Sydney is in the throws of its biggest lockdown since COVID started. I live in one of the most affected suburbs, with extra strict rules about where we can go and what we can do. So what have I been doing. And what has been keeping me sane?
Well work carries on. I’ve even had a few teaching days. But the main thing is that I’ve been getting as much two wheels as I can…
On my bike to work…
On my commuter bike (to the shops and around the way)…
I even broke out the mountain bike. I took it to work one day and tried the trails around there. It was epically terrible, I have not ridden MTB on any trails for probably 6 years and it showed…. I will have to go back again.
D&D has also helped, with all my regular games running and a new crawl filling in for a face to face that one of the other DMs has started.
Family wise, we’ve tried to have a cheat meal once a week of ordering something in. Mostly its been nice, but unsurprisingly, the times we’ve gone to “fast food chains” they’ve been rubbish.
And we’ve built up our home gym some as well.
I also slept in my tent in the backyard one night. With the most recent extension, I don’t expect to get out for a trip this year, maybe just before Christmas? It will likely just be in NSW too.
The lockdown continues into its fourth week. I expect it to last at least another four. Good chance of more…
So what better time to plan a ride.
This is my alternate to the MotoGP, with the idea that travelling between states isn’t permissible, but the lockdown eases enough by late October to actually travel a bit. (Hmm, I feel like I’ve been down this road before). This will also save a bunch of roads to do for next years MotoGP (or Supers???)
So thinking North. Thinking roads I’ve heard of and not ridden. Roads like Thunderbolt’s Way, Oxley Highway and Bucketts Way. I’ve travelled to Singleton and also from Wollombi up to Newcastle. But even driving, that’s as far as I’ve been in that direction. I am much more familiar with the space between Sydney and Melbourne.
So Day one. Leave home, head up Putty to Broke, then Gloucester (Thunderbolts Way)
Day two. Gloucester to Walcha to Grafton.
Day three. Grafton to Coffs Harbour, to Walcha (Waterfall Way).
Day four. Walcha to Port Macquarie (Oxley Highway) to Gloucester then Singleton.
Day five. Singleton to home. This could be via Putty, Wiseman’s or even through Bylong.
Leave Thursday, back by Monday. Seems to tick all the “good roads” boxes along the way. Could slide it with weather reports… Saturday to Wednesday. Heck, Monday to Friday (that probably wouldn’t work as Mrs isn’t on leave then).
Looking at Google Street View it looks sealed all the way. Fuel stops are common enough, and in most cases I should only need one stop along the way. Most days are short, only 400km or so and about 5-6hours of riding. Adding time for stops, lunch etc so maybe up to 8 hours. So I could push on to “the next town”. Or I could take it easy, set up camp in the daylight, rest up, sleep in. The four towns I’ve currently planned seem to have caravan parks where I can get a tent site.
Well I’m pretty disappointed about the MotoGP being cancelled, again. Though as I’m currently in a lockdown that we don’t know when it will end… maybe I would have missed it at any rate.
So the alternative plan is being considered. At the moment, it’s pretty close to the original, but without the days in Melbourne. So instead of eight days away, it will be six.
Down Kangaroo Pass then to Merimbula
Merimbula, over the hills to Cooma, then across the Snowies via Cabramura, through to Tallangata
Tallangata over the Alps, then through Gippsland to Healesville
Healesville through Black Spur to Eildon, Mansfield and Khancoban
Khancoban over the Alpine Way to Canberra
Leaving Canberra decide whether to go my usual way or through Abercrombie.
Four nights camping. One night at friends (or maybe not, I’m likely to be a bit smelly by then!).
There are options along the way to reroute if weather looks particularly bad on any legs, such as taking the coast road on the first day, or heading to Canberra if the coast is miserable etc.
(I’m not saying I won’t be showering or changing clothes, but it will still be 5 days on the road by then).
As a different what if…. what if I went North. Tried ummm… I don’t really know what’s up there past Newcastle.. My ancient (2009) Hema motorcycle atlas talks about Thunderbolts Way, Bucketts Way and the Oxley. All those I’ve heard of. I could head up Putty to Singleton way, then carry on northwards. Wouldn’t be crossing any state borders (which I hope would no longer be an issue by then) and is likely to be warmer.
It would all be new that way….
Update: Maybe I’ll make two plans. One where I can travel across state borders, one where I can’t.
As Sydney (and several parts of Australia) head into a new COVID induced lockdown, I am thinking about what if the Australian round of the MotoGP becomes NO SPECTATORS, or worse, is cancelled altogether.
