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20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima - Start

20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima?

20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima - Schmokin
20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima – Schmokin

Originally slated as Burrawang Pub; but I altered the lunch destination to Schmokin’ at Berrima about a week before on FB.

However, whoever edits the Ride Calendar was eerily prescient. It appeared as Berrawang from the get-go!

Note to self: must not assume everyone who turns up for a ride has caught up with updates via FB, so we did have some very perplexed riders on the middle leg of the ride, who sensed at one point they might be close to lunch, only to have Burrawang recede into the distance behind them. Let’s now return to the beginning……….

The morning was brisk but sunny and the one thing I actually did manage to make clear was that morno’s was to be at Gerringong. We had eleven turn up (good to see Brian V after a pretty long time between drinks, as they say) and as oft the case, Gentleman Jim kindly offered his services as Tail-end Charlie. I wanted to do the scenic run along LH Drive, but the Park seemed too cold and dark at this hour, so we got to Bald Hill via Symbio instead before the run to Thirroul and up the Pass to the motorway. The only thing of note was a posse of police vehicles from the Wollongong Command heading north with lights flashing and at high speed. Back up on the motorway, there was a Wollongong Highway Patrol Beemer also headed north at warp speed. All very curious. Maybe somebody did a heist on the Bald Hill ice cream van. Who knows?

Other than that, the run to Gerringong was pretty unremarkable. And of course, there’s never any parking on the main drag outside the café, is there? So, we dipped down to the parking lot below, only to find after trudging up the hill – six straight vacant parking spots right out front. Enough for all of us. Unheard of. CC from the Shoalhaven chapter was already there waiting on our arrival, as arranged via FB.

20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima - Gerringong
20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima – Gerringong

For the next leg, I took Jim’s sage advice to avoid Cambewarra Mountain and so we headed inland via Berry and Berry Mountain. Nothing too remarkable in that – until…………. the damned timber-jinker. While to us he was slow, things are relative, as Einstein would have told us; and I have to say he was actually pretty quick, all things considered. Like, when was the last time you saw a timber-jinker on an uphill climb have to stab the brakes on entry to a corner? There were other vehicles between him and me, so no point doing anything rash if I couldn’t get the rest of the group around with me. Lost sight of him at the top near Fitzroy Falls and ditched the idea of bailing out up Myra Vale Rd in case he had taken that right turn. So, on we pressed up Nowra Rd and he seemed to have disappeared. At this point, it became clear that because of the Berry short-cut, there was a heap of time to fill in before lunch (I’d told Schmokin’ 1230-1300). So, a detour up Sheepwash Rd, OK? Bingo! Here he is again. It wasn’t until we headed west along the Illawarra Highway that I got the chance to nail him; but when settling back to a respectable pace, that put the squeeze on those who followed me around him because he had by now really wound it up and was going like the clappers. You can’t win!

So, to pad it out, we turned off at Nowra Rd and headed out through Werai and Exeter (without 20 tonnes of timber up our asses) before heading back to lunch via Sutton Forest and Moss Vale. By arrangement, we shed three of twelve and so it was lunch for nine. Very nice it was, too.

The last leg started with another good suggestion from Jim. Out along Greenhills Rd to Wombeyan Caves Rd before heading into Mittagong, where Jim and I took the chance to gas up. At the servo I had a nice chat with the young Highway Patrol lady about the relative merits of her Beemer and the big Chryslers. She preferred the sheer grunt of the beast to European refinement. All very amicable, even though she saw us enter the servo via the exit. Always pays to keep the Gendarmes on side, I say. Which reminds me of an eerily similar encounter in France nearly 20 years ago. I’d had my wallet nicked, so was technically driving around France for 6 weeks without a licence – pretty much a hanging offence over there. When you report the theft, they give you a two-week get-out-of-gaol docket but after that, your open game and on your own. So, I’d been avoiding the cops like the plague until I’d wheeled into a servo on Mont Ventoux through the exit to find a Gendarme filling up next to me. To deflect attention from my blunder, a bit of a chat, albeit in dodgy high-school French, seemed the only way to go. But it worked. Whew! Now, back to 2023………….

20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima - Finish
20 July 2023: Schmokin’ Redux – Berrawang or Burrima – Finish

From there, all pretty bog-standard a run home. Across the line at Aylmerton, Old South Rd, old highway through the Y-towns, Wilton, Appin, and the customary farewells at Heathcote. Over-all, a pleasant 300-odd km in good company (thanks again, Jim for TEC duties and good advice) – AND with my established reputation for finding slow vehicles to follow well and truly intact!

Ride Report: by Craig Bernie 45102