Thursday, 6 September 2012

A Day In The Wine Country

Well I've been a bit slack in posting lately so I thought I'd better get cracking and record for posterity the day we spent in the wine country, and also the first test run for our new presents.

New presents first .. cause I just cant contain my excitement bout them! I got boots, Alpinestars Stella Torre, that fit and feel comfy!!! I know tis amazing isn't it, after all this time of buying boots and shoes galore I've finally found some I like. Sure I had to spend a bit more to get the fit, and I did have to travel a fair distance to find a shop .. bout 900km from home. But I did it and I love them so far.

Here they are, pretty aren't they!!
When I first got them I wore them around the house for a couple of nights, they felt tight across the top of the foot and I was a touch worried about that, but other than that they were the best fit I've had so far in a riding boot. They are supposed to be waterproof but I haven't had a chance to test that, and knowing how I hate being on a wet road that test wont happen unless it's by accident, but it's nice to think that if I do get caught in the rain I shouldn't have wet feet.

The boots on the bike ... great!! OK so far I've had cheap riding shoes and boots and so I really have nothing much to compare it too, but I am now wondering why I put off getting a good pair of boots for so long. They are so much more comfortable on the bike, the tightness across the top of the foot eases as soon as I put my foot on the peg. Just goes to show they are made for riding, not walking. They were warm enough for the first half of the ride, and even when we got caught after dark and the rest of me was in danger of falling apart from the shivering, my feet weren't too cold, not toasty but not cold. I am wondering how that will transfer for comfort in summer, there doesn't appear to be any kind of vents in them anywhere. I'll soon find out, spring is here and the days are getting warmer, even if the nights aren't.

The other present we bought while in Melbourne was a helmet for Terry, I have to tell about it here cause he's never gonna tell, I think I was more excited about it than him anyway.

It's not black, I think this is a first for Terry.
It's an Arai, don't ask me too much about it cause to tell the truth I was busy drooling over boots while Terry was choosing this. And I was surprised that he came back with a silver helmet, black or black tends to be his favoured colour with bike gear for some reason. This is the superseded model apparently, so it was on special. It's a much more comfy helmet for Terry, and weighs so much less than his old full face. The Sena fitted on it in seconds, (the old full face he had, we had to slice some of the lining to get the Sena on securely) The only difference we could see between this one and the new model is that the jaw bit seems to be roomier in the new one, this doesn't seem to bother Terry for comfort, but he is having trouble doing up the chin strap cause he cant get his big man fingers in there. Even with my little fingers I found it a bit of a fumble when I had a go. All and all I think he liked it on the trip last weekend, he doesn't have a tinted visor yet but it didn't bother him that trip as we didn't ride into the sun at any stage.

OK so the ride .... We went to Mudgee. Click here for a map. Mudgee is a lovely little town with about a million wineries and vineyards that I've only really driven through in the past. It's on the way to Sydney if you want to take that route, and we have a couple of times just for a change, but the couple of times we've stopped for coffee breaks everything is closed or closing. I had decided that it was just a typical country town and not worth going to for a special trip. So the other week I used my usual method for working out where to go that weekend for a ride. I asked at work. It just so happened that one of the donors who was there at the time lives in Mudgee so I asked him if there was somewhere he'd recommend there for lunch, that stays open late enough for us to get there and have lunch on the weekend. He said yep and recommended the Blue Wren Winery.

Terry and I sat down to work out the route we would take after talking about it for a while and me not having any idea where he was talking about. I said I didn't want to take the highway between Dubbo and Wellington again, every ride we do seems to start out with that stretch of road and I was getting sick of it, so we decided to take the Golden highway instead and turn off onto the Gollen Rd then head to Mudgee that way. UGH that road is the pits!!! No really, I've travelled that road before, way back before Terry got his bike and he was trailing behind me in the car, we had been on a trip to Gulgong, and I didn't remember it being that bad. I think that all my concentration was being taken up on that ride with just staying upright as it was when I was really new to riding, now I can use a bit of that concentration on just enjoying the ride, it wasn't enjoyable on that road. Oh well at least we now know.

