The Long WET Way Down
We awoke to clear blue skies with just a hint of cloud on the horizon. The heater had done its job and most of our gear was dry. Gary's gloves were still soaked through so he put them under his seat in the hope that the engine heat would dry them. My gloves were mostly dry ... but they had shrunk and the leather was stiff and unforgiving. As I could barely bend my fingers in them, I abandoned them and used my summer gloves instead.
We set off about 9.30am anticipating a fairly easy, slow cruise down to Bega, up Brown Mountain into Cooma and then up into the Alps to Thredbo. I figured about 5-6 hours... no rush - enjoy the run.
Mark was leaving from Sydney around the same time so he should have been able to catch up to us on his 1000cc bike. I sms'd him an optimistic weather report from Nowra.
A little way down the road at Ulladulla I could see the clouds forming ahead of us. I pulled over to see if Gary wanted to don wet weather gear just in case. The sky was generally still clear and stupidly we decided to push on to the next town and reconsider our options then. 10 minutes later we rode through a short burst of rain - just enough to make us wet and sticky - and THEN we decided to pull over and don wet weathers. I jammed my hands into my new, shrunken leather gloves but within 1/2 an hour my fingers started to go numb and I could no longer control the throttle or brakes properly.
Just before Batemans Bay the rain started up in earnest. Now we weren't just wet, we were cold and wet. We stopped for lunch and to get the circulation going again. We were only 1/4 of the way to our destination and running way behind schedule.
I updated Mark by sms with a revised weather report.
We passed 100's of other motorcyclists having their lunch at Narooma pub - and then they proceeded to pass us further down the road.
We reached Brown Mountain about 2pm and proceeded to climb up into the clouds. It would have been a brilliant bit of twisty road if it had been dry - and if I could have felt my fingers - but it was miserable and slow and neither of us rode our best. We got to the top only to be teased with blue sky on the horizon. As we approached Cooma, we tracked a nasty storm cell heading our way. We entered Cooma just as it hit - torrential rain flooded the streets and everyone was diving for cover. We pulled into the shelter of a petrol station just as the HAIL started. Several other bikes followed us in and soon the forecourt was full. We all stood around silently sharing the same misery.
A quick sms sit rep to Mark and once the storm cell passed, we were back on the road. My estimate of 5-6 hours was revised to 8-9 hours. It was already past 4pm and we still had 100kms to go. At top speed I can manage 100km/h - downhill with the wind behind me I could perhaps stretch that to 110. On the last stretch I was lucky to be averaging 80. Naturally everyone passed us and it was quite interesting watching the procession of different types of bikes and riders.
We had a quick stop at Jindabyne to buy alcohol and munchies and then with relief set off on the last 30kms into Thredbo. Just as we turned into the valley the sun came out and blue sky beckoned. It was the most magnificent sight to see Mt Kosciusko snow capped peaks bathed in sunlight. It was going to be a great weekend.
We were cold and damp and very tired and gratefully fell into a hot shower. Mark arrived about 1/2 an hour later but we had no time to chat as Gary and I had booked in to the formal dinner party and concert. The food was excellent and a very welcome change to the chocolate bars we had been munching on all day. The riders around our table couldn't quite believe we had undertaken the journey on scooters and kept nodding incredulously.
After dinner The Angels played live. The Angels are a rock band from the 1980's and I remember seeing them the first time round at the Dapto Leagues Club when I was 17. Now, they are all grey haired rockers but still managed to belt out a great tune to their grey haired audience.
After the concert and in desperate need of our beds, Gary and I headed back up the hill to our apartment. We got so engrossed in chatting we didn't notice that we had taken a wrong turn - we had climbed much higher than we needed to and ended up on the top road overlooking the entire valley. There were no lights and no clouds and the stars were shining bright - a sight you cannot get in a city - and one you cannot begin to describe.