After a long night with little sleep it was time to load the bike up and head to a pressure washer to clean the bike and be at DMK by 7:30 am. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning and can’t wait for my new graphics to be fitted.
I’m ahead of schedule, the Tenere is kind of clean, so time for a quick McBreakfast before heading over the DMK. I meet Jeff’s right hand man Wayne and no doubt bore him with my excitement of having the graphics fitted. He shows me the graphics laid out on the cutting table and I ‘Ooooh’ and ‘Ahhhhh’ over the design.
I position the bike for the obligatory before photo and let Wayne go to work preparing the bike for her new clothes. After thirty minutes or so, it dawns on me that he probably isn’t enjoying me watching every move and suggest I head over to McDonalds for a coffee. Very politely Wayne replies that’s a good idea and to come back in an hour or so.
Back to McDonalds and time to reply to some of my Facebook comments and questions which motivates me to improve the documenting of my trip, especially the GoPro component which has been inconsistent at best.
Two hours pass quickly and I head over to see Wayne and my ‘Dakar’ themed Tenere. ‘Wow’ is my initial response and I immediately start taking photos of the finished product. Great job guys, the attention to detail and installation was awesome.
Where has the day gone? Wauchope is calling and I want to be there before dark if possible. Jeff had suggested I take the Bylong Road, and after a few stubborn conversations with my ZUMO XT GPS off we head. Leaving town I keep looking down at the tank like a kid admiring his new toy. I’m sure you could see my grin through my helmet.
Speaking of grins, the road through the Bylong Valley towards Jerrys Plains is an absolute ripper. The perfect combination of bitumen twisties lowering you into the valley floor, then climbing out of the valley through curves that bring a wide smile to any rider. I saw several road bikes in this section and if I had more time I’d have turned around and ridden this section again.
It was a quick fuel up and bite to eat at Jerrys Plains and then onwards to Wauchope with still over 300 kilometres to go. I wasn’t ready for the grind of city traffic yet, but as I approached the Pacific Highway just west of Newcastle the queues begin.
The next two hours proved to be challenging in a different way. Fatigue from the last few days was creeping in, it was dark, it began raining and I felt surrounded by trucks and cars who clearly though the speed limit was an advisory sign.
About thirty minutes from Wauchope and I decide to stop to fuel up and take a quick stretch. I still have no plans for tonight, except to meet the RideADV team at the Wauchope Showgrounds. I have my camping gear with me which I haven’t used yet, or I could grab a motel room.
I gave Greg Yager a call just to check they were welcoming strangers at the Showgrounds. Abbey the Sweep Rider answers the phone on behalf of Greg, I introduce myself and Abbey encourages me to come and meet the team.
Have I mentioned I’m a bit apprehensive about my first rally? Although I’ve spoken with Greg a couple of times, I’d never met any of the team, or any of the thirty plus riders who had entered.
With names like TB, Abbey the Sweep Rider, Crash, Clay and Rooster they sound more like outlaw bikers than an adventure rider tour group.
The ride into Wauchope means exiting the Pacific Highway much to my relief and then winding my way into town. The GPS guides me to the showground but I then spend fifteen minutes trying to break into what appears to be a fortified facility. I park up on the footpath and a friendly jogger offers to guide me to the secret entrance.
He points me in the right direction and as I approach the automatic gate it opens as a car leaves. Great – this is my chance to sneak in. The car stops next to me, “G’day Batts welcome, come on in, you’ll see the tent set up. We’re off for ice cream, want one?” I assume they are part of the RideADV team.
Maybe they aren’t outlaw bikers after all. I still can’t believe I said no to the ice cream. I ride in and see the impressive RideADV set up, this isn’t a tent it looks more like a pop up castle, impressive. The set up is fully lit and I begin casting my eyes over the bling on the crews Tenere 700s as I pull up.
As I slide off my bike and remove my helmet Greg walks over, welcomes me, and we continue our Facebook Live chatting about the ride, accessories and the upcoming rally.
Once the camera is put away Greg introduces me to the rest of the team and makes me feel very welcome. He hands be a coldie and tells me to help myself to pizza. I may have been shy with the ice-cream, but I’m not knocking back pizza. A couple of hours pass quick as they share some of their stories and give me an insight of what is ahead over the next few days.
Its now the wrong side of 10:00 pm, and I need to start thinking about where to sleep. It’s too late and too many drinks to look for a motel so time to break out my new camping gear I purchased the day prior to departure. Setting your tent up for the first time in the dark isn’t ideal, but it’s up in a few minutes and sleeping bag and gel seat pillow ready to go. Then my heart sinks, I’ve forgotten to pack my Xped inflatable mattress.
Let’s say it was long and uncomfortable night sleeping on the ground. Tomorrow is scrutineering day and a chance to meet a few of the riders.
Day 5: 485 km total. Highlight – New Graphics for Tenere. Must do – Bylong Highway.
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