Surprise, surprise, however – when I peeped out of the window at 7am there was blue sky and sunshine and the forecast had miraculously moderated from torrential rain, floods, death and destruction to mere possible showers. As ride leader this, of course, left me with no option but to get up and get out to Nicholls before anyone else got there.
I almost made it. Mick was there when I arrived and for a while it looked like everyone else had succumbed to the weather forecast and it might just be the two of us riding to Grenfell. Mick hadn’t even brought Kipper because the poor bugger had injured his leg. “He might have done his last ride,” Mick sighed.
By the appointed time, however, we numbered six hardy souls and after a very brief briefing (“Does everyone know the way to Boorowa? See you there.”) we hit the highway.
As we ate our pies and sausage rolls and sipped our flat whites in the Superb Café (superb by name but not by nature; in fact, my pepper pie was quite unsuperb), Vidas told us about his parents, who were displaced persons from Lithuania after World War 2 and were allowed into Australia only because they were good looking. Or something like that.
Meanwhile, the sky had clouded over and the temperature had refused to rise to the lofty heights that one might hope for in spring. As we headed for Murringo there was water everywhere and the paddocks looked more like the green fields of Ireland than the straw coloured Australia we all know and love.
Rather than turning left at Murringo we continued straight ahead and rode north on Murringo Gap Road, which follows Murringo Creek down a broad farming valley and then through a narrow gorge – the Gap itself. As we wound down through the Gap it was obvious that this natural constriction had banked up the flood waters a few days earlier, leaving debris and silt several metres above the present level of the creek (which was still running fairly high). It would have been a spectacular sight.
After ducking down Chews Lane and a brief excursion on the Olympic Highway, we exited left into Bendick Murrell to find the bridge leading into the tiny town sporting yet more flood debris. All day we had traversed sections of road that were waterlogged and full of holes, mud and loose gravel, and coming out of Bendick Murrell there was one water-filled pothole that almost swallowed the car in front of me, launching a minor tsunami that gave the Wing an express wash.
By the time we stopped for a photo at the top of the hill between Wirrimah and Iandra Castle the clouds were darker than ever and we could see showers building here and there. As we rode down the other side it was clearly raining towards Grenfell so, after a hastily convened conference and a democratic vote and despite the protestations of Vidas, who has never been to Grenfell and still doesn’t know what he’s been missing, we turned left and headed south to Young for lunch at Wilder’s Bakery. On this section we also worked out that in a small group of six riders, all of similar ability and with no stragglers, corner markers were a pointless pain in the posterior.
It rained a bit during lunch, while we were warm and dry and eating eggs, bacon and burgers, but we were lucky for the rest of the ride, dodging between rain showers and arriving back in Canberra at the civilised time of around 2:30pm after a pleasant 360 km jaunt.
|(From left) Neil, Mick, Gary, John and Vidas.|
The Riders were:
- Ian Paterson GL1800
- Mick Beltrame Victory XC
- Vidas Sadauskas Harley Street Glide
- Neil McRitchie GTR1400
- John Barratt R1200GS
- Gary Thomas R1200R