Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Adventure touring on the motorcycles

John's long-time university friend Dennis hatched a great plan for another group motorcycle tour ride. This time there were seven of us: Dennis and his partner Amanda, and Amanda's brother Matthew, who all rode down from Queensland. They met up with John and myself in Casino. From there the five of us rode down the very pleasant Summerland Way to Grafton where we met Paddy who had just acquired his 'new' Triumph the night before (his 'old' Triumph is a gorgeous classic but currently undergoing some restoration). The six of us then took the old Armidale road, with its twists and turns and hair-raising hairpin bends to Tyringham to meet up with  Paddy's partner Tracie for homemade cake and cuppas and wags from cheerful dogs, a chance to cuddle the cat and feed the horses some lucerne.

Here we are pulled up at Tracie and Paddy's farm

One of Paddy and Tracie's three bonny dogs
So, what with horses, dogs, cat and people fed, the seven humans set off  -  with Tracie as Motorcycle Mama in the Astra support vehicle :-). We took the Waterfall Way which is rated as one of the best scenic roads in Australia ("on an even par with the Alpine regions during spring around southern NSW and northern Victoria"). Even though the amount of concentration required meant I couldn't gaze at the views, the steep mountain ride was sublime: good surface, lovely camber, through rainforest and right past amazing waterfalls. I'm not as fast as the boys but I think I did alright leaning my F 650 BMW into the bends - and I have only very narrow 'chicken strips' on my tyres to prove it :-)

Photo taken by Owen Wilson
This ride brought us through the sweet towns of Dorrigo and Bellingen and then to our destination Urunga where we pulled up at the Ocean View Hotel, where the innkeeper cordially allowed us to put our bikes in the garage:

You can, at a pinch, cram six bikes into a one-car garage and still close the roller door. Just.
The Ocean View Hotel is an elegant old traditional pub, which I found architecturally fascinating. The care and craftsmanship inherent in the woodwork was noteworthy. An evening of good food, wine (port!) and lovely conversation on the upstairs verandah followed.

The next day was earmarked for a ride straight down the Pacific Highway to the Nabiac Motorcycle Museum and back - about three hours each way. Tracie and Amanda opted to stay in Urunga so the four boys and myself headed off. The highway ride was a bit frustrating since I'm on my P level licence I am not permitted to exceed 90 kph (an absurd and dangerous rule ... don't get me started). The lads were great in keeping the speed within manageably legal limits though so we all arrived at Nabiac together. I was very thankful for their patience in this aspect.

For the motorcycle enthusiasts, in the photo below you can see from left to right:
John's 1050 cc Triumph Sprint, my F 650 BMW GS, Paddy's 900cc Triumph Sprint in British racing green; Matthew with his yellow 650 cc Suzuki; and Dennis' red 1050 cc Triumph Sprint (the remaining bikes are irrelevant as they belong to strangers :-) ).

John and Dennis, mates from way back

Paddy looking tres cool, even while doing business
I was really missing my brother Marc who would have loved this trip so I took heaps of photos for him of various interesting bikes. I'll keep the thumbnails small for these - but click for larger if you like. I found the 100cc bike that my dear friend Kate used to own (it was Kate who encouraged me to take up riding motorcycles first off when I was 17. Thank you Kate!!), after which I bought my first bike, a small old Yamaha 90 cc with an unusual monocoque frame. I found one of those as well. Soon after, my brother Marc purchased a 125 cc bike - I couldn't find that one Marc, but did find some almost like it.

It was interesting hearing the others' stories about their earlier bikes. John, after his leg was smashed, rode a BMW with his leg in plaster. He chose it because it had a hand-operated gear lever! Go John :-)

A row of BSAs

My Dad rode a Heinkel in his youth

John shows the hand gear lever

Kate had one like this

Nearly like the one Marc had

My first bike: 90cc Yamaha

The ride back was fine despite a rather scary front wheel-wobble moment for Matthew early on. Paddy steadily led the ride back to Urunga through the slowly ebbing afternoon sunlight and into the dusk to reach the hotel just before six pm.

There, we met up with Matthew and Amanda's aunt Julianne and her partner for a very pleasant dinner out in the 'beer garden'.

An early bed for most of us and in the morning we said goodbye to Matthew, Dennis and Amanda who were taking the main road North to Queensland. John and I opted for an easy morning stroll to the Urunga pier in the good company of Paddy and Tracie, where Tracie recalled for me interesting holidays with children in the past. It looked a superb place for lots of water fun: I thought it seemed a perfect playground for active playful humans.

Tracie looking out over the Urunga waters
This is what we could see ...

We live in a lovely land

Low tide and the remains of an older pier
Those were the last photos I took on the trip. John and I said fond farewells to Tracie and Paddy and with promises to meet up again soon (yes please Tracie and Paddy!) headed off to the Waterfall Way and its exciting curves. Alas part of the way up I got stuck behind a slow moving Renault (darn the French) but even so it was pretty exciting and I made my chicken strips even narrower. I found it took all my concentration and quite a bit of nerve. Those hairpin bends do nothing at all to reduce the hair-raising effects! Phew!!

We stopped off at Paddy and Tracie's farm for a much-needed pit stop and brain break (in my case), to pat the wildly wagging dogs, ruffle the coats of the horses and just generally relax for a short while and breathe the calm air. Then we set off again through the mountains and the old Armidale logging road - again quite a challenge, left even more rubber on the road and  narrowed those chicken strips to slivers - before reaching the comparative calm of Grafton and the slowly flowing Clarence River. The Crown Hotel there do a good line in oysters, highly recommended.

And thence to Casino and from there to Clunes, chatting companionably through our communicators along the way.

When we got home we found Yarrow had tidied and vacuumed the whole house for us as a welcome back surprise.

Thus endeth the adventure tour on our bikes. Thanks again Dennis, Amanda, Matthew, Paddy and Tracie for a truly memorable trip. Special thanks to my John for the patient coaching and support through the communicators... xxx


Anonymous said...

Wow, that was quite a journey Mieke! Thanks for the telling of your story...I felt like I was right there with you for part of the way :) Great ride and good company to boot! xTANx

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was quite a journey Mieke! Thanks for the telling of your story...I felt like I was right there with you for part of the way :) Great ride and good company to boot! xTANx