Black Dog Ride Thank You Honour Roll

Now that my 2011 Black Dog Ride adventure is over, there are a number of people I need to thank for everything they did for me and my ride.

First & foremost I’m sending out a huge THANK YOU to my wife Eva and my boys. 2010 was an adventure and a wonderful event, however backing this up with another Black Dog Ride turned out to be an enormous sacrifice to my family in more ways than one.

In 2010 the event catalysed my decision to move on from my previous job role and let my life take a different direction. This year my goal was less about life-changing and more about enjoying a ride with great companions for a great cause. The ride, however came at a huge sacrifice for my family in both time and money. Although I had enough money to complete the ride, The necessary servicing of the bike plus loss of income for the two weeks put us behind financially – it also coincided at a time where I’m working less & being paid less than this time last year (all a necessary part of my future career journey). In hindsight it was probably not the best use of finances in our current environment.

The biggest saving grace was to change our journey to be home on Father’s Day – this was a great thing to do and one for which I am happy to have done.

Other Kudos

  • I want to send out a big “Thank You” to Kim (mum on the trip) who drove the support vehicle and supported us as we rode. In truth I could carry everything on my bike that I had brought, but being able to put the soft panniers (containing my tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat) in the car made the ride easier. Kim’s contribution to the ride is immeasurable, from providing advice, sharing stories or helping to get James moving in the morning! Kim undertook this adventure at great personal sacrifice and needs to be recognised for her commitment to the cause.
  • I want to acknowledge DazzaB (who did an awesome job in 2010 with shooting on-bike video) who overcame the odds to be able to participate in the BDR this year. Dazza had carefully saved his pennies for months to be able to attend the ride, and unfortunately was struck with the flu part-way through. Dazza, it was an honour and a pleasure to ride with you again, it’s a shame you needed to turn back at Port Augusta.
  • James, thanks for being there to help out with any mechanical issues for anyone along the trip. It was great that you were only ‘needed’ a couple of times on the trip so you could focus your time on riding. I am sure Peter from Hills Ulysses is eternally grateful to you, too! 🙂
  • Rod, Thanks for sharing your story so candidly with us in Coober Pedy. As I’ve mentioned before, through our own personal stories do we learn more, teach others and invite others to become part of our world. You’re doing a wonderful thing with your group on Facebook and it’s a pleasure to have met you on the ride. It’s through people like you that help me understand depression even more.
  • I’d also like to send a shout-out to Monty Hamilton from Telstra who’d arranged for the use of a Telstra Elite wi-fi 3G modem for the use by the NSW members of the trip (arranged through Tony Hollingsworth). This allowed us to blog, upload pictures, Skype with family members and keep in touch with Facebook, Twitter and email whilst on the ride. Thanks for supporting the Black Dog Riders, Monty (and the @Telstra Team!

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 15

Coffs Harbour to Home

Sunrise

I departed Coffs Harbour relatively early to make time to visit Mal from the Port Macquarie Men’s Shed to discuss our visit on Oct 1st. The day started out with a few clouds and a bit cool but otherwise the conditions were perfect for a long day’s riding. I had a quick brekkie then said goodbye to Dave, Nerida & Kim before heading off to fill up at the first major stop I came to out of Coffs Harbour – Boambee. Once I was underway I was headed for Port Macquarie. I wasn’t aware of where the “Town Green” was but found it easily enough at the end of Horton St, one of the main streets of Port Macquarie.

Winston

I met with Mal & Dennis & their wives for breakfast where we got to chatting about various topics, including depression, riding, cruising and what we wanted to achieve with our upcoming ride to the Men’s Shed (as part of Riding4aCause). I headed off a little later than I wanted and hadn’t worked out which route to take so just barrelled down the Highway until I needed to stop. A quick pitstop in Kempsey, then continued on until the Taree Service centre where I stopped for a stretch and to refuel. It was here that I sawa sign to the Bucketts Way. I’d heard of this road before from other riders and here was the sign I was looking for – I had to take it! After a few km of this road I wondered what the fuss was about – the road was very bumpy, full of potholes and debris (leaves, logs, sticks, twigs, gravel and mud) and after about 15km I was thinking of turning back. As it was getting on for lunch time I decided to press on as Gloucester is a great place to stop for lunch.

