Days 1 and Day 2 of this ride were made up of the 50CC
Day 3: Perth – Margaret River – Caiguna
After finishing the 50CC on my Super Tenere early this morning I’d had four or five hours sleep and was ready to ride. My plan from here was to head east with some detours to Port Augusta and then ride to Darwin, another 4 days. (Note: the plans changed two days from now)
I’d organised to meet Gus and Skidoooo at 6.30am at the hotel at Cottesloe, it was nice to see the beach but the sun was coming up from the wrong direction. I had my usual breakfast, oats, sultanas and other stuff from my stash and I was feeling great! I’m pretty sure Gus insisted on coming because he wanted to make sure we left town Thanks again Gus for your help and getting us to the Freeway safely.
Today was to be a bit of fun after a couple of hard day’s riding but looming high in the back of my mind was that 6.30am here was 9.30am at home which meant that 6 hours of day three were already gone with no kilometres covered. The plan today was to pick up Cowaramup, Grass Patch and Norseman for tsome photo ops and back on to the Nullarbor and hopefully spend the night at Caiguna for between 1500 and 1600kms.
Riding south to Cowaramup I noticed that Skidoooo was hanging back a bit, I got onto the UHF and asked if he was OK, but he wasn’t on air. When we arrived at Cowaramup he told me he’d decided to stay local and have a poke around but before I left he was going to see if he could fix my LED’s. Gus had given me a couple of relays (a relay blew when I was in QLD which is why they needed to be fixed before I left for this trip). Have I mentioned I don’t know which end of a screwdriver to use most times.
Thankfully Skidoooo was able to locate the relay and I was on the phone to Clive, who fitted the lights, getting some instructions. The relay was fine, it was the fuse. The 5amp fuse was replaced with one of Skidoo’s spares, it blew. Replace with a 10amp and I had lights I really wasn’t looking forward to tackling the night riding out there with nothing but the Super Tenere’s high beam! Thanks Skidoooo, you are a legend! So we said our goodbyes, I got the photo and a corner docket and headed back north.
Here’s a photo at Cowaramup
My ride plan was to take me back to Bunbury then turn right to Wagin and Ravensthorpe. I got lost and ended up going through Donnybrook and Kojonup collecting corner dockets along the way because I didn’t really know where the corners were. Nothing like winging it!!!! I encounted some really interesting roads, it was really good riding although I have to admit I was glad I was on the Super Tenere this trip and not my Harley Davidson. Here’s one of the roads
I also stopped for a bacon and egg roll and some chips and lots of drinks at Gnowangerup where the dining room at the roadhouse is a shrine to the King.
The temp was in the very high 30’s low 40’s for much of this part of the ride. As I got closer to Ravensthorpe and headed towards Esperance it cooled a little but the wind whipped up. Pretty much normal conditions so far for this ride. Some really beautiful scenery though.
I arrived in Grass Patch just before dusk which actually caught me unprepared, I had anticipated getting further than this in the light but my ride plan was a little sketchy and thin on the ground because of leaving home a couple of days early. Photo taken at Grass Patch and a short hop up the road to Norseman in the dark. I took a snap at the Post Office thinking I should have just taken the photo yesterday on the way through, oh well.
Then I went to the Caltex, fuelled up and made the first mistake of the whole ride. I was hungry but so focused on getting to Caiguna as soon as possible to give me a good start for the morning I had a cherry ripe, powerade, water and pushed on rather than a proper meal. It was still very warm.
While I didn’t see any wildlife between Norseman and Balladonia I knew it was there. I was however really impressed with the LED’s that were finally working. They even lit up the moon!
Other than an ambulance who overtook me and three trucks going the other way I had the road to myself. I stopped at Balladonia, it was shut which was expected. I refuelled from the jerry under the lights and the ambulance guy was there. He asked if I was continuing on and I said I was going to Caiguna. He said I was nuts and that there were roos everywhere. I thanked him and rode on, there weren’t many corners between Balladonia and Caiguna. I only saw one live roo about 5 k’s out of Caiguna.
I arrived at Caiguna about 1am, feeling pretty tired but also still pressured for a quick turn around to keep on track. Mistake number 2, I fuelled the bike, went straight to bed and didn’t have my usual late night meal. Don’t stay in the budget rooms at Caiguna
Tomorrow (or rather later today) it’s time to ride back across the Nullarbor.
Day 4: Caiguna to Ceduna – the wheels fell off.
