Got a story and/or pics from the Congregation to share? We’d love to post them so everyone can remember and share a great weekend.
Marty HardCore‘s the man behind the DualSport Australia discs and a mad-keen DR650 owner. Here’s how his Congregation unfolded…
With Adventure Rider Magazine’s Northern Congregation fast approaching, an offer to hang out under Suzuki Australia’s tent with legend Vince Strang and meet lots of new riders plus some old friends was too good to pass up.
After putting together a couple of fun adventure loops for the weekend and throwing a handful of Dualsport Australia discs in my bulging gear bag, I was ready early and keen to go. I was so keen that on Thursday I decided to go up a day early and threw out an open invite on Northern Rivers Adventure Riders to see if anyone was going my way.
Within minutes I had messages from friend Ian and an acquaintance of Ian’s, Kim, a keen adventure lady with a solo trip around Australia under her belt. Perfect. We arranged to meet at Bellbrook at 11:00am to miss the forecast early-morning showers and follow Dualsport Australia’s disc 3 to Green Valley Farm.
The pouring rain woke me at 5:30am. The weather radar did little to calm my nerves, showing our whole planned route in a blaze of red and yellow. Looking for a positive, I thought the heavy rain would assure a dust-free ride.
Eventually the system passed over making the 11:00am meeting a bit tight, so reluctantly I opened up the route, starting with the dirt behind Macksville under clear blue skies and almost perfect conditions, and arriving early left time for a leisurely bacon-and-egg roll served with old-world charm in Bellbrook.
Sorry ’bout that
The sunshine provided numerous photo opportunities, so we took turns at leading, stopping to take photos then leapfrogging back to the front. This was working fine until, on a whim, I noticed one of the switchbacks would allow a shortcut, crossing the creek at the bottom and cutting out a loop of road. Without thinking about possible consequences I dropped over the steep side and crossed the creek. An extra handful of throttle and the DR gobbled up the incline, but between fallen timber and steep, loose banks, getting back up on to the road was a challenge. It took a few minutes of exploring and by then I suspected the crew was long gone.
As I hooked in to catch up, little did I know that in the 800m of road I had cut out, Ian had stopped to take photos. After five minutes or so Ian, fearing the worst, backtracked to where we’d last regrouped.
After charging ahead unaware of the mayhem I’d caused, then picking up faint traces of dust, I raced up the mountain, surprised at the sudden burst of speed from the group. I twisted the throttle harder and caught a local in a 4WD. Realising the crew was now behind me but so far back, I cruised to the end of the road and lay in the sun for 45 minutes in the cooler New England area.
A surprisingly calm Ian and Kim turned up. Ian just rolled his eyes slightly as I apologised and explained what had happened. He explained to Kim that unfortunately this was not out of character for me and that I could be a tad impulsive. It was probably an understatement.
The pub being closed at Wollomombi dashed lunch plans, but they were soon forgotten in the incredibly scenic granite roads as we zigzagged to Guyra.
Traditions and detours
After a feed of chips and gravy at Guyra, which has become a sort of tradition now, we were informed of localised flooding on the dirt to Green Valley Farm, so with no option we tarred it up to Tingha and rocked in to the Congregation.
Vince already had a setup of new Suzukis gleaming in the afternoon sun, along with other stands including the trick rally-spec KTMs and Huskies on the HARD Kits site. There was already a good turn up of riders busy setting up camp. A constant stream of bikes poured in well into the night, swelling the ranks, before hamburgers and a few drinks around cosy fires as people got to know one another.
With my adventure loops in peril because of the flooding, it was a restless night. First thing in the morning I slipped out of camp, dodging the plentiful ’roos, and headed out to the flooded area. The signs on the edges were showing shallow depths, but the brown, fast-flowing water had me worried about the middle. As I reluctantly eased my way into the torrent, trying to keep my boots dry as the fast flow tugged at the ’bars, I was relieved it was just below footpeg level and good to go.
The trip back was a relief, despite the cold burning into my cheeks and the plentiful ’roos. We were soon handing out route sheets and loading GPSs for keen riders wanting a bit of a spin, before spending a relaxing day chatting to riders that just milled around. Bikes and riders continued to pour in with tales of battling swollen rivers no matter what direction they came from.
With hundreds of happy riders mingling with magazine staff and industry heavyweights it was a great way to spend a warm sunny New England day. Miles Davis from BMW put on a couple of excellent riding displays, throwing the 1200 around on the slippery grass like a small dirtbike, although the biggest cheers were after a small mishap.
We retreated to the woolshed for dinner and prizes and of course more drinking around fires with little regard for the forecast rain for early in the morning.
The morning rain put a slight damper on the weekend, but certainly made for quick pack-ups with the experienced crew almost all packed before a delicious breakfast. Most made a break before the heavy rain turned up and made for a damp, foggy ride home.
The Adventure Rider Magazine Northern Congregation was still an excellent weekend despite a wet ending, full of adventure, just like it’s meant to be.
I, along with others, will be back for sure.
Hugh McAdam sent in a few words. Hugh’s group didn’t get many photos, but our eagle-eyed snapper caught Hugh and his mates watching the skills demo. Hugh’s the one in the chair…
‘Our group was a little lacking in the photo department on the ride up through Nowendoc, Brackendale Road to Walcha, to Uralla, towards Bundarra, then diverted to Woods Reef because of a raging flooded causeway.
‘It was a great ride up, home on the tar through Grafton, seeing as the Old Grafton Road was too crappy. Super weekend, cant wait for the next one.
‘My age is 65 last January and I’m still having a great time riding. Just so you can encourage more late-middle-age people to continue riding.