Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bathurst and Back on a Bike!

Last year I had joined up with the Ducati Owners Club of NSW. I joined because it is often a good way to find parts and information for your vehicle, hence why I am also a member of the Chevrolet Car Club of NSW as well. The membership has often paid for itself with information!

This year, I saw that DOCNSW was advertising the National Ducati Rally in Bathurst and so I decided that I'd very much like to go to it. It would be a great way to meet a group of like minded and new people, I thought.

So, last Friday saw me load up the panniers and head out early for my first really big trip on the Duke. I planned to reach Dubbo by mid morning and have at least a two hour break there. I had a great run down the highway to Coonabarabran and then onto Gilgandra. By the time I arrived at Dubbo, I could feel that the weather was starting to warm up!

I was meeting up with a fellow forumite from Ransomed Heart in Dubbo for morning tea and then lunch. The brief I had given him was that I required a place where I could see the bike! As I cruised down the main street, I kept an eye out for the Coffee Exchange where he would be waiting. As I pulled over into a designated motorbike spot, I saw that my friend had managed to get a table right next to the parking spot! He asked if I thought that it would be suitable enough for watching the bike...funny guy!

After this great visit with Lighthorseman (as he is known on Ransomed Heart), I saddled up again for the two and a half hour trip to Bathurst. As I came into Orange, I could feel that the weather was really warming up and was not surprised to see a temperature gauge saying it was 36 degrees! By the time I arrived in Bathurst, I could feel that my clothes were just saturated with sweat! I was sure glad to have a shower that evening!

Saturday dawned another glorious day, however it also held the promise of another hot one. I was eager to be off and after giving the bike another once over, made the short trip up to Mount Panorama where those on the rally were staying. (I had opted to stay with a friend who lives in Bathurst, seeing as I didn't know anyone!)

Mount Panorama is the hallowed ground of the greatest race in Australia's motorsport history! It has been where many men over the years have either succeeded or failed in their desire to tame the mountain! Now famous for the biggest V8 Supercar race of the year, a gruelling all day event held every October, it started out as a premier motorcycle track. These days it is a far cry from the dirt track it started out as. Now, it is probably the most perfect bitumen you can drive on as when its not being used for motorsport, it is a public road. Of course, the speed limit is set at 60km/hr and it is two way!

So, as I pulled out onto the smooth bitumen on Saturday morning, the sound of the V-twin burbling behind me, I couldn't feel but awe at being there. Sure, I've driven around it before, know how steep it hills are and tight its corners are but there was just something about riding out onto that hallowed ground. I actually drove up the Chase and up onto Conrod Straight, heading for the accomodation where the other Ducati riders were gathering for the day's events.

As we began to meet up, the organisers told us where we were going for the day and that the first thing we would do would be turn right onto Mt Panorama and then do a lap of the track! This really had me worried at first because I seriously didn't think I was ready for that first thing in the morning! As we headed out and then pulled out onto the track, I could see the long line of bikes that were now beginning to stream out along the road. It really was an awesome sight to see!

We then headed on around the left hand corner onto the pit straight and all too soon were flashing past the pits and onto the first corner of the track. It was beginning to get very exciting! As I took the first corner, concentrating on my riding and trying to ignore anyone else around me, I began to hear others overtake and make their bikes go fast up the hill. Unperturbed I just took my time and enjoyed the experience.

By the time we got round the track and back down to the place where we'd head off into Bathurst, I was kind of regretting that we had to leave and couldn't do another lap! But it was okay because I knew that the mountain would be waiting when we got back for the day and then I could try it again!

Well, as much as I hate to do it...I'm going to continue this in another post tomorrow! I know you'll all be waiting to hear about the rest of my weekend!

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