SS1600K with OX-34

On spec just before lunch on Wednesday I sent OX-34 and 93TigerBill a message mentioning I was thinking of going on a ride the next day (Thursday). Bill had plans Friday so didn’t want to take one one. OX sms’d that he was unavailable. Never mind I was going anyway. A bit later OX sms’d me a suggested route for a nice winter 1600K and shortly thereafter OX became available. Awesome! So About 6pm the decision was made to leave at 2am and a meeting of the Newcastle Branch of the Servo Moths was called. Bill had sent me a copy of an SS1600K route during the day with a fuel strategy that was not going to work with STEN (my Super Tenere). Never mind, we could wing that and I’ll just lug some spare fuel if it doesn’t work out. Nothing like detailed planning and preparation.

I turned up at the local servo (Lambton NSW), Bill and OX were there already. OX was riding his recently purchased largely unfarkled FJR which looks very new and shiny.  I’m always last to arrive, I have to work on that.  With a docket of 1:57am it was time for an easy freeway transport leg south to fuel up at the Big Merino Goulburn.  Why couldn’t they have made that thing gender non specific?

OX’s lightly farkled FJR

We were blessed with a mild night, it didn’t get below 8 degrees over the Southern Highlands, a big change from sub zero’s a week or so ago when I was riding there on the CBR125R.  After fueling  we rode back through Goulburn town and headed northish to Taralga.  It was still dark but we enjoyed some nice twisties up hill and down dale until the sun rose as we worked our way to the top of the range towards Oberon. OX wanted to stop to take a pic of the Big Trout sign at sunrise. A short time later we rode straight past the Big Trout.

From Oberon we went along Duckmaloi Road to (Jenolan) Caves Road through Hampton and ducked down McKanes Falls Road until we punched out of the Great Western Highway for a fuel stop and corner docket at South Bowenfells. We then took a very scenic route to Kelso via Tarana and O’Connell.  Some lovely little towns and some great winding narrow roads to be ridden in this area. All new roads to me which is always nice.  We encountered a bit of roadwork in one part making some of the bends interesting but the route was certainly much better than the Highway option.

Fuelling up at Kelso we went north through Wattle Flat, past Sofala to Ilford, Kandos, Rylestone and stopped for a short “cookie and hot chocolate break” at Bylong. Excellent hot chocolate there BTW, made the old fashioned way.

Most of the major roadworks along that part of Bylong Valley Way are sorted now and the loose stones on the winding parts have thankfully been pushed off the main road surface. However, they’ve gone back to throwing a couple of shovels full of loose tar mix into the potholes and moving on. There was a 55kph corner smack in the middle of some great road surface that would be truly sphincter tightening if you were going into it hot. Fortunately we were taking it very easy .

A fuel top up at Sandy Hollow where I took off a layer, the day had started to get very warm. Then we rode out through Merriwa and just before Dunedoo turned right onto the Black Stump Way for a Bakery docket at Coolah. I noted along the way that I don’t often the ride road to Dunedoo in daylight, particularly heading west. There are lots of nice farmland and open roads along there. But the road surface on the Black Stump Way hasn’t improved any since I was last here and I was happy to be on the Super Tenere this trip.

We stopped for a quick pic at Mullaley….

then fuel at Gunnedah where the temp gauge on the Tenere reported 28 degrees for a transportish leg on the open part of the Oxley through to busy Tamworth. From there we turned north then east stopping at the Royal Cafe at Walcha for a drink and a quick chat. They are apparently very excited about a big group of “hard ass” riders coming their way in November. Here’s a pic of OX looking cool in his sunnies.

Our fuel strategy saw us empty our jerried fuel into the tanks just before we hit the “proper” bends on the Oxley Highway. No point carrying any extra load into the fun run.

We were soon enough into the bends and the sun started to set behind us. OX took the lead, he knows the road better than I and has ridden it in the dark before.  I wouldn’t stand between a bull and a gate so getting between OX and the OX is unthinkable, almost a Pamplona moment I reckon!    It was also his turn to take the lead.. last time we rode the Oxley he was on his postie, the time before he was on the 150cc Yammie and both of those times I was on my way more powerful KLR650.

Physics segway: Do you think that because the road going east is predominantly downhill that gravity and momentum might have had an unintended acceleration impact on the bikes?  IMHO the challenge on these extremely tight roads isn’t to go over the speed limit, any goose with a big motor and a ham fist can blast up the short straights and crawl around the bends.  I reckon the trick is not to go over or under the speed limit. Enough theory, back to the ride…

The darkness provided two points of interest.  Firstly it better allowed me to see the spark generators that are under the FJR that seem to activate particularly on left hand bends.  I wondered if they were standard equipment on the FJR? I might see if I can get some after market ones for the ST1300. STEN doesn’t seem have them even when you wear the lips on the outside of the tyres down. A puzzle that one.

Secondly I noted that when relying on the high beam of the bike in front to see ahead and it disappears around a 25-35kph bend the Tenere’s low beam isn’t enough to see where you are going. So up went the wide pointing auxiliary LED’s and the fun factor for both of us.

Here they are ready to shine.

There was a little traffic during the run down the hill and most were very courteous. The others got to see our tail lights anyway.  It’s no secret I love riding at night way out in the boonies, there’s nothing but me and what’s in my lights. It sets my mind free. Riding down the Oxley at night is a completely different experience. Rock walls, trees, posts, reflective signs snaking yellow lines and jumping shadows fill your senses and disappear into blackness behind you (except the shadows, they are already black). Tipping the bike changes the “shape” of how much you can see and you look into the blackness in front for any information about what’s coming next. You don’t get a second to relax. It was awesome.

With the heart rate returning to normal and me taking the lead and lighting the way we rode past pretty much the only roo for the day, through Long Flat and Wauchope to the Thrumster Donut for some fuel and food. We made calls home prior to finishing the day as we started with some easy freeway riding back to Lambton where Bill was waiting for us.

The etrex tells us we did 1642kms with an MA of 83.5kph and I was home soon after 10pm.  I have no pics to prove I was there, hopefully OX has a couple to share .

As usual, many thanks to Bill for the witness forms etc and the ride plan.  I found some roads I probably would never have seen Thanks too to OX for reorganising his schedule to keep me company.  I learn something every time I ride with him.