The Oxley Highway Weekend Run .
by Gary Gale.
THAT THE WORST WEATHER THOSE MEXICANS CAN THROW AT US…??)
The phone calls were flying on the Friday night – Sal
wondering if he could meet us at the Caloundra overpass, due to some shonky
business happening at Montville, then Jono to say that an executive quorum had
decided on a route other than down the highway, and would I be disposed to join
them? Sal took the path of least resistance and agreed to meet at Forest Glen,
and I thought it would be a lonely trek down the highway (and I’d probably get
lost or bugger up the times), so all were agreed for Saturday morning at
Southbound BP at 7.30 (extra hours’ sleep in – you beauty!).
After a run along the railway, then over Ilkley, I arrived bright eyed and bushy
tailed at the appointed spot on time, to find Jono, Gary H and Brian waiting,
and with some unfortunate news. Sal decided to test the limits of adhesion over some diesel on
his new beastie, and unfortunately found them – a split second after he and
his beloved Trumpy parted ways at a roundabout (Sal ok, bike not quite so…).
A bit cool, and still dampish in places, so we took off at a moderate,
comfortable pace over Ilkley, Tunnel Ridge Rd into Landsborough for the usual
run through Peachester, then onto Somerset, with our first scheduled stop being
Fernvale for fuel and a warm-up. Jono’s skirt started flapping in the wind, so after he
decided it had to be tucked back in at Somerset, it was a good opportunity to
have a coffee and warm up. Honestly!
Being pulled up because
of the cold by a bloke who has to knock the icicles off the top of the waves
just so he can have a surf midwinter.
After a redistribution of excess warm gear, we set off again, pulling up at
Fernvale to refuel. From there it was out through Boonah to Rathdowney, onto the
Mt Lindesay Hwy, then the Summerland way on to Kyogle. Refuelled, then on to Grafton through Casino, where we found a
little Pub for some rest and recreation. Tried ringing Cowboy and the mob
several times, but couldn’t get through, so Brian, Gary and I had a giggle
while Jono went shopping at Woolies for some new underwear (understand he picked
up a nice little red G string and matching camisole).
Had a feed of a huge hamburger, with a cheeky little number out of the taps to
wash it down, and tried Cowboy again. Got
through this time, and found out they were all at Macca’s having lunch as
well, so we agreed to meet up after Jono’s lingerie parade had finished.
Publican was an ex rider, and gave us an old NRMA map and scribbled directions
on how to get where we were headed, but of course as soon as we hitched up with
Cowboy it was just so much dunny paper, as he already knew which way to steer
the pointy end. We met up with the others at Macca’s, including Graham on his
Duke, Andrew on the Honda SP1, and several other blokes who I had no hope of
remembering five minutes later, let alone a week and quite a few beers on….
All nice blokes, and a plethora of Hayabusas (what is the collective noun
for a group of Hayabusas, anyway?).
From Grafton, we headed south as a group up to Nymboida, and down the other side
through Clouds Creek to Waterfalls Way, then Ebor and onto Armidale. It was
starting to get pretty dark and cold by then, with heavy cloud, and occasional
slight showers. Andrew on the SP1 knew he would run low on fuel by Armidale,
but I don’t think he could bring himself to extend the trip any more by
stopping in the cold at Ebor to get more juice, so he, Jono, Gary H. and I had a
bit of a fang for a while, getting the k’s out of the way. Would be a nice ride in good weather, but at this stage, after
about 600 km of riding, a lot of it in very cold conditions, I think all any of
us were thinking about was getting there and getting warm, followed by a feed
and a beer. Andrew just made it (I
sat with him at a steady pace for the last stretch to try to save his fuel).
We worked out the next day that he must have had less than ½ litre left by the
time we got there. After sorting
out accommodation (bad luck Gazza H, 3 snorers in the same 6x12 room with you,
and at least one other lurking around in case we let the side down!), meeting up
with the blokes from Cockroach Land (including Gary (Turtle) Cowboy’s mate)
the decision was made to go into town to the bowls club for a feed. Two taxis
were ordered, and we fronted up with high expectations.
Feed was good, beers were cheap, but unfortunately Gary’s object of desire was
about 93, (and just quietly, not holding her age too well either). There
were obviously hidden attractions there though, because at one stage I thought
we might have to vacate our room that night, to support our mate in his hour of
amorous conquest. He was given the go ahead after a quick check around of CPR
qualifications, but I think he dithered around for too long, and she eventually
shuffled off to find more exciting game.
Much later that evening, several taxis dropped several people at differing times
back to differing huts, and it was easy to tell that most little pookums were
well and truly ready for beddy byes, by the gentle sonorous tones drifting over
the slumbering hamlet of Armidale. The
next morning some harsh words were spoken between friends regarding the
nights’ sound levels, but I didn’t hear any, so I reckon it must have just
been in dreams or perhaps some possums snuggling up to keep warm.
