March Moto Madness began back in 2006 when a bunch of riders got together for a few days of riding and camping in the mountains of east Tennessee. Slowly but surely it has grown to the point where there are simultaneous events held in half a dozen countries. A few months back Andrea read about the event and sent a casual note to the orgnaisers… and before she knew it she was the organizer of the first MMM event in New South Wales!
Lots of planning led to the discovery of the Bylong Creek 4×4 park east of Mudgee – a large property with some amazing terrain to ride and some great spots to camp. Owner Bruce Kearney came to the party and helped pull the event together. We were pretty busy in the lead up and didn’t have a chance to head up for a reccie, so we headed off on the Thursday to get in early and check things out.
After loading up the bikes and dropping a few extra things off at Ian and Shirley’s place for them to bring up in their car (like a first aid kit that would cover everything short of open-heart surgery and several bottles of wine – true essentials) we headed off up through the Bells Line of Road. A quick stop a Lithgow then on through to Kandos where we met up with Bruce and arranged for meat from the local butcher (Dicko in Rylstone!) for the Saturday night BBQ. From there it was off to Bylong through the great scenery along the Bylong Valley Way. Took the turn off at the Upper Bylong Road, then started along the dirt road into the property. The road started getting rougher the further we went and for rookie riders like us we wondered just how challenging it would be to simply get to the campsite! Bruce had suggested the “Top Campsite” for us, so we followed the track up the hill (with the riding getting even more challenging) until we emerged at a fantastic campsite. We set up and had a wonderful dinner around the campfire in the total solitude.
Woke up to a beautiful morning with the resident kangaroos looking a bit miffed about the new visitors. Got the fire going – didn’t need any matches as the coals were still hot enough to get kindling going – and in fact we never had to “light” the fire for the whole weekend as the coals just kept glowing! – and went for a bit of a wander to check out alternative access as we were a bit worried about the cars getting up the track we’d arrived on. Sure enough an easier alternative route was found so we placed a few signs on the road in to make sure everything was clear. With our phone charger cable failing, we decided to ride into Mudgee via Wollar (with a nice but corrugated section of dirt) to sort things out. Later that afternoon the first of the MMMers arrived – Ian and Shirley (with the wine!), Beukes and Ann, Wayne and Jackie, Alex, Brett, Duane, Mike V, Mike R and Mark – and the campsite started to look like a proper gathering. Another great night around the campfire and everyone headed for bed.
Another stunning morning (the weather was perfect all weekend) and after breakfast were broke into smaller groups and headed off to explore the area with the plan to meet up at the Globe Hotel in Rylstone for lunch. Andrea and I headed in to Rylstone then out towards Olinda and Dunn’s Swamp (an amazing oasis in the dry and rock terrain). I misread the map and we ended up heading deeper into the Nullo Mountain State Forest on the Mount Coricudgy Road. Eventually we got to a sign advising that there was a locked gate ahead so we headed back into town for lunch. Three more MMMers arrived – Peter, Pete M and Andrei – and after a hearty feed we again headed off in various groups to explore. This time Beukes joined Andrea and I on a cracker section of dirt out through Breakfast Creek – one of the nicest, flowing sections of dirt we’d ridden in a while. Back at camp a few of us had a crack on Ian’s trials bike – much more challenging than it looks! – then tucked into a great dinner with more meat on the BBQ than we could put away. After way too many bottles of red we called it a night after a brilliant day.
Bacon and eggs was the perfect way to start the day, although it was sad to realise it was the day to head home. We all felt like we’d settled in way too well and could have hung around for a week. Lots of packing up followed by obligatory group shots before we all started the journey home.
While we didn’t complete any of the traditional MMM activities we’d originally planned, it was a huge success with some great friends made and everyone is already excited about the next one where we really will have a better idea around just what we can achieve. Andrea and I headed home via Glen Alice and the Capertee Canyon – another stunning ride with amazing scenery and fun dirt and tar roads. A quick stop for apple pie and coffee at Bilpin on the way back down the Bells Road (had to sample the local apples!) and we rolled back into the garage at home around 5pm.
All in all a huge success – with great organisation from Andrea – and a fantastic group of people. It seems wrong that we have to wait until March 2016 to do it all again… surely an October Moto Madness is what’s required!
And make sure you check out this video from our MMM buddy, the wonderfully talented Wayne Dowsent (www.waynedowsent.com.au)!