October 99 Great Northern ride


Finally.... ta dar.... Petes Pics

Wednesday 27 October

Tim (yella VTR), Heidi (Bandit 1200) and Bill (R1) brave the Sydney traffic arriving about 8pm after a boring 250 km ride from Canberra. Tim follows Burnie (red VTR) to a Thai restaurant while Heidi and Bill drop off their gear and taxi down. Deb (yella VTR) and Greg (yella VTR), Louise and me Mum make up the group and a good evening is had.

Thursday 28 October

(Burnie) Greg, Tim and Burnie meet at the Thornleigh McDonalds for a 8.30 am start north. Polished rims with yellow spokes on Gregs bike look great. A big breakfast and several coffees later the chronically challenged Heidi and Bill arrive. Tim is chaffing at the bit. We are away at 9.45! 40 km of suburbs until we get to the Putty Road; a famous 130 km Sydney scratching road. Stop at Windsor and discuss; 'Everybody ride at your own pace and we will regroup at Halfway House'. Lots of sweeping corners with sections of 65-35 kph corners. Tim goes first, clearing the road with his D+Ds. Everybody is having a good time on the well surfaced Putty. Refuel at Singleton. Avoiding the main roads we go up thru Gresford stopping at a country pub at East Gresford for lunch. Greg returns to Sydney. We head up thru Dungog, refuel at Gloucester. Clean the bugs off visors; this is spring down under. Some good roads, some boring, some potholed, a few interesting wooden bridges at the wrong angle (in corners). Check the map at Wingham; 'its a minor road but the map says sealed'. Arriving at Comboyne I wait for Heidi expecting abuse for the 18 km of dirt road (and one wandering herd of cows). Heidi turns up shortly in a good mood; she found a baby echidna (spiny ant-eater). Its about 5.30 pm. So much for meeting Dick at 4. We ring Gingers; 'what time do you want dinner' 'About 7.30?' ' What are you, old men?' 'Okay about 7' We head north and turn onto the Oxley highway. Tim asks how far, expecting 10 km. 'About 70 km'. Night is falling so we change dark visors to clear. The Oxley is also a great bike road similar to the Putty but the twisty sections are tighter and a little longer. Dick warned us about the road works and 20 km from Gingers we come on to new tar with loose gravel on top. Just great; 25-45 kph corners for 20 km at night, with Tim and I close to the RLOD. What if we miss it, as its in the middle of nowhere ? No chance, after 23 km on reserve we arrive at Gingers Creek, well lit and signposted. 530 km since Sydney. Unpack gear into the bunkhouse. Dick (yella VTR) has claimed the cabin with double bed. 'Where is the beer ?'. Everybody relaxes. 'By the way, where is Pete (VTR crashed, but now Toyota 4runner) and Steve (yella VTR) ?' 'Steve had a flat, hes gone to Walcha (70 km west) to get the rear patched and Pete has gone to pick him up' Can not wait any more so we ask Russell (storekeeper) to serve dinner. Shortly after Pete and Steve arrive. Steve looks relaxed after waiting for a couple of hours in the Walcha pub. Back to Dicks cabin for conversation, beers and a video. Most of us crash about 10.30 pm.

