Ride Report: Black Dog Ride 2012 National Day Ride NSW

Project 2012: Day 122

Buoyed with the promise of potentially breaking a world record (maximum number of black dogs on motorcycles) close on (if not more than) 1,000 motorcyclists converged at various centres around Australia on Sunday; to participate in the 1st ever National Day Ride for the Black Dog Institute.

This is an inaugural event was designed to give more bikers a chance to get involved, hence raise more awareness for this great cause.

Now there’s nothing that I like doing more (we’ll, few things anyway) than riding my bike with friends, and since last year I’ve been involved with the BDR (I joined for the 1st day and night of the “Ride to the Red Centre)

So I invited a bunch of my rider friends to join me on Sunday morning to ride up to Bateau Bay on the Central Coast, and if they wished, to register and join for the BDR too.

Thanks Ray, Ravin, Jon & Jill, previously unaffiliated with the BDR, and Raz who took part in last year’s ride too, for getting up early on a cold Sunday morning and joining in.

The Dilemma

This time of year creates a dilemma for the biker. At least for this biker. Do I wear my waterproof gear (which is also my winter gear) as it has thermal liners? But if I do, and the day turns warm, I’m just going to be riding in my own personal sauna. Even without the thermal liners, nothing generates sweat like waterproofing material.

If I choose my leathers though, and it rains, it will be miserable indeed, as the leather saturates and gets heavy. Not to mention my leathers are all perforated for summer riding.

Then there’s my helmet. The Fly Trekker (dual-sport) helmet fogs terribly in the wet, and now sports a mirrored visor. So if it rains, visibility will get impaired pretty rapidly. On the other hand, my Shark Evoline doesn’t have the helmet cam mounting. And 40% chance of rain on the coast in Sydney surely means a sunny ride?!?!?!!

Choices, choices.

Winston I readies for the 2012 rideIn the end I wore long johns and a rugby jersey under my leathers on the premise the weather would be cold, but sunny. Layers are easy to shed later in the day.

I also wanted to get photos and video of the event, so decided upon the DS helmet.

Wrong choice.

 

 

Arctic

The day started off at a very chilly sub-10oC – close to about 4 I think, albeit spectacularly sunny morning.

Jon and Jill Biddel dropped their girls off at our place just after 7am. Lu had very kindly offered to babysit, so Jill could pillion for the ride. They ride a 20th anniversary Goldwing, lovingly called “The Megatron.”

The Megatron

Then Ray Mera, a colleague from work, arrived on his new Ninja 1000.

Ray Mera proudly sporting his Winston on his Ninja in Bateau Bay

By 7:30 our 3 bikes were headed up Pennant Hills road, in virtually non-existent traffic to meet the rest of our crowd at the Berowra 7-11.

We filled our bikes with a pretty expensive fill. You’d think that 7-11, knowing that they’re a favourite meeting place for bikers on the week-end, would think about specials, loyalty, and marketing to this enthusiastic group of their customers.

You’d think wrong!

Already at the garage, there were about 20 bikes, a number of which were sporting the black dog from last year, Winston I. We met Raz, Ravin rolled in, and we were on our way up the Old Pacific Highway.

Raz Chorev already waiting for us

Ravin Perera rolls into Berowra

Obstacles

The ride up to Bateau Bay was a fun jaunt, despite the cyclists that insist on taking the whole lane, riding outside the line. These just appear halfway around corners, and often congregate in packs of 2 or more creating more than a little excitement, braking, re-aligning, and some not-quite-under-your-breath swearing. Still, I wouldn’t ride that speed down a hill with such thin tyres wearing nothing by lycra for protection Smile

And out he pops

Added to this was the runoff remnant of a weeks of Sydney rain.

I’m still too new on the Duc to confidently trust the traction control, tyres, and suspension. I rather think my fellow riders showed remarkable patience with their ride leader taking quite such a sedate ride.

The Start

I have seen this many bikes together at once, but never been one of the bikers part of the carnival. And carnival it was. Every style of bike (and trike) was represented from retro cafe racers, to gnarly cruisers, to motoGP replica sportsbikes, dual-sports, and a bunch of those new-fangled Spyders.

Bikers bikers everywhere

We registered, and even though I’d pre-registered as a rider “without a Winston” because I had mine from last year, I coughed up another $15 to the cause and bought Winston II.

Winston I on the Pillion, with the all new Winston II taking the tank position

Then, breakfast! The Lion’s Club delivered just about the best Bacon Roll (& I swapped my egg for sausage) I think I’ve devoured. Ever. Then again, being 10am, after a refreshing (bloody freezing) ride and an early start, may have something to do with it. But no, seriously, this was one good roll.

The Weather

So far, so good. It seemed I’d chosen the perfect riding gear for what was proving to be a perfect ride day. Then I felt a drop of water against my cheek.

Then another.

In fact that dark grey cloud looked pregnantly rain bearing, and was upwind. Uh oh.

