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Reader’s Ride – Good mates and good riding

This entry is part 6 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #20

In issue #15 we met Ian Goldsworthy and his Honda Dominator when he and his mates tackled the 2015 Congregation. Ian’s swapped to a BMW, and he gathered his crew for a break from work and the bike’s first weekend away.

Starting near Newcastle, The Peel Inn at Nundle was our Saturday-night destination.

The route was planned with much banter and I baited the occasional dirt lovers with promises of deep, flowing river crossings where even submarines would fear to tread and dirt tracks only passable by WW2 tanks. The promise of daring adventures proved too much for some and numbers wilted. Our Tiger rider, Whippy, went and cracked some ribs – at least that was his excuse for driving the support vehicle – and to keep him company and his nostrils clear were Birdy and Aircon Dave.

Dave earned his nick-name not so much by conditioning the air.

More like polluting it.

Thank goodness it was mostly contained by the cabin of the Triton and filtered by Birdy and Whippy’s lungs.

It didn’t bother us riders much.

The Beemer was ready for the 9:00am start at the BP at Croudace Bay, southwest of Newcastle, where we all shook hands, compared stories of woe about how much we hated leaving work behind (NOT!) and got started.

The author’s move to a BMW meant he had to cope with another 60kg or so and double the horsepower of his previous bike.

Cold case

It took only 30 minutes to lose the support vehicle.

Apparently the completely legal speed of the bikes was just too much for the Triton…although we must have been taking the corners pretty swiftly as Mal had grounded a footpeg at a roundabout in Lorne.

The bikes came out of Lambs Valley and continued on to Singleton. The Triton (under the direction of Mr Bird) came out of Lambs Valley and turned left.

Once we got to Singleton a few phone calls located said support vehicle, which at least it gave enough time for Mal’s hands to defrost. Apparently not having heated grips means you can lose feeling in your hands. Who’d have thought?

Thankfully Mal had some inner gloves to help ward off the cold.

A weekend run from Newcastle to Nundle and back.


Off we went, up towards Rouchel and Paiges Creek Road.

It was with a mild dose of anxiety I faced the first gravel section knowing I had another 60kg or so of bike and double the horsepower of my previous sled. I didn’t want the same experience a mate had with his KTM on the Moredun Ponds weekend (see issue #15 – ed), so I’d studied the manual to make sure I was able to turn off the ABS. I needn’t have worried. The Germans must do things quicker than the Austrians. It only took holding down one button while turning on the ignition to switch off my ABS, where it still took 14 menus and 23 switch positions to turnoff the KTM ABS.

The dirt road was lots of fun and I soon began to understand the joy of rear-wheel steering. What a hoot. We stopped for a nature break and took some photos until it was time to get moving again. We’d been talking up the food at the Linga Longa for a while and were getting very hungry.

The dirt gave way to tar and we found ourselves in the middle of significant amounts of horse-stud money.

The manicured lawns, paddocks and immaculate post-and-rail fencing went on for miles.

We parked our bikes out front of the Linga Longa Pub at Gundy and stumbled in on a big birthday party, but the lovely people at the pub promised us quality tucker straight after they got the party roasts out of the way. We ordered a brown lemonade and soaked up some sun while we waited for our awesome gourmet pies.

The guys ordered a brown lemonade and soaked up some sun while waiting for awesome gourmet pies.

Tough stuff

With full bellies we mounted up, and as we headed toward Nundle we had two options:

one was the more direct gravel through Timor over the Crawney Pass; the other was a more adventurous route via the Barry Station and 21 rocky creek crossings. I was advised that heavy, comfortable, low-slung adventure bikes may not be suitable for the water crossings, so we headed along the road to Timor. The condition of the road was as we’d remembered – open, smooth gravel with a few cows that allowed some spritely forward progress.

Crawney Pass came into view and, as it was early afternoon, the expectation of below-zero conditions at the higher altitude didn’t eventuate. We bunched up again as we went down the other side.

Feelings of déjà vu occurred coming down into the valley toward Nundle with Barno on my backside doing his best to check my rear numberplate screws were tight. It was a brave display in fact, as he was still recovering from an injury. He had torn ligaments and was in considerable pain (they breed them tough at Medowie, NSW).

Into Nundle we hustled and parked up outside the Peel Inn, our digs for the night.

Either the support vehicle or one of the riders always seemed to be missing.

A fall

We bolted straight into the pub to sort out the rooms, and as we were getting our bearings noticed a gap in our group.

“Where’s Mal and Finny?” we wondered out loud.

Apparently Finny went to move his KTM to a more suitable spot when he hooked up the hapless ’Strom being moved at the same time by Mal. The two sets of panniers tangled and everything turned to porridge.

The ’Strom copped a broken handguard and a couple of scratches and the KTM a torn pannier and some scuffs. It was our first mishap for the trip.

Once the rooms were sorted we ferried the bikes to the servo for a fill up and parked up behind the pub.

There was some amusement and snickering about the name of the location, but there was very little ‘hanging’ going on. It was cold alright!

Another fall

The Katoom must’ve been tired after the long trip. When we came out in the morning it’d had another lay down. This time it decked on the concrete floor of the carport and broke a mirror. Owner Finny looked even more less-than-impressed than he had at the incident the night before.

