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This year’s gathering was held on the first week-end in May. This meant leaving well before hand to fit in a couple of family visits on the way. After riding the Metralla to the Burdekin Show and Shine on Sunday it was back on the Bruce highway on Monday for the first leg of the journey. Luckily my daughter lives in Mackay and so it was a relaxed easy trundle down the highway except that there was head wind that was trying its best to push me back north. This meant my fuel economy plunged down to 21km/L. I did drop in to the Proserpine Cycle Centre to have a squiz at Brian’s latest restorations, the 900SS and 450 Ducati Street Scrambler were very nice but the three XS650 Yamahas really had me thinking. :confused::confused: It’s always worth a look in there if you have the time. I arrived in Mackay at 4:30pm. After a really good curry and a home-made raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake it was off to bed for an early start.
Luckily my daughter is an early bird so it was OK to be ready to hit the road at 5:45am and head for Warwick. I’ve done this trip a few times in a day in the ute but it’d been about 33 years since I’d done it in a day by bike and that was going to test out the Vstrom’s comfort to the limit. Mackay to Rocky hasn’t got a lot going for it as far as excitement goes and it’s hard to keep a constant eye on the speedo, which is 8% optimistic, so I was relying on the Tom Tom as a speed monitoring device. I’ve been booked once for speeding on a motorcycle and it was on this section so I was being careful.:headbang: The head wind was still affecting the economy and pushing along in the 110 kph zone didn’t help either. Rockhampton is a pain in the arse to get through with the 80kph zone starting well before you get into the traffic. My next destination was Mt Morgan. The ride from here was simply a matter of following the A3 the “Country Way”. By the time I got to Cooyar it was time for a break. The last couple of hours take forever with Toowoomba’s traffic another bottle neck to contend with. The bike was running well and I pulled into my sister’s driveway in Warwick at 6:15pm. The 1153kms completed. I think the Suzuki did it easier than my R65 in 1982 mainly because it needed fewer fuel stops, and the screen offers some protection.
After a good meal and a few red wines it was time for bed. Then the weather started to turn nasty, cold and wet. I’d forgotten to pack a jumper and I didn’t have my warm jacket liner either, you sort of forget about low temperatures in North Queensland. So a trip to the shops to buy a jumper that I will probably wear once a year, maybe. The weather continued to get worse with flash floods and severe warnings putting a dampener on my plans to go to Gloucester via the Northern Rivers of NSW, taking in Grafton, Dorrigo and other magic roads. A quick check on the Vstrom forum confirmed that a few riders were coming from Brisbane despite the rain and we agreed to meet on the Northern side of Warwick before heading down the New England to Uralla and then down Thunderbolt’s way to Gloucester. The Caltex has a bottomless cup of coffee and after three cups from the pot I didn’t need another, my bladder lasted until Deepwater where it was time to unload the now filtered coffee.
This was a wet ride but not too bad until the last 80kms. Fog and heavy rain made the conditions less than favourable, I noticed my rear tyre sliding on the white lines occasionally.
I eventually found the gathering at the Roundabout Hotel and was very happy that there was a spare bed, I’d planned on camping but the conditions weren’t really suitable. The next couple of days were spent socialising at the pub, the Motorcycle Expo was pretty well washed out with many of the exhibitors leaving early. Some of us purchased tickets to the expo but didn’t bother once we found out most of the exhibitors had gone home.

It was good to spend some time with the people who you only meet online through the Stromtrooper forum. The problem arises when you have to remember not only their on line names but their real names as well. Luckily name tags were available and they were appreciated. On Saturday night the official dinner was held and various awards were handed out. The organiser received the hard luck award due to the abysmal weather. There were awards for the most farkled and least farkled bike. I received the long distance award with about 2300kms on the trip meter. Next gathering is in Quorn SA. This may be a little too far from Townsville but it’s tempting as a ride down through western Queensland then back home via the GOR and Snowy Mountains would be a real hoot.
The ride home started in damp conditions after the group photo was taken near the campground in Gloucester.
The first 80kms were damp and there were even more potholes on Thunderbolt’s Way.
When I arrived back in Warwick mid-afternoon I went to the bottle shop for a bottle of red. Another night spent with family and then off north in the morning. But fog was a problem, my first attempt to leave town saw me stopped by a flooded bridge and so it was time to backtrack. It was then time for the bike to play up. The back brake was not releasing. After pulling over and finding just how hot the rear disc was I let things cool down and released the pressure on the disc and set off for Top Two Motorcycles on the northern end of town. The owner was a former student whom I taught a long time ago when I rode a Guzzi to work. Ten dollars and twenty minutes later I was back on the road. The goal of reaching Mackay in a day was shot so I decided to stop and catch up with a friend in Highfields for a coffee. Ban Ban Springs was the next stop where a pie and iced coffee was consumed.
I decided to overnight in Monto
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The pub was good and the BBQ meal put on because the kitchen was closed was a bonus. From Monto it was onto Mackay for another night with the daughter. Just out of Monto I took a detour to Hurdle Gully, well worth the 22kms extra.

My next detour was to St. Lawrence, it’s only 6kms off the highway and the pub was a good spot for
a cold drink.



The night in Mackay was good, my daughter is a keen cook and a couple of ciders with a good meal were very enjoyable. I was told about an alternative route north by my daughter’s partner, a Husky rider, so it was off to Mirani and then Mt. Ossa. This is a good road that winds through cane fields and dairy farms with plenty of 70 kph corners. It brings you out 78kms south of Proserpine.
The road back to Townsville is dull so a detour to Midge Point was in order to break the boredom.
Every house has a tractor, these are used to launch the fishing boats over the wide tidal flats.
A stop in Bowen for a leg stretch and a couple of litres of unleaded to cover the detours and then it was time to do the last two hours of the Bruce Highway. I arrived home in plenty of time to get to a meeting of the Townsville Restored Motorcycle Club.
The following day it was time to clean the Vstrom, there weren’t as many bugs as usual after a long ride, the rain probably washed them off.
Apart from the rear brake drama the bike performed very well, the chain doesn’t need adjusting but the tyres are now due to be replaced, the E07s have performed well even in the wet the rear has done about 20 000kms. The front seems to have worn a lot faster than expected, but I will probably stick with the E07s as they match my style of riding. The roads around here don’t offer a lot of opportunities to wear the edges off so my tyres tend to wear flat. I changed the oil and filters before I left for Gloucester so it will have to wait until I clock up another couple of thousand before it gets a service.
The bike is now back under the covers and the SR500 will get a bit of use up here during the winter if you can call 29 degrees winter.
Now it’s time to start looking at the maps and the best way to get to Quorn.
 

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Thanks for the ride report Drew. Yes that last 80 kilometer down the mountain to Gloucester was not much fun. Cold, fog, heavy rain and slippery corners. My visor fog up. My mirrors fog up.so it was very careful riding. Glad you made it home safely. Catch up at the next meeting.
 
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