Monday, April 1, 2013

540 km later ...

John and I went for a mini-break, taking the bikes on a short(ish) one-night tour to Dorrigo and back. For me this was the first 'big' trip on a motorcycle, and certainly on a bike of this size (650cc).


As always, one organisational challenge is ensuring all our animals are well cared for while we are gone. A huge special thank you go to Chris Koh and her partner Jessie  for picking Radha up and looking after her. Jessie is naturopath and Chris is the designer and builder of Smokin' Guitars (you can the amazing sound of one of Chris' cigar box guitars here). Also thanks to my parents for taking our elderly Chicco and giving her a peaceful break away from playful Radha.

Here is our route:

View Clunes to Dorrigo in a larger map

So we set off and all well, but the rain soon came solidly. My bike went well though it had a tendency to stall when going round roundabouts slowly (rider error, we eventually decided). Clunes to Lismore and then Casino ... Then on the Summerland Way to our first real stop in Grafton. By then, wet and cold, we had a nice hot cuppa and Thai fish cakes (yum!). John wasn't too cold but I had to avail myself of the hand dryer in the ladies' to blow warm air down my shirt (sorry ladies, I was very cold by then!)

The Crown Hotel in Grafton. That's John striding through the rain :-)
Grafton is very pretty and they do a marvellous job with council parks and gardens. Here are our bikes parked outside the Crown Hotel. I couldn't take many photos because of the teeming rain but you can see how pretty the hedges are (they are clipped into a series of words and letters, but I didn't explore them alas ... too wet).

John's trusty Triumph Sprint on the left, my BMW F650 GS on the right. My metal panniers turned out to be very useful.

The next section was along the Armidale Road, which is a steeply winding and mountainous road: great for motorcycling but a bit daunting for a ride in the pouring rain for one newly returned to riding after many years!  John was terrific and coached me through the wireless communicators we use on our helmets, helping me find the best 'line' round the steep curves and hairpin bends, and bolstering my confidence with supportive words and a patient demeanour. (Me, crawling round a hairpin bend at 25 kph: "I'm such a chicken!" He: "Cautious. Cautious is good...")

After a few hours we reached Dorrigo and the welcoming dry sturdiness of the Dorrigo Heritage Hotel. We were quite wet and by then very happy to have arrived. My arms were quite sore and my hands exhausted from gripping the handlebars. As we discovered, John's leather gloves had leaked tannin (or ink?) onto his palms, staining them an interesting dark colour :-)

Yes well, we all can see John has West African blood in him ...

A lovely meal and a restful night later saw blue skies reappearing in the morning. The hotel provides a generous breakfast and a dryer, so with full tummies and dry clothes we headed North again.

The iconic Hotel Dorrigo. Such a lovely place.
A half hour after leaving we stopped by to visit friends in Tyringham, Tracie and Patrick, at their 250 acre farm. I really like visiting them and we somehow managed to achieve a lot of catching up in the short time we had. We caught up on Tracie's interesting psychology thesis, family, music, the horses, politics, Patrick's classic Triumph, and other interesting topics, and we have all have reaffirmed that we'll catch up again soon!

The weather stayed dry for the most part and we made good progress, taking the same route back. At times I was confident and at times less so but everything went well and the bikes carried us safely through the mountains to Grafton, where we stopped for a delicious lunch.

Lunch on the way home at the Crown Hotel in Grafton, looking over the Clarence river.
Despite some crazy drivers taking extreme risks in overtaking us, it was a good drive from Grafton to Casino and then through to Lismore. We arrived home in Clunes, having beeped cordial hellos to my parents' house in Eltham as we passed, at about 4pm.

In all we covered 540.6 km, we averaged 67 kph, and 8.1 hours was spent with the motors running ...  (John's bike has a computer that tells us such amazing things).

It was a lovely short break and a good adventure!


Jeni at Northern Rivers Dreaming said...

Well done :)

And while we agree re the parks in Grafton, you were lucky you didn't have Chicco and Radha with you - we discovered to our horror when we stopped there on route to Sydney to give our Border Collie a desperate chance to water the park's garden that there were signs everywhere saying NO DOGS. So she peed near one of the signs instead :)

Dr. Mieke said...

And a very sensible dog you have Jeni! Not to mention, there are great advantages to not being able to read :-D