Friday, 22 March 2013

Leading SRA up the Garden Path .. or the Country Road

The first full day for the Meet was booked full of fun. First there was breakfast at a local bakery.

SRA meets for breakfast.
Then we headed to the zoo for the Inaugural Annual General Meeting. Seriously that was actually fun, sorta, it was good to actually hear people's points of view and get a real dialogue going on. On the way into the zoo grounds we all stopped outside at the big orange sign for a photo shoot .. that's the photo I used on the first post here so I wont post it again. Every stop was just a chance to have more fun and get to know each other better. I was starting to relax about the event now .. there was no chance of anything going wrong as it was all organised and these guys are just so well trained :-D

What I was nervous about was riding with them, I had to lead a ride with a bunch of very experienced riders behind me, I have read about what a ride leader is supposed to do but I stressed a fair bit about losing people or going too fast or too slow ... I never once thought about how much trouble I sometimes have parking my baby. We pulled into the car park at the zoo which has a loose surface, I was aware that I have trouble with this type of surface but I took it easy and was doing alright backing into the parking spot when I noticed the person next to me's foot slip on the gravelly surface. I thought to myself  ''eeek I hope I don't do that or the bike's going over" just as my foot slipped and the bike went over. I did my normal self preservation act and jumped off the bike before I could land on the ground under her but then my next thought was "ugh how am I gonna get her upright". Before I could even get my hands back on her my knight in shining leather was there, (nope not Terry this time, he was across the other side of the car park) t'was Rusty who was beside me, he had Roxy upright in a jiffy and even helped me back her the rest of the way in. Nothing really wrong with Rox, just a couple of scratches on the mirror that I'll buff out easily, but my bruised ego was ready for the bashing. No one said anything. Oh that was so nice :)

Now that I'd gotten that out of the way, I just had a whole ride to go on ... ugh. I decided to go with the flow, take it as it comes and enjoy the company and the ride. And I did manage to do that eventually.

As we left the Zoo there was a line of bikes as far as the eye could see. Actually I soon realised that I couldn't see many of the people behind me after the first four or five. How was I going to make sure I didn't lose anyone?? Nerves were setting in.

Thank heavens someone had thought to tell the group to use corner marking, it's something that I'd thought of over the last couple of weeks constantly, Terry also thought to tell them a bit about the roads we were travelling, when the time came I was so nervous I forgot everything. Not to mention shy .. talking to individuals all weekend was actually easy, but talking to the whole group at once, oh I hate that and the thought made me sick.

So the group made it through town and we headed up the highway to our first stop at Geurie. I thought I was taking it easy, trying to be aware that I had a group behind me and that the last person would probably have to go faster than me to catch up. As well as being aware that we were spread out along a highway that has a 110km/h speed limit which I know not many car drivers like to do .. that's way to slow for the cagers. I didn't want some silly cager to try to overtake the group and cause issues.

How do I find that balance, I'm still not sure because when we arrived at Geurie a few people came up to me and said how fast they had to go to keep up .. eeek. Not to mention that I'd actually forgotten poor Casper, OMG and I'd thought to myself over the past couple of weeks that I needed to be aware that we had an inexperienced rider with us and I wanted to make it as enjoyable for him as the Queensland mob had made it for me last year. Oh I was screwing this up, I promised the next part of the ride would be much better, this was the back roads, single lane with no lines on the road, blind corners and crests. This was going to be single file for the next 50 or so kilometres so I knew there was no way that I would have many people in view, I was really trusting Terry to keep the group together.

I sat on about 80 - 90km/h for this stretch and not just because I was aware I was leading the group, this road has some corners and crests that can be a bit scary, specially when you get a farmer bearing down on you at 120 in the middle of the road. I must admit though that there were a few corners that I exited a bit faster .. I did get carried away sometimes but managed to pull myself back into line soon enough.

There are a couple of dead straight stretches along here too, and it's hard not to bump up the speed along them, specially when you get caught in that moment after you've just come over a rise and you are hit in the face by the most amazing vistas.

As you can see, I had the GoPro on backwards, this was what I wanted it for, to take pics of that line of bikes behind me. But it also meant I didn't get any shots of the view in front of me, and that was pretty breathtaking at times. I'll go out there again soon and put up some pics, it's something worth sharing.

There are also quite a few causeways along here, we haven't had any real rain recently so they were all empty, it takes a lot of rain to fill the causeways up round here and I've only ever struck one so far with a tiny amount of water in it .. that's my header photo :)

We finally made it to Balimore, the next stop on our journey.

I got off the bike looking for riders, the person next to me didn't even wait to take his helmet off before he started enthusiastically raving about how much he enjoyed that ride!! Oh, half of me was worrying bout whether everyone had made it but he truly distracted me so I lost that thought entirely, I was so chuffed that he had enjoyed it so much but also kinda embarrassed, I didn't build the road I just found it. I kinda lost track of things a for a while then, found Rusty and headed somewhere to go calm down a bit and get things organised for the next draw in the Poker hand .. Oh did I mention this was a Poker run?

