This post edited and photos updated 2019.
Easter was a 5 day weekend due to ANZAC day falling at the same time. I literally made my mind to go riding the day before and packed up the bike on Thursday evening and booked a room at the Top Pub Uralla as my first night. Next morning heavy fog made it slow going down to Lismore area,
Usual route via Woodburn and south on the Pacific highway to Maclean. I was in my winter gear so was feeling a bit warm waiting for the ferry to Lawrence.
Riding over Nymboida range this time was pleasant, previous I have experienced a hail storm and 44 degree heat wave there.
Then on to Uralla and checked in at the Top Pub. Hard to find much in the way of value these days however this is the separate wing of the pub at the rear with ensuite rooms for $35 a single a night, not flash but clean with tea/coffee etc tv and a comfy bed that’s value. Had a decent meal there too next to the fire place.
I had left home with a brand new iridium visor fitted from ebay and I know to wash these by hand which I had done during the day however this thing was junk, the coating was starting to scratch and go cloudy with just a couple of gentle cleans. I Googled the 3 bike shops in the nearest major town of Tamworth and next morning headed straight there in the very brisk morning air.
As luck would have it two shops closed for Easter and the other could not help. Looking at the visor over a coffee I could see the coating was so fragile that any touching would make things worse rapidly and it was another 4 riding days before shops would be reopening but in countryside chances are slim I would find anything anyway. I tried to get a visor for a KBC helmet many years ago on a tour and road into every bike shop from the Snowy Mtns back to here without luck.
Nothing I an do except cancel and stay in the New England tablelands then return home. This is my third attempt to ride the roads like Bylong valley that has been foiled so I was feeling a bit down but not meant to happen.
I rode from Tamworth to the Thunderbolts via Port Stevens Range which was a fantastic ride. The route starts at Nemingha east of Tamworth and joins the Thunderbolts way after the boring initial bit out of Walcha not far from Nowendoc.
After this is my favorite part of the Thunderbolts way. You plunge down from the pine tree forest in a series of sublime curves where you experience the defy gravity feeling for an extra long time in each radius.
This brings to mind something that I was pondering on this ride. Why try and get through every corner quickly? Seriously, isn’t the defy gravity feeling in the corner we riders enjoy so much?
A sea of tents and camper vans were lined up in the camping areas. Funny how people load up a tonne of gear and drive a hundred miles to get away from it all and then set up camp a few feet away from dozens of other campers all busy staking out their claim…
Buckets way starts well enough but it really gets into a bad state by the time you get closer to Taree.
I road via Lansdowne before a blip up the highway and had mapped out a route from Kew to Lorne and over to the Oxley. The friendly folk at the Kew servo told me there was a lot of dirt which I had not seen on Google maps so I rode on and the Bago road to Wauhope is not that far further down the highway, the other route looked like it had some great curves in places so one day I might try it anyway.
The Oxley highway, what more can I say to previous. Each time I ride this road it gets better, I particularly like from Gingers crk west to the end of the forest where the road serves up a series of near perfect sweeping corners which would be some of the best riding I have experienced anywhere.
I was the last rider to leave Gingers after a late coffee and cake and punting along in the forest I was thinking gee that light is fading fast better get moving or the wildlife will soon come out and then I saw a wallaby on the side of the road ahead and realised I was already out too late.
So what to do, go faster to get off the roads sooner but if something comes out then your speed is high or go slow but then be on the roads later as more wildlife comes out – both are a negative I guess. Leaving the forest at the start of the 110 k/ph posted open part of the Oxley the sun was shining again so I decided to try cover the non forest and mostly fenced road into Walcha quickly.
This was working fine until about 35km out when I hit reserve. Seems the CB likes a drink at higher speeds. I did a quick splash and dash with fuel at Walcha and road straight on to Uralla where I had secured the last room in the town earlier in the day.
The next day the zipper on my Alpinestars WP10 jacket broke and that kind of killed any ideas I had of another loop ride today.
I eventually patched things and only option was to wander back towards home. I took my time and explored a few historic towns along the way and despite once again something stopping me from going further I had a real good time.