Monday, March 22, 2021

The Great Northern Pub Tour of 2021 Part 4

 DAY 4

We found a local cafe for a nice breakfast whilst we planned the day. A truck pulled up out the front and slammed into the overhead awning. The owner was straight out taking photos. What a welcome to Monday to start off your working week by crashing into a building. I bet that guy wished he called in sick.

Troy and Mick stopped in Casino for a new tyre, they will catch up later. So Doug had been thinking of taking the Clarence Way down to Grafton which is about 130kms as he saw something online about them finishing tar sealing it. We stopped at the turn off below to be told by a passing truck driver that there was about 10 kms of dirt still. We had rain overnight and this morning and there was rain on the way we could see it on the radar. Doug said that we will continue up the Bruxner, however Stu said he was going to go down the Clarence way.

No one else said they would go. I said I will go because you can't let him go alone. Neither of the guys on adventure bikes were going to go with him so I thought someone needs to go, 2 people together is safer than one.

Dave pondering which way to go

So decision made I followed Stu down the Clarence way. Indeed there was new tar seal along for a fair way maybe the first 20kms. He pulled over after a while and said lets put on our wets, there is rain coming. Looking ahead where we are headed across the range you could see dark clouds rolling in with rain pouring down. Scotty appeared on the V-Strom, he followed us after all. 

Riding off in our wets I watched the rain roll in a few minutes later. Then the road turned to dirt or should I say a mix of dirt/mud/clay. 500m into this I had a big rear end slide. I should have turned around and headed back then. Scotty was here, he could ride with Stu on the adventure bike. However as soon as we hit the wet dirt section Scotty disappeared into the distance, whilst I crawled along on the R1.

The first dirt section was only 1 km long before hitting tar again, my spirits rose but this was soon dashed again when we hit more dirt, seemingly never ending dirt, up and down hills and winding road. And it was mud/clay. I did my best to follow the 2 previous tyre tracks through the quagmire slipping my way along, when it looked bad where they went I would take to a more solid looking part of the road even sometimes riding completely on the wrong side around blind corners.

After what seemed like half an hour the road turned to tar again and there was a sense of relief. Coming round the corner Stu was stopped on the road. He was having a well earned beer. The bastard only bought one with him. He's lucky he wasn't buried in that forest.

I pulled up and he was laughing at me. I looked at his bike covered in mud and I started to laugh too. I got off and looked at my bike and laughed even harder and then a few swear words. Looked like we were riding on adventure bikes. We must have looked a sight standing there on the road covered in mud in the rain in the middle of butt f*ck nowhere.

The tar was short lived and turned to dirt for a third time but luckily it wasn't for long maybe only another 1 or 2 kms and this bit was probably the best of the dirt section. All up there would have been over 10 kms of dirt but less than 15 kms. I was too busy trying to keep it upright than look at how many kms there actually were.

This road reminded me of the Forgotten World Highway in New Zealand. It's real banjo country out here, the only thing missing is a volcano at one end. We went past a road on the left that was tarred and then the road turned to dirt again and started climbing/descending. I had a big moment where both feet went out to push the bike back upright. My heart was in my mouth now. Stu started honking me. 

I stopped and he said "I think we need to go back to that turn off back there"
How sure are you" I replied, I don't want to do any extra mud riding than I have to. He wasn't 100% sure.
I said I'm going to wait until we see a car and ask. Luckily 2 came along within the minute, and we are miles from anywhere. The first car confirmed the road back a bit was tarred all the way into Grafton. The second car pulled over and looked at our bikes and said " Mate your not going to get through on this road on those bikes better turn around"

Turn around we did and made our way back to the tar sealed road, without further incident. The road was narrow and tree lined all the way, with leaves and branches on the road. Not many people come along here looking at that. Stu if you ever do something like that again, you are on you own pal.

Finally we made it into Grafton for fuel around 1pm. There was a car wash across the road so we rode in there and washed both bikes down. My radiator was caked in mud and engine was running over 100°C. Afterwards it was back into the 70/80's. Scotty finally rang. He went straight ahead and did another 30kms of mud/clay road. He also said it was heart in the mouth stuff and it got worse than the first few dirt bits.