(Steve) Wake up at 4.56am and spend 2 minutes looking at the clock while wondering if I'm supposed to be up yet. Realise that I was supposed to be up 8mins ago and jump out of bed. Have a quick shower while Donna (my girl friend who accidently turned off the alarm clock before it could wake me) makes some breakfast. Dick turns up at 5.15am. Damn. I was supposed to be ready by this time and I haven't even put my rack or pack on the bike. By about 5.25am we are on our way.
I lead us until the turn-off for Warwick (which I almost managed to make both of us miss) and then Dick takes over the navigation for the rest of the trip (and not before time, IMHO). We hit thick fog (for about 20mins) before we stop for petrol in Aratula. Fortunately the Cunningham's Gap was clear of fog, but the road was wet in places so we couldn't really hook into it. At the top of the range we hit some more fog before we decide to have some (more) breakfast (just outside of Warwick?).
When we get to Warwick I make us stop at my GF's brother's place for a coffee. I'd promised to stop in on the way through while I was drunk at a wedding on the weekend.
We get going again and take boring highway roads though Tenterfield, (petrol at) Wallangarra and (petrol and KFC at) Armidale. From here the pace picks up (160-240) as the road is clear and deserted to Walcha, where we stop for more petrol. Now we are on the famed Oxley Highway and we head to Ginger's creek. Once again the pace is fast and a couple of top speed runs later we discover that Dick's bike with the Foran exhausts sure has a whole lot more go in the upper revs (compared to a bafflectomied VTR); i.e., indicated 255 vs. 270 (though Dick's seems to read a bit more optimistic).
We finally reach the good twisty stuff. Unfortunately it is a whole lot of blind corners with confusing road signs and Dick (who has ridden this road a few times (at least)) pulls ahead 100 metres (and is out of sight) within about 6-7km. We then hit some road works about 1km outside of Ginger's Creek. As Burnie said, this road was tar with loose gravel thrown over the top -- very slippery.
We get to Ginger's Creek and unload our gear. I chat to Dick about how my rear tyre felt like it was squared it off when we were riding on the loose gravel. We go to set off to meet the other guys at the end of the Oxley and my rear feels utter crap, even though I've considered that we are riding on pure gravel (still at Ginger's Creek). I stop to see how badly squared off my tyre is as Dick rides away. Hmmm .. no wonder it felt crap in the (pure) gravel. It's flat as a tack (as I seem to have put a stone though it on the road works or just as we got into Ginger's Creek). Bugger. Oh well, Dick will turn around and come back once he sees that I'm not behind him.
15mins later, no Dick, but a couple of abusive pot smokers have turned up and abused the guy (Russell) who runs Ginger's Creek (because he is now shut). What fun, eh? Finally these guys leave, after extracting my mobile phone number to make sure I wasn't killed by this `fascist' (Russell) even though there was no mobile phone reception for 100km. 30mins later, still no Dick. Then the Russell (who is an all-round good guy and not a fascist) comes out and finds me sitting there, waiting for Dick. Flat tyre? No problem he says, we'll have that fixed in half-an-hour. Cool, except that I thought he knew what he was doing and he thought I knew what I was doing. So we chock the VTR up onto some pavers and I remove the rear wheel (with a 1 1/8 inch socket .. damn, but at least it was close to the right size). Finding out that Russell has never patched a M/C tyre I decide to wait for Dick to get a lift into town and get the tyre repaired.
1.5hr later and still no Dick -- lucky I wasn't bleeding to death at the side of the road! Fortunately the guy that delivers the fruit and vegies turns up and offers me a lift into Walcha; not the direction I was planning to go, but beggars can't be choosers. It's now about 3.30pm and I was thinking we'd make it before 4pm -- oops, we're in a 4 tonne truck and we barely make Walcha by 4.30pm. We stop at the place he has to deliver his goods and I go and find the location of the tyre place. Unfortunately I do a poor job of remembering the directions and he ends up dropping me off (4.45pm) with a 300 metre sprint, up a hill, carrying a rear wheel, in leather pants and boots in order to get to the tyre shop before they close.
I puff into the tyre shop and ask if they can fix a bike tyre. After a lot of huffing and puffing (plus a lot of use of the word ``no' and shaking of heads) between themselves they simply start taking the tyre off. Okay ... I'll take that as a `yes'. 20mins later and $12 poorer (yes, TWELVE Oz Dollars) I ring Russell and he says that Dick rode all the way to Wauchope (about 1hr) and then waited for me before phoning Russell. Russell suggests that my best bet is to roll the tyre down to the last pub out of town and try to thumb a lift back. This I do and the second car to come along is a Cop .. oops .. no officer .. I wasn't trying to hitch-hike .. honest.
By 6.15pm I hadn't managed to get a ride (it was just too far out of town (75km)). So I ring Russell and he tells me that Pete Duncan (yes, THAT Pete Duncan) has arrived and can come pick me up. So Pete gets on the phone to ask exactly where I am. I say I'm at the bar in the last pub out of town. Then he asks what I'm wearing so he can identify me. I tell him that I'll be the guy carrying around a rear motorcycle wheel!
Anyway, 1hr later (and, to the bar-man's delight, 6 or 7 beers later) Pete turns up. I try to buy him a drink, but he doesn't drink beer so he has a candy-arse lemon squash. [I have to get a lot of mileage out of Pete before he posts the pictures of my VTR chocked up on the pavers. ;)]
So Pete drives me home while I chatter like a twit. Getting back to Ginger's Creek I see that the guy have attempted to `fix' my bike with a (V8's) car tyre. Ho ho ho. ;)
Anyway, the rest of the night is pretty much the same a Burnie wrote, except that Burnie was the only person to `crash out' on the floor at 10pm. Some of us stayers (read idiots) made it to 11.30pm, IIRC. ;)