So lets set the scenario, that for whatever reason, the Aus MotoGP gets cancelled. I’ve still got leave from work and a pass from the family. I can leave on the Wednesday, and have to be home by the following Wednesday.
Currently my route planned has me hitting quite a few roads between Sydney and Melbourne. Many of the “big names”. Including:
Snowy Mountain Hwy from Merimbula to Cooma
From Adaminby to Khancoban via Cabramura
Great Alpine Road through Omeo
Alpine Way up to Jindabyne
and my favourite out from Tarago to Marulan via Bundanoon!
Without going too far afield from that SE corner of NSW/VIC between Sydney and Melbourne (I’m not going to SA for example), where have I missed?
One that comes to mind is up through Goulburn to Oberon along Abercrombie Rd. I think I could add that in (instead of the Tarago to Marulan leg).
For the first time in a very long time I didn’t earn any pay.
I’ve worked full-time for 26 years in one company. I’ve not taken any leave without pay during that time (plenty of paid leave though). This year I’ve been part time, so that I test the waters in my new career as a teacher. So once a week I am a casual teacher. While I have a regular gig at a school, its on the understanding that if my main job needs me, I am not available.
Well some meetings had been planned that I would have to attend, so I told the school I wasn’t available and they reorganised themselves to cover. Then late the week before, the meetings were cancelled.
I decided not to let the school now I was free again. Part of it was that I didn’t want to stuff them around again, but part of it was …
I had decided I wanted to go for a ride.
So I did.
Started out with the usual get the family out the door to school and work, then I hit the road. I was certain I wanted to head right up to Broke. I thought early lunch at Wollombi might be nice.
Passed Grey Gums, not a single bike there.
I stopped briefly somewhere north of there to have some water and a snack before getting on to Broke and refilling.
I headed on to Wollombi, but after I stopped, it just didn’t seem appealing. The kitchen was a shambles and didn’t have the vibe I recall from many years ago. I carried on.
At the decision point, I decided to head for the Old Pac and not Wisemans. I’m not entirely sure why, I think I wanted to be home before the family.
I stopped in at Jerry’s Cafe. I think every HWP car in the area was there and a couple of bike cops turned up as I was leaving. There were a lot of bikes there as well. But I didn’t stop long. Again, a snack I had with me and headed on. Old Pac and home.
Eventually I did stop in at my local shops and bought a pile of sushi for my late lunch (about 2pm).
I had a really good day. But as I wasn’t working at the main job and I cancelled my casual teaching day, it was the first day in over 26 years that I didn’t get paid.
Turns out I joined this social online motorcycle group almost 3 years ago. While I frequently get emails as they create rides, I’ve not managed to get to a single one. Until today.
A short run across the North of the city from Berowra Ferry across to Sackville Ferry and home. 2 ferries and brunch at a cafe. It was a pretty early start, being 0730 at Berowra. That would mean about a 0630 or so leave my place. It would be dark and probably around 4-6C. So cold. At least to get to the meet. The sun would be up by the time the ride started, but it would still be cold.
I took the opportunity to experiment with some clothes and gear. Under my standard leather jacket I had a merino t-shirt, a merino long sleeve shirt and thin fleece with a long collar. I also wore my fleece neck thing. Pretty warm. Just plane Draggin Jeans on my legs. But for the first time with this bike I put my Bagster handlebar mitts on, with my summer gloves.
Look, they worked fine. But as before, best when doing some simple commuting or long distance highway work. Not so much when getting more involved. I took them off for the actual ride, using my thicker Nembo gloves till the day warmed up and I switched back to my regular gloves.
It was a nice simple ride. The lunch stop was amazing, but I was good and didn’t eat a lot. Tractor 828 is the place. Check out the food!
It was great to chat to people about bikes and also a couple about MotoGP.
Can you feel the but coming.
But I didn’t really enjoy myself except when I couldn’t see the others. I’m worried that I’m quite set in my ways now and would prefer to ride myself and then meet other riders. And eat…. but the actual riding with others not so fun. Though I did not feel the pressure to keep up or go fast, I think part of that was everyone behaving because double demerits.
I’m not sure. Maybe if I went riding with them more? I know some who were slow today are usually much faster. Maybe a smaller group who I know better? But until I ride with a few some more, I won’t know them better…
I was poking about on Google Maps and it looks like the route from Corryong direct to Omeo is dirt. I found a local council YouTube video talking about tree felling along that way after last year’s fires. It was clearly dirt and that was only 6 months ago, I’m fairly confident that they wouldn’t have sealed the whole road in that time.
