Riverina off-road adventure riders (ROAR)
Thirty-nine years ago, someone came up with the idea of staging a folk music festival at Numeralla, a small village about 20km east of Cooma.
‘Donks’, a local, invited the Riverina ff-road Adventure Riders (the ‘ROAR Ladies’) to go to the festival in 2012 and we paid a return visit last Australia Day weekend.
“The festival wasn’t really our prime motivation – we just like riding bikes on back-roads, fire trails, sometimes even some single track – maybe not with my sidecar though! Donks knows lots of routes we could follow and indulge our ‘adventure riding’ desires. At the same time, we got to put money into a little community that invests in itself and there were some beers thrown in for good measure.
ROAR enjoys getting out in support of small communities. We’ve put together a ride for Marysville in Victoria following the fires; we did a trial run for the Postie Bike Challenge run by Philth and the late but not-easily-forgotten Tugboat Bill; we’ve done a bit for Pezz’ Scrapheap Challenge for NSW Downs Syndrome and Bronx’s ‘Motorcycling Against Cancer’ relay, supporting the Cancer Council. Often it’s a case of just turning up to something someone else kicked off or coaxing other ‘Adventure Rider’ forum members to join in. It’s all part of trying to have an adventurous life because if you don’t
do it now, well, you could be dead tomorrow. True.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Dobbo (Suzuki DR650) and I (Triumph Tiger 900 with LH sidecar) left Wagga 30 minutes behind schedule after Dobbo failed to locate a hat for his fat, bald head. A short text message gave Keith a reference time, allowing him to leave Albury and meet us at Jingellic. His DR stayed in the shed, in favour of a recently purchased Yamaha TDM900. He reckoned he needed to put some miles on it, learn how it goes around corners and get to know his new tyres. Any excuse for a 600km day ride.
‘Uncle Gra’, meanwhile, took the 625 time-bomb on its final trip before a planned total re-build and its next 74,000km of off-road touring. Maybe KTM should be sponsoring him? He was supposed to meet Pete (on yet another DR650) somewhere around Benambra, in north-eastern Victoria, but Pete’s path had been interrupted by bush fires, which had led to some road closures. Perhaps it’s the way of things but our trip, by chance, coincided with huge storms along the ranges that did much to help the rural firefighters. Somewhere, someone must have washed his car…
Down to the Hume at Little Billabong, our route allowed us to use the highway for all of about 500m. None of our group is terribly happy on straight, boring roads, let alone major highways.
Picking up with Keith, there were quite a few bikes around Jingellic. Someone had floated the idea of resurrecting the Pubman Rally and WIMA was involved in another event in the area.
Keith crossed the bridge to follow the Murray River Road through Walwa. Dobbo and I hit the dust on the NSW side, along the River Road, our progress being slowed by a couple of cockies on quads. Jindabyne was the target for lunch and our first refuel and, despite the much reduced speed limits and threats of double demerit points, we found a ‘Goldilocks’ rhythm.
Our refuel in Jindabyne explained why we’d seen so much American iron in the area. There was a longweekend H-D and Indian gathering at the nearby Station Resort.
MUSIC AND MAYHEM
We got back into the bush but the week before the tracks through Kybeyan had been closed by a major fire that had threatened homes and villages. With the exception of a couple of National Parks and Rural Fire Service cars, little remained to indicate the enormous amount of work that had been done. On the upside, the work meant freshly graded roads and fire trails winding left and right, up and down. When visibility allowed, I started playing with a bit of throttle and brake steering on the sidecar. It’s heaps of fun controlling a vehicle with two tracks, three axles, three separate
brakes and one driven wheel. Then you add in the asymmetric weight distribution plus the ability to move left and right to alter all of that and you can get a real work out. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
We pulled into Numeralla, setting up camp at the tennis club about five minutes before Donks appeared and about half an hour before Gra and Pete arrived, via Carlaminda. Donks even had half-a-dozen cold ones to clear our throats. The next order of business was more beers! The festival organisers don’t charge exorbitant prices. Maybe they’ve worked out that if they don’t try to gouge, people won’t mind spending. Mandatory solving of all the world’s problems continued for a few hours amidst the music, laughter and slanderous allegations levelled at eachother’s expense.
Egg-and-bacon rolls, cooked up by morning, ready to follow Donks around some fire trails. Gra was reluctant to ride the KTM, just in case, so he became Tiger ballast. He’s been nibbling on the bait of a sidecar for a while so it was time to let him take a bite. The group of five headed north, winding up on the Inaloy fire trail. Not too certain of how far the sidecar could successfully be taken, Donks was on ‘easy’ tracks.
We twisted and turned along Chakola Fire Trail, visited a disused gold mine, eventually coming out on Jerangle Road near Bredbo. Gra now had plenty of time to steer Good Ship Tiger Trek. I don’t know that he actually enjoyed the experience. He certainly gave the sidecar tyre a hard time running off the edge of the road any time we turned left.
Pete’s friends had arrived at the festival during the afternoon, setting up while we played in the bush. Derek’s Chang Jiang sidecar suspension needed some attention on Sunday morning to help him get home. The torsion bar had failed and the rubber travel stopper had died. Off to ‘Donks Industrial’ for some repairs with a 12/12 warranty – 12 seconds/12cm.The repair worked: Derek managed to get his wife, his outfit and himself back to Melbourne without further drama. Just as the repair was being finalised, the remaining troupe of Melbournites arrived, packed and ready to turn south, discussing
their various planned routes and stopovers. Then they were gone, the valley echoing to the sounds of DRs, BMWs and Bandits.
THE LONG WAY HOME
Come Monday morning, Gra went south, on his lonesome via the Barry Way. Donks retired to his shed to rest his knee and prepare for a ride to Sydney. Dobbo and I rode into Cooma for fuel and breakfast at the Cooma Café. Some discussion ensued about our route but I won with the argument that Dobbo would really enjoy Tinderry Road and then Angle Crossing.
We became separated by the rain and floods but shouted across a river that we’d meet at Tharwa where I was accosted by a bloke I’d never met named Ed.
He’d been reading my internet story about how my sidecar was built and we’d conversed via email. He is a T300 Triumph man but he’s only got three (so far). What was supposed to be a quick fuel stop turned into nearly an hour chatting about this and that. I reckon I was lucky to get away with my custom airbox still attached to the carbs.
We must have been kissed on the bum by an angel to actually get home in one piece (more or less). Gra did manage to coax his 625 home but its head was making a terrible racket. The planned full rebuild came in the nick of time. A valve train nut had come adrift but was just resting between the springs so, miraculously, no damage was done.
If you live anywhere near the Riverina and think you might enjoy our type of touring, you’ll find ROAR in the Australian subforum of ‘Adventure Rider’ (advrider.com/forums/). Don’t be shy. Your presence will probably raise the club’s average IQ…