“My mother’s taking the girls to Sydney tomorrow so you’ll be home by yourself” Mrs Wombattle said. After a moment’s thought I said with a wry smile, “No I won’t.” I didn’t have to explain what I meant.
A quick ride plan thrown together with the intention of trying to find some sunshine through the sheets of rain that had been peppering most of Australia for the past week. Going north seemed a good idea, because even if I got wet it would still be warm. I hadn’t been to Queensland yet this year either.
I stuck everything I needed on to STEN (Super Tenere) and took everything off it I wouldn’t need and got a start docket at 3.10am at Wallsend.
A couple of showers on the Hunter Expressway soon turned to rain which was my constant companion with lighting and thunder adding drama for the first 250k’s or so. It was good to be back on STEN, it had spent more time in the shed than it deserved last year while I was focused on other things. It was also great to have the Baja Designs ONX Light Bar and SII’s blasting through the darkness.
The sun came up on the way to Mendooran and after turning the corner towards Gilgandra I needed to refill from the jerrys grateful that while the roads were wet the rain had let up.
This was pretty hopeless economy for the first leg but good enough to see me through to my first fuel stop and docket at Walgett (585k’s) at 9.07am. I continued north to Gulargambone, I always enjoy passing the corrugated iron galahs.
I traveled north on the Castlereagh Highway I passed the Lightning Ridge turnoff and headed for the border just before Hebel. I hadn’t been past Lightning Ride on this road before and while this type of landscape isn’t for everyone I was just loving it! Here’s the border crossing, note the blue patches of sky, it wasn’t to last.
Riding though Hebel I added it to my “must stop next time” list and after turning right there it became apparent I was following some quite heavy showers. I was warm enough though to unzip the vents on the KLIM and cool down a bit. Next stop for a docket only was Dirranbandi. They have Uncle Toby’s Yoghurt Top Muesli bars on special at the moment at the Food Works, $1.21 off RRP!! In case you are passing by. Dirranbandi is apparently the Land of the Croaking Frog. There was mud and water about but I didn’t hear any croaking while I was there.
I wasn’t sure how much of the Dirranbandi – Thallon Road was tar and wasn’t too worried about gravel but the soaking road and very muddy shoulders/tabledrains were causing me some concern as I approached this
Fortunately I rode through the heaviest of the showers before I hit the gravel. I didn’t bother zipping up, it was actually nice to get wet in the warmth…reminded me of my childhood I was very happy when I found some decent gravel, looking forward to testing my adventure riding course gained skills but sadly it only lasted for about 500m. The road workers have been very busy.
A lefty at Thallon and my next stop was for a pic at the Nindigully Pub. I’ve ridden past it a couple of times before but never stopped. I did stop this time but it was closed.
My ride plan was to get my second fuel load at Goondiwindi but the fuel economy had improved substantially so I grabbed a quick iced coffee and a photo there and I was on my way toute de suite.
It might seem strange, but even though this was a day bimble and I wasn’t pushed for time opportunities to save a few minutes, adjust plans and be more efficient are constantly on my mind. If I was able to get to Narrabri on the fuel I had I could save a whole stop! I had planned a 97kph OA for the ride and was close to it all the way. Looming though was the dastardly New England Hwy between Willow Tree and the Hunter Expressway where 97 isn’t achievable. Back to the ride.
Heading south through Moree and towards Narrabri it it got hot. The thermometer on the bike showed 39 degrees at one point but hovered between 37 and 38 for most of that leg. I’d left the clouds behind but would have appreciated some shade. I did make it to Narrabri on fumes where I topped up the tank and one of the two jerrys just in case. More time saved and if I could make it all the way home without stopping I had a chance at hitting my time.
Heading towards the Breeza plains the temp dropped a little and the conditions were perfect
The plan was to stop at Scone but there looked like a chance I’d make the 395kms from Narrabri to the finish without stopping. I didn’t need a corner or 600k docket and there was water in the Camelback, so I pushed on.
I held my OA until Aberdeen where I watched it fall away through Muswellbrook and Singleton. However I picked it most of it back up on the Hunter Exressway. TigerBill was waiting at the servo at Lambton to say g’day. It’s always nice to finish a ride with a familiar face to greet you and engage in a quick debrief. A quick celebratory Cherry Ripe Twin Pack, as you do, and a docket at 20:28 at dusk. Thanks for turning up Bill!
So the ride by the Etrex was 1660kms with a moving average of 104kph and an overall average of 96.2. At the time I pulled into the servo at the finish my total stopped time for the ride was 1hr16m which I’m pretty happy about, 10 minutes less than my usual. The whole ride, 17hrs 10m.
Here’s the route