Today I was supposed to ride my Super Tenere to Port Augusta. I didn’t make it, here’s why.
I woke up in my budget room at Caiguna on time feeling relatively refreshed. I got some oats out and went to put water in the jug. It didn’t look worthy. The fridge was also not turned on but did have some little containers of long life milk in them that look like they had had a long life. I had some sultanas, packed the bike and headed to the roadhouse for breakfast.
There was one staff member, a queue of 5 or 6 so I handed the key over the counter and left without eating. Dumb move.
The cross wind from the ocean was immediately noticeable and huge numbers of road kill made me really glad I had stopped for the night. I’m used to running in the mornings without fuel so the empty feeling in my stomach was pretty normal. I clicked into my ride routine, stopped at Mundrabilla for fuel and sultanas. The day got hot and the wind picked up more. While It wasn’t as hot as the previous three days because the wind was coming from the sea it was still vicious. I was fighting to keep the bike on the road the whole way.
The next stop was the Nullarbor Roadhouse for fuel, a cherry ripe, cold water and gatorade. At some point along there I did a really stupid thing. I decided to grab a photo of the Super Tenere on the Great Australian Bight so I rode into a carpark, past a post and down a walkway. I got a great photo but there wasn’t enough room to turn the Super Tenere around. I spent a good 15 minutes or so inching the bike backwards and forwards walking the front wheel around, each time digging a little hole that I had to throttle out of. I had cramps in my hands, forearms and feet. Here’s the photo, it wasn’t worth it!
Back out on to the Nullarbor and into the wind and things really started to go bad. I couldn’t work out why. Inattention, that dreadful feeling you get when you are riding along and you look down and you are doing 70kph. I stopped a few times and walked around the bike and didn’t come good. I passed Nundroo and having stayed there before wasn’t keen to stop so I limped into Ceduna.
Ironically though I was right on schedule but couldn’t go any further. My plan for the day was to do Elliston and finish at Port Augusta for a two day trip up the centre and a detour to Uluru on the way. Self check, Rule 1 applied. I was staying in Ceduna and Darwin was out of the question. To try it in two days from here, particularly with the forecast would not be achievable. So I got a room at the Highway One and had a bacon and egg roll, chocolate milk, some fruit and went and had a shower. Here’s the view from the room, I’ve only been through there in the dark I didn’t even know it was on the water!
Here is a photo of the back tyre (Heidenau K76) after this day. You can see the ripples on the inside of the outside tread knobs. The ones on the left side are just ripples, the right side however are substantially more worn away because I spend most of the day being blown around on that side of the tyre.
After cleaning up I went straight back to the Highway One Roadhouse and ordered a chicken schnitzel with vegies and pepper sauce. The chicken schnitzel was charred, the gravy was hard to cut with a knife, the vegies fell apart when you put a fork in them. As I wolfed it down and started to come good I realized why the day had gone bad. I got the nutrition wrong and paid dearly. I skipped meals in exchange for time. It wasn’t the heat, it wasn’t the wind, it wasn’t lack of sleep it was me changing routine and running out of body fuel, my own fault and avoidable I will never make that mistake again.
After eating I went back to the room watched a movie and had dessert, pretty unhappy with myself really.
Day 5: A silk purse from a sow’s ear.
I set the alarm for 5am but the prospect of just riding home in two days and the disappointment I was feeling after yesterday’s poor effort wasn’t enough to get me out of bed. Then I had a “harden the F* up” conversation with myself and developed a plan B. The weather man said it was going to be the hottest day of the trip so far. I did some quick sums and despite the dismal day yesterday if I could clock up 1700 to 1800k’s today I would firstly prove my suspicions about nutrition to be correct and secondly by banging out at least an SS1600 would rack up sufficient k’s for an SS5000M/SS8000K. How focused did that get me?
I got up, had breakfast and was off after 6am. To make the distance in the time I had to finish the ride by 3.28am our time to keep it within 5 days. At the time I left I had no idea where I had to get to to finish. That was a detail I could sort out later, while I was eating!
First priority though was to get to Elliston and take a pic, why the bloody hell not! That done I fuelled up, got a docket and headed back to Kimba. I was still annoyed that they were closed when I went through a few days before on the 50CC Gold Ride, a quick calculation and I knew I had enough fuel to get to Port Augusta using the jerry so I rode past that big galah and topped up on the side of the road with Caiguna’s best BP Ultimate. By then the Super Tenere was telling me the air temp was 43 degrees. Riding into Port Augusta it rose to 45. I had to keep my feet high on the pegs because the heat radiating from the road was burning them despite the thick socks.
