And I thought no one read these reports.. a few harassing PM's and here I am spending an hour of my life which I will not get back..!! hopefully I can make you smile, or laugh, or both.
and so it began.. after a few weeks of wait and a little planning it was on.
The Riders... @Daved Dave - on his GSA800 - TKC80's @Stu300 Stuart - on his Dad's KTM 1190 Std - TKC80's @BoundaryRider Daniel on his very cool looking GS1200 - TKC80's @Pepperjack Ian - on my Kato 1290 Supa - TKC80 front and Tractionatator ADV rear
Route Planning : @Pepperjack
Accomodation : @BLT
I have made up some fictional characters here to protect the identities of those involved.. these stories are as true as the day is long but only those on the ride will know who is who! I may have embellished a little - but hey, who doesn't love a good story :-) . (which is essentially true)
- Shagger - case in point.
- Tex'n - I rest my phonecase.
26th : DEC - Day 1.
Just @BoundaryRider & @Pepperjack to meet up at the designated spot - Beechworth Bakery, Healesville. I rocked up around 8.30 with Daniel walking over with an outstretched hand.. you must be pepperjack - indeed I was then, as I am now :-) . Quick coffee and we were off - up the black spur. tracking planned route for the day would lead us well buggered to the final destination for day 1 was the superb single mens units at the Khancoban c'van park for $67 a night each organised by the trusty old BLT (Bxxxxx Leisure Travel - My super travel agent that keeps and eye on us as we ride and plans ahead as required - I can never speak highly of her enough - just sensational.). @Stu300 was to meet us at the cabins at Khancoban as he wasn't getting away 'till 12.30 due to spending quality family time. @Daved was to join us on the evening of the 28th. BoundaryRider was talking things up a bit.. this guy was an unknown quantity to the 2630 crew.. so I thought ok, he's a gun. He certainly looked the part.. you know, those guys that rock up, very chilled.. yea, done the Tanami, just took 3 cans of Tuna and a spare tube. this kinda guy.. and he had ripped the guards of his GS making it look quite ballsy indeed.
So after the mandatory safety briefing - now you know how to activate my EPIRB right.? it is in my top left pocket.. and.. it's double demerit points man, lets take it chill - espeshally up the spur! Up we go.. I'm sitting on Kato Cruise Kontrol (KCK) at 60km/hr.. pigs might fly, but we we not, especially heading out of Healesville. We start cranking it a little.. all within tolerances, well, mostly. Single lines became double at times but we kept things on an even keel. Into Marysville and the chai I had at healesville was no longer keen on my riding style so a quick pit stop was in order. hey, chai does that. Back on the bikes and now the fun begins.. I said.. we'll deflate the boots at the top of the reefton spur - just before we get into the dirt. Cool Cool. so we're heading up towards Lake Mountain turn off and I'm getting ancy... the Warp Factor(WF) indicator suggests a moderate increase in herbage so I dialled it on a little. @boundary was keeping pace in the mirrors. Then a couple of roadie contenders got bigger in my mirrors. I was more loaded than a Indian hay truck, so taking it easy. I felt I couldn't really push the corners and I didn't want to make my fresh knobbies onto reverse ski slopes this early on. The dang roadies we on me like flys.. I was not going to make this easy.. up the herbs. eventually they managed to slide past.. one then two. No 2 was 'pretty light' on the rear after he buzzed past me, a little hot into the next corner. I chased him, put the pressure on a bit then decided backing off was probably a wise choice for both of us. I love it when guys on sports bikes take the big ADV weapons for granted.. even better when they have their color coded race leathers and knee sliders on. No sign of Boundary.. thought he was just doing his own thing so I scooted along to the pre agreed deflation spot where the roadies were taking the stage. Still no Boundaryrider.. I was starting to wonder.. with my wonder moving into concern as the PSI escaped from my boots.
