A few weeks ago Mark and I drove to Lithgow with the bike trailer trailing behind us along the windy roads of the mountains.
Inside there was a KTM 450, a Yamaha WR 250, a double swag, the eski, boxes filled with cutlery, a water heating system, riding gear, a fire hydrant and a heap of food.
The sun was shining all the way along Bells Line of Road until we hit the turn off to Zig Zag Railway. All of a sudden a very dark, very low cloud came sweeping through the mountains. The wind picked up, and the rain went from pitter patter to holy shit is that hail real quick.
“I’ve never seen rain like this before, this is wild,” I trailed off, squinting at the sleet, “MARK IS THAT SNOW?” The sleet rain (let’s go with snow) hit the windscreen with speed. My excitement got the best of me, so I decided to roll down the window to take a few pictures.
At this moment, Mark and I realised that we hadnt packed the awning. We trusted the clear skies weather report and decided not to pack it at the last minute.
Wait, forget that. The wind blew the clouds away and the sun came out. A part of me died inside, I was secretly hoping that we would get some mad snow.
We drove deeper and deeper through the pine plantations of Lithgow to a quiet clearing where we would set up camp for the night.
“This spot is perfect for a beginner,” Mark said as I looked at the ground and spotted large pot holes, giant rocks, little rocks, puddles and fallen sticks, thinking to myself is he trying to kill me?
He reversed the trailer next to a little tree, sort of like something you’d see in a Winnie the Pooh book. Mind you, in Winnie the Pooh they never included the garbage. Possibly because the artist was lazy and couldn’t be bothered drawing pictures of filthy human waste. Or maybe they didn’t get paid enough. Who knows.
Mark backed the bikes out of the trailer and handed a pile of medieval armour to me. “Put this on.”
With a neck brace, back plate, shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, riding boots, goggles and a helmet I was ready to kick into gear – literally – but not really because I’m not on that level.
The problem is, I have short legs. And the Yamaha is rather tall. On top of that, the helmet and the neck brace made it difficult for me to tilt my head down and look at where I needed to move my foot to switch gears.
Mark started the bike for me and put it into second gear. I put my left hand on the clutch and eagerly held my right hand over the accelerator. He held the bike steady as I slowly let go of the clutch and started twisting the accelerator. I revved the accelerator and rolled along the rocky ground, surprised that the bike was still upright after 5 seconds and how easy it was to keep it going straight.
Oh shit. My first turn. I guess I either try to steer the bike to the left or I hit that ever so large tree in front of me.
I managed to turn the handlebars towards the road and gathered some speed as I saw the path go straight ahead.
It was a good start. With a few wobbles, I maintained an average speed of 17 kilometres per hour, puttering along the un-grated road. Mark zipped past me and pulled over to the side about a kilometre ahead. He held his hands out mimicking for me to put the clutch in and ease off the accelerator. As he went to grab the bike, I shouted “Don’t grab the bike, I want to see if I can dismount myself.”
Watch for yourself here:
The laughter brought tears to my eyes, and with that the riding goggles fogged up. Without any bruises (thanks to the protective bubble wrap) I brushed myself off and hopped back on the bike.
I was handed some very wise advice, “If you panic, let go of the right handle bar.” Thanks Mark. In other words, if I panic I need to fall off the bike.
PART 2, COMING SOON.