I stopped briefly at the left turn to Darwin and sent my best wishes up the road to other I knew were riding up that way. I wasn’t tempted to turn though, I had other feet to fry, and fry they did.
Fuel, sultanas, water and an iced coffee and for the first time this trip cold water down the inside of my jacket at Port Augusta and straight back out into it. Once again I had a bit of fun up Horrocks Pass. Through Wilmington and Peterborough the bike was reporting 46 degrees. The roads were melted, tar was being everywhere and in places it was like puddles. Some interesting views around the valleys near Orroroo. Riding over the hills you could see plumes of red willy willys spinning like miny tornados, amazing! But I wasn’t taking any more photos today, it was all business.
The next stop Yunta. For the first time I went to the Caltex, not sure why. I fuelled up, went inside took off my jacket, ordered lunch. I called my wife who sat down at her computer and ran some numbers. The decision was to end the ride in Gilgandra (1791kms) and I calculated I’d be there about 2.15am. I asked her to check if I could get fuel at Nyngen and to book me some accommodation in Gilgandra and text me the result so I could catch up in Broken Hill. My wife is awesome, she loves this stuff but did quite rightly express concern given the events of the previous day.
It was still a long way to go but I wasn’t stepping outside until I was cool and finished the meal. I went to the men’s room and the cold water nearly burnt my hands when I washed them. Just before leaving I got some water out of my top box and poured it all over my shirt, it was very hot too and I squeaked. Not doing that one again today!
An uneventful ride then to Broken Hill, still 45-46 all the way for fuel at the Shell in Williams Street. More snacks and 600ml of cold water, half down the gut half down the jacket. It was freezing and I squeaked and jumped about. The lady in the servo thought it was hilarious. My wife had done well, the text was waiting for me. I had a plan finalised.
A jerry stop would get me to Cobar, fuel up there and I would get to Gilgandra. I rode past Wilcannia, shut and spooky, and right on sunset stopped to fill up out of the jerry, clean my visor and put on the night goggles. A truck (wide load) that I’d passed not too long before pulled in and I had a nice chat with the driver, who has a Vulcan, while I was getting ready for the dark. He warned me about the roos and goats between there and Cobar and he was right.
There were goats, some sheep and hundreds of roos by the side of the road. Luckily only one roo had a crack at me. The ABS saved my skin. With numb hands from having already ridden 7000ks or so I grabbed a clubbed fist full of brake and pulled up cleanly on a melted part of the road missing skippy by millimetres, phew! However I was losing precious time because of having to slow right down.
By the time I got to Cobar I was determined to continue but concerned about the time. I fuelled up, had a cherry ripe, an iced coffee and some water and out into it again. The roos were worse this side of town , Then I saw some lights behind me. It was a tattooed goddess I’d seen in the servo in a great big 4WD. She caught me, I put on my left indicator and she drove past. I slipped in behind her and had myself a bull bar . And she wasn’t mucking about either. I soon noticed that the roos were not jumping towards the road as we passed. The bunnies though would jump across behind the 4WD and play chicken with me. Mere bumps in the road for the Super Tenere.
Soon enough we were at Nyngen and heading towards Dubbo. As we approached Nevertire I was chanting “Turn Left, Turn Left, Turn Left” and she did. An escort all the way into Gilgandra arriving at 2.17am, two minutes behind schedule. SS5000M/ SS8000K done! 8329kms for the 5 days by the odometer.
The goddess stopped at the Shell for a snack and I approached her and thanked her profusely. Then I asked her for a witness signature and she happily obliged. With the servo attendant and another guy who was more than happy to sign after I told him where all the 24 hour fuel was between there and Yunta (funny what we know isn’t it) the witness forms and paperwork were done.
I found the Alpha Hotel my wife had booked and paid for, the key was under the mat and I sat quietly for a while. Backing up after one of the worst days I’ve ever had on a bike I had just finished one of the best in the most atrocious of conditions and I absolutely nailed it. I didn’t want to stop.
The Super Tenere has really earned it’s stripes as a Long Distance Weapon now. It’s fast approaching 25,000kms on the clock and is not yet 5 months old! Over 17,500 of them in the last month!