It’s February already (only 17 weeks until we leave for the US!) and my IBR prep is happening, but slowly. Mainly my prep this month has been in the form of working on my fitness. Turns out if I want to eliminate my lower back pain I need to work on getting ‘buns of steel’! So we’ve been showing up to PT every Wednesday morning since boxing day, most recently at 5am!!!, to put ourselves through hell in humidity.
This weekend we’ve come to Canberra to get my Honda 800 serviced, some new tyres put on and some engine bars fitted so that if I do drop it, it doesn’t cost a fortune and a half to fix!
Since I don’t have much to share this month, I thought I’d put together a bit of a highlights reel of sorts from the ‘Dam Hard to Say Round Up’ – a 30 hour rally starting and finishing in Taree, NSW that we did two-up late last year.
Because we never learn, it started with half a day at work – then a race out the door to get to Taree on time and an extended period sitting in traffic on Pennant Hills Road getting out of Sydney.
We made it to Taree where the jacarandas were almost in bloom, checked into the motel and did some socialising before it was time to head to the local Chinese restaurant for the starting banquet. It was a pretty rowdy bunch at the table and competitive spirits were high.
Rules of the game were fairly straightforward – do the base route precisely to be a finisher, or do a route of your own choosing and make sure you get enough miles up (a bit over 1000) and a decent score. The words below that are bold and underlined will come back to haunt us.
Nonetheless, the rally masters were very kind in allowing us to text them our photos to find out if we had successfully bagged the bonus, which meant we could leave knowing either we did or didn’t have the points in hand.
With rally books in hand we headed back to the motel where we were happily surprised to find out that the USB had not only GPX files and the rally book in PDF, but also an XLS file pre-coded with bonus point values! As a girl who loves a good spreadsheet this was a seriously happy-making find and with a quick ‘sort high to low’ on the bonus values column, it became fairly clear where we were heading: south through the Hunter Valley, down to Wiseman’s Ferry and then out across the mountains.
With a fairly clear route (at least for the first day’s riding) planned, our heads hit the pillows and we got a reasonable night’s sleep.
Heading out of Taree at six, it was two-up teams first 🙂 and we rolled out to retrace our steps of the previous day back down the M1 as far as Beresfield.
First up was Koorainghat – where we couldn’t find a sign for the town’s name…
Next up was Grahamstown Dam… And finally we had some points!
Then it was on into the Hunter where we collected some decent points, enjoyed a beautiful morning, lovely scenery and some great riding roads…
The day got warmer as we headed south to the outskirts of Sydney and we paused at Windsor for some snacks – sandwiches and a cold drink… Then it was on up the Bell’s Line of Road chasing more bonuses. By mid-afternoon I was starting to feel like we had a rhythm going and our route looked pretty good. Then it started to go a bit pear-shaped.
First up we had some difficulty finding Carcoar Dam – the GPS coordinates weren’t quite right for the dam… But we were only 6kms or so away so we hoofed it up the road and got the bonus. More problematic was Wyangala Dam – which was roughly 70kms from where we’d originally had it marked.
We decided it was still worth it given the points and had a lovely ride in, got the sign and headed out again.
But now we were running behind the schedule we had planned and it looked like we were going to need to start dropping bonuses.
Things only got worse when we headed out of Canowindra for Dubbo and ended up on a dirt road. This was the one time the Garmin was saying ‘go this way’ and Google maps put us wrong. Again, being tired and on the clock, rather than turning around and taking the longer route, we persisted on the gravel, which became dirt, which became sand… And then we were in the sand and not quite so happy with life.
Although it was a lovely afternoon with the sun shining and the temperature starting to fall, my anxiety sitting on the back was increasing. As navigator I felt responsible for putting us on the dirt road and chances were we were going to be really late getting to our accommodation for the night.
Even more troubling, I was starting to doubt our route and whether or not the bonuses were going to be where we thought they were. In the daylight, finding alternatives was tough but do-able. In darkness I didn’t want to end up on another dirt road, miles from anywhere without phone signal.
On top of that, as we left our fuel stop post-dirt road, the Beemer did it’s ‘limp mode’ thing and told us to go to the nearest dealer. Thankfully after turning it off and turning it on again, the bike seemed to be back to normal, but it wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring.
We bagged our next bonus and then decided on a change of plans. Rather than heading across country to another dam, we’d keep heading straight up to Dubbo and stay the night in Gilgandra, leaving early in the morning towards Gunnedah and Walcha before the run back to Taree by midday.
We got our final few bonuses for the day – now few and far between – and booked some accommodation to get a few hours sleep.
Next morning with some much-needed shut-eye on board we headed off again in the dark for the last run home.
The rest of the ride wasn’t particularly eventful. We got back in the groove of ride – stop – take photo – write up log – ride again. And while it was a close thing getting back to the finish line, we did manage to get a coffee in Taree on the way and even got back to Koorainghat to get the bonus correctly this time.
The scoring table was slightly less terrifying than the first time on BLIX and we came away without losing too many points at the table (with the exception of the ‘error free log’ which Kiwi and I interpreted as meaning different things).
How did we do? Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the finishers banquet but it turns out we won! And as with all these rallying things, it was a heap of fun in hindsight (if not always fun at the time) and we learnt loads to take with us to the IBR.
Until next time, ride safe all!