It’s been a while since I rode a selection of my favourite winding roads in NSW so revisiting a favourite lap of mine was in order for today. This was also my first IBA ride on the BMW R1250GS so I didn’t want it to be too easy.
Fellow Iron Butt Rider JN decided to stitch in some of my route on his own IBA Run for the day so we met up at the Shell servo, Motto Farm, NSW for the start at 3.40am. It was a mild early morning run up the Pacific Hwy which is a bit like a moving city of huge trucks and led lights. The first stop was the “Donut” (BP Thrumster/Port Macquarie) for fuel and an important corner docket.
The plan was a post dawn run up the Oxley Highway before the roadworks got underway. Although I couldn’t ride past the Long Flat Hotel without taking a quick pic. I’m not sure if JN thought I might be stopping for a beer.
It was a great run up the Oxley, it’s a sensational piece of road and lots of fun to be had around it’s 300 or so corners even with the reduced 80kph speed limit. The plan to avoid the roadworks delays worked well with only a minor holdup near Gingers Creek Cafe (still closed).
Coming off the top of the mountains down into the Yarrowitch Valley in the early morning is breathtaking and a view to be seen if you ever have the time.
We rode through Walcha, Uralla and continued along Thunderbolts Way to Inverell for the next fuel stop at 9.47am. Up to that point it was a textbook run. This was my first time using the BMW Navigator for routing and after a little confusion (mine) with waypoints on leaving the servo at Inverell, and some assistance from Google Maps, we were soon back on track heading towards Ashford. JN must have been thinking he was following a total amateur!
Soon after though our planned route was blocked due to a serious accident and we were sent on a detour. It was scenic to start, then it turned to dirt. It wasn’t too bad, quite narrow but a decent surface, no problems for the Road 5’s and JN’s GS was wearing 80/20’s. About 10k’s along the dirt road we turned right into a narrower dirt “lane”. I stopped for a quick photo.
JN who was hanging back out of my dust soon turned up and said “Do you know where we are going?” “Yep”, I lied ” We are going in the right direction.” I hoped. What could go wrong? I couldn’t tell by looking at him in his helmet if he believed me.
Logically the detour was for both directions, oncoming traffic increased suddenly on the small dirt track and it included b-doubles and an assortment of other vehicles of all sizes. There was barely room for the bike to pass a car on the track and riding on the loose gravel shoulder to allow the trucks to pass was a little scary to say the least. We even got a shallow, slippery causeway thrown in for good measure! Luckily my karma cup is full at the moment and we made it out a little dusted but safe. I stopped briefly to take a snap of one of the trucks turning onto to the lane.
Now happily back on Ashford Road the next stop for a corner pic was the intersection with Bruxner Way near Bonshaw. Riding the Bruxner towards Tenterfield is beautiful, flanked by mountains on one side and the river on the other with lots of easy sweeping bends to enjoy and some Wineries if you are in the mood.
At Tenterfield we fuelled up ready to split up and continue on our own rides. We were both on the clock and there wan’t a question of long conversations, coffee and cake or reviews of the ride so far. A quick goodbye, elbow knock and JN headed south towards Glen Innes and the Gwydir while I rode the spectacular corners of the Bruxner Hwy through to Casino. The day had warmed up to a pleasant 28 degrees C and I decided to take some time to make some comfort adjustments. I took off a layer, opened the vents on the Badlands, took off my camelback and packed it with the airhawk into the top box.
I love airhawks, my trusty neoprene one with the tailbone “reduced pressure point design” finally gave up the ghost after a couple of hundred thousand k’s recently. So I tried out a new/spare polyurethane one without the tail bone and “front bit” shaping. After only 880kms or so I’d had enough of it. Turns out the stock BMW seat was more comfortable for me and I probably won’t be riding my pushbike tomorrow.
Summerland Way to Grafton was next, which wasn’t very exciting unless you think getting covered by animal excrement wile passing a wildly swinging trailer full of cows is exciting. In any case it was just a transport leg to the next corner-fest, Armidale Road to Ebor. Armidale Road is a little lumpy in parts but I love it. A great mix of corners from sweeping to pockets of tight 25-35kph uphill and downhill fun and very light traffic for about 100kms. From Ebor I continued along Waterfall Way, had a slow run through Armidale and turned left down the New England Highway to Uralla. There I ate my third piece of Lions Club Fruit Cake for the day and pondered the comparative lack of fuel range of the R1250GS compared to the Super Tenere and Africa Twin I’ve ridden on this route.
There was no time to dwell on it now. I was behind my anticipated timeframe due to roadwork delays, inefficiency and the longer than usual stop at Casino. I was, however, still on track to ride the final set of corners for the day in daylight. So I high-tailed it back through Walcha for a return clear run down the Oxley Highway after the roadworks had been packed up.
The sun disappeared somewhere between Wauchope and the Donut. I fuelled up and enjoyed a dirty chai on soy and a selection of McDonalds fine fare, my first meal and coffee for the day. While there I gave Mrs Wom a call to catch up on her day. Then after a quick glove change and Badlands vent closing I was back on the road for the final 230kms to Lambton and my favourite post IBA Ride treat – A Cherry Ripe with an end docket.
Here are the stats if you are interested.
Yes, I know there’s whiteout on my screen! Riding these winding roads on the clock is great fun but quite physical. It requires lots of focus and energy. Your MA and OA will suffer and your rest breaks will be a bit longer, you’ll eat more and drink more. Add in roadworks and other unanticipated delays and you are in for a long day.
Why Titanium? If I get this and other rides currently under review across the line I will reach the Iron Butt Association’s Titanium Mile Eater level of 60 Certified rides including 15 Gold/Insanity level or greater than 48 hours.