Gloucester

Once past Krambach the road improved dramatically, and I could see why the Bucketts Way is a favourite bike road – the road surface improved dramatically and it became enjoyable. I stopped at the Mograni Lookout where you can grab a great view of Gloucester and the surrounding valley – As you can see from the pics, the sun was out and the wind was low which made it perfect for riding! I continued the ride into Gloucester and felt at home amongst the 15 or so other bikes that were parked along the main street. I ordered lunch at the Roadies Cafe where I chatted with another couple of riders who were headed back to Sydney after an early morning jaunt to Gloucester for lunch.

Roadies Cafe

The rest of the Bucketts Way was equally as fabulous as the run from Krambach to Gloucester – smooth road, open sweepers, some twisty corners as well as open plains to ride through. Traffic was light, and most were obliging to give me room to overtake so I could enjoy the bike and the road. Eventually I met up with the Pacific Hwy again north of Raymond Terrace and followed the signs towards Sydney.

Road Warriors

A quick refuel in Beresfield before hitting the F3 Freeway for the run home….although I detoured at the Central Coast Hwy to hit the Old Pacific Highway (aka “The Old Road”) for a bit more of a fun ride home. In recent years they’ve dropped the speed limit on this road to deter speeding – however most people believe it’s a conspiracy to raise revenue and deter people from having fun. It was late afternoon by the time I’d stopped at the Road Warriors Cafe for a stretch and a quick drink & bite to eat, but it was good to stop with other riders who had been out on their bikes enjoying the day too. I was tired by this point but knew the next stretch would be fairly easy then all I’d need to do is battle the Sydney traffic on the final run home.

I made it home by 6pm on Father’s Day and spent a wonderful evening with the family after being away from them for 2 weeks. Keep an eye out for my upcoming posts!


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Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 14

Dalby QLD  to Coffs Harbour NSW

Winston

Another cracking day was brewing and I was itching to get on the road early – I departed with Dave who would be my riding buddy for the day, final destination was Dave’s house in Coffs Harbour. We weren’t 100% sure what James, Kim and Sharon would be up to today – they’d let us know as the day progressed.

For me, today was the best day of the ride. 

It was a combination of things that allows me make this statement: The early start to the day; the pace of the ride; the journey; the conversations with Dave throughout the day; listening to music through my helmet, and the weather. It’s quite often hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes something great, and for me today it was the combination of all of these things. Days like today make you appreciate why you ride 🙂


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Metal bikes

We departed Dalby quite early (we even beat Daryl onto the road, but only because he’d lost his glasses and had to turn back to find them!) First major town we came to was Toowoomba where we stopped for a quick drink break, and to navigate our way out of here onto the New England Highway which lead us into Warwick. This trip was decidedly chilly, yet I was steadfastly sticking to riding with my Hornee jeans, which are great in warmer weather, but nowhere near as warm as my leather pants when the temperature drops. Besides, this was Queensland with the motto: “beautiful one day, perfect the next” 🙂 In Warwick we had a full pit-stop (fill the bikes and the tummies – with a pie!) and I spotted some motorcycles made from nuts, bolts and chain links, something James had been looking for all trip.

Bumblebee

Tenterfield was to be our next stretch stop riding through/past Stanthorpe (with it’s Big Apple) which is close to the Queensland/NSW border. We had a pretty traffic-free run so far today, with good quality roads all the way from Toowoomba. I would have liked to stop off longer in Tenterfieldbut we only needed a stretch stop, and we had other places to stop for longer later in the day. I decided to change into my full leathers to stay warmer as it hadn’t warmed up enough since starting the ride. I was instantly rewarded as I no longer shivered whilst riding (yes, I should have done it earlier!)

From Tenterfield we had a choice: head east through Casino and onto Grafton, or keep heading south towards Glen Innes. Here Dave showed some of his local knowledge by deciding we’ll head towards Glen Innes, but cut over at Dundee to the Gwydir Highway. We stopped at Deepwaterfor a fill and lunch (Here I had the 2nd-worst pie on the trip – the worst was the scaldingly-hot & sloppy pie from Cloncurry). This one was dry and warm-ish, with the consistency of an apple pie. Still, it had to do.

That way!

If the Warrego Hwy into Dalby was the bumpiest we’d come across in Queensland, then this little 11km stretch between Dundee and Bald Nob was the one in NSW. Admittedly this is listed as a minor road and you expect it won’t be billiard-table smooth, but it was quite rough, bumpy and full of potholes to be avoided. Once we hit the Gwydir Hwy, we had a great, cruisy run towards Grafton.

It was on this stretch of the ride where it all came together – due to the relaxed pace of the day, I could hear the music and simply go with the flow – the ride seemed easy and effortless, into and out of the sunlight through the National Park. We stopped off at a lookout overlooking the valley and Dave proclaimed “isn’t it beautiful? We’ll be riding down there soon enough”, pointing out the valley floor far below.

Sunshine

The weather was glorious – a few scattered clouds, patches of sunshine and blue skies helped make this ride fabulous. By 3pm it was colder than when the day started, however I was perfectly warm in my leathers now, and was thankful I made the switch earlier in the day. The Gwydir Hwy reminded me of Macquarie Pass in the NSW Southern Highlands with it’s scenery, twisty turns and a few hairpin bends. It straightened out as we headed down into Grafton for our last pit-stop for the day. Once Dave had fuelled up and we bypassed Grafton proper and headed toward Glenreagh & Nana Glen instead of taking the Pacific Hwy to Coffs Harbour.

The ride from Dundee to Coffs Harbour was spectacular, scenic and a great way to cap off a great day’s riding with Dave. Dave put us up for the night and we had a wonderful dinner with real vegies! Kim, James & Sharon arrived a few hours later after having had a scenic & longer trip home. I went to bed early as tomorrow was my solo ride home and I wanted to get underway before 7:30am.

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 13

Augathella to Dalby QLD

Main St, Augathella

Today was a reversal of riding from yesterday, with Daryl deciding to sleep in and make his way to Dalby after the rest of us. Dave joined us for the ride, which got underway under gloriously blue skies. After filling up at the local servo we were off for the morning’s ride through grazing country. We would be riding the last 91km of the Landsborough Highway (which runs from Cloncurry to Morven). James couldn’t get off this highway quick enough, remembering that it was the bumpiest road we’d ridden in 2010!  The Landsborough is the central part of a tourist route known as the Matilda Highway which stretches from Kurumba, QLD to Bourke, NSW. When we hit Morven, we’d travel along the Warrego Highway, which stretches from Charleville to Ipswich.

Morning tea in Morven

We’d happened to stop in Morven at morning tea time, where the local CWA ladies has setup a morning tea stall to raise money for the Cancer Council (as part of Daffodil Day). Dulcie was undoubtedly the leader of this quartet of baking goddesses as she commanded her tribe with great enthusiasm and energy. She chatted with us and the locals who’d turned out to support her venture. I donated all the gold coins I had on me (approx $7) and had a cup of tea and a lamington. I’ve often been misquoted (my statement is ‘meat pies are the breakfast of champions’), but today I’ll state that the lamington is the cake of champions. YUM!

Mitchell, QLD

Onwards to Mitchell, where we enjoyed a dip in the hot-springs pool at the local community centre in 2010 – except today we had more brilliant blue skies and not a drop of rain. Riding in the rain is OK when you have to do it, but after a while it becomes unpleasant and lowers your enthusiasm for riding. Usually because it’s cold as well, and once the water gets into your clothes AND you’re cold, it’s just miserable. No such malady for us this year! Whilst the others filled up, I was telling jokes to a couple of young kids on BMX bikes. They particularly enjoyed the jokes, aimed squarely at 8-10 year old boys. Here are the favourites from the trip (plagiarised 100% from “The Bad Book” by Andy Griffiths/Terry Denton):

  • Q: What’s brown and sticky?
  • A: A stick
  • Q: What’s yellow and smells of bananas?
  • A: Monkey vomit
  • Q: What’s brown and yellow and sticky and smells of bananas?
  • A: Monkey vomit on a stick
Roma, QLD

We’d decided to make Roma our major stop for the day, as we’d all had a couple of things to do. It seems James got greedy and picked up the lurgy from me so needed to find a chemist, whilst I needed to find a loo, fill my backpack and eat! I set myself up in the Bakearoma with a pie and milkshake and proceeded to upload photos, bang out a blog post and tweet with people who’d sent me questions during the ride. Roma has a big country town feel to it, reminding me of Bathurst. After all the to-ing and fro-ing around town, today was shaping up to be another day where we’d get into our destination after sunset. We’d briefly seen Daryl in town and Dave had gone on ahead.

A quick stop in Miles to stretch before I decided to push on as it was getting late (I don’t particularly like riding when my circadian rhythms are telling my body to sleep. Energy drinks certainly help me stay alert and awake, but it took it’s toll – more on that in a separate blog post). So I rode on, and in some way I must have blinked and missed the town of Chinchilla as I don’t remember it at all!