We made it to Mudgee in plenty of time even though we'd taken the Gollen/Goolma Rd more slowly, and that was lucky too cause we got lost in Mudgee. We ended up in some suburban street that was just one big curve and I reckon if I lived in Mudgee I'd use any excuse to go on that road, it was fun. I did have to do a U-Turn to get out of it and head in the right direction, but even that wasn't too bad, I really am starting to finally feel better about U-Turns, not confident as such, but better than the stomach churning dread I used to feel.

We eventually found the right road and soon found the driveway for the winery, I turned in with Terry behind me (really he should lead, it would solve all the getting lost and maybe the thing that happened next wouldn't have happened). The driveway was bitumen, yay I was expecting it to be dirt like most of them are round here. It would have been OK, I'm feeling more comfortable on dirt now too, but the car park was actually all these very pretty white stones. Like river stones, that just had to roll and move like crazy as soon as I got onto them! Argh ... I spotted a parking spot and headed straight for it, I was half way into it when I realised there was no way the stand was going to work on these things!! I stopped and asked Terry 'What the hell do I do now?' He had seen that over the other side of the car park there was a grassy verge that we could park on and headed over there while I sat on Roxy and waited. I tried to back her up but my feel just dug into the pebbles and kinda rolled away from me and Roxy sat where she was rocking slightly. I cant move!!! It's alright, I knew my knight in shining bike leathers would come to my rescue. I waited patiently then when he came back to me wondered how he was going to replace me on the bike. Very gingerly he held the bike while I got off then I held steady for him to get on, it actually worked quite well. His bigger man feet got a better purchase on that rolling white field of pebbles and he easily moved Roxy back out of the park and took her round to the nice comfy grass to finally rest. Well that was fun.

The car park I nearly spent the rest of the day sitting on Roxy in.
We headed into the big tin shed to look for food.

The view around us was pretty spectacular, lots of grape vines with a backdrop of the surrounding hills and mountains.

Terry found a pretty spot to park the bikes.

It was a fairly basic set up inside, a long bar and a big open space with a few scattered tables.

The decorating consisted of a general theme of tin shed and rotten big wine casks, it worked. It was cold by the time we got there and although Terry had ordered a table outside when he had called the earlier that day we ended up opting for the inside table next to the wood fire. I'm sorry no food photos, I always forget until the plate is clean. It was great food though, lots of homemade stuff and the desert were just delish!! We warmed up with soup to start with and by the time we'd had coffee we were feeling refreshed and ready to head out onto the road again well fortified.

Here's some of the things we could have been looking at while we ate if we hadn't been so cold by the time we got there.

I know it's a bare tree, but I just liked it.

Spring is here and everywhere you looked in Mudgee these trees were sporting these delicate little flowers. I've asked a lot of people what the trees are lining Mudgee's main street and the best response I've gotten is 'Cherry blossom's .. I think'. They are beautiful though and they line the entire main street, there is no way you would have gotten the full effect of it in a car, on the bike it was like riding down a kind of fairy world, surrounded on all sides by such delicacy was amazing and unfortunately the photos I tried to take didn't do it justice, I needed to be in the middle of the street and Terry kept telling me to get orf the damned road!!!

The main street of Mudgee.
 Anyway that came later and I'm jumping ahead in photos. Next somehow Terry got hold of the camera and payed me back for the many shots I managed to sneak of him.

And that's the only one I'm posting, it was an interesting place to stop and not something I've seen before, every other winery I've ever been to tends to be more architectural or else they go with the log cabin look. I loved the big tin shed theme here, it suits the surrounding area perfectly.

And this was the last view we had before we left the winery with the wind and clouds starting to build up, on a mission to find petrol in Mudgee.

I started out leading with Terry giving me directions from behind, lucky he was cause we'd have got completely lost again if I was given my head. Funny that .. I used to hate getting lost on the bike, it was kinda scary for me for some reason .... that day we got kinda lost a couple of times and it was not an issue. It was actually kinda fun, like an adventure, I reckon it's cause I'm more at ease with riding and can take more time to enjoy my surrounds so I can appreciate stuff more. We found petrol and just after that I told Terry I had to try to get a shot of the street with it's confectionery trees lining it so we stopped just up the road. Then Terry was in the lead again and we were on our way home.