Before too long I was calm enough to seek out refreshment, and Terry turned up. When I walked around the corner the whole team was relaxing with a cool drink and everyone looked happy.

 There were bikes scattered all over the place.

I honestly didn't realise that he hadn't ridden in to village with the rest of the group. It wasn't until later that I found out that Pete had had a mishap and that a few of the guys were trailing quite a ways behind us and taken one wrong turn (somehow the corner marking had gone haywire) but they did make it to Balimore and I didn't find any of this out until that evening before dinner. As it was I was feeling pretty good now, I'd enjoyed the ride and I'd had some great feedback from one of the riders, I started to relax a bit.

We just had one more stretch of back road to get to Wongarbon. This is a lovely little road, more of the single lane stuff but nice to ride. I led the way and calmly took us to our next stop. I don't know about the others but by this stage I was getting pretty tired. I think that some of my stress was finally releasing it's grip on me but that meant that I was starting to feel pretty exhausted. I somehow managed to park my bike at Wongarbon and get it out of it's park (by backing it uphill, something that until then I'd never been able to physically do) I was feeling pretty proud of myself and when the crew from Queensland started blasting their air horns (those guys are way to attached to their horns really :-D) I started to buzz.

The rest of the trip home to Dubbo Caravan Park was along the highway. It was a relaxing ride and I really was starting to feel the effects of all the excitement by the time I got into town. I was taking round abouts very sloppily and had even done the sliding up the tank trick at one red light. I just needed to sit down. When I got to the caravan park and Terry wasn't there I started to really stress .. oh 5 missed calls on my phone .. Terry 'Where are you?' Hmm ...'Where are you Terry?' He had gone home, he'd forgotten that the last stop on the Poker run was actually at the caravan park, so I drew his last card and the cheeky bugger won!!

Dinner that night was a relaxed affair at the pub up the road from the Park. I'm glad it was relaxed, I was coming down and actually feeling slightly unwell. I couldn't eat, I hadn't eaten much in the last week actually, but I had a great time getting to know more people. Sleep also wasn't coming easily for me that weekend, and my body was starting to show signs that something had to give. Only one more day and the next day was a lot more relaxed. I'll tell you all about it in the next post.


  1. Excellent ride report and great action photos Brenda! Very well done on leading the ride for a bit too. That showed a lot of ticker with strangers I don't like riding in a big group at the best of times.

    It's being stretched that will be the making of you :-).

    Roll on the next episode!

    1. Thanks Geoff :)

      Yep doing new things, while scary as anything, are what makes you I've always said I'd never change anything in my life for that reason. It's all a part of who you are.

  2. What beautiful sunny days you had! Great photos! I'm jealous over here in rainy UK just watching the bike cover and rain dripping down in splashes on the puddles of the street.

    1. Hi Black Inazuma :)

      Thanks for dropping by, I'm glad you liked the photos, yep it was a beautiful weekend, it doesn't rain much here anyway. But of course since the guya all left it's been overcast and drizzling and hot .. ugh I'd rather be cold if it's raining.

      I like your site and have added it :)

  3. Fantastic Brenda, I really enjoyed reading this. You showed great enthusiasim in everything you did, it's kinda infectious. I'm glad that you got to be leader for awhile. It was cool that no one said anything when you had your little whoopsy. They are obviuosly mature bunch.

    Good stuff keep it up.

    1. Thanks Steve :)

      I'm glad you enjoyed it, I tried to wait til I came down from my buzz before I wrote anything as I knew it would be coloured, I didn't wait too long though as it seems some of that buzz still came through.

      They are a mature bunch, and a great bunch as well but dont get me wrong they would give a ribbing if a ribbing was demanded :-D

  4. Beautiful pictures. Looks like some nice scenery along those roads.

    It sounds as though you did an admirable job of leading. I tis never easy to lead a ride especially for a large group. and it is always a learning experience. I always comment on how no one wants to lead a group ride around here but most want to go on a group ride.

    I am surprised no one commented on your bike napping. Not that they would say anything bad, but that is usually when everyone else tells stories of dropping their bike to make you feel better. Don't ask me how I know. I am hoping I've stopped Max's drops at 2 - fingers crossed.

    1. Thanks Brandy :)

      Leading is something I guess you were either meant to do or should never do, but it's like everything in life you really should have a go at least once .. you never know you might be a natural leader and never know it :) I actually had fun leading even though I stressed about it a lot of the time. I just have a lot to learn.

      I told a lie, (I know shocking eh!)one person did comment, the person who was on the other side of me commented and talked to me about it but he is such a sweet guy that it made me feel better.

