It’s that time of year again, Ural Adventure Ride time, and what a ride it was. This year the “Master of Routes”, Comrade Jon Taylor, laid out a perfect trip that saw us on a little bitumen and then a bucket load of off-roading. Everyone was smiling from the time we left, till the time it ended.
Comrade John the Father of Ural in Australia
During the rider briefing at Walcha, Comrade Jon told us we would spend most of the day above 1000 meters on forestry roads which included a couple of deepish creek crossings and a few steepish hills with the emphasis on “ish”. Then in a hushed tone the Comrade mentioned to the attentive throng, “much of the track is clay and as you can see it’s raining and it’s going to get wetter!” Damn I thought, why is everyone looking so happy, haven’t they ridden a bike on wet clay before?
Never Too Old or Too Young For a Sidecar
The Group Assembled
Mount up was called, everyone put wet weather gear on and as we pulled off it stopped raining! Forty-one kilometres down the Oxley we turned left onto the good stuff and removed our wet weather gear and yes it started raining…funny that’s never happened before! The road surface was great, no dust, long sweeping corners and beautiful countryside. On into the forests and our first “Steepish” hill and yes it was raining and yes the hill was clay. Momentum is the name of the game and after a couple of false starts everyone congregated at the top of the hill and stories abounded of how, “I just road up this slick hill and it was incredibly steep”. Several “steepish” hills were to follow and by the last one there were no false starts and of course the hills were now “near on vertical”.
Our next challenge was a “deepish” creek crossing. Rocky entry, rocky bottom, and slippery exit. If you ask some, “the creek was easily over a meter deep”. Yes indeed. The crowd on the far bank swelled as each crossed over, as did the number of cameras. Who was going to be the first to fail? Alas, all got through without an issue, infact one “show off” even pulled a wheelie on exit. A sidecar wheelie involves lofting the front wheel, bulging the eyes and forming a “Ph” with your lips and screaming something, followed by “I did that on purpose you know!”
After all that excitement, Comrade Jon guided us to our lunch stop, a quaint shelter with open fire and tables and chairs. Out of these sidecars came refrigerated Eskys full of food and cold drinks. Delicious home baked cookies were handed round, wet weather gear was taken off…and it started raining again. After an hour, wet weather gear was dragged on, we departed and it stopped raining!
The ride back to the Oxley was just as good as the morning’s ride, up and down hills through beautiful rain forests and over creeks. All this on lovely wet slippery roads, the kind of roads that strike fear into the hearts of many adventure riders who wish they were anywhere but there! The last 5 kilometres flashed past in a feast of fast, sweeping, cambered roads and we joined the Oxley again for a sedate ride into Port Macquarie and our overnight stop.
Re-Group at the top of a hill
Ural Accessory Part # 15467 - Umbrella and Holder!!
The ADV salute
Following morning, we rode onto the Hibbard Ferry for the crossing to “the other side”. The Comrade’s briefing was…well brief. A little bit of bitumen followed by a big bit of gravel and a largish, steepish uphill climb and the road is clay and it’s been pouring all night. I won’t say a cheer went up but I looked around at some very happy smiling faces.
Morning Ferry Ride - The Master and Apprentice
We went straight onto dirt and after a fast run, Ural “fast” that is, arrived in Kempsey for fuel. One thing about riding a Ural is when you hit an 80 zone and look down at your speedo to adjust your speed, you are generally doing 75kph and need to speed up to the 80 limit! On to Bellbrook for morning tea and the refrigerated Eskys spewed forth and tea with cake, home baked biscuits and other delights appeared. Very civilised these Ural people and don’t they know how to survive in style, in the wild.
Self Indulgent Arty Shot
Carbbie Version - Lever Above Peg is the Reverse Lever
The post tea ride saw us on some excellent roads, racing through beautiful countryside following the Macleay River. It was here that we had our first unscheduled stop! A puncture in a German made tyre…those damn Germans! At our lunch stop the spare was taken off the boot lid of the offending bike and the wheel replaced, all in 10 minutes! For the second year in a row, we had no breakdowns or problems with any of the bikes except the puncture, which we are blaming on the Germans.
Puncture fixed, bellies full and ears ringing from heroic tales of yesterdays ride we departed for the “largish, steepish uphill climb”. As we departed a “gentleman” in a Kombi made sure he got out in front of us, don’t you just love that! We let him go and someone made mention of where his car was manufactured and a reference to the punctured tyre was made!!!
1st Aid Kit Contains Vodka and Tinned Sardines - Very Sensible
Nice Leather Courier Case
When we did take off we ended up on what has to be one of THE most exciting rides I have been on. We slipped, slid, laughed and smiled our way up the hill. It was epic! We regrouped at the top of the hill in the pouring rain, everyone was smiling, laughing and talking excitedly about their trip up the hill. It was an amazing ride and one that I would never have attempted on two wheels…OK maybe the first 100 metres! I cannot wait to go back and do it all again no matter what the conditions.
Clay sticks to Everything
Top Of The Hill and Nearing The End Of The Ride
For the record, Mr Kombi struggled along and after following him for a while, he finally succumbed to the conditions and had to turn around and return to the bottom…don’t push in front of bikes - Karma will get you!
From there we rode on to Armidale and then on to Ural HQ in Uralla and sadly the end of this year’s Ural Adventure ride. That evening we had an excellent meal at the Top Pub and people told huge lies about how they nearly came to grief on the ride and how “if it weren’t for their skill in riding a sidecar they would probably not be here to tell the story”. All true you know!
A big thank you to Clare and Mat at Ural Australia for putting on the event it was a wonderful experience. Comrade Jon Taylor, you have excelled and put together an excellent route yet again. I and I’m pretty sure, all the others on the ride are already looking forward to next year’s ride. 21 outfits left on the adventure and 21 returned without incident. Given the conditions the bikes performed exceptionally and for the 2nd year in a row, no breakdowns. Go Ural!