Well, finally I am pushing out into the unknown world - the world North of Maroochydore. Which was, of course, my previous most Northerly experience.
I got out of Brisbane relatively unscathed, although it seemed like my time evaporated from in front of my eyes.
And when I say 'relatively', come to think of it I don't mean entirely.
On the Thursday, my final day in Brisbane, I decided - as many good bikers do - that the best way to enjoy a city is to ride outside it. So I got up bright and early (surprised that the sun had beat me to it by some margin), and headed West. Around Mt Coot-tha, and along the back roads towards Ipswich, I figured I may as well drop in on good old [Mick at Goodna]. We had a good yarn about - tyres, as one might expect - and I came away yet more impressed with Mick's expansive knowledge (and enthusiasm for waffling on with it), and happy that I've put faces and smiles to Mick and Rowena's names. Next time you're up for some rubber do yourself a favour - do what I do - and call Mick.
Anyway, not much further on from there, trying to find the track that gets to the edge of some reservoir I found myself looking at a service track and thinking "... perhaps, not a good idea - but the worst that could happen is that I can't get up it, and I just have to turn around and come back". Fair enough, isn't it? I should know well enough by now that that's a load of shit. Getting up is the easy part. Getting down is the hard part. As for turning around? You don't want to go there.
So the worst that could happen is that you get halfway up before discovering that it's too difficult - and you can't get up any further. And when your rear starts spinning and you put on the front brake, that only means you're sliding backwards with two useless wheels - until of course you stall it trying to use the rear without straight spinning it. And then you drop it.
And then you pick it back up again, and think "bugger, getting down is going to be hard." And then you realise that that is the least of your problems, because it's impossible to turn around.
So you stick it somewhere relatively stable and think it over, and conclude, perhaps absurdly: the only way down is to go backwards, using the throttle (without stalling it, or spinning it up too much). Absurd, but true!
I had the unexpected problem initially, that it wasn't possible to even get the bike to go backwards. To get the rear down the hill I'd hold the front brake and spin it up - the rear would slide down hill, but the front, in a slippery rut of its own, would follow suit as if in sympathy. Three or four metres were in fact traversed sideways, an experience definitely new to me. In the end I managed to find enough grip to get the bike rearranged to actually back down. While the throttle work was a bit strange at first, once used to it it didn't actually prove that dangerous heading backwards - not that the irregular, unplanned spinning and sliding didn't bring out any sweat that the sun and the excertion didn't.
I pulled into one of those 'side alley' runoff things you find bulldozed off steep dirt tracks, and used that to get the bike pointed in the right direction - after a good few minutes for each of us to cool down. From there, the gradient was much milder, and the final section was easier - though no less relieving for it.
Pulling up at the road to double check everything revealed the only damage to be a curved shifting rod (hand straightenable), and that in fact none of the fairings, nor the mirror, appear to have hit the deck at all So Good Times, eh?
A lot has happened since Brisbane though, and especially recently it's been really good - I'll put up a few words about that soon. (And there are heaps of photos too.)