From the Blog

Shorter but Longer Pt2

When I left you last we were in Cessnock. Sunday was a very hot day up in the valley and the ambient gauge on my bike said that it was 31 degrees when we pulled into the car park. Similar was predicted for Monday so a few less layers went on when getting dressed in the morning. Little lesson here, never pack your top box so full that there is no extra room, otherwise you won’t have space to stash unwanted winter woollies. Wearing less layers proved to be the right call.

So, breakfast. Still mourning the loss of our favourite eatery at Pokolbin Village, we toddled downtown in search of sustenance. It was still quite early and it was Monday morning so we were a bit apprehensive as many cafes don’t open on Mondays having been open all weekend. We hit paydirt, however, when we found that there were two restaurants open already. We tossed the coin and  settled on Mr O which looked bright, shiny and new.

It became immediately clear that we had stumbled into hipster territory but, with not a man bun in sight, we sat down and examined the menu. To our great surprise the fare on offer, while expectedly hipster in makeup, was very cheap by anyone’s standards. I settled for poached eggs on sourdough (above) and noted when it arrived that there was no butter on the toast but there was a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. I eschewed the smashed avo as my gesture of non-conformity to the code and enjoyed my breakfast immensely. The coffee was nice, though a tad bitter, but it’s pretty hard to argue with any coffee first thing in the morning. Definitely worth visiting again.

While eating we made a plan for the day. Since we had been deprived the joys of the Wollombi Road on the Sunday, the first choice was to track that way on the way home. However, it was still very early (around 0730) and we calculated that, if we did that, we were likely to be home around lunch time. BOM was predicted a glorious day and so we calculated some longer alternatives.

This is what we decided.

We fuelled up at Broke and hit the Putty. We had a great run, minimal traffic and pulled in to the Grey Gum for the mandatory stop and a hot chocolate. As we pulled in to the car park we noted that there were two HWP cars parked there. “I hope they’re heading north,” Paul said as we took off our helmets. He went over to the loo and I went up the stairs to order. The two cops were sitting on the verandah having a chat with Kim. “Hey, are you guys brothers or something,” one of them asked. “Oh, yeah, they’re brothers,” Kim answered. “I thought so, because I just saw you heading over to the loo and now you’re here.” I gave Kim a big hug and asked her how she was and she explained to the boys the mayhem that we have caused over the years. I went in to order. When Paul arrived on the verandah and also gave Kim a hug, one of the policeman said, “Hey, you’ve already done that!” Being an identical twin is the gift that just goes on giving.

Refreshed by a hot chocolate and some raisin toast we got ready to leave. One of the cars pulled out of the car park and headed south. We weren’t ready yet so we figured he wouldn’t be a problem anyway. By the time we were right to go I was heading across for a pit stop just as the second cop was getting in his car. “Hey,” I yelled, “Which direction are you going?” He half got out of the car and pointed south. “Dammit, I’ll have to behave now,” I said. “Don’t worry” he replied, “I’ll stay ahead of you.” As with yesterday, we parted on good terms. Funnily enough, despite keeping a careful eye out for them, we didn’t see either car again.

No ride down the Putty would be complete without paying respects to the famous Colo Bra Tree.

At the top of the hill just before you start dropping down into Wilberforce, we cut right onto the short road that leads you to Kurrajong and out onto the Bells Line of Road. Said road used to be a motorcycling Mecca but years of police and ambulance personnel having to scrape up off it the remains of over-ambitious riders has seen it reduced to a shadow of its former glory. 60km/h speed limits, fixed speed cameras and miles of double unbroken lines means that it is now the province of Sunday drivers and tourists out for a leisurely cruise in the country.

We stopped at Bilpin and had a coffee and an apple pie; after all, it would have been churlish not to do so at the home of the apple orchards. While sitting at the table outside I couldn’t help but notice that there were three guys sitting at the other end of the cafe having a loud and fascinating discussion. About what, you may ask? About Hodaka motorcycles, no less. Yep, touring constantly surprises.

We motored on to Lithgow then turned east again on the Great Western Highway. We weren’t on it for long before we turned south and onto the road that leads to Oberon, and what a glorious road it is. Constantly twisting and turning it is a motorcyclists delight. We gassed up on the outskirts of town and headed down the main street and out the other end following the signs to Goulburn. The road has certainly improved since I rode it last and the new section down the valley and across the river is much better, though the logging trucks are certainly giving it a hiding. The river must mark the borderline between two council areas because the climb back up the other side is appalling, the road is third world quality and I use the term with some degree of licence.

Not long after we got up on the tops we came upon some roadworks. At the previous set on the BLoR I had idled to the front of the queue, the Stop/Go man had moved about ten metres further along to let me in and wished me a good day as he changed the sign from Stop to Go. At this set the young man warned me that we had arrived at exactly the wrong time as the road had just been ripped up and we’d need to be very careful as we proceeded. I thought I’d have that pretty well covered until he changed the sign and I ventured out, at the front of a long line of traffic, onto a minefield of major proportions. As soon as my front wheel hit the newly-dug surface, it dug in about six inches and the bike lurched alarmingly to the right. Knowing better than to try and correct it, I put both feet down, slowed even further and let the bike make the course. But it got worse. Now heading nearly 90 degrees to the right of where I was supposed to be going, the bike ran off the newly-ploughed surface and into a deep drift of loamy soil. Here the front wheel dug in even further and I was sure I was going to be dumped on my head at any second. Just as it was looking as if I was headed for disaster, I noticed that, beyond the wide expanse of soil, was the grassy verge of the road and, on it, were the tyre marks of vehicles (presumably the road workers) who had driven on it. I decided to let the bike do its thing and HOPE that I could make it to the grass. More (much) by good luck than by good riding skills, I made it to the grass where a clear path in the short grass led on to well past where the road works were happening. Conscious that even good surfaces can go bad, I idled along in the wheel tracks until I could see, way out to my left, the Stop/Go man at the other end of the roadworks. I could also see Paul, battling his way through the deeply ploughed road surface, doing zero miles an hour, both feet down and holding up a huge stream of cars behind him. I gradually turned left until I was out near the edge of the road again and I waited till the traffic had passed by before I rejoined the road, on the bitumen and greatly relieved.

From here it was a much easier transport stage though Tallong and on to Goulburn where we stopped for a well-deserved cup of tea and a break. From there it was up the Hume to Marulan and right onto the Wingello Road for a glorious blast through the highlands emerging at Robertson. From here it was down the Pass and home. Weary but triumphant. 458kms on Sunday and 604kms on Monday. Shorter but longer. The weather was spectacular, the roads were good, the company acceptable (sorry, mate) and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.