We both decided that there was no way we were retracing our steps home along the Gollen/Goolma Rd!! And decided on taking Castlereagh Hwy to Dunedoo then along the Golden Hwy. While it's called a highway there was no way I'd have believed it. It was a good country road even though it was just a single lane with lots of interesting corners and hills. There were meadows beside us and even a few cows watching us. It was relaxing and I was really enjoying the ride home when my day was made perfect by the view that was presented to me as I went over a rise and looked down onto one of the most spectacular views I've seen out here yet. You are looking down over a flat valley of pastureland, where you seem to be able to see for miles around you. This is all surrounded by a distant mountain range, and as you watch it's all painted in a kaleidoscope of the colours of the outback by the shifting light and dark created by the moving clouds above us. I was just thinking for the umpteenth time that I wish I had some kind of helmet cam to catch photos of this stuff while we are moving when I spotted a rest area coming up and demanded that we stop for pics!

The rest area was half way down the hill we had topped, so the view had flattened out, but it still stirred a sense of awe in me at how big this world is.

We didn't have to go much further before we reached Dunedoo, was about 3:30pm and I was starting to get frozen fingers so it didn't take much to convince me to stop at the only cafe in town for a quick warming coffee. The only cafe in town was closed down, but we found another one and gratefully settled down for a quick cuppa. Terry then ran into a friend (we cant go anywhere with running into someone he knows ... ) so we had a chat while he and his wife had a cuppa too, they were on their way home from Lithgow, which is past Mudgee, so they were taking the same route as us but his wife was amazed with the fact that we were both riding our own bikes. Actually it was a nice reaction, so far the reactions I've had from most women when I've been out riding have been either 'are you crazy?' or 'you're so brave', this time the reaction was more along the lines of 'I've been on the back of bikes but never had a go myself, don't know if I could.' My normal response of 'it's fantastic you should have a go' didn't get the usual 'oh no I couldn't!' either, just a smile and a nod, I think a seed may have been planted there :D

When I next looked at the clock it was 4:30pm and I quickly gave Terry a gentle hint ...'We've got to move, I've got the tinted visor on!!!' I don't think he got it until we'd been riding for only about 10km's (after finally leaving Dunedoo at about 5pm) and it started to get dark, I was leading again and he told me to keep an eye out for kangaroos on the side of the road as it was dusk and they get more active at dusk. I replied I'd love to if only I could see the side of the road .... up went the visor ... I swore after the last time I got caught at night with the tinted visor I would never get caught again. I got caught again. It was cold, but my eyes soon stopped watering when the tears just froze in my tear ducts. The bugs added a nice touch of protein to my diet, and the one on the front of my glasses was soon swiped away easily with a finger of my glove, it did leave a lovely reminder smeared across my field of vision as a memorial though. It was bad, just as bad as I remember it being the last time I got caught at night like this, and I was wondering how people actually enjoy riding with open face helmets all the time. Even though the sunset that we were riding into was absolutely spectacular, I wasn't stopping for pics, I just wanted to get home! It really didn't spoil the ride. Sure I was freezing by the time I got home and my face was stinging from the bugs but the day as a whole had too many good points for that one bad thing to spoil it.

It's really starting to get into spring now, we've even had a few days with temperatures above 25C, and Roxy had a service done today. I took her for a bit of a run round town after I picked her up today and she's running beautifully. I think some more rides are definitely on the agenda. I mentioned once before that I was hoping to try to organise a charity type ride for work sometime soon and that's coming to fruition. It's not a raising money type thing but a raising awareness ride. We want to remind people how important blood donations are and let them know the good things that they can do for no cost 'cept a pint of blood. So a ride seems like a fun way to do that and after talking a couple of our regular donors we found someone who is doing a charity run in October for a cancer help type thingy in one of the little townships close to Dubbo. We're going to combine the two things and see if we can make a great day out of it. Tis all going to end in a pub in a town called Tomingly, so I reckon a ride out there will have to be undertaken, to check out the ride and chat with the lady out there who is putting on a meal and fund raising event at the end of the ride. I can't wait to get out there and riding again in the perfect weather again.


