What is normally a lovely 550km loop over to the coast via the Clyde Mountain driving south and heading back home via the Brown Mountain turned in to a fourteen hour saga of just trying to get home before midnight.
Gypsy was very keen to ride and I was looking forward to the first time I’ve been on a ride with her since she traded in her VFR for a CBR 600. I didn’t think there would be many riders around during the holidays but when I drove up to the meet point I found eight riders ready to rock and roll. A nice mix of old friends that I hadn’t seen for a while and some new faces which is always nice.
After riding across middle earth, as Avartie calls it, we spent far too long with the masses at the Braidwood bakery before heading off. We arrived at the Clyde to find most of Canberra trying to get to the coast. No idea why the weren’t already down there. At the end of the ride two or three kilometers before the roundabout leading to Batemans Bay the traffic came to a grinding halt. I thought there must have been a major accident as I’ve never seen such a mess there before. So we slowly crawled by hundreds of cars down the shoulder just to discover the highway in to Batemans Bay totally packed with cars. What a mess. It wasn’t until we were fueling up just outside of Batemans, which also meant a long queue, that I realised two of the riders had to decided to stay in the traffic rather than going around. So we cooled our heels for another forty minutes or so. At this rate it started to become obvious that this ride was going to take longer than expected.
So we headed down to Narooma for a lovely lunch at the pub with a million dollar view waiting almost an hour for food due to the crowds. But at least this time we could sit and have a good time talking to each other with a great view. So we ate and saddled up looking forward to the fantastic road to Tathra and hopefully a spirited ride up the Brown Mountain. Wrong.
After a short ride south I decided to mark the turn to Bermagui. After sitting there for 15 mins with another rider we began to wonder where in the world the others could be? I suspected that Riicho was diverting in to Tilba for his favourite cheese and decided to wait patiently, a new approach for me but nonetheless that’s what I did. Finally a rider came by to tell us that the others hadn’t even left Narooma because Riicho’s clutch cable had decided to take a holiday. Bummer, what now? So half the group was already heading to Tathra and half were stuck in Narooma with a couple of us just sitting nowhere. Not being able to get much info by phone I headed back to Narooma at warp speed. But as I came in to town Riicho went by and waved having decided to develop his ‘no clutch’ riding skills. He was followed by Gypsy so I turned around and followed them.
We all ended up at a servo where Riicho fueled up his bike and we pushed him down a hill for his epic clutchless non-stop journey to Cooma with one other rider following him. Turned out we never saw them again and they made it back home hours ahead of the rest of us.
So we headed off to the Bega meet point to catch the others who were lucky enough to at least get a run down to Tathra in before disaster struck again. There we were in Bega, getting very late in the day and another bike gives up the ghost. Dead as a door nail. No power, not even a spark. So, how many riders does it take to stare at a broken bike for two hours? Quite a few apparently although the owner of the bike and Yedi put in a noble effort at performing motorcycle CPR. But the patient was truly out for the count and ended up being stored at the servo for retrieval the next day. A few riders left earlier to ensure they didn’t have to ride over the Brown in the dark but we headed off for Cooma well after 7pm with one rider having to pillion another.
We made it to the Brown mountain exhausted and cold so the ride up was basically a crawl by my usual standards. My bike is still very agro about that. But it gets better. At the top we hit dense fog which slowed us to sixty km/hr top speed. I spent most of the ride avoiding oncoming traffic coming over the centre line. The only saving grace was how beautiful the sunset was as we made our way from the top of the mountain down in to Cooma. The scenery would have made for some wonderful photographs and the light was just fantastic as it washed across the hills and open paddocks.
What seemed like hours later we arrived at the American Embassy in Cooma (McDonalds) where the others were waiting. After a short while they headed up the slab of boredom back to Canberra leaving three of us for the final leg. But the hassles weren’t over as one rider only had a very dark visor on so I let him borrow my clear visor and I followed him and Yedi up to Canberra navigating my way by his tail light only. I’ve done it before and the tinted visor I had with me was lighter than his tinted visor so given he had two on his bike we opted for what seemed the safest option.
So we dropped all the gear in Queanbeyan and I headed home to the other side of town. I drove in to the garage fourteen and a half hours after leaving that morning, hit the shower and passed out in bed. We all made it back safe a bit wiser that when you head out on trips you have to be prepared for just about anything. It’s all part of the adventure of riding.