One Last Ride for 22

On Tuesday Deb said why don’t you go for a ride for a couple of days as I won’t be able to get away. With the statement still hanging in the air I was already planning where to go and like a cartoon all that remained of me was a dust outline, and I was outta here.

The plan was simple – drop in on a mate in Wagga who has recently just got out of hospital and then head west to check out a few more painted grain silos in west Victoria, find somewhere to camp overnight, and head home the next day.

I ran into a couple of adventure riders in Hay heading to Mungo to camp, one was one a little trail bike and could only do about 100km/h … I couldn’t think of anything worse than putting along the Hay Plain with road trains barrelling passed. And I was surprised how much traffic there was.! I have never seen it so busy, in both directions. This was their first Hay Plain crossing so it will be a new experience for them.

It’s interesting where your mind wanders when out on the road – I’ve had a few people comment recently about me always riding. I am the first to admit that I love riding and just rolling the wheels through the countryside but it’s certainly not the only thing I do but I can see how they might see that. My social media presence is pretty light, and I tend to only post things when I’m out on the road seeing interesting things and experiencing cool things. I don’t post about work, family life, stuff around the house, and certainly not what I am eating. So yes, I can see how it could be seen that all I do is ride … oh how I wish. But that certainly doesn’t represent my whole life.

Social media can certainly distort our perceptions of what is actually real. It got me thinking about how it affects me and how I see my own life as it is all too easy to compare it with how I see others ‘live’ or at least what their life appears to be through the snippets they share.

Rolling into Balranald I turn south and head for Victoria. This is an area I really haven’t ridden in before and with a farming background I’m always interested in the farm enterprises and what is cropped from large pistachios plantations out of Tooleybuc to large wheat crops being harvested. And with all this harvesting underway there was a lot of semi trailers moving around the back roads transporting grain that I was riding on. My rule – if a b-double is coming at you on a narrow single tar road – back off and get off the road.

these are temporary grain silos used during harvesting – I really wanted to see these being filled and extractedl.

It had taken me most of the day to get to my first silo at Sea Lake as I ended up taking a longer route via Balranald (780km) rather than going through all the badly flood affected roads. I got to Sea Lake at 4:30pm after leaving at 6:30 in the morning and spending a couple of hours in Wagga.

Note – the flag I have on the bike is my IBA flag with my number as I am also doing a new challenge that has recently been put up. More information and all my Silo Art photos – see here.

Sea Lake
Nullawil
Albacutya 

Looking at the map I wasn’t far from a friend’s property north of Dimboola so after a quick call to see if they are around, I rode the 45 minutes to see them and ended up camping on their floor for the night after a 1,100km day in the saddle.

Zac taking me for a quick spin in his Polaris side-by-side around the property

Then it was back on the road the next day with the sun to my back I was heading further west although not as far west as Kaniva, that will have to be next time. I love travelling on these dirt backroads and the feeling of the big bike moving around beneath you as you float over the surface … it’s not really the right bike, but that’s why it’s fun.

Arkona – mural of a local tennis coach ‘Roley’
Horseham

The last time we rode through Dadswell it was dark and the Giant Koala was pretty freaky with glowing red eyes so I thought I should get a day-time photo. And whenever I see this I always think of the classic Australian road trip movie ‘Charlie and Boots‘, with a couple of Australia’s great comedians.

Barking Owl at Avoca

I’ve been through Bendigo a number of times now but never really stopped – we really need to come back for a weekend as Bendigo as it looks like a really nice inland city. But today I’m only rolling through and I need lunch. Normally I’d find a nice cafe in town to just sit and take in the surrounds, but the town centre was crazy busy, so I found a park on the edge of town which had a coffee and a food van. So, I grabbed a hot dog and coffee and sat under a tree to enjoy the shade and the park. Perfect.

Rochester

When I left home I debated what gear I was going to wear as it was going to be fairly warm (mid 30’s) but I could get a bit wet. I remember in the early days of only having one riding jacket and that’s what you wore, now I have choices which can make it harder. I love wearing my full leather riding gear as it is so much more comfortable than nylon riding gear, but I hate wearing plastic rain gear over leather as it can be so hot and sweaty. Whereas Nylon gear is more adaptable to differing weather conditions you see out on the road, but it isn’t as comfortable, and it doesn’t look as cool. There I said it out loud. In the end I wore an old, perforated Walden Miller leather jacket and kevlar jeans and tossed in some wets just in case. Blue jeans and black leather jacket. Classic.

The trick with wets is judging the weather correctly and timing putting them on. If it is only a shower you don’t want to stop and wriggle into it for the rain to only be a passing shower and then having to stop and remove it all, or keep riding while cooking in plastic. But you don’t want to leave it too late and be soaked trying to pull plastic gear over wet leather. So you become an observer and judge of weather. I remember a ride a decade ago where the clouds started turning green, by the time we stopped and suited up and just as we rolled away, we were in the middle of a torrential storm … perfect timing.!

But today you could see blue sky around dark clouds, so while you knew you were going to get wet, it was only going to be for a short period of time and then you’d be on the other side. And on warm days there is something like the feel and smell of summer rain and the cooling effect of drying off when you pop out the other side. I had already gone through two brief showers today and behind the bike’s fairing I hardly got wet but coming out of Cobram I got dumped on by a heavy but short storm. Already soaked I quickly pulled in and took this photo of the big strawberry – standing in pouring rain like a drowned rat in drenched jeans and perforated jacket letting all the rain and saturating my t-shirt. I’m sure all the folks sitting in the complex looked out at this mad bike rider shaking their heads.

Then I followed the Murray River along the NSW side of the river before hitting the Hume highway at Albury and just burning up the highway the last 300km to home. Droning up the highway with all the trucks got me thinking of the old US country & western song about 18-wheelers – we really don’t see many of those here in Australia anymore. The smallest we generally see is 22 wheels with a standard tri-axle trailer but there is an increase in quad-axle trailers (26 wheels) on the roads, but more common are b-doubles (short + long trailer) which have 34 wheels and out west standard triple-trailer road trains have 62 wheels … glad I’m not paying for that tyre bill.!

I rolled into home at 10pm after travelling 2,150km over the last couple of days. A nice way to spend the last few days of 2022.

Now to start planning for 2023 which includes a two-week ride in the UK including up and around the North Coast 500 in Scotland which we are really looking forward to. So, if there is anything you’d recommend please let me know.

All the best for 2023 and I hope to see you on the road somewhere.

Glen

7 thoughts on “One Last Ride for 22

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