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The Mountain and Bathurst

By Wom Battle

An invitation was extended through the local HOG Chapter for people interested in joining a ride to Bathurst organised by Mark from Thomas & Coffey to raise funds for the Children's Medical Research Institute .  The ride had all the elements I like, a decent distance, potentially great scenery depending on the route and a philanthropic element.  I mentioned it to my mate Heffy (formerly known as JP) who was keen to clock some k's up on his shiny new Road King and it was settled, we were going.

An early fuel up (18.18l @ $23.98) saw me ready for a 6.15am start at my place on a slightly chilly but otherwise perfect October morning saw Heffy and I riding alongside the Hunter River towards Hexham on our way to the designated start of the ride at Oporto Cessnock.  There we were met by half a dozen or so bikes of different preference,  a few Harleys, a C109 Boulevarde, a bright green Kwacka 1200, a couple of Triumphs (a sporty and an America) and arriving soon after us a few more including more Harley's and a Triumph Rocket.  Some comments were made about the dominance of Harley representation which was unexpected.

After a short briefing session the route was described, we were heading to the Putty Road with the first planned stop at Colo Heights. Riding in formation seemed the order of the day but I took a position towards the rear of the group just to take some time to suss out whether or not we were riding in formation or chaos. By the time we left Cessnock it had warmed a few degrees and the ride to the Putty Road was extremely pleasant and not chaotic.  We tackled the curves and open sections of the road at a reasonable clip but still respectful of the dangers of that road all of us aware of the recent news of yet another death of a motorcyclist there likely to attract additional attention from the boys in blue.

The coffee at Colo Heights didn't hold any surprises, it was warm but I'm still yet to work out what to ask for to get it close to palatable. After some leakage and assessment/discussion about other bikes in the group we left Colo Heights, cups half full, to the next stop at Richmond where we were to meet up with members from other Thomas and Coffey offices.  The ride down to Colo, crossing the river and back up into the hills is a very scenic part of the trip but we soon found ourselves in Windsor and heading towards Richmond in traffic.

Arriving in Richmond, another quick fuel up (13.83l @ $18.50) and to the nearby Macas to meet the other riders, enjoy another caffeine shot and a lazy cheese burger to fill the gap between an early breakfast and a late lunch. We met with another dozen or so riders and after a meet and greet the Bells Line of Road was the target ending that leg with lunch at the Lithgow Workies.  There was a bit of traffic on the Bells Line of Road closer to Richmond that split the group somewhat  (including a notable maniac with a car trailer and no sense of "size") but after a while the road and throttles opened up a little as we rode past the apple orchards and roadside stalls that predominate there. It's the first time I've been on that road since I was a kid and my parents used to drive back from the mountains that way to pick up a box of apples or two.

Arriving in Lithgow saw us join the front running group who had waited and a short while later we were line up in the Workies carpark for a quick photo opportunity followed by lunch.  Many of the group opted for the bistro, Heffy and I who have the same preference for light meals while riding ordered the foccacia, and it seems a lucky choice because we later heard the steak at the bistro described as "boiled". A little over an hour later we were heading towards Bathurst, the nice surprise was we were going the fun way, via Oberon rather than the quicker highway route.  It's always fun heading up a road where the GPS is insistent that you do a U-Turn to reach the next location.

The scenery on that part of the trip was amazing, green fields, hills and valleys stretching towards the unique blue mountain cliffs topped with trees.  The riding was great too, reasonable roads, lots of hills, lots of bends and the group were travelling at an enjoyable pace, the quickest of the trip.  Regrouping in Bathurst on the turn to the renowned Mount Panorama race track, which is a public road when the races aren't on.

The V8 Supercars had been there the weekend before for the Bathurst 1000 so the track and surrounds were looking their best and the concrete walls were displaying bright new paint with evidence of recent contact.  I've been around this track before, it's scary in parts at 60k's and it never fails to impress.  And there's always one or two dough whackers who think that just because it is a two directional public road that it's cool to drive around it the wrong way.  Fortunately none of them were in our group. 

We did a few quiet laps, took lots of photos, regrouped then after refuelling (11.52L @ $15.33) went to our digs for the night, the Park Hotel.  I don't usually like pub style accommodation, but this was a pretty good choice.  Lock up garages for the bikes, clean rooms with their own bathrooms, reasonably priced grog and a crazy (in a nice way) barmaid who could slash a hole in the side of a bull elephant with her ascerbic wit, and if she didn't feel funny at a particular moment she'd just call you "dipshit" wouldn't she Heffy.

Settled into the room, with everything to be recharged plugged in, we headed to the bar for a few pre-dinner drinks.  The general consensus for dinner for the group was pizza and beer.  Fortunately Heffy agreed that it was our turn for steak and on the barmaid's recommendation we headed next store to the Waratah's. The food was great, steaks perfect, good price, next time I'm in Bathurst I'll be going there again.

After dinner we returned to the Park Hotel and ejoyed a few quiet ones with the Thomas & Coffey guys, generally reviewing the ride, the laps of Mt Panorama.  There was a raffle and when it was due to be drawn I joked with one of the participants who witnessed my son draw my winning ticket at Wee Waa a few weeks ago.  Luck was with us again.  Heffy won the first prize, some Harley beer glasses that the publican kindly filled, some Harley coasters and a Harley ice Bucket.  I won the second prize, a nice bottle of Hanwood Port.

A great day's ride, a great bunch of blokes, good food and a few quiet gins. Niiiiice!




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May 2023