Hey Guys, Thought I would post this up as I can't stop raving about it and I think my team are getting sick of me. I moved up to Bathurst from Canberra a few months ago because my company is working on regional expansion and they needed someone experienced to run the otherwise all new team up here. I thought it would be great, lots of awesome roads out that way, and I jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately I sightly underestimated the whole 'brand new team' thing, and between constantly being on call for their questions, going home to Canberra on my days off, and going down to head office in Sydney, I haven't had much by way of time off to get out on the bike. Small rides for an hour or so, but nothing big. I figured I wasn't missing out on too much, as the weather wasn't crash hot, and the days were short. Recently its been warming up and I have been dying to get out on the bike. So on Friday morning when I miraculously found I was off and the weather was looking gorgeous, I decided, sod it, I'll go for a ride. This ride to be precise. Not a minor endeavour. I figured 8.5 hours on google was probably 7.5 hours of riding, and between lunch and coffee (can't forget the most important part!) and stopping to take gratuitous photos of my bike, dodging goanna's etc (more on that later) I was looking at a 10 hour ride or thereabouts. So I filled my bike, set the trip counter, told my team that they weren't allowed to need my help, forgot to check the tyre pressure, called myself and idiot, checked the tyres and set off. The first bit of the ride out of Bathurst was roads I had explored briefly before, but once on Turondale road I was in virgin territory (for me at least, and thats what matters right? Right???). I knew as soon as I got to this vista, that I had made a good decision. Having taken the photos I needed to prove I was out busy being awesome, I took off again. Turondale road really is great, and I will definitely be revisiting it. It runs up through the hills north of Bathurst, and the paddocks and bush really look phenomenal in the right light. There may be some locals who have reported ghostly yells from the hills, I happen to know that you are safe though, those noises were emanating from my helmet as whoops of excitement after I scraped a peg for the first time (I'm actually so stoked about this). Seriously though the road looks like it was sealed in the last year or so, basically no gravel, well sealed all the way to the edges and only a few potholes all of which were easily seen well in advance. The same can't be said for Hill End Road. This has clearly just been redone, and is covered in gravel, to the point that I felt my rear wheel moving behind me a few times. I took what would otherwise be an awesome stretch of road very very slowly, literally 30-40kph in an 80 zone, for that reason. In a year or two when that gravel has been thrown off by the cars running through there, I imagine it is going to be awesome. Can you see how gravelly that road is in this picture? You probably can't see the enormous stick shaped goanna that scared the pants off of me a few hundred metres past here by revealing its non-stick status when I was a bit too close. But trust me, he was there. The roads were decent from Sofala through to Rylstone (but no phone signal if your into that) but nothing mind blowing. After Rylstone however I did come across this, and aside from being an olive grove next to a mountain, which is honestly just a cool place to be on its own, there was the universal indicator of upcoming awesome, this sign. Almost all of Bylong Valley Way is great. Mixing open sweepers with tight up and downhill switchbacks and everything inbetween. There is much to enjoy about this road, except the roadworks stabilizing the cliffs that line the road in parts, which is probably a worthwhile endeavor. After getting stopped at some road works I had an Audi TT Coupe (who had clearly been joyriding like me) pull up behind me. Once we were through the roadworks, perhaps believing that the large P plate on my bike would slow me down, he pulled out to try to overtake me. Apparently he was mistaken. It was fun having someone to run with along the straights, but he seemed to be falling behind through the corners. It is worth noting that there is a section of Bylong Valley Way (near Baerami) where as of early September recent roadworks have left a huge amount of gravel. It is signposted with the 'loose gravel spraying from wheels' sign, but that is something of an understatement. I stopped for a quick lunch in Sandy Hollow, as I am not yet riding a Ducati, I won't comment on the coffee. Briefly bragged to the girlfriend that I was out riding whilst she was stuck inside at work, after which I checked in and told her how far along my ride I was and that I was safe, an essential part of riding alone. Whilst there, I saw two sweet groups of riders, one leaving as I arrived, and a contingent of Cruisers (or is it a gaggle?) on their way to Mudgee as I was leaving. A fairly uneventful ride along the Golden Highway took me to just outside Singleton, and the start of the often heard but as yet unexplored (by me anyway) Putty Rd. After briefly pulling over to try and photograph another Goanna, this time eating a damn Kangaroo. Yes, eating. I got to Bulga and was greeted by the most obvious "Motorcyclists Please Don't Die Here" signs I have ever seen. Which made me giggle, and consider my mortality, but mostly giggle about how much fun I was about to have. I was accurate. About 20 odd km from Milbrodale I heard a bigger bike (ZX14R I later discovered after some cursory googling) come up behind me, which kind of surprised me given that I had kind of forgotten that was possible after not having anyone get that close all day (sorry Mr Audi, but you weren't even close). I slowed and pulled to the side to let him past, and he thanked me by giving me a cursory wave, and popping a wheelie. He was then followed by three other superbikes, each making me curse my damn restrictions. After that, the game was simply trying not to get outstripped too fast. I was trying to see how small I could keep the gains they made on me through the corners, and I actually thought I was doing ok, but it was nerve-wracking watching bikes overtake other vehicles on double lines. I pulled up for a break at the Grey Gum Cafe, where I bumped into them. The bloke from the ZX10R noted that he was impressed I was keeping up on my little 500!! So, after 650 km, 28L of Fuel, one scraped peg, 2 Goannas, 10 hours, 2 Coffees, and about a billion corners I guess I learned that what makes a motorcyclist happy is talking (or typing in this case). And corners. Talking and Corners. If you read that all, congrats. Go and do a bigger ride next weekend and show me. And do lots of talking about it.