|05-24-2011, 06:54 AM||#1|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: Western Sydney
Aus pre-Winter Ride - Summerland Way
Boz and I were originally trying to get one more trip in to the Snowies before winter hit. Then last week the temperature dropped to below freezing and they had snow in the Snowies. So change of route was called for.
Given the South was going to be too cold, North looked good. This would work to get a feel for about 1/2 the roads I'd like to do in Sep on the planned 4 dayer to Qld. We decided not to book ahead and see where we felt like staying when we got there. We just had a vague plan for staying at Walcha and/or Uralla.
Overall ride route map: http://goo.gl/maps/USRH
730am on Fri 20th May, I left home in horrible wet fog. Couldn't see a thing through the visor, and leaving it open made the eye water so still couldn't see!
We arranged to meet at Wilberforce for an 815am sharp departure. I was there @ 805, we left at 850am I'll leave it to you imagination as to why. One good thing about a small group, and 2 is as small as a group can get, is aligning fuel stops is easy. Also stops are generally shorter.
As I said, 850am we hit the Putty Rd. We took it easy for the first stretch, visors fogging in the cold morning air. As the kms clicked by, the pace went up till we were sitting on 120ish through the Colo canyons. This set the scene for the whole weekend, not significantly fast top speeds, but good consistent pace through the twisties. Following this is the very flowing open sweeper section of the Putty, again we set a restrained speed not wanting to ruin the weekend before it was properly started.
85km from Windsor is the Grey Gums cafe. This is the new 1/2way house on the Putty. Great outdoor area, good bike parking and pretty close to halfway so well worth the stop. A quick cuppa and warm up and we hit the road for Singleton.
The good tight twisty comes in two stretches of about 10-12km each starting about 70km from Singleton till about 30km. The one along side Darkey Creek is a real gem. Surface is pretty good and the corners feel never ending. Again we're setting a pace between 10below to 10above double the corner advisory speed depending on the flow, or rhythm as Rossi calls it, we had going. As usual in a lot of twisty, I do get physically tired throwing the K from one side to another. Boz had no such issue, and was setting a merry pace. Made it was easier just following him. Traffic was light, but there was enough of it, including some rock clearing roadworks we got stopped at to make it interesting. The road works were good, we had a break, chat, and the traffic controller let us off ahead of the cars so we set a good pace the rest of the way to Singleton.
Singleton was only a fuel stop on the route to Gresford then Gloucester. The Gresford road has been so bad over the past 6-8yrs I was dreading it. This was the road that broke the lower drag link bolt on my Sprint, and possibly caused, or at least contributed to, the world wide recall on the Sprints. While we found sections as per our memory, a large chunk has been resurfaced and while not perfect is quite good for sitting on 120-140. Heading towards Gresford we had one incident with a bogan in a ute. He was almost up my arse and then where the road forks to Reedy Creek he sped up, moved to the right then turned sharply to the left to take the fork. I was doing about 140 cranked over following the road to the right and Boz reckons he missed me by less than 10ft.. Didn't scare me at all - I didn't see it!
Sugarloaf Rd to Dungog is a treat, narrow in places, windy, alignment all over the place but it has same great corners, and follows the ridgeline in some beautiful country side.
Dungog to Stroud Rd is always fun. Road is in crap condition but the tight corners with enough time between them to set up well make it a great road, was a little damp in spots and even had some moss on it already. Buckets Way from Stroud Road to Gloucester is a road that could be a real hoot except for two things. It's quite often patrolled, and has been deteriorating and continually patched for years so is bumpy as hell.
Gloucester next, and lunch. Both bikes have 19ltr tanks and will do 300km+ between fuel stops so we pushed on to Walcha for fuel. Thunderbolts Way is a mess. The road is an utterly sublime route, but is marred by a patchwork quilt road and being patrolled fairly often. There are signs about rough road, damaged pavement and sections where half a lane is just missing.... Top that off with cow dung lines, that have leaked from cattle trucks and gravel strewn on the patched pot holes (a theme for the roads we did this weekend) and some parts are downright dangerous. That said, the good bits are enough that you have a hoot and really do enjoy it overall. There was road works that held us up for 5mins and talking to the traffic controller he admitted their fixes weren't the best way to repair the road, nor could they repair all of it. Pretty much due to lack of funding. After the road works we scooted up the mountain to the lookout for a picture stop. Man it's an awesome view.
Then headed out on the better part of the road the 90km to Walcha. This has a section of mountainous sweepers followed by a section of open sweepers on the tablelands before descending to an older alignment road for the last 30-35km into Walcha. This section being older is a bit narrower and rougher.
Turn left at Walcha for Walcha Road and Bendemeer just to get a few more corners in before getting to Uralla for the nights stop. We got a good run through about half the twisty before getting caught behind some traffic. Then a slow up the highway to Uralla. We arrived at Uralla at 4.40pm, with about 575km for the day. Not a bad 9-5 day essentially ;-). Booked into the Bushmans Motel - very nice rooms, and then off to the pub for a couple of ales and dinner. Each room is named after a Bushranger and by coincidence our room is named Capt Melville a.k.a Frank McCallum. Will have to ask Wayne McCallum if there's any bushrangers in his past LOL.
Up the next morning we head up to Thunderbolts Cafe for breakky about 200mts up the road. After something warm and some coffee we hit the road again just before 9am. The days have been magic, but the nights and mornings cold, so a 9am start sounds good to us :-). As we're having breakfast in the sun, the local Hwy Patrol, bright green fully marked car, does two laps of the main street. He doesn't know which way we're going but it seems he wants us to know he's out and about. While finishing our coffee 3 Harley Riders come up to order coffee and say g'dday. They're from Inverell and frozen - left an hour or so ago and only had on leather jackets and jeans. Hadn't even heard you can get heated grips or accessory sockets for bikes - LOL. They were heading to Dungog for the Thunerbolt Rally - camping, beer, bands and cold ground, cold sky and lots of noise. Good luck to 'em. One of them Ray, owns' the Inverell motel, so say's his Missus will look after us tonight if we decide to stay in Inverell. All the obvious jokes were made about how she could look after us if Ray wasn't there! We wish each other a good trip and off they hobble (age, they were all 5-10yrs older than us, and cold) to their Harleys.
As we leave town, we see him parked on the left standing outside the car. Either doing a visibility thing or getting cars coming into town fro the north that dont' slow down to the 50 speed limit early enough. Anyway we're ok, and give him a wave - which he returns as we go by. Off to Armidale, 23km from Uralla, for fuel, and the the picturesque Waterfall Way to Dorrigo, then the loop around to Summerland Way, up to South Grafton.
Waterfall Way is a great road.
Has some damage due to the heavy rains earlier this year, but nothing like Buckets or Thunderbolts. Again a nice consistent pace is set and we follow the road through some sweepers up to Ebor, and then the tighter stuff along the ridgeline to Dorrigo. Just as we come into Dorrigo we see our second copper for the day. This time a red marked Hwy Patrol car. He has just pulled someone over as they're coming out of town - presumably for doing more than 50km/hr for the last 100mtrs of the marked limit. A bit harsh, but that's how it goes.
Just before the main street of Dorrigo is the turnoff to North Dorrigo and Tyringham. This will take us across the next couple of ridges, back to the road we were originally on from Armidale, called Summerland Way. The Tyringham road has little traffic and is in a bit better condition than the more travelled roads. It's beautiful, sun is shining, no clouds, the grass is green, plenty of rolling hills, and a bike flowing from corner to corner, hill to hill. What more can you ask for?
Well that more was Summerland Way... What a disappointment. It's an old road in lots of places, VERY narrow, and carrying a fair bit of damage from the rain. What was worse, was where repairs had been done, the bitumen was just covered in loose gravel - very dangerous, and we both had a couple of slides. The new section which is wider, and has a wire fence protecting the road from rock falls was fine, as was the open stuff from Nymboida, it was only the rain forest section that has just continued to go down hill (pardon the pun)... I don't think I've done Summerland since I had the TDM in 2002/4. I was very disappointed in it. Just hard work and very little fun because of the surface conditions. Even though it was after 11am, the shaded sides of the corners were pretty much all damp and with the narrowness and less than flawless (ha!) surface less than confidence inspiring. This was really a bit of slog and we were glad to make Grafton. We grabbed fuel for us and the bikes at South Grafton and headed off on the Gwydir Hwy for the Gibraltar Range and then Glen Innes.
Leaving Grafton the road was fine for while. Some nice open sweepers, and undulations up to Jackadgery and a little beyond. Then the climb begins up leading up to and through the Gibraltar Ranges. This *could* be a magnificent road. Unfortunately, again the roadworks repairing rain damage have been poorly done. LOTS of gravel strewn everywhere. On top of that a couple of sections are so bad, one bump sends my GPS flying off the bike. I did 48000km on the Tiger about 1/2 with the GPS, I've now done 32000km on the K1300 with that GPS and never had a moment. It takes me a few seconds to find somewhere to stop. Then no where to park, so I cruise up and down the hill looking for the GPS and a stop point. Nowhere towards the top so I go back down again to where the wire-rope barrier ends and park on the top of the concrete ballast holding the wire taught. Hope off the bike and walk the hill looking for the GPS. Amazlingly I find it. It is still working but the screen is cracked - shattered would be more accurate. The SD card has gone as the door catch is broke. Again I find it, only a few feet away. Trudge back to the bike, and go catch up with Boz. Initially he thought I'd stopped for a photo, as I'd said I wanted to take a few on this trip. But when I'd been longer than 10mins, he'd turned around a come back for me.
