We all have special events in our life that we fondly remember first by the amount of pain it caused us and then by the result. Without one there would not be the other so the pain is recalled with a grin. One of mine was deciding to play in a football game 6 years after my retirement from junior league. I got smashed, could barely walk for a week but I did score a try! Good pain. I jumped into that game with no clue how much it would hurt but this ride was approached knowing full well what I might be in for. Although frankly as I sit here now I underestimated it. If I’d have known how much he footy game was going to hurt I probably wouldn’t have played. But, nothing within my control was going to stop me doing this ride. Right now I’m sitting at my computer on my friend Mr Airhawk. Here’s why.
I’ve been doing a few odd things lately. Like buying a little CBR125R, riding an SS1600k and then in the same week blowing it up having a crack at an SS2000k. Then there was my little SS1600 a couple of weeks ago during which I was very focused on trying to understand OA’s and MA’s in the context of the bike I was on. A bike I didn’t talk about at the time.. Some of you will have noticed by my forum signature that the expired 125 was one of the “Mango Twins”. The 125 wasn’t the only Repsol Honda I bought recently, the other was a CBR250R. I bought the 250 when I realized during testing that I couldn’t do a this ride on the 125. I finished the ride at 5.15am this morning.
On Sunday morning at just after 3am I met OX-34 at the BP at Parry Street Newcastle and with that said many of you now know what the ride might be. Today’s destination was Ceduna. Here we are at Newcastle.
I had the best run I’ve ever had up the New England, Grand Final Day, School Holidays, Double Demerits and more saw everyone in bed too tired or afraid to travel. My three recent early a.m. rides though there have been ice cold or through thick fog. This night was mild and perfectly clear and I actually banked some time. I made my first jerry stop just before Duneedoo which would see me get my first fuel at Warren, then fill the tank and 10 litre jerry at Cobar. At Cobar I also confirmed the closing time of the Shell (9.30pm), half an hour later than the BP. That was good news, that time was an important part of the return leg of the plan.
Fuel economy was down and I started to second guess my range predictions way to early. So I did a a splash and dash in the main tank at the Wilcannia BP which got me to Broken Hill. That unbanked a chunk of my time and I shouldn’t have done it. From Broken Hill with a jerry stop just before Peterborough I made it to Port Augusta. Filling the main tank and the jerry there meant I had enough fuel on board to get to Ceduna. When I arrived at Wudinna they were starting to close up (open 6am to 10pm). I hadn’t expected to catch them but I took the opportunity to stop and fill up there anyway in preference to a jerry stop in the dark somewhere a few k’s down the road. I arrived in Ceduna (2014kms for the day) bang on my plan time. However I was hoping to beat the time as it left me with only 2.5 hours to unpack, get ready for the following day and sleeping. The first thing I heard when I shut my eyes was the mozzie buzzing my head. I hate that.
Here’s unpacked Mango 2 outside the hotel room in Ceduna
My ride plan was done recording the times I needed to leave a locaton in order to stay on track. If I fell behind the plan the ride was probably over. My OA was based on roughly 2.5hr rest breaks between 2000k days and I was hoping to pick time up to extend the long breaks by doing the speed limit plus or minus 5%. The reality was that with a loaded up small bike you can’t really pick up much time. The 250 was capable of the speed limit +5% in ideal conditions but the reality was that up hill or into the wind it was – 5% or worse. The average time gained over a tank and jerry cycle (500k’s) was about 10 minutes . I was hoping for more like 15 minutes to cover two stops and some personal care. At least after the first day I knew what I was up for, and it wasn’t going to be pretty. I was hoping the wind and weather would be on my side. Here’s the etrex for day 1. Note the top speed.
and other than the distance the next day’s stats were identical.
Day 2 started right on time and because it was shorter, and a bit ridiculous having Mango 2 out here I took a little time to grab some pics.
Here’s the the sunrise near the entrance to the Head of the Bight.
I was taking special note of the distances between stops to check the reverse plan. Fingers crossed I’d been hoping to reach Nullarbor Roadhouse for a splash in the front then a fill up at Border Village to set up nice even stops for the rest of the day. Caiguna, Norseman, Southern Cross and Perth with jerry stops in between. Not perfect but a safe plan.
The problem was the day became stinking hot and a jerry stop on the “Nullarbor extended” with those big flies feasting off your jacket and helmet, the lack of shade and road trains thundering past doesn’t make for a great refuelling experience. Particularly if you take your helmet off to have a drink. I opted for a full face for this trip, the riding position made the front heavy Neotek flip face I have too heavy to support for long periods particularly if I needed to tuck in. Back to the ride.
I arrived at Nullarbor as they were unlocking the pumps, I handed my card to the guy who took it inside and turned the pump on. It’s my opinion that the fuel there is usually rubbish so I put a few litres in the jerry only ready to fill both with something better at Border Village.