Eventually, I headed back.. doing that slow ride.. where you are looking off to the side and keeping your eyes peeled for slide marks on the deck. I was worried - we were no less than an hour into our 5 day ride. after a little while I can around the corner and there is Boundary - standing by the road.. with a smile and shaking his head. no bike to be seen. Somewhat perplexed I ride up to him.. he points back over my left shoulder and I am now seeing a GS, parked perfectly right beside a BIG tree (about 4ft diameter) and stuck in some smaller bushes. He has done what will no doubt stay in my mind as one of the best 'get offs' without a scratch I have seen. what happened I say.? I dunno.. think I overshot the corner (heylo Cap'n obvious). Now this wasn't a hard corner.. or overly tight. so, we have a look at his bike and deduce that it is not broken at all, hardly a mark on it, just well and truly stuck where it is. Assistance was required! I get to a spot where I have coverage and call the local coppers who advice Buxton towing is the go. I call the guy, he's super helpful and seems nice. BoundaryRider gave the go ahead and had folding currency to cover the bill. I was thinking this would be at least $600 cashola. so I set the expectation of the boxing day grassrapage factor to expect. as we waited for not very long @Boundary confessed that he things he was just using his back brake.. a little gun shy from a previous incident of losing the front. yeah. that's not going to cut it I said!! you need to get on the front grabbers mate! Buxton towing arrived and just used his winch with a sling around the back wheel to pull the big GS12 out backward as Boundary and I kept it stable.. slow and steady did the job easily. We all had a good look.. and aside from a bark rub it quite literally had zero damage.! amazing really, the pics don't do it justice. The price for the tow.. $280, I just about fell over. soo cheap - the guy was awesome.. quick, cool and super helpful. Daniel only had $300 folding denomination and surprisingly the towy wasn't carrying change - I still think @$300 he did extremely well!!!! No broken human bits, bit bark off body, no hospital, no damage to bike at all.
It was not time for lunch.. and of course I had to mod the route as we were not going to make Khancoban by night has we gone the way I had planned (Eildon-Warby Road, then Eildon-Jammy road). Rock scissors Buxton burger it was. The day was looking up.. despite getting hot already the tow truck man, @boundary and I were all sharing stories of being single and femme issues - ahh, may a good ADV ride begin with a common thread.
The burgers are better at Buxton and these two jacks were hungry! we inhaled our burgers, I soaked my undershirt to keep me cool and we were off, things were heating up. Expedited forwarding was the order now - let's just get there the quickest way as we had lost about 90 mins at least, we now had to do that sucky road east of Mansfield, yes the one we all loathe. Boundary and I stopped to get an ice cream just short of Mansfield and I called @stu300 - turns out he was just about 20 mins behind us on the same route. We waited a bit but got sick of the heat and it was agreed we'd meet under and old oak tree in downtown Mansfield avenue.
At Mansfield boundary and I enjoyed an ice cream under the shade of the trees and relaxed on the grass while waiting for Stu. a few mins later a grumble announced the presence of a hot 1190. It's always interesting to see what Stu will be wearing or has packed. We had to pack camping gear as accomodation could not be guaranteed for each night but we still tried to stay light.
From there it was pretty run of the mill road stuff - Whitty pass, fuel up at Myrtleford, wet my shirt again(my new A/C routine!), over the gap to the Keiwa valley, up there to the Hume weir .. along the Murray Valley highway all the way, Corryong then our destination - Khancoban. Thanks to BLT straight to rooms, no paperwork keys in the room, AC on (except mine!). Shower and a quick walk up to the Alpine hotel for a chicken schnitty for dinner. a nice ride after coming over into the Keiwa valley but locked on the KCK most of the time as I thought a speeding ticket on day 1 wouldn't be so grand - call me protective :-)
it was at dinner than Tex'n was beginning to show his true form.. he was constantly text'n chics.. setting up NYE logistics. Shagger also was beginning to show his form in this area also - but nothing like Tex'n :-) , still penty of laughs and a good days adventure all in all. Hott.. is was like 37deg C most of the day after about 11am. This was to set the scene for pretty much all of the ride.
27 DEC : Day 2 - Khancoban to Canberra.
An early wakey wakey knock knock on the doors of Bounday and Stu and the troops were getting cranked up, even if a little cranky. We fuelled up from the Servo, grabbed some brekky and were off. Up to Tooma Dam for a peek over the dam wall.. always impressive. Them Cabramurra, highest town in Oz. Now I was taking the guys down a little towards the Selwyn turn off and back along the Elliot way, this has to be right up there.. so fast, so many tight uphill twistys.. just an absolute blast. Quick stop at the practical top of the fun bits, a pit stop then back on the bikes and back down the Elliot - you can't ride by the Elliot way and not do it!!!!
