I slept in to 5.30am today and woke up feeling like I’d had a workout yesterday. I was very happy about that. After some coffee I wandered outside and there was some activity among the bikes that had filled the hotel carpark.
The ride organisers had left early to pre-ride the route and a message had been sent back that the afternoon and overnight rain had left part of the track very greasy. As such those of us on big bore bikes were offered the choice of tackling the greasy stuff or riding by road to Dungog, the first stop for the day. Shane (Super Tenere) and Pete (GSA1200) decided to take it easy and go down the road and I opted to go with Steve on his DRZ-400 and Kat on her Honda XR400M into the wet and see what happened. I’m really, really glad I did.
But first, breakfast. The pub put on a fantastic hot breakfast for $10 and a gold coin donation for one of the best double shot flat whites I’ve had in a while. A great start to a day’s riding.
On Faulkner Road not far from the centre of Gloucester Kat snapped this great pic of me crossing a causeway.
The next part of the ride kept me really busy. Steve and Kat would forge ahead and I rode the Tenere like a big tractor up and down steep, rocky, wet, leafy tracks and across a bunch of causeways and rocky creek crossings on Berrico Creek Road and Berrico Road through the Avon River State Forest.
The first proper creek crossing for the day was a bit scary. A couple of more experienced riders had some trouble but fortunately Steve found a more settled route across it that missed the big rocks that had caused others the problems and I followed him. An advantage of being at the back I suppose. It’s the only one I sat down for all weekend and frankly I was fully puckered on the way across. But I still hit the water a touch fast I think
and while the legs were out I didn’t need them. At least the pants and boots got a good clean! Thanks for the pics Kat.
The next part of the ride was fairly hard going on the big bike but it didn’t let me down and I stayed upright and on the pegs the whole way. The two days riding up to today increased my skill level enough to take it on without thinking about it too much. At one point a bunch of other riders on the event caught us while we were having a break, you can see from the pic we were all having fun.
The others left and I continued down the mountain. I passed a section of our route that showed warning flags and arrows that signalled a diversion. Further down I came upon a group of our riders heading back up the hill, including Steve and Kat. The group was led by Greg, the ride organiser. Greg was one of the riders who pre rode the route and made the decision in relation to the diversion He was surprised to see me out there on the Super Tenere thinking at all the big bore bikes might have taken the road route. He was taking the group of serious smaller bore bikes to ride the part of the route he’d closed off under supervision. He warned me that it was very steep, wet and slippery and asked me if I wanted to try it. I said “Yes” and his look and response convinced me I should cut and run so I rode back to the Bucketts Way on Spring Creek Road taking it very easy because for that part I was all on my own.
I caught back up with Pete and Shane and others at Dungog. Coffee and cake for morning tea and a great chat about the part of the ride we just finished. That’s Kat in the middle of some of the group, she’s a wizard on her bike and great fun to be around.
The next part of the ride was through Bingleburra Road to East Gresford, tar but it was fun to let loose for a bit and then some gravel. Somewhere along here Steve was in front and I was zooming along as fast as I felt comfortable feeling like the king of the dirt road. Then I heard a noise and Kat passed me like I was standing still, threw the back out at the next left hander without even slowing down and she was gone. Ego appropriately packed away Wom.
We then took Glendonbrook Rd turning off on Summerhill Road and up a crazy narrow, winding tar road towards Eaglereach Wilderness Resort. From there the route was a bit of a puzzle through gates and around paddocks that didn’t seem to be any sort of road. It was a case of follow the blue line on the GPS and cross the fingers. We ended up passing a farmhouse and riding down a goat track, the steepest and most rocky “edge of the seat” stuff I’ve ever seen. Traction down the hill was difficult and the turns very sharp. A mistake would likely mean a huge fall off a cliff. A bit scary really.
Finally, after another creek crossing just to finish me off, I got to the bottom and rode out on to the tarred section of Lambs Valley Road. We then took some nice back roads to Singleton. Steve and I had been separated from Kat, Shane and Pete in the puzzle at the top of the hill and decided to wait for them. We refuelled, had a bite to eat and sat in the park in the shade to cool down, the day was getting quite warm. After a while we met back up, Shane decided to head for home and the remaining four of us headed down the Putty Road. The route took me to the gate at the start of the Howes Trail that heads into the Yengo National Park. Kat and Steve had ridden this section before and told us it’d be reasonably tough on on the big bikes particularly considering there had been some rain about and we’d enjoyed wet roads most of the way there.
Crossing Yengo we regrouped often and Kat and Steve would warn Pete and I about the next difficult thing we were to encounter. It was great info and on reflection was a big help but was a little scary at the time. There were some steeper rocky/clay uphill sections where traction on the Heidenau K60’s was only just available with the rear of the bike slipping and sliding all over the place. There were big whoops, erosion mounds, muddy holes and more fun and games. Tight turns in rocky uphills were present and just when you thought you might get a bit of a rest on the seat on the occasional flat bit there would be sand to get through. It was full on and full of fun. Here’s a quick pic taken along the way.
Howes trail turned into the Yango Track then the Finchley Track and became a little easier until we found a few metres of tar and a causeway near the Upper Yango Creek Road. Kat grabbed a pic of me crossing it
Pete and Steve were behind me and we’d been joined along the way by Kat’s partner Mick who was standing behind her as she was near the water’s edge taking the photos. Mick waved them on frantically and they both took it as a signal to hit the causeway at speed. Kat was drenched both times. I wasn’t game to laugh until Kat turned around a little shocked but taking it in good spirits. That was fortunate for Pete and Steve, and Mick too when they explained what had prompted them to ride faster into the water.
I followed Upper Yango Creek Road to the back of Wollombi. It travelled through some beautiful farmland and around rocky outcrops.
There were also a quite a few causeways crossing and recrossing the creek. I was caught by the depth of one and hit it a little fast causing the bow wave to crest straight over the top of the Super Tenere’s screen and soaking me. Another lesson learnt. Then we stopped at the Wollombi Tavern.
Steve was heading south, Kat and Mick were going their own way so after a drink Pete and I rode to the finish of the route. We cut out a slight vineyard tour in the route to check out and finish the ride. We said our goodbyes and I rode out to the Hunter Expressway for a bit of relaxing cruise control time on the way home.
I rode about 380kms today, the longest of the three days overall. Still not a long day by any means but physically demanding on top of the last two days. I’m looking forward to a rest tomorrow.
All up it was a fantastic weekend. Some of you may know these tracks and are wondering what the fuss is about but for an offroad muppet on a bike as big as this one it was a brand new and sometimes scary experience. But no offs, no really bad mistakes and my eyes have been opened to a whole new list of possibilities for the Super Tenere. I’ve now taken it places I’d never have tried to go by myself, probably on any bike, so I’ve explored some limits and can now make better decisions about whether or not to have a crack at something or turn around.
Thanks to the RideADV team for creating such a fun and challenging ride event. I’ll definitely be back. A special thanks to Steve for his mentorship over the three days and Kat for looking after us all and taking some great snaps on the last day.