Traverse 06 - Page 26

I t’s cold, bitterly cold. Small clouds of steamy air rise from the numerous groups, discussing the plans for the day. Hushed tones hide the nervousness amongst a great array of bikes. There’s a lot of yellow, there’s a lot of Suzu- ki’s. We’re stood in the carpark of the McDonald’s in Lithgow, New South Wales (Australia). The sun hasn't risen yet, the tem- perature is below zero, we’re promised it will be a perfect day for exploring the outer western side of the famous Blue Moun- tains. This is the Suzuki Adventure Ride, a week- end very different to many other adventure rides. There’s Suzuki’s as far as the eye can see, about 60 bikes have turned up, mostly Suzuki’s how- ever, unlike many other manufacturer run rides this one is open to all, there’s a handful of Honda’s, KTM’s and BMW’s. There’s no discrimina- tion, just friendly banter … discussions of the capabilities of Suzuki’s and the lack of from the other manufacturers. It’s all in good humour. An address by former three-time Australian Superbike Champion, Shawn Giles, sets the tone for the day; this is not about racing, it’s about having fun, enjoying the ride, enjoy- ing the bikes. The roads will be easy, we’re told al- though, Shawn is quick to point out there’s a more challenging route if any- one is interested in fol- lowing him. Excited con- versations ripple through the crowd. A mixed group head off following Shawn, a mot- ley group of bikes, some battered, some new, small, large, all ready for the adventure. Those remaining prepare for the more sedate ride, the nervous tension now replaced with anticipation. What will this ride hold for us? We ride off toward Hassans Walls, a tight uphill climb, a TRAVERSE 26