Hey you gotta remember were Northerners so at around minus three and just like that popular old song baby it was cold outside!
I was nervous thinking even those fantastic Heat Demon heated grips on the Adventure Bike Australia DRZ400 and D’Oh forgetting my thick winter gloves wouldn’t save me but I was fine and nothing like I feared.
Getting up early from my electric blanketed bed I rubbed the pain glass of the window to peer outside. Bugger me I would not want to be one of those few people camping on the back lawn of the Jennings Hotel. No siree I don’t mind doing the odd camp out but that thick layer of ice out there didn’t look to inviting. Like about half the riders I threw a small lightweight tarp over my DRZ which made for a clean dry bike easy to remount my bag and gear, wonderful simple idea making it nice to be able to ride off without chiselling the ice from your machine.
Dave’s call for a later 8.30am leave time was one of brilliance, with bright sunshine the weather warmed quickly. We motored off after the customary line up photo shoot in clear Sunday skies, cool but nothing like I envisaged thinking my hands would be frozen to the bars!
But enough of the cold lets wind back to the start. While the first and biggest group meet in Kyogle on the Saturday morning around six of us were waiting further up the road in Rathdowney. After the customary handshakes and greetings were done Dave ran us down with how the ride should and will be run, the usual corner marking system lead and sweep in fluro vests. It was time and around two dozen of us mounted up and headed the back roads firstly to David our kindly weekend sweep’s magnificent property to take in views and a short break before tackling the famed fourteen river crossings that make up the Condamine Gorge.
The gorge has changed a lot over the years, no longer a beat up little track the council has laid down grey hard packed gravel near on making it a highway all the way through. 4WD’s OMG I’ve never seen so many it’s like the new found weekend fun run !
While the road is all but smooth hard pack the crossings are not. Past heavy rains and so many 4wd’s have pushed all the small gravel out to expose much bigger slippery rocks. And even though water levels were fairly low it wasn’t hard to get caught out as a few fellow riders found.
Trust me at under five and a half foot river crossing are usually my worst enemy, thankfully not on this occasion.
Lunch in Killarney was followed by a dusty Barlow’s Gate and the rabbit fence through Marylands. Sorry to pass everybody along this stretch but I’ve clearly done this a squillion times and sure my bikes could find there way through there without me!
I small hiccup on the next stage had three of us head straight into Stanthorpe, I’d been at the back as a corner marker and picked up a fallen rider in front of me. I followed the riders in front thinking this is strange coming this way Dave must be taking us in to get fuel or something. But it was just a case of a newbie moving off his corner post ( he knows now we NEVER do that ) so a quick call and a little rearranging had us motor down the highway while the main group motored through some of my favourite DK tracks of the Girraween onto our overnight stay at Wallangarra.
Of course I may of missed some great track but it clearly meant first into a hot shower and that wasn’t a bad thing avoiding a queue or having the hot water run out!
The whole ride as per the usual Ramsay standard was sublime. Pre dinner party pies and sausage rolls (damn even though I missed those) at the bar. Buttered beer bread as an entree, decorated tables a scrumptious lamb shank and a huge choice of vegetables and salads left me wondering when the sticky date pudding would come !! (kidding) This was a truly a great group dinner, I love country pubs!
I might add I’m a regular visitor out that way and don’t want to scare off every adventure rider thinking it’s always minus three four or five. My wife and I were there the very next weekend with a group of friends doing bush walks wineries and more wineries and was seven to nine the two mornings we were there, a huge difference to the weekend prior.
Day two and west of the range was dry, real dry with no green in sight. We had a big run of no corner markers and I sat out the front with Captain Ramsay. The roos were thick in patches and you needed eyes front back and sides, we knocked the speed down and weaved our way carefully towards Pyes Creek.Kind of eerie having our muesli bar break here, I’ve seen these creeks in flood and here it is so dry our dust was still hovering around us all the time we were there.
Dust on this ride was always going to be an issue but that can’t be helped. If your going to pass do it swiftly and safely, ride just of the back of the tail of dust of the rider in front or just suck it and clean your visor a lot!
Heading back east now through Mt Spirabo and some patches of green slowly start to appear. The view from Billyrimba lookout always a beauty as we would our way down and onto Rocky River.
You know reports from this ride was no flats and no real incidents. We had about four simple low speed offs and bugger me if I wasn’t Johnny on the spot for all four of them, weird how that happens sometimes you witness all of the action at other times zip absolutely nothing.
Rocky River Road out to Drake had just been graded, smooth as, taking me back to memories of road racing days it was that nice. Easy to get carried away and unusually quiet on this particular day I’m always reminding myself that this road can and is often littered with tourists and campers alike. The cold must of kept them away on this particular weekend.
Drake Hotel was the call for the end of the group ride and for good reason, the afternoon was getting away from us and from this point people could head off in their own small groups North or South. For Neil and I this was hammer time and we weren’t keen to just slab it home via the highway. We still planned the back road route of Sugarbag, Hootons, Peacock Creek, Toonumbah, Cob O Corn and more and if we had any chance of getting home before dark we’d need to give those throttle cables a little stretch’n.
Getting home before nightfall with enough time to unload my bike and start the detail process was just a distant dream, it was more a matter of how far we could get before the light fading. We didn’t hang about or stop for a break and powered on home through roads we know so well.
So as the street light outside my house came into view it was already time to reflect on what another great job the Ramsay’s had done. I ran monthly overnight adventure rides of two levels when we had our Dealership and know the mammoth task of pre riding and making sure all would hopefully fall into place with little worry !!!! thankfully with a great group of friends our rides were popular all but a great deal of work from my enthusiastic staff and fellow comrades.
Thank you Dave and Karen, thank you also to David for sweeping primary the whole weekend and thank you to all the other riders for always making the weekend so enjoyable.
And a big thank you to Frank Loesser for writing that beautiful song more than seventy years ago and allowing so many great artists to perform it.
The weather could be cold and the journey a difficult one, maybe you should stay “Baby It’s Cold Outside”