(Dick) Woke up early, packed the gearsack and headed off to collect Steve, then headed off south via the inland route, the idea being to get there early and play on the twisties on the Oxley Hwy. The fog up the mountains was a bit of a pain, but wasn't that bad and attacked the climb up to Cunninghams Gap with glee, as there was a long haul of boring Highway ahead.
Sat pretty well on the speed limit,until we turned off at Uralla, then picked up the pace somewhat, sitting on 160kph for the 40k's to Walcha, where we filled up with premium for the highspeed run to Gingers Creek. We had been synchronising trip meters whenever we refuelled and my VTR always showed a higher distance travelled, so I guess the speedo is a bit out compared to Steves'.
The top end of the Oxley is fast and open, and Steve finally got the idea,and blasted past me on one stretch, scaring the shit out of me. Down one long straight,my speedo indicated a speed of 270kph and I was gaining on Steve appreciably and was still accelerating!
I know that the true speed was nowhere near this figure, but am sure that I was approaching the absolute top speed capabilities of the VTR on that particular downhill run.
I got in front again as the road tightened, as I really love the run into Gingers, lots of 45k bends that can be taken quite safely at 160+k's. Pulled into Gingers spot on our estimated time and proceeded to unload the bikes and rest a bit before riding the rest of the Oxley to meet the others.
Steve didn't seem keen to ride as he was tired and when I jumped in front of a group of cars, he was still waiting to get onto the road as I carefully negotiated the slippery gravel that the road was being resurfaced with. Note that the road was extremely tight and you couldn't go faster than 20-30kph on the bends and not much more on the very short straights.
I had a 4wd sitting on my tail,and there was nowhere to pull over,the road was that tight. So I had to keep riding till the road opened up and I could pull over to wait for Steve.
I ended pulling over at a pub to wait and had a cooling beer. When he still hadn't appeared I had a choice........ride back over 25k's of absolute shite road to find him or keep riding to meet the others. I assumed he had decided to stay at Gingers and was asleep, as I had woken him quite early.
Turned out he never even got on the road as he noticed he had a flat! Ooops... I'd never make a good Marine!
I made it down to where we were supposed to meet the northerners and at last being able to get reception on my mobile. Found out Steves' fate, so I headed back up to Gingers, leaving a message warning Burnie about the slippy road.
Got back to Gingers just on dark,to find that Pete had arrived in his 4wd with the beer! That first one sure did taste good!
Pete went to pick up Steve and his wheel and the others finally arrived in the dark.
Russell, the owner, put on a great big feast which we washed down with cold beers, then retired to the cabin for more beers and bullshitting.

Motley assortment at Gingers
Heidi, Bill, Burnie, Steve, Dick, Tim, Pete at Gingers Creek
Motley assortment 2

Where/what the hell is Gingers Creek ?

