Having not been on the bike for a little while I was super keen for Dave's any my birthday getaway to Barraba with the chapter. Speaking with Dave during the week we decided to take the direct route up the New England Hwy so we had a little more time to chill out and have a few beers before the cold set in for the night.
We kicked off from Frasers at 9am with a first stop of Muswellbrook. It didn't take long to realise how dry the land was. The earth was just crispy and if not crispy, it was just dust. So sad. I had a feeling it was only going to get worse the further we rode inland.
From Muswellbrook we kicked on to Wallabada for lunch. I've ridden past the Marshall MacMahon pub a few times so I thought this was a great opportunity to stop and check it out. It had been bloody cold so far so the girls ran straight for the fireplace and parked up. I thought a beer would do a good enough job of warming me up so I took that route instead. The pub served up some good lunch meals so everyone was full and happy.
Next stop was fuel at Tamworth only 50km or so up the road. Leaving the fuel station and winding through Tamworth, I thought, if I'm going to lose the group anywhere it's going to be here. And sure enough, winding through the city I lost a good bunch at a set of lights I thought the front of the pack saw us take the next corner but apparently not. I pulled the group over on the road to Manilla and just waited. About five minutes had passed and I was just about to get on the phone when I saw a bunch of bikes heading towards me—they found the way! I later found out they missed the turn and took a little loop around the city before seeing the correct sign out!
With only 100km to go to Barraba I put my feet out and just took in the road and the scenery. As much as it was relaxing it was so devastating to see how drought stricken the land was. I've never seen it so dry in my whole life. Lots of livestock along the road which is typical when it's dry but not the number I saw this time.
We arrived at Barraba right on 4pm which was my target time. The publican already had a fire on which was awesome so we all checked in, grabbed a beer and settled in front of the fire. What a great way to spend my birthday. Next up was an awesome pub feed and karaoke with the locals. I'm pretty pleased there was no footage of my singing as it's pretty bloody awful!
I'm glad the publican warned us to have a shower tonight as he said the cold generally freezes the water pipes over night so there may not be water in the morning and that was exactly the case! Let alone it was -4 degrees when I got up so no chance in hell of having a shower!
Since no one was in a rush we hung around for a hot breaky and gave the sun a chance to come up before making the cruise home. Once I had my bike packed I went to start it and the poor battery must have been too cold as she just didn't want to throw the engine over. Stupidly I knew the battery needed replacing but I thought I could stretch it to my next service—got that wrong! Thankfully a few of the members had some tools and a battery pack so I was up and going in a few minutes. Now at 10am it was only 4 degrees so still bloody cold but at least it wasn't in the negatives!
Now heading for home I decided the first stop would be Manilla for fuel. About halfway my guts started getting a little grumpy and I was thinking to myself, please Lord no, not now, not while I'm leading a group of bikes!! It was a pretty tense 50km to get to Manilla where I stopped at the first available fuel station and made a crazy dash for the toilet!! Walking back outside I was questioned as to why I wasn't getting fuel. I laughed and responded I had more important things to worry about!
From Manilla we just took our time and found our own way home. Lots of the members stopped at Scone for lunch but I was keen to get home so I said goodbye and kept heading on.
Now home safe again I took a minute to reflect on another great ride with an awesome bunch of people. Can't wait for the next one.