So in the end, I decided to go to the Sapphire instead of Wintersun. It turned out to be quite enjoyable too, for the most part anyway... I did a quick reccy on Thursday (since I had the day off anyway as it was going to be a travel day for the trip to Wintersun) to see if the Freewind was up to the route I intended to take. It handled it no problems so after a lazy Saturday morning, I loaded up the bike under grey skies. and off I go Initially I was going to hit the dirt ASAP but once I got going with the luggage the bike felt really top heavy and I didnt have confidence that I'd get enough weight on the front wheel in the dirt. So I stuck to bitumen for a bit and gained confidence in the handling, then came decision time, did I go straight ahead and be a mouse? Or turn right and be a man? I took the turn as I was feeling good about the bike by now, and to be perfectly honest, its not that tough a road and I was able to cruise at 90-100kph comfortably This wasnt the real aim of my detour though, I wanted to come into Inverell via the "pits" a hangout for riders of registered and unregistered trail bikes and an old stomping ground of mine when I lived there and had my DT200. I could still bail out and take the fast gravel, either way leads to bitumen. Nah, this is the road for me! From here on its into the scrub. This might be a fire trail or break, I don't know but I do know its not really well maintained (which was kinda the point of going this way). When trees fall, you gotta go around, no one seems to clear them. Some parts are fast, but others are fairly washed out so you have to be a bit careful. I found that once I realised I wasn't on a trail bike, just a road bike with long travel suspension and I slowed down I didn't have any trouble. Actually the luggage really helped on the sandy parts There are even a couple of rocky sections, this track has a little bit of everything. The Freewind soaked it all up. After the pits, I pretty much sat on the tar the rest of the way to the rally. I was going to take this creek crossing, but after my trial on Thursday (I did get through ok) I ended up with both legs wet to just under the knees. The second section of water (peeking out just above the first) is actually much longer and deeper than the first part. No way I was going to tackle that all loaded up. I got to the rally, and as I was getting back on my bike after paying, another bike pulled in behind me. I was checking it out because I was going to meet Mick on his R100GSPD and that was what the bike which was pulling in behind me was. The guy gets off and says "Do you work at the Uni?" I'm thinking faark, Mick must be a detective or something, I didn't tell him where I work! It turns out it was Bruce from the stores department at work. What are the ods?! I didn't even know he rode but in future I shouldn't have much trouble finding someone to ride with, and Bruce knows heaps more backroads than me. Anyway since I didn't know anyone else and Bruce tells me he's meeting some folks from QLD I tag along with him and we set up camp with Blue and Jen from the Oz Adventure Rider list. It seems these guys are meeting Mick here too, so all in all I couldn't have planned it better. Fires are stoked Lies are told, and a good time is had by all. I'm not feeling so hot the next morning, I think I need to clean out the bladder in my water bag A hot cuppa and a bacon and egg roll soon sort that out and its time to get on the road. I did have grand plans of meeting some guys for a ride but I would have had to leave waaaay to early so I decide to give it a miss. I head out of Warialda towards Moree and take the turnoff for Bingara. From there towards Bundarra and then home after a little bit more dirt and some nice tarmac. Just 30kms from home I'm exiting a slowish lefthander which leads straight into a similar righthander. On the change of direction I notice the front comes light due to all that luggage but I don't really think much of it when I feel the front start to slide. Before I can say "WTF?" I'm sliding along the road watching my pride and joy grind itself on the bitumen I'm absolutely gutted. Apart from a few minor spills on my trusty RX125 when I was on my L's and P's (and about a million dirt bike crashes, but they don't count) I've never binned any of my roadies, and this one has less than 4000kms on it. As far as second hand bikes go, it was virtually brand new (1999 model). I have to find out why I crashed so I fish the Freewind out of the tabledrain and park it on the side of the road. As I walk back down the road I notice its slightly damp in the shade. WTF? Its 11am fer crying out loud. But I suppose this has been in shade all morning and just never dried out. Its not all that wet, and I was only doing 70-80kph tops but I guess it was plenty wet enough in the circumstances (apologies about the lens flare). My poor, poor, bike. It's all scratched up now, though its hard to see in this photo (and check out the rear brake pedal, thats it over the top of the footpeg!) It looks like my chair took the brunt of the impact and actually probably saved my bike from a lot worse damage. The handlebar weight is badly scratched and only just hanging on there as the screw is badly bent. My dririder jacket did its job perfectly, my gloves lost one zipper, my 3 week old helmet got a scratched visor , my new 60 stinkin' dollar jeans lasted about as long as you'd expect when you're sliding along the tarmac. All I ended up with is a little scratch on my knee which is probably why I'm so pissed off about the material damages. I guess I should be glad I wasn't hurt, but I'd be a damn sight happier if I hadn't crashed in the first place Ah well, apart from chucking my bike down the road I had a good time and IMO the Freewind earned itself adventure bike status Ash.