A short commute

Friday, November 9, 2007

From The Snowy Ride website
The Snowy Ride is a motorcycle event run annually in the Alpine Region of NSW and has raised over 1.3 million dollars for the "Steven Walter Fund". 

The "Steven Walter Fund", which is the organiser and main benefactor of the Snowy Ride, is a non-profit organisation which was started following the passing of nineteen year old Steven Walter after an eight year battle with cancer. The Fund is involved in raising money for research into childhood cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment in children.

All monies raised by the Fund go directly to "The Children's Cancer Institute Australia" and all funds are directed into research.

After my little jaunt through the Swiss Alps, I decided to see what the Australian Alps had to offer so I booked into the Snowy Ride with 2800 other motorcyclists. The BOSS decided not to come with me so my scooter buddy, Garry, agreed to join me.
Garry also rides an Aprilia Sportcity - albeit 50cc bigger than my 200cc. He has only been riding since last Christmas and we have spent many weekends zipping up to Mt White to tackle the twisties and improve our skills. We share of love of the "ride" - the simple pleasures in life - not fast but each corner better than the last.
Garry and his family emigrated from the UK, so he has seen very little of the Aussie countryside. The South East corner of NSW is where I grew up so I was looking forward to showing it off.

This was the seventh year of the Snowy Ride has been held in Thredbo but it was my first. There's not much to it... just turn up and ride - collect stamps at various checkpoints and then enter the competition to win a Honda Goldwing or a Honda Fireblade.
Simple really - as long as you have accommodation.
I tried booking a hotel back in May but I got the same answer where ever I rang - sorry no vacancy. Seems that all the motorcyclists book a year in advance. Good timing is everything. As luck would have it, I scored a cancellation - a whole apartment: sleeps 5.

I also invited my cousin Mark to join us - even though he rides a 1000cc motorcycle, I allowed him to ride with us.

It had been raining all week and the online forecast was not optimistic. Riding in the rain is not pleasant at the best of times. Riding a scooter in the rain is less attractive. Riding a scooter in the rain 2000kms on country backroads is just plain crazy.

Never let it be said that I live a beige life.

Garry and I departed (in the rain) at 6.35pm from Sydney. We managed to avoid the worst of the peak hour traffic and the rain turned into drizzle and then stopped altogether about 20kms down the road. We were literally riding off into the sunset and the temptation to detour through the twisties at National Park was resisted.
The weather started to close in again and just to make it more interesting, the wind picked up on the top of the escarpment. The fog warning lights were active so we nipped down Bulli Pass to loose altitude and get out of the wind. Garry had never been down Bulli Pass and didn't quite know what to expect (especially in the dark). It is a very very steep twisty road and many a truck has lost its brakes on the way down and ended up in the loungeroom of the house at the bottom.

We arrived at my girlfriends house in Wollongong for a quick pitstop and stretch of the limbs. Riding a scooter is not too rough on the body - when I rode a motorbike I suffered from lower back pain due to leaning forward but a scooter is more like the "sit up and beg" position. The Sportcity in particular has the most comfortable seat out of all the scooters I have tried.
After a quick coffee we headed off for the last leg to Nowra - only 100kms away. It would normally have taken about 1 hour from Wollongong but when we stopped to refuel at Kiama we realised that there were no petrol stations open after 7pm. I left Garry twiddling his thumbs in the main street while I backtracked to Albion Park to fill up. 45 minutes later and we were once again heading in the right direction.

The last 50km stretch into Nowra is on a dark, windy backroad - mostly flat but a challenge at night. It was just as we hit this stretch that the weather hit us. Torrential rain and strong wind - I was leading us blindly, not able to see more than 20 metres ahead.
We arrived at mum's close to midnight, drenched to the skin and shivering from the cold.
We had a cup of tea to warm us up and hung all our dripping gear in front of the heater - the waterproof gloves I had purchased that day were not waterproof. I fell into bed exhausted and exhilarated, hoping for better weather for big ride the next day.

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