The next morning we woke to find it was bloody freezing, with
misty rain about, all in all not a very appealing day to go riding, especially
over some challenging roads. Coffee and brekky at Macca’s, and we decided to give it a
go, although after the ride down the New England at low speed, in freezing cold
misty rain, with the wind whipping across the road, some might have been
starting to think twice. Through Uralla into Walcha to fuel up, then the long
run to the bottom of the range, where the real roads start. The weather seemed to be fining up as we went east, with a
lighter sky and a drier road, but still pretty cold. I think impatience took a hold along this section, with high
average speeds on good roads the order of the day.
By the time we got to the first of the 55 km/h posted bends,
the road was dry (except in shadows), with the sun starting to come out, and all
was well with the world. Everyone
ran at their most comfortable speed, with a bit of dicing for position, up to
about the halfway mark at Gingers Creek where coffee was taken by some, and all had a chuckle at the blokes that headed off via
Thunderbolt’s Way because the weather had looked so bad.
As everyone started mounting up (sounds like Gazza’s dreams
from the previous night), Andrew took off first, and I followed, with a clear
road ahead of us. For quite some
k’s we had a play, with both doing it easily and safely, not a wheel being put
wrong by either when disaster struck. I
had just followed Andrew around a van, and he was peeling into the approach to a
corner about 30 m ahead of me when the front end dropped out from under him, and
the sparks started. I started
frantically looking on the road for what might have caused his fall, but it all
The previously immaculate SP1 ended up facing the wrong way,
having spun 180 degrees on its right side, with the tank virtually wrapped
around a post holding up a sign. Andrew
was on his back, with big rips in the leg and shoulder of his wet weathers, but
after a quick check over he didn’t seem to be in a terminal way. The
others turned up, and Jono and I took the battered beast to rest at a holiday
camp down the road, while a car driver who stopped and happened to be a
registered nurse took care of Andrew, taking him to hospital for a check over. (Ended
up with a broken collarbone, sprained wrist and cartilage damage around the
I think most people had the incident in the back of their
minds on the run down to Long Flat, especially as there didn’t appear to be
any reason for it. Weather was good
(relatively) in Long Flat, so we had a beer, burger and fuel, sat around for a
chat for a while, then decided we should head back so we wouldn’t arrive in
Armidale in the dark. A few of us
took it a bit easier back up the road, then the boring run down the other side
to Walcha. It was getting dark,
cold and rainy, with Brian, Cowboy, Turtle and me sitting on a steady pace. Bloke in the servo at Walcha reckoned it was 12 deg. inside,
and probably less than 6 outside. Bloody
felt like it!!
After finally arriving back at the cabin after 400 km, a
warming tea/coffee, and Cowboy organising the bike key on behalf of Andrew it
was decided to repair to the bowls club yet again for tea, and some restorative
ales. Much quieter in the club, and
much more pleasant in the bistro with very few people out and about. This
translated into an early close for the club (9.20), and as we found out on
getting into the taxi, for the rest of the town as well. Back
to the cabin for coffee (all we had!) and an earlier night for all. According to those who cared, the possum rooting was a bit
quieter that night, and I think all had a better sleep.
The next morning was again grey and drizzly, but because of
the cloud cover it didn’t seem to be as cold – maybe we were just getting
used to it. The decision was made
to get some serious ks out of the way before brekky, so we headed up the road
aiming for Tenterfield for a feed. Gradually
the cold seeped in through our gear, and although the road is quite pleasant for
a highway, we were all glad to see Tenterfield. Breakfast was partaken in a little coffee/burger joint, where
all warmed up the insides with a good feed for a good price, then on to the
Bruxner Highway for Casino, Kyogle and back to Rathdowney.
The plan was to turn off to Boonah at Rath. to head home, but
parts of the Mt Lindesay Highway were that slippery, and the road to Boonah
looked so foggy and forbidding that Graham, Brian, Cowboy and I decided to go
the highway route. Jono and Gary H
had already got that far ahead of us through the slippery stuff that they went
the originally planned way, but while having a quiety at Rathdowney we
couldn’t contact them due to lack of country coverage by Telstra (is there a
message in there somewhere?). The four of us followed the highway, over the
Gateway, to say our goodbyes at the northbound BP at Morayfield, and Brian and I
continued on at a steady pace home. After about 1800 km of fun, games and
skulduggery in the finest winter weather Northern NSW could throw at us,
needless to say the gear didn’t get unpacked that night, and again Mrs.
Gales’ second eldest slept the sleep of the righteous.
I think I can speak on behalf of the rest of the mob on the
ride, in extending our heartfelt thanks to Cowboy for firstly organising not
only the ride and accommodation, but also the many other bits and pieces, making
decisions when no-one else could be buggered, looking after everyone’s
interests and generally being an all round good mate.
Cheers, Gary G.