On or Off? Are we going or not? What I’ve learned from organising this ride is that bikers are not as tough as they want us to think they are! Some clouds, some moisture in the air, and they hide under their doona…
Not all of us are like that, though: We found 11 REAL bikers, who will go on a ride no matter what the weather looks like, especially when a ride is to promote a great cause – this time it is Men’s Sheds (You can read all about it in our previous post).
Yes, after a week of wet weather in Sydney we awoke early on a Saturday morning with everything still wet outside: it didn’t look like a perfect day for a ride. Looking at the radar, once we’re over the mountains it should clear up – So off we went…
7:30am start at Picture Me Rollin’, Surry Hills, we became Simon’s [the owner] Guinea Pigs with his coffee making skills – everyone shared their tips on how to make a good coffee. 45 [FORTY FIVE!] minutes later, we were on our way… When we left, there were blue patches between the clouds, and we saw (and felt) the sun – so we twisted the throttle [yeah, right – in the Sydney traffic].
It didn’t take too long for the 9 of us to hit the M4 (after some crawling up Parramatta Rd.) to meet up with Ben and Jason who were waiting for us on the side of the road. We heard that due to some roadwork, we should expect major delays on our way to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, so we decided to take a different route, via the beautiful and twisty Bells Line of Road. This route is a bit longer but should be quicker – It wasn’t. Nearly 3 hours after leaving Sydney, we arrived at Lithgow (140km away). One of the riders didn’t feel so well and pulled over, so he and 2 others stayed with him for a few minutes. We all regrouped in Lithgow for a quick coffee and to warm up!
From Lithgow, the sky cleared, the road dried and on the open road we could finally relax and enjoy the ride [riding in the wet is quite a tense experience – the roads are slippery, concentration is high to stay upright, combined with low visibility, and anticipating other road users’ behaviour, etc.]
The other 118 km, from Lithgow to Mudgee went smoothly, with beautiful countryside scenery, a great looking Lake Windamere in the middle of nowhere, and very few clouds in the sky, made it a very pleasant ride. Plus, it didn’t take too long
We’ve arrived at Mudgee, and had a couple of minutes to get to Budgee Budgee (I swear I didn’t make it up!), to be greeted by Ron Bartlett at the gate.
The Mudgee Men’s Shed is the largest in Australia – 600sqm floorspace, with a full operating kitchen, a lounge room, wheelchair access to toilet and shower. Workshops include carpentry, engine and steel, and even a computer room, complete with internet access and printer.
Unfortunately, although there are many members (as per the name badges on the wall), Ron has told us there are only about 10 devoted members who visit the shed frequently. It is such a shame to see such a great facility being unused – mainly because the locals don’t know about it! The youngest Shed member is approx 50 years old, and we discussed how a facility like this would be of huge benefit to younger men who would be able to make use of the collective experience from the current members. We hope that our ride will attract more people to the Mudgee Men’s Shed (as well as to other Men’s Sheds around the country)
Ron and the guys prepared an awesome spread for lunch, including the traditional sausage sizzle. Munching and chatting away, it was time to head back. Some of the guys took advantage of Mudgee’s famous wineries, cheese and honey farms to stock up, whilst the others decided on the direct route – home!
Riding towards Lithgow we stopped in the town of Lilford to fix my dangling number plate, then had a quick stop in Lithgow servo to fuel up, and cover up. It was time to put the wet weather gear on, put the sunnies away and get ready for a long, slow, slippery ride on the Great Western Hwy. Climbing up the mountains we felt the temperature drop to approx 12C and around Katoomba the fog was so thick we could hardly see the cars ahead. Riding through fog is an interesting experience – the visor get drizzle all over it, combined with the flies we killed on the way up, made visibility non-existent. Open the visor and your nose freezes, your eyes water, but at least you can see ahead.
Luckily, that didn’t take too long, the air cleared and warmed up as we approached the M4, the traffic cleared as well, so once on the freeway, it was smooth riding all the way home.
We can’t wait for the next ride! Are you coming?