About 1/3 of the way up the climb, we see a sign "End of Works" yee ha, that should make the next bit more interesting. Sure did, next bloody corner - a nice 45kph, had 2/3rds of the lane repaired in a 20x8' rectangle just covered in gravel, we both struggled to change our line mid entry towards the centre line to miss the gravel. Two corners later we were at the first lookout and stopped to curse the road makers, oh and look at the view :-)
It was only about 2pm so we had plenty of light and no fear of roo's yet. The rest of the climb was pretty uneventful, just marred by looking for gravel. Mostly it was in little single pothole sections and these could be dodged or sometimes ignored. After the top of the range the road is similar to the early parts of Waterfall Way, although a little more wooded. We made good pace through here and on to Glen Innes. About 25km from Glen Innes is a gaol, amazing I knew about Grafton but not one at Glen Innes. We came into town on the southern outskirts so didn't see the full town, but with Armidale only 90k down the road and doing quite well Glen Innes, looks like it's seen better days. As the day wore on, on the western side of the ranges the the clouds were gathering and the temperature began dropping. We decided not to stop at Glen Innes and push on to Armidale. A slog down the New England Hwy sitting on 110-120 (try as I might, 110 and below was SO boring on this road)... Kept it low enough that I wasn't speeding when the unmarked Hwy Patrol - blue this time - met us about 5-10km out of Armidale. At Armidale we again decided to press on and not stop as it was only 23km to Uralla then another 41 to Walcha. The plan was to stay in Walcha tonight so the ride home would be that little bit shorter.
At Uralla Boz, ducked off for a quick splash and dash to make sure he had enough fuel to get to Walcha. I reckoned I'd do it on that tank so carried on to fuel in Walcha and arrange the accommodation. As I head off to Walcha, I see the sign says 40km - I've been on reserve since 40 odd km out of Armidale, so I look at the range remaining on the computer -39km... Oh good, the Beemer thinks it will run out of fuel 1 km before town. I mostly sit on a cruisy 110-120 as this road is sometimes patrolled but do feel the need for a little more speed every now and then. Over the 40km I see about 12-15bikes in what looks to be two or three well string out groups coming the other way. We give the obligatory wave as we pass.
True to it's word, 1km out of town the bike's computer shows a range of ---. No matter, I usually get 30km more than the pessimistic computer thinks so I slow down a touch to be on the safe side and ride into town. Fuel up 17ltrs in the 19ltr tank - all good. In fact pretty amazing we'd done a range of roads, terrain and speeds and this tank had got me 329km from Grafton to Walcha via Glen Innes. As I arrived at the pump a whole bunch of riders was heading off to one of the more upmarket motels - scratch that for us. Then when I'd fuelled another bunch came in. hmmm better get some accommodation sorted. Off to the Walcha Royal now a cafe/restaurant and supposedly has accommodation. I walked in the restaurant door, looked around heard noises from the kitchen but no other signs of life. Went out and in the cafe door same thing, couldn't see anyone. The doors had a bell so I'd made enough noise coming in. I thought, if they're too busy to see who's here they can miss out on the business. Off to the pub. Last motel room already let,
Dinner with a bottle of red was quite good. Not sure if it was intrinsically good, or just good as we were quite hungry - last having eaten in Grafton. Still no complaints we retired about 10-1030pm. We pinched the heater from the lounge and as the only guests in the hotel it didn't matter. It took the edge off the room but we didn't like to leave it on all night in case it over heated - it was a tiny fan heater. You could almost mistake it for a hair dryer :-)
Next morning up at 7am, bloody cold out side, and no way we were going to try and shower in those cold bathrooms with dubious water supply and heating. Boz had a dri-rider outfit to keep warn. I'd just brought my leathers - perforated for summer at that, and put a couple of layers of t-shirts and a wind jacket I use when cycling under the leathers to keep the warmth in and cold out. A quick coffee and muesli bar and we hit the road at 730am. I drove across the road and stopped - I'd forgotten to do up my helmet. Fix that and see the temp gauge on the bike has dropped to 2deg C and the ice warning light is flashing. Lovely weather - but not for riding. We decide to do 80-90km in case there's roos around. As I lead out I gain some confidence as I can't see any roadkill at all - not even foxes or rabbits. In no time we're back to 120 everywhere. Any faster and it's too cold. As we hit a few spots where the temp rises, we end up back to 140. All the way to the Nowendoc turnoff the temp varies from 2-4 to 6-8 to 10-12 and back. 10-12 feels warm. 6-8 ok, and of course 2-4 (with the wind leaking through your clothes at 120-140)is just plain bloody cold. About 20-30km after Nowendoc the temp stays more in the 8-14 ranges and the layers do a reasonable job of keeping the weather at bay. A quick stop at the lookout and then we do the crappy bit of Thunderbolts before we get to the older road which is a bit more consistent at least and the blast into Gloucester. At one of the farm turnoffs, we see a huge lumbering dog run back off the road to his master. The farmer had stopped his ute and got out to open the farmgate. Whether the dog had bolted from the yard or the back of the ute we don't know, but he was 3/4 shetland pony size and caused me to brake quite hard as I didn't want him turning round and running back on the road as I came passed. Luckily he didn't as we turned the corner, there were two middle aged - mid 50's - cyclists riding along. Looks like the dog had nearly caught the second one before the farmer got him back. The cyclist was riding rather shakily - not that I blame him!
