Today I was broken. Being a Queenslander, I knew New South Wales would betray me, luring me in with its twisting roads and beautiful scenery. But it was not NSW that broke me and it wasn’t the journey (well it kind of was), it was my ZX10R. She chewed me up like the evil, seductive mistress she is and spat me out with nary an apology. I was broken. My beloved Ninja could not be blamed. Do you blame a Cheetah for chasing down a gazelle? Do you blame Jorge Lorenzo for being an unlikeable douche? No, it’s in their nature. It is what they are. You can’t blame them for doing what’s in their nature. Thankfully, this leather cladded Humpty Dumpty would be put back together again.
Surprisingly, even though I had to avoid the snoring beauties by sleeping in my swag on the apartment’s balcony for fear of going insane, I had a pretty good sleep. We packed our kit and were met by a fair amount of fog, thankfully it cleared up. I was a bit over riding in rain after the day before and probably would have sobbed quietly in my helmet if it rained again. After giving the bikes a once over we headed around Sydney and through Penrith. I was surprised to find this ride was actually quite enjoyable and not as busy as expected.
We continued on and stopped at Thirlmere for a late breakfast of champions, a meat pie and some kind of cream filled donut. FYI, the bakery there does a fantastic pie, highly recommended. After our mid-morning breakfast jaunt, Gimli and I decided to make an impromptu stop at the train museum. Why? Why not!
I’m not a big train man, but I have to say I was impressed. If you’re going that way, stop in and have a look. You could seriously spend a whole day there reading all the plaques and information on display, but the journey wasn’t going to finish itself so off we went.
Leaving Thirlmere we had a plan to head towards the south coast of NSW through Bowral, the home of Don Bradman. This is also where I made our first real navigational error of the trip. In an attempt to avoid the highway, I meant to go over and around it. Instead I went straight passed our turn off and ended up heading back towards Sydney for 15 minutes. My bad. The fellowship bought it to my attention and we ended using the highway to bring us back to where we were and take the correct turn to Bowral…woops. It’s always strange driving back passed somewhere you were 30 minutes ago. Google maps is a life saver sometimes.
South east we went towards the coast. The landscape started to green up noticeably with lovely farms replacing urban buildings. And as we made our descent to the south coast things started to get steep.
We headed down a twisting mountain road (I may have upped the pace here, I am a motorcycle rider after all) and headed towards Nowra. It was a great ride and I had a blast for a couple of hours. Gimli was absolutely loving the fast flowing corners as well. But as we kept riding to Ulladulla my body let me know oh so subtly that it was getting over riding. A stiffening back, neck and legs joined the party to accompany the now standard numb bum.
The NSW south coast is simply an amazing part of the world and has thrilling scenery. The highway travels through small coastal towns, the roads sweep and undulate, women swoon at the luscious green meadows, grown men sigh at the sheer splendor of the sun hitting the water…but as mid-afternoon came and Batemans Bay approached, I wasn’t enjoying myself at all. My sweet, beautiful Ninja was showing her true long distance touring face. That fucking bitch.
The suspension was stiff, my legs were stiff, my back was stiff, my butt was stiff. I longed to stop and have breaks to stretch. ‘How bloody far away it this Island? Why didn’t I get some kind of cruise control mechanism?’ Ah, hindsight. But then something happened that Mr. OnTheBackWheel did not intend. And it was from the most unlikely creature imaginable. A Kawasaki, ZX12R from Japan.
I was broken, but Gimli’s ZX12 put me back to together again. The seating position was such a welcome change and my ass was in a completely different spot that was yet to be penetrated. The bars were slightly higher and you sat in the bike instead of on it. The old bike soothed my soul and I found myself back in the groove. After a tank of petrol we swapped back onto our own bikes and funnily enough, it felt good to be back on 1000cc’s of penetration. I couldn’t get mad at her, even if I was her gazelle.
After filling up with some 91 octane (when you need fuel, you need fuel) we continued down the coastal road. The sun made a rapid descent and we soldiered on to Bega.
By the time we reached Bega it was well and truly dark. We were also falling behind where we wanted to be even though we had been trying to make up time all afternoon. If we kept this up we wouldn’t make Phillip Island by tomorrow afternoon. So as much as we didn’t want to, we stopped at Coles, grabbed some steaks, salad and beverages with a plan to do some night riding and find a campsite near Bombala. I consulted Google maps who informed me it was about 1 hour 15 minutes away and the turn off was just up ahead. Google was wrong.
We took our turn off and followed the signs to Bombala. The road soon turned to gravel and dirt. No worries, it must just be road works. We continued ahead. The road stayed dirt. We continued on for some time in the hope the road would turn to bitumen. Gimli and I come from a dirt bike background, so even though it wasn’t ideal, we had no troubles. Gandalf on the other hand was not impressed and appeared to have missed gravel riding school. We stopped, checked the map and sure enough we were on the road we were told to go.
We continued on. The road started to climb. The road got very tight. The road got very twisty. The road teased us by turning to bitumen for 100 or so metres only to turn back to gravel. This was definitely not the right way! But when you’ve gone so far you might as well keep going.
The road kept going and so did we, through the bush and mountain country on our sports bikes. We got to see and dodge wombats (they are a lot bigger than I thought they would be!), saw some huge ferns on the side of the road, stopped a couple of times when our bikes got hot and had an unexpected, yet awesome adventure (may be more fun looking back now). What should have taken 1 hour 15 minutes ended up taking 3 hours and 30 minutes. Moral of the story, if you’re on a sports bike and don’t want to ride on dodgy dirt roads, double check Google Maps!
When we hit bitumen it was a God send. My iridium visor however was not so helpful given that it was pitch black. Making it worse, those aforementioned wombats aren’t overly clever and take some dodging.
When we arrivid at Bombala we couldn’t see any likely camping spots so we continued on and eventually found a wide spot down a random road, well away from the main drag at about 11.30pm. It was fantastic to finally sit down and reminisce over the day and its ups and downs while having a few rums and steak. Sometimes unplanned adventures are the best.
To be continued…
Here are a couple more pictures from the trip.