A WET December SS1600 -

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#1
Mid December and space in my diary to breath let alone ride is scarcer than rocking horse poo. When a mid-December Sunday came free as an opportunity I didn’t think twice. A check of the weather forecast the night before foretold of hot, steamy conditions with occasional afternoon thunderstorms for my route into northern NSW, perfect! What could possibly go wrong? As an added bonus TableDrain had agreed to ride down to meet me at Dorrigo for brekkie.


Time to head out!

At the appointed time I was out of bed and into my summer riding gear, farewelled Miss Bec and the Hettie goodbye and was up at the local ATM quicker than Flynn to get my starting receipt. Departing on the dot of 1:20am I made good time northwards to Beecroft where I joined Pennant Hills Road for the loop up to the M1. As luck (or as a foreboding of things to come) would have it, a massive storm had just passed through knocking out the power and all the traffic lights were down on Pennant Hills. I made exceptionally good time to the entrance on to the M1 where I settled in for the ride up to Newcastle. Traffic was light, hardly any trucks unusually, with the only thing of interest being the continuous lightening display in front of me. This stretched from west to east and filled the entire sky ahead of me.


Dark times lie ahead young man

Stopping at Beresfield to fuel up and check on conditions, the attendant gave me the details of the storm that passed through about 15 minutes ahead of me. At that point I decided to don my rain jacket ready for what lay ahead, and sure enough not too long later I rode into the rain. It wasn’t that heavy and I was happy to chug along enjoying the ride.


A wet night on the M1

At Bucketts Way I turned west to head for Gloucester and rode out of the rain as I started the climb away from the coast. Took my time, keeping an eye out for the local wildlife while I watched the lightning show pass to my right along the coast. Stopped briefly in Gloucester to stretch my legs and have a snack, the bakery was closed so it was fruit gel and peanuts for me.


Time to stretch the legs...shame the bakery isn't open!

Took the rain jacket off before I headed for the climb up Thunderbolts to Walcha in the dark. This turned out to be a mistake as the rain returned and the temperatures started to drop as I rode upwards in the pre-dawn darkness. The clouds were heavy, it was just dark, wet and slippery. There had been some good rain with several gravel trails spread across corners from the rain run-off, to keep me on my toes. By the time I reached the top of the escarpment the rain had settled into a steady drizzle and the temperature was down to 14 degrees.


There is a dawn out there somewhere

Not good in mesh jacket and trousers! I had to stop and re don the rain jacket. Rolling into Walcha in the hope of an early hot drink my hopes were dashed so I continued on to Uralla, then Armidale where I refuelled, cleaned my visor and lights.


A brief respite from the rain

From Armidale it was time to head east to Dorrigo, with the first hour being dry again across the New England plains. The closer I got to the coast the darker things were looking and sure enough about 30 minutes out of Dorrigo down it came again. Nothing for it but to just settle in and take my time, there was not much traffic around so it was steady progress on the wet road. I rode into Dorrigo right on time and Tabledrain joined me a few minutes later. Hot coffee and bacon and egg rolls were consumed while we caught up on IBR19 plans, this was an hour well spent off the bike. We went our separate ways, TD was staying up on the hills while I was heading for the coast to continue my Saddle Sore.


TableDrain out and about on the Rocket

Heading down that glorious stretch of road, the Waterfall Way to Bellingen it lived up to its name well and truly! The waterfalls were spectacular to say the least, while the rain meant my attention remained focused on the slippery conditions. Bellingen was looking sleepy with not much happening, and not long after I re-joined the M1 heading northwards to Coffs Harbour, my turn around point for this trip. The rain had now well and truly settled in for good, and I managed to find some shelter at a Coffs Harbour servo where I collected my docket. From here it was southwards on the M1 to Thrumster. To say it was raining heavily doesn’t do this justice, it was pouring! Still not much to do but keep riding and watch the kilometres tick by. I called in at the Thrumster Service Centre to collect my corner docket but didn’t stop. The queues were out to the main road and the rain meant no one was moving quickly. I turned west again on The Oxley and rode up to Wauchope to collect my docket at the local Caltex, where I apologised profusely to the servo attendant for the large amount of water I left in the shop.


