DMCC Off-Road Series Rnd 5
Briagolong, 29th July 2012
And Roving Report by Geoff Morris – Harrow Vinduro
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Well! This weekend turned out to be quite an interesting one, more than usual. After two weeks of not being on the bike I was looking forward to getting back out there again. It was Dandenong MCC’s Round 5 of their Off-Road championships, at a large property outside of Briagolong, 15-20 minutes out of Sale, East Gippsland, and I treated myself to Friday off to get organized. As you may recall I have recently bought a couple of Suzuki PE250s (1981 & 1982) and I had a call from Darren White on Thursday telling me they were ready after one of them had seized on me. So I picked them up on Friday and got them back home. Blundstones and all I decided I would cut a few laps on the track at home and after about 10 minutes or so I thought “this bike is ridiculously easy to ride”. It had smooth linear power, started first kick every time, and you could sit on the seat with both feet flat on the ground as the seat height is very low. So I thought I would bring it along and do a lap or two on it. It was loaded into the super duper trailer along with the RMX450, RM85 for daughter Sarah and the TTR125 for photographer Jo.
We were to set off early Saturday morning as we had a long drive ahead and I wanted to help out with some track clearing. And it’s a good job we did leave early as it was over a three hour journey (with stops for
Barcelona Omlette x 2 and fuel). As we left Lilydale there was a constant drizzle of rain, and as we headed out towards Traralgon it didn’t stop raining until we reached Moe when the sun finally poked through the clouds and we finished the journey into the bush in dry weather. The site was very easy to find as there were good instructions and maps provided by the club making for easy navigating.
Now, this private property is around 177 acres of bushland on undulating hills and the track was utilising a good chunk of it. The camp site was in amongst the trees with each trailer or caravan getting a clearing custom-made on arrival. Over 60 riders were scheduled to ride the next day and I’d say maybe half of these were there to camp over night along with families so plenty of socializing to be done.
We found a good spot and finished unpacking, then I thought I’d give the PE its first real try-out. But not before Lambie (Andrew Lambie, #909) had come over to inspect my PE and start his heckling over it. More on that later.
I headed out on the PE finding the track to be single trail with a few whoops, and ruts in the corners. There was a little dampness in the track and the odd small patch of mud but nothing to worry about. As I wound my way through the bush there was not a soul in site, I came to an area that would be described as tea-tree bush. Mick Denham (#599 and #CAT277B) had been through there with his – what can only be described as ‘massive super bob cat with tracks’ – the perfect tool for the job.
You’re kidding, right? You’re going to ride that old heap of junk? You don’t have a chance!
Yeah yeah, at least I won’t be hitting any trees, Lambie
Mick drives these machines for a living…..
MKD Excavations and Plant Hire
Peninsula and SE Melbourne - 0418 533 117
This man could fold a handkerchief with this bobcat
Only weeks before this had been a handle-bar width track overgrown with branches that would slap you in the goggles. It wound its way down and across the side of a hill with a bit of slippery mud and rocks chucked into the mix. The track then zig-zagged its way back up the hill (bob-cat width) which was an absolute hoot to ride. As for me helping out on the track, all I could really do was to stop and chuck a couple of rocks off the track, and the odd stick as the boys had already been through with the whipper snippers, chainsaws and bobcats so not a lot left to do. After completing a lap I headed back into camp and took Sarah and Jo over to the mini-bike track that Tony Tucci and crew had laid out for the novice riders.
They’d made a really nice user-friendly track for the kids and after Jo and Sarah had warmed up on it they seemed keen enough to tackle the senior track. Now, the loop would have been around 15-20 minutes long. And I thought ‘yeah, they can get round it, taking the novice diversions for the less experienced riders’. So off we went about 3.45pm. All was going fine – slow, but fine, up until we reached a few slippery hills, and slippery logs. As we all know, novice riders don’t handle slippery things so well. I must have spent as much time walking up and down hills, yelling, screaming and pointing out instructions as I did on the bike. But we eventually made it back to camp after one loop, just before nightfall. We all deserved a feed and a cold drink.
