A quick look in the rear vision mirror and Ed had gone, and in that instant I knew exactly what happened. Ah crap this isn’t good! With a sinking feeling I head back not knowing what I was going to find…
A few months ago I noticed an issue with my trailer’s suspension and after a quick chat to the trailer’s manufacturer in Queensland – Classic Industries motorcycle trailers – it turns out that they need to rebuild the suspension. So I’ve been trying to organise a time to get up there but with everything that has been going on I haven’t been able to get up there. In the meantime it’s had a temporary fix to get me out of trouble.
Finally the stars have aligned and I’ve been able to get away for a few days and the timing couldn’t have been better. We had a long weekend here so I only needed to one extra day off; the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is having an exhibition that I wanted to see – The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire; and I’d be in Brisbane for my sister’s birthday. Ed and I have talked about doing this trip since the beginning of the and it was great to hang out for a few days, riding, talking bikes, and talking life. So the rough plan was simple, leave after work on Friday and get north of Sydney, ride to Brisbane where I’d catch up with Cheryl for her birthday on Saturday. Ed and I would then meet at the bike show on art the Gallery on South Bank before heading to the Sunshine coast on Sunday. The trailer was booked in on Monday morning and we would head home over the next couple of days.
Meeting Ed at the border after work on Friday we escaped the clutches of Canberra and headed north. Being realistic we only planned a short first stint with an overnighter north of Raymond Terrace. Although the run out of Canberra is always busy on a Friday night, and this night was no exception on the eve of a long-weekend, the new 10km tunnel connecting the M2 to the M1 makes the trip through Sydney a breeze and so much faster. Now you can get through the whole of Sydney and not have to go through any traffic lights.
Saturday morning comes around and we hit the road before six and put an hour under our belts before escaping the freeway to grab breakfast in Taree. I remember riding through the main street of Taree with traffic everywhere … at 7am the main street is all but deserted with only the occasional car and cyclist making their way passed. The freeways are great but I miss the towns, their unique character, and wondering what people do here.
While I’m not generally a fan of riding the freeway they are a great way of covering distances quickly. With another 400km gone as we fill up in Ballina got me thinking about how much easier an IBA ride would be on these types of roads. In fact it would feel a bit like cheating as the riding is so easy, the average speeds are higher, no getting stuck behind traffic, and the service centres conveniently spaced.
It was great to catch up with my sister in Brisbane for her birthday. We tried to work out the last time we were together for her birthday and it was a long time, maybe as long as before I left home at 17. So it’s been a while.! Happy birthday Cheryl.
There really isn’t much I can add to this other than to say that this covers the history of motorcycles over the years, modern classics, future concepts, and a number of iconic motorcycles. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. If you are in Brisbane the exhibition is on until late April 2021 and it’s certainly worth a visit.
Heading to the Sunshine coast on Sunday I am shocked at how much Brisbane has sprawled to the north as the Sunshine Coast seems to have gotten so much closer to Brisbane than the last time I was up here. One the way there is a shop of used houses ready to be taken to your block – I’ll have to drop in next time just out of curiosity. Monday morning I drop the trailer in for repair and as it’s only going to take a couple of hours to fix we find a cafe in downtown Yandina to have breakfast and chat to the locals.
Then it was time to pack up and head south. With time on our side we poured over the maps at the cafe and scoped out a route south taking in a series of nice back roads and small country towns, avoiding main roads and big cities. Quite the contrast to our trip north. By mid-morning we had the Sunshine coast in our rear vision mirrors and we were heading south.
Everything was going so well. The bike was humming along and the new suspension on the trailer felt great. About 20km out of Toowoomba Ed called me saying that we were about to run into a big storm and whether I wanted to change my riding gear as I was just in kevlar jeans and a leather jacket (the beauty of the trailer I had room to throw in a leather jacket) so we pulled over and I put on my gore-tex riding gear. Then the heavens opened up! On the outskirts of Toowoomba I hit a slick patch of tar where all the gravel was gone and the bike spun up the rear and kicked out but quickly settled. Then as I got passed it I looked in my mirror and Ed had gone, and in that instant I knew exactly what happened. Ah crap this isn’t good! With a sinking feeling I head back not knowing what I was going to find…!
I got back to find Ed’s bike in the ditch with Ed removing his luggage in order to pick it up. I park and rush over to help get his bike up and assess the damage to both him and the bike. My mind was racing.
Ed hit the same patch of tar and the bike snapped right, then left, then right, then he lost the front and went down. He and the big KTM went sliding doing the road together at 100km/h ending up in the ditch. Other than a torn jacket and a couple of scratches Ed was fine, and the bike was largely protected by crash bars and came out of the slide pretty well with a few more scratches to add to its character and a bent driving light. Lucky!!!
After checking over the bike and sitting for a little while before we set off again in the rain. After this you become very observant of all the potentially slick patches of tar on the road. And I have to say there is a lot of them! Ed was certainly very wary towards these patches for the rest of the day especially as we were riding through showers all afternoon.
And to top off the day … pulling into Texas Ed was struggling with his bike. Not because of the accident but he had a blocked fuel filter so on the apron of the local tyre shop in Texas he pulled out the fuel pump and replaced the filters (luckily he was carrying a spare kit). A huge thanks to the tyre shop for their assistance.
The luck was on Ed’s side today. The fuel pump assembly on these bikes have a big o-ring sealing it in the tank and they are notorious for being damaged and then leaking. This one was no exception and upon inspection when we pulled it on the o-ring was wrecked, and there was no replacement in the kit. This was never going to work.! In desperation we spun it over and put a bit of grease on it to hold it in place long enough to seal … and it worked.!
After the days drama it was good to push on a bit further and just get a few more miles under our belts and to put it behind us, but at the same time we didn’t want to push our luck too much further. Coming into Warialda after dark in the middle of an electrical storm was a very dramatic end to our day. It was good to sit and have a good pub meal and and put the days dramas behind us.
Tuesday was our last day on the road and we had over 800km to cover to get home. We really should have been on the road early but we just didn’t seem to have any urgency which set the pace for the rest of the day. Got to Barraba for breakfast and had breakfast at 2 places … pie here and coffee and muffin there… As you do.
Total distance = 2,850km
Rolling into Canberra on Tuesday afternoon I am reminded just how much I love a good road trip and just being out on the road. A chance to escape the daily grind and just be. A chance to sit and let everything wash over you. There’s a very good reason that motorcyclist call this two wheeled therapy – enough of your mental energy is taken with the activity of riding, leaving your sub conscience time to chew on things, all while moving through a world far removed from daily life. For that reason, I am protective about my helmet time – this is my time. Therefore I don’t use comms with other riders, I tried it once and didn’t like it. I also only listen to music/audiobooks for about 20-30% of the time when I’m travelling. This is my chance to unplug from the world.
It’s great to have the trailer sorted and now we have everything pretty much in place for bigger trips.