Half Way Ride 2016 - Walcha
I arrived at the meeting point making as much noise as possible, as I was a couple of minutes late. Waiting for me, Gary, Justin, Neville and Jackie, all happy and surprised to see me. Not only me, but happy to see the old zed show up. No time for a chat we headed off to catch up with the gold coast chapter. Once at Nerang I was congratulated on my attire, after last years run, when I took no precautions against the weather at all. Lesson learned. Con and Ray were added to the group, Ray with his Z1R, making two classic zeds along for the trip.
We started our ride through the Nunimbah Valley, along the Uki / Kyogle Road for our first fuel stop at Kyogle. From there it was a leisurely ride along the Summerland Way to Grafton and onto the old Armidale Road for our second fuel stop at Coutts Crossing. Standing outside the pub, beers were discussed then dismissed from the agenda. Tanks topped up and bladders emptied we continued on to the end of the Armidale Road and up Waterfall Way to Ebor for lunch. The temperature is definitely getting lower as we continue on our way, now light rain falling as we sit by the fire and recall some of the corners we got wrong........ Ok........ I got wrong! But to be honest I probably shouldn’t be trying to keep up with technologically advanced bikes made more than thirty years after my 1980 Z1000H.
Bellies full we saddled up for the last leg, some of us donning wet weather gear including Ray, who chose to strip and dress in the dining room of the cafe, cheered on by the rest of us. The road to Armidale was wet in places, although the rain didn’t fall until we were past Uralla on the New England Highway and headed down Thunderbolts Way. The last forty kilometres it was raining sideways, gusty and four degrees. We were very happy to arrive at the pub and the warmth of the fireplace.
Let the fun begin! There were beers, bourbons, white wine and Stones Green Ginger while we thawed out by the fire and waited for the New South Wales Z Owners to join the party. Chris arrived from Woolongong first on his old Z1000A after a wet ride along Thunderbolts Way, the others making it just in time for our booking at the Chinese restaurant next door. Dinner was the usual affair when good friends are re-united, lots of laughter. We ate to much, then we drank to much, we stayed up to late and we got up way to early for breakfast. The Royal Cafe opposite the pub again hosted our untidy rabble for a cooked breakfast, the perfect start to a great day of riding. Packing our bikes and goodbyes were over in a flash and we were back on the road again, this time less wet but no less cold.
The first leg of Sundays ride took us back to Uralla and up the New England Highway to Glen Innes for some motion lotion. We passed through Deepwater and onto Tenterfield where we turned right and rode the Bruxner Highway to Tabulam. From Tabulam we turned left and took what can best be described as an abandoned driveway, this wound passed a few farms, across some creeks, over some cattle grids, and eventually joined Clarence Way. This to appeared to have been forgotten by the local council. After we passed Banalbo it became obvious that we were getting further and further away from where-ever the road maintenance crew was based.
We eventually arrived at Urbenville and took a short break. Even though the road was rough it was still fun....... In a bone crunching, teeth rattling, ass pounding kinda way! But had I been riding on my own, I would have been doing 40kph, picking my way through the bumps and dodging the potholes. I did however add a new experience to my riding, until now I never ridden through a cloud of bitumen dust and sparks from the bike in front of me. Thanks Neville. Neville and Jackie two up on their FJR1200 were clearly enjoying the road as much as I was.
The road to Woodenbong was at a more leisurely pace, then onto the Mount Lindsay Highway for a final downhill scratch into Beaudesert. This I enjoyed immensely, cold air, warm tyres and no traffic on a mountain pass..... The stuff dreams are made of. No doubt I will forget about the wind and the rain, the bad roads and the cold, and do it all again next year.