Here on the eastern coast of Oz we’re in the middle of an unseasonably warm beginning to spring. Of course the Chicken Littles are bleating about climate change (as they always do whenever it changes) and the news outlets are talking about unprecedented heat wave and there’s a total fire ban today. Fact is that there is nothing unusual about it and, while it is warm and windy today, I suppose the authorities’ memory of the 2020 disaster is still fresh enough in their memory to prompt a degree of panic.
Anyway, my local classic motorcycle club plans their calendar long in advance of the daily weather forecast and so it is that the monthly dam ride was scheduled for today. A good crowd of modern and old bikes turned up at the start point including a lovely 1974 Honda 350/4 in olive green colours (mine was cherry red). So good to see one still running.
So the ride leader laid out the plan and everyone seemed happy with it, there were probably 16-18 riders so not a bad roll-up for such a hot, windy day. Someone asked if we were going to use corner markers and he replied that we probably wouldn’t as we all knew the way (you can already tell what’s going to happen here, can’t you?)
Now my story assumes that you have a knowledge of my local area and roads and, of course, many of you don’t so please forgive me if I try to explain without the benefit of a map.
We set out at 10 and headed up Mount Keira. The plan was to turn right the top and funnel across to the top of Mount Ousley Road. I was positioned in the last third of the group following a nice red Ducati. At the turnoff to Clive Bissell Drive there was the 2nd rider in the group doing the corner marking, excellent.
At the exit back onto the highway there wasn’t a corner marker but I guessed that that one was pretty obvious. I filtered out into the traffic flow and kept my eyes on the Ducati in front.
However, things took an odd turn (which was to become the norm for the rest of the morning) when we got to the slip road off onto the freeway and the Ducati peeled left and headed onto it. Now I had heard the ride leader say that we would go along Madden’s Plains which I knew was on the old highway so I stayed on it also because it’s a far more interesting road that the boring freeway.
I spotted the rest of the group up ahead so I tootled along behind them (I must add that, since I don’t ride with this group often, I don’t have a good idea of who rides what – this will become important later.)
At Helensburgh I was expecting them to turn right as the plan had been to turn towards the ocean and head up to Waterfall through the Royal National Park. I wasn’t convinced that this was a good idea as, even though it was a week day, the best time to the road, it was quite windy and I was sure the road would be covered with leaf litter and branches that had blown off the trees there (it was).
But they DIDN’T turn right, they kept on going up the old highway. Oh, well, I guess someone changed the plan. Then, at Waterfall, they kept going, again making no attempt to go into the RNP. By now I was completely confused. But it was a nice day, the 550 was purring along so I decided to just go with the flow. It wasn’t MY ride so it was SEP.
At Heathcote, they all pulled into the first servo. This also seemed odd as the rule is that you start out with a full tank so we don’t waste time with petrol stops along the way. I recognised three of the bikes so I was sure I was on the right track. But, when I got off and started to talking to the others, I realised that I didn’t know ANY of them (oh, except for Melissa who rides with us on IR rides and she was on a modern bike not a classic)
It rapidly became clear that I had attached myself to Melissa’s group and had somehow detached myself from the CEMCC group! I rushed over to the other CEMCC guys who had now realised the same thing and they said that they were going up to the traffic lights in the middle of town and turn around and head south to meet up with our group. I asked them to wait for me and I rushed back to the CBX and put my helmet and gloves on. All good, except that they didn’t wait. As I pulled out of the servo and headed north to the traffic lights, I saw them heading south on the other side of the median strip.
By the time I had done the turnaround they were nowhere to be seen. Oh, well, it was still a nice day for a ride, I wasn’t going to let that spoil my day. AT Waterfall, I cut east onto McKell Drive and headed into the Park. As I expected, the road was pretty well littered (we had passed a large tree over the road just before Waterfall on the way up so I knew what to expect.) The road was deserted and I had enormous fun playing tunes on the MOTAD exhaust and listening to the little 550 sing.
Several kilometres into the run south who should I see but MY group, heading NORTH! I recognised the lead rider’s bike and he was wearing a flouro vest. I had to make a quick decision, keep going and just ride home and enjoy the ride or, turn around and catch the guys and rejoin the ride. I quickly decided on the latter. That was the easy part, finding somewhere where I could turn around was way more difficult and, all the time I was conscious that the group was riding further and further away from me!
By the time I found the rest area and turned around, I knew that my chance of catching them was gone. Oh, well, I knew that they were planning to stop for lunch at Stanwell Park Reserve so I played tunes and headed that way. At the intersection of McKell and the main road, I saw one of our riders pulled up at the side of the road. No, surely they’re not going to play corner markers now? Yes, they were and, it appeared that I wasn’t the last rider to be waited for as Mick hadn’t made an appearance yet. I toddled off and let him to wait for Mick while he waited for Mick to arrive.
As you know, any amount of time that you spend standing still while the rest of the group is still running means that your chances of catching them diminishes rapidly. I was now kilometres behind and, with a 60km/h speed limit in the park, that might as well have been forever.
Nevertheless I felt confident that they’d still be setting up for lunch at Stanwell Park so I pressed on.
Except that they weren’t; they were nowhere to be seen. THIS time I decided that the ride was now mine and, with the temperature rising and the wind picking up even more, it was time to head home.
I did stop at one of the beaches to get an “atmosphere” shot but, apart from that it was points south and I got home a little after 12.
Just a bit over 120kms and a great little morning’s run. Best laid plans? Yeah, right.