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Published on April 16th, 2024 | by Al

THE MOLONG TT

DAY ONE

Woody runs the TT every year. 2023 was to be the tenth. The first was, I think, the Tarana TT; then came Oberon. I’m a latecomer: I’ve only attended the Woodstock TT, the Blayney TT, and the Milthorpe TT.

The TT runs for three days and starts the day after Boxing Day. Day one, get there. Day two, ride in company. Day three, get home.

Woody got sick before Christmas 2023 and needed surgery. I was elected Clerk of the Course. Well more “appointed”, actually. Guy said “Al, you’re Clerk of the Course”, and everyone else was too drunk or couldn’t be bothered arguing.

The Molong TT – Day One

I left Sydney at 10:00 Wednesday. My first stop was Tarana, at around noon. A few years back I met an old guy in Brisbane who grew up in Tarana. He said his family, the Webbs, had farmed in Tarana since the 1800s. He said I should check the war memorial for the name Webb. The Webbs were always ready for a fight, he said, and an overseas trip with a fight at the end spoke to them deeply back in the day.

I parked the Kawasaki outside the pub and walked down to the war memorial. Two Webbs didn’t come back from World War I, and two didn’t come back from World War II. I took a couple of photographs, and walked back up to the pub. I had a beer for lunch and drank to their memory.

The Webbs and the Big One

I finished my beer and went back outside. There was a sweet looking MT-07 and a custom Harley-Davidson parked near the Ninja, and a greybeard looking at them. “Which one’s yours?” he asked.

“The green one”, I said.

He read the fairing. “A thousand cc”, he said. “You’ve done all right for yourself”.

I said I reckoned I had.

“Last bike I rode was in the eighties”, he said. “Great big half trail bike thing.”

“What model?”

“Honda. Four fifty.”

“I remember them”, I said. “Scrambler. They had torsion bar valve springs and it was really easy to scrape bits on the ground when you went around corners.”

“That’s the one”, he said.

Tarana Hotel parking lot. “The green one.”

I am not superstitious man, but I felt a vague sense of foreboding as I left Tarana. The songster Tom Waits would have had a similar feeling when, having spent all his money in the Mexican whorehouse across the street from the Catholic church, he wiped off his revolver and buttoned up his burgundy shirt.

I rode through O’Connell and The Lagoon, and took the back way west of Bathurst through Rock Forest and Emu Swamp.

Somewhere south of Molong a pair of cars had managed to have a head on collision on a straight road. I slowed right down with the rest of the traffic. It didn’t seem too bad. The men from the crashed vehicles had split the jobs of directing traffic and picking up bits of car from the road among themselves, and the women from the crashed vehicles had split the jobs of comforting children and sobbing into hands among themselves. No-one seemed badly hurt.

Enough people had stopped that I assumed emergency services had been notified. I resumed cruising speed, and an ambulance and a police car passed me heading south ten minutes later.

If that’s the worst the Road Gods are going to dish out, I thought, it will be a good TT.

Don was waiting at the pub at Molong. He lives down south of Bathurst, and he’d driven up on his BMW R75/5 outfit.

I had a beer or two with him and waited for the others to turn up. Mark, Guy and Steve from Queensland were first.

Gus, Mitch and Young Gus from Port Macquarie were next. I’ve ridden a fair bit with Gus, and it’s always hilarious. He’s quite deaf. I’ve had long conversations with him and found out later we were talking about totally different subjects, and when he’s stopped for an interview with the highway patrol they can’t understand him and insist on testing him for every drug they have a test kit for.

Mike and Katy from Sydney arrived shortly after. I did a head count. Ten. Good turnout.

We drank a few more beers. The only place that served food was the Chinese, so we went there and formulated the Order of Battle. This was, in essence, to meet at the only café open at 08:00 for breakfast and leave afterwards to take the route I had planned.

The company endorsed this plan, so we went back to the pub and I shared a hip flask of Speyside scotch with the whisky drinkers.

DAY TWO

The Molong TT – Day 2

 

Thommo met us at the café. He was riding from Victoria to visit his parents in Queensland and had decided to drop by and say hello. We had coffee and food and mounted up.

It was an eclectic selection of motorcycles. There were three KTMs, two Ducatis, a Suzuki GSX-R, two Triumphs, a Kawasaki and the BMW outfit.

Don took the direct route. The other nine of us headed out of town to the west, through Manildra and then down to Canowindra, where we cut across to Woodstock for morning beers.

The Woodstock pub wasn’t open.

First stop: the pub with no beer

We stopped there anyway to stretch our legs and cool down. We agreed that the Manildra road was pretty good, and the bit from Canowindra to Woodstock was great.

From there it was up the hills to Wyangala for fuel, and then the Reg Hailstone Way south through Frogmore and Rugby. It’s a fantastic road with a fantastic name. If I’d had a son I would have called him Reg Hailstone. I took a photo of the sign.

The Reg Hailstone Way begins at Wyangala

We stopped at Crookwell for more fuel and lunch and beer at the Criterion. The Port Macquarie guys enthused over the road. I told them they ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

Don outside the Criterion at Crookwell

Lunch done, we headed north through Tuena to Trunkey Creek. It’s a TT favourite and everyone except the Port Mac guys knew it. I spent a diverting half hour or so chasing Young Gus’s Desmosedici through the tightest bits. We stopped for afternoon beers at the Trunkey Creek pub. We decided that we would finish up by cutting a lap of the Mount Panorama race track on the way back.

There was a highway patrol car on the back straight, because of course there was. We completed a slow lap. We took the back roads north of the Great Western Highway to Molong, through Rock Forest and Emu Swamp again.

Guy chases Al over the top of Mount Panorama

The pub kitchen was open this time. We dined and repaired to the first floor verandah to drink the leftover take-aways. I shared a bottle of wine with Mike and Katy.

I went back to my room and checked up on Woody online. He said his surgery was a complete success and he’d come close to getting the bike out and coming down from New England to join us.

DAY THREE

I left a bit before 08:00. I took the Icely Road for the third time in three days. It’s better heading east. Even the scenery is better. I stopped and took a photo of it.

The scenic Icely Road

I went back pretty much the same way I came up. I got home and unpacked a bit before noon Friday. I checked the news to see what had been happening while I was away.

A fair proportion of Queensland was still under floodwater. The prime minister in that state’s hour of need was picking songs for a radio show. The adjacent municipal council, Sydney, had decided to pay some Aborigines to drive off evil spirits before the New Year’s Eve fireworks on Sunday.

I got the whisky bottle out and marinated some ice cubes. It was good to know that the evil spirits would be gone on Sunday. To be perfectly frank, I was getting a bit sick of them.

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About the Author

Al does a bit of everything, and likes hanging around with Boris, because there are generally motorcycles and whiskey, and because hilarity generally ensues. He wastes his spare time not moderating the BIKE ME! forums, where he posts occasionally and is regarded as unfair, unbalanced and unmedicated. Shows how much THEY know.



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