We settled down for some dinner as a light drizzle began to fall. Several camp fires were already going and we spent a good few hours chatting, swapping stories, heckling and watching the young boys wrestling and sparring around the camp site – all in good fun. Oh to have that much energy again – wish I was 17 again. Around about 8-9 o’clock Bear (Nathan Allen) came round to tell us all that the decision had been made to postpone the event to another day due to the access track into the property being impassable for anything other than a 4WD vehicle. Which was a wise move as we saw the next morning. This didn’t dampen spirits too much as there was still an opportunity to ride the track non-competitively. Which, come the next morning, we all did.
Except for my mate Lambie on his Kawasaki KX250 (2011) who thought he was going to have an easy time, dispatching of me and the PE250 (1982). As the two of us took off, with him in front, I let him take the lead for a short time as I tagged him around the track. We stopped on about three occasions to help a few of the kids that had got stuck on the hills, each time Lambie making sure he took off first. I thought to myself “next time we stop, I’m taking off first. I’ve seen enough of Lambie’s Kawasaki back guard”. We stopped to help another of the kids again and I took off first. I could hear him occasionally for about the first minute but that old PE was handling beautifully and with each corner the gap increased until I couldn’t hear him anymore. Then I thought I’d pull up and wait and see where he was. He wasn’t that far behind but I had time enough to turn off the bike and have a look around, only to see him come around the corner and ride straight into a large gum tree. “Lambie, mate, watch where you’re going! Maybe Mick should’ve moved that metre-wide gum tree”.
We set off again, Lambie in front again this time. We had another brief stop to straighten his handlebars from that bl**dy tree that jumped out in front of him, off we went again. Just as we came to the final part of the track, my old mate Lambie, distracted once again this time by photographer Jo, tipped himself out of a rut and into the tea-tree as the camera shutter clicked, capturing every glorious moment.
I rode up beside him, waited for him to compose himself, then we were all laughing as we rode back to the camp. So whilst me and Lambie didn’t race this weekend we took a non-competitive trail ride (yeah right… ) through the bush together.
Jo also managed a quick chat with Adam Cornthwaite before he ventured out and here’s what she found out:
JO’s Rider Profile
ADAM CORNTHWAITE #586
Age: 48 Lives: Cranbourne Local Club: DMCC Works: self-employed bricklayer, residential work, all suburbs: 0417 566 505 Started Riding: 9 years old (1972) on an XR75. Started racing at 12 years old on a YZ80 Bikes Owned: XR200, IT490, DT200, CRM250 (the purple one), CRF250 and currently on a KTM200 EXC
Major Achievement on the bike: “I’m still walking”
Why Off-Road Racing?: “I like not knowing what’s around the next corner”
Who Inspires You: “I’ll regret saying this but my inspiration is my brother Andrew who is still riding at 52 years old.”
The Future: “I’m going to keep doing the DMCC Off-Road Club Champs and VORC (I’m in the top 10 over-45s). I’d like to do the Hattah next year, hopefully with Andrew and my other brother Gary who is 50” – we reckon that would make a great story!
Why the knitted hat with the plaits? “It keeps my ears warm”
We all started the muddy task of packing up bikes and gear to head home. Which leads us to the next adventure – how to get out of the bush. Thank God for Mick Denham and his bob-cat. Only a few trailers made it out before the road became impassable and a new track had to be forged so we could all get home.
Souvlaki and Cold Rock ice-cream at Traralgon was our treat for all the hardships of camping and then back to the showery weather as we neared Melbourne. Despite the fact we didn’t actually race we had a fun weekend with camping, motorbike riding, catching up with mates and seeing a part of Victoria we’d never been to before. It is a really beautiful part of the country up there – we saw a few wallabies and evidence of many other forms of wildlife (not all of them dead beside the road). So give these more remote events a try, take the family and have some fun.
Our thanks to the incredibly hard working team of the Off-Road DMCC (Bryan Noble, Nathan “Bear” Allen new President of the club, Frank Gogol, Alan Bernhard (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!), Tony Tucci, Steve Mason), and the very kind landowner who let us mould
the property to our use. And special thanks again to Mick Denham - if he hadn’t have been there, we might still be there!