Sitting around the camp fire with a couple of mates just chewing the fat (talking), enjoying a nice port, while we’re getting snowed on. Welcome to the mountains.
Sometimes fireside chats are just talking shit. Other times it’s deeper – thinking about getting older, the choices we have made, and how they have shaped our life. And if you could, what would you tell your younger self.?
This weekend wasn’t about a big ride. It was a chance to simply get out for a ride in the mountains, do some camping, and just hang out with a couple of mates. A chance to escape the city and just be in the moment. Enjoy the scenery, the road, and the angry sounds of the 14 echoing off mountain walls. Just enjoying being alive.
With no real urgency we met at 10 to head off. We still hadn’t finalised the route and all we had was an over night destination.
It was only a small group just me and two Al’s, one riding another ZX14R and the other a 1050 Tiger. The beauty of a small group is that it can be agile allowing for decisions on the fly.
From Canberra we took a series of back roads to keep off the freeway as much as possible. I love these unmarked, narrow, winding, technical roads as you are always thinking, always ensuring your bike placement is right for unknown corners, obstacles that lay ahead. Forcing you to be in the moment.
After a quick bite to eat in Tumut we head south on the Snowy Mountains Highway. Our first stop is Yarragobilly thermal pools. It’s a nice spot about 6km off the highway down a narrow dirt road. Then it’s a 700m walk DOWN to the pool. Yes the water was nice – but the air temp was only about 5 degrees so getting out was a real shock to the system. Then we have to trudge back up the mountain to the bikes. This was meant to be a riding trip not mountain climbing.! I’m not sure how I got talked into this…. again.
From here it was only a short ride to our camp spot for the night at Three Mile Dam reserve. Such a lovely little spot. Just a bit chilly as it was only 1 degrees when we pulled in.
Tents up. Billy on.
Luckily for us we got our camp setup and had started getting dinner ready as the snow started to fall. So we sat around eating our dinner and chatting about life while snow lightly dusted us.
Currently around NSW and QLD there are some of the worst bush fires ever experienced, and here we are scrounging around trying to start a camp fire to warm up as its 0 degrees. In the end we resorted to damp bark and twigs with some woof wood* to get it going and then we scrounged enough charcoaled wood from surrounding fireplaces to get us warm.
With the port all finished off and all our burnable word exhausted it was time to slide into the warmth of the sleeping bag. I was glad I grabbed my warmer down bag and for my recently upgraded Klymit insulated mat. I love my new mat it was fantastic.
With rain, sleet, snow, and the occasional wind gust. I lay there reading my book listening to sounds surrounding me.
We are going to be packing up wet tents tomorrow.
It was a fairly slow start in the morning as it hadn’t warmed up any and the thought of getting out of a nice a warm sleeping bag and into the cold, packing up wet gear was very easy to delay.
In the end we didn’t get away until after 9am as we wanted to see whether the fog and possible rain was going to lift as we were deciding on whether to head further into the mountains or take the faster route straight down the Snowy Mountains Highway to Cooma and back to Canberra. In the end we opted for the more direct route.
By mid-morning the clouds lifted revealing a beautiful day allowing us to enjoy the dry road and flowing tarmac through the mountains.
On the way home Al and I swapped 14’s. His is largely standard. It looked like my bike, it sounded like my bike … but this was not my bike. The difference of the bar risers, lower foot pegs, and a much better seat completely transformed how the bike feels making it into a great touring weapon. I think we were both shocked at just how different they were.
And by lunchtime we rolled back into Canberra after a great ride. It may have only been 580km but it was nice to just get out of town and just hang out.
I’ll be doing this a lot more this summer.
Me – I remember 30 years ago those boys standing on the table – “Captain my captain…” and being challenged to seize the day. That gnawed at me for years before I truly understood.
What would I say to my younger self.? Don’t be afraid, grab life with both hands and give it a good shake.
The time is now. Seize the day.
*woof wood – the use of combustible fluid to start a fire, as in light it and it goes woof.