Rides from hell continued...
1020 miles in 19.5 hrs
Yeppoon from the motel balcony. Shitty camera phone pic
Made the trip up here from Sydney in 4 days, 2 with torrential rain, but that's another story...
Up at dawn in Yeppoon. throw my mostly still wet shit together in my green Coles bags, and try not to fall down the stairs leading to the bikes in the backyard of the Motel. My two mates are almost ready, and after a few goodbyes and a Sambucca, we're on the road at 6. Bout 40kms back into Rockhampton, its warm , there's f all traffic so alls ok with the world for now...
Gotta long ride ahead though, I want to see if I can ride the whole way home in a day. Its just over 1700kms, about a thousand miles. I reckon if it goes ok, should be home about midnight.
We pass into Rocky over a bridge, and I gaze down the river and can see the top of the hotel, where I got a skin full with my mate almost exactly 29years ago, when we hitchhiked up this way. Incidentally it was where I saw my first real Sportster and FX, which the guy had paid 4 grand for brand new..
Heres the pic i took way back in '76 ...forgot about the Vetta Hurricane till I dug this out..
We stop in a servo for gas and a quick bite, then hit the road again...Try to sit on around 120km/hr.. dont want any tickets today, no points left.. To complicate things tho, one of the boys, whos riding a 96" custom, has lost his rego plate the day before. I wonder how long it'll take to get plucked over that.... Not long as it happens. Cruise into some tiny little dot on the map, and see a highway patrol car on the other side of the road.
5 minutes later he's behind us. We're sitting on 125, so I slow to a hundred and wait for the flashing lights of doom.....Just when I think maybe he aint gonna pull us over (yeah right...) on go the lights.... He actually jumps out of the car and says, "Sorry to bother you fellas, Im not hassling you....but blah blah blah, number plate..."
My mate feigns ignorance, "must've just happened.." etc and after having all our details taken we can go , with no tickets.. Nice policeman!
Fairly uneventful for the next 600 odd kms into Brisbane. I wasn't gonna need any lunch tho, as I was having a feast on butterfly guts most of the way. Millions of the little buggers, splat all over the front of the bike, and the remnants are like light rain on your face...Tastes sorta strange tho...lol. Stopped at Gympie for our last gas stop, before Brisvegas where I was starting to get a bit overheated. Storms had been forecast, so I had my oilskin on, but of course it was hot and sunny as....Waved goodbye as my mates pulled off at different Brissy motorway exits, and continued down the freeway to the first service center to refuel and have some lunch around 1.30. Figured Id make better time now, as my 22litre fills got me a bit further that the 9 litre fills we were doing cos of my mates small custom tank....
Leave the servo and hit the motorway. Best looking motorway in Aus I reckon, 4 - 6 lanes a lot of the way down to Tugun. Up over the hill to Ballina eventually, and the clouds in the South aint looking too friendly. Pass thru Ballina, and onto the 130 odd kms of f all towards Grafton.
Heres where my boy reckons I moan like a woman..oh well..
Surprisingly my bums not sore..the Corbin touring seat I got off ebay for $100 is doing a good job. Pity I cant get one for the rest of me... My arms are sore, my hands are sore..useless riggers gloves, and steel grips aint helping here. My back hurts when I get off the bike, and my weatherproof jeans velcro strips have sliced little cuts in the top of my bum, because I forgot to bring any undies( I know, too much info...) However somehow, Im sort of enjoying it..The bikes 124" is running great, the temperatures dropped a bit, I'm sitting on around 130, and no tickets...
Pull into the servo on the corner in Grafton. Manage to put my feet down before bike falls over. But only just. Hmm.. get off bike and stand there and let the back muscles uncoil a bit. Mustn't move head, neck hurts like hell, damn helmets...Do my best Herman Munster impression filling up tanks while not moving head....Stomp across to pay for gas. Lady friendly..decide she must have good heart when I go to bog and see big yellow blob of bug guts in middle of face...Hmm forgot about that one, size of a small bird I seem to recall...Drink more Red Bull and chew 3 day old hot dog.
Hi ho off I go again...The clouds are pretty dark in the south now, and joy of joys, lightning! Keep an eye out for the sneaky cop that went past as I saddled up, who's probably raced up the road, done a uey and is heading back toward me with his radar awaiting.....I sit just over the speed limit ( I think...speedo died a few miles back...). Long way up the road theres a poxy Mitsubishi van with 2 young blokes, look like backpackers, doing about 75 k's in the 100 zone, and holding up 3 cars.... I round em all up and as I pull back into my lane, Mr policeman pulls out and is flashing his headlights at someone. Well its not f ing me...I aint speeding, stop those useless sods in the van holding up the traffic. Someone mustve listened for once, cos I didnt get stopped....
Weather taking a bit of a turn, the odd rain drop now...Ive changed to my yellow night glasses and as far as it goes no problems.....cruise thru Coffs Harbour and down towards Nambucca. I think it started about here... Few drops turn into a steady downpour as the sky puts on a spectacular show.. .Sheet lightning back lighting the layers of cloud and turning the dark to daylight for a split second,. then plunged back into blackness while the eyes adjust again....Bolts of lightning shooting towards the ground..this is getting a bit wild..
