Ah well, with some awesome sunshine and a pleasant 22 degree day tipped, with all else done I figured why not head out for a little ride and see if my recent thoughts and test rides of other bikes were an indication that I needed a change, or just the 2+ year itch I get with every damn bike I buy.
So, it was time to head out with the plan being a small hour or so ride around the local sealed stuff to just get out, clear the head and take it as it was to come. Now I did say that was the plan but like all plans, things do not always go according to it, and so it was to be today as I simply started to enjoy myself. No real idea why as I always enjoy riding the bike (and have near every bike I have owned), but for some reason today was just one of those 'zone' rides where things seem to align.
Anyway, that feeling was to come after I took the turn to Coomabella Road at Geurie and just started enjoying the open expanse of farm paddock after farm paddock before deciding to revisit some dirt, the very first piece of dirt the bike had done after I bought it. Now I cannot deny that there was method here as I had been severely lacking confidence with the original tyres and with the new Mitas E07 I figured why not try again, just to see if the confidence can come back ........................... it did.
This road is nothing special. Like most of the back roads out here it is variable surface conditions, ranging from good hard pack dirt, to ruts across the road, some sand, grit and anywhere in between, although this piece had no sand (that was to come later). It did not take long for the tyres to make the difference and I soon found myself pushing far harder than I ever had on the Strom or the DR650 before that. Now when I say harder I do not mean faster or stupid, but just a feeling of confidence that the tyres provided that allowed me to ride in a manner that I was not comfortable with previously but today, felt very second nature again (I say again as it reminded me of what I could do on my old 2005 Strom).
Anyway this road ends and meets some tar, but with the mindset having originally been to take a small ride and keep it simple I decided to head for Ballimore through the backroads with the intent to then head back via the sealed stuff to Dubbo. Now, I did say intent.
Anyway, for some reason the juices were flowing and on arrival at Ballimore I decided to try to get a monkey off my back and head to Goonoo Forest, the scene of where I wrote off the DR650 in a washaway, although I did not intend to take that trail ..................... yet.
So along Goan Creek road, which is another road of variable surfaces and abundant wildlife (Kangaroos) as it meanders across farmland property and paddocks, all the while keeping an eye open for sheep, cattle and whatever else felt it needed a closer look at the bike. Oh yeah, this road had some sand as well, ranging from soft but shallow to very hard packed although have to admit that none of it troubled the tyres or bike, which I have to admit was very confidence inspiring given the experiences with the original tyres.
Anyway after around 10 or so kms (probably more but guessing) you go across the final property and are met by the gated entry of Goonoo Forest. I do say gated but it is a paddock gate t keep the livestock out of the forest so it is a simple case of unlatch and enter the forest, ensuring that like all gates, it is left as it is found.
I cannot lie here as since writing off the DR I had always planned to get back to the forest and had (many times) mapped out that the entry track going straight would re-join Mendooran Road but I had no idea of the track condition, so there was a little bit of fly blind involved. Anyway, gate closed it was straight ahead onto Brennans Firetrail which was another one of these 'all surface' tracks, starting with good hard pack sandy/grit but all to quickly it became a loose shale type of rock around a bend (one of very few on the track) and up the first hill. No denials but at this point I was thinking to myself had I made the right decision, but this was early on the track and I was really keen to just explore and enjoy so it was continue forward where the track juts threw fun after fun.
Yes to someone with dirt confidence or a more dirt oriented bike, this track would be a 'piece of p*ss' but as there is no phone reception, the tracks are little used and it is a bit daunting I was not about to pretend I was Toby price, so it was steady as she goes for me.
Trying to summarise as best here but this was 11kms of extreme fun, wickedly varying surfaces on a narrow track where you would see kangaroo tracks as well as the occasional animal itself, so it was wary at all times. There are some rutted sections with washouts but at all times there was a good solid way through, likewise with trees down on the path there were already forged paths around so at no point was I breaking new ground (for the track).
There are hills where the pictures do not do justice, although none are ridiculously steep by any stretch, this is near Dubbo after all, but you constantly feel you are undulating up and down in what really is a narrow chasm of natural Australian bush. Although in some places it was scorched which gave a somewhat eerie feel to the place I readily admit that it was extremely head clearing, refreshing and despite the hard work at times, very relaxing right up until the time the track met Mendooran Road.
From here it was left back towards Dubbo with a big smile on the face as it had been a heck of a lot of fun so far and while at the time the idea was to head back, that was to change as I took the right that is Mogriguy Road and to more dirt. Mogriguy Road is another one of these fairly open and predominantly straight roads, with a more hard packed surface than many however as it is more frequently trafficked. But that does not mean it cannot bite as there are patches of sand and you are in a forest so wild life surrounds but it was not to bite today although I did have to stop myself from over-indulging as my comfort level grew so I forced myself to have a little rest stop. Drinks taken, it was back onto Mogriguy Road and the comfort returned near immediately and I found myself riding in a way I had not done since I lived in the Wollongong region and used to head to Meryla Forest and the likes.
Continuing along Mogriguy I passed a group of dirt bikes stopped by the side of the road as they were readying to head back along other tracks, and while I did get a friendly wave I also got a few 'strange' looks. Mind you given that I am a fat git riding a bike that weighs near 215kg or more while standing on pegs and doing near the dollar I can understand a few WTF type looks.
Anyway, after a while I meet up with Eumungerie Road where I decided to then try Godwins Lane for more dirt. Godwins is a short link road between Eumungerie Road and the Newell Highway and traverses relatively flat farmland, although for some of it you are in paddocks so may find livestock in your path, but today was not that day and it was through to the Newell.
Now, from the Newell is was simply tar all the way home but I worked out that I had done over 50 kms of dirt and will say outright that man, the day was good, the comfort was there and the bike behaved immaculately. Yes it did pogo on some of the trails and it did move around a fair bit but nothing untoward and all in a predicable and controllable manner.
The decision to get the monkey off the back and head to Goonoo was a hell of a good one and I now know that I will revisit again in the future as the place is just something else. Wildlife abounds, natural Aussie bush and total isolation ............. yes it can be intimidating, even dangerous but it is fun and awe inspiring to just experience it.
And with that all done, it was a clean of the chain and a smile that even now, some hours later keeps growing