Combining motorcycles and surfing into a road tripping adventure holds the promise of distant waves, empty runs through sun dappled forests and the bringing together of two very sensual experiences.
Properly caffeinated, I headed south early one Monday morning with the roads free from cars towards the NSW South Coast, where I hoped the surf would be pumping and free of people.
First part of the journey was motorcycle heaven, a casual run through the Royal National Park. However, it seemed I was destined to out of petrol. You see my choice of steed is a glorious custom Deus ex Machina TW200 with extended swing arm, removable surfboard rack and tiny five litre fuel tank.
Taking an unexpected trip into Bundeena to fill up really gave me a chance to get used to the bike with the surfboard rack on the winding park roads. The ride through the national park really cements the break from city life. Twisting roads through the forest, dappled with autumn sunlight, clear the mind for the journey ahead.
The plan was to find a surf break somewhere between Stanwell and Woolongong before heading south through Kiama and onto Bendalong. A strong southerly was buffeting the bike and the coast which meant stopping to ask a local surfer at the Finbox surf shop in Thirroul. Super helpful, they suggested Sandon Point, a rocky right hander protected from the winds. The water comes in facing the rocks on take off before opening up for a long right hander, where if it works, you can link together an impressively long ride.
Following the surf, I hit the road south stopping in Kiama for petrol and a very good pie at Kiama Pie Shop [3 Railway Parade]. The last hour to Bendalong saw a change in the weather. Rain was on its way with some of roads already damp when I turned off the highway for the last 13 km run through the forest to Bendalong township. This was to be a ride I did at least once every day and enjoyed it each and every time.
Frosted, I pulled into the Holiday Haven, a basic caravan park with cabins, for a kip before heading to Milton for dinner. Cold, drizzling rain was a feature of my nocturnal ride to Milton only to discover that options were limited to country town Chinese on a Monday night. Expensive and not worth repeating, I headed back to Bendalong, enjoying every minute of the nighttime ride. The highway was deserted , there were no roadside lights for most of the way, and the darkness was thrilling for a city dweller who is never more than a few meters from lighting at any time. Watching out for our native fauna was the main issue along with the serious reconsidering of the open face helmet as the rain started once again.
I woke the next day to a freezing cabin where it was literally warmer outside in the shade. Checking the local breaks, I met plenty of the locals who has never seen a bike like the Deus TW, let alone one with a board rack attached. The bike has real presence and is a charmer wherever it goes.
I ended up surfing Bendalong Beach after checking out Flat Rock (1-2ft with some super keen locals on the peak) and some of the other breaks. Clean 3-4 foot inside section with 5-6ft bombs out back were on offer and after getting munched a couple if times inside, I paddled out back with two locals. With shifting peaks and no local knowledge, it was really a punish, catching only three waves in 90 minutes.
With my tail between my legs I got back on the bike and road to Milton to try out the highly recommended Pilgrims vegetarian cafe. While in Milton I picked up provisions from the sourdough bakery and gourmet deli as I could see no reason why all road trips had to be all beans and freeze dried food.
Back in Bendalong, I ambled along the beach on the other side near the boat ramp with no one around. It was amazing to have a couple of kilometres of beach to myself. Later, I really enjoyed the provisions which were not only better, they worked out cheaper than the mediocre Chinese food the previous night.
The following day was glorious with clear blue skies, light off-shore winds and 3-4ft waves. I got my mojo back this day and really enjoyed the water. There were barrels to be had on the inside section and after two hours, I paddled in spent but happy. Later, I rode back to Pilgrims for an even better breakfast burger, taking in Lake Conjola on the way back and an off road excursion on a forest track.
That night, I stopped off on a deserted road to look at the stars and take in the sheer enormity of the sky. I was still getting used to the quiet and was a little creeped out when a large animal would rush by in the nearby bush. Big tip; incredibly you can download a torch app directly to your iPhone even in the bush. This proved invaluable in finding my way along the track to the beach in the dark.
The last day meant more surfing at Bendalong on slightly smaller waves. Sad to be heading back to the crowded Sydney beaches. While packing up and riding, one of the best elements of motorcycle riding came back to me. Unlike a car journey where you are usually on a mission to get somewhere, on a motorcycle, the ride is the journey and can be experienced for the fun it represents.