Cold start, warm finish. Riding with a group of established and new friends up the Putty Road and down through Wollombi. Good times and a little ratbaggery.
It was a cold start, early on a Saturday morning when we are normally at home enjoying homemade waffles and pretentious coffee.
Motorcycling is more fun with company. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong or bad with riding by yourself, but it is always more fun to have someone to share the experience with: “did you see x?”, “did you see what nearly happened when y?”, “how cool was that moment when z?” etc etc. It’s always nicer to have someone to chat to and share your riding experience with when you stop for a break or a coffee or lunch or whatever.
So we belong to some riding groups and they are a terrific way for solo riders to meet up with likeminded people and go biking and really get the most out of the biker life. If you’re not hooked up to this, check out meetup.com and search out riding groups in your area – guaranteed there will be one.
Having said that, we are occasional, rather than full time, group riders. Being a couple who ride is awesome because we don’t have to herd cats, we can choose our own start times, no waiting for stragglers at stop points and you always have a roommate to share the motel cost :-).
Still, we like to hang out with Sydney Easy Riders as much as we can. SER is a great bunch of people of like minds to ourselves. They love their riding and know how to ride swiftly, smartly and safely, all while being friendly, accommodating and respectful.
Our meeting point for today’s ride was a cafe in Windsor. As we made our way there, I could see Rita’s display telling me it was 11 degrees, then 8 then 6, this was probably the coldest start I have ever experienced but I am pleased to report that this cold hating lady was wrapped warm and there was only the hint of chill on my fingers, thanks to my new DriRider winter gloves.
We met our fellow riders at the cafe, some of whom had started out MUCH earlier than us and had rode up in 1 degrees, ok, I really had nothing to complain about!
We set off around 8.30, with warnings of possible frost and smoky haze from back burning, echoing in our minds. This was going to be an interesting ride. As we left Windsor, we saw that the frost had already lifted but we could see plenty of reasons for the back burning; the land was dry and the turf farm that flanks the road out of Windsor, heading north west, was suffering with its normally perfect turf looking very thirsty and yellow.
Our destination today was the Putty Road, with a stop for a break at Grey Gums and then on to Bulga, where Simon (our ride leader) promised we would make make lunch time.
The first stretch of the Putty Road is reasonably straight with the occasional sweeping corner. My favourite part of this stretch of road is just before Colo Heights where the road rises up on to a ridge and provides wonderful glimpses of the valleys and mountains either side. Not that you get much chance to enjoy the views a motorcyclist with your focus on the road, but as a car passenger, or pillion you would i guess.
Our stop at Grey Gums allowed a stretch, coffees and a chance to take a few photos. This place can be heaving on weekends, it’s a favourite and welcome stop for most motorbikers and the occasional four wheeled vehicle that takes this inland bypass to Sydney.
After Grey Gums going North, the road gets more interesting although a warning of highway patrol 10 kms up the road meant that everyone took it extra carefully so not to be caught out with those few seconds when speeds can be a little excessive due to a small flick of the wrist.
The group stayed relatively together until the bends where the more experienced took the corners more expertly, with those a little more cautious concentrating a little more on technique which inevitably slows them (me!) down. A sub-clique formed at the front of the group, three BMW riders comprising Gary, Toni and Dave, taking the lead and maintaining a tiny whiff of smugness throughout.
And then we had arrived near Bulga, well and truly and, as promised by Simon, by lunchtime. It was 11am. So a pow wow was required and an alternative plan agreed.
We took the road to Broke, a great little road, narrow and bumpy in places but otherwise a lot of fun. It’s helpful having Gary, who loves being up front, reporting dodgy road surfaces and oncoming cars back to me via the intercom, this way I can relax and enjoy the ride rather than worrying too much about a crazy car driver deciding that the centre of the road is the place to be!
We stopped for lunch at Broke, at the service station, an interesting little cafe serving mighty burgers, sandwiches and wedges, I had wedges, all the wedges, a party sized plate of wedges, these were shared around and were actually quite good. There are still many wedges left. If you pass by, ask and you can still probably have some from the plate they served me.
After lunch the group split in two, some went back the way we came, others decided on an alternative route back to Sydney, based on where we had to finish for the day. We took this option, back via Wollombi, Mangrove Mountain and the Old Pacific Highway, just a great route that I have also written about before.
But I have to mention the horse box, a special mention for Kat. We said our goodbyes to the other group and headed to Wollombi, over narrow wooden bridges and past beautiful sandstone outcrops, enjoying the empty roads and clear skies. By this time it has well and truly warmed up, from 6 degrees, the day had heated up to a glorious 24 degrees, perfect riding weather.
And then we met the horse box. It’s tricky towing a horse at the best of times, I get that, but this driver seemed to think that he or she had every right to slow all the traffic down and take up the road providing very limited opportunity for passing, refusing to pull over in conveniently located passing places designed for the considerate driver.
And then came our chance, a lovely stretch of road where the only impediment was a couple of pesky white lines but perfectly safe for a motorbike with powerful acceleration and an alert rider. Kat, in front of me, a very confident rider, hesitated. I was surprised, but I saw the gap, so I went around the pair of them, happily on my way. I looked back and then she came along with the rider behind her, we were through – hurrah!
At our next stop she explained, she was trying to be good as she was out with unfamiliar riders, and with a gorgeous smile on her face she pronounced me a ratbag and signed up to this blog, so hello, Kat, welcome and I think you’re fabulous!
The Wollombi Road is a goat track between Broke and Wollombi – patchy surface and hazardously narrow. After Wollombi the surface improves and the road is wider and the lane separation is much better so riding is more relaxed and enjoyable. Was fun to carve through Lemming Corner which is notorious for catching out the overconfident hoon.
The road links up to the Old Pacific Highway. Quick coffee and stretch stop at Road Warriors.
And then we all split for home (although the BMW sub-clique managed to keep themselves together down into the Sydney suburbs looking very pleased with themselves).
400 km clocked up and we were home, another fabulous day riding, good times with some biking friends and some new friends made.
Our route was the same as this blog post, except in reverse.