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More misadventures - the Mitta run

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by titus, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. By request, I thought I might relate what happened a year ago when I first attempted the Omeo Highway in full. I didn't take pictures, at least not any that the innocent would like published.
    Here y'go.

    I won’t say I saw it coming. I certainly didn’t eyeball the root cause (more about that later) but neither can I recall a point at which I though “Oh shit, it’s going down”. It was just too graceful and smooth a movement, like slo-mo footage of a tall building being demolished, or the ponderous, manoeuvres of a vast ocean liner. There was just the slow dawning realization that the vast weight was going too far over. Gravity was going to win against the vectored forces delivered by internal combustion. The great vessel touched gently down, sleek left side meeting the cruel bitumen in a kiss.

    And then he was rolling, and then sliding. Not too far and not too fast, but long enough for me to think to myself, “well, it’s over now. No getting this one back on track.” I think I was mentally blocking off the panic reaction about what might be happening in front of my eyes.

    I braked hard, but I ended up stopped well short of the end of the slide, and had to throttle up to it. By the time I found my sidestand and put it down my hands were shaking. Prayer of thanks - I could see he was moving underneath his bike.

    I also didn’t see that happen. Initially he was away from the bike – how did he end up under it again? I’m fussing and flapping with gloves and shouting “Are you OK?” inside my helmet. Voice doesn’t come out properly. It’s all choked up and strangled.

    Now I can see he’s thrashing, trying to lift the bugger. I run closer and again ask if he’s ok. “Get it off! The pipe is burning me!” Adrenalin lifts the great bulk away remarkably easily and he’s out in a flash. But he doesn’t get up. The panic starts to come back, and I vaguely note we are in the middle of the road with blind corners ahead and behind. I start asking the questions but I can’t hear the answers until I remember to hit his kill switch. Pain? Numbness? what can you see? Check check check. Wiggle your hands and toes. Check. Neck or back pain? Chest? Breathing? So far so good. He’s winded but he sits up carefully and we go through the list again, while I keep glancing up the road and listening.

    At length he struggles to his feet and get over to the side of the road. Now there is time to go through the damage in more detail. Something is wrong with the bone joining right thumb to wrist but that seems to be the biggest issue. We decide to do something about the bike while we’re still full of go juice, and 300kg+ comes up with surprising ease. Assessment reveals relatively little damage but with all the left side controls gone, there will be no more riding it today.

    So it’s time to sit down and make a plan. I’m watching him and he is not going grey so I don’t think we will have to deal with shock. But we are 30 kilometres from Mitta behind us, and much more to the next town. A farmer slows down but doesn’t stop. Too late I realize I should have forced him to. He could get the casualty back to town much more easily than me. There’s no possibility of pillioning (impossible weight distribution). That’s a bad mistake.

    At length, I decide we need help. I instruct him to flag down anyone that comes past and beg for a ride, while I go back and get help in case no-one comes. As things turn out, no-one does come past in the next hour, this hot Sunday morning.
  2. It had been going, so, so well. I love those cool clear mornings that come at the start of a hot day in the high country. The sun was coming over the top of the ridge and into the river valley, casting deep blue shadows.

    We had let the fast boys go. I took the TEC role for a change and following the big BM swinging easily through the bends at a good clip but nothing desperate or reckless. The Katie felt comfortable and had plenty of reserve. Later, he said it was around the top of where he wanted to be on the big German.

    Breakfast had been a surprising treat. If you’ve been to the Mitta general store you’ll understand. Say no more.

    The previous night I had cemented an undeserved reputation as a cheap drunk by falling into a ditch on the way back to campsite from the pub. To be fair, it was nearly completely dark and the ditch was obscured by overgrown weeds. That’s my excuse, but it didn’t wash with the knee ligaments that took the brunt. They spent the rest of the night (and the next month) protesting as I tried to sleep in my comfortable bed in comfortable tent at Bharatralia Safari Camp (recommended).

    On top of which I missed the gravel driveway hobbling in the dark and led fellow travellers on a longer hike up the Omeo Highway than they signed up for. Apparently I’m a dud tour leader.

    As days out go, the Saturday had been a pretty good one. Standard route up the Spur, through Whitfield (got left behind again). Lunch at Milawa bakery (they now understand that we are not troublemakers) and a good run through Happy Valley (Rosewhite to Running Creek). The view over Hume weir always fills me with pleasure coming into Tallangatta.

    Lockhardt’s Gap was a fine way to end the day’s ride to our digs before walking 2km over to the Mitta pub, which is booming these days. Local businesses have invested big time in the redevelopment and it’s paid off handsomely or so it seems.

    So I’m playing out a series of scenarios on the way back to the general store, careful not to become another casualty. Discuss travel times for breakdown recovery (yes) ambulance (decide no) and settle on the wonderful ladies offering their assistance as the quickest way to get him out out of this mess.

    By the time I get back to the site, he’s sitting under a leafy tree, examining a fist sized rock.

    “I reckon it was this – see the fresh scuff marks? Must have been right on the line and the front just went in an instant.” Fair enough. There is a fair wait until the towy shows up back at the store. I expect I’ll be going back to help load the bike but the driver waves me away. “Got no room in the cab. We’ll do it no problem.” And off they go. In any case I’ve lost too much time myself. It’s after 2 and 500km from home by the original route. 400 back the short, straight way. I’m not going to get the Omeo Highway done this trip, I conclude. I wander back to thank the ladies one more time.
  3. It’s blistering down the Snow Road and worse on the Hume. At Violet Town I make a call and head up Harry’s Creek Road into cooler air along the top of the Strathbogies. At one point I stop and look out over the mountains to my left. There’s some monumental cumulonimbus piling up far to the southeast. I wonder where the rest of the boys are by now? (Had sent text earlier but no reply). I’m not sure I’d rather be under that stuff.

    Replace fluids at Seymour and again escape the flatland heat going up Creighton’s Creek Road. The whole eastern sky is now high wisps of vapour trailing off thunderheads.

    I’m home at a reasonable time but buggered. Later, I am told lurid tales of a wild ride through crashing lightning and sheets of solid water falling on the north Gippsland farmland as they battled there way through a monster storm that filled the evening news. Probably chose wisely to leave that road for another day.


    Mate spent the Sunday night resting with bike in Wodonga. His hand required surgery but seems to be ok now. The bike was, surprising to me, a financial writeoff but that’s what happens with vehicles built out of unobtainium by decendants of Swabian nobility. The replacement is (I’m told) from the same place but faster and lighter.

    The Omeo Highway is still up there waiting to see if I’ve got the nerve.
    • Like Like x 3
  4. Fantastic report titustitus. I'm glad your mate was OK.

    The day I rode the Omeo, we'd come across Dead Horse Gap between snow drifts after a memorable and unseasonable storm. I remember stopping at the Mitta Store for fuel. There was something not quite right with the pump. I nearly offered to stay until I'd fixed it. Of course, I could never have done so.

    Then I remembered I'm just a deluded old man and rode on to Omeo. I got left behind too, but it was a great ride. So was the next morning's trip to Bruthen where I got overtaken by a chap on a Ducati who I met again later when his rear brake decided to malfunction. I was impressed that he just disconnected it and rode on.

    I'll look forward to your take on the Omeo when you get there.
  5. Yeah mate, I know exactly what you mean.