The Australian FarRiders is a group of motorcyclists that enjoy and encourage safe long distance riding. You can learn about FarRiders on this link but this story is about my first official ride with the group. I use the term "group" loosely, as FarRiders is not about group rides but about individual rides by riders or in many rides, to meet up with other FarRiders from around Australia.
Clint had been encouraging me to join FarRiders for a number of years now, regaling me with stories of his and other friends rides undertaken. To join the group, a rider must first undertake a 1,000km ride within a 24 hour time period on a scheduled FarRiders ride. You may recall our ride back from the 2016 Superbikes when Clint had us on the road at 6:30am to undertake a personal 1,000km ride for him, if I could stand the pace. Although he didn't tell me what he was up too, I was aware of what was coming.
A week ago, over dinner in Coolangatta, Clint suggested I do an official FarRide as there was a local ride with a finish in Cambooya at 12:00 noon on 27 January 2018. That was a bit difficult as we usually have a big day on Australia Day but arrangements were not yet finalised and the Goldwing was getting close to needing a new rear tyre. Clint's response, "Ride the other one." So a challenge was issued to do the ride on the VFR, not as comfortable as the Goldwing was my thoughts, but it would add a little spice to the attempt.
After a reminder from Clint to register formthe ride and encouragement from Therese, I sought an apology to only attend the Australia Day breakfast until 10:30am and not the rest of the day, or as sometimes occurs, overnight.
Preparations were made to have the VFR ready. That meant hard-wiring the GPS mount for power instead of relying on the battery, a job which was supposed to have been done about 18 months ago, refit the Beadrider seat beads, bought for the USA trip and as yet untested over any great distance, check tyre pressures and do a couple of other maintenance jobs and it was ready to go.
Friday morning, up early and with Therese following in the car, I rode the bike to Clint's to get the earliest possible start for what would be around 9 hours of riding. A one hour drive to breakfast and a great get together but it's the first time I've had one of these breakfasts without a beer, rum, champagne or morning port. Then, back in the car to drive back to Clint's in time to get on the road at 12:00pm. Fill up with fuel, collect the required time stamped docket and we were on our way.
Now anyone who has followed our recent stories will know of my issues with my Garmin GPS. Clint now has the same model and he put the route together and sent me the file to load in my GPS. By both of us using his route file, that should mean we won't have any disagreements on where to go or turn; right; wrong. Identical GPS, same internal settings and mine still wanted to go a different way and travel an extra 60 or so kilometres for the day.
Heading north via the Gateway Motorway with the temperature on 33C and onto the Bruce Hwy we ran straight into holiday weekend traffic heading to the north coast. That's means we had to lane filter for around 7 - 8 kms until we turned onto the D'Aguilar Hwy and headed for Kilcoy then over the Blackbutt Range and on to Yarraman. This range used to be a narrow two lane tight stretch that was still 100kph speed limited and could be a real danger in the wet when trucks dropped diesel on the road, ask me how I know that. Anyway, since some big rock falls, the road is now wide and open with some great bends and guess what, a 60kph speed limit.
With the temperature reaching 36C we headed for Nanango and got some respite with a couple of showers that for a short while droped the temperature down to 29C. A quick stop at Nanango for Clint to have a drink, I have a water container mounted on the bike so I can drink anytime, then we left in a cloud of dust. No, not ours but a truck and trailer doing a U-turn directly in front of where we were parked. Almost needed another drink by the time we cleared it.
We arrived in Goomeri at 3:15pm for a refuel and a refreshment break. Feeling good but only 3 hours down. Fuel surprises, Clint and I take almost identical quantities resulting in 20.9 kms/l for the 255kms, best I've had from the bike. As we got underway, Clint identified a fellow FarRider heading the opposite direction.
We turned right at Ban Ban Springs and headed for Biggenden and Childers with the temperature still hovering around the 33C mark. I hadn't been on this road since I did a ride up through here one school holiday with my youngest son on the back. We had stopped at Ban Ban Springs for lunch then stopped off to inspect the Lake Coalstoun volcanic crater. Ahh the memories, that was back in 2004.
Into Childers and turning right we headed toward Maryborough. I knew this road well from our time living in Maryborough and Bundaberg. It has improved slightly but it is still a boring ride. South of Maryborough we stopped for our second fuel stop at 5:45pm. Fuel consumption was a bit higher this time, it must have had something to do with the playing as we crossed the twisty sections. 480kms completed and fueled up for the run home.
Getting dark as we crossed the Gunalda Range but at this time of day, you get an extra burst of afternoon sun once you are on the western side and we rolled into Gympie just on dark. Since I last travelled this section the dual lanes have been completed almost into south Gympie so the run home became a 110km/hr ride from there to Caboolture then 100km/hr the rest of the way. At least the temperature was down to around 29 - 30C again.
By this time I was starting to realise the benefits of the Beadrider seat. Getting a little saddle sore but able to massage on the beads, I certainly was nowhere as sore as I expected and would have normally been. Chalk one up for Beadrider.
We parted company after crossing the Gateway bridge to meet again at 7:00am and I arrived home at 8:45pm with 750kms completed.
7:00am and fueled up we headed south-west to Warwick in a cool 25C but that soon changed back up to 30C and above. Now using Leg 2 of the route plan, once again there was no agreement on the remaining distance to travel.
A morning coffee at the Driver Reviver stop at Gladfield where we had an interesting meeting with a crow. We were told how someone once fed the crow some popcorn and now when ever anyone is in getting coffee, the crow wanders around outside and eventually starts tapping on the wall waiting for more popcorn. Almost on cue, the tapping started.
Skirting around the northern side of Warwick we were soon headed west and turned off toward Leyburn, famous for the Sprints held there each year. The GPS finally agree on the remaining distance.
A right turn onto the Toowoomba - Karara Road and we hit the worst part of the ride. Not only was the road fairly bumpy, we were riding into a strong head wind and it stayed that way all the way to Cambooya.
At around 10:15am we stopped at the Bull and Barley Inn at Cambooya, the end point of the ride. My odometer showed 1035kms. We weren't the first in but the latest arrival time allowed was 12:00pm so we were in plenty of time.
Over the next 2 hours we met and greeted with the other riders as they arrived. All new people to me but that may change in the future. Lunch at the Inn then back on the road heading for home. A stop for fuel at Helidon, a lovely soaking in a heavy shower on the Gatton Bypass was enough to keep us cool almost all the way home and I arrived back in our driveway at 3:30pm having covered a total of 1221kms and averaged 20.04km/l.