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Five Seasons (NOT by Vivaldi)

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by hornet, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. As noted in the "The Way We Were" thread, recent contact with Jim Scaysbrook regarding and forthcoming publication provided more than enough justification for a ride to Oberon, and the taking of two days and some 1,300 kms to do it! Being as esteemed brother has just bought a new/second-hand '97 VFR-750 and is, like me, a casual employee of the Education Department, time was not an issue.

    Brother's cat had been ill overnight, and at the Vet's, so we didn't end up leaving till late morning Tuesday 15th, and didn't get to our first stop, Pie In The Sky, on the old Pacific Highway, till near lunch time. Pie and Coffee, naturally. On the way up Mount Ousley out of Wollongong we had a couple of spots of rain, but by the time we go to PITS, it was clear and sunny, and several 'lovely day for a ride, mate' comments came from some of the other patrons.

    The plan was to go to Newcastle and visit an old friend, and then wend our way over to Oberon and see Jim. The rest kinda got made up as we went along.

    So after spending an hour or so at Toronto, the need to make a decison regarding the route became necessary; easy in the end, it was still mid afternoon, the sun was shining brighter as the day wore on, and the Putty Road and Bell's Line of Road beckoned. So, hieing off across the Cessnock winery area, we emerged onto the Putty at Milbrodale, just at the head of the famous Ten Mile. What fun. Not one single car or truck, in either direction, for the entire distance.

    The surface is imeasurably better than when I learned to ride there 34 years ago, and one corner flowed into another in much more fluent style than my much more frequent forays on Macquarie Pass. I felt like I was back on the old RD-350 again. Until...

    We came across a member of our local Illawarra Forum, who'd planned a solo day on the Putty, but had hit a diesel spill even before he got to the Ten Mile and written off his Hyo 250 :(. He was shaken but not injured, and was in the process of loading the remains into a ute. We wished him all the best and resumed our pursuit of each other southwards.

    The middle section of the Putty is as boring as it ever was, and sod's law dictated that when we got to the fabulous plunge down the hill into the Colo River, we were stuck behind a P-Plater in a Pajaero!!! We dusted him on the run up out of the valley and in no time at all were swinging right onto the road to Kurrajong.

    Last week I had a strange situation with the Hornet where it refused to pick up reserve when switched over, so I was wathing mileage and consumption very carefully. I knew I would have to fill up before I got to Lithgow; in fact I didn't want to test reserve for that reason. But there's no servo at Kurrajong Heights, and by the time we got to Bilpin the NRMA guy told us that the last servo between there and Lithgow had closed 15 minutes ago (6:00pm). How in this great country of ours can there NOT be a servo between Bilpin and Lithgow on a road that carries as much traffic as BlOR does???

    So we had to push ahead and hope; I figured that I'd get around 230kms before I hit reserve, but if it didn't pull the fuel through (like I had a choice) I was going to be stuck in the boonies. If it DID pull the fuel though, I figured maybe another 30kms in reserve before empty MIGHT, just might, get me to the outskirts of Lithgow where there MIGHT, just might, be a servo still open.

    A exactly 230 kms, in a place that felt as desolate and far from civilisation as the moon, a cough announced the transition to reserve. I prayed as I reached under the tank and flicked the tap. Two coughs later four cylinders picked up and ran sweetly! Success, at least I still had some reserve.

    But at 257kms, inside the 50km speed limits of Lithgow, with not a servo in sight, it coughed again and this time it meant it! I coasted to side of the road and signalled Phil who pulled over. We unloaded his Rjays gearsack, and he went in search of petrol. In no time flat, he was back with a 1 litre bottle; the servo was just over the hill!!! If the bike had done 258kms, I could have coasted into the station!!

    So, fuelled up, visors washed, and fueled up at the local Scottish Resturant, we headed into bathurst.

    Since Jim lives halfway between Bathurst and Oberon we figured to stay in Bathurst. But the motels looked very expensive (casual Education staff, remember??) so we head out along the road to Oberon to see if their was a cheaper option along the way. There wasn't. Oh, well, what about the O'Connell Pub?? Great idea. Except that it was closed, no doubt due to the surviving million or more bugs that we hadn't killed with our windscreens/boots/bodies and helmets. No choice but to push through a million more and head to Oberon. The ambient temp was still 25 degrees and I was wearing just a T-Shirt and my R-jays Octane textile jacket and leather pants, so riding conditions were good.

    We got a room at the Tourist Hotel in Oberon. Two single beds, simple but comfortable, and $40 total tarrif!! I recommend it! The publican said that there was a garage out the back where we could put the bikes, but, "If you park them on the street just under that sign, they'll be safer, because that's where the Video Surveillance camera lives! If anyone fiddles with them we'll know who it was!"

    Too tired to argue after 683 kms, we changed went for a walk to see the sights of Oberon, and 3 minutes later hit the sack :LOL:. End of Day one.

    Day two was to prove about as different from the first day as we could have imagined.
  2. We want more!
    We want more!
    We want more!
    We want more!

  3. Day two, and the good citizens of Oberon had left the bikes unmolested, and at 7:30 am the weather was already warming up. DJ's Diner across the road from the Hotel provided coffee and raisin toast and it was on the road to O'Connell, and Jim's place.

    Jim has a lovely big house, overlooking a valley (from the lounge room windows)

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000127.jpg

    and with a pretty nice view IN the lounge room as well!!!