When he rolled into the car wash, mud fell out of his bike onto the ground underneath. It looked like he'd been to a rally somewhere in the sticks. We met a group in the petrol station that were about to head up the Clarence way. We told them to avoid it at all costs in the wet. They were all on road bikes except 1 guy. We did those guys a favour. Also Troy and Mick caught up to us here and waited under a tree till we had finished a pie from the bakery.

It was around 2:30 or later by the time we got out of Grafton so we went straight down the Ebor-Armidale road, with very little in the way of stopping. We did stop for a quick break at the sign below. We could also see big black clouds rolling in. The BOM indicated heavy thunderstorms in this area from 4pm onwards. So we got moving and bumped up the pace as it got darker.

The sky was black and lightning was flashing as we hit the 80km signs into Armidale the heavens opened up and the rain was so heavy you couldn't see more than 30m in front. It seemed to take forever to make it into the nearest petrol station to take shelter from the wind, rain and lightning. I was totally soaked by the time we got there.

It was out with the wets as we were to ride the last 20kms to Uralla and we are staying at the Top Pub again. So back out into the wind, rain and lightning we went. It was hammering down all the way into Uralla. I'd messaged the other guys when we were waiting and they were already at the bar. Bastards...

Besides Uralla being in the middle of nowhere, the Top Pub is great $50 rooms with self contained toilets/showers and the restaurant is one of the best pub restaurant's ever. I had the spiced Africa Lamb backstrap. It was so succulent and delicious. Only managed to squeeze one pub into todays tour. Mmmm Geoff wasn't riding with us this afternoon. Could be something to that.

Day 4 Map Reference


Today was just going to be a commute home day. After a hearty breakfast of chocolate pancakes I was almost ready to ride. Gee these leathers are getting tight, I thought. Must have shrunk in the rain, haha.

We took the back way into Walcha via Kentucky and Geoff's culvert of doom. We were soon in Walcha and the guys wanted to ride the Oxley. The last couple of trips up here I had failed to ride it, so today I thought why not. It really the reason for coming on this trip was to do the Oxley highway. Geoff & Scotty turned down thunderbolts way for home as they'd had enough adventure.

Riding down into the twisties was a lot of fun. However we needed to be careful because after the storms last night you would sometimes come around a bend and there would be sticks scattered across the road. Hitting them mid corner at speed was not going to be pretty, so the pace was fast but conservative enough to be able to change lines mid corner if needed and we did need to several times.

We had a brief rest stop here on the Oxley so that everyone could catch up and take a quick break. It's quite demanding riding this road but oh so much fun. There were not going to be to many more stops on the way home as it was going to be a big day. So not many photos from today.

Next stop was for fuel in Wauchope before heading south. Bago road had just been resurfaced with hot mix and it was one super smooth twisty piece of road. But that was over to soon and then we were on the freeway.

We took back roads out around Landsdowne to Wingham and into Gloucester were we had a quick lunch at the bakery before getting fuel and riding out again. Much discussion occurred for freeway or Putty Road. Putty Road won out, although I would have preferred to ride down the freeway at this point. I was over it and didn't need to ride down the Putty at dusk when wild life would be rife

5.40pm with about 2 hours to go

I rolled into home about 7.40pm and was pretty well exhausted. I checked google maps when I got home and it says 710kms for the day. Yeah and I am feeling every bit of it.

Another fantastic ride done and dusted lads. 

Cheers and thanks for the ride.

Day 5 Map Reference

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Great Northern Pub Tour of 2021 Part 3

 DAY 3

Today was going to be a bit more of a relaxed affair as Doug hadn't really made a route plan for today, and after 2 big days in the saddle I think most people were looking for a bit more of a relaxed ride. Flyboy put together a route at the drop of a hat that would take in some twisty tarmac that would only be about 300kms or so. Sounds great to me.

So after a bit of a late start and long breakfast we were fuelled up and ready to roll out. I swapped onto Dave's Africa twin to ride up Summerland way and he rode my R1.

