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The Awesome Ride to the South East...

Ride Report 17 Dec 2023


A longer ride has been planned for today, a ride to Araluen via Nerriga and home, a ride of some 400km including a portion of rough, slippery, deadly gravel, a ride to scare off Laverdas, a ride to bring out the hard men of the Highlands Classic and Enthusiasts Motorcycle Club, an Awesome Ride to the South East (A.R.S.E.)

Assembled at the clock in Moss Vale as I arrive are Dapper Rod, Ton Up Andrew, Mickie D, Bad Influence Dennis, and Paul “The Rock” Roodneys, a fine collection of riders with a fine collection of bikes, I am humbled to be in their company. An advance party led by Pipes Diaz has already set off on a reconnaissance A.R.S.E.  ride, but we are unlikely to see them again today.

The ride begins with the usual commute down Highlands Way till Wingello when Bad Influence Dennis starts to push, we up the pace and soon leave the pack behind, I give Wolfgang, my trusty BMW, his head and he flies up a long hill, the pistons in his flat twin motor thrashing back and forth faster than a boxer on a speed bag, we go faster, faster till like Hunter S Thompson the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death, surely Dennis has been left behind? I look in my mirrors and Dennis is right on my back wheel, one hand on the bars while he nonchalantly studies the stitching on his left glove and stifles a yawn.

We hit the freeway for a little while and turn off towards Nerriga, we ride through Bungonia and into Windellema and stop at the road to Tarago. This is crunch time, do we take the shorter easier tarred route or do we embrace adventure and take the gravel road? We mill around in a morass of indecision, sensible voices pointing out the utility of a shorter sealed route, others pointing out the fun of the road less travelled, and none wanting to be the first to admit that they don’t like dirt roads. Finally “The Rock” has had enough, leaps upon his Hardly Driveably and tells us to sort it out but he is going the dirt road and has to leave because he’s slow. He starts the bike with a rumble like a giant clearing it’s throat and then flies off like that same giant spitting a ball of phlegm up the road. “The Rock”  rides like a man possessed, he makes some inspired overtaking moves and soon has left us struggling to keep up.

At Nerriga we catch up and turn towards Braidwood, a little way up the road I see a blinding light coming towards me, a light that sears the retina and threatens to melt the very substance of the road. I am certain it’s an alien spacecraft and clench my buttocks in preparation for abduction and the inevitable probing that that entails. But no! It’s a friendly tourer on a Goldwing, using his mighty alternator to power enough lights to light up the Opera House. He gives us a cheery wave as he passes and I relax.

We finally come to the dirt road and find five kilometre of well maintained smooth gravel road, it would be an anticlimax but for the road on the other side, kilometre after kilometre of smooth, wide fast open sweepers sealed using a federal grant. Bad Influence Dennis and Dapper Rod come up behind me and together we sack the road like barbarians of old, we take what we want and leave only noise and desolation behind us.

A quick refuel at Braidwood and we enjoy the tight windy road down into Araluen, a town named for the Aboriginal word for “Place of piles of crap in the front yard”. We pull up at the Araluen Hotel to find Multistrada Richard already there, having come up from the coast. We enjoy lunch and good company, as we wind up “The Rock” announces that he is taking off a little early because he’s slow, he revs up, dumps the clutch and leaves in a fury of smoke and noise as he simultaneously spins the back wheel and lofts the front. It is the last we will see of him that day.

The road out of Araluen is tight and twisty and uphill, Multistrada Richard and Bad Influence Dennis are pushing Wolfgang and I up the hill. We take a tight left hander and hit a dip mid corner, Wolfgang is already heeled over and in a most unteutonic manner scrapes his exhaust on the road and runs wide, and together we just make the transition into the next right hander, the rest of the hill is taken similarly and Braidwood soon rolls under our wheels.

From Braidwood we take the King’s Highway to Braidwood Road towards Goulburn. I am riding mid pack with Dapper Rod just behind me. We ride through a pastoral paradise, flocks of sheep to our left, herds of cattle to our right, crops of yellow canola here and there. In one paddock an ancient Angus bull stands by himself, his coat is rough and faded by age, he moves on arthritic legs,  he seems to know his salad days of chasing heifers are long gone, but the grazier, no doubt out of loyalty and sentimentality, keeps the old beast around despite his decrepitude. I admire the grazier and check my mirrors to make sure Rod is still behind me.

At Goulburn we turn onto the freeway and the last leg home, tired, a little sore from the A.R.S.E. ride but satisfied and happy, it will be the last big ride of the year, but next year promises many more rides by the Hard Men.

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