Back to the junction, then down towards the Kiandra area junction. I love this area.. feels so remote... hard to nail what we all loved about it. For me, it is the remoteness, the history, for Shagger - it was the orange lines, good surface and seeing a clear run ahead through the sweepers and being able to up the Warp Factor a bit. For Tex'n - well, no Cell service there but he seemed to like it none the less! We were all chatting away on the Sena's and I was giving history of the area.. hard to believe that back in 1860 there was 15,000 people, served by 25 stores, 13 bakers, 16 butchers, 14 pubs, several banks and four blacksmiths - today you'll see about 4 buildings - but only if you don't blink.
Fuel and lunch at Adaminaby. Sausage roll for me, meal at the pub for Boundary and Stu. I had planned to shoot into Canberra via Tumut and Wee Jasper. but that would mean a little back tracking (albeit awesome!) and it was Hott @ 38 deg C (100.4 F !!) We discussed the merits of the long way of the planned route or the equally fun shorter route via Shannons flat and into CBR from the south. We had a motel and rooms all sorted thanks to BLT and the pool awaited.. guess which way we took!?
Along we went, up the road from Adaminaby, pretty steep on the warp factor there for a bit.. then unsealed.. deflation stations it was, 24 front and 28 rear for me. Daniel had taken a little more diagra than he thought and let his front down to a droopy 21psi.. no worries - BUT TAKE IT EASY on bumps I said. Now onto the unsealed we spread out.. I was a little worried about Boundary as he was an unknown on the powder to me. I always worry that people will push it too hard - ego isn't a dirty word but it does get us all into trouble at times - especially trying to keep up with our mates. We spaced out and stopped to corner man and re-group every so often. This section was a blast.. I always love this ride.. Adaminaby to Canberra via Shannons Flat and Tharwa.. although it was hot, it was still sensational and fun.
We stopped to pump the tyres back up when we hit the sealed stuff about 2/3s way to Tharwa with my trusty little Air Compressor ( Link ) which came in handy many times. Boundary said he was carrying a foot pump.. never saw it though once he eyeballed mine!!
Next we took a detour into the famous Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station just south of Tharwa. I have always loved the history of this spot. One thing I like about the USA is the amount of Cold War history they have - Radar sites, early warning missile launch systems, Missile Silos.. HoneySuckle creek is about as close as we get to that as the moon landing mission was all about posturing in the cold war era for space dominance.
Next on to Tharwa and we all enjoyed an ice cream in the iconic and historic General store in their Air Conditioned side room! space was at a premium under the AC unit for sure. Now the short scoot into Canberra from the not so grand entrance of the southern tip via Banks, Calwell etc and over to Queanbeyan where BLT has us slated to stay the night. Thanks to BLT the usual deal.. all rooms were open, no paperwork or check in required! .. it was pretty much a race to see who could get in to the pool first.! .. sooo nice, the pool was super refreshing and relaxing.
We had a booking for dinner @ Portia's Place in Kingston - they do the most amazing Chilli beef and Spicy Lamb Ribs with Shantung sauce! - I go there without fail every time I am in the area. An Uber ride in and the prawn crackers were crack'n into our gobs. Tex'n was at his finest, alternating between screen time and chow time. Shagger showed is his true form this night. let's just say, it's all in a name and who wants to waste a motel room when you're not sharing it. I won't go into the detail suffice to say it will go down as one of the more memorable memories I take from trips like this. The look on his head as he returned later shaking his head and telling Tex'n and I the details was a mastercard moment indeed.
28 DEC : Day 3 - Canberra to Merimbula.
The council of chiefs had a beer after Portia's the night before and we agreed to get away early to do our best to beat the heat.
