Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

A Good Friday on the Reefton...

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by Tenoq, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. Thought I'd share a fantastic ride I had this morning heading through Victoria's well-known and ever popular Reefton & Black Spurs.

    After being a little slow getting onto the road after a rather late night, I was out and riding by 9:30am, heading through Berwick on my way to Warburton. The sun was out, the birds were chirping, and not too much holiday traffic around - seemed like a ripper morning for a ride! As I headed on the usual roads out through to Woori Yallock, my path seemed clear, almost completely dry and I was in a good mood. Winding the bike through the gears a little I remembered why I loved riding so much and wondered why it had been so long since I'd taken to these roads.

    Stopping in Woori Yallock for a morning snack, I looked out upon the spectacular Yarra Ranges. The rolling mountains beckoned to me, as they always do, and as always, I succumbed to their charm and jumped back on the bike ready to take them on. The blackening clouds over the southern ranges did not deter: surely it could not rain on this most special of days!

    As slowly made my way through to Warburton and beyond, the road became wetter, darker and much, much colder. By the time I pulled over to don a much-needed jumper, I doubted the wisdom in continuing on my journey: the road was now completely wet, and the sun had mysteriously vanished from the sky above. My sense of adventure prevailed: why not try a little wet weather riding? I vaguely recalled some insane lean angles claimed for my tyres, and figured if they could do it, so could I!

    I pressed on.

    As the road twisted and winded it's way tighter and tighter on to Reefton, my confidence and resolve increased. The road was clean, if wet, and I was cornering faster and faster as I approached that first turn into Reefton. A quick look around revealed no other bikes - I guessed wet roads weren't a big draw card this morning. As I passed and headed into the first few corners, I was confident, in control and having a ball, despite the wet and cold conditions. I still loved riding! :)

    Alas, the perfect bike ride wasn't to be. By the time I was about a quarter of the the way into the first Reefton section, the road surface and conditions had changed yet again. Apparently the rain that had so dampened the road had failed to give it a good scrub: the glint of rainbow splotches could be seen at regular intervals through the middle of my lane. Diesel or oil - either way it meant trouble, and I backed off a little as I criss-crossed the lane for it's left and right-hand turns. Still, it wasn't as bad as I could be, and my mood was still bright!

    As I approached the halfway mark, a new challenge presented itself. Resurfacing. Many of you may have been aware, but it seems the first section of Reefton has undergone some resurfacing quite recently, and the quality of the road is fantastic, particularly in the wet. However, the tell-tale gravel still covered the middle of lanes in both directions, and it was deep. Gravel in the wet is a tricky beast: although it's not quite as slippery, it does pose a greater threat. Gravel will break your traction with the road - and on a wet surface, it's far more difficult to regain! I proceeded with caution, but I was safe, sticking like glue to the sides of my lane, and crossing the gravel only in the safety of the straights.

    After a short distance, the gravel gave way to the older surface again, and yet another problem surfaced. It was colder still, and now the lazy patchwork of years past gleamed in vicious black lines, covering the road from left to right. Covering cracks they may be, but on a wet day, I'd prefer a hole in the road, every time! Most roads see a couple of these in a few areas - now near the end of Reefton's first section, they were everywhere, and there was no avoiding them as the wound over the road. Once, twice, three times my tyres slipped as I crossed another smooth tar patch, and I began to wonder if I had the nerve to make it all the way through to Marysville. I backed off and kept my line - I could do this, I'm sure! A few more corners and I'd made the top. Success!

    Relieved, I pulled over for a breather and admired the view and a steady procession of cars and 4WDs on their way to Lake Mountain - all with headlights on (not a good sign!). Not wanting to waste too much time, and wary of the forecast for afternoon rain, I set off again down the road to Marysville. Through the first few corners I admired the yellow road markings as they glistened in the dull morning light - guiding me gently down the road. The first of the real corners approached and I slowed and tipped in gently, admiring my surroundings: a true rainforest. The road here was wet, but still mostly clean and I was fairly sure of myself as I coasted smoothly through corner after corner.

    Whoa! Unexpectedly, my front wheel does it's best to slide from under me, as I correct and straighten through a corner that I swear was clean of diesel or gravel. Again, the next corner, and the back wheel slips a little as I accelerate out of the turn. It dawns on me - the road is too smooth. Here the black-top is worn away by the daily passing of log trucks, and all that is left is a shiny, black, smooth line of road that holds little traction for sport tyres like my own when a thin layer of water seperates the two. One more slip, this causing me to correct over the centre-line, and I slow down dramatically - this road is far too dangerous now to be cornering quickly.

    At this point of the journey, I take stock - it's wet, extremely slippery, very cold and I've only just averted disaster many times today. But for some strange reason, I'm still enjoying the challenge of it all. I feel there's something deeper here, and if I don't press on, I'll miss an important lesson.