That was quite a shock to the system swapping from the  R1 to the Africa Twin. Geez its a big heavy bastard just getting it off the side stand. I could just touch the ground, it has a very tall seat.

Riding the AT along it had plenty of go in it, it was a bit heavy going in the twisties up to Mt Lyndsay requiring a lot of effort to get it turned but nothing I couldn't manage. I waved the faster guys by so not to hold them up whilst I got used to the AT, don't wanna throw Flyboys new bike down the road and hurt myself either and plus the fact he has knobbies on it. 

The NSW side of the border the road is a well kept smooth twisting piece of tarmac that is satisfying to open the throttle on, however the contrast when you cross the border into Queensland where the road is rough, narrow and bumpy and is not as much fun. Still the views are spectacular at the Mt Lindsay lookout where we stopped  so everyone could catch up.

Flyboy and Mt Lindsay

Doug noticed his bike wasn't handling too well and checked his tyre pressure. It was down to 18psi on the front. Rick decided to let off a few canisters of CO2 for fun, no tyre filling happened just some more environmental destruction. We were going to get fuel in Beaudesert so he said he will fill it up when we get there.

An attempt was made in Rathdowney with Brett's air compressor but it had a blown fuse, so got packed away again. Sadly, Bushpig had a compressor under his seat but didn't bother to offer it up until we got to the pub later on.

I also swapped to Geoff's Africa Twin whilst he rode Flyboys. The difference in the two Africa Twins was like chalk and cheese. Geoff's I could flat foot it and it was much easier to ride, maybe due to the different tyres. He has road oriented tyres where Dave's has the knobbies.

From this point Flyboy took us down to Canungra and down the Beechmont road. Riding past the gates of Canungra Military base I could hear Redgum's 'I was only 19' song in my head. It was quite busy today being Sunday and just on the outskirts of the Gold Coast.

We got pulled over by the rozzers for a random breath test. 10-15 police for a random breath test, I think not. They were letting every car go but only pulling in bikes. I thought this might turn into a exhaust/tail tidy reflector stop but they let us go without harassing us any further. Maybe they noticed our ages(mostly 50-60) and took pity on us. 

We stopped in at the Flying Been Cafe for lunch. I tried the brisket sandwich and it was fantastic. We relaxed and chatted whilst looking at the views over the valley. A couple of hang gliders took off whilst we were there. One came oh so close to clipping some tree tops.

Numinbah Valley

The cafe is at the top of the ridge line on the Numinbah Valley. The above view is right across from the cafe down towards mount Warning. We will be riding down through that valley back towards our accommodation for tonight.

The ride down through the Numinbah Valley was quite good, perfect conditions for riding but a little bit busy. The views from the road over the back of the gold coast are incredible. Wish I had of stopped for a photo. At least most of the traffic was now going the other way heading back to Brisbane/Gold Coast.

There was a little bit of a mix up at Chillingham and Flyboy turned off, but the main group didn't follow. He chased me down but Dave was just in front rode off into the distance. So we took the back road through Tyalgum and did and extra 28kms of twisty bits whilst the others went through to Murwillumbah. I caught up to Geoff just out of town as we then headed into Uki and the Mt Warning Hotel for a cold beer. and to get out of a passing rain shower.

Most of the guys quickly finished their drinks and headed off. There was no rush, so Dave, Scotty, myself and flyboy stayed on a bit to let the road dry out a bit more. So we slowly had our drinks and left about 15 -20 minutes later. The road had dried out quite well by the time we headed off. 

The run up and over the mountain on the Kyogle road was a fantastic run. I stopped to catch a quick pic of the guys coming up the hill. Would have been better if I had some time to get out my camera instead of phone.

I could hear Dave's Tuono firing up and around the hill above me whilst I waited for Scotty and Flyboy to come past.

Kyogle Road

Time to put the phone away and get to the pub. Looks like we just made it in time as the pub was closing at 5.30pm. That's quite odd, both pubs in town were closed on Sundays after 5. The girl did manage to stay open a little longer for us. So we bought some takeaways and headed to the local Chinese restaurant for diner. I've never seen a place in Australia where all the pubs were closed by 6pm on a Sunday. Really strange. 