An early start - off to a brekky place I knew well - in the infamous Fyshwick. and.. it's closed! - opening at 8.30. It was 7.45 when we got there and quite warm already. We had agreed on a short tour of Canberra with the trusty old pepperjack providing tour guide commentary as I live there from 1991 to 2000 when I was a Pusser. Duntroon, RMC, ADFA... Russell offices, ASIO, Anzac Pde, War Memorial, Mt Ainsle, Braddon.. scouting for a brekky joint. Boundary eyed off a spot and the decision was made. I was last to reverse park.. I'll never forget the sight of Boundary backing his running GS into a parallel park, with the exhaust stopping about a foot from a toddlers head in a pram whilst his dad was giving me the WTF look.. I apologised on behalf of myself and my comrades for the noise and fumes.. apparently the kids liked it. Anywhere is fine as long at they do a B & E burger with Good ol' truck stop ICEBERG lettuce..!!!! I had to settle, just Cos. back on the bikes.. Northbourne Avenue, over the lake bridge, left at The National Library Building, Treasury Building, Old Parliament House, The Aboriginal Tent embassy, toilet stop by the Carilian then back out by the Canberra Airport to Queanbeyan. Through the main street and then on the road out to the Googong dam - this is also a back way to Michelago which is where the real fun started that day.
it was along this section that we were chatting away telling jokes.. I did my best version of Captain Brown Pants. Next up BoundaryRider chimes in with some truly disgusting Army days stories.. but tops them off with a good joke. If I recall.. it went like this..
There was this old couple, they lived near a national park and they had a domesticated pet skunk. They've often take the skunk for a walk in the park early in the mornings. Now you're not allowed to take domestic animals in the national park right?! So, they're walking along and they both spot a park ranger coming towards them in the distance - oh shit they think, the skunk, what'll we do!? so the guy says to his wife, stick it down your pants. his wife says, but what about the smell .? the guy says, oh well, if it dies, it dies.
Good Gag Boundary - my fav joke for a while that one.
if you imagine a space - South of Braidwood, East of Adaminaby, North of Imlay Road/Eden and just west of the Princes highway along the coast.. this, for my mind, is gods country for ADV riding.. sooo many good trails. I could base camp at Bega and ride here for 4 days on amazing fast challenging loops.
So now we're at the corner of Burra and Tindery Roads - This is slippery skatey Warp Factor 8 stuff if you have your balls on. We set off and spread out for the dust with the corner man system in place. Tindery Road, Jerangle Road heading South, left onto Anembo Road, Jerrabattgulla road, Jinden Rodge Road, Karawarre Road, Badja Road (cue in @Bad Badger ?) , Toross Road, Kybeyan Road, Old Bega Road then when we hit the snowy mountains hwy(B72) we pumped up and scooted down the blacktop, and into Merimbula via Candelo, Toothdale - a time honoured favourite spot. I LOVE the old servo there.. take me back to when I was a kid pumping fuel and using the old oil bottles.
I had organised a camping spot at the Merimbula park right by the sea - amazing spot. Stu300 and BoundaryRider decided they would put themselves ahead of the team and get a motel room together!! team players for sure. And no aircon.. a nice hot sweaty night together.. but, no setting up tents I guess.
I met up with @Daved who had ridden solo from his luxury state home in the Middle Eastern Suburbs and stopped overnight at Bruthen the night before. Dinner was at the Sapphire club and there were certainly some jewels floating around there that evening. Guess what I had - chicken schnitty, off coarse!
29 DEC : Day4 - Merimbula to Khancoban!
I'd decided I needed to work these guys harder.. it was hot every day but our days were short really. so today was going to be a big one. The planned route I had made up the night before was circa 520km and lots of busy riding on skatey roads.
Early brekky, 7.30, fuelled up and headed off from the coast and back inland - Toothdale, Candello.. THEN.. Tantawangalo Mountain road (UNREAL!!!!) up to just short of Cathcart, back East for about 2km, right turn on to Big Jack Mountain road.. if you haven't done this road you just have to.. sensational views along this valley. Left onto Burragate Road, Mount Darragh road all the way into Bombala. Fuelled up at Bombala - on to Delegate for Lunch. we arrived at 11.41 - slightly outside @Daved 's acceptable lunchtime window (12-1.30) so we had to wait for 19 minutes till 12 noon before we ordered.
After lunch the game was upped.. Warp Factor increased ! C612 then C611 down through the breathtaking Charlie Sheen(?) valley. Up to the junction of C611 and the Barry Way. Quite an iconic place to stop there and re group.. very remote really.. like the pearly gates of heaven for an ADV rider.. you've just blasted along one of the roads.. and the two choices you're presented with are equally awe inspiring. It's a threesome I love! this is the way it is, irrespective of which way you come into the junction.
