I‘ve also driven it in a cage just for kicks; it’s an amazing road that cuts right alongside the edge of a cliff. On one side you have a sheer rock face and the other nothing. Just certain death if you go down. All three of us were keen to see what kind of condition it was in and had heard it was good, recently graded all the way. Wombat is quite sure that the petrol guy thought he saw me on a big dirt bike when he said that. Lolbat.
To be honest we all joked that it feels like one of the most dangerous roads you can ride, but I don’t think that’s far wrong. Plenty must have fallen too, in fact two of our own had little whoopsies the first time we all rode it together a few years ago now.
When I drove up in a car I actually saw a Pajero that had fallen down the cliff and a rattled and rolled cager was staggering back up the road to the local ranger who found him, blood running down his face – it must have been the fright of his life. Rutts and massive buried chunks of ancient rock jut up out of the road when you least expect it and what you climb you must also descend. It is dangerous and you have to be careful and also confident, again very glad I had hit the dirt for a practise run yesterday I steeled myself and took the first 20 or 30kms quite slowly, edging up the red dust hills.
I prefer the climbing bit, the descending bit is pretty hairy and that sense of weightlesness can be alarming and make the front feel surreal. Not sure if you should be using engine braking, front brakes or sliding the back to slow, it’s just a crap load of anticipation and serious concentration required not to go over. Blasted Tenres and gigantic spacemen riding KTM Supermotos blasting past with a nod at high speed don’t help either!
The Barry Way was certainly scary at first and as said I started out a bit slow creeping around corners up and over, trying to stay out of the ruts, trying not to lose the front end. Then I started getting angry at myself for riding like this and I started to get on the throttle a bit more, edging forwards a bit quicker and testing out that back wheel under gas on the straights, to see what it could pull me out of and what was going too far.
I had a scary moment (I hope it’s on camera but I havent found it amongst all the footage yet), the front took a big slide going into a left hand corner (the rock face side) and I panicked for a second, instinctively reaching for the front brake before something kicked in, and the front leg went out and I slammed my left big toe down pretty hard, before rolling on the gas powering out of it just in time.
A big grin appeared on my face, I thought, that’s how you do it. Power out of oversteer and keep off the brakes. I started putting this to the test more and getting more power down at the rear and just staying loose on the bars, relaxing and letting them do whatever they wanted, I found a bit of a groove, then I started spinning the back up along the straights and getting used to how that felt, it was amazing. The roads the Victorian side of the mountain were better and recently graded and I started really getting stuck into it.
I found that point when the front slides a couple more times and was able to counter it with more confidence and started really pumping out some decent speed – yes, in the dirt, on a Hypermotard. I didn’t buy it to sit and polish it.
It was mad fun. At some point I caught the boys ahead and roosted past them in a fit of manic giggling and found myself doing the national speed limit spinning up the back wheel. The sound the Velocity Stacks produce is the most addictive induction roar I have ever heard and being in the dirt getting it to spin up the back at 100kms is just the best feeling I can imagine. It’s more than addictive, it’s better than most things I can name.
At a couple of points there getting into the New South Wales part there was some scary road works, and I mean divets in the road that were like 30 – 50cm deep pot holes that could easily throw you off, but I found going faster and just hitting them head on with loose hands on the bars the Hyper just soaks them up.
At one of these points I hit a pretty big rock head on at maybe 70kms, I am sure it was the rib cage of prehistoric T-Rex, and it kicked the back wheel up in the air quite alarmingly, freaking me out for a nanosecond before that manic invincible ten year old boy took back over and kept the throttle pinned (laughing like a rabid hyena inside my lid).
Wombat riding a BMW RT hit one pretty hard, bottomed out and snapped his pannier off sending it spinning 400m back down the road behind him. That would have looked pretty spectacular but could have been a serious issue if anyone was behind him. Fortunately there wasn’t and he nursed it gently back over the last few kms to Jindabyne where we managed to find a way to secure it for the rest of the ride ahead.
Every bit of this ride is worth it if you don’t mind a couple of hours riding in the dirt, the reward at the end is that you pop out over the mountains into Jindabyne, one of my favourite places on Earth. In fact you pop out with about 10 to 15 kms of flat wide bitumen riding into Jindabyne across the plains which is just the way to blast off some of the dust.
There is something warm and inviting about Jindabyne, it feels like home to me. I could sit and stare at the Lake for ever. It must be amazing when it is snowed in.