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000126.jpg

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000125.jpg

    We duly delivered the photos, bench-raced and talked about old times, as old-timers do, for a couple of hours, and then it was time to hit the road again.

    Naturally, being so close to Bathurst, Phil wanted to do a couple of laps of the Mountain Circuit, and after some feeble protest from myself (yeah, right) we turned north at O'Connell and hounded off in the direction of Bathurst.

    In real life, despite the smooth surface and seeming width, it is a terrifying place to contemplate travelling at 200+kph; a big concrete tunnel is how someone described it. And the Caltex Chase is actually a completely blind CLIMBING left-hander where, on a bike you'd lose ground clearance quicker than a heart-beat.

    All my pics are taken standing still; I haven't mastered the Eswen "Taking Digital Photos While Riding" technique :LOL:.

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000135.jpg

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000130.jpg

    So now the plan to get home involved returning to Oberon and riding the Abercrombie Road to Goulburn, heading then past Wakefield Park and down the Clyde to Bateman's Bay and up the dreaded Princes Highway to home.

    An ominous cloud back on the western horizon when we got back to Oberon didn't look like too much to worry about and we fuelled up and headed for Abercrombie. Sooner than might have been expected, about 20kms out of Oberon, the cloud dumped its contents, and almost as immediately stopped again, leaving us damp, but expecting to dry out quickly.

    There is now only about kms of dirt on this road, and that is being fixed at the moment, so very soon it will be tar all the way through to Goulburn. But don't expect it all to be good going; the road is owned by some furiously-driven timber jinkers, and many long fast sweepers were spoiled in this manner. As well, about halfway along there is a vile little mountain pass, downhill as you head to Goulburn, that would be fabulous if the surface was even passably good, but it's not. It's rough, rutted, bumpy tar and anyone trying to ride it quickly would have to have a big heart, or a healthy insurance policy.

    Soon enough we were in Goulburn, however, having a quick inspection of the million-dollar resurface of Wakefield Park, and then heading off under now lowering skies to Braidwood. Our worst fears were looming as realities as a couple of kms out of Tarago the sky turned really ugly

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000136.jpg

    and a gale-force wind sprang up. I was riding second, watching the VFR leaning as if it was cornering, just to stay heading straight; I'm sure I was doing the same. Then off the top of the hills to the south of the road a massive dust cloud started blowing, obscuring the road for several hundred metres to add to our woes. (I didn't photograph it, cos, well, you wouldn't have seen anything :LOL:) But we were obviously in for a monster storm so we hammered down to get to Tarago, and hopefully some shelter.

    And no sooner had we wheeled the bikes onto the forecourt of Carl and Judy's General Store than the heavens opened in Biblical fashion. Carl is a motorcycle nut of the most masochistic sort, a Guzzi fanatic, and he quickly motioned us to ride into his huge workshop: we needed no second invitation.

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000138.jpg

    No sooner had we done so that the wind increased even more in velocity, and it began to hail!! Stones 25mm in size began belting horizontally across the scene, and we quickly moved the bikes right into the workshop so Carl and a customer with a brand-new VW Golf could shelter as well. Hailstones were coming in the side door to halfway across the floor and even standing near the far wall it was still possible to feel spray from the rain

    http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/... January 08/?action=view&current=S3000139.jpg

    We consulted the BOM radar and it appeared there was a second storm front behind this one, and larger, so a night at the Tarago Hotel looked likely, but the sky in the direction of Braidwood seemed to be clearing, so like optomistic fools, we suited up and headed out. Patches of rain, but lots of dry roads as well, seemed to justify the decision, but near Braidwood it began to rain in earnest, and while we waited at the servo there, and watched the western sky quickly clear, we put on wet weather gear anyway, and weighed up whether Braidwood Pub was an option, or whether to push on. After half an hour, we headed out.

    The Pub would have been the best choice. It rained with increasing intensity as we neared the head of the Clyde Mountain Pass, and to add to our concerns, a HEAVY fog descended as well. By the time we reached the first downhill corner, I could not see Phil's tail-light ahead of me!

    I can tell you I have both ridden and driven in some scary conditions in over 40 years, but I have never been so scared in my life. Phil was only 3 - 5 metres in front, and he couldn't see ANY lights in front of him. And I had a four-wheel drive behind me. I was in first gear and the Hornet was nearly stalling because I was going SLOWER than you would in first!!! And I NEVER pull over in fog, because someone else is just as likely to do the same, and clean you up!

    We soon caught up with a gaggle of cars that were going even slower (!) so we then at least had some lights to go on, and eventually we dropped out of the worst of the fog, although not the rain, and the pace picked up. By the time we got to the roundabout at Bateman's Bay the rain had stopped, although the roads were still wet, and we headed north towards home.

    The rest of the trip was uneventful; we'd had our five seasons, and although the roads were damp all the way to my place, the traffic was surprisingly light, and the worst was certainly over.

    And, to conclude, once again top marks to my $40 MotoDry plastic pants, and my $65 RJays plastic rain jacket; everything in sight was soaked, except me!!!

    Here's to the next adventure :).
  4. Thanks Paul.
    Great write up and pics.
    Sounds like an eventful but enjoyable trip!

  5. haha

    Love a good adventure story. Thanks for sharing.