After a good night’s sleep in Cooma, first thoughts were to consult BOM and see what the weather was going to do for our last day, the run home. All looked great, fine in the morning but with some showers coming in in the late afternoon. No problems, we would be home by then. The garage where the bikes were parked overnight was typically cluttered but it did have two outstanding features, the two doors that open from it onto the beer garden. They are a stunning piece of steampunk engineering and we were lucky enough to chat to the hotel employee who designed and built them. You have to admire great workmanship.
The hotel didn’t have breakfast facilities so we headed down the street and found a cafe. With Snowy II going full pelt we weren’t surprised to find out that the cafe opens at 0300 to cater for workers on their way into the mountains.
We ordered and, when Wayne’s bacon and eggs arrived, the young lady from behind the counter was the one who was serving him, “Now,” she said, “Can you be trusted with a steak knife?” Amazing humour for that hour of the morning.
The road from Cooma to Bega is one with which I am very familiar. For many years we owned a bush block at Brogo, just north of Bega and travelling down there from Canberra happened on a regular basis. So it wasn’t a bit surprising that, as we approached the Brown Mountain, the road became shrouded in fog; it nearly always is foggy there. But the fog quickly turned to rain and we arrived at the lookout to find zero visibility (well, I did, the other two with their Pinlocks found it much easier). Paul took the lead and disappeared, he knows the road well, too.
I was instantly plunged into a panic-inducing loss of vision. If I had thought that the Mount Hotham section was scary, it was paradise compared to this. I wobbled down the mountain at zero speed with a lineup behind me that stretched for goodness knows how long and NOWHERE where I could pull over and rest and let them go by.
Now those of you have experienced this will know that, once the visor fogs up, there is nothing you can do. Flipping it up only results in your glasses fogging up also and the rain streaming down them makes the lack of visibility even worse. Put the visor back down and it’s covered with rain, inside and out and visibility drops to zero.
SOMEHOW, I made it to the bottom and I can honestly say that it was only due to my familiarity with the road and the corners that enabled me to do so. I pulled over on the flat as soon as I could and sat there, trembling for minutes until I calmed down. Wayne and Paul were sympathetic, of course, but there wasn’t anything they could really do to help me. I cleaned the visor as best I could with a serviette from my tank bag and we set off again.
I WILL NEVER, EVER, TRUST BOM AGAIN!
Now I knew that, if the conditions were like this on the mountain, they were almost certainly going to be like that for the next 35kms until we got to the Princes Highway and, of course, they were. Indeed, the fog and the rain didn’t ease up until we were near Cobargo and, thankfully, after that, they eased off almost completely.
Riding into the fine weather was a blessing as was the fact that the wind was drying out our wet gloves and jeans.
Now some people have said to me, “What a terrible last day that must have been, the Princes Highway is so boring, with lots of traffic, caravans, towns and so forth.” I cannot disagree more. I LOVE the Princes, it is filled with long sections of sweeping corners, elevation changes and plenty of opportunities to either overtake if you encounter slow traffic of BE overtaken if you’re holding someone up. The speed limit is nearly always 100 and even the towns are a minor inconvenience. So I was looking forward to a blast home and that is what we got.
Lunch at Narooma at a lovely little cafe on the highway and back in the saddle as the mile markers told us that we were getting closer to home. A comfort stop at Ulladulla and the obligatory shot of the beautiful harbour and the distances to home continued to reduce.
The run through South Nowra is always a pain even though it’s 4 lanes and the new double lane section though to Kiama is dodgem cars as drivers enjoy the freedom that they have never had before. Wayne peeled off home to Kiama, Paul peeled off at the Shellharbour turn-off and I soloed home to get there in plenty of daylight, dry, a little sore and frazzled but grateful.
The final day was 430kms and much easier than the other days with less twisties demanding lots of concentration.
A total of 1755kms for the 4 days with Day 1’s 519 being the longest.
Fuel, as noted, much cheaper in Victoria. My bike’s miserly fuel consumption meant that I never had to worry about running low.
Roads; also as noted, the roads in Victoria are vastly better than those in NSW. As a consequence I found that TWK’s suspension handled the trip beautifully despite being almost completely devoid of adjustability. Even bumps mid-corner did not seem to put it off its game which is pretty neat when you are riding on roads that you don’t know.
My lack of confidence in right hand, and especially blind right hand corners is still a problem and I doubt that it will ever improve. Having said that, Paul said that there were a number of occasions when he was following me that my boots came within millimeters of the road surface and I wasn’t even trying!
Comfort. I became pretty sure that the bike would be a comfortable tourer after getting off at Walwa after 519kms and still feeling pretty good. But it wasn’t until the first stop on Tuesday that the reason for this became apparent. Paul came up and said, “That is the first time I have seen you riding straight on a bike since you had the accident.” Now he had mentioned on many occasions since 2010 that I was sitting awkwardly but I wasn’t conscious of it, it felt that I was sitting straight. Apparently he was right because the seating position on TWK seems to be just “right” to provide me with comfort and not twist me into a position that induces pain and requires more frequent stops. I am very grateful for this because I didn’t want the guys to be stopping frequently just to accommodate me.
Lastly, I must thank Wayne Timms for not only making up the itinerary, keeping us on-track with his on-board maps module and organising the accommodation. I’ve been on lots of group rides but never one as well organised and executed as this one was. 10 out of 10, Mr Timms.
And my brother, Paul with whom I have ridden countless kilometers over the last goodness-knows how many years. He always knows when to swap positions in the convoy and has an almost telepathic understanding of when I NEED to stop.
I can’t think of two people who I’d rather travel with. The only thing that still needs to be said, when can we do it again?