Memorial Rides (2014) x 2 - SS1600K


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Memorial Rides (2014) - 2 x SS1600K

MEMORIAL RIDE 2014 (No 1) – ‘Power To The People’ – to all those that lost their lives in the making of the Snowy Mountains Scheme

I had been discussing a ride through the Snowy Mountains with a few guys for several months and before I knew it all the stars aligned and it was now or never. Calls were made to two fellow riders giving the commencement date, unfortunately David (Rufus) had eye surgery a couple of week previously and was not 100% fit.

I was not in a position to postpone the ride due to commitments for the remainder of the year. Another call to Allan (Hagar) confirmed his availability, the plan was fine-tuned and everything was set. Two memorial rides were to be attempted on my weekend off. Friday 17:48, I head out of Dubbo on route to Yass being my first corner docket. The weather was perfect, little wind, not much traffic and I only wasted a few minutes at the roadwork’s on the Wellington road. My goal was to meet Hagar at Tallarook at 02:00 as he was commencing his ride from Mount Barker South Australia and would be travelling via Melbourne to make up the millage. I refuelled and pulled out of Yass on schedule, previously I had spent too much time negotiating the upgrading of facilities and had anticipated the same issues this time however I was pleasantly surprised that all the work had been completed.

Traffic was mainly eighteen wheelers; it was strange keeping in front of them as previously I had less than 11 horsepower on the R15 and battled the wind shear as they blew past me.

I pull off the highway and refuel in Albury, things were on schedule. I was back into the rhythm, enjoying the faster pace of 110 kph limits and actually able to maintain it. This was the first ride on the GTR for approximately six months; she was comfy, great lights, had the torque on the long hills and maintained any speed dialled into her, awesome. My mind started drifting to the tens of thousands of kilometres I had completed with the R15 over the last twelve months and how hard I had to work to maintain a reasonable pace. The GTR pulled into Tallarook almost on the dot at 02:00, Allan wasn’t far behind. I had a plain burger and a handful of chips and a cool drink whilst Allan had a burger with the lot and coffee.

Allan made a few running repairs to the low beam of the beamer, a new bulb had been inserted and there appeared to be a seating problem as it shone high. If Allan had a hand the size of a golf ball the task would have taken only a few minutes however he decided to tape the upper portion reducing glare to oncoming traffic and reseat the bulb when he had a few spare hours. We had previously discussed that we didn’t want to rush this ride and were going to enjoy the scenery, take a few snaps and take in the atmosphere and history of the area. We agreed that it would not be an easy ride as approximately 400 kilometres had to be completed on mountainous, narrow and often continuously winding roads with countless hairpin turns and wildlife.

We departed Albury on schedule; we pass a highway patrol vehicle and they are getting challenging to spot due to their low profile look, not that we speed, however the cruise control ensures we are travelling at the posted speed limit. The darkness is slowly being overtaken by the rising sun, the temperature started warming close to double figures as we approach Gundagai. Sparse areas of fog scatters the lower areas and the light ray punch through like streamers illuminating the lush green countryside.

We refuel at Gundagai and a guy comes across and chats about the bike and what we are up to. He looks at the tank log and this only creates more questions, we part and head to the Snowy. The run through the hills to Tumut is exhilarating; it brings back memories when I used to ride a GS550 in the area. Traffic was almost no existent when we passed through Tumut after 07:00.

As we head of on the Snowy Mountains Highway towards Talbingo we meander on the edge of Bowering Reservoir. The midway point is reached and the kangaroos just appeared appeared, dozens and dozens of them. We are riding through a national park so all creatures’ great and small are protected. A couple of larger bucks are spotted sunning themselves in the sun close to the highway. No evasive action is required however the sphincter was on standby.


We ride through Talbingo and stop and take a photo of Tumut 3 Power Station. The viewing area was closed for renovation so we proceeded towards Tumut 2 Power Station.

Tumut 3 Power Station

The ride up Talbingo Mountain is short however, corners are tight and on top of each other, excellent road for re-profiling the tyres. The run along the Snowy Mountains Highway is exhilarating; fantastic view and superb roadway.