    As I approach a faster downhill section, a fog sets in, and leaf litter starts to appear in patches on the road. Now I can only see 20 metres in front of me, and I slow down again. Compared to a sunny ride through Reefton, I'm practically crawling along the slick road, with metre-long bits of bark and branches; a heavy fog hiding the turns until the last possible moment. It feels like I'm in another world - looking out through the trees, I can't help but think that I'm no longer on the same planet, let alone on the same road I knew. Despite all dangers, I smile, grin, then relax, taking in the moment. As I round the last couple of corners into Marysville, I realise I've just enjoyed the best ride I've had in a long time. The singular experience that is a riding a motorcycle has been captured for me in a lonely ride through Reefton, through the most difficult of conditions. I can't help but feel that I've been changed forever: although I can't fathom the full extent of meaning I've gained today, I've surely made a leap along whatever path I...no WE...all walk. For me, Reefton will never be quite the same.

    I hope you've enjoyed the read. :)
  2. Very much - thank you. :)
  3. that was a great read and great to hear you passed all obstacles and came out learning your limit.
    Last time I was up there I came home in an ambo.

    The gravel was a pain in the ass on the way up but after i got past it road racers ruined my day and my collar bone.

    great to hear you had a good day, it was a great read and i could picture your road and your train of thought.

    Good work
  4. Great read tenoq, almost like being there. Riding in those conditions is funny; half your brain says "This isn't as daunting as I expected" while the other half is imagining broken fibreglass and pain. It's good ot read ythat although the conditions were lousy, you enjoyed it...
  5. Brilliantly Written :applause:
    i done this ride a few times in the last few mths but i actually done it in the reverse of what you wrote .
    i went form here Thornton to Marysville the Reefton
    (at the time road work going on and the road was crappy then also very dangerous i told the workers off :grin: )
    then i went to Warby then onto monbulk to belgrave
    (cuppa at my parents)
    it was a long day 6 hours or riding all up

    All the roads up here are covered in leaf litter and very slippery at the moment even in the 4x4 Ben just told me as he has been out to get a pizza for dinner :grin:
    he drives the marysville to cumberland 6 days a week and is amazed the road has cut up already :shock:
  6. Great post Tenoq, I really enjoyed the read. Glad you had a great day.
  7. Thanks guys - enjoyed writing it almost as much as the ride itself... almost. ;)

    I do recommend people give it a try sometime - but be careful, and if going alone, take precautions. If you don't have an EPIRB, make sure you let people know when and where you are going - they can alert authorities if you don't make it back or contact them in time.

  8. My mobile is CDMA and worked all the way around ,i also Rang SENNEY Aka Kerry every 1/2 hour to let her know where i was :grin:
  9. That's interesting to know, revilo! From what I've been told, even CDMA had no coverage through Reefton - that sounds like a good reason to find a pre-paid CDMA handset. :)
  10. I think this ride will stay with you for ever.
    I have memorys of a similar ride many years ago , rain, snow, ice, fog, unfamiliar road, crossing the great dividing range from north coast of nsw to Armadale all at night .
    Bask in the glory Tenoq , its not all about speed and corners :cool:

    Thanks for a very well written ride report.
  11. Excellent read Tenoq :grin:

    Is a strange & callenging road Reefton - Marysville.

    First time I did it was absolutely covered in debris.
    2nd time surrounded by fog/mist.
    3rd time in 36 degrees!

    Maybe one day will do it under 'perfect' condiitons :)
  12. Hmm... just checked the CMDA coverage map - according to Telstra you shouldn't be able to get coverage through 95% of the Reefton Spur, even with an external antenna. The Black Spur on the otherhand, appears to have full coverage.

    If you can get coverage, let me know which model phone you've got! :)
  13. Indeed, the Reefton is a special road in any situation - but it was truly magical on this occasion. I doubt I will ever forget, domhnall. ;)
  14. Great read Tenoq - congrats on pressing on. Often you can ride really well in wet conditions as you are concentrating even more thatn usual - and as you mentioned you often have the road to yourself.
  15. i rang as iwas leaving Thornton then at Buxton then at Marysville
    then at Camberville then at Warburton then at Belgrave.

    Do Not take my word that Any Other Mobile will work in the area
  16. Hold off until Telstra gets it's new WCDMA850 network up and running later this year as this will be replacing the existing CDMA network making most existing handset useless in about 3 years.
  17. :grin: Exellent i am after a newer phone :grin:
  18. Great read Tenoq.

    Really made me feel like I was riding it :)

  19. Indeed - but later this year seems optimistic, knowing Telstra. ;) Personally I still wouldn't risk it: it's quite likely you'll have no reception when you need it (ie, after you fly off the road up there). Unfortunately I'm yet to find a cheap EPIRB or locator beacon working on the digital frequency w/ GPS functionality. :( The only ones with a realistic price are the analog ones, which are for the most part useless.
  20. Great story Tenoq.
    Its always great to read about life-changing rides.
    Its also good to see that you realise the risks of riding that road alone. Have to admit that the first time I road the same circuit I did it alone. There is something about riding alone that captures the essence of motorcycling, the reasons we all (huge sweeping generalisation OK) took up motorcycling in the first place, that is diminished somewhat by the presence of others. Group riding is great and has its own special magic (as Zaphod Beeblebrox said, how do you know you're having fun if there's noone there to see you have it - or words to that effect), but solo journeys are something special.
    You should consider putting your writing talents to better use than entertaining us!! Have you considered freelance journalism?