The Oxley Highway Weekend Run .

  by Gary Gale.

The Oxley Experience…

 

  (Or…IS 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 seemed clear.

  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 ribs).

  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.

Thanks Cowboy.

  Cheers, Gary G.