After an early start from Melbourne, we found ourselves rumbling over the bridge at Bonnie Doon. We were on our way to Mansfield and the inaugural running of the 2009 Sawmill rally and the early start and a lack of coffee was beginning to take its toll.
Our breakfast stop at Macca’s in Croydon was marred by the coffee machine being out of order. Clenched jaws and an uneasy silence were endured until we could score a couple of coffees at a roadhouse at Glenburn.
130 Keen riders entered the event
With the postponement of the Kenda rally to 2010 due to the devastating fires of Black Saturday, the Alexandra district MCC had decided to run a boutique rally at a new location near the base of Mt Buller. The plan was to get around 100 participants and they ended up getting 130 keen riders.
It had been a week of 30 plus temperatures in Melbourne the week previous and probably a few degrees hotter round Mansfield, so we were prepared for dust and warm conditions, but it was cool and slightly overcast when we hopped out of the car after been guided into the rally car park by some orange vested officials. After been given instructions on where to get our bikes scrutineered, we pushed our bikes past the DSE noise testing guys over to a quikshade, where our bikes were checked over , numbered and our licenses taken. Quick & easy.
The message is clear, keep em quiet
We were directed to push our bikes across the bridge to grid up with the other riders on our minute. My riding buddy had disappeared, as he had spotted the mobile café out the back by the river and he soon was back with a couple of steaming foam cups with some surprisingly good coffee and some bacon & egg rolls. Did some one say boutique? Now we were in business!
The riding is a big part of why we ride these events, but the people you bump into at Rallies like this add another dimension to the experience. Guys you used to ride with or race against always seem to pop up at these things & its great to catch up and see what’s been going on. Big cross section of Bikes and riders too, from grizzled old timers, who’ve seen it all on old XRs to wide eyed young bucks on their fully blinged out wonder bikes.
Cool of in the river crossings
Before long we were listening to the Riders briefing and then around a dozen riders in full riding gear lined up for a 50 metre running race with the prize being a pair of quick locks. These are a hilarious part of Alexandra club events and the rugby tackle at the end actually resulted in one of the contestants copping an accidental whack to the head, giving the bemused medical staff their first minor job for the day.
Our crew was off from around the middle of the pack and it soon became apparent that the dust was going to keep the speeds down. Following the arrows was easy, but remembering what tracks you were on got a bit hazy as the event went on. Gonza ridge and Tomahawk Spur track were two I remember and there were some nice tight horse trails with some easy and hard options.
Snotty down hills were part of the fun
There was the compulsary rocky downhill that a few riders were having trouble with and the obligatory obscured arrowed corner that we missed and had to backtrack on, but the track selection was great and more than a few riders reckoned they might come back for a closer look around the area. By this stage of the day, the sun was high and so were the temperatures.
Dusty but fun at the same time hanging the rear out on a corner
Would have been nice to have a few more creek crossings to cool ourselves down with, but before we knew what was going on, we were back at the start finish area and the girls at the control informed us that we had finished our first loop.
Back in the car park, we refuelled our bikes and Camelbacks and had a bite to eat. Back at the start line we were told that the second loop was shorter but similar to the first with a few extra tight sections to spice it up. With all the traffic from the first loop it was a bit powdery in spots, but there were less riders, so it kind of evened out.
Buttercup Jeep track was a little hairy the second time around with the dust and the sun up high reducing visibility and the spoon drains seemed to have gotten bigger the further we rode, but we soon found ourselves back down the track to the finish. The girls at the tent gave us our licences back and a show bag featuring a grouse stubby holder that’s going straight to the pool room…..
Whilst we waited for the last riders to come in, we loaded up the bikes, stripped of our stinking sweaty riding gear, grabbed a hard earned feed and a drink and headed down to the crystal clear river and promptly sparked some sort of EPA alert, as we soaked our aching feet in the river, bench raced and generally talked bullshit until the prize giving ceremony got underway.
Thanks to Ron Angel Wholesale, Honda and the rest of the Alexandra clubs generous sponsors, it seemed as if every second rider won a prize of some sort, with Kenda tyres and tubes, Mobil oil packs, EK chains. TBAM subscriptions. Toylocks, 1ST Class Motorcycles Vouchers and the grand prize of a CRF50 Honda being distributed amongst the waiting crowd.
A well run event with no real injuries other than a few sprains and bruises. I think the Alexandra district MCC have hit the nail on the head with this ride. Keep an eye on EMD for their next event.
See you on the trails....