Fuel, drink and a bacon and egg role at Border Village and I was on my way. “No fruit” to the quarantine guy and the bike made it to Cocklebiddy on fumes. The opportunity for a drink and some air conditioning time instead of a roadside jerry stop would have been foolish to pass up. I also hadn’t been feeling too well since the night before I left home when I couldn’t finish a meal. If you know me you’ll know that’s a very rare occurrence. Anyway I needed to dispose of the sickly feeling in an epic washroom performance and thankfully the malaise didn’t return. But the wind whipped up to add to the heat which made the riding conditions a good deal less than pleasant.
Here’s the view
Looking up a bit
The fuel plan was adjusted, there was no point stopping at Caiguna but I did stop at this sign. I couldn’t ride past it.
More fluids and air conditioning were absolutely required at Balladonia, it was stinking hot, very high 30’s. Between Balladonia and Norseman I passed a fellow FarRider, LindsayGT with a flash of lights and a wave. He had his own IBA ride to conquer today that I found out about later. At Norseman I had a quick chat with OX and sent an SMS to my wife. There’s just something a little bit wrong about that.
The ride out of Norseman through Coogardie, with a plain burger and coffee stop at Southern Cross, seemed to take forever. Riding due west into the setting sun was frankly horrendous, I was really glad to see it set and didn’t feel it deserving of a pic. After a last jerry stop under lights at Kellerdin?(I’ll find out the proper name one day maybe) it was a ride to the bottom of the hill to meet up with Gus and Jeff for the local escort to Scarborough. I arrived at the Indian Ocean bang on the 47.5 hours I’d planned. It was here the real decision was to be made about the feasibility of turning around and completing the 100CCC. Gus and Jeff seemed very amused at the sight of my 195cm 90 odd kg frame perched on the tiny Mango 2. I was knackered, sore, but it was really great to chat to the western connection and I remain very grateful for their help at the other end. Thanks guys.
I’d booked a room across the road, it took a while to get into it and get organised. So the alarm was set to allow 1.5 hours sleep which would see me away as late as possible without eating into my second chunk of 50 hours. On the 100CCC the clock turns over at 50 hours from the time you left. It’s a choice about whether or not you want to use any of that time to sleep a bit more. With a 47.5 hour trip back there wasn’t any time to waste.
I remember dreaming and then thinking “I shouldn’t have been asleep long enough to dream” and snapped awake. I hadn’t saved the alarm reset, it didn’t go off and I’d been in fairyland for 2.5 hours. It’s my habit to get everything ready to eat and get out the door. I just got out the door and got a docket and witness statement from the hotel staff with about 20 minutes of my second 50 hours blown on the turn around.
I was upset, in a world of pain, tired and it was the last thing I needed. The doubts and negative thoughts crept in and I had a “moment” riding out of Perth. I remembered vividly the last time I was heading across the Nullarbor and pulled the pin on a ride. I felt myself spiralling down that path again. Then I got a little cross and had a very loud argument with myself inside my helmet about what to do. I didn’t realise I could be so abusive. Then a firm decision was made. “Whatever it takes just get this f’ing thing done”. Moments like this are few and far between in life. As I’ve aged I believe I’ve become much more mentally tough and I can remember each and every point I believe I’ve stepped up a little bit more. But this point on the ride was a big step up for me and one I will never forget. With Rule 1 always in the top of mind, I became more committed, more focused and more determined….. and things came good. Yeah, I know real men shouldn’t talk about this stuff so I’ll stop for now.
Riding back into the rising sun was not as bad as the sunset the evening before and arriving in Merredin on fumes set me up to save a stop between there and Norseman so I took some time to feed my complaining stomach with a bacon and egg sandwich and a coffee. An unnecessary fuel top up at Coolgardie (but an necessary pit stop) and then I rode back into the heat of the day to Norseman. Hot and windy it was again, but Gus and Jeff were absolutely right that the wind was behind me this time so I set about repeating the fuel plan I actually rode yesterday but in reverse. It worked a treat and saved me some precious time.
At one point during this period I upset an eagle who was feasting on roadkill. As I approached it decided not to leave it’s food behind so took off with meat in talons. Sadly it realized it couldn’t gain sufficient height quickly enough with the big chunk of meat on board an in a confused attempt to get away from the mango flash looming fast it dropped the festering road kill missing my head by inches. Nearly meat bombed, that would have been a new one.
It had cooled off by the time I got to Cocklebiddy so I put the warm gear on and got ready for the dark. Bad move Wombattle. Riding down Madura Pass the temps rose substantially and I was rugged up without time to stop to change back. I made it to Border Village in the dark for a plain burger and lots of fluids expecting it to finally cool off as the evening progressed. It didn’t.
Adding to the heat the wind whipped up even more to the point where I needed to put my foot on the footpeg during the jerry stop under the light of the closed Nullarbor Roadhouse because I feared the little bike was going to blow over. The strong winds slowed me down and increased fuel consumption. I found the only way I could maintain the speed limit and my OA was to tuck in as far as possible. The heat, the change in position and a slightly deflated airwhawk resulted in some trauma to my area of connection with the bike I wasn’t to discover until too late. “Some bruising on the way”, I thought. It won’t be the first time.
