A crisp day with perfect riding conditions saw Mick Hedger, Matthew Gale and myself depart Kalkallo at 07.30 on Friday November 1st en route for a rendezvous in Yea at 08.30 with Sam Bateman and late entrant Jeff Thorne. Jeff had already registered for The Snowy Ride and booked accommodation when he saw the notice on the website and asked to join us for the ride up.
We reached Yea on time and took off for Mansfield and Whitfield, pausing near the top for some spectacular photos courtesy of official photographer Sam,
before our first break at the Whitfield Café. This proved heavily populated with a group of BMW off roaders and an enthusiastic bunch of locals who were lying in wait to sell tickets in the Wangaratta Community Raffle (1st prize a 2L Ford Focus, to be drawn Dec 8th).
From there Sam had plotted a route via Myrtleford to Happy Valley Road and over the pass to join the Kiewa Valley Hwy, before taking off over Keegan’s Bridge to join the Gundowring Rd north to the Omeo Hwy. As promised it proved to be “only a farm road” and afforded the opportunity to blow the cobwebs out of the motor.
A number of turns to reach the Murray Valley Hwy foxed Jeff who hared off in the direction of Yackandandah trying to catch up with the pack, but fortunately he realised after a while that he was on his own and turned around to join us for lunch in Tallangatta. From there a long ride to Corryong and Khancoban brought us to the heavily patrolled Alpine Way and ultimately Thredbo Village around 17.30.
We were fortunate to have secured a Riverside Cabin at a special rate for The Snowy Ride which gave us 3 nights for $100 per head. It proved comfortable and well enough equipped to enable us to cook up a meal on the Saturday night.
The main Ride was on Saturday and we took off for Charlotte Pass in the morning after buying more raffle tickets (1st prize a Fireblade to be drawn Nov 17th). It was fresh up there with snow on the ground in places affording more photo opportunities, but a bacon and egg roll and coffee made it all good.
After that Mick and Matthew went shopping in Jindabyne for a meat biased home cooked meal, while Sam and I headed back to Thredbo for a test ride on a CBR 500 R. These bikes have had excellent reviews and had Sam reminiscing about Black Bombers, but none of the cool dudes running the Honda test rides seemed to have heard of them. I found the bike excessively refined, a bit like riding a sewing machine, and in light of the reviews I had read was seriously underwhelmed. It did however drive home the truth of the adage about horses for courses, and of the importance of making one’s own assessment.( Sam says of course it would be compared to Roger's Guzzi!)
Jeff joined us for dinner on Saturday night but had to head back to Melbourne for family commitments on Sunday. The rest of us took The Barry Way to Dalgety where Sam was disappointed to hear that the pub no longer promoted a dangerous sounding game involving belting nails into a log, but reminisced with the publican about the night a local relieved him and his mates of a small fortune at darts.
Then via the back roads of the Monaro to Cooma for lunch in an alternative café (I’d give the lentil burger a miss next time!). Then on to Eucumbene Dam where other extreme winds encouraged us to take the low road behind the dam wall for the return.
Some exceedingly fast roads led back to the Jindabyne Rd and we found ourselves further encouraged by a sudden drop in temperature and threatening clouds on the horizon, although fortunately a few spatters of rain was all we sustained before the clouds sailed over on gale force winds.
Monday morning saw us on the road at 06.50 with the temperature falling to minus 3 and a few flakes of snow on the way down to Tom Groggin.
We took the Murray River Road via Walwa back to Lake Hume which had Mick reminiscing about the old race track behind the dam wall. After a very long ride we stopped for a welcome lunch in Yackandandah, actually breakfast because we arrived a few minutes before the appointed time for the lunch menu!
We all rode on to Oxley
where the others headed off to Whitfield for the return trip, while I elected the more direct Hume route. Talk about boring! I’ll take the long road next time.
The weekend was a great success with the opportunity to ride some “made for bikes” roads in convivial company, and we were extremely fortunate to be blessed with good weather throughout.
Any takers for next year?