My latest ride report starts with me browsing one of the website of a Sydney group that I used to ride with a lot more often than I currently do. Noticed an entry “Ride with Charlie Boorman”, you know, the guy who did “Long Way Round” with Ewan McGregor, and more impressively did “Race to Dakar” [which I thought showed a lot more about the race than I have ever seen on TV here]. On Tuesday he was finishing his latest project “By Any Means” by riding from Wollongong [coastal town, south of Sydney] to the city centre in Sydney. He was also inviting any and all to come and ride with him.
Seemed like a good idea, with two problems… it was a work day and I needed to be in Wollongong [about 1.5 hours away] by 0730. So the first was easy fixed.
Tuesday dawned bright and clear. Which was really good, because by this time I was getting very chilly standing in the Heathcote McDonald’s carpark [about 40mins from my place] waiting for the others I was meeting. They turned up, late. As they say, the problem with being early is that there’s nobody around to appreciate it.
We waited for another and when he turned up, we set off. Initially down the freeway, but turned off and headed into the Royal National Park. Only my second time here and it was still a little gloomy under the canopy so I took it at my usual pace. That’s probably about 50% of the pace of someone like SEBSPEED or HISPANICSLAMMER. And about 80% of the pace of my companions.
Its a nice ride, and I’m certain the road is in a lot better state than last I went in there about 4 years ago [actually only a few weeks after I bought the VFR] A string of corners ranging from 35kmph to about 55kmph and not much in between. It opens out at Stallwell Tops to a panoramic view of the Tasman Sea.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to enjoy the view as my companions saw me pop out of the forest and started on their way again. I kept up for about 2 corners…. ah well. I ride how I feel and won’t change that for anyone.
After a pleasant cruise down the coast to Wollongong I arrived [only a few minutes behind the others] to the start point. I guess there were about 200-400 bikes, it was a little hard to tell actually. Charlie was there, talking to the press, surrounded in a throng of riders. There were all kinds of bikes, from cruisers through tourers, adventure bikes and hypersports. Korean rides to the exotic Italians… almost a bike show!
Less than half of the bikes waiting.
Charlie talking to the press (was on Channel 9).
The VFR in the throng.
We took off and it was immediately obvious that apart from warning the police what was happening, nothing had actually been organised. The group was immediately split by traffic lights and such until after several kilometres there must have been several groups of 40-50 bikes all spread out. They could have sorted that with some police blocks etc [I have seen it done on a fundraising ride, worked fantastically]
Starting out… already I am concerned as to the whole organisation
Eventually my group was herded onto the freeway [no return up the RNP] by the cops, and this is where things went really messy. With morning peak just finishing and traffic lights etc the group I was with was quickly down to 20 or so. The leaders took all kinds of turns, and we blindly followed. Eventually the 8 or so I was still with decided we knew better and split off.
At the petrol station. Making plans.
We pulled into a petrol station to regroup. By this time it was a long time since my buddies had disappeared. We introduced ourselves to each other. A very funny moment as we determined we may have following people heading home, nobody actually knew exactly where we were and only a couple knew where we were headed. We had a couple of people knew how to get to the city, I knew how to get to the Botanical Gardens where were headed to and so we set off.
And we were soon in the Botanical Gardens. The bikes were everywhere again, but there was obviously a lot less than we started off with.
Charley was talking to the press again, but shortly broke away and was soon signing autographs and taking photos.
Charlie signing autographs.
Charlie’s bike and a nice backdrop.
After a bite to eat I set out home and time for sleep!
Apparently the DVD will be out around Christmas. http://www.byanymeans.co.uk
And as a post script… the next day, today, I have just got home after throwing the VFR down the road. I’m fine and it looks like I got away with cosmetic damage only. Still one for the insurers. Struck a patch of diesel going around a roundabout. [To clear up some confusion. I made it home from the ride without any dramas by mid afternoon. The slide down the road happened the next afternoon on the way to work]