Some trips just don’t go as you planned them. And then there are trips like Pino’s! Pino joins a group for a ride down to the MotoGP at Phillip Island – from Queensland. Sounds like a great trip, doesn’t it! But of course it rained. Then poured. Then there was fog, and even the threat of snow. After that, well, that was when it really turned bad! Here’s Pino to tell us about it.

It’s the big day – Sunday 10 October 2010. I have decided not to have a 50th birthday party but to celebrate the milestone by being part of a group of twelve guys riding from south-east Queensland to Philip Island to arrive in Inverloch on Friday 15 October. It’s raining but the weather bureau had predicted it and so it was expected. (What? You mean they actually got it right? Elwyn). What wasn’t expected was that it would continue to rain almost continuously for the best part of the week’s ride and that two of the twelve would be hospitalised albeit for different reasons.
I am riding my Kawasaki ZZR600 which I had bought specifically to take on the ride as I decided that my Kawasaki VN800 is really a cruiser and not a tourer and the ZZR is specifically set up for touring. On arrival at the BP Servo at Yatala, halfway to the Gold Coast, it’s still raining only heavier as we get our briefing and are told that because of the rain the proposed route will change slightly to be more direct in order to get us to Nymboida without having to rush because of the, by this stage, very poor weather conditions. We load our gear into the back of Dave Pearce’s ute in the pouring rain and he puts his cover on to protect our bags. Dave is from Aussie Biker Tours on the Sunshine Coast, and he has put the tour together.
The ride to Nymboida is safe and steady although it is raining cats and dogs. A wallaby which scoots across the road narrowly avoids being hit by a car coming in the opposite direction which would have probably thrown him directly into my path as road kill which I would not have been able to avoid. My minor mishap for the day is putting the bike on its stand but on a slight slope forward.  The stand is very shallow and the bike rolls but luckily I am standing next to it and catch it on the way down.
The Nymboida Coaching Station Inn, pictured on the left, is where we stay and we go through the museum which includes some nice bikes.
We have a great meal and night and everyone gets to know each other and we all seem to click. This and the events which follow will be the catalysts for the creation of the bonds and relationships which form between us.
On the morning we leave Nymboida it is raining again and there is fog. The ride from Nymboida to Dorrigo involves getting lost, losing people and eventually playing catch-up, as well as riding in white-out conditions. The winds resulted in me leaning one way and the bike the other and then having to stand it up again once the winds suddenly fall away, so that the bike and I don’t!
We eventually make it to Wauchope where the accommodation is a little more cramped – three people in small rooms as opposed to two in rooms which could adequately cater for four back at Nymboida. Of course it is still raining although it eventually breaks and we all trundle off and I decide that I already need to do some laundry because so many things have become wet. 
The next day we head off and ride the Oxley – that great road.
But yes, it is raining yet again and so it’s steady-as-she-goes and this of course means that the full enjoyment of riding the Oxley has to be tempered by commonsense in difficult conditions. We head into Tamworth on our way to Singleton and stop at the magnificent Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum. There are some extremely beautiful and rare bikes and we have a great time wandering around licking lips, wishing and hoping that one day even one of those bikes could be something we would house in our own garages.
The rain has eased by now and it is becoming really steamy. The last hour or so on the way to Singleton is so different to the previous days. We are all rugged up in wet weather gear expecting the worst but it not only remains clear but it gets really hot and we are all glad to get to Singleton for our overnight stop. 
We head out of Singleton and it is not long before we are on the famous / infamous Putty Road. On this day it will be infamous as one of our own will be hurt and take no further part in the tour. Unfortunately, while rounding a bend a truck and bike collide with the result that the rider will fracture his right arm in seven places, almost lose a finger, sustain a huge gash to his leg and generally be lucky to survive. His bike seemingly written off as one side of it is sliced open revealing timing gear, amongst other things, with fluid strewn all over the road. Miraculously he has managed to not only remain upright but has ridden the bike some 30 metres before pulling up, putting it on its side stand, walking some distance and then literally collapsing, no doubt due to shock. All I see is him staggering down the road as I am late on the scene. Others arrive earlier and one has witnessed what happened. Thankfully we have some cool heads in the group and our injured rider is well cared for until emergency services crews arrive. The police take statements, photographs are obtained and the matter is before the courts. Thankfully, he has now recovered but the scars – literally – remain with him; although his bike has been restored almost to its former glory. 
After the drama of this day we are all glad to get to Canberra in one piece and discussion is of course had about the day’s events. It is raining in Canberra and on our way there the only other event is someone getting a flat and needing a tow. Thankfully, Dave can accommodate and sorts it out.  Canberra is Canberra but at least the pizza and beer that night is good.
We head out of Canberra and it is fine. It is a day that you hope to ride in and it remains that way all day as we ride up to the Snowy Mountains and ride the Alpine Way which is something that I will never forget. It is the sort of road that you dream to be able to ride over a short distance but it just seems to keep on going with magnificent trees all around and hardly any traffic – at least on the day we rode. The ride down into Khancoban was probably the best section of all.
We stopped there for lunch and saw someone pull up who’d had something of a mishap of his own. We ride on to Bright but as usual the weather is not going to be as kind as it has been and it begins to rain again quite heavily. 
The weather sets in and by the morning any thoughts of riding up over Mt Hotham are quickly dispelled. Stories are coming back that it is snowing heavily and visibility is poor – let’s not forget it this is almost mid-October – and the roads are virtually impassable! There are some brave, or possibly foolish, riders mostly on BMWs who are going to attempt it. They are not part of our group. We wish them luck and hopefully they made it without incident. We all elect to take a very dull but much safer route to Inverloch. However, this will be some of the worst riding we will experience insofar as the weather is concerned. It is relentless and I provide no end of amusement as despite wearing rain-off gloves I still manage to get water into them to the point that when I pull up at a servo I merely tilt my hands up into the air and it looks as though litres of water are spilling out of the gloves. “Priceless!” Says someone, “If only we could have captured it on video!” The ride to Inverloch is bitterly cold, miserable and wet and frankly everyone is just about over it; there is just so much water around and falling from the sky. We eventually make it to Inverloch and much laundering and drying of gear takes place. Apart from one rider down it seems as though we are all safe and in one piece. However, this is not to be as someone else ends up developing shingles and has to be flown home the following day. Although he has made it to Inverloch he takes no part in attending the race.
The next two days are wet and muddy but it eventually starts to fine up and by race day the weather is almost perfect for riding and we cheer Casey home for his magnificent win – last time on the Ducati. I buy t-shirts and other assortments to bring back home for everyone and as we wander around the paddock and check out the bikes despite the cold and muddy conditions it doesn’t seem to stop the young girls wearing short dresses and high heels – quite extraordinary.
We leave and head to Melbourne, where we will drop off our bikes which will be transported back to Brisbane for collection, before heading out to Tullamarine for our flights home.
We have had two reunion rides where all of us have got together. The most recent ride was only a couple of months ago. The photo on the left is from that ride.
We have organised other rides with others in the group and we continue to keep in touch. I couldn’t have ridden with a nicer bunch of people or celebrated my 50th birthday in any better way; despite the weather and what happened to 2 of us.
But in the end both have well and truly recovered and continue to ride. You can’t keep good men and especially riders down!
Thanks for the story, Pino. What an adventure! The weather sounds like it was a real challenge! And then the crash and the illness all adding to it. It's good that you could all still make the most of it and enjoy the trip. 
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