With uni going back next week I’ve been looking for the right opportunity to attempt SS2000k on Little Mango (CBR125R) and yesterday provided me with an opportunity to have a crack where the forecast temperatures didn’t go under 0 degrees during my planned route. So at 2am (2 hours earlier than my circadian start so I didn’t have to be in the Southern Highlands after midnight) I met 93TigerBill and OX-34 at one of our haunts, the Shell servo at Wallsend. I was excited about this ride after the Mango went so well a couple of weeks ago on an SS1600 except for some farklepower issues that hopefully were ow resolved.
With a docket at 2:12am I was off with OX following for a while on his shiny new (to him) FJR, a great looking farweapon. Towards the end of the Hunter Expressway OX gave me a wave and turned around and soon after I turned left off the New England Hwy on to “Kangaroo Alley” past the army bases at Singleton . Bill and OX had warned me about a monster wide load they saw go past. Fortunately it was taking a break by the side of the road and I got past it without delay.
Showers and mist, but not too heavy or thick were the features of the ride from Jerry’s Plains through to Duneedoo. The pesky nearside mirror that had plagued me on my recent trip out west worked its way loose. But this time I had the right sized allen key and wasn’t ready to get out the duct tape quite yet so I stopped in Duneedoo and tightened it just a little bit harder. I was a little ahead of plan so I had the time and it didn’t come undone again so it was worth it. I also stopped under the streetlights at Mendooran to fill the front tank from the 10l jerry as per the plan. Stopping with the tank almost completely empty to ensure range and that the tank had the volume to swallow up the whole jerry. No wasted time and no spillage.
Heading out towards Gilgandra it cooled off quite a bit but the fog that was forecast between there and Walgett didn’t eventuate. I enjoyed a spectacular winter morning sunrise over frosted farmlands, it was a great way to start the daylight portion of the ride. I refilled the front tank as per the plan at the BP in Walgett but also filled the jerry on spec because they had BP Ultimate. Then I was out dancing with the wildlife either side of Brewarrina, the roos giving the loudish pipe on Mango a wide berth, the emus the opposite. One pucker moment with a mob of 10 or so emus deciding between me and a Road Train coming the other way and then, of course this…
Not even the roadworks were going to annoy me today. I arrived at Bourke (813kms, 11.30am) building a small buffer but the BP I had planned to fill at wasn’t where I thought it would be (amateur). After a quick about face I spotted a nab ATM and thought “You beauty a fee free cash withdrawal”. The ATM was right next to the bank’s doors so I got some wide eyed looks approaching it with my helmet on but soon enough I had a crisp $50 note and a docket that didn’t have the location printed on it. Bugger! So now I own a drill bit that I have no use for and a receipt that I do from the Home Hardware across the road. But for that mistake lost some time. I didn’t need to fuel up as per the original plan because I was lugging the extra from Walgett so I got out of there as quickly as I could.
More sheep and goats than I’d ever seen were hanging around the road between Bourke and Cobar. Fortunately only one old and deaf goat wanted to play chicken. My revised fuel plan required a splash from the jerry to get me to Cobar leaving enough in it to save me a docket later on, still efficient. At Cobar I took advantage of a need to undo the jackets to change the battery pack on the Jett vest and brought my hydration/food schedule forward a bit. That never hurts when it’s cold, the more calories available the better. At that stop I realised that the GPS was not charging from the mount and that the heated grips weren’t working any more. It was the bailout point to reduce the ride to an SS1600K and head home, but not today. HTFU Wombattle! Goulburn in the middle of winter without heated grips, it wasn’t a problem 30 years ago!
I punched Condobolin into the GPS and it warned me about dirt roads, I said “No” and it tried to take me on tar to Nyngan. “Ahh” I thought, “the dirt option is Priory Tank Road. I’m not going on that” My plan saw me go further south to Mt Hope and on a road I travelled recently with OX to Eubalong, no dirt. So I travelled south on part of the Kidman Way I hadn’t seen before for the long haul daylight part of the ride, 299k’s to Condobolin. I adopted a strategy of only turning on the GPS when I knew I was near a corner I had to turn on to save some power for the bigger towns later in the ride. Of course at Eubalong a left turn towards Condobolin was required rather than the right towards Lake Cargelligo I had been on before. So a new road for me and I soon found myself on this
Oops. The almost 20km’s from Condobolin that I inspected on Streetview were tar, the other 50km was gravel. Trying to maintain an SS2000k OA on a 125cc bike on a gravel road was strangely fun. It certainly kept the heart rate up and forced some “on bike” exercise though! Here’s a pic just before I got back on to tar. My OA for this leg, including the photo stops was about 73kph, I didn’t get it quite to 100.
