Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Tag Archives: Triumph

Hunter Valley Shiraz and two wheels – there is a god!!!

Sunday June 14 dawned a little grey, perhaps a chance of showers and a cool breeze was blowing the Ettalong Beach palms about. Undeterred Al and Judy cranked up the Triumph and headed north with great friends, Virginia and Tim. Muffled like burglars, with more layers than ‘Black Forest Cake’, we rode up the F3 and veered off to Freemans Waterhole. Once upon a time, when the world was simpler, and I was still

Nice bikes!

Nice bikes!

young, we used to stop a the giant Oak milk bar for the best milkshakes in New South Wales here. It is a little run down now but still good for a quick coffee and chat.

From Freemans the road wanders lazily over the mountain and into the beautiful Hunter Valley (http://www.winecountry.com.au/). Motorcycles buzz by in both directions, this is the last hurrah for the ‘fair weather’ riders, winter is well on the way. We ride through Cessnock and on to Pokolbin. I am looking for a winery described to me by a mate. I had a great Shiraz from there and was eager to find more. After all, the big bold Hunter Shiraz is legendary and I love em! Also, Judy and I have orders to fulfill from friends in Canada next month.

After some very friendly assistance from the guys at a petrol station in Cessnock, we venture to the back of the valley. The road turns to an unsealed number, dusting up the Triumph and Tim’s beautiful Harley Road King. After a small search – eureka! Audrey Wilkinson’s Vineyard (http://www.audreywilkinson.com.au/), resplendent with Shiraz vines planted in 1866.

The vineyard is gorgeous and, as we are now high on the hill, the view across the Hunter is stunning. A couple of wine tour buses are in so we don’t expect to get much attention. Happily, we were wrong. Ross was very helpful and even got our the private bin tasting stock. As it happens, I was hooked on an first class Shiraz at $20 a bottle. It was not long before a dozen had been organized for shipment home for the princely sum of $6 – BARGAIN!!! Shame I will have to share it with my buddy Marty (I promised him good Shiraz and he is putting us up after all). Curiously, Ross from the winery shares my birthday which had just passed. He was very helpful and lots of fun.

The ride home was a little cool to say the least. When we arrived home the road was wet and it turns out we had unwittingly been dodging rain all day! A great ride with great friends and a dozen very bold, peppery reds into the bargain!!! Life is good!

Chook Poo! Only in Australia!

Morpeth Bridge

Morpeth Bridge

Saturday morning, with an ominous threat of rain, Al and I set out on the Truimph. Our destination was a town called Seaham near Raymond Terrace. This is where Al’s sister Lynne and her family live. Raymond Terrace is located very near Newcastle in the Hunter Valley. The nice thing about this trip is that the lower Hunter Valley is full of spectacular scenery while giving you the feeling you are stepping back in time.

We ride on the highway for a while and then turn onto a country road, which then turns into a meandering country road through farms and acreages. The nice thing I have found about being on a bike is that you experience all the smells and sounds. Some of the smells are not so wonderful such as fertilized fields, but then you go past huge flowering bushes and get a whiff of the sweet scent.

The sounds include the thunder of 3 horses galloping across a field (paddock to you Aussies). They were a breathtaking sight. We rode through one small town with houses lined up on both sides of the street. One house had ponys everywhere in the yard. There was even one standing on the front porch. Where is the camera when one most needs it? It would have made a great picture.

Actually that though crossed my mind many times on the trip. Oh, for a small pocket camera that is easy to access. We only have a large camera/camcorder that is bulky and hard to handle!

We passed a sign that read “chook poo”. Only in Australia would one see this sign, I am sure of that! Chook being a chicken, it was obvious that they had chicken manure for sale! Chook poo!!! I vow to get a picture of that sign. It will be worth the trip back to that very spot just for the picture.

We stopped in Morpeth. What a quaint little town. I could have spent all day there. In fact we did spend the afternoon wondering around the little shops where upon entering you found yourself in a long conversation with each shop owner. I figured if this kept up we would never get out of there. What wonderful, friendly people! Morpeth had a few “firsts” for me. They have a shop where you can taste ginger beer. I have consumed ginger beer many times, usually in the form of a dark and stormy (involves rum), but never have I gone for a ginger beer tasting. The same store had honey tasting. Yummy! We moved on to another store that has “Morpeth Moonshine” tasting. If for no other reason, this is worth the trip to Morpeth.

The town of Morpeth is located on the Hunter River, which means one has to cross a bridge if you need to get to the other side of the river. Morpeth Bridge was completed in 1898 and is the oldest surviving example of an overhead braced Allan truss bridge and is one of only 3 truss road bridges in NSW.

The bridge is magnificent to look at and really add’s to the charm of Morpeth. That said, it is downright scary (this is my point of view) to cross when on a motorcycle. In fact, I have crossed the bridge once before in a car and I found it scary, let alone on a motorbike!

