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The Down in Capital Country Ride

Ride Report 19 Nov 2023

WARNING: The following report while a factual account of actual events may contain content that some readers may find offensive, puerile, distressing or just plain stupid. Reader discretion is advised.


I’m headed down to the throbbing centre of Moss Vale, wondering if there will be any takers for this ride, an ambitious ride of some 400km skirting the nations capital, the Down In Capital Country (DICC) ride, but I need not have worried, for this distance is no more than a trip to the shops for the hard men of the Highlands Classic and Enthusiasts Motorcycle Club, and I turn into Leighton Gardens north to see the riders lounging around, relaxed yet somehow still managing to exude a sense of menace that saw the gentle citizens of Moss Vale keeping their distance.

Assembled are Ducati Rob, Ton Up Boy Andrew, Dapper Rod, Pointless Dave and last and definitely least, your humble scribe. Five friends, just like the old television show, or at least the 2023 version (too soon?). They have assembled from far and wide, all over the Highlands and Illawarra, all gathered for a ride, for these are the hardest of the hard DICC riders, and there is not a Laverda in sight.

We discuss the ride and are about to head off when a comely woman accosts Dapper Rod with the pretence of asking directions, he answers her questions and she hesitates, she looks at Rod expectantly, her lips slightly parted, it is clear that she would like Rod to take her on a DICC ride, but he disappoints her, there will be no DICC for her. Instead we strap on our helmets, zip up our jackets and depart.

Leg One: Moss Vale to the GP Memorial

We cruise out of town and down the Highlands Way, we encounter the usual Sunday dawdlers trapped in their mundane tin tops, they take no joy in their drive, instead filling in their empty lives with canned music and electronic climate control, so focused are they on their infotainment screens that their attention wanders as their speed decreases, unlike we riders they just want their journey, if not their joyless lives, to be over, whereas we riders exult in the journey, the destination a means, not an end.

A quick jog onto the freeway at Marulan and then we turn off on the road to Bungonia and the road starts to open up but it is not until we turn onto Mountain Ash Road and it’s open road speed limit that Wolfgang, my BMW R1100RS can stretch his legs and clear his two mighty lungs and start to assert his authority on the road. A set of twisties down to a creek culminates in an impossibly long right hander that has us leaning further and further as we accelerate up the hill till the corner ends in a flip flop to the left and the road opens up into sweeper after sweeper. My mirrors are empty for much of the road till I see a strip of LED lights behind me and on the next long straight Dapper Rod, channelling Bad Influence Dennis, blasts past. I accelerate to chase him and the rest of the road is dispatched in short order.

We pull up at the Grand Prix memorial but there is already a posse of Bad Ass Hardly Driveably riders there, they scowl at our Bavarian Beasts but Dapper Rod soon wins them over, and they are firm friends by the time the others catch up.

Leg Two: GP Memorial to Gunning

After a short rest I am itching to go before we get tangled up with the Bad Asses but they set off moments before us. I am aghast at the prospect of being stuck behind the cruisers but I need not have worried. At the first corner half the Bad Asses miss the turn off and go straight ahead, some riding on unaware, some stopping in the middle of the road, the other half make the turn, again some stopping in the middle of the road in confusion and some pulling over, except the leader of the pack, he continues on oblivious at a steady 77kph, no doubt content in the knowledge that the bikes behind him are his compadres. Due to meticulous planning and a thorough pre ride briefing the Hard Men show no such confusion. On the first straight we blast past the proud outlaw and he seems to have a “Should Have Gone To Specsavers” moment as he realises we are DICC riders not Bad Asses and he pulls over to await his comrades.

The road now being clear we proceed south towards Tarago via the ever entertaining Currawang Road. This road winds it’s away through grazing land, the paddocks starting to brown off but still with standing feed, there is a breeze blowing from the right, and as the morning warms I can smell dry grass, then a whiff of lanolin as we pass a paddock of fine Merino sheep, we crest a hill and I can smell hay from bales stockpiled against the coming dry summer. We pass the Woodlawn mine, now disused, its waste pondage no longer a toxic neon blue but a more natural hue, it's edge ringed by new electricity generating windmills, swapping chemical pollution for green power generation.

At the end of the road we turn west towards Bungendore skirting Lake George, now an oasis of sparkling blue amongst the parched paddocks and turn north across the Federal Highway and immediately off onto a secondary road. No sooner have we settled into the road than we are stuck behind a caravanist baulked by a pair of cyclists. I pull out to pass the miserable caravanist, tooting with my horn so he will not lurch out onto the wrong side of the road as I pass. One of the cyclists turns and scowls at me, I give him a friendly wave as I bear him no malice, after all we are all brothers on two wheels, we share a common nemesis in the car driver and a common love of the single track vehicle, perhaps the biggest difference between us being that at our destination motorcyclists smell of hot oil and exhaust fumes while the cyclists smell of sour sweat and the musty smell of the chronic fungal infection they suffer between their sweaty lycra encased butt cheeks.

With some trepidation I lead the ride onto Gundaroo Road. All day Ducati Rob has been warning us of this stretch of road, he spoke in awe of Ducati Swallowing pot holes, predatory speed cameras, jack booted highway patrolmen who would spirit motorcyclists away into dank dark dungeons to make them squeal like a pig, trolls living under bridges and things that go bump in the night. The road starts poorly with a section of road works that would shame a third world country, homicidal caravanists on the wrong side of the road and small packs of cyclists emitting their own brand of greenhouse gasses. The suspiciously quiet hamlet of Gundaroo is soon in our mirrors and the road improves, and we cruise in bucolic bliss into Gunning.

Leg Three: Gunning to Moss Vale

After a satisfying repast at The Telegraph Hotel where Pointless Dave is served a meal reminiscent of “Man Vs Food” that results in him turning as red and sweaty as a cyclist and blowing his diet into oblivion we waddle outside and set off for the final DICC ride home.

The road from Gunning to Grabben Gullen runs along a ridge line that rises and falls and twists and turns, a true motorcyclists road seemingly set out by a road planner with a sense of fun and adventure alternating short fast straights and challenging bends with sometimes poor sight lines and blind crests, not really a road to be attacked after a heavy meal on a warm afternoon, but rather a road to be savoured and enjoyed. A new wind farm has sprouted along the ridge, I admire these majestic giants and marvel at man’s dominance over the environment but I am also struck by the incongruity of these shiny modern testaments to futurism sprouting up in the back yards of century old farmhouses, I find the shock of the old and the new somewhat unsettling. Riding on I glance in my mirrors and see Dapper Rod on his shiny modern BMW and get the same feeling.

At Grabben Gullen we turn onto Range Road for the final run into Goulburn and the drone down the freeway home. Range road is another challenging road with sharp bends when least expected and often limited sight lines intersperse by fast straights. I pass a farmer minding his own business on a short straight and the rest of the pack, baulked by the farmer, fall behind. I am on a deserted country road on a warm spring afternoon with a faithful bike, the road is rising and falling and the bike and I are working as one, sailing smoothly through the fast sweeping bends, it is almost like flying. Along one straight a falcon swoops down and flies parallel to the road, he glances at me with his bright intelligent eyes and just as I peel off into a bend he peels off after prey and in that moment we look at each other, and we both understand.

Route Map:

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