I plodded on leaving the street lighting of Nambucca for the depths of darkness of the open road...The eyes would be straining to see the white line at the side of the road, especially when there was oncoming traffic putting a million lines of light in the raindrops on the glasses, then the iris would crank down not quite quickly enough as lightning lit the sky again. I was forced to pull over and let other traffic pass as I had to slow to just above walking pace and still see. Semis would roll by a few feet away shaking the ground and further encompass me in a dirt filled mist from the road to add to the drenching. No bridges to take refuge under, no gas stations to hide for a while in, I plunged further into the blackness, speeding up when the torrent relented momentarily, overtaking the trucks, when the road became a dual carriageway, that had recently threatened me with a crushing wet death. Back down to one lane again, and decide to tailgate a truck and hope he doesnt drive off the road with me following religiously...Worked for a while till he hit a hill and slowed too much for me...Id found the yellow glasses next to useless in the rain, they sucked the colour from the road markings making it harder to stay my intended course. I cast them aside and ventured on with the rain stinging my eyes...
Kempsey emerged from the mists and I pulled into the Shell during a break in the deluge. I somehow removed my feet from the footboards and kicked down the sidestand. I didn't need gas, but I needed a break. I dripped my way to the counter and ordered coffee, then sat on the plastic and steel chair that threatened collapse from the extra kilos of moisture I was carrying. Started talking to the guy at the next table who asked if the Harley was good for touring. Ends up he's got a ute and lives in the next suburb to me...I decline the offer, (FOOL!) finish my coffee and trudge back into it. Same shit only 10 minutes later. Dark beyond belief, except when frequently interrupted by lightning bolts. The clear glasses Ive bought at the servo are better than the yellow ones, but have to sit an inch from my eyes letting most of the rain past. And they still discolour and fog from the car and truck spray.
On towards the Port Macquarie service center, only about 80kms, but Ill fill up then, second to last time for the trip. Im cold now, soaked to the skin. Ive come to the realization that theres no such thing as weatherproof/waterproof clothing when you are on a motorcycle. The water will always get in. I'm wearing lined oilskin jeans and an oilskin jacket, both supposedly motorcycle specific, and I might as well be in shorts and a t shirt for the amount of water that's on me. I pull into the service center and fill up, then ride to the front of the shop. Pay for the gas then strip off my jacket and wet shirt. Open the saddle bag and hope the spare clothes I'm carrying are still reasonably dry. Surprisingly they are, and I don a new t and jersey and then put the saturated jacket and vest back on. Christ that feels better, if my legs weren't soaking wet, and 1/2 inch of water in my boots Id almost be comfortable.
Point of no return now, no more motels on the main road till Sydney...
Its about 200kms to Raymond Terrace, where I'll gas up for the last time for the trip. The roads turn to crap before Collongolook, with reflective barriers around road works throwing my light back at me in blinding red and orange. I traverse the works slowly and then on to the long dark freeway section that leads into Buladelah.
I now hate trucks. If I sit behind them, they hit a hill and go too slow. If I cant see and slow right down ,they thunder past, threatening to drag me under their 30 wheels. Their 40 red tail markers throw shards of light everywhere on my glasses. Christ some of them are ridiculous, I mean they need to be seen , but not from Mars...One had a vertical strip of red on one of its trailers that I could almost have read by...They come over the hills with their lights undipped just long enough to sear my eyeballs and blind me for the next 100 yards.
Raymond Terrace, midnight, wet.
Pull into the 7 11 at Raymond Terrace. 11.30pm. Nother coffee time. Do any English speaking people work in 7 11's, or is it a worldwide policy? Pleasant enough tho, and doesn't flinch at my somewhat horrific appearance that I catch a glimpse of in a mirror. My face is bright red, but filthy with road grime. My eyes are swollen, and the whites mostly red too. The right one is sore, and feels like its beginning to close. As I pulled in the rain started coming down torrentially again. The storm that had seemed to be passing out to sea has rematerialized over Maitland, and proceeds to vent its fury in my area again. I waited outside under over for 1/2 hour till it eased off to a heavy shower. Declined the locals offer of a plastic poncho.
My eye, 18 hrs later
Ride into Hexham, and out towards the freeway. the heavens open again, I'm forced to a crawl, and stop under the first over bridge. After midnight, 18 hrs on the road, lying on a concrete sloping wall while trucks thunder past , and the gutter is a foot deep with water...It eases again after ten minutes and I remount. Almost jubilant now, the ride home is only 160 kms(100miles) of freeway that I know backwards. Only an hour and a half left till a warm house and bed. Only 500 more trucks to pass or be passed by tho...only 20 sets of idiots that don't dip their lights when you pass, or follow with their lights on full...only another 90 minutes shivering... The rain continues for about half an hour, then miraculously it eases off....by halfway down the freeway, its as if it hasn't rained today, and at 130 odd k's I'm drying out slowly. I pull into my driveway at 1 25am. 1020 miles, 19 1/2 hrs. Is there a car club that'll have me?
Reached a few conclusions on this ride. Never ride at night in the rain if you can avoid it. I could have got a motel, but the pull of home is sometimes just too strong, but I wont let it happen again. For long rides ya need the right gear, waterproof, comfortable gloves. For real rain, weather proof pants, and leggings might work, if ya can still move. Don't set goals that might get you killed....Sell the bike, put the money in the bank, be respectable....Christ what a bit of hypothermia will do to a mans thinking.....