  1. The boots look good and it usually takes a couple of rides to break them in. I'm sure Terry is very happy with his Arai helmet, I know I have had a couple of them. I think they are the best.

    I wouldn't want to ride around with an open face helmet either as I've also done what you did and bugs in the face hurt.

    I rode from Dubbo to Forbes one day in a locust plague and by the time i'd reached Tomingly I had to stop at the servo and clean my visor cause I could no longer see out of my helmet there were that many bugs splattered on the visor.

    From there until I reached forbes I had to lay on the tank and look through the screen so my visor stayed clear, as I didn't think I'd make it to Parkes without my visor clogging again. It was really quite dangerous.

    1. The boots arent going to take long to break in at all, I'm loving them already.

      OK no kidding I woulda found a motel or even just a log to hide behind rather than ride in a locust plague ... you're a braver person than me!!

  2. Great boots and helmet! I loooove new gear. And when you buy quality, they feel better (after breaking in) and last longer. Arai makes super helmets.

    Bare trees have a natural beauty to them which you recognized and captured for us. Nice post.

    1. Thanks Ally, yeah the boots arent going to take long to break in to tell the truth yesterday when I put them on they already feel made for my foot. Yep you're right it's so worth paying extra for quality and while I know I bought cheaper things when I first got into riding because I had to pay for so much of it at once I wish I could have afforded to go with the better gear to start with. Would have saved me a lot in the long run.

      Yes bare trees are beautiful, we have a mulberry tree in our front yard that is stunning all year round but I first fell in love with it in winter when it was bare and showing all it's facinating twisted branches. I must post a photo of that one day, it's just starting to get leaves now though so I'll wait til next autumn. If you go back through some of my older posts there are some of the bike next to it in full bloom.

  3. Oooh there is so much fun contained in that one post.

    First - the boots look really nice. If they are anything like my Sidi's your feet will be really toasty in the summer. You know it is hot outside when you take your boots off and you make damp sock prints on the floor. Ick blah.

    Hubby has an Arai helmet and loves it. It fits hit oval head shape better than any other helmet out there. No hot spots on the forehead. I bet Terry will really enjoy his over the years.

    The pictures are great. The winery looks very pretty and the trees of course are always nice - whether bare or with blossoms peeking out.

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventures.

    1. I'm imagining my feet being pretty warm in summer ... I do hope I dont leave prints when in my socks though ....ugh

      I'm sure Terry will soon love his new helmet too, it always takes a while to get used to new things.

      Thanks Brandy the pics were a bit painful to take on that trip because everything looked so much better while I was there, when I looked at the pics they didnt do it justice. But at least I have the memories of them. I was told today that those trees might be a false plum tree and in summer the leaves are green on top and red underneath, I'm going back to check them out in a few months cause if they do that it'll be stunning.

  4. I love new bike gear....all my clothes look like crap but i am the best dressed biker you ever met!

    Nice ride report Brenda and as summer finally gets closer I imagine you are going to have lots of great adventures.

    1. I'm starting to get that look unfortunately Roger and was even contemplating the other day whether my riding boots would pass for work shoes ... I decided they wouldnt be as comfy as work shoes but it was a close thing.

      Cant wait to get out there riding, I'm hoping to get it in before summer hits though, I find that anything over the mid 30 degrees is too hot for me to ride. The next couple of months are going to be busy!!

  5. What a lovely little adventure. Thanks for this wonderful posting. I love shopping for new gear, and your boots really look great, I hope they are made for walking, too.

    This winery must look beautiful when the fruit are ripe. I can't believe that your winter is already over and the trees are blossoming. Good for you, more riding!

    1. I guess it depends on what you call walking, from the bike to the cafe they are fine, a full on shopping day I dont think they'll stand up to it ... but then I'd need the car for a full on shopping day :)

      Yep I think another trip is definately a must to see what it all looks like in a different season.

  6. Nice pictures! I'm totally jealous over your boots. I need some, but haven't bit the bullet to buy them.

    1. Thanks Pam, yeah I have to check things out properly before I buy too, but on the flip side I'm an impulse buyer too once I've made the decision I want it now. Lucky I'm like that or I wouldnt know how great the Alpinestars are :)