The Ride North

The Ride North - Cafe signThe camera is ready to roll, you’re expecting four motorcycles to come around the corner at any minute; here they come, camera rolling, bike one, then two, then three, waiting for bike four, oh oh, where’s bike four? Read on to find out what happens…

It’s some time since we have updated We apologize for this. Work commitments had overtaken what should have occured,  along with some major backyard renovations. The last six months have felt like an epsisode of home improvement.

We’ll we’re back now so here goes.

Since christmas, I (Chris)  have done two major rides which have had their fair share of adventure. Both trips went north, both to the same areas, however each having a different route, with different outcomes.

Trip one January 2009

Oxley Highway January 2009 - Mark B at stopTrip one took us to the north coast of NSW for our annual family holiday. A whole bunch of us teamed up to go north, three cars and one motorbike. My youngest daughter went pilion for the major part of the ride north.

After a few days of sun, surf and latte’s, it was time to get the Pan out for a ride of the Oxley highway to Walcha. If you’ve not read anything about motorcycling in Australia, then it’s one of Oz’s best known rides.

It has around 100kms of seriously winding road. For those who lose the couple of seconds of concentration, the results can be, well, not very nice (see the next ride article)

However, take it easy and ride within your limits and you’ll have the ride of your life.  I had the opportunity to ride it by myself and the second time and take a buddy up as a pillion.Oxley Highway January 2009 - thru the corner

Trip two May 2009

The Ride North - The teamThe second trip was the “annual boys weekend ride” some five months later. Initially we were planning to ride the Victorian Alps, however we were inundated with snow in the last week of May before we left.

I remember, ice, snow and riding don’t go too well together. With a phone hookup with brotherss, the only option was to head north, so, north it was.

Two of us headed from Canberra the capital of Australia, Dale on his Triumph Bonnevile with 2500 miles on it, me on the white Pan European (Honda ST1100).

We assembled in Sydney at my friend Chris’ place. This was Chris’ first ride since his accident last October.

Chris was riding to work on his Suzuki Gsxr1000 as he had loaned his parents his Subaru while their Toyota was being serviced. While traveling to work, unbeknowns to him, his parents happened to be travelling on the same road in the lane next to him.

He caught a glimpse of his car, quickly turned to acknowledge his parents, then all of sudden, the traffic pulled up quickly, the back of the car grew quickly in the screen, not enough time for the brakes to do their stuff, then wham! Chris was down for the count at around 40km/h right in front of his parents. The accident was serious enough to break his wrist and put him out of action for five months. It’s a good thing his mother used to be a nursing sister and assisted in other motorcycling accidents. So by the time of recuperation of six months, Chris was undoubtably ready for the ride north.

Day One

The Ride North - More Food at Morning teaAfter everyone assembled on the Friday morning, we went along the old Pacifc Highway; lots of bends, great scenary, from there we arrived at the roadside diner for morning tea. After, the customary big breakfast, we headed inland, away from the main highway. Man I love getting off the highway. Country NSW has got some really interesting places, that’s Australia for you, an interesting place.

Our route took us through Wollombi, Bulga, Singleton to Gresford for lunch. Phil advised us of this cafe as Gresford which served a nice lunch.

afternoon took us to Dungog, Stroud, Gloucestor then to Walcha via Thunderbolts way.

Here’s a bit of video I shot from the day.


Day Two

The Ride North - Checking on directionsDay two we started from Walcha. We met some other riders at our breakfast stop, one of then an ex-parmedic. After our breakfast, it was back on the road to the coast, along the Oxley highway.

I rode ahead to stop and take some video. I thought I had gotten in front enough to set up to film, however, the boys were a little too quick and all I managed to do was get a picture of Dale taking off on the Triumph.

After a couple of ‘little’ handfuls of throttle, I caught up with the group. We hit the curley bits of the road and I settled into a rhythm.

Having the iPhone is great for riding. The right music, the right ride, and it’s total bliss. Having ridden the road gave some slight familiarity so I had an idea when the road was going through a scenery  and landscape change.

The Ride North - Gingers CreekWe arrive at Gingers creek, and the parked the bikes. There were around twenty other bikes all there for the same reason, to ride the Oxley.

Chris R decided to buy a coffee, the rest of us were getting over breakfast. After taking a few pictures I decided to leave early to set up and take some video.

