All photos © TFB, Bludnut, & Pete, 2011.
Lizzy Windsor (aka Her Madge, aka The Queen) is probably starting to think that we scruffy bikers have it in for royalty. Not so! That fact that our last ride away coincided with the wedding of Wilz n' Kate, and that this ride (Oct. 2011) coincided with HRH's visit to CHOGM* here in Perth, was sheer coincidence. I think.
Meeting at the North Dandalup roadhouse, I had of course forgotten to bring along a map of the planned route. So that meant I bought yet another map (to be added to the collection stuffed in the drawer at home) and here we are, all pouring over it, figuring out the most indirect route between two points.
As you can see from the photos, this year I did my bit and opted out of riding, so that the mighty EF Falcon could be pressed into service as the 'transport & recovery' vehicle. Stuffed with camping gear, BBQ, tools & jerry can (which got a good working-out courtesy of Trav, see below), the old girl took it all in her stride shot shockies and loose steering only adding to the adventure of keeping up with a horde of howling motorcycles. Actually don't fret, the speeds were quite reasonable and no one was in a rush to get anywhere.
We took off to Dwellingup and then the excellent pub at Quindanning, where beers were quaffed, steaks were munched, and the spring sunshine was soaked up. It seemed everyone was out on their bikes that day, including the usual posse of Neanderthals with their 'skull' neoprene facemasks. Excuse me while I have a bit of a rant here, but look, I fear for our country when grown men feel the need to dress up in little boy's Halloween outfits, and then expect everyone to take them seriously. 'Nuff said.
Then it was onwards to Collie, where we were able to buy only the beer as the supermarkets were all shut. Blast. Thankfully the IGA was open at Boyup Brook, which meant the customary slabs of dead cow, pig and sheep, along with a few token veggies, could be obtained. Alas the only bread available was 'fruit & raisin', which made for an interesting taste experience when wrapped around a steak! This culinary marvel actually 'worked' in a weird sort of way (same way how maple syrup works with bacon, I suppose). OK, maybe not.
Camping by the river that night, it got a tad nippy and the temperature dropped to about 2 degrees. Full marks to the campground proprietor, who was happy for us to gather whatever timber we could find lying around. This made a welcome change to other campsites which shall remain nameless (Coalmine Beach, oops) where you cannot gather a twig and even slipping a hammock rope around a tree is forbidden. Thankfully such enviro-goonery has not reached the good people of Boyup Brook!
The next morning we fried up a load of bacon & eggs on the BBQ (above); nothing like a grease and oil change to start the day. All was well except the ZXR, which was a little reluctant to get going...
Then it was on to Bridgetown...
... then Nannup, then around to Shannon (via Stewart Road and Northcliffe), and then down to Walpole and finally Peaceful Bay, where we set up camp for Saturday night.
Again, easy-going proprietors made for good camping. Campfire conversation was the usual robust and deeply intellectual affair. It was also stymied because Warwick and John had taken off in the EF for more supplies and took over an hour to return. Turns out the bottle shop at Bow River was shut, so they'd gone all the way back to Walpole WITH ALL THE MEAT IN THE BACK SEAT. Needless to say the campfire hotplate was red hot and ready to rip by the time they returned. We slapped the lamb chops on and they were literally cooked in 30 seconds flat, wriggling and squirming (we could have sworn we heard them bleat) as they hit the steel. Camping at its best!
Click on the thumbnail (above) for a stitched-together shot of the campsite. As you can see, Watto's lightning-fast esky-entry action is very difficult to capture on film.
Once again Warwick and John impressed us all with their 'ironman swim' in the bay the next morning. Not only was the water cold, but pretty choppy as well; I think even the white-pointers were taking refuge 2 miles inland. Somehow our intrepid chaps cajoled Edan into likewise risking his life in the antarctic waters; at this rate the nutcases will have us all in the water on future trips, curses!
Now it's worth having a bit of a chat here about Trav's bike (see pic below). For starters, what is it? Yes, we can see that it's a Suzuki, but that's about as specific as you can get... I mean, it's got an RGV rear wheel, GSX-R front end, Kawasaki front mudguard, GS1000 donk, and the rest is GSX1100E as far as I can tell. They say that cross-breeding leads to more vigorous offspring. Certainly Trav rode it vigorously, lofting the front wheel occasionally and generally flogging the berries off it. The GS1000 donk responded with loud crackling and pops out of the exhaust, and every now and then a huge cloud of black smoke. Ah, the pedigree of the beast was obvious! We are sure that a numbat** or two, and perhaps the occasional small child, got sucked down those velocity stacks.
The other thing worthy of note about this machine, is that it consumed tons of juice and single-handedly reopened the hole in the ozone layer courtesy of those throaty CR carbies combined with the high gearing which saw the machine doing about 5000rpm at 100kph! This dubious state of affairs meant Trav ran out of fuel between towns more than once so the jerry can came in very handy. Gotta hand it to Trav, though, he didn't seem too fazed and was quite happy to mercilessly flog the old bike.
Sunday morning dawned, we cooked a conscience-salving breakfast of mainly veggie stuff (had to counteract 2 days of meat with something), broke camp and began the trip north back home.
The return trip was, for me at least, along a few roads I'd never travelled before taking us to one town I had seen on signposts everywhere, but never visited: the bustling metropolis of Frankland. I used to theorise that all the men in this town were called Frank. Childish jokes aside, it's a great little town and it's in the middle of a sea of gentle hills that extend for miles. Of course this means excellent motorcycling territory! John had kindly volunteered to give me a break from piloting the EF Falcon, so I hopped on the ZXR750 and reminded myself that in 1990 Kawasaki were way ahead of their time. Up hill and down dale we went. Naturally Trav ran out of juice again about 5kms short of Boyup Brook.
At Boyup Brook I left the lads and took the shortest road back to Perth, while they went on to discover some amazing new road out the back of Waroona somewhere. And that's a good part of what these weekends are about: finding roads we're not that familiar with. Look, the Manjimup-Walpole road will always be a bit of a favourite, but after a while you can get a bit blasé and that can be dangerous thing (especially on the Manjimup-Walpole run, where the giant Karri trees that line the road aren't known for their softness). So at first you might think that the unfamiliar road is the more dangerous gravel, gumnuts, off-camber bends, and other hazards but it does keep you on your toes. Which, when you think about it, is not an unsafe state of affairs.
As usual we finished up wondering why we don't do more of these weekends... so, we will! Rumours are already doing the rounds of another ride in January.
Stay tuned for a cracking start to 2012!
* For those who don't know (and admittedly, that's probably most of the world), 'CHOGM' pronounced 'choggum' stands for 'Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting'. Every once in a while, some vestige of the British Empire gets to run this auspicious event. Her Madge usually attends. Even better, it means we get a long weekend and so plenty of folks jump at the chance to take off elsewhere for a few days. As did we. Being such a great-sounding word, 'choggum' often gets used in other ways, eg. "I was feeling pretty sick, but then I had a good choggum and felt much better!"
**The numbat is a nifty little marsupial that lives in the forests here in the South West. It's still endangered, but making a comeback thanks to a baiting program that's helping keep foxes and feral cats under control. I was fortunate enough to lay eyes on one of these fellas, on the verge of the road as we rode back to Boyup Brook. A plucky little chap, he didn't seem too perturbed by the howling zorsts of the motorcycles.
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