There’s something empowering about riding alone. Setting you’re own schedule, changing plans on the fly, not having to come to consensus on decisions, and overcoming obsticles as they arise. Don’t get me wrong, hanging out in a group is good but you have a lot of different issues to contend with.
Maybe its the introvert in me that likes the solitude. I’ve always said that riding is the perfect introvert activity; plenty of time in your head to contemplate the world while allowing time for social interaction at routine intervals. However is that true for all rides regardless of the number who participate? Is it also just as true for a quick spin in the countryside, as it is for a day ride or even a multi-day ride?
I got to put that to the test on a 4 day ride a couple of weeks ago with a group of 8 others. This was actually the first time I’d ridden with that many for an extended time (ie longer than just going out for a brekkie ride). This was going to be interesting.
The plan was to show off some of our great riding roads to some QLD friends. So for four days we rode in the NSW and VIC high country covering about 500km per day.
One thing I know about myself is that I like to be on time and when on a ride I don’t like mucking around at servos or spending lots of time just sitting around. Knowing this and knowing that this wasn’t my ride I tried turning that part of my brain off. Just cruise. Go with the flow.
As I helped construct the route and it covered a number of small interesting back roads I was often out the front.
The first stage of the ride was droning down the freeway. This was the start of understanding how each other ride. The styles and speed. Who can maintain a constant speed, who gets left behind. Who’s happy sitting behind, who wants to be up the front.
Once we got onto the interesting roads each rider’s styles really started to become apparent.
At Tumut we stopped for lunch and a few unscheduled repairs to one of the bikes after it went for a slide down the road. One of the pannier racks was broken in 2 places. What can’t race tape and cable ties fix? Never leave home with out them!
From Tumut we headed into the high country and into yellow line territory. I love yellow lines.
From Jindabyne we wound our way around to Khancoban for regrouping and coffee. It was here that we met an interesting bloke from Kuala Lumpur traveling around the world on a BMW F800GS. With 21 months on the road he had many stories.
It does make you wonder how someone can fund a 2 year bike trip. Regardless, I was quite jealous of the chance to do such a trip.
These were new roads to most of the guys and it was great seeing the guys faces at the end of the various sections.
Within sight of our overnight stop there’s a nice little range that must have had been constructed by a motorcyclist. This range was the undoing for two of the riders.
I was following a couple of BMW F800’s across the range and then all of a sudden one is sliding off the road with the second like a lemmings following him off the road (when things like this unfold in front of you it is real easy to watch what happens and follow rather than focus on what you are doing). The last thing I saw was one bike heading towards the rider on the ground before I went about the business of getting around the corner and not simply joining them.
After quickly pulling up I raced back to assess the situation. Due to the tightness of the corner most of the speed had been washed off so both riders were okay.
One silver F800 slid down a small ditch and was resting next to a tree. The red F800 went over the edge and was a couple of meters down the hill, upside down balancing on its handlebars and rack being held in place by a strategically placed tree which it was leaning against.
After righting the bike and getting it down to the convieniently placed service road. The only damage was a slightly bend bar, a broken left mirror, torn soft luggage, and some scratches. After leaving the bike for awhile to settle from being up side down, it started straight away and once it cleared it ran fine.
From our overnight stay in Tallangatta we headed south following some nice quiet back roads to Bright. From there we went up to one of my favourite places – the horn at Mt Buffalo. I know a number were wondering why we were going up this steep, loose and rutted road on big loaded road bikes. Once we rounded the final corner all became apparent.
From Bright we climbed out of the trees and over Mt Hotham. This is a road that requires respect, steep drop offs, high winds, and a surface that I always find ‘interesting’ as the bike never feels sure footed. All that aside this is a great road with some amazing scenery.
From the nice little town of Marlo we headed along the coastal road to join the Princess Highway.
After an excellent breakfast stop at the Relics cafe in Cann River we followed the Princess Highway around to Eden. Then from Eden over Mt Darragh and back to Canberra.
And to not get outdone about 20km out of Canberra the 14 starts cutting out over 4k revs. It looks like after 185,000km my fuel pump has finally called it a day. But that’s a story for another day.
So does the number in the group or the number of days make a difference. Well yes.
I found that the bigger group made it harder to get into a flow as you are often stopping and waiting. This made doing big miles impossible. There are places where you want to stop, linger, and soak in the surroundings, but sitting by the side of the road waiting isn’t one of them.
What about multi days? I’m torn. I really enjoy getting away by myself, however it was great to sit down at the end of the day with a group of friends, have a beer and chat about the days riding.
I think that’s why I like doing the sort of long distance riding I do. Typically its ride for one or more days at your own pace to get to a meeting point. Sit down with mates, enjoy a beer and chat about the ride, the world, the weather. This combines the best of both worlds.
Having said that. This was a great ride just not my preferred style of ride.