Day 38: Byron Bay to Coffs Harbour
The Sun is about 150 million kilometres from the earth, and its rays travel about 8 minutes at the speed of light to reach Earth. The rays of light traversed a significant portion of the solar system to enter Byron Bay and penetrate through the window of the hostel at exactly where my face was. Out of all of Australia, I've never had such a direct hit of dawn until New South Wales of all places. I rolled out of bed at 6:15am and got dressed.
My plan was to meet my dear friend Kate in Coffs Harbour and we planned to get to Coffs at noon. Because it was only going to be a 3 hour ride for me, she had a head start while I took my sweet time walking around Byron. It's a different place altogether when the sun is shining and the roads aren't underwater. People seem happier and families come out. Cafes were already filled with neat pockets of travelers and locals alike. I chose one down the road because I was aching for a good coffee. By the way, if you're a smoker and you want to quit, trap yourself in the outback for a few weeks and make yourself ride 300km to get your next hit. I promise it's a more effective deterrent than your self control. I'm not a smoker, but I'm a caffeine junkie, and the $6.50 powdered cappucinos were enough to put anyone off coffee for weeks.
After a solid breakfast, I loaded up Sheba and we were back on the road. I met Kate through Instagram and our friendship grew online until I moved to Melbourne and we made plans to ride from Sydney to Melbourne together. Before ShebaRidesAus, the Sydney to Melbourne trip with Kate was the longest single ride I've ever done - 1200km over 15 hours along the coast, with 5 of those hours being in a thunderstorm. We were wet and cold, and this was the day after we first met in person. She has such an indomitable spirit that even torrential rain wouldn't stop us from plowing through the entire Southeast coast of Australia in one go. She is one of the few people who watched Flying Solo Gear Co grow from the beginning, along with one of my best friends Amelia. Kate's visited Melbourne for the MotoGP and again to help Flying Solo Gear Co at our Australian Motorcycle Expo stand. You tend to forget the people who only want to know you when you're at your highs. You do remember the people who were there for you during your lows. You definitely don't forget who left you during those times, too.
Byron Bay was a bit of an effort to leave because of the traffic in that area. It's a popular holiday spot for Sydneysiders and Queenslanders alike, and I can see why. The place is beautiful. Once I made it onto the highway, the clouds came back and the mist from other car tyres made it almost impossible to see clearly. Most of the highway was straight forward, but some parts merge from 2 lanes to 1, and then back to 2. There was also a lot of construction that caused lengthy delays. Limited food options were available directly on the highway - no roadhouses or decent servos unless you wanted to turn off for a bit. The only part of my body that wasn't soaking wet were my feet because they were inside plastic bags, inside my boots - a brilliant idea borrowed from a previous moto trip around rainy Tasmania. Nevertheless, I was in no mood to detour for food. Perhaps that's why I lost 7kg in 38 days.
The highway down the East coast in NSW is lush and green. Elevation changes and rock formations cause the road to weave up, down, and around, so usage of the Omnicruise was few and far between - my wrists had to work fulltime for the trip. Halfway through between Byron and Coffs, the skies lit up with lightning and the thunder came in with surround-sound. The visor mist got to the point where I was thankful it was a downpour because it was easier to see. My body temperature was the lowest its ever been, despite wearing lots of layers and thinking outback thoughts. When I finally made it to Coffs Harbour, I had to circle the town a few times to get my bearings right. The hotel we booked was in the worst location possible - a dead end road that is only accessible from the main road, in one direction. Google Maps was on my phone but my screen was getting pelted with rain and the rain kept pushing buttons for me. Not welcome, rain!
I finally tucked into the hotel at 1pm and checked in. With the heater on high and all my gear dripping and hanging off of various shelves, I took the liberty of ordering 3 pizzas and a giant coke. Nothing else in Coffs was open at 130pm, at least nothing within walking distance. A long, hot shower quickly fixed things right up.
The pizza arrived while I was still in my undergarments and I couldn't care less. I opened all 3 boxes and went to town, and midway through the 4th slice I was interrupted by someone coming through the door. KATE!!!
I jumped up and ran to the door. It was a woman about Kate's height with short platinum hair. She jumped at the sight of a partially nude Asian chick running toward her with a slice of pizza in her hand. That's when I realized that it definitely wasn't Kate, just a (confused) hotel guest who thought her key said "Room 9" when it actually said "Room 6". She apologized profusely and backed away into the rain, closing the door behind her. I shrugged and went back into binge-mode, followed by laying in a sluggish 8-slice food coma on the couch, slowly fading into unconsciousness. Then I heard the distinct sound of an R6 parking out front.
Massive hugs and another hot shower later, we went out on the town. And by that I mean we walked around in the dark looking for a pub (not possible) in pouring rain. We ended up buying a few drinks from the store and enjoying them inside the hotel. Sometimes you just need friends you can do nothing with.
Day 39 we will be heading into The Harbour City with my favourite touring friend. The first and only non-solo leg of the journey.