The deck of the bridge consists of timbers with large metal bolts and nuts to (I assume) hold it all together. When on the bike, one has to try to avoid the nuts and bolts sticking out of the timbers, as well as the edges of the timbers which can be quite deep. Of course, Al is a very experienced rider so this was not an issue for him at all. I on the other hand was shaking by the time we got to the other side of the bridge! That said, Morpeth and the bridge are a must see in NSW.

After our lovely lazy afternoon in Morpeth is was only about a 20 minute ride to Lynne’s house. We did not get rained on once during the entire trip. Upon our arrival it started to rain. Impeccable timing!

We met Al’s cousin (Brenda & husband Terry) for dinner. Brenda and Terry own a very chic restaurant right on the water in Newcastle. During dinner, it rained. I mean absolute buckets full of rain. The nice thing about NSW is that you can often sit undercover (which we were), outside and experience the great smells and sounds of the rain, but still be warm!

To cap off the night, a big coal tanker arrived at port during our dinner. This tanker comes so close to the row of restaurants that you feel you could reach out and touch it. It gives one a greater appreciation of the sheer size of these tankers. A splendid day and evening of beautiful scenery, a sensational ride and outstanding company. A great adventure. Days like this satisfy me for a short time and then my mind wanders to the next trip. I have this insatiable need to know what’s around the next corner!

The Old Pacific Highway!

Kit Kat and I lay in bed on Sunday morning, gazing out the window. The weather looked cloudy but dry across Broken Bay and my sudden urge to fire up the Triumph broke our reverie. Half an hour later, we were cruising past the Easter Sunday crowds at the local Churches. I could not help a wry smile at the number of devoted devil dodgers who ardently flock to places of worship  for two events of the year… I guess people are just too busy for god the rest of the time.

We headed straight for the Old Pacific Highway. Until the opening of the F3 in the 80’s, this two lane, twisty scenic drive was the main arterial heading north of Sydney. My childhood memories include the “bumper to bumper” snake of cars slowly writhing along the beautiful strip adjacent to the mighty Hawkesbury River.

Since the opening of the F3 freeway, the Old Pacific Highway is a mecca for motorcyclists. Fifty kilometers of windy road with a reasonable surface and very few four wheeled cages to dodge makes this the promised land. Relics of the “old days” litter the route, abandoned service stations and old stores.

The Aussie scenery is beautiful here. The road winds through grand sandstone bluffs and crags resplendent in grey, orange, red and yellow. The tortured trunks of Eucalypts with leathery green leaves hanging lazily above the road. Exultant stands of Gymea Lily raise their scarlet beacons as an offering to the heavens. The shrub layer bursting with Wattle, Ti Tree, Banksia and a carpet of native grasses and sedges.

The Triumph performs faultlessly. The occasional thump in the back, reminds me not to let the Bonnie go too hard. The road is damp in patches in the mornings, catching the occasional flashy sports rider off guard. We cross the first bridge over the F3, the traffic is light on the northern route. A couple of sports bikes slip by going the other way. This bridge is a favourite for wheel standing – nothing like grandstanding for the bored F3 crowd.

The sparkling Hawkesbury materializes through the early morning mist and the lush coastal forest. The air is pungent with the smell of salt water. One last bust of acceleration through the twisties and we lunge over the old bridge across the river. Kit Kat has gone from assaulting my back to massaging it… I relax back onto her caressing palms. The sun is warm on my face and I savor the salt air in my lungs.

Brekky is at a cafe near the Hawkesbury River train station. We eat eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast. Kitty sips on her Chai Tea Latte and I down a strong Cap. A guy on a Harley “sportie” has wandered over to chat about the Bonnie. Nice bloke. One of the great things about being a rider is the connection you have with other riders. There has always been a great bond between two wheel enthusiasts. It gets tarnished occasionally by the bad guys but it still is there.

I am reminded of my former life riding a Beemer in British Columbia, Canada. Bikes go to the front of the line up for the vehicle ferries there. Riders, waiting for the ferry to load, circle each others bikes, checking them out and making comments to each other. It is a great ice breaker. I always think it reminds me of dogs and their ritual of greeting. Thankfully, this is less personal.

Kit Kat and I have a look around Brooklyn, not much is open on Easter Sunday. We head home back up the Old Pacific Highway and via Peats Ridge. We pass motorbikes and fruit stalls as we wind our way back to the coast. It is half way through the day and we are feeling very fine. Brekky and a lazy 120 kilometer round trip have made the day.

The Triumph is wet behind the ears… now!

The rain pelts down hard, leaving sheets of water across the F3 freeway north. Peering through the droplet distorted visor into the gloom ahead, I can see blurry shapes… mysterious red orbs warning me of the traffic surrounding us. I can’t see far, I lean forward… watchful as the lights flash about and we surf the puddles, resplendent in rooster tails of passing cars and trucks.