Friday 29 October

(Burnie) Up about 7 am. Shit, shower and shave. Top up with fuel but only a little at 96c a litre (normally about 78c/litre). Tims tyre looks close to shagged (original 204 after 6000 km, how do you only do 6000 km in 2 years ?). Maybe a new one in Brisbane. Heidi has a flat but cannot see anything in the tyre. Russell starts up the compressor. Pete heads off to Byron Bay for a wedding. Down to Walcha for breakfast. Nice twisties then high speed straights at the end. We refuel, clean the chains and lube and have toasted sandwiches and cappuccino. Bill decides to return to Canberra due to work commitments, so Burnie, Heidi and Bill head west then south, while Dick, Steve and Tim head north via the backroads to Brisbane. Going south we stop at Tamworth to get Heidis rear tyre patched. We try an unknown backroad out of Tamworth eventually rejoining the New England Highway to Muswellbrook. About 200 km of relatively boring road. Late lunch at Muswellbrook. 'Lets do the Wollombi Road', another good scratching road. We miss the turnoff and go another 50 km down the road going via Cessnock before joining up with Wollombi Road. 70 km down is fun but traffic is building up (going the other way). Heidi has a moment with a turning car. The light is getting borderline; freeway or Old Pacific Highway. The 'Old Road' it is. 25 km of fun but I lose Bill and Heidi. Bill vows to come back and do it in the daylight soon. Stopping at a servo in Thornleigh (northern suburb of Sydney) about 7.30 pm, Heidi and Bill discus whether to stay in Sydney or continue on to Canberra. They decide to ride on. I am feeling a little buggered after 580 km and ride the last 15 minutes home.

(Steve) Up at 6.30am, because Tim Fraser was rifling though his bag and Dick was yelling at us from the cabin -- bastards. Had a shower and decided I'd better put my rear wheel on. With the help of Dick I got the axle though and was done (with dodgy tools) in about 5mins, plus 20mins of wondering and worrying if the thing was aligned properly. Never did find any string to check it, but it went `round so I ended up saying `stuff it'.
We headed back to Walcha along the Oxley. By this time I'd been over it once on my VTR, once in a 4 tonne truck and once in Pete's 4WD. Hence, I knew that it didn't have any real nasty bits so I was able to hook into it -- though not as much as Dick did, apparently. I was riding with the last person (Heidi) behind me and Burnie in front of me. Because Bernie hadn't seen this part of the road before and had experienced 20+km of crap road works before this he didn't know what to expect and thus I was wanting to go much quicker. However, I noticed that Heidi was falling away from us pretty quickly, too. Thus I got to have the best of both worlds. Once Heidi was out of sight, I stopped to wait for her. When I saw her again, I got to go full pace and catch Burnie. Once I caught Burnie I could stop and wait for Heidi again and the process just repeated itself (3 times, I think). It was great fun and Heidi was most appreciative. )
Anyway, we all got to Walcha for breakfast before we split and went our separate ways, but I'll let Dick fill you in from here (as well as the Saturday morning ride over Mt Nebo -> Mt Glorious -> Mt Nebo -> Mt Cootha and whatever happened after that.

P.S. Steve's fuel bill was $60.85. (not counting Saturday)

(Dick) Woke up early to the sounds of nature and lots of farting from the bunk room nextdoor,and managed to rouse everyone so we could leave at a decent time. Headed back up the Oxley and absolutely carved up the high speed curves. Great way to clear the cobwebs from my head!
The Michelin Hi-sport on the front felt super sticky and I was pushing pretty hard with no sign of it breaking loose.
Stopped at Walcha for breakfast, then Steve, Tim and I headed back to Brisbane via the highway as we were a bit behind schedule.
Tim will be giving a bit of a report on stuff we got up to in Queensland, so I'll leave it here, except for a few observations;
1) We swapped bikes on the way back and Tim seemed to think that my bike had more horsepower than his, which I agreed with after riding his.
2)Steves' OTOH, seemed to bog down whenever I opened the throttle wide in top gear and would accelerate faster only if I backed off the throttle.
3)Burnies' farts stink in the worst possible way,and I suggest he visit a doctor to check if something crawled up there and died. Charming
4)Man cannot survive on beer and Burger Rings.I know, as Tim and I tried...
5)All Aussies should make an effort to ride the Oxley, as on a nice day it is one fine road and will be even better when the really tight sections are finished being resealed.
6)Tim drinks a lot of beer.
7)Steve rides real fast on roads he knows well.
8)You get a lot of silly comments when you ride with 3 shiny yellow VTRs in convoy...
9)The VTR is a damn fine bike to ride hard on a winding road.