I do have a set of plastic rain gear to don over my leathers in an emergency, and as I pulled them over my boots, I reckoned this was one of those times.

Nathan Gyaneshwar our organiser got stuck into the welcome and briefing speech, and halfway through the heavens opened. He handed over to our guest speaker (?? sorry, I have no recollection who this was) who said the sensible thing: “Probably best we get things underway. Let’s ride.”

I have to say I felt a little like one of those grasshoppers in “A Bug’s Life.” Hot smile

The Ride

The bikes in two staggered lines headed out the Entrance Leagues Club, pretty much as far as I could see. Which admittedly, between the driving rain, my fogged up, tinted visor, wasn’t really very far at all.

We made a pretty sedate and soggy way up the Entrance Highway over the Entrance itself through to Budgewoi. Then hung a left towards Wyee, re-joined the Old Pacific and cruised out to a stop at Freeman’s Waterhole.

Freeman's Waterhole

Freeman’s proved a welcome break for tired bums, and a quick chinwag about just how wet everyone was. I’m kinda glad I had that emergency wet weather gear (thanks Aldi) and I’d taken time to re-Dubbin my waterproof boots in the morning.

Welcome Break

Then it was back on bikes and out to Turner Park. Again, in the driving rain.

Back on bikes

It’s never too bad a day to have a good ride.

But to be honest I was thinking something along the lines of “40% chance of intermittent showers, with an expected 0.4mm of rain”

The End

Lunch was provided again by the seemingly tireless Lion’s club that have to have the lion’s share of sausages in this country.

There were a few navigational mishaps with the separated groups of riders at the end. It seems Cessnock is a town filled with unsynchronised traffic lights that did a splendid job of separating the riders into a number of groups. So riders (like myself) who had no idea where we were going, nor any navigational aids, but happily following the crowd, suddenly became the leaders of their own portion of the ride.

Some signs may’ve been handy. Perhaps even blocking off the traffic for the 10 mins for the bikes to get through. Just a thought really. To be fair, this wouldn’t have been as much of an issue in the blazing sunlight, but in the driving rain horizons narrow a touch.

Still most groups made it in the end (I think.)

I did meet “Bundy and Tex,” a remarkable couple of characters that have Roads & Traffic Authority exemption concerning animals and motorcycles because of the amount of money they raise for charity. My first impression was “sheesh, he has a really large black dog….”

 

Once we’d had our fill, and established there were no more formal functions. It was to the closest cafe for a hot chocolate, then back onto the bikes to determine the best way home.

 

The Ride Home

 

Mad dogs and bikers

As a group we decided to avoid the coast, and headed towards Broke on what must be the roughest, ill-repaired, roads in the country. Once there, onto Wollombi, and then Calga.

The weather turned dry, if blusterous, and bloody freezing again. Still all wrapped up in plastic over leathers meant I wasn’t uncomfortable.

The Wollombi road is a pretty narrow, unmarked, and bendy ride. Full of fast sweepers, coupled with tight twisties, and a fair share of blind corners. It picks up a fair amount of local traffic that seem to relish testing the limits of their 4WD suspension as they bounce crazily around the corners. So best to be careful.

Ray and Ravin went on ahead on their sportsbikes, whilst Jon & Jill and I took a rather more stately approach. Ok, I’ll admit too enjoying the acceleration on some of the straights.

By Peat’s Ridge my tank was flashing E, and the range indicator was indicating 26km’s left in the tank. As this is the first time I’ve tested this feature in anger, I was a little concerned that I’d be stranded on the side of a country track. Before long, however, we got to the F3, and decided discretion the better part of valour so took the more direct freeway, rather than the old road.

We made it back to Berowra after 320kms (proving the range of the Duc) and filled up. I had just 0.5l left in the 20l tank.

Then a jaunt through Hornsby and back home to my ever long-suffering wife. Lucy took great delight in letting us know that Sydney had been sunny all day. They hadn’t seen a drop of rain.

And that must’ve been true, because Jon & Jill’s girls were in our swimming pool Surprised smile

The Media

I had the helmet cam on photo mode for the morning ride, then on video for part of the ride (until the battery gave out). Much of which is shared in this post, but you can see & download all of the photos both on Facebook and Flickr.

The Lessons

  1. Wear the textile gear for any sort of touring, even a day trip. It may not be as comfortable, or protective as the leather, but sheesh it’s a lot more versatile and handles the change in weather with aplomb.
  2. Long johns were a good idea, as was the emergency rain gear, the top box, and remembering to bring my winter waterproof gloves.
  3. Mount a helmet cam mount on the Shark, and as with the textile gear, ride with this most versatile of helmets on long trips. Added weight notwithstanding.
  4. Plan photos, because when the weather changes, it gets very hard very quickly to get decent shots in.
  5. It’s never too bad a day to have a good ride. In fact, adventure often demands this.
  6. Depression is an illness, not a weakness. Sufferers and their carers need support and care.

Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts and have a chat...