      I dont know if this is an Aussie thing or just human but you will find that if someone is open to talking bout these things then the group will go with it, if they aren't then most mature groups wont (kids are different) so when I didn't open the conversation then it just didn't get a comment (which suited me fine, I was too busy to worry bout it).

      The other thing is I dont think a lot of people saw it, I told Terry bout it later that night and he said he didn't see it.

      I keep saying I've finished dropping Roxy then over she goes again, I'm thinking of ways to correct this now, I know what my problems are, the front brake destabiling me and my short legs. I'm kinda thinking of going to the gym to gain strength (only kinda I'm alergic to excercise) and I'm seriously thinking of lowering Roxy to get more balance/feet more sqarely planted while I'm stopped.

  5. What a great ride!! And you were in the lead of such a big group!! That is no easy task!
    I really enjoyed reading this and the gopro pictures are great! Good idea putting the camera backwards :)

    Reading this really makes me miss motorbiking. Well, I don't have my bike driving license so I can only drive 125cm3, but my hubby had a Buell Lightning 1200. It is a small bike, so I was able to drive it several times (I'm a short petite girl, and am always scared that bikes will be too heavy or high for me, or like what just happened to you that the bike will fall over and I won't be able to get it back up!!). I loved it!
    Just before I passed my license we had to move to morocco. Driving a bike in towns here is pure suicide. I don't think people know what the rear and side mirrors in a car or lorry are for. Even driving in a car is scary sometimes! People steer out of the way of the giant olive green frog looking Jeep that I normally drive but when I'm driving a smaller car I get cut off all the time. Over here it seems to be : the biggest and strongest has right of way. So riding a bike was out of question. It's a shame because a bike would be really useful for getting to and from work with all the traffic jams (especially during summer). There are also some beautiful roads out in the country to drive along. When I drove to my painting course down south you have to pass though the mountains. The roads are narrow, but in good condition. Lovely bends and spectacular views. When driving back I got overtaken by a group of german motorbikes. They must have had an awesome trip! I was envious... For a year now I have been wanting to get another bike (I'd really like a trail bike to drive in the sand dunes, but I'm pretty sure I'm not strong enough) and reading your posts makes me want one even more!!!
    Otherwise, I'll just have to wait till my next trip to australia to ass my license and rent one :)
    Can't wait to read about your next trip!
    Take care

    1. Thanks Bel :)

      There are some places in the world that are just dangerous to ride in, seems Morocco is one of them. You should look into riding on the beaches if that's what you want to do, I'm surprised you haven't yet, you dont strike me as the type of person who is not up for a challenge.

      And do the Aussie Tour thing .. I'll show you round my neck of the woods any day :-D

  6. Brenda:

    You were meant to lead. I am sure all the guys would say that you were awesome ! Good job, and they will have memories of a great weekend together. You are so enthusiastic, it shows in your words

    Riding the Wet Coast

  7. There isn't a prettier sight than a bunch of bikes on the open road. Well done on leading the pack.

    1. It was one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen Sonja! Thanks :)

  8. Good job Brenda! Leading is one of the hardest things to do. In past we made groups smaller each with a ride captain and tail gunner that know the root. We stagger the leaving times so there isnt road congestion. We also use hand signals and when the lead rider does one it gets passed down the line so everyone gets the message. Don't worry about the bike narcolepsy it happened even to the most experienced riders. Today I had an unexpected bike nap, I was in the parkinglot running drills and lost momentum and over she went. I came home buffed the end of the brake lever and gave it a little tick up with flat spray paint, good as new. I am sure you did a wonderful job!

    1. Thanks Dar !! One of the thoughts that went through my head while I was planning this was .. if Dar can do it, so can I! So thanks for that too Dar :)

      Yeah I know bikes like to nap, thanks for that, you've made me feel a bit better about it. I'm still going to look at lowering Roxy if I can though to try to get more stable. And I'm going to start commuting to work again even though it takes me longer to gear up than to get there, it's the town practice I need, I only wish there was a suitable parking area for me to practice in.

      I thought about the hand signals .. at dinner that night :)

  9. Yes, all that stress of making sure it all works out can definitely make you feel a little sick and not hungry...kind of like doing hours of study and then having to take an exam. Afterwards your body relaxes and then you're just exhausted. Sounds like you got an A plus though for your efforts, way to go Brenda!

    1. Thanks Suzu :)

      Yeah actually it did feel a lot like taking an exam, cept I was having fun !!

  10. Brenda,

    Maybe you don't actually need to lower Rox, think maybe of shaving down the seat a little. I am blushing about your comment if Dar can do it, I can. You are amazing and just look what you did on your rally! You rock sista! You can Moto with me anytime!

    1. Now that's a great idea Dar, I'll have to look into it though out here it might be easier to find someone to lower the bike than to shave the seat, unless I take a crash course in upholstry.

      And now I'm blushing .. thanks Dar your words are very special :)