Well, I’m home, after a fantastic day’s riding. I left Port Macquarie at 0630 this morning and fuelled up at the station on the highway. Then it was west, through Wauchope, Timbertown and Long Flat and heading for the mountains. The area along the flat was shrouded in thick fog early this morning which made it a bit difficult, but, as soon as I started to climb, I rode out of it into clear air. Whoohoo.
The first half of the mountain pass has been pretty badly cut up by trucks and some care is required, but the 2nd half, where you climb the 2nd part of the Great Dividing Range, has been resealed recently and it’s tip-top. I blitzed the road today, my only disappointment being that it seemed to be over very soon. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.
Conscious all the time that today was the start of Double D’s weekend, I resisted the temptation to emulate my last run along the big straights at the top of the mountain. It’s all a bit academic, really. I know that the VFR speedo needle will use up nearly all of the space on the dial, so why push it again?
Into Walcha for breakfast and here I must give BIG props to the lovely lady who owns and runs the Walcha Royal Hotel. A fresh-cooked country breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast, a huge glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice and a latte for $13.50. I’ll be making that place my regular stop in future. email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
And speaking of Double D’s, I can report that I saw TWO only police cars in the whole 2 days.
But I must back-track a little. Last night I stayed, as I always do when I go to Port Mac, at the Macquarie Hotel, in the main street, almost on the waterfront of the Manning River. A top place. Cheap and cheerful; a room for $50 and a sirloin steak, chips and salad for tea for just $12.50. After tea I went out onto the back verandah for some fresh air and met a couple who were doing the same thing. They were in Port Mac for the Masters Baseball Championships and they come from, believe it or not, Berkeley!
So, we chatted for a while, then I went back to my room, read the latest copy of Cycle Torque and turned in. OK, I’m getting old, I know, but I’d ridden all day in the heat and I needed my kip. So, ear plugs in, light out and I crashed. I woke sometime when it was still dark, fumbled for my watch which said 0430. “Cool,” I thought, “I’ll sleep for a bit longer and then hit the road.” No point getting going too early as I don’t know if I can get fuel and I don’t fancy the idea of tackling the Oxley in the half-light anyway. So, what seemed like ages later, I woke, and it was still dark. What the hell?? So I turned the light on and looked at the watch again. 0200…Ehhhh? Have I been sucked into a time vortex?
No, the answer was a little more prosaic and stupefying. The first time I’d looked at the watch in the dark, I’d been holding it upside down (analog watch). What I THOUGHT was 0430 was actually 2200 !!
Oh dear. But now the problem was that I was wide awake. I tried everything to get back to sleep, but I just couldn’t nod off. So I wandered down to the kitchen, made a cuppa and went and drank it on the waterfront. I have to tell you, that was one of the most pleasant cups of tea that I can remember drinking. So, back to the room, ear plugs back in and TRY to sleep again. Success!! The next time I awoke it was light and the watch said 0540. Whoohoo. Pack and on the road. For such stupidities are tours usually remembered.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, breakfast at Walcha. After fuelling up the inner man, I headed south along Thunderbolt’s Way. This road is also coming apart badly and it gave the suspension a real work-out (which it passed with flying colours, I might add.)
Next stop, Gloucester for petrol and then on into the back part of the Hunter Valley. Towards Stroud but cutting west before I got there onto a measly little backroad that climbs a mountain pass and down the other side across several rivers and emerges at Dungog. From there across to East Gresford on an equally diabolical road with little or no signposting and sections dug up and covered with gravel and no warning signs for them either. Grrr. On to Singleton and picking up the top end of the Putty.
Fuel at Singo and another super run through the 10 mile (watching all the time for LEO’s). Cool drink and lunch at Garland Valley (deserted of bikes except for mine and a guy taking his 11 year old son for a ride on his new Gixxer..the father’s Gixxer, not the boy’s). Then a scratch down the Putty and, delight of delights, a clean run through all of the twisty bits..whoohoo.
Stopped in at Ebenezer for a rest and then the grind through Windsor, Penrith and down the Northern Road. By this stage I was pretty beat and even though I don’t like the Northern Road, it is quicker if you get a good run, which I did. Home at 1730 after having covered 819kms today.
The weather was weird, too. Hot in places, quite cool in others and, in the afternoon, very windy indeed.
Another great mini-tour.
PS: Funniest sight I’ve seen for quite a while in Windsor this afternoon. A postie bike with ape-hangers..