Gloucester for breakfast and a warm up. This time we tried a different cafe.. coffee and food just as good. Gloucester is well set up to support passing travellers. We did the nod to some riders just leaving as we turned up. One on an old 2-stoke Yamaha, another on a nearly new R1200GS and the rest on various flavours and ages of bike.
After breaky we head off for Dungog, Gresford and Singleton. Our plan is to do Singleton for fuel, as we'll both get home from there. Minimising stops really helps to knock the km's off quickly. About 5km out of Gloucester two bikes are coming the other way. Side by side in the one lane. This part of Buckets is not that wide, there's only a dirt shoulder with a single lane. They're not running staggered pattern but directly side by side doing about 70-80kph. Crazy, no room to move if something unexpected happens.
The Stroud Rd to Dungog section is good fun, but marred in a couple of spots by oncoming traffic. Most seems to be bikes that have been to the Thunderbolt Rally. Some of these are not, how shall we say - taking good lines through the corners. There were also a few cars with trailers that had obviously trailered their bike to the rally. That's something I don't get. A bike to me is not an ornament - it's something to ride, but each to their own, just seems a waste to me (shrug).
At Singleton, we bumped in to Chris, (Hedgetrimmer) who gone out for a blat on the K1200R to meet his next door neighbour coming back from a ride. Funny, we'd met the neighbour @ Gloucester and said g'day as you do without knowing who he was, then Chris introduces him to us at the Servo at Singleton... Weird. From Singleton Boz shot off for the main Broke Rd and then home via the Central Coast. I struck out on my own on the Putty. The general plan was to see if Chris and Simon caught me up at the Grey Gums Cafe. I took it easy on the Putty sitting between 120-130, fine territory but not license losing. After a weekend away doing some good touring speeds, it was hard to go slower! Had a bit of traffic to negotiate including some bikes, but most delays were only a couple of minutes till the road opened up enough to get round. When I got to the Grey Gums it wasn't worth stopping - about 40 bikes there. No way you'd get any service in a descent time. So I pushed on to home. Had one minor incident with a bogan in a wait for it.... Commodore... he was 2 vehicles behind a slow truck. I sat behind until the road opened up. Saw that neither he nor the car in front were going to over take, so I indicated and pulled up on him slowing. He then started moving right to overtake with no indicator. I hit my horn to let him know I was there and got the snarly face and shaking arm out the window. I dropped down a gear, pulled up along side slowly to make sure he wasn't going to move out on me again, nothing worse than being forced off the road into trees at over 120, then gunned it passed him the one ahead and the truck. Funny, I never saw him again.
Met quite a few bikes coming the other way that were on the white centre line (literally) and a few cars that were well over it on left hand (right for them) bends.... I really don't like the Putty when it's busy. Too much chance of things you can't predict. Still I felt comfortable with my pace, and leaving myself some room to move if something unexpected did happen so didn't worry about it - in fact had a blast alternating between "good pace" and watching for cops :-).
Got home @ 130pm on Sunday a total of 1650km for the 2 1/2 days with an average speed of 96.5. Not bad for crossing the Great Dividing Range 4-5 times (depending on how you count the longitudinal runs) and approx 24hrs in the saddle. The company can make/break a ride and Boz, was great company. He rode at a similar pace, did more than his share of leading and has a great sense of humour and wit.
Can't wait for the next ride...
All pics from the ride here
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