Sheltering from the rain in Coffs Harbour

Uphill on The Oxley and the rain became intermittent with road becoming drier the higher I climbed, until finally I rode out into bright sunshine at the beginning of the 110km zone to Walcha, things felt much better now and arriving in Walcha the afternoon was almost hot, where I stopped for a hot pie to warm up. Felling satisfied with myself and confident the worst of the weather was now over I rode on to Tamworth. Talk about not counting your chickens! Thirty minutes later just after the Walcha Road Hotel corner, the daylight disappeared until it was almost completely dark, lit only by lightening and then some of the heaviest rain I have ever ridden in. At Bendemeer, there were rivers running across the road, and then I had the good luck to join the queue down Moonbi hill behind a semi doing 20km in the torrential conditions. Good times!


A drier section of The Oxley

At Kootingal I finally rode out of the blackness back into bright sunshine, thankful to have some time out of the rain. (for now) At Tamworth I turned southeast to head down the New England back to Newcastle and home, with the earlier storm now tracking beside me. I was riding in bright sunshine while a few kms to my left there was blackness with the occasional flicker of lightening to shed some Christmas cheer.


Back in the daylight riding into Tamworth...it wasn't to last

At Muswellbrook, I fuelled up at the same time as the re-energized storm crossed my path, with the rain now horizontal and torrential rivers of water across the road. It was very slow riding at this stage in heavy Sunday afternoon traffic. By the time I got close to Newcastle I needed some time off the bike to think and regather myself, so I deviated back into Beresfield and ordered a hot meal in the truck stop. By now the rain had stopped and things are always better after food, so it was back in the saddle for the return leg to Sydney. This part of the ride was glorious, the clouds cleared away to reveal a magnificent setting sun, followed by the stars coming out. Awesome!



Back onto Pennant Hills Road, I needed to head out west along the M2/M4 to get enough mileage for the Saddle Sore, so I rode out in the warm evening up into the Blue Mountains, stopping at Glenbrook to obtain a docket at the service station there, where I then turned around and headed for home. It was a quiet ride along the M4/M2 back into Sydney, finally arriving home at 10:30pm, after a very long and wet, soggy day on the bike. Job done with a few good lessons relearnt along the way.


Back home and ready for some sleep!
 
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Brookester

Premier Member
#5
Always head South in summer North in winter to avoid more challenging weather...well executed ride yet again...although navigation may be an issue...At Bucketts Way I turned east to head for Gloucester one would have though it was West that you turned...
 

Tele

Premier Member
#8
A challenging ride in challenging conditions Martin. Well executed mate. Another excellent report of a top day out on the bike.

I find the data on the GPS may not tell the overall story too accurately? Not sure if I am right here, but your start time of 01:20 and finish picture of 22:27 suggests an overall time of just over 21 hours. But the GPs says 18:49 hours with only an hour stopped? Does the maths add up? I know that my BMW Garmin stops counting when I shut the bike down, so the overall time recording is almost worthless ..... only the total kilometres is an accurate record of the ride. I also figured if you had about an hour with Tabledrain for lunch, then all your other stops were a total of one minute which is truly awesome :D:D
 
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Skidoo

Administrator
Premier Member
#9
Great read mate, rain and more rain, suppose by riding through it, it cools things off and keeps the bike clean :p
 

Fatman

Well-Known Member
#11
Thrumster servo is always busy, I prefer other options if available and suits the ride.

Well done KiwiMartin on your ride, always harder in the rain. Great that you caught up with "Rocket Man"... ;)
 
#12
I really enjoyed my early morning jaunt heading south before the dawn. turning west from Coffs heading up the mountain to Dorrigo the rain gave up and by the time I arrived at the cafe Martin was still getting his gear off.
An hour with a mate, chatting about the upcoming IBR and then home via Tyringham, Grafton and the slab.
Thanks for the heads up on your route Martin, it was a good day out.
 

Gatey

Premier Member
#13
Most enjoyable read thank you Martin.
Ive ridden most of those roads at some time or other in similar conditions and boy does thier charactor take on the devils mask.
Well done for sticking to the plan.
And how good is TDs Rocket.