Day 3 Map Reference

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Great Northern Pub Tour of 2021 Part 2



After a nice bacon & egg roll breakfast we hauled the bikes out into the carpark behind the pub ready to head off. It took a bit for everyone to get their shit together this morning but we were soon filling up with fuel ready for the trip up waterfall way.

I hadn't paid much attention to todays route plan I didn't really know where I was and when we were coming into Bellingen I finally realised where I was. It was only about 15 minutes into Bellingen then out on the Waterfall way to Dorrigo. Last time we had a lot of traffic up here but today was quite good I though as we blasted the twisties up the mountain.

The waterfalls were raging today.

Stopped for the obligatory picture at the first waterfall, but let a huge truck get past, damn. Still he was easily dispatched up the mountainside.

From here we made our way into Dorrigo and then turned down Tyringham Road. Stu decided to stop as he wanted to do another different road. We then got accosted by an elderly woman walking her dog. She stood in front of our bikes and began to tell us the history of something from the war. Couldn't quite hear her with helmets and ear plugs in luckily. Stu fired up the Tuono and roared off but she then stood in front of me and Dave. Took longer than it should as we were trying to be polite, but eventually we had to just roar off as well, otherwise we'd still be there now.

A quick stop just out of town. This area is so green and lush the scenery was amazing. They obviously must get lots of rainfall to be that green. So we watered the grass for good measure just incase of impending drought.

It's a decent enough ride along through here, just need to be careful as most bends are un-sign posted and the road can be narrow and a bit rough, but not that much traffic on it so all good.

We stopped at the Ebor-Armidale road turn off as the other guys were waiting for us, probably wondering what happened thinking something untoward may have happened, but just granny attack.

Brothers in arms

The ride along the Ebor-Armidale road was pretty good for the most part until we hit a bit of road works and it got a bit rough from there and was hard to tell how fast you could go as there was plenty of potholes right in the middle of your line. We got split up along here but just out of Grafton the guys pulled over so that we can regroup.

South Grafton

From Grafton we took the Gwydir Highway out towards Glen Innes. The ride up the range was a real highlight. I have driven up here before with the family but hadn't ridden it. The ride was superb coming into the first 45er and letting the revs rise, cracking the throttle, sheer riding pleasure. The surface was in fantastic condition the entire length of the run up the mountain. Then after that it was some fairly flowing road that you could see some big numbers on. All great fun.

We stopped at the intersection of Bald Knob road, which Stu took affection to. I took the opportunity to take out my camera to take some shots of the lads ride in here. You can tell the difference between the phone photos and the camera photos. Chalk and cheese really even though I've compressed them heaps.

The surface on Bald Knob road was pretty dire and I had to slow down to 80-90kmh and was getting kicked out of the set like riding a rodeo bull.

It was only a short 20 minute trip to Deepwater from here where we are going to have lunch at the pub, except when we got there the pub was closed for lunch today. There wasn't much in this town either but the bakery was still open, they were just about to close. An apple turnover and iced coffee hit the spot for a smallish lunch. Bushpig couldn't help but make a mess of himself as usual.


From here we travelled up to Tenterfield where we were going to pick up my brother. I saw him ride into a petrol station on the right hand side not looking at me coming the other way, too busy looking at all the other adventure bikes in there. So I continued down the road to the petrol station on the other side of town and rang him from there. He soon came back for the ride to Kyogle.

The ride down the Bruxner twisties was quite enjoyable, Flyboy came up behind when I wasn't looking and the lights on his Africa twin make it look a bit like a police bike.

We stopped for a cold beer in Drake, so forgot to take any photos here as was busy chatting with my older bro. Troy came in after we had finished and he had busted his number plate holder and indicators off the back of his Fazer. Quite an unusual thing to happen really. 

We were soon in Kyogle at the bar having some ice cold beers. Another great day out on the bikes. One thing about group rides is it can be a bit difficult trying to get photos, by the time I stop get out camera the others have long gone, so I just get them when and where I can.

Day 2 Map Reference