(Tim) I'll start from Walcha, where we split up and the pikers returned home. From there Dick, Steve and I decided to head straight up the New England and get to Brissy asap as my tyre was severely shagged and a new one on Friday arvo meant we had all day Saturday to play.
Still managed to scrape a rear can at 120kph though, perhaps high-mounts ARE a good idea. And yes, it was on THAT rear tyre Burnie. Guess this boy CAN ride after all? Anyone else done that?
Now where was I, that's right, boasting as to my remarkable riding abilities.
We had two very lucky escapes on the way to Brisbane. The first through Cunningham's Gap (is that right?). A lovely twisty road with excellent surface, but the speed limit is 60kph! Not for the mighty, faster, yellow VTR club. We scooted down at 120, having a blast. Then Dick slow appreciably and I was wondering why. 30 seconds later a patrol car cruises around a blind corner towards us with his radar pointing right at us. Looks like Dick has a 6th sense. A bit further on and I was leading at 120kph when another patrol car appeared over a crest and immediately pulled to the side of the road as we approached. "Oh well" I thought, "he'll only get me for 120 in a 100 zone, no biggie" (I had budgeted for one or two speeding fines). He started to play with something in his car though and didn't even notice us riding past!!! Today the Motorcycle Gods where smiling on us. This became even more obvious as the shop was fitting my lovely new 207 and a topless girl was serving drinks at the shop!!! We dragged Steve away from her kicking and screaming.
That night we went out with a bunch of Brisbane bikers, of which there must have been 40 or so, and many bikes to ogle at outside the cafe. Gasbagged a lot and got to meet Dick's new girlfriend (Tamara, remember her?).

Saturday 30 October

(Tim) Woke up at some ridiculous hour the next morning feeling a bit worse for wear, but at least we had time to wash our bikes now. Picked up young Steve and headed for a meeting point on the way to Mt Nebo where a group of about 20 or so bikes were heading for a nice Saturday morning ride. We had an absolute blast riding the fantastic roads of Mt Nebo/Mt Glorious with perfect weather, and the yellow VTRs were really flying in formation. Then we headed towards Mt Cootha, through YET ANOTHER radar trap. I can't believe how many coppers there are in Brisbane and it's amazing that Dick and Steve still have a license. Up Mt Cootha Steve and Dick were flying, then it was a Steve wheelie-fest at the top. Good seeing a wheelie from a different perspective for a change. At one point we had a good side-by-side wheelie going, would have made a great pic but where was Burnie and his camera?

Sunday 31 October

(Tim) Sunday dawned as another fantastic day in paradise, with yet another hangover. On this day we headed for Tambourine Mt and the back of the Gold Coast. Dick showed me some remarkable views (all with his pants up, bad luck Heidi) and we enjoyed some of the best bike roads anyone could hope to go on. At one stage we were zipping up a gorgeous mountain road and a crocodile ran across in front of Dick. Without braking he would've cleaned it up for sure. Stopped at a ripper of a pub for lunch, with heaps of "eye candy" for a couple of weary riders to enjoy.

Monday 1 November

(Tim) Monday morning we headed back towards Mt Tambourine on my way home, but headed further inland to a place called Natural Bridge. Not the best riding road but some spectacular scenery that would be very hard to beat. Had a big feed at Murwillumbah and said our goodbyes, then it was straight down the highway home. Up until this stage the weather had been great, but 20 mins from leaving Dick and it was bucketing down, which it continued to do on and off all the way to Canberra. It just made the memories of the days before seem even more perfect.
Thanks to Burnie and Dick for their wonderful hospitality, and to the other attendees for making it a memorable experience with some wonderful company. Those that didn't go missed a great time, the Great Southern Ride will be a must do, and I'll be there with bells on.

(Burnie) A great ride, pity I could not do all 5 days.
Thanks to Dick for the organisation and tee shirts.