Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Born Free

These were the first couple of words of  a song that described the letting loose of a captive lion. Last week end, I let loose my lion.

With my partner going away for the weekend, it was a good opportunity to pack up the Caponord and try the Aprilia in some slightly different terrain. The plan was to ride to a place called Kangaroo Valley, turn left and find a campsite in the Australian bush.

 Preparation - Friday night
The night before the ride, I chose to pack up the Caponord, ensuring I was ready for a early morning departure. Into the panniers went food, water, a change of clothes and camping gear. Once I was satisfied that I had everything, I checked again and again. Only 15 kilograms of gear was not a bad effort.
I could hardly sleep that night and for two very opposite reasons. Firstly, I was excited, nervous and had drunk way too much coffee.  But mostly it was the dinner I had eaten. Unknown to me I had consumed some Pate' that was a little past it's best date. It certainly didn't feel very good. (Read, I was really really sick)

The Beginning Saturday Morning
The grin on my face the next morning when I fired up the Caponord was huge. The illness from the night before had gone and it was time to hit the road!
Travelling out of Sydney was fairly uneventful; the traffic was light and easy. Around 45 kilometres from home, I came to a turn-off that led to a town called Helensburgh. However the reason I turned off was beyond that sleepy town.

I was heading a local hangout of like-minded bikers. Stanwell Tops is a car park that looks out over a gorgeous beach landscape. Sure enough when I arrived, around thirty five bikes were parked. As per usual, riders from every walk of life were hanging around, talking shit and gawking at each other’s bikes.

Oddly, a biker friend called me on my mobile phone just as I shut the Caponord down and so I gave him a running commentary of what bike was what. Harley’s, Ducati’s, Yamahas, MV Augusta’s in fact most manufacturers were represented. It was all good until a bus load of Japanese tourists came along and scared everyone away; me included!

From Stanwell Tops, I rode the coast road through the various seaside villages to a place called Gerroa. A quick nature stop and then time to head inland.

Saturday, Early Afternoon
The road to Kangaroo Valley is completely insane. There is no other way to describe it. Sharp “U” turns that are almost at 40 degree inclines, blind corners and cars driving in the middle of the road. I was certainly glad to get to Kangaroo Valley about 45 minutes later. I stopped for a relaxing coffee.

After asking for some clarification on my destination, I headed off toward Yarrunga Lake. Around halfway along the road, I noticed my fuel gauge and it was about half full. Oops! A major oversite if I wanted to do any serious bush riding. After thinking about the remainder of the trip, I decided to return to Kangaroo Valley and get some fuel for the bike and some spare fuel, just in case.
I paid way too much for a 5 litre container of fuel, but felt more secure knowing I had a backup if anything went wrong.

At around 2.00pm, I arrived at Tallowa Dam on Yarrunga Lake. The area is a designated State Forest which contains a lot of trials, scrub and animal life.
I checked out the dam, but this was not what I was really there for, I wanted to hit some of the fire trails and check out the off-road capabilities of the Caponord.

Saturday late afternoon
The trails were pretty easy at first, but then got harder, a LOT harder. Some trails were loose shale which meant I had to keep my wits about me, but then other trails were sandy and these took even more concentration. I travelled about 20 kiomoetres in parts of heaven.

Along the way, I met some over 50’s on dedicated off-road bikes. We stopped, had a chat and they asked me if I was lost! I said "no" and asked if I could tag along. The guys seemed amused at first, but said “why not, if you can keep up”. I kept up, for around 15 kilometres. It wasn’t until I realised my tyres weren’t up to the task that I called it a day. The other riders gave me a bit of a friendly cheer as I rode off in the other direction.

On returning to the Dam area it was time to set up my tent and get some well-earned food down. A couple of local goannas kept me company and the some stunning wallabies joined in. At first I felt a bit nervous with the goannas considering their size, (well over a metre long) but they seemed to be at ease with people so I let them scrounge some food and they then left me alone.
The start of the night was fairly uneventful and I did enjoy taking photos of the area, the vast array of stars and some shots of Mars.

A Friendly Local?? Well sort of. This is a very pregnant female goanna

A shy but adorable Wallaby.

This type of scenery was everywhere. Looking across Lake Yarrunga from my base camp.

Next blog, the late night antics, and the trip home……..

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