After riding about 240 kilometers we had stopped at Hornsby to “tog up”, put our rain gear on. Judy was concerned. This was the longest ride she had experienced on a road bike, she was starting to ache a bit but was in great spirits. Judy is an excellent passenger. It must be the early years when she rode dirt bikes. Judy is concerned about the heavy rain we are about to experience.

The 60 kilometers home in heavy rain goes well. The Triumph is very well behaved in the wet. I personally love riding in the rain. The blast of motorcycling comes from exhilaration and risk. The wet increases the risk and you ride accordingly. The F3 is boring under dry conditions. Add heavy rain and the equation changes. Your senses are heightened, alert and aware of the increased danger.

When you ride, you get many experiences that make it addictive… your senses are treated to smells, temperatures, risks, adrenaline and euphoria. To me, the danger reminds me of what I have and offers me a challenge. Although the danger is not always that high when riding, it is always there. When we face serious danger, death even, then we are most aware that we are alive!

It’s Not That You Have the Fear, It’s What You Do With It!

Dogs know what they are doing.  Have you ever seen them?  Hanging their head out the car window?  Just hanging on by their toes?  I read somewhere that dogs enjoy the open window, not because of the wind rushing over their face, but because of all the smells in the air.  Imagine the smells we miss with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning or heater on?

You don’t have to imagine it when riding a motorcycle.  The wind rushes past you and the smells assault your senses.  

When I was a young girl growing up in a remote environment, motorcycles were are part of life.  My sister and I had a mini-bike and a motor scooter.  My brother had a moped as well as a “street” bike.  A man from a neighboring community took me under his arm one year and taught me how to race dirt-bikes on the oval track. I was racing his 125.   I found it exhilirating, to say the least.  

A series of events changed the way I felt about motorcycles.  I was riding the 125 with a “city” girl on the back when she caught her foot in the spokes sending us careening down the dirt road skin first.  I was unscathed, but she had landed on her chin and split it wide open.  I felt responsible.  I should have been more careful with a “non rider” on the back.  

Then, the guy who was teaching me to race, quit calling.  The next I heard was when the police phoned to ask me questions about when I had seen him last and who he was with.  I never saw him or heard from him again.  My dirt-bike racing days were over virtually before they started.

When I was 14 a very good friend had a major accident on his motorcycle.  Totally his fault, going too fast for the road conditions.  He was in a coma for almost a year.  With brain damage, it was a different person who came home.

For whatever reason, I swore off bikes.  The years have gone by and here I am with a new love in my life.  Go figure, he would be a bike fanatic!

The first time I got on the back of his bike, I was nervous.  My heart was beating fast and my hands were sweaty.  It is amazing what can happen when you are trying to impress someone. I persevered! The relationship flourished.

Now we have just bought a new Triumph.  I am so excited, for him and for me.  He is not a complete person without a bike and I have really started to enjoy something that I loved to do as a child.  It helps that he is a very competent rider and I feel totally safe with him at all times.  He is not one of those riders who feels the need to “be a man” and scare the shit out of me.  He is always aware of my uneasiness and discomfort and strives to alleviate my fears.  He does it well because I am becoming more and more comfortable on the back of the bike.

As I relax, I am starting to notice everything around me, especially the smells.  Here in Australia there are many fragrant flowers and trees.  I am now smelling the various scents with vigor.  Okay, I might not like the same smells as a dog, but I do enjoy the onslaught to my senses.  I even relish in the wind blowing in my face.

Where did that fearless little girl go?  I don’t know where she went, but I do know one thing for certain… she’s back!

Motorcycle Dreaming!

As the long hot summer of 2008/2009 continues the pain increases. I have been desperate and bikeless for six months now! This syndrome is akin to the feelings of anxiety that are stirred up with other situations that affect your natural balance. Listlessness, mood swings and feelings of being lost are prevalent right now. My partner tries to soothe my frayed nerves every time my head cocks sideways to the sound of a motorcycle.

I console myself with mental images of my next bike, perhaps a full tourer, perhaps a sports tourer or anything really. I like the new Triumph Bonnies, they take me back to a time of my life when things were very simple… a beer, a bike and the occasional girlfriend… and all the boxes were ticked. Now I suffer from Motorcycle Envy!

I am now in the process of looking for my next ride. Anticipation pumps through my veins. My imagination runs wild with possibilities. I am like a kid in a candy store as I look at lots of different bikes, always coming back to the Bonnie. It is not the tourer I thought I would be looking for. I just had a K1200GT Beemer in Canada for four years. I rode through nine western states of the USA and lots of western Canada… brilliant!

For now, the simplicity of the Bonnie and the memories of a simple time in my life are calling to me. The Bonnie will get me back “on the road” and that is critical. I want to tour to the MotoGP at Phillip Island later in the year, the Bonnie will be fine I’m sure. I have not been in the country for the past five years so I have missed my annual odyssey to the Island.

I continue my search for “the” bike. Now that I am “in the market” the anxiety subsides marginally but does not vanish completely… there is only one antidote for a full recovery… I hope it is administered soon!!!