I’m not having any of that gravel/dirt if I can avoid it, so I worked through some options. I changed my route down to head over towards Tallangatta after I cross the Snowies. Stay here I think, before heading up over the Alps. This might even shorten that day slightly, which is good as it was one of the longer ones..
I’ll probably stay in Tallangatta rather than Corryong/Colac Colac both ways then. That means the day out of Melbourne is not quite so long and the next day isn’t too much longer, and it was one of the shorter ones anyway. More even across the days now.
I’ve booked my Melbourne accommodation. Something with a washing machine. I booked to arrive on Friday, which gives me Saturday to rest or head to the track, or get my gear sorted or whatever. I have free cancellation too, in case it all gets turned off due COVID or work.
I’ve picked up a sleeping mat (R3 self inflating) and a couple of extra dry bags (to keep my sleeping bag dry if I put my tent away wet). I think I still need to get a small mallet. Think that’s about it. Any further purchases will be bike maintenance related.
After messing about most of the Easter weekend with chores and other unexpected things, I headed out Sunday morning. I planned to head up to Colo and have a look through Windsor and other areas affected by the floods.
As I headed west, it was clear that there was fog about. Having spent a couple of hours on Good Friday giving the bike a thorough clean and polish, I just didn’t want it to get wet and dirty straight away. So I turned around and headed for the coast and the Old Pac.
It turned into my first chance in the new tunnel that links the M7/M2 with the freeway going north. For the first time, travellers can cut around Sydney and stay on freeway the whole way. Can’t believe it has taken so long.
The tunnel was nothing special, though long at about 7:30mins (at 80kmph). So soon I was up to the Berowa exit and the Old Pac.
I’m not sure when I last headed up this way during what might be a busy period. And it was busy (well I thought so, regulars might not). Dozens of cyclists were the main thing I hadn’t dealt with.
So I cruised down, took some photos across the Mooney Mooney bridge and dawdled up the hill. Busy, cyclists and double demerits, it wasn’t the weekend for time attacks!
I had a pie at the top, coming finally to the conclusion that their pies aren’t actually that great. Robinson Pie shop is a lot better, and I suspect there are other better ones nearby as well. But its handy and bike friendly.
I headed home, but as I rode through the tunnel I was surprised when a voice spoke over my Scala headset….
“Police, Fire or Ambulance?”
Wait, what…..? I was very confused and stammered out “Sorry, my phone has dialled this by accident, I’m fine.” They thanked me and hung up.
Shortly after my wife rang.
“Are you ok?”
“Yes, why?” I was getting more confused. My phone seemed to have launched into I’m in an emergency mode for some reason.
“Because I just got a message saying you had called emergency and your location.”
Again… “I’m fine, my phone is doing something weird. I’ll be home in about 20 minutes anyway.”
Once I was home I took a look at my devices. My watch had an alert that I had initiated Call Emergency mode. It was providing updates to my wife at about 15 minute intervals with my location, as she was my Emergency Contact. I cancelled the alert mode.
I poked about in the settings for the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Seems the watch had the option “Call Emergnecy Services if the crown (the rotating button) is held down”. So that explained why the watch had called emergency, but not what started it….
I realised that just before the Emergency people had started speaking I had felt a couple of alerts from my wrist. I had assumed that they were messages, and had tapped my phone (on its QuadLock holder) to see. But there was nothing there.
I think that my watch, my jacket cuff combined with a very still position (cruising through the tunnel) had held the crown down long enough to kick it into panic mode. I disabled that option.
One of the next modifications I am considering is to have a way to charge via USB installed on the bike somewhere. But the problem is where?
Option one – Up front. This would serve to charge anything on the phone mount. I could also run a cord into, say, a jacket pocket, to charge something else. Or, and it’s a big or, run a cord, if needed, all the way back to the top box to charge something there. Don’t know what that would be like while riding?
Option two – Down the back, maybe even into the top box. This gives me a weather proof place to charge things. Its nice and tidy, keeps any cables away from all over the bike.
Both could access a spare connection on the loom for heated hand grips. Obviously, this would be much simpler for the front mount idea, than rerouting that power down the back. There might be a more convenient connection towards the back I could use instead?
I don’t need to see my phone most of the time. It could happily live in the back charging away for most of a leg, or most of a day. Or I could charge a power bank down the back while riding, and use the charge of that overnight.
Isn’t it funny when you write down ideas, the choice becomes much clearer?