I hit the anchors at cruising speed and wipe off 50kph as a kangaroo jumps in front of me, loses traction and falls over. Allen who is following could hear the Kangaroo scratching the tarmac regaining traction to get away, I back off and continue. We stop a little further to saviour the moment and have a laugh about the Kangaroo.

I point out the water races that were built by the Chinese during the gold rush in the area. Very little is left as government policy last century necessitated the remaining building to be removed, absolutely criminal. I remember camping with the scouts in the old Hotel room after we got snowed in trying to get to ‘Long Plain Hut’. We made our way to Kiandra, got a room and cooked our dinner on the bedroom floor; don’t think you could do that now.

What a place to ride

Kiandra – the GTR has ample opportunity to stretch her legs

We turn right towards Cabramurra and make a quick detour to Mt Selwyn for a quick look and then continue on our way. We make the steep decent towards Tumut 2 Power Station, a Wallaby makes a quick dash across the roadway and posed no risk, we stop for a few minutes to enjoy the tranquillity and take another photo.

We depart and halfway up the steep accent we meet the same Wallaby going in the opposite direction, he appeared geographically embarrassed as we pass him under power.

Tumut 2 Power Station

We stop at the entrance of the Tumut 1 Power Station, it is fenced off so it is impossible to get anywhere near the entrance tunnel. Another Photo opportunity and then we head of to the Cabrumurra lookout.

Cabramurra is a private township and was created for the workers of the Snowy Mountains; it is the highest town in Australia.

Tumut 1 Power Station – Can’t get through the front door

We chat to a few tourists and head down to the café for a coffee and delicious pie. We talk to a few locals and I feel they thought we were nuts, they’re probably right. One guy cautions us on the road we plan to travel as some of the drivers tow caravans and take up the entire roadway as it is a narrow winding road.

The PR3 handled the road well and only let go once

What a ride, as we approach Tumut Pond Reservoir the roadway on the side just drops away vertically beneath us. There is scatted debris on the roadway from the snow that has recently had the roadway impassable. Now this is riding as we throw the bikes from side to side, the corners keep coming, hairpins seem to never end.

Tumut Pond Dam

We pull into Khancoban for fuel and continue to Murray 1 Power Station. Another photo taken and a local stops on the narrow road and chats to us about the high Police presence and the impact it has on local businesses.

Murray 1 Power Station Pipes

We head off and Stop a few minutes later at Murray 2 Power Station, a quick photo; a guy comes over and chats to Allan about his Beamer.

Murray 2 Power Station

Our next stop is Cooma, the twisties continue, we continue to enjoy tossing the bikes from side to side and become one with our bike. We pass through Jindabyne and the weather is still magnificent, Jindabyne dam is near full and we continue our ride to Cooma.

Allan needs to make up a few kilometres and continues to Bredbo, this has some emotional history to him as his bike was previously purchased from a guy there. I wait in the park and make a few phone calls and get a corner docket. It’s surprising how many businesses don’t have facilities for electronic payment and still hand write receipts in this day and age. I find another shop and get a printed receipt.

Cooma, gateway to the Snowy Mountains

Allan arrives back in Cooma and we continue to our end point Adaminaby and have all documentation signed off at 16:36 at the Caltex service station.

We had previously booked into the Snowy Mountains Motel, booked in had a shower and head off for a couple of drinks and a feed at the Motel. What a fantastic atmosphere in the Hotel dinning entertainment area. I sit back and relax with an alcoholic beverage; I feel exhausted and under estimated the physical toll this ride had on my body. After a couple of drinks we decided on a steak and what a steak it was. It was washed down by a smooth red.

We reminisced the fabulous days ride, the scenery, the continuous bends and twisties and of cause gave thanks to the men and woman who were part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, especially the 121 who had died during the construction.

This was really a special year it is 40 years since the handing over of the completed scheme. I was off to bed at about 21:30. We have applied to have this ride registered with the IBA as; ‘Power To The People’.

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I woke just before the alarm chimed at 06:00. Showered, felt great, and was really looking forward to the day. Our planned departure was 08:00, we chatted for a while as we loaded the bikes and dried the bike covers. Allan found a friend that spoke the same ‘tongue’ and they chattered for several minutes. They were visiting from overseas and we gave them some ideas on what could be seen in the area with the limited time that they had.