I got fuel at Condobolin and noticed that the unexpected gravel section had played havoc with the chain. No chain lube at the servo but a bike shop across the road and I still had some time up my sleeve. Don at the bike shop sent me around to the service section where they looked at the sprockets, checked the chain adjustment and sent me around the front to by some chaing lube. Fair enough. While I was gone they read my ride plan on the tank bag. The banter had changed from “a bit cold to be riding out here” to “Is this where you’ve been today?!!~!~” “You’re riding how far on this?” they realised then why I was in a hurry and I was out of there 2 minutes behind my plan but 10 minutes in front of my 84 OA schedule.
The ride between Condobolin and Forbes was really nice but it got dark quickly and started chilling off. It was too early for the heated vest as I rode though Forbes then to Cowra. With some time up my sleeve I made an unplanned warm drink stop at Cowra. I also used that time in the servo to fill the tank from the jerry satisfied that I was now only one fuel stop at Marulan from home. The bike was running very sweetly. Despite the dark and the emerging fog it was nice to have a few bends to ride around and there was hardly another vehicle in site. I turned the heated vest on for a while at Boorowra and turned it off again as I hit the Hume, conserving battery for when I’d really need it.
I made it to the BP at Marulan 12 minutes ahead. At this point I’d ridden 1698kms, 1km more than my SS1600k on it the other week. I took 10 of my 12 minutes to have a warm drink, some food (servo pie of course) and get set for the final non stop, feet up leg to home. I was feeling great considering I’d been folded up like a pretzel for 20 hours. I was warm, there was enough charge in the heated vest to get me out of the zero temps. The fog was getting heavier but I was on a safe road. Things were going so well that I was running through a plan to get up and ride another 500kms in the morning to knock off a BB2500k/36. The bike was running perfectly. Awesome!
Then at 1734kms the motor blew up. My boots and legs were peppered with chunks of metal, oil and coolant. I started to point the bike towards the shoulder just before the rear wheel locked up and some serious fish-tailing/tank slapping occurred as I headed towards the bush. Fortunately I was able to hold it upright and together, feet up, until I skidded to a stop leaving a trail of bike engine bits and fluids on the road and a very impressive skidmark. Ooops!…
I was stuck by the side of the Hume in complete darkness and thick fog a touch after 11pm. There wasn’t too much room to get off the shoulder. It’s hard to take photos with a flash in the fog but you’ll get the idea.
Call 1 was 93TigerBill, I suspected he’d be watching and after a bit of a fright I needed some sage advice. Bill generously offered to come and get me. I hadn’t called the NRMA at that stage but I did know that after the last recovery on this bike there wasn’t much left in the Absolute Cover kitty for another expensive tow. I gratefully accepted Bill’s offer. He was going to get some gear of OX to transport the bike.
Call 2, my wife who I knew would be asleep. She was all good and offered to call the NRMA. NRMA called me back and had to send a Patrol Van to satisfy themselves the bike needed a tow. 50 minutes sitting in the dark on a guard rail very grateful for the heated vest and warm riding gear. Funny how the effort of the ride and fatigue catches up with a period of inactivity.
The patrol van arrived and the guy formed the opinion the bike couldn’t be fixed on the site of the road. So in liaison with Bill the NRMA organised a tow to take me and the bike to Pheasant’s Nest. More time sitting in the dark and fog truck spotting. Finally the tow came, the bike was loaded and we were taken to Pheasant’s Nest, Bill arrived 5 minutes later. So the NRMA moved me 35kms in the time it took Bill to organise himself and drive 280.
Bill and I had a bit of a laugh at a piece of the piston that had fallen out of the bike while unloading it. He thought I should keep it as a memento. A bloke who had stopped nearby helped us load the bike on to Bill’s ute and after some warm drinks and food we were on our way. On the way home we had a big laugh at this ironic billboard on a bridge over Pennant Hills Road
We arrived back in Newy a bit after 5am and the bike is in the garage.
Here’s a pic of the front of the motor with bits and pieces hanging around
Here’s a pic of the flat spot on the tyre that occured when the wheel locked up. Note the oil and crap on the tyre from the motor (and the dirt from the gravel road).
Bill, I can’t adequately express the level of gratitude I have for your assistance and the massive effort you went to to bring me home. It’s much more than “part of the service” you dismiss it as. You are a good man . Peter, thanks too for helping Bill out with some gear to secure the bike. How great is the LD Rider community!?
I’m not sure if I’ll ever get this ride done! Here’s how far I made it this time.