That is why I love to ride

I have read fellow motorcyclists attempts to explain their joy of riding motorbikes and yet I have never read an adequate explanation. The kind of explanation to which I could only nod my head in agreement. I am not a great or eloquent writer I would fare no better, if I tried to put in words the purity of the emotions I feel for riding. Yet today, I finally had that sort of day that reminds me exactly why I ride.

I set off from Ettalong beach still struggling to perfect my packing so that everything fits neatly. Having used a pair of socks to dry the bike before putting the cover on it the night before I awoke to find the socks were still very sodden. So, I tied them to the bag handle of the bike and let the evaporative power of the wind work its wonders.

The run into Sydney can be taken on the visually spectacular Newcastle freeway or, via the "Old Pacific Highway" AKA "White's Hill". The old road is a favourite run for Sydney's bikers (both pedal and motorised) and being a Sunday, it was well patronised. I too, took this route and decided that the Sydney Ducati dealers do a roaring trade. Strangely enough, it was the new Multistradas that dominated the Ducati numbers, rather than one of their sportier models.

Having proven to myself that I am incapable of remembering a map, I took the easy way out to cross Sydney, simply following any road sign that said "Canberra". It meant lots of dull motorways, but it was a simple strategy that worked. I stopped for lunch at a rest stop on the Hume Highway and chatted to several fellow travellers. The Hume may well be the fastest most direct route between Sydney and Melbourne, but it is exceedingly dull. As is the way with modern motorways, all towns are bypassed speed cameras are prominent and the occasional highway pursuit car positioned to remind you that dying due to fatigue looks better on the government's records than dying due to exceeding the speed limit.

By the Bowral exit, I had enough of my own cynicism and speedometer watching, so turned off to do the scenic run through Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale. Of course, this way is far slower, but they are pretty little towns that have quite an English countryside feel to them. Then, as you leave one of the towns, you turn a corner and all of a sudden the countryside reminds you that you're in Australia with rolling plains and scrubby bush.

Around Exeter, the weather was again looking bleak. It was certainly far colder than it had been, so I stopped and donned the winter gloves and rain pants. I decided to try the dandruff cover again. I figured it was probably no longer waterproof, but it was still an extra layer the water would have to penetrate before my possessions became wet. I had been able to revise my packing such that I no longer had the backpack strapped to the luggage, so I figured the cover would fit properly. The cover was lucky to still be with me. I had contemplated binning it, rather than finding room to pack it, but it had earnt a last minute reprieve when room was found.

At around Penrose, approximately fifteen minutes later, I checked only to discover the cover was no more. A few specks of silver dandruff on the bags was the only trace left of it. As the rain had not eventuated after-all, it certainly wasn’t worth turning around to look for it.

The "Highland Way" ran back into the Hume at Marulan where I managed to dither about for some time quite successfully. According to the mural on the toilet wall, Marulan is the only town on the 150 meridian. If you can't trust a public toilet mural, then what can you trust? I had one last ditch effort at staying off the Hume, detouring via Bungonia, but when I couldn't spot the turn to the next town I was looking for, I took it as a sign that the roads were probably not the best to be taking and headed back towards Goulburn. Just on the outskirts of Goulburn is a monument to the 1924 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. I had no idea it had even taken place. It was a strange feeling knowing that I had just completed part of the track, on my way to the 2011 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. (insert poignant feeling here)

The remainder of the run into Canberra was done on the Doom, sorry - Hume Highway and Federal Highway. The blustery gales made for tough and draining riding. I stopped off at the Lake George Lookout. What the lake has in irony is what it lacks in water.

There was a wind-farm on the far side of the lake that could not have been better placed. Did I mention it was windy?

Upon arrival in Canberra, I quickly discovered that accommodation was not cheap! Parked at the Tourist Information centre I phoned around until I found accommodation in nearby Queanbeyan. Just as I was trying to work out how I would go getting to the place a group of local motorcyclists pulled in. "Are you lost?", one asked. "No, but I soon will be." was my honest reply! Two of the riders were learners who happened to be from Queanbeyan and they very kindly directed me to the gates of the van park where I had booked a cabin. They wished me well for the remainder of my trip and even suggested a good place to eat before departing. A genuine thanks go out to them.

So, reflecting on the day that saw me ride interesting and boring roads through some pretty and some scruffy scenery, in good conditions and less favourable ones, I got to contemplate motorcycle racers of days gone by, and reminded me of ones I would soon be watching. I enjoyed the uncertainty of what a line on the map would be like to travel along and was given assistance by people, simply because I shared the same passion that they had. Somewhere in that lot, was the reason I love to ride.