We arrived at the Caltex service station and chatted to the attendant for about 30 minutes. He signed us in the previous evening and was looking forward to catching up with us again in the morning. He was a very obliging and helpful guy that bought the business a few years ago and loved chatting with the tourists. The depart docked had 09:00 printed on it, what, the time was wrong as I compared it to my iPhone. I purchased another item and paid by credit card and it reflected 08:02, that was better.

Now that’s what I call a Trout

Cabramurra was the first corner docket that we had planned; we meandered towards our goal savouring the fine weather, great roads and scenery. Traffic was almost non-existent as we headed directly to the service station. The service station was self-service with the dreaded card system. I read the instructions and it was surprisingly simple to use however I needed glasses and had to read the instructions; that’s new to me lol.

Watch out for the falling snow

We were advised the previous day that the cafe opens at 10:00hrs. Allan was a bit sceptical of the new dangled fuel dispensing machine and opted to try the restaurant, unfortunately it too was not officially open and he headed back to the servo for a corner docket. As Allan was refuelling a lady came running over with a receipt from the restaurant and asked if that would help, country people, so helpful.

The ‘New’ Cabramurra Township

Another local came over that we had been speaking to the previous day and said you’re not kidding, you guys certainly get around. We headed out of Cabramurra towards Cooma, I never get bored of that road and I have travelled it for many decades. We stop for a few photo opportunities one in particular at the Great Dividing Range being 1,500 metres above sea level. I’ve ridden a few roads around Australia and few equal the quality and exhilaration that the Snowy has to offer.

The Great Dividing Range

We stop again at Kiandra, so much history here, the birthplace of skiing in Australia. We briefly pause as we glance at the cemetery overgrown and hidden to everyone except those knowing its secret; the mortality rate was very high especially to the young during the harsh gold rush era and the harsh conditions of the highlands, that is all but forgotten.

The birthplace of skiing in Australia – Kiandra

Cooma is the next scheduled refuel point and we arrive pretty well on schedule. As I ride down the main street adjacent to the flags I notice a bright blue bike, it is Rufus. He said he was only going to wait another ten minutes as he knew we always ran to schedule and then he was going to catch us on the run possibly at Bombala.

We refuel, have a quick chat and Rufus sets the pace, he looked very comfortable on the Harley and we stop for a few minutes at Bombala. Heading down the famous Cann River Road was spectacular, long winding roads with light traffic, a few light grey clouds moving were in however it was still a great day for a ride.


Cann River was the next fuel and rest point. We parted our bikes nose first under the veranda of a motel as it appears it may start raining at any point. The motel appears deserted so we weren’t too worried about parking there. We chatted and probably spent a little too longer than planned here but hey, we enjoyed the conversation and fellowship.

Time for a quick break

The weather was getting overcast and we headed back to the bikes, Rufus had a conversation with someone regarding where we had parked.

The road is rough in sections otherwise the going is steady and we are making good pace. Traffic is slowly increasing as we stop for fuel at Moruya.

Rufus refuels and is straight onto his phone checking the weather, we are probably heading into some foul weather near Batmans Bay he states, I’m a little undecided if I should get into wet weather gear and decide not to gear up taking the risk. Rufus gears up, Allan is taking the punt not to gear up and it’s time consuming gearing up then again removing it. Right as Rufus predicted it starts drizzling and I tuck into the fairing and stay dry, there is a noticeable increase in traffic and I pull over making sure the other guys make the turn into the King’s highway towards Braidwood.

Within a minute or so I pull out with Hagar and Rufus a couple of cars behind. The drizzle increases; the road is wet and a little slippery in sections and the cloud closing reducing visibility to 75 metres in sections.

It is a fast run up the hill into Braidwood. I need to stop to empty the bladder and soon catch up. I was paced by a Harley from Braidwood and he follows up for about another thirty kilometres and finally passes and rides adjacent to Rufus as we approach Fyshwick. We are guided into Fyshwick for a corner docket and several or the roundabouts have sparks sprayed outward as Rufus powers through them.

