Sometimes the stars align and you just have to sieze the opportunity. Over the weekend Deb was going to be busy with a Stampin’ Up! virtual conference, there was a FarRide to Tooleybuc on Saturday, the round trip to Tooleybuc is about 1400km, and I was just itching for a big ride. And if I felt okay I could easily add an extra 200km to make it an IBA ride which would be the first on the Honda ST1300. Something that I’ve been wanting to do.
I was going to say a plan was made … but there really wasn’t anything like that. The only thing I planned was the time I needed to leave in order to make the 11:30am check in time 700km away.
To be honest I really wasn’t sure how I’d go as it’s been over five months since my last 1,000km day and a year since my last 1,600km day. I was not ride fit, so I was prepared to just stop and book a room if I wasn’t up to it.
So rolling out the driveway at 3:30am I wasn’t sure what was in front of me, how I’d feel, or even whether I was up for this. But I was looking forward to the open road and the time to just sit and escape the busyness of daily life for a day.
As the first light starts to appear over my shoulder out of Wagga Wagga I start to get the yawns. It’s usually get the yawns around dawn and have to be extra careful. So I often use the colours of sunrise as an excuse to jump off the bike, take a few moments to take a few photos a little walk around and then I’m good to go. Unfortunately I remembered my camera ten minutes from home so I am restricted to using my phone camera today which is a lot more mucking around to use than a dedicated camera.
First fuel of the day is Narrandera. The ST has a 28 litre tank which means you don’t need to always be thinking of the next fuel stop. Another rider was already here having breakfast so I joined him for a coffee and a chat before we set off for Tooleybuc.
It’s not for everyone but I love the open spaces of the Hay Plains, the flat horizon and the big sky. It has a way of putting everything into perspective.
Tooleybuc is on the NSW/ Vic border separated by a moat called the Murray River and crossings are currently manned by police as part of Covid restrictions. This is actually the first time I’ve been to a border region in these times and it has a weird police state feel about it … although an understandable measure in these times. After a quick chat with the coppers the closest fuel is across the river in Victoria … which if I crossed I couldn’t get back without a pass. So rather than getting a fuel receipt for my ride certification I’d get a drink receipt and wait to fill the bike up back up on the highway.
With the current restrictions the number of riders meeting at Tooleybuc was kept small.
And after a brief catch-up I start the return trip. Instead of returning the same way I head towards West Wyalong as its only 20km further and gives me a different selection of roads for the day.
When I left this morning it was only 4 degrees and a bit cool. However over the course of the day it was really starting to warm up. And out here it was upwards of 30 degrees and I still had thermals and linings in my jacket from this morning. It’s something you need to be aware of when riding big distances as the temps can vary vastly over the course of the day and you need to be careful to modulate what you wear so you don’t over-heat or get too cold. It’s easy to forget and before you know it you are too hot or too cold. And today I was again reminded.
Out here everything is bigger. Today other than the road trains there were harvesters heading in both directions, to and from crops. I just love the massive scale of farm machinery out here!
I was fast approaching a decision point … at West Wyalong I would have to choose to turn and head for home, or extend the ride and make it a saddlesore 1600? Although I was a bit sore I was actually feeling very good and the opportunity to complete the bigger ride when I was so close was too good to pass up.
But which way.?
Doing the calculations in my head I was running through all the different options knowing that I only had a couple of hours of light left. I could keep heading north then turn back at Forbes or Parkes but that wouldn’t give me enough distance. But going all the way to Dubbo was way more than I needed.
Than passing a sign for Bathurst gave me another option. Bathurst is 260km and I knew that Bathurst to home is about 300km. Perfect. This should have me rolling into Canberra with just over 1,600km for the day.
From Bathurst it is dark. Really dark. But it’s a beautiful clear night and the lights are illuminating the road nicely.
I’ve been along this road a number of times but not this direction and not at night and it feels and looks very different. It’s funny how a road feels so different in the opposite direction and at night it is just amplified. And this is the first big ride on this bike at night and it’s so different to the 14 and the linked brakes are much more intrusive than I remember on my Blackbird. While out on the open roads the linked brakes are fine, in the tight stuff tipping through corners I don’t like the front dipping when I touch the rear brakes! But I have to remember that this is a touring bike not a sports bike.
It was along here that I realised that I may be cutting the distance fine. I’d hate to ride all this extra way only to fall short by 10-20km. So from Gunning I jumped back onto the Hume highway and detoured to Yass, grabbed a coffee and receipt from the service centre before heading home. This would guarantee that I’d have enough distance.
In the end I pulled in at midnight and filled up, with 1,680km on the clock since I left at 3:30 that morning.
What a great day on the bike.
The next day … well that’s another story.!
Did I mention just how ride unfit I am at the moment.?