Up the Barry now to tracking North.. a first for Stu and the rest had done it before - find me someone who says their sick of doing the Barry way and I'll find you a liar... it changes, but it's always utterly sensational - as I write this, I'm there, in my head anyways.!
Suggan Buggan, crossing the border, along the river.. campers, remote, dry, hott... sliding into and out of corners. Now at the top.. and blasting along and into Jindabyne. Stu and I were well in front of @DaveD as he has some GPS issues.. Boundary was with him. The plan was to meet at the BP Servo in Jindabyne - both DaveD and Boundary know it well so I was happy to split the group. Like I said.. Stu300 and I were a ways in front of DaveD and Boundary.. and we weren't messing around... then before we know it there were the familiar headlights of two bikes in our rear vision mirrors.. DaveD and BoundaryRider.. ! we later concluded that just based on the evidence along they MUST have been well and truly hauling ass once they hit the blacktop! WF11 I think.. noting the scale ends at 10.
Fill the tanks and pump up the tyres at Jindabyne plus an ice cream.. yes, ANOTHER HOTTT day.. this really was the order of the whole trip.. Hottttt
Now on to Khancoban along the alpine way. As there really was only one option.. just don't turn off and don't go past Khancoban.. the clear was given to go in whatever order you want, as fast as you want. I did specifically say - this is a heavily policed road!!! and - it IS double demerit points this time of year. Stu and Boundary rider shot ahead.. me in 3rd and DaveD being very smart and setting a very legal pace. I decided to tail Boundary as Stu was off at like Warp Factor 13 and solo. I was sure we're be coming across him swapping numbers with Mr Plod and walking home - but what could I do.!?
BoundaryRider was setting a cracking pace on his GS and I was tailing him.. I actually got to site behind him and Stu for a bit till Stu went crazy.. it was so cool watching the bikes ahead weaving in and out through the twistys and around hair pins.. one of the better memories in what was for me a very memorable ride. Despite Dave being very responsible he was never far behind and the distances seemed constant - not sure about that!
Into Khancoban and back to the same place.. BLT organise again to straight into our rooms shower and off the the pub for a chicken schitty and stories a plenty!
We all crashed pretty early that night as we were well shagged - it was a big day and a lot of 'riding' where you really had to be on your game else you'd be off your mount.
30 Dec : Day 5 - Homeward Bound.
The night before I had been having a good look at the weather and routes etc. I'd suggested we go up via Benambra, Omeo, Anglers Rest, Raspberry hill, Falls creek, Mt Beauty, Rose River Road, Whitty Pass then part ways at Mansfield.. BUT - in the morning the Rain radar was saying very different things.
Considering the weather, which looked like it would rain pretty much no matter what route we took there were decisions to be made. As I was packing my bike I looked over at DaveD, with his famous frippy froppy bush hat on.. and he looked up and gave me that look I know only to well. The look, is usually followed with something like.. I Think I'll just head home the way Garmin tells me to go. I suggested he was coming down with homewarditis - something Dave always gets on the morning of the last day of any ride we do, I know the onset well! he confirmed this with the Nod of the head. All good, it was a crappy day anyways - as it was looking.
Homewarditis is infectious however and it stung Stu300 and BoundaryRider also. So, it was me, and them. Before we knew it was very fist pumping and shaking hands then we were off. The three amigos went via Yack and Beechworth taking the fastest route possible. I went north for a bit then followed the Hume Weir along from the upper headwaters of the Murray River.. just amazing that ride.. sweeper after sweeper from Walwa heading on westerly. did I say hot.? Yes, it was hot again, 33 if I recall. I got a few drops of rain on the visor and stopped to put the rain pants on.. that was all I got - no more rain. Took the plastic pants off at Albury and risked it. For the rest of the day it was hot, humid and not raining but it always threatened to. My Route was.. along to Albury, Hume down to Violet town, Nagambie, Heathcote, Kyneton, Woodend (snot block and chai latte!) then as I was leaving Woodend it got down to 18deg C and misty.. I was just chasing the back end of the rains that had passed through. I made my mind up at Albury to go West and come down to Sunbury from The NW versus to go the usual Pyalong and Landefield.. which would have seen me soaked - so that ended up really well. Turns out that the 3 amigo's also had just a few drops a few times and that was it.. so all in all a lucky commute home.
What a sensational few days away from the black dog and what great company and trails.. I can't wait.... till the next one..?