Today’s ride was all about putting the skills we’d developed yesterday into practice. The Top Rider crew had planned a route taking in the Gold Coast Hinterland and Border Ranges of about 350kms which was to be led by instructor David Tranter. One of yesterday’s participants only did the single day version of the Adventure Course so that left me, David and the remaining student, Bernie, riding a DRZ-650E.
After a home cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs and great coffee we got way from the Man Cave accommodation just before 8am. First up was a winding tar section that saw us head south down the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road and across the NSW Border. It was more relaxed and a bit quicker this morning than on Friday afternoon on the trip up due to the absence of rain. At the border there was a collection of bikes stopped admiring the view so we stopped for a quick pic and a chat.
We continued on through Chillingham and turned right on to Zara Road winding our way southish to Tyalgum. From there we took the Brays Creek Road into the Mebbin National Park and the gravel started. There was to be a number of gravel sections during the day, each a little more challenging than the last. The gravel sections were connected by some fun tar sections that in themselves would have formed a great on-road cornering course ride. After riding Cadell Road in the Mebbin National Park we punched out on Kyogle Road and rode west until we turned right into the Border Ranges National Park at Lillian Rock. It was misty and damp but there was no rain today, the temperature was very pleasant considering the time of year.
The Tweed Range Road was a little steeper and less travelled than the previous section and took us up into the clouds. Here’s a view from Blackbutt Lookout where we stopped for a drink and snack.
This was the part of the ride where the lessons of the previous day really started to kick in and I was able to relax a little more and enjoy the experience even more. David forged ahead on occasions to look back at us with his camera and took some great shots like this one of me having an absolute ball.
Out of the ranges via Wiangaree Forest Road we ended up on the Lions Road, another fun bit of tar that in parts was reminiscent of riding a roller coaster. We took a short detour in the hope of a creek crossing at Grady’s Creek but the creek was a little too deep and running very fast so we sensibly opted out and went back to the Lions Road.
Next was lunch at Butches Cafe, Rathdowney. Rathdowney is an interesting place where we met a local, Claire, who had some difficulty remembering where we were from. The food and coffee was great however and this meal was also included as part of the course. Awesome!
From there we went through Oaky Creek, Christmas Creek then to the most challenging part of the day, Duck Creek Road, a popular 4WD private road leading up to the Lamington National Park running through a private property “Jingeri”. We stopped for a chat about what we were heading into and Dave gave us some advice about what we should do if we encountered problems or vehicles on the steep, rocky and mildly rutted climbs we were about to embark on.
While this road was very challenging for me at my beginner level on the Super Tenere and took me past my comfort zone the skill and confidence buildup of the skills day yesterday and and the trails already done today put me in the right frame of mind to have a crack without panicking. While it wasn’t always pretty I made it through without stalling or falling. Dave still managed to take a few snaps
It’s hard to describe the feeling of getting to Luke O’Reilly’s farm at the top after the mayhem that included riding past a bogged 4WD and much closer to trees, drop offs and huge rocks than I am comfortable with. Satisfied with my progress would be an understatement. Excited about where my new found skills might take me was definitely a part of it. A well earned rest, drink and photo opportunity was taken here. That’s Bernie and Dave.
More wet dirt and gravel to follow until we reached Lamington National Park Road for yet another tight cornered mad ride down mountain tar. I received the OK to take the lead on this section while Bernie and Dave had a quick chat and I waited at the bottom taking a moment to let the adrenaline settle. We refuelled at Canungra then headed east back towards Advancetown and ended the ride back at Bernie’s Man Cave about 5pm.
What a fantastic day. Running back over it it was clear there was a lot of thought put into the route. There were no boring bits, work and rest alternating tar and gravel increasing in difficulty as the ride went on. While it was challenging it wasn’t over the top for inexperienced riders and it wasn’t too big a day for those who might not be completely ride fit. Physically it was reasonably easy for me given the time I’m used to spending on a bike but with all the standing time the legs and shoulders were still feeling it. I certainly wasn’t left wanting more on the day and I was glad the ride went for the whole day as indicated in the course information. Dave’s tutelage during the ride and his company wrapped up a great experience.
Last word on the Top Rider Adventure Course.
I would very highly recommend Top Rider’s Adventure Course to any rider interested in getting bigger bikes off-road. The complete package including training, accommodation, food and the guided Adventure Ride on the second day made it a fantastic experience and great value weekend away. It’s the sort of thing you could just go and do with three or four mates. Bernie (Hatton) is a great bloke, fantastic to talk to and generous with his time out of hours to continue the teaching process. Dave Tranter is both patient and persistent with his advice when technique is getting out of kilter. I know that my riding and confidence improved significantly over the two days but the constant banter and atmosphere was light and friendly and it was fun from the start to the finish. It didn’t really feel like a course, more like a “Weekend at Bernie’s” (sic) with some mates. If you want to improve your Adventure Riding skills just go and do this course! More information