Bonus Downs: When Adventure Becomes Misadventure

My trip to the Annual Get-Together at Bonus Downs ended after 200kms on the first day when the Transalp and I had an accident near Quambone in Western NSW. Here’s the story.

It seemed a simple enough plan. A three day ride up and a two day ride home to a part of QLD that I hadn’t been to before (or anywhere near). I was going to ride the first and last day by myself, meeting the Coonabarabran guys at Lightning Ridge on Sunday night, and leaving Les’s group at Collarenbri on Friday morning.

Sunday’s route had me riding from Narromine via Warren-Quambone-Carinda-Walgett to Lightning Ridge. The road is sealed to Quambone then I was going to play the amount of dirt riding by ear depending on time of day, fuel/food stops etc. I ride by myself a lot and wasn’t particularly concerned. Leaving Quambone, the Carinda road had new bitumen for the first one or two kms then turned to dirt. Rounding the first corner of dirt the road immediately ahead was deep bulldust stretched right across the road and as far as you could see. You can guess the next bit, loss of momentum, front wheel started to figure S and down we went on the right side.

Lying on the ground I knew I had hurt my shoulder but decided I was otherwise OK to get up. I wasn’t expecting much traffic to come along, and I knew I couldn’t lift the bike, so I waited for a passer-by which turned out to be no more than ten minutes. A couple of locals helped me right the bike and get it started after which I decided to ride to Coonamble to get checked out at Hospital (50kms).

Coonamble Hospital on a Sunday afternoon is hard to get into. When you find the door and ring the buzzer, a security guard answers and if your story is plausible lets you in to a small waiting room. When he comes you repeat the story then he goes and gets a nurse. You repeat the story to the nurse who then gives the security guard the nod and he lets both of you into the Hospital proper. The nurse called the Doctor and Radiologist and when they attended after seeing scuff marks on my helmet did tests for both head and shoulder injury. As I knew what day it was and didn’t have anything broken I was released on the proviso that I stay the night in Coonamble (Motel) and come back if there’s a problem. Staff of the Hospital were great as they probably are everywhere (I don’t go to Hospital much).

Next morning I went around to the home of Ulysses member Noel White to make some simple repairs to the Transalp so I could ride home. He won’t be reading this but thanks Noel. It was obvious the afternoon before I would be cancelling the Bonus Downs trip and going home, either on the bike or on the bus. Although in discomfort I was able to ride home at normal road speeds via Gilgandra.

The final result was two weeks off work and a shoulder that is still painful six weeks later and will be for a long time. I should, however, be able to provide accurate predictions of changes in the weather. I’ve been for a few short rides on my roadbike but it might be a while before I can handle anything long distance. The Transalp is damaged. I’ve ordered new handlebars, brake lever and mirrors and am in the process of heating, straightening, belting, glueing and taping various pieces of metal and plastic. She’ll be a bit battle scarred when you see her next.

I was disappointed at missing out on Bonus Downs, and have been through the full range of emotions re my future dirt road riding. I am going to keep at it, but in future I might go more direct (sealed) routes on days when I’m riding by myself. It is what it is.

Brian Tobin