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Spots stretches the Tiger's legs... backwards.

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by Spots, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. A bit over a year ago, the following comments cropped up in this thread over here.

    I now have my own comment to add to the above.

    David "Davo" Jones' funeral was held on September 19th in Noosa and I felt that I should attend. Not particularly wanting to put up with the dull, straight, roadworks-and-traffic-clogged Pacific Highway, I felt it would be doubly fitting to get to QLD by mirroring that first >1000km trip of mine, a ride inspired by many of the tales of Davo's travels and the need to get out and do something wild.

    1040km in 13 hours, 13 minutes elapsed time.

    Just like last time, one of Davo's tricks proved invaluable - I wasn't riding to Brisbane, I was riding to Gloucester... then Armidale... then Grafton... then Brisbane. The next set of twisties were never more than an hour or two away...

    Departed from Bondi at 6am sharp on Friday. Sadly, no photos this time; just one heck of a ride, maximising average speed by minimising time-wasting and faffing about at fuelstops.

    First fuelstop was in Gloucester, and not long after that it was time to ascend...

    Thunderbolt's Way - Google Maps link

    Heading uphill during daylight rather than downhill at night is, for want of a better way to put it, like night and day. Six kilometres of mostly 12% grade steepness and a generous 100kph speed limit ('speed challenge', more like!) allows the Tiger to stretch its legs quite substantially, 1050cc triple bellowing through a glasspack muffler and derestricted airbox as it ascends the steep, twisty road.

    Traffic was kind to me as well - I encountered just one caravan slowly climbing the hill just as an overtaking opportunity presented itself, costing me no time or loss of speed. Not sure what they thought of the fly-by; didn't stop to ask.

    Thunderbolt's Way, uphill during the day, gets 5 out of 5 stars for sheer "does this road ever stop climbing?!" never-ending ascent into the clouds madness, with spectacular scenery to boot.

    (Downhill during the day, on the return trip... Eh. Less scary than last time, but not a great deal of fun due to gravel and patchy surface in parts)

    Second fuel stop at Armidale after a transport stage through the plains above Thunderbolts, too early to eat lunch.

    Waterfall Way - Google Maps link

    Eastbound on Waterfall Way is a lot more fun and more interesting than Westbound, I think. Heading East, the road starts out flat and dull, gradually becomes more hilly and twisty, culminating in the leg approaching Dorrigo where the road gets seriously hilly and becomes a swooping motorcycle rollercoaster with equally dramatic scenery to the south! Great fun! A little roadwork here and there, but nothing too dramatic, and generally no cars around to slow things down unnecessarily. Much more fun than Westbound.

    Summerland Way; Clouds Creek - Google Maps link

    Still making great time on the trip, a little too early for lunch in fact, I pressed on toward Grafton along the Summerland Way. Coming out of Dorrigo it's a little rough, but that's why the Tiger's got soft-ish suspension travel, right? ;) Battling a poorly maintained surface at the same time as tackling corners is just part and parcel of crazy interstate backroad sport-touring.

    Clouds Creek proper is still as fun as ever; a crazy dash across the side and over the top of a couple of mountains. Signage isn't bad, advisory speeds usually referring to the final corner in a chain of esses, or to the conditions of a tightening-radius bend. Just an entertaining sprint through the forest hills and on the uphill stretches another chance to stretch the Tiger's legs a bit.

    (Just as a warning; When headed southbound the advisory-speed signs are inconsistent and misleading at best over the mountains. Make sure to pack your best road-reading hat with you!)

    Clouds Creek has a few cows about on the road, too.

    After not long at all, it's time to break for lunch in Grafton and give the Tiger some 95 octane to drink too. Time flies when you're having fun, afterall!

    Transport stage on Summerland Way - Google Maps link

    Not much to say about the transport-stage; Between Grafton and Kyogle, Summerland Way is straightforward 100kph backroad, with only brief interruptions as one passes through the tiny townships sprinkled along the way. Still, the gently-winding path and generally stress-free lack of traffic and roadworks make it an infinitely better option than superslabbing it up the Pacific Highway, where you get stuck behind people doing 80 in both lanes or get stuck in roadworks, if you're not already doing 50kph through one of the thirty million towns along the way which bring the speed limit down to 60.

    Much better average speed on the backroads. :)

    Much less stressy than dealing with the Pacific Highway. :)

    Mt. Lindesay Highway - Google Maps link

    From Kyogle north, things tighten up a bit. Flat plains turn to lazily swooping bends over hills and eventually a steep climb up to Dairy Flat, where the road suddenly turns quite twisty indeed to skirt around the edge of Mt. Lindesay and Mt. Barney. I think I prefer the southbound direction to northbound; something subconscious, maybe vision through the corners or something.

    The road's a bit rough in places, racetrack smooth in others. Still, with an enthusiastic speed limit of 100kph and corners which must be taken at ~60kph, it's one last chance to give the throttle, brakes and tyres a thorough workout before the dull transport stage into Brisbane itself...

    The fillup at Grafton gives the Tiger enough fuel range to reach Brisbane proper without too much fuss, so after the Mt. Lindesay Highway it's just a matter of trundling over to a friend's house and parking the Tiger up beside his lil' ER-6N, just in time for dinner. Thunderbolt's Way uphill, and Waterfall Way heading Eastbound were both great eye-opening roads, and I felt in much better condition than last time with a lot less time wasted faffing about at fuelstops.

    This one was for you, Davo. Rest in peace.
  2. Great ride report Scott. Thunderbolts climbs forever, as you say :). I'm planning a few days on the bike in the school hols; that looks like a good route to take.
  3. Yeah, Thunderbolt's rocks!! *groan* (NEH joke)

    In 1988 I did Canberra to Ipswich via Parkes and the Newell on my CBX550F2. A stinking hot day +40 degrees in the sun and I did it in 11 and a half hours.

    Wouldn't do that again these days, I was young and stupid then.

    From memory that was just under 1100 kms.

  4. As opposed to OLD and stupid today?? ::p
  5. Nice writeup.

    The rough bits of thunderbolts has always seemed unnerving for me. Have only ever gone down it though.. and the first time was after one of our bikes broke down and I ended up with all of the extra gear on my little 250's ventura rack, pushing my brakes to their limits. Last time (about a month ago) I had an oddesy + trailer driver with something to prove sitting about an inch behind me the whole way down - eek!
  6. When we did it a couple of years ago (up) we had the unnerving experience of encountering a guy who had crashed on the way down. Considering his bike was a complete wreck from being wiped along the cliff-face, and he had several broken ribs, he was amazingly chipper, but it did rather curb our enthusiasm for the rest of that section :LOL: