A quick ride to the Budgie, 2015
I had been crook as a book for some weeks – time of work but not getting any better; a quick trip to Fiji for a wedding, weather was magnificent and I didn’t cough up bits of lung for a few days; back to work on the Tuesday before the Budgie…
It was afternoon before I could catch up with my boss: “Hi Boss” I say
“Since the planned vessel opening is delayed by a week, how about I take off Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday to attend a rally in Queensland?”
“How about Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday instead?”
“You drive a hard bargain, so… OK, done deal”
“Make sure you enter the leave/flex in the system”
“Thanks boss, see you next Tuesday”
That is how close I had come to not going this year. I got though all the needed things that afternoon, rang my wife to give her the good news, and started to get excited.
Wednesday was spent mostly putting the rack on the bike, checking essential bodily fluids, putting together some clothes and camping gear, getting some spare fuses from Repco, full tank of fuel and getting a little excited. By late afternoon, I had packed my bags, loaded my laptop, phone, tablet etc. with the necessary bits I might need, cables and the rest of the stuff one takes to a rally. Packed it all onto “Black Betty” and went out for dinner with the better half.
Thursday came clear and early, when I remembered the instructions “Don’t wake me up in the morning” so had to wait until she was awake. Had a shower, some breakfast, fed the dogs and generally fidgeted until she awoke. Beauty, I was off – left at 6.30am, headed up to Appin, where I stopped and put on my wet weather gear – it was -2° and the wet weather gear helps a little bit. Continued on towards Narellan, up the Northern Rd to Penrith, onto the Putty Rd and arrived at Grey Gums for some warm apple pie and a hot coffee. Met and talked with other like-minded blokes on bikes and we swapped from/to stories for the while I was there.
Continued on towards Singleton, starting to warm up a little, but was not doing the best mileage my bike could do. I wondered what was wrong. Ah well it is what it is – get on with it. Fuelled up at Singleton, phoned in, then continued up the New England Highway. Stopped at Tamworth for a bit of a feed. Rang the Oxford Hotel at Inverell (see details at end) to make sure there was a bed available, sure was and only $20 for the night – what a deal. Headed off towards Uralla, fuelled up there and continued up Thunderbolts Way to Inverell. Got to the pub just before 5pm, got the key to the room, put my stuff up there and moved my bike into the beer garden and even managed to find some cover for the bike (bit of an awning next to the publican’s car).
Publican said to come and have a look in his shed. His shed is full of bikes – that’s why the cost of a bed for the night is $20 – biker friendly. Lucky this was Thursday night, as Friday night the beer garden gets pretty busy. Anyway, Colin (publican) showed me part of his collection: an old Suzuki, a couple of old Yamahas (IT and DT), his Triumph triple 955i and his quite nice 750 Ducati. Apparently he had other bikes but they were in a different location. He rides all his bikes and they all looked used. I asked where he goes riding for a hoon, and he indicated the safest place was out towards Ashford and Bonshaw and the Bruxner Highway. I thought cool, as I was going that way in the morning.
Anyway, the last hour and a half of the trip were pretty hard – I had worked out why the bike was using more fuel than normal – there was a flaming head wind – I had been pushing into this wind all day. The last bit from Uralla to Inverell were straight into the sun. With bugs all over my visor, this was hard yakka. Of course this raised a thirst. Carlton Black on tap – most excellent! Downed a beer and thought of another, but decided to go and sort some gear out, for the morning.
After sorting out some gear, the dining room was working, so ordered some dinner and a black beer to wash it down. Wasted a bit of time in the bar talking shit to other patrons and sampling the black beer. Eventually I decided that tonight was not a good night for a big night and went upstairs to bed. Passed out in minutes, for some reason.
Woke early in the morning, repacked my bags, went and had a long hot shower to warm up before getting on the bike. Hauled the gear down to the bike in the beer garden and thought it was a bit cool. One of the residents was telling me how he had this and that and wished he still did. I finished packing and pushed the bike out the drive before locking the place up again (you get the room key and the back gate key, so you can leave when you want). Started the bike and was surprised to see -2° on the dash. Fairly cool I thought.
Off to Woolworths for some supplies. But Woolworths was still shut at 6.30 in the morning – bummer. Went down to McDonalds for some hash browns and a large hot black coffee and took my time. Went back to Woolworths, which was now open and got some essential for Mingoola, and set off towards Ashford. Temperature was still -2 and went up and down a bit but didn’t get over +2 until I got to the Bruxner. Should’ve filled up at Inverell, so turned towards Bonshaw and then onto Texas.
Filled up in Texas, called home to report in, and then set off for Mingoola via the Stanthorpe-Texas Rd. this bit of road has lots for the rider – fairly long straights followed by very tight off-camber corners, repeat. Got onto the Glenlyon Dam Rd fairly quickly (amazing how much progress you can make when everything goes well and the fun level is up) to surprise a few wallabies. I came up on one that was asleep in the middle of the road. My bike is not that quiet, especially on the overrun, but this wallaby was out. I was about 5 metres from him and going quite slow (not knowing which way he would jump) when he woke up, looked at me and jumped from a standstill, up an embankment around 2 metres high and about 2 metres from the road. Awesome effort – imagine what he could do with a hopping start…
Anyway, the only other wildlife I saw was the guy in the slasher who should have been slashed the road verge; except he was passed out in the cab, in the sun – life in the country eh? Don’t know if he woke up when I went past, I didn’t stick around. He would have heard me though.
Got to the rally site just before 10 am. Not many people around but immediately ran into Hoogs from the QLD club, who flagged me down telling me he had just bought a 1200 Sport 2 Valve. We chatted a bit, then I went and got my campsite organised. Lit a fire while I put my tent up, boiled my billy and had a cup of tea.
Eric, the land owner came over and we chatted a bit – nice bloke. Despite his hesitation last year, he is now fully on board with the rally, so early/late camping is quite possible in the future. The hours went by, dribs and drabs of bikes came in all afternoon and the area started to look quite crowded by dusk. Luckily I manage to save two adjacent trees for Mal who arrived late in the afternoon. Lots of campers looked at the spot I had to physically guard, so a trip to the bar had to wait until Mal took possession of his selected spot. After that, the bar became a regular part of the evening’s activities, that and the food tent.
A few people came and visited the campfire Mal and I had appropriated as our own. We visited a few of the QLD guys as well. Captain Morgan Spiced rum went down pretty well, as well as some beers. Eventually the grog and tiredness caught up with me and I sneaked off to bed. Sleep was pretty awful: mattress went down and I was laying on the cold ground AND my dooner (sleeping bag unzipped) had gone on a journey of its own, and ended up elsewhere in the tent – not a good start, especially as I had been crook. Zipped the bag together, crawled back into it and managed to put a few puffs of air into the mattress and proceeded to pass out again.
Woke in the morning to another fine day. Repeat as needed.
Mo’et came over and said good morning. Apparently he snuck in after dark. Mo’et has the same 1200 Sport as me, but in red. Everyone knows these are slower. We had discussed ECU map developments last year and I had to leave on Saturday morning last year, so we didn’t get to compare bikes. He has the Stage 1 kit fitted to his, which is the “replacement” for the shitty original muffler when JSG ran out of original mufflers. Mine got replaced with the original about 3 weeks before they started supplying the Stage 1 kits.
Anyway we went for a ride and swapped bikes. His has more grunt down low and midrange, but mine went like the clappers when it went passed 5000 RPM. Back at the camp, my laptop came out and we hooked it up and sucked down his Stage 1 map. This took about 20 minutes. Tried to reset his learning parameters and reset his TPS which was set on 2.5. Previous efforts by a dealer saw him in this state of mistune. Unfortunately, his bike would not idle properly, had some errors on his dash (red triangle) and the speedo was not working, so I said let’s try my map and see what happens/ we can always put you map back in. he agreed, so I uploaded my map, reset everything and his bike idled properly. This was the first time in over 3 or 4 years it had done so. He took it for a ride and came back grinning. “Smooth as” was his first comment. Anyway he was not happy about putting his original map in, so he has mine. I sent his map through by email when I got back. Reports since then is the bike uses less fuel, idles correctly and he is a happy vegemite.
Anyway we did some other things to his bike to make it better such as adjust the slack out of the throttle cables and a few other minor adjustments. He had burnt out headlight wires but I couldn’t do anything there and then. His triangle has since disappeared and his speedo now works again – don’t know what is going on with these, but I claim no credit for their resumption of service.
Rest of the morning went by amicably, until the rest of you lot arrived. Greetings and meetings were done. Guidance offered, firewood gathered, shit talked – all normal for a rally. Afternoon came with the traditional “gymkhana” events: Bite the Sausage; toilet paper race; slow race etc. etc. Probably the less said about these the better, as others will no doubt have better stories than mine and maybe even a photo or two…
Saturday night came around, drinking had been regular, Rod Yeomans was remembered, LG spoke of shared experiences, the big bonfire was lit, prizes were awarded, raffles were won and lost, the battleship (in sand instead of water – Mingoola is a long way from the sea…) contest was won by the local school (well someone won some money but the school was the ultimate winner), did I mention about the drinking?
Anyway, eventually the crowd thinned and local campfires became the norm again. Final drops were drunk, bottles were drained, a snoring sleep beckoned to all.
Another fine morning for Sunday! Bummer, that means get some breakfast, pack up your gear and head off. I was no different but in no hurry. Hatchy had offered a bed at his place as I was heading to his area to catch up on my brother-in-law. I gratefully accepted, and the four of us (Hatchy, Randa, LG and me) left around 10am, headed to Ashford where Hatchy and Randa filled up on unleaded. Then we hightailed it to Inverell where LG and I filled up on Premium. A quick run to Uralla where we had some lunch and again Hatchy and Randa filled up. It was a pleasant 14° in Uralla and the sky threatened to give us a quick bath before we went too far. However, no-one volunteered to stop and put wets on.
Headed to Walcha where we said gidday as we rode through. Headed down Thunderbolts towards Gloucester. Temperature got down to 8°, the rain was a mere sprinkle though the road was damp in spots. Made it to Gloucester without incident where we all filled up again and made a run for it towards Hatchy and Randa’s place hopefully before dark. We got there just as the street light were coming on. A quick tub and down to the local Bull and Bush where we just got served before they closed the kitchen. Back at Hatchy’s place we watched the MotoGP with a cleansing ale. Then off to bed – well most of us were nodding off in front of the TV anyway.
Up in the morning, got packed, said goodbyes and thankyous all round and got to my sister’s place by 9am, to see Neville my brother-in-law. Good thing I caught up with them then, Neville died 6 days later – he was crook with the big C and had been for a while. We buried him earlier this week.
Anyway left there around 10am and bolted for home where I arrived just after 2pm. Unpacked and had everything in the washing machine by 3pm and on the line soon after. All in all a good ride and a good rally.
Oxford Hotel, 61-67 Otho St, Inverell, 02 6721 0077 – ask for Colin Thompson