After waiting several minutes for a escort through some road works, I was finally under way. I vaguley remembered a corner where I could get some shots, found the corner and set-up the camera.

The Ride North - A cyclist arrivesAfter waiting around 10 minutes, Chris R comes round the corner, next, Phil, then Astro so where’s Dale on the Triumph?

5 minutes, 10 minutes, oh oh, where’s Dale?

Now I thought that Dale was held up due to the previous roadworks, until a guy on a Yamaha fj1300 rocks up and says, “do you know a guy on a Triumph? Which I responded in the affirmative and he says ” look, he’s come off his bike, he’s ok, has a bad wrist, but his bike is over the edge.”

I asked the guy to head down the hill, tell the others who would be waiting at the lookout and I headed back up the mountain to find where the accident occurred.

After around 7 kms I found the scene, parked the bike, and Dale was there with his wrist strapped.

The following video will show you what everything around the accident however not the accident itself.


It seems Dale was attempting to keep up with Astro on his GSXR1000 and everything unravelled, it was very “Holy #$%$” moment.

Dale put the Triumph down, missed a large diameter tree and proceeded over the edge around 10 metres through the dense undergrowth coming to rest In some vines.

One of the great things about motorcycling is the support and comeraderie that other riders show for each other. The number of people who stopped and helped was fantastic.

Paul, the ex-paramedic we met at breakfast was there and had Dale’s wrist strapped.The other great thing about riding is the cameraderie you have with like minded souls who ride motorcycles. When it came to getting the bike out of jungle, there were about 10 people gathered with a number of on-lookers.

There’s this one guy who got straight off his bike, helmet still on and helped us drag the triumph up to the roadside.

We then had to decide what to do with bike and how to get Dale to the hospital. Well, the council of motorcycle helpers thought that if we could get the bike started and get the forks strIghtened, we had a chance of riding it a couple of kms back to Gingers creek.

A couple of logs jammed in the forks with some leverage, helped straighten the forks a little. A flick of the switch and she started again. Paul, the ex-paramedic feels he can ride it so he becomes the guinea pig, a bit of a 50 yard test ride with a limit steering and he’s off, followed by some riders as support crew.

Back at the crash site it was now the decision of getting Dale to hospital, down the moutain, another 70 kms of windy road, a Ventura rack Pam and one pillion with a broken wrist.

This sounds like a job for the Honda Pan-European, step right up! It’s a good thing the st1100 is made for pillioning.

For the pak, Phil was able to strap it the back seat of his vfr750 and rack.

The guys arrived back from Gingers creek. Everyone shook hands in grattitude for the effort, and we all departed. The trip to Port Macquarie hospital was uneventful, the passenger nearly dozed off to sleep, several times. We arrived at the hospital just when there were several swine flu cases reported in Australia. The hospital emergency ward was empty, yes !

Within an hour of arrival they had taken the x- rays, consulted some specialists and had organized surgery to commence within three hours. No messing around here.

For the rest of us it was now the plan of what to do. Phil was hapy to continue, Chris R wanted to bail, Astro and I didn’t really care, I was probably feeling a bit mentally exhausted after the whole event not wanting to make a decision.

So, we headed back to Sydney, Phil to Newcastle. I had another 300km left on the next day to return to Canberra.

The wrap up…

  • Dale had his surgery, all went well. His wrists He flew back home and left the bike recovery to his insurance company.
  • Mrs Dale was a little upset about what happened, however she is a little more understanding.
  • Dale  completed the Stay Upright masters course.
  • The insurance company deemed the triumph as a write-off, a new Sprint was delivered.

Lessons learnt, observations

  • When riding in a group, check who’s behind you every five minutes (admittedly the Ox is to windy for that in places)
  • When traveling in a group, don’t try and keep up with faster riders, ride your own ride, it’s a trap you can easily get into. You get sucked into riding what’s in front of you, rather than concentrating on your own ride, that’s not to say that’s what happened to Dale, however his Bonneville wasn’t in the same league as two GSXR1000’s.
  • Have a first aid kit and do a first aid course. We were thankful that an ex-paramedic happened to be riding in close proximity, and happened to stop to assist. This saved having to get Dale medi-vaced out.

So there, you have it, the ride north.


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