The Long Way to Wauchope
With Mark Battersby
I wake to day two of the rally with mixed emotions. I feel bruised and battered, but also encouraged by conquering the ‘Valley of Doom.’ I pack the T7 and head off for a quick breakfast and to the briefing to hear what today has in store for us.
Greg provides a brief outline of the day ahead and reminds us that the zero riders have place red caution flags out for a reason, if we see them slow down. The day will see us head towards Nana Glen, Nymboida, Old Grafton Road, Deep Water and finishing at the Glenn Innes Showgrounds. Several of the riders had mentioned the Old Grafton Road to me and I was excited to see what lay ahead.
Sunshine was a welcomed sight and provided confidence that the roads would offer more grip than yesterday’s wet clay. I was also armed with more knowledge from Mr Gall, “Use your front brakes more, with those tyres you’ll be surprised how much stopping power you have.”
I collected my GPS, fitted it to my Touratech mount and rolled out with the group. I’m not sure how he does it, but Greg’s GPS route has us weaving our way off main roads in no time, and we begin exploring scenic back roads.
Today was a better match for my skill set. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to keep up with the fast guys, but I’m loving the adventure and exploration. We splash through several creek crossings and stop to take a few photos. This was exactly why I wanted an adventure bike.
If you’ve never ridden Old Grafton Road it’s an absolute must. Snaking along the rivers edge on dirt roads which vary from well graded to rutted and rocky. You’ll probably get sick of hearing me say how scenic each day was, but I’d ride back to just to do this road again.
The road opens up at one point and my speed begins to increase as I’m standing on the pegs and feeling increasingly more confident on the bike.
I see one of our zero riders red flags ahead and slow down accordingly. I can’t see anything sinister as it appears to be a simply concrete causeway. As I approach I can see why the flag, the dirt has been washed away from the leading edge of the concrete leaving an exposed concrete edge. I brake, then lift the front wheel and easily navigate the obstacle.
If I’d hit this at my previous speed the outcome could have been horrible. Later that night I receive a message from someone who’d ridden this route a few weeks earlier and asked about this exact obstacle. I let them know that it had been flagged as a hazard by our tour group. Unfortunately they hadn’t been as lucky and crashed resulting in some wrist injuries. Tick for joining an organised ride like RideADV.
Next landmark is Dalmorton Tunnel built in the late 1800’s, where a group of T7 riders are gathered for break and photo opportunity.
Just when I thought the days riding couldn’t get any better we begin to climb and descend through some incredible farm country. One particular section is two wheeled tracks as far as the eye can see disappearing up into the mountains. If there was an adventure motorcycle heaven, I was there.
The tracks meandered through a series of farm gates and we were all conscious to leave any gate as we found them. All too soon road signs start to count down the distance to Glen Innes, and I really don’t want this day’s riding to end.
We meet up at the Glen Innes Showground to hand in our GPS ready for the RideADV team to load tomorrow’s adventure. Another great pub meal with everyone sharing stories about the day’s adventure. What a difference a day makes, as I now feel I belong on the rally and I’m thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie of like minded adventure riders.
Best part of the day, I didn’t crash!
Day 8: 350 total km. Highlight – Old Grafton Road. Must do – Book into an organised ride, you’ll explore countryside you never knew existed.
Stay tuned for day nine….