Last year in Jerusalem
One missed corner = one adventure
Words and photos: Beaker
What started off as a nice leisurely Sunday morning ride for breakfast turned into a mini adventure, complete with dirt tracks, water crossings and getting caught in one of the heaviest downpours I have ever ridden in.
Kat & I dropped into Steve & Denitta’s place around 8:30am on Sunday to see if they wanted to join us for the scoot down the motorway to enjoy breakfast overlooking the beach at Byron. After allowing them a half hour to get ready, we headed south, crossed the border and in what was a first for me, rode the recently completed stretch of motorway between the Burringbar and Brunswick Heads turn-offs (big deal – flat straight and unexciting, but better than what used to be there). After a slight hiccup with our leader missing the Byron exit (good on ya Denitta!), we eventually made it and joined the end of the line of traffic entering the town, but managed to jump a few spots whilst fast tracking to the Beach Hotel.
We pulled up and left the bikes parked right out the front – we ate brunch and sat for a while taking in all the sights and, as always in a town like Byron, there were plenty!
Once done, we thought we would take the scenic route back via the Coolamon Scenic Drive and possibly end up back on the highway near Mullumbimby. We managed to follow this road and really enjoyed it, riding through some tight curves and straights with awesome views out to the coast and other sections where the trees totally enclosed the road. The surface in some spots was a bit rough but we were not travelling at great speed so it was bearable.
We made our way through Mullumbimby, but as we exited I managed to take the wrong turn (shhh – don’t tell ’em – they thought I knew where I was going!) – and instead of heading straight out to the motorway we ended up on Main Arm Road, which took us through some beautiful countryside. We were, err, also forced to cross a few flooded creeks on the many causeways along the way.
The further along this road we progressed, the deeper the crossings were becoming and the more flood damage we were seeing, but we continued along to Upper Main Arm. It was here that we stopped and spoke to a fella who was clearing debris off the road – he told us that if we continued along this road we could make it to Uki, but we would have to ride through Mt Jerusalem National Park on dirt roads. I didn’t particularly wish to return the way we’d come so we decided to continue. When the bitumen ran out and we were forced onto the dirt, I really began to think we should have turned back.The first part of dirt was deeply rutted from the rain that the area had experienced over the last week and where it wasn’t, the surface was greasy from the wet clay-like mud – not good on road tyres! After a quick chat, we again decided to continue, albeit very slowly.
A little further along, once inside the National Park, the track improved heaps – it had obviously been well maintained by the National Parks & Wildlife Service and so remained pretty smooth. We made it to the top where the road branched off and stopped for a break – both Steve and Denitta were really enjoying the ride and so were we – almost felt like explorers as we had not seen anyone else for a while. Off in the distance we could hear the thunder of an approaching storm so decided to get to Uki as soon as possible. The road running down was very steep in some places and Kat was holding onto me tighter than ever. I quickly learnt to use the engine (and not the brakes) to slow us as we descended on the loose surface – it worked really well. We all made it safely back onto the bitumen and thought we were OK for the short run into Uki and a beer at the pub. We were wrong.
We didn’t realise until a few km further down the road that we still had some flooded causeways to cross, with the last one being the deepest and the freakiest. On crossing the first of three, the thing that really struck me was the sideways force on the bike from the flow of the creek trying to pull us downstream.
We finally came across the last and deepest, and this was the time that I seriously considered returning the way we’d come over the mountain. It was probably about 40cm at the deepest part but was flowing fairly fast. Good ole Stevo thought bugger it and crossed first on his Speedmaster – he made it all the way, but just as he exited the bike stalled – that’s what happens if you go too fast, mate!
Kat & I were up next – it was a battle trying to keep the bars heading in the right direction, but we made it no worries. Last was Denitta on her new HD Nightster – she took it slowly as well, but you could see her being forced towards the edge due to the lack of weight. She exited the water much faster than she had entered, but we honestly thought she was going under for a few short seconds – not bad for someone who has only been riding for a short time – she is a real trooper!
We stopped on the other side and watched as a two cars turned around and headed back, not willing to cross what we just had. The Speedmaster had swallowed a bit of water into the airbox causing it to stall as it exited the crossing – once we had removed the filter it started fine.
We got to Uki and had a quick beer at the pub before deciding to head for Murwillumbah and then home. Some of the damage caused by the flooding in the rivers was incredible – bridges damaged and covered in foliage, large tree trunks that had been washed down along the rivers left in some pretty unusual positions, dirt and gravel on the road in a lot of places from washouts and the majority of lower-lying fields still submerged. After passing through Murwillumbah and seeing how full the Tweed was, we were diverted via Cudgen. The main connecting road to the motorway was flooded.
This is about when the rain started – it wasn’t too bad until we were a fair bit further up the highway heading towards Brisbane. When it came down, it really came down hard – so hard that I reckon it was about the worst rain I had ridden in. And you know what topped it off? About 5 minutes after it stopped we were in full sun again and even managed to dry a little before riding into Steve & Denitta’s place.
This was definitely a memorable ride and one I will do again. Maybe next time when the region isn’t in flood…