(cue Willie Nelson) No, not me, per se, but on Saturday and Sunday last I went on my first long ride with my brother since before his major accident in October 2010. We had done many, many rides in the years previous, just the two of us, and the accident seemed to signal the end of his riding days. But, cussed man that he is, he worked hard on his rehabilitation and bought another bike. A minor accident eighteen months ago, resulting in a broken collarbone (to add to his other many pins and plates) seemed again to signal "Game Over" but he battled back to such fitness as his limitations would allow. He's done a few short (by our standards) rides around the Highlands and the Coast, and one day trip to the Grey Gum and back, but that's about all. So I was hesitant to suggest another of our customary two-day rides, but he was keen so on the provisio that we could turn for home at any time, we planned to ride the Putty, go across to Toronto, stay the night, and retrace our steps on Sunday. We left Wollongong at 7:30am Saturday, with the first stop planned for Wilberforce, but with me always on the alert for a 'I've had enough' signal. He was fine at Wilberforce, we fueled up and headed to the Grey Gum for breakfast. Kim and her crew as usual were on the ball with bacon and egg rolls and hot tea, and we observed (rather selfishly) that there were FIVE VFRs including ours in the car-park. I was concerned about how he would handle the Ten Mile, given that his accident on Macquarie Pass happened on a right-hand corner and there's a few of them on the Ten Mile. But he soldiered on through it, and from my observation, seemed to have his lines in the corners, and his confidence, pretty-well restored. Our hosts at the motel at Toronto very kindly offered to allow us to put the bikes under a sail-type cover next to the swimming pool, and after buying some food at the local supermarket, we settled down for dinner and some TV. Well, I settled down for the TV; he ate dinner and went to bed at 7:00pm; I'm guessing he was pretty tired. Nevertheless, he assured me that he was ok physically and not in any pain. At 3:00am, however, he was wide awake, and because I'm a light sleeper, so was I! He wasn't in pain, he'd just had enough sleep!! So we watched NASCAR till it put us back to sleep and woke again at a far more decent 7:00am. Fuel at Cessnock and breakfast at the wonderful Vittorio's at Pokolbin; muesli and yoghurt and a cup of tea, we got up, kitted up and rode off. Ten miles down the road I pulled him over (he was in front at that stage, we swap the lead regularly) and asked, "Did you pay for breakfast?" "No" "Neither did I!"....... When we got to the Grey Gum we rang the restaurant and paid for breakfast by credit card, of course. There was much consternation at Grey Gum because a rider south of the cafe had hit a wild boar, of all things, and the road was closed. We ordered coffees and waited, and in due course the ambulance arrived with the patient, "He's not too bad" from the Ambulance officer, "But we're bringing in the chopper to take him to hospital...... A few miles down the road we saw the Police car sitting by the remains of his bike, and shook our heads as we rode by. I've been riding that road for 40 years, and I've seen all matter of livestock and animals, but a wild boar is a first. The bike was a mess! Penrith was a furnace by the time was passed through, and the traffic on the road past Harvey Norman was its usual gridlock, so we were glad to stop at Peppercorns, where we parked under the tree, and I reprised my earlier picture of the Hornet! Cup of tea and off, to be met by a few darker clouds, and a spot or two of rain! Then, just as we reached The Oaks, the heavens opened into a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions. I pulled into the BP garage, but brother was ahead and missed my furiously waving arm, and by the time he realised I wasn't there any more, it was too dangerous to turn round. I waited about ten minutes will the rain was just torrential, not flooding, and since I was already soaked the skin, pushed on towards Picton, where I hoped he would stop and regroup. I spent most of that section following a Mini with its hazard flashers on, and hoping HE could see the road, because I couldn't see anything. For a few minutes it hailed; I found some chips out of the clear-coat on my helmet when I took it off...... At Picton I stopped at the Shell garage, which almost immediately was blacked out by a bolt of lightning which hit just behind the building.... Anyway, brother was OK, sheltering under another awning elsewhere, so we headed off on the last leg to Wollongong, and only encountered two more theatrical thunderstorms. Without a doubt the worst conditions under which I have ever ridden, and we were very glad to get home, dump our sodden gear in a pile on the garage floor and wrap around a hot chocolate... The up-side of all this, however, was that brother's injuries didn't hinder his riding or his well-being, although I bet he slept well last night.