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The Four Seasons

By Wom Battle

OK, Vivaldi's famous violin concertos are probably not what you'd expect to see mentioned here, but they certainly sprang to mind during the 450k's we rode today on our way between Port Macquarie and home via Wauchope, Walcha and Gloucester.

Thunderbolts Way revisited saw Roy P, my son and I leave Port a little later than we'd planned (10.30ish after fuelling with 13.05l @ $22.99) in beautiful sunshine, t-shirt and jacket weather.  Despite being the beginning of winter, the day definitely had a summery feel.  We struck out west with a touch of north riding through Long Flat and enjoying the warm-up bends that meander towards the Great Dividing Range.  At the foot of the Range we stopped at the "Heaven on a Sign" signalling 45k's of winding road for a photo opportunity. Looking forward I saw that we were heading into Autumn and slipped a long sleeve jacket under the leather to soak up the chill.

As we climbed into the mountains Autumn fell albeit largely unnoticed due to the physicality of punching around tight bends with my son on the back.  The road surface had deteriorated quite noticeably since my last trip here as a result of some recent extremely heavy rain making some of the areas quite tricky.  Once again the young man proved his more than capable pillion skills and with the tighter 30k's or so behind us he decided to take some video on the move.

The ascension over saw the road open up to provide us with large sweeping bends on the tablelands heading towards Walcha and Autumn turned into early Winter as the sky darkened and the wind started blowing.  About 35k's out of Walcha the chill got too much for Roy and we pulled over to rug up some more before riding into Walcha where we stopped for hot food at a cafe I knew sported a wood heater and good hot coffee. Refuel 11.44l @ $16.81.

While we were there the wind lifted and the sky darkened more. Brief mention was made of wet weather gear for additional warmth but that was dismissed with insufficient regard.  The height of winter hit us about 25k's out of Walcha, strong winds, black cloud and yes.... rain.  Fortunately not the deluges that ravaged the mid north over the past month but enough to force us to slip the wet weather gear on and anything else warm we had to hand before continuing on.  This part of the ride is actually lots of fun, long sweeping 85k corners up and down hills and a good road surface, so even with a bit of water about you could still stick to the speed limit and enjoy it while shivering.

As luck would have it, the wet roads told of heavier rain falling, but not on us and by the time we emerged at the lookout near the highest point of the trip about 55k's out of Gloucester we were in sunshine.  Looking out north and west the heavier showers that missed us were evident on the peaks but heading the other way. The ride then took us down some steep winding sections off the back of the ranges and then through some lovely valleys and river crossings that, like last time, I wish I had time to stop and photograph.  As we descended in sunshine from the west we started to warm up. A sense of Spring but fleeting only, darkness was coming our way.

We would normally have stopped in Gloucester but the time of the day made it sensible to keep going.  By Stroud the sun was gone, the wind had dropped and 16 degrees felt warm after the intense cold of the mountains.  We we happy to be riding.  My fuel warning light turned on as we met the Pacific Highway but I knew I didn't need to fill up to get home.  It didn't get cooler as we approached the coast, the traffic was light despite it being the end of a long weekend.

We arrived home about 6pm, only four hours or so after my wife and two daughters.  They left Port Macquarie at the same time but took the sensible way in boring weather!

It was Roy's longest day in the saddle to date, I'll be interested to catch up with him soon and see what he thought of the day.  My son and I stepped off the Road King at home and gave the day a huge high five. Four and a half hundred kilometres, four seasons.. just for the fun of it.

See the Ride Map for the whole weekend.

K's travelled: 450
Fuel: $39.80 (24.49l)


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December 2023