View Full Version : Easter on the Reefton...

20-04-2006, 07:39 PM
Howdy all! First post, and I've been politely asked by Glitch to repost a ride I recently enjoyed on one of Victoria's great motorcycling roads. I hope you enjoy it!

After being a little slow getting onto the road after a rather late night, I was out and riding by 9:30am, heading through Berwick on my way to Warburton. The sun was out, the birds were chirping, and not too much holiday traffic around - seemed like a ripper morning for a ride! As I headed on the usual roads out through to Woori Yallock, my path seemed clear, almost completely dry and I was in a good mood. Winding the bike through the gears a little I remembered why I loved riding so much and wondered why it had been so long since I'd taken to these roads.

Stopping in Woori Yallock for a morning snack, I looked out upon the spectacular Yarra Ranges. The rolling mountains beckoned to me, as they always do, and as always, I succumbed to their charm and jumped back on the bike ready to take them on. The blackening clouds over the southern ranges did not deter: surely it could not rain on this most special of days!

As slowly made my way through to Warburton and beyond, the road became wetter, darker and much, much colder. By the time I pulled over to don a much-needed jumper, I doubted the wisdom in continuing on my journey: the road was now completely wet, and the sun had mysteriously vanished from the sky above. My sense of adventure prevailed: why not try a little wet weather riding? I vaguely recalled some insane lean angles claimed for my tyres, and figured if they could do it, so could I!

I pressed on.

As the road twisted and winded it's way tighter and tighter on to Reefton, my confidence and resolve increased. The road was clean, if wet, and I was cornering faster and faster as I approached that first turn into Reefton. A quick look around revealed no other bikes - I guessed wet roads weren't a big draw card this morning. As I passed and headed into the first few corners, I was confident, in control and having a ball, despite the wet and cold conditions. I still loved riding! Smile

Alas, the perfect bike ride wasn't to be. By the time I was about a quarter of the the way into the first Reefton section, the road surface and conditions had changed yet again. Apparently the rain that had so dampened the road had failed to give it a good scrub: the glint of rainbow splotches could be seen at regular intervals through the middle of my lane. Diesel or oil - either way it meant trouble, and I backed off a little as I criss-crossed the lane for it's left and right-hand turns. Still, it wasn't as bad as I could be, and my mood was still bright!

As I approached the halfway mark, a new challenge presented itself. Resurfacing. Many of you may have been aware, but it seems the first section of Reefton has undergone some resurfacing quite recently, and the quality of the road is fantastic, particularly in the wet. However, the tell-tale gravel still covered the middle of lanes in both directions, and it was deep. Gravel in the wet is a tricky beast: although it's not quite as slippery, it does pose a greater threat. Gravel will break your traction with the road - and on a wet surface, it's far more difficult to regain! I proceeded with caution, but I was safe, sticking like glue to the sides of my lane, and crossing the gravel only in the safety of the straights.

After a short distance, the gravel gave way to the older surface again, and yet another problem surfaced. It was colder still, and now the lazy patchwork of years past gleamed in vicious black lines, covering the road from left to right. Covering cracks they may be, but on a wet day, I'd prefer a hole in the road, every time! Most roads see a couple of these in a few areas - now near the end of Reefton's first section, they were everywhere, and there was no avoiding them as the wound over the road. Once, twice, three times my tyres slipped as I crossed another smooth tar patch, and I began to wonder if I had the nerve to make it all the way through to Marysville. I backed off and kept my line - I could do this, I'm sure! A few more corners and I'd made the top. Success!

Relieved, I pulled over for a breather and admired the view and a steady procession of cars and 4WDs on their way to Lake Mountain - all with headlights on (not a good sign!). Not wanting to waste too much time, and wary of the forecast for afternoon rain, I set off again down the road to Marysville. Through the first few corners I admired the yellow road markings as they glistened in the dull morning light - guiding me gently down the road. The first of the real corners approached and I slowed and tipped in gently, admiring my surroundings: a true rainforest. The road here was wet, but still mostly clean and I was fairly sure of myself as I coasted smoothly through corner after corner.

Whoa! Unexpectedly, my front wheel does it's best to slide from under me, as I correct and straighten through a corner that I swear was clean of diesel or gravel. Again, the next corner, and the back wheel slips a little as I accelerate out of the turn. It dawns on me - the road is too smooth. Here the black-top is worn away by the daily passing of log trucks, and all that is left is a shiny, black, smooth line of road that holds little traction for sport tyres like my own when a thin layer of water seperates the two. One more slip, this causing me to correct over the centre-line, and I slow down dramatically - this road is far too dangerous now to be cornering quickly.

At this point of the journey, I take stock - it's wet, extremely slippery, very cold and I've only just averted disaster many times today. But for some strange reason, I'm still enjoying the challenge of it all. I feel there's something deeper here, and if I don't press on, I'll miss an important lesson.

As I approach a faster downhill section, a fog sets in, and leaf litter starts to appear in patches on the road. Now I can only see 20 metres in front of me, and I slow down again. Compared to a sunny ride through Reefton, I'm practically crawling along the slick road, with metre-long bits of bark and branches; a heavy fog hiding the turns until the last possible moment. It feels like I'm in another world - looking out through the trees, I can't help but think that I'm no longer on the same planet, let alone on the same road I knew. Despite all dangers, I smile, grin, then relax, taking in the moment. As I round the last couple of corners into Marysville, I realise I've just enjoyed the best ride I've had in a long time. The singular experience that is a riding a motorcycle has been captured for me in a lonely ride through Reefton, through the most difficult of conditions. I can't help but feel that I've been changed forever: although I can't fathom the full extent of meaning I've gained today, I've surely made a leap along whatever path I...no WE...all walk. For me, Reefton will never be quite the same.


21-04-2006, 07:33 AM
Enjoyed that one for sure. Thanks for an exceptional and somewhat unusual read, much appreciated. :)
What an entry for a first post... :)

21-04-2006, 08:58 AM
Great read Tenoq, while its home to me its great to see someone else’s thoughts on the valley and the Refton on an average day.

Stopping in Woori Yallock for a morning snack, I looked out upon the spectacular Yarra Ranges. The rolling mountains beckoned to me, as they always do, and as always, I succumbed to their charm and jumped back on the bike ready to take them on.

Just a little secret of mine, Try the bakery at Launching Place just off the highway on the left about a k before you get to the Pub.