the bike and not on it like my R1.

Taralga Hotel
By the time we got to Taralga there was a bunch of bikes parked out the front of the pub and most of the tables had been taken. I jammed my hand under the screen of the ducati whilst trying to park it, between the bars and the screen on full lock it comes together which I thought was a bit dangerous.Lunches ordered we relaxed and  looked at the bikes parked out the front and any that happened by. I must say every time I've been here for lunch the meals have been fantastic, I can't recommend this place more.

We spent about an hour in Taralga for lunch before deciding it was time that we got going. So I got back on my bike now and I decided I would lead the ride back up to Oberon as I'd followed the other guys on the way down.
The road through Abercrombie gorge is still dirt at the moment as they are doing road works to widen and smooth the road out. Should be good when they finish it which the signs said around April.

Abercrombie River

Saint Pat
On the way back to Oberon I decided I'd like to take the short trip up into the hills via one of the logging roads. This was only a short 8km long section before it turned to dirt and we would have to turn around and come back but is some of the most beautiful winding roads around in the area with elevation changes, sharp bends and spectacular forest scenery.

Along the way I checked my mirrors and about 2/3 the way along I didn't see anyone following. Funny that Bushpig and Saint Pat were there following me only about 2 minutes before. I didn't think too much about this as they must have pulled over to take a picture or something like that. Well after all I was doing the same thing. I got to the end and turned around and took a couple more pics. I waited for a couple of minutes and no one came along so I thought I'd better head back and see what where Bushpig and Saint Pat had gotten to.

Yes I know I've posted up photos of this road before but I love this piece of black top so much I just had to stop and take more pictures of it. Its motorcycling heaven, if only there was 30-40kms of this instead of 8.

I crested a rise and suddenly I saw Bushpig heading towards me, he started madly signalling me to slow down, well that's what I thought he meant so I did. It's a bit hard to tell what he was signalling really. I pulled over and stopped and waited for him. About 5 minutes went by and he came back into view. Very strange to say the least. He stopped and and I strolled over and I asked where everyone got to, he said follow me.

Over the very next rise there I saw 3 people standing in the middle of nowhere and a flash of red in the forest. WTF. It was a red Ducati. FUCK!. All you bike riders will know the sudden sinking feeling that I suddenly experienced.  Saint Pat had run off on one of the bends and into the forest, I immediately thought the worst. How could you survive that running into a pine forest. Luckily for him and everyone he was ok, more or less. A tree had broken his fall so to speak as well as one of his fingers.

The 3 people standing around were from a passing vehicle. The bike wasn't ride able the rear swing arm was smashed to bits and Saint Pat wasn't in a state to ride anyway. The bike could wait so we got Pat quickly into Oberon hospital via the passing vehicle. We loaded him into the front seat so he could go and get checked out and we could worry about what to do with the bike later, so we left a note on the bike to say rider was ok and taken to Oberon Hospital so anyone that found it didn't worry about what happened to the rider.

The ride home was a bit of a come down from the morning and was really just a boring commute across the blue mountains via the great western highway until we got home. About an hour out from home the R1's seat was rearing its ugly head and I was sitting from side to side to save my butt checks from the pounding it had taken during the day but in comparison this was very minor in the grand scheme of what had happened today.


Post Ride DAY +1:
Bushpig took his car with trailer in tow up to pick up Saint Pat and the bike.With a little help from some passing Adventure riding GS riders they got the bike into his trailer and brought it back. Saint Pat was out of hospital and on his way home. One very lucky bloke, one very unlucky 1098.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tour planning

Finally after a week of pouring over maps, google street view, my trusty HEMA NZ Motorcycle atlas and 2 of NZ's best bloggers I have managed to finish off our route plans for our up coming NZ North Island trip.

I initially had a lot of enthusiasm to plan the trip and looked at the maps for about a week, then realised how many great bike roads there actually are on the north Island then it got a bit overwhelming really. So I did what all great procrastinators do, I sat on it and waited and waited until only 7 weeks out before the trip where I thought I'd better actually get off my ass and do something about it, before we are standing at Auckland airport with puzzled looks on our faces as to which way to head in.

So over my christmas break I pulled out my Hema Atlas and an email that I'd received earlier in the year from Geoff James and decided to get this thing done. Compared to planning the South Island trip which was fairly easy as there are not so many roads to choose from there are literally hundreds of different great bike roads on the north Island it was a lot more difficult.

A few emails back and forward to Geoff and Andrew and a few facebook messages and some head down bum up work I managed to finish off a decent route plan for our trip.The Hema road atlas is 11 years old now and some of the rides in it that are dirt have now been tarred(thanks to the local knowledge of Andy and Geoff). Most of the roads though are still the same with probably little in the way of new roads.

The bikes have been secured and the route has been decided, flights booked and now I just need to sort some accommodation and we are nearly done. 

A big shout out here to 2 of New Zealand's best motobloggers for their assistance in helping me plan the route. Check out their blogs if you haven't already, click on the link below to open in a new window.

Andrew - Bandit Rider

Cheers boys and I'll shout you guys a beer when I see you.