Dalby sunset

If we thought we’d had the bumpiest road on our journey so far, we were mistaken – the roadwork and flood-damaged road from Chinchilla to Dalby was the worst we’d come across. Some of the bumps were so bad you felt like you were getting airborne, and others had me thanking many things that the Airhawk was protecting me from some of the nastiest bumps. Coupled with an inexplicable number of drivers traveling well below the speed limit (70km/h on a 100km/h road) and the afternoon setting sun in my mirrors, this stretch of road was the most dangerous we’d traveled. Once into Dalby, I quickly checked in, dumped my gear and went back out to try and catch the last few rays of sunshine as the sunset descended. I would have liked 5 more mins of sunset, but like in life, you take what you can when you can 🙂

Daryl had chosen a great motel in Dalby, right across the road from a pub! Daryl, Dave, Kim & I had wandered over there and had a drink before James & Sharon showed up. It felt good to have a meal with real vegies! The meals were great value too, not too large and pretty reasonably priced. After many discussions, the journey home was changed, which wold see us all arrive home a day earlier than originally planned. This way, I’d arrive home on Father’s Day instead of Monday. This years’ Black Dog Ride was moved earlier to avoid the complications we had in 2010 (we departed on Father’s Day).

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 12

Winton to Augathella

Winton Sunrise

Daryl had the right idea today – he woke up early, and said ‘bugger trying to sleep anymore when this gorgeous day is waiting’, and started his ride at 5:30am! He got to see the sunrise (which I’ve been attempting to do each day, as well as catching the sunset pics from wherever we end up. You can see these in most of the folders I’ve created for each day of the ride.) We were underway by 7:30am on another long stretch to the next stop – Longreach.

Since we’d spent a sizable amount of time in Longreach last year, we stopped at the Qantas Founders Museum so Sharon could pop in and buy a couple of gifts. I hung around outside in the sunshine & shade taking some pics and keeping my fluids up. I also took the opportunity to line my bike up near the parked 747 and take some pics – some would say ‘you and that bloody bike’, or ‘taking pics of the bike again?’. That bike is a part of me, and I’m simply capturing it in as many places that have meaning to me along the way. It’s also one of the most distinctive bikes we had on the Black Dog Ride, so why wouldn’t you take pics of it? 🙂

Barcaldine

Drinking so much to keep my fluids up had the side effect of needing a loo break quite regularly (which I prefer to dehydration and sickness), and on the odd occasion the loo break turned into something interesting – check out this pic looking through one of the breezeblocks in the public toilet in Barcaldine (aka ‘Barcy’ to the locals)! After morning tea (coffee) for the gang, we headed off towards Blackall. I got to see this road in daylight this year, and I’m saddened to say that I can only remember this road for one main reason: roadkill. This stretch of road had the most roadkill that we’d seen that any other stretch of road on the trip so far. So much so, I called it the Roadkill Highway. The others commented that it was probably a goof thing I could not smell anything (due to my cold) as it was pretty stinky. That’s finding the positive in the negative!

Warning!

We fuelled the bikes and ourselves at Blackall, and bumped into Zephyr & Paige again. They were merrily plodding along a similar route to us, however we were travelling quicker and resting for longer which would see us cross paths a couple more times.

Tambo Teddies

Off to Tambo next, with another stop at the Tambo Teddies shop to see what was on offer. The weather was much better this year at Tambo (compared to the rain & drizzle we had all the way from Blackall through to Mitchell in 2010). Beautiful sunshine and blue skies greeted us this time! It’s a shame that there were hardly any ‘small’ teddies/animals for sale at the Tambo Teddies shop this year. The lady explained they just don’t have the time to make them! This was a disappointment as I didn’t want to buy 2 large teddies for the boys, and something small (like a mouse) would be easy to squeeze into the fairly packed luggage.

Ellangowan Hotel

We’d ridden off to our home for the night in Augathella after hearing from Daryl that he’d scored a house large enough himself & Dave, as well as the rest of us (Brady bunch). Because of Daryl’s early start, he’d arrived 3 hours before I showed up. An early start almost always means an early start at the pub at the end of the day :-)) Once the rest of the gang arrived, we made our way to the local Pub (the gorgeous Ellangowan Hotel, as seen in the pic). We had a few drinks and dinner and wandered back to the house for chatting and shenanigans…although most went straight to bed!. Augathella to Dalby tomorrow!