We wave Rufus off for his run back to Cooma as we head off in the opposite direction for a corner docket at Goulburn. It was a pleasure riding with him, we get back into a rhythm and refuel at Goulburn and quickly turn around and head southward towards Holbrook.

This was a long boring run, mainly semi’s and a few small vehicles. I was uncertain where the fuel station was so punched fuel into the GPS and it guided us directly to the bowser. We refuelled and had a hot meal and relaxed for a few minutes.

Anyone for a Lamb chop?

Our next scheduled corner docket was Wagga Wagga, this was a blistering stop, we only needed a docket, the young guys inside the shop stared out the window as we pulled out within a couple of minutes and we are off again for Cowra. Still perfect weather, sky clear and the air was very still.

We pull into Cowra, refuel and have a hot coffee. We head off again on the final leg; pass Canowindra and about 20 kilometres later two kangaroos emerge from the scrub on my left. I hit the brakes hard, the coactive braking and ABS instantly reduced my speed, I backed off with the braking and braced for the pending strike.

I kept ‘Kiss me Kate’ pointed forward the mudguard and right hand side fairing was jammed between the front wheel and radiator disintegrating as I slowed, I pumped my brake a few times indicating that I was stopping. The complete right side of the bike was missing, mirror, driving light gone, headlight cracked through but still working, radiator had bent the manifold and twisted around the motor. The neck of the radiator was not flat and radiator fluid had sprayed onto the motor. The left side from fairing was torn away and console and the right side was missing. My only concern was to stop the leak and finish the ride. The GPS indicated I still had another 160 kilometres to travel. I poured a bottle of Bars leaks into the radiator and I used a multi tool to redesign and shape the radiator neck allowing the radiator cap to seal. Some dialogue occurred on how this should be done however we made it work. Allan asked if I should call home, that was a low priority, the ride was not done!

This was no big deal, if I can plug the leak I should be able to continue, I have ridden broken bikes several times before and on one occasion rode it over 4,000 kilometres to complete a ride. Not much was said as I was focused on trying to get back into the program.

Allan said he thought they were sheep however I estimate he was at least 50 metres behind me when I blasted through the kangaroo. You wouldn’t believe it the roo apparently hopped away, tough bastard. As if hitting a roo wasn’t enough, the bike fell damaging a side plate causing an oil leak from the right hand side. A sole car passed and doesn’t even slow as it hurtles past us in the darkness crushing shrapnel scattered about twenty metres along the roadway. Enough; duct tape was used to hold the loose bits together or else I pulled off the damaged plastics and I head off as there is no time to waste, time is getting away. The temperature is 8 degrees Celsius and I head off, Allan stayed trying to salvage anything useful from the splattered wreckage.
My goal was to get to Molong, the temperature stayed under 10 degree centigrade and the engine was running cool, airflow certainly wasn’t interrupted to the engine from the lack of cowling, oil wept from the damaged case, it appeared that my eyes were locked on the instrument panel, I wasn’t game to stop and I maintained a steady 100kph to Molong and continued towards Wellington.

The temperature was gradually increasing and was 13 by the time I reached Wellington. I passed through Wellington a little concerned as to Allan’s whereabouts; I was not turning back and limped into Dubbo getting a Receipt at 06:53 and had the necessary documentation signed. I called Allan and he was still on his way, he had stopped at Wellington for a breather and wanted to confirm the road as he expected to have caught up with me and thought there may have been another route I may have taken.

I arrived home and the garage was open, I parked my bike in the shed and Jody said did you put the bike away? OK she said, I don’t know if I should be cranky or happy because you haven’t injured yourself, we had a laugh and went inside. I showed, had an hours sleep and got ready for work. Allan turned up shortly, happy as Larry; we had a great two full days riding on some of the most spectacular demanding roads available.

More memories and yes, have the next ride planned.

Kiss me Kate not looking too well

Invoice for repairs

Kiss me Kate had had two major rebuilds from previous strikes in the last 14 months, this was the last straw, RIP, old friend.

Oooh another 2014 Memorial ride but on the R15