I needed to put the last of the jerry into the main tank at Penong and made it back to Ceduna a touch behind schedule opting for the budget king bed with less than two hours rest possible. So I had a quick shower and ate breakfast before I put my head down. Set the alarm, checked it and was up an hour and a half later, out the door in less than 15 minutes. Sunrise came leter
The strong hot wind hadn’t abated and was to be a feature of the next 12 hours or so. Tucked in as far as possible for as long and I could hold it essentially being tossed about and not being able to get up to the speed limit if I was heading into it. This was really a stress point for the ride.
In Nullarbor the night before I plugged Cobar into the GPS. A significant issue with the plan was closure of the 24 hour fuel stop there meaning that without fail I needed to arrive in Cobar before 9.30pm, with a target of 8.30pm or the ride was over at that point. I seem to ride to the TomTom’s suggested arrival time and everything I had done since Nullarbor was to keep it at 8.30pm, including the length of the break at Ceduna.
The conditions were challenging my ability to maintain the OA. Wudinna was open again, a quick B & E Roll and coffee to set me up for the day. Then I couldn’t resist my first daytime opportunity to take a photo here. Even though by now it was actually One and a Halfway across Australia.
Freakishly I made it to Port Augusta without needing the jerry and once again a rare day time ride through this area gave me the opportunity to stop briefly at a special place for FarRiders.
I rode Horrocks at a fun clip but around Wilmington the GPS went flat. About the same time the etrex went flat. So now the information telling me how I was going in relation to Cobar was gone. I became stressed and with the constant cramped riding position and new areas of pain were emerging. After Orroroo I missed the left turn to Peterborough. I didn’t realize it until I went over a floodway I didn’t remember and then saw a kilometer marker that said “ J Xks.” I thought where the fledge is “J” and where the fledge am I with no GPS. I stopped and go out my iPhone and determined I could get to Peterborough with a left further along but had no idea what effect this mistake had on the distance, OA or my arrival time at Cobar which when last I saw it was bang on 8.30pm.
Whatever happened I knew it wasn’t a shortcut and I was now behind schedule again. So I recalled the commitment I’d made to myself the day before and got just a little bit more determined. I decided until Cobar it was all about OA and fuel. Self care could wait and time was at a premium. So head down as far as it would go, body hunched over and knees nearly at my chin I went as hard as the little bike could which really meant that everything other than downhill I was going at the speed limit or close to it and keeping it straight in the cross winds.
A lightning stop at Yunta, another in Broken Hill and a decision was made because I wasn’t completely sure that with the range issues caused by the wind to put a splash in at Little Topar to ensure I’d have enough on board to reach Cobar. I just had to get there in time and had one more jerry stop to make wherever that might be required.
I rode into Cobar at bang on 8.30pm elated but recalling that I still had 700ks to go to finish the ride. I had a quick chat with OX and decided to call my wife while I took half an hour or so for the self care I’d abandoned and to reset properly for the night. I always find a microwaved servo pie a special mid point celebration and there was no food to be had between here and home anyway.
The battering winds had finally gone and the night started getting cold which after two days of heat and the toll the ride was taking on my body started to make me very, very uncomfortable. I stopped for fuel and a warm drink at Gilgandra and noticed I seemed to have lost half an hour. I put on everything I had to stay warm, it didn’t help. Increasing levels of cold, stiffness and pain got in the way of focus and by the time I approached Merriwa I was really struggling to keep the bike on the road. I stopped in the main street of Merriwa under a light and did the last jerry stop on automatic pilot. I then considered my options including calling my wife to come and get me. I could barely stand straight, my back and shoulders were hunched, my knees were burning and I could barely move so I did the only thing I could think of. I did a little dance and hoped no one was watching.
That got the juices flowing I jumped back on the bike but the head wasn’t quite there. When I rode off I felt a cold sensation on my left inner thigh and thought I’d put the tank bag over the fuel cap without putting the cap back on, or I’d wet myself. I stopped and checked it out and neither had happened. I determined it was just the coldness of the tank that did it. Snap, my head was back in the game.
The roos were quiet until the very last point past the Singleton Army Bases where two had a last crack at ending the ride for me and then I was on the New England. I was pretty much the only vehicle heading towards Maitland at that hour. I got the time head back on and set a goal of ending the ride at just under 98 hours. OX rode in behind me around Hexham and we got to within three k’s of the end of the ride and were stopped by a huge boat on a trailer blocking the road. The clock was counting down. We got past that and the railway gates were down. Then there was one set of lights between me and the two minutes I had left to beat 98 hours, they were red.
I pulled into the BP, jumped of the bike and greeted my wife who was waiting for me as I arranged a finish docket right on time.
Here I am, clearly done and very dusted at the same place I left just under 98 hours before.
I’d done it, a 100CCC Insanity on a Honda CBR250. I will never, ever, ever do it again.
The helmet had copped a bit of a bug battering during the ride
As did the little 250
And four days wear on the tyre!