The final day and what should have been a cruise day, however the word abysmal springs to mind – that pretty much covers what the road surfaces were like!
I started at 8am with a short run from the Abbotsleigh Motor Inn at Armidale back to Uralla where I had a good breakfast at Trina’s Cafe on the main road. Then on to Walcha for fuel 40 kms away. Walcha is a nice little township in the middle of nowhere and was first settled by John Oxley in 1818 before he headed to the coast and had a road named after him: The Oxley Way. Walcha was also competing with Tamworth and Guyra for festivals, this weekend was the Golden Gate Campdraft and Rodeo and as I came into town there were horses everywhere! So if you are a country music lovin’, Shepherds Pie eating cowboy then this neck of the woods is for you in January!
Walcha and Uralla are cross points for Thunderbolts Way, named after Frederick Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt who was a highwayman in the locale and also has a rock and cave named after him. I haven’t been on Thunderbolts for about three years and the section from Uralla to Walcha was OK but the 150 kms from Walcha to Gloucester was abysmal, truly horrible and it was difficult to ride it as I was bouncing around so much and the road surface on many corners was patchy to say the least. The local council come along and drop splodges of tar every now and again and this makes the surface rough and ready.
To make it worse, on one section under a thick canopy of trees, the road had the surface skimmed off and gravel put down and then a section of pure dirt. To make it more interesting it was shiny and slippery thanks to a water truck spraying water to keep the dust down. However with all the bikes heading north it didn’t dawn on the truck driver that he was now making a very dangerous section of road.
I finally got through to Gloucester hoping that the Bucketts Way would be better, alas this was much worse in sections and I decided that I would head down the freeway to get on smoother roads rather than the route I originally planned through Dungog, Kurri Kurri and Cessnock. I never choose freeways over back roads normally, I was simply worn out fighting to keep the bike on the road with so many ruts, lumps, channels and generally rough surfaces.
I picked up the freeway at Raymond Terrace and had an average run back, not as much fun but worth doing based on the conditions. All up just a smidgen over 2,000 kms for 4 days riding, overall good riding and a well worn rear tyre that means I get new rubber and can look forward to better riding soon.