Thursday, 12 April 2012

Autumn Ride - Perth to Porongurup

How long can it possibly take to pack four motorcycle panniers? Two hours, and a lot of fussing, from me, about the uneven weight distribution in the panniers belonging to the Red Devil. What I hadn't realised is, once I was on the bike, I wouldn't notice the small discrepancy at all!

Morning Tea.
It was time to smile, after all it was a big day out for Steve's R1200GS, the new bike in the stable. Although it was "taking kids to school time," we quickly negotiated the traffic at the roundabout at the end of our street and we were on the road again, bound for Porongurup over 500km away. We were on and off the freeway in no time, heading east along Mundijong Road. We caught up with a sheep carrier and after a couple of kilometres I decided to overtake. I pulled out and at the same time the truckie, driving the big double D, set his right indicator flashing. At first I thought he was trying to tell me that the road was clear. I quickly realised he was about to turn right and pulled out of the manoeuvre. Then I counted, "one life down, eight to go;" lucky me. That's motorcycle riding for you, "be alert but not alarmed."

The run through Jarrahdale was wonderful; not a car in site - the locals were snug inside their little cottages while their chimneys puffed smoke into the cold morning air. We stopped for tea amongst some tall trees in a lay by on Albany Highway. We snapped some pictures of the bikes. In the morning light they looked so beautiful it was hard to take our eyes off them. Then we rode on, turning left at North Bannister on our way to Narrogin for lunch.

There are so many great riding roads, close to home, I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really there. The onboard computer said it was only 17.5 deg and I immediately felt the chill in the air. Then I remembered the heated grips, and as I flicked the switch I'm sure I heard a witches cackle inside my helmet. At one point I thought my handle bars weren't quite straight and I foolishly tried to straighten them while riding along at 100km hour. This quickly turned into a "don't try this at home" moment and left me apologising and praising the Red Devil, for showing such excellent table manners; 2 down, 7 to go!

Porongurp National Park.
Narrogin proved an excellent place to stop for lunch; the chocolate ├ęclair, from the town's French bakery, was one of the best we had ever tasted. By the time we were ready to leave the Easter shoppers were out in force and a traffic jam had developed while an unconfident driver couldn't find the courage to turn right onto the main road. The impatience was contagious and I pulled out of our parking space and prepared to merge with the queue of cars. A guy in a four wheel drive thought I was pushing in and we entered into a tug of war. I stood my ground and he eventually let me in. I had forgotten that even the laid back country spirit is lost on the day before a long weekend.

Soon we were cruising at highway speed again. The heated grips were on and the wheat belt towns of Wagin and Katanning were quickly under our belts. We stopped for tea at the small town of Broomehill. Broomehill is a great place for a stop, with clean toilets, and if you feel inclined, a pub next door. While we sheltered from the biting wind, Steve gave me a drilling on what I stood to lose arguing with a 4WD like that - point taken!

Always trust your instincts. We checked the map and we were expecting to veer right, to take the short road to the Stirling Range. We saw the sign but lead hand Larry was enjoying the bends and we were going a little too quickly to take all the information in. Feeling the error in our ways, we stopped. Steve went back, to check the sign, and still we went the wrong way! We were riding east again and we both felt uneasy at the thought of riding away from where we wanted to go. Once we were out on Chester Pass Road the sky darkened and the gale force SW wind made us cautious as we lent our bikes with the wind. A light shower of rain smudged the road kill on my visor but that was quickly wiped away with a gloved hand. I had forgotten what it was like to ride in the rain and I slowed down a little, remembering that the tread on the Red Devil's tires was wearing a little thin.

Bikes in bed at the end of the day.
The rainbow, over the Stirling Range, looked menacing as Steve came along side and pointed at his fuel tank - the big GS's computer said "low on fuel." Oops - perhaps the big bike uses more fuel than we originally thought. I just shrugged and wondered where he was planning to fill up. We stopped at a one pump station but we didn't take on fuel - we were worried that they might be selling the stuff that chokes motorcycles to death. We rode on, a few kilometres later Steve's onboard said "out of fuel, mate." Fortunately the big GS ignored the technology and kept purring along. We arrived at Porongurup just before the Kangaroos thought of making a nuisance of themselves on the road verges. If we'd brought the laptop I would have placed a post on Facebook which read "arrived Porongorup - having a great time."