The Peel Inn was a cracking place to stay and very popular. Another group of adventure riders was holed up across the road at the Gold Mine Motel and a Christian bikers’ group from Inverell was there as well, though all of these guys were on Harleys or cruisers. It made for a busy bar and restaurant that night.

There are comments shared that can be taken out of context when you don’t quite hear the whole story. Mal was singing the praises of his Skins compression apparel and how warm it kept him on the chilly ride.

It got confusing when he said, “They were so good, I had to wring them out when I got off.”

We checked the footy score and I headed for the room and an early night. I found out the next morning the boys hadn’t been too far behind me, except for Birdy who was being chatted up by one of the local ladies.

She was definitely only interested in his opinions on just about everything except for whether he would be allowed to come up and hunt on her property. That earned him an immediate reprieve from any more interrogation.

Next morning we all surfaced between 7:00am and 8:00am and headed down to the restaurant for a hot brekky – all part of the princely $55 fee for the accommodation.

It was still cold.

The Peel Inn was a cracking place to stay and very popular.

Texas tea

We burned lots of daylight over a leisurely breakfast and I wanted to be at Gloucester for lunch and home by about 4:00pm, so we had to put on some pace.

There was a promise of more dirt early in the day and we weren’t disappointed.

However, before we got that far we completed about four kilometres of tarmac twisties. I’d stopped to turn off the ABS when Barno pulled up alongside and complained about smelling oil. We couldn’t see anything obvious but there was a definite oil splatter mark on his left boot and on the side of the Suzuki’s motor.

A quick glance at the oil-level sight glass showed the ’Strom was a tad low on the good stuff, so into the Triton we jumped and back to Nundle for liquid gold we went.

There was promise of more dirt early in the day and we weren’t disappointed.


Since finding my dirt legs on the big Beemer I was as keen as mustard for the next section of the ride. I have a particular fondness for the gravel way of travelling on a bike. With a flurry of wheelspin I was off, creating a small dust storm.

Oblivious to my surroundings, I quickly assumed the attack position, standing up, knees slightly bent, elbows out, soft on the hands and found myself after about 15 minutes doing speeds which were kind of silly. I decided slow down, knowing the area normally had lots of wombats and ’roos.

Hitting one of those furries at speed meant a hospital stay, a cranky boss and a less-than-impressed missus. On top of all that I have an allergy to pain and suffering.

That dirt section was the highlight of the ride for me. The new Mitas E07 tires were the duck’s nuts. I loved them on the Honda and they were just as good on the Beemer.

We reassembled at the end of the dirt at Topdale Road and proceeded down Thunderbolts Way. By the time we caught the support vehicle we’d lost Finny and the KTM. Again. He’d misheard the comment about not stopping at Nowendoc as we’d originally planned and was 20 minutes behind at Nowendoc shops buying batteries for his GPS and wondering where we were.

The 20-minute delay came in handy as the oil stain on Barno’s left foot now looked like he’d been standing in a tub of crude.

The whole left fork leg was covered in oil. The right side was starting to let go too.

We quickly cleaned up the fork oil with Whippy’s rag and hoped the front brakes hadn’t copped too much oil during the spill.

The V-Strom was a tad low on the good stuff.

Playing chicken

Reunited, we headed down the steep, twisty goodness of tarmac toward Gloucester, and by the time we hit Barrington I was getting pretty bored staring at the back of the Triton so I started shifting around to get bloodflow to my legs. Those boxer cylinders on the Beemer make great footrests, even though I felt like I had my legs in stirrups and was about to give birth.

By the time we pulled up at the Gloucester Roundabout Inn we were famished and keen for another helping of country goodness. Once parked up – Finny needed a bit of help to stabilise the Katoom mothership while dismounting. He didn’t want to go three from three – it was time to relax and even shed a few of our layers. The day had started out very brisk at Nundle, but in Gloucester it would’ve been at least in the low- to mid-20s.

After a beautiful chicken schnitty we were ready for the final leg.

Time to shed some layers.

Needs must

While the support crew headed straight home down Bucketts Way, we’d planned a little diversion down Wauk Ivory Road to Bulahdelah before heading home. But Barno’s long-suffering ’Strom decided it wasn’t enough just to mark it’s territory with fork oil everywhere it went. It decided it wouldn’t start.

Whippy had the seat off and quickly diagnosed the starter solenoid was kaput.

A quick work-around was using a spare clutch lever to bridge the solenoid contacts and up she fired. With the seat back on I made the executive decision to head straight home via Bucketts Way as well. The last thing we needed was a stranded ’Strom in the middle of nowhere between Gloucester and Bulahdelah, quite possibly with Barno having to ride bitch on the way home on the pillion seat.

No, we couldn’t have that.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful and smooth (except for Barno, whose front end did its impersonation of a pogo stick).

The anticipation and excitement of these weekend trips on the bike are fantastic, but seem so fleeting once they’re over.

Maybe we’ll get to do it again sometime soon – though we may need to lavish some much-needed TLC on Barno’s ’Strom.

Many thanks to some of the absolute best people I know. All precious friends.

The starter solenoid on the ’Strom was kaput, but using a spare clutch lever to bridge the solenoid contacts fired ’er up.

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