The Alpine Way
The Alpine Way is a beautifully twisty 300km loop, weaving in and out of valleys, up and down mountains and around the man-made lakes of the Snowy region. The roads are challenging and demands full attention. The Snowy Ride is promoted as a nice cruisy ride - NOT a race and group riding with thousands of other bikes on these roads was exhilarating.
Common courtesy dictates that slower bikes move to the left of the lane allowing faster bikes to overtake when safe. This was done with the greatest of respect all day and although the sportsbikes may have been frustrated stuck behind a scooter, they never hassled us. Some even gave us a wave and a beep as they passed. This is called good rider ettiquette and it makes for such a relaxed and pleasant day.
Very few snuck up behind us without warning (Harleys can't sneak anywhere - they are too noisy) and only one idiot overtook Gary on the left (he must have been American).
After Khancoban, Mark got sick of our slow pace and took off ahead. Every 20kms or so he would be patiently waiting by the side of the road for us to catch up.
The sky remained clear and the day was warm - perfect riding conditions. I won't bother describing how wonderful it all was - just think of every positive empowering adjective and then double it.
We stopped for lunch at the Big Trout in Adaminaby - a sausage sizzle put on by the local community. It is fantastic to see all the small townships supporting the Ride and the locals are genuinely glad to welcome us into their area.
Much as we'd all love to think that the organisers go to all this trouble just so that we can have a great riding weekend, the real purpose of the Snowy Ride is to raise money for research into childhood cancer.
This year was a record year for attendance - 2834 bikes and 2 scooters! Most of the bikes had pillions so I would guesstimate the number of bodies to be around the 5000 mark. Quite impressive numbers when you think about it.
If ever you need lessons in amazing organisation of an event - ask Sue Walter and her team.
Each year the Steven Walter Fund organises a busload of kids with cancer and their families to have a break in Thredbo. They get to enjoy a pampered time away from the hospital routines, doing outdoorsy adventurous activities and, of course, riding on the back of motorcycles - they even got to ride in a helicopter over the Alps.
By 4pm, many riders had assembled at the ski tube for the start of the Mass Ride. The Honda Goldwings were up front with the kids, followed by the rest of the rabble and 2 scooters. We rode the last 12kms into Thredbo to be greeted by the crowd of onlookers - all now gathering on the village green to await the prize draws.
Honda are the major sponsors and provide two motorcycles for the raffle - a Goldwing and a Fireblade. Either one would have suited me fine. This year both were won by women which was quietly satisfying.
I met up with one of my best mates, Nerida and we spent a pleasant afternoon lazing in the sun listening to the speeches. Nerida and her husband Kevin had ridden down from Wollongong but had managed to avoid most of the bad weather. Unfortunately they were staying in Jindabyne and couldn't hang around for dinner.
Mark, Gary and I hit the pub for dinner and drinks and then wandered up to the village square to hear The Angels play to the mass crowd. This concert was much better than the previous night - the crowd was more rowdy, it was in the open air and the music was louder. It took me back to my teenage years - except this time the crowd in front of me was a sea of grey hair.