Australian Wing Riders Association (Qld) Inc

A club for riders of Honda GoldWing and Valkyrie motorcycles

Clint and Charleen's Dirty Weekend

(It's not what you think!)

I don't consider myself a good rider.  I try to be careful and avoid taking any risks which will result in damage to Charleen, myself or the bike.  Statisticians tell me I am a dangerous rider, in that I did not ride for 20 years before getting a big motorcycle.  I recognise this and attempt to ride accordingly.  Riding within my limits is one way.  For example, I try to never scrape the pegs, preferring to have a safety margin if something goes wrong half way through the bend.

Another of my 'rules' is to stay away from gravel roads.  I believe the wing is not made for this type of road, and I'm certainly not when on a bike.   Besides, Charleen and I have travelled more than our share of rough dirt roads during our 20 years with the Subaru 4WD Club and six years as off-road tour operators.

So Charleen had a free day and we decided to go for an overnight ride.  No special plans, but somewhere in the New England vicinity and return.  We headed off south on Beaudesert road and out to Mt Lindsay.  Some great riding here with lots of twisties.  The road could be a bit better but it wasn't too bad.

Instead of taking the Summerland Way back east to Kyogle, we headed west to Woodenbong then planned to go across to Tenterfield to complete our day's ride.  A glance at a map would have been a good idea.  We would have seen the 35km stretch of dirt and changed plans.

From Woodenbong to the small town of Legume is all bitumen but very rough and patchy.  There's lots of corners, but all with heavy bumps, potholes and patches.  No fun at all.  Charleen was getting sore arms from just holding on.  Not the armchair ride she is accustomed to on the back seat of the 'wing.

Then it happened.  Just when we thought things couldn't get worse, the bitumen disappeared!  We were faced with a dilemma.  Return via that horrible road, or carry on.  We had gone past the Gravel Road sign and weren't sure whether it said 35km or 3.5km so we decided to go on for a bit.  Sure enough after a few kays, there was that lovely black stuff again, but it wasn't to be for long and we were soon back on gravel.  Damn!

We had come too far now to return so on we forged.  This wasn't just an ordinary dirt road either.  Being not far from Stanthorpe, it was made of decomposed granite - lots of little ball shaped stones spread over a harder under-surface. Normally, in a car I'd go Yahoo!, plant the welly and get the tail out.  But cars don't fall over as easily as bikes, especially big bikes being controlled (?) by a person armed with my lack of experience.  To make matters worse, the wind had sprung up and we were travelling south west across a north westerly gale.

I set our speed at 60kph.  The idea being to strike a balance between going slow enough to survive a fall, but fast enough to get through the road soon.  The worst were the sharp corners with corrugated, off camber, slippery surfaces coupled with gusty winds.

After a seemingly interminable ride, we thankfully reached bitumen once again.  How great it felt.

Pretty soon we got to Amosfield, just a couple of houses, and saw a sign, Tenterfield 50km.  Then another, Gravel Road 42km.  Oh  No!  Time to pull up and get the map out.  A short perusal showed this dirt road, and also another bitumen road travelling to Stanthorpe making it only 16km further to Tenterfield.  No contest.  We even stopped in at a Ballandean winery to pick up a bottle of red for the evening.

Next day, we decided to stick to roads we knew well, and travelled home via the Bruxner, through Casino and Lismore out to the Pacific Highway, and north back home.