SS1600K CBR125R: Peterborough SA

Little Mango (CBR125R) has been sitting in the garage patiently with it’s new motor, a new exhaust system, a cheap EFK EFI controller, a Piug Double Bubble screen and a one tooth bigger front sprocket.  It’s been waiting for me to put the books aside and test it out on something bigger than the four x 40k trips up and down the Hunter Expressway it’s done since the rebuild. Last Friday I managed to get it on the Dyno to sort out the fuel mix at my cruising revs (7000 – 8500 rpm) and determined I had a whopping 11.86HP to play with and I was itching to play.

I was planning a “safe” SS2000K to test it’s mettle to see if I could possibly ride something special on it in the future.  But I got impatient. “No reason the road test can’t be the real thing, I’ll just ride and see what happens” I thought. So on Sunday night/Morning a plan was hatched.  If I could organise some quick farkling, an oil change and the decent weather forecast held I was going to leave Newcastle on Wednesday morning and ride west until one of the following occurred;
1. Little Mango blew up again
2. My OA fell below 84kph
3. I got tired and had to pull the pin
4. A non specific issue not 1, 2 or 3 occurred OR
5. I got to Scarborough and picked up the package I was going to send Gus (thanks Gus).  I didn’t have an inkling of a plan what I might do if I actually got to pick the package up. Something might occur to me along the way I hoped.

That was the plan, just ride west and see how far I got. Simple.

Monday: I got online and ordered some RAM mounts to be overnighted that I’d need to complete the farkling and a power cord for the TomTom. I called Dale McLean, he had time to get some coms and a 12 volt outlet on the bike and I was there two hours later. I organised an oil change, chain check etc for Monday afternoon. Mechnicals done, farkle tidying to go.

Tuesday: The “geniuses” at Star Track tried to deliver the RAM mounts to our business premises at 8.10am and left a card telling me I could pick them up tomorrow (morons). The power cord wasn’t going to arrive.  So I jerry rigged power via USB to the GPS thinking I could share the outletbetween that and the phone. I decided to stick the SPOT tracker in the clear top of the tank bag with a ride plan that consisted of little other than a list of locations and the time I should be there @ OA 84kph and a 2.5hr rest at Ceduna (at end SS2000K). I had coffee with 93TigerBill in the morning to discuss my idea and let OX, Gus, Skidoooo and the WA Crew know I was heading off at 3am.

Wednesday: I woke up in time and the bike was ready to go with everything I thought I might need for the trip in a tank bag or in my pockets. I was travelling very light (a little too light as it turned out). I was about to leave and the curly cord for the starcom wasn’t where it should be.  I woke the house up looking for and finding the spare. That delay meant I arrived at the BP Parry Street a little late. I filled up the main tank and the 10 litre jerry while having a quick chat with Bill and OX. With the paperwork done and a docket time of 3:17am I was off into the cold.  I was wearing a layer of LD Comforts, Thermal Layer over that, another thermal layer of pants, the Jett Heated Vest, a down filled jacket and the KLIM Latitude Suit. More than I’d normally wear but the first 50ks or so was really the only time I was warm all day.

With the Hunter Expressway done it was out into Kangaroo Alley, Jerry’s Plains and Merriwa. The cold bit harder and some fog dropped in with some ice forming on my boots.  I rode through Duneedoo, turned right to Mendooran and filled from jerry after 340kms. The new motor and enhancements have extended the range and the power and I knew I’d get to Nyngan (543ks) without another stop.

A comfort stop taken and I put fuel in the main tank only at Nyngan. A pleasant ride to Cobar to fill the tank and the jerry for the long haul to Broken Hill.  A quick check of the phone there revealed that there might have been some dodginess with the SPOT along the way. Not a surprise given I was tucked over the top of it for most of the time.

The day was sunny but there was no warmth in it.  There was a light breeze but not enough to significantly impact Little Mango’s speed while I was being as small as my 6’5 100kg’s could be.  I developed a rhythm of cruising on 95kph in 5th and where the road allowed 100-105 in 6th.  Whenever I was in 5th I controlled the throttle, in 6th I just pinned it. With a top speed of 117kph I’d be unlucky to get a ticket.

If I caught up to anything (rare) or anything passed me (less rare) I’d take the opportunity to sit up in the slipstream, stretch and let it pull me along for as long as I could then back into a tight tuck.

During this part of the ride some little things started to go wrong.  I saw that the GPS was losing power and the nearside mirror on the bike was coming loose.  The Denali D2 on the mirror stem was rattling around a bit.  I arrived at Broken Hill having made up the 17 minutes I’d lost getting away late with an OA of a touch over 88kph and 36 minutes stopped for the day so far. I was going better than I’d expected and the little bike was running really well. Seemingly better as the day went on which made sense at the time given the engine was new.

At Broken Hill I took the roll of gaffer tape to fix the mirror so the LED light was facing where I needed it. I didn’t need that mirror to continue with the ride but dark was coming and the extra light was a must.  I also taped up the adapter in the 12volt socket to try to get some charge into the GPS that had gone flat. I thought I didn’t really need the GPS to find the west coast but it was my only real speedo when the darkness took away my view of the etrex.

So a bit of time was lost at Broken Hill but soon enough I left heading towards the SA Border and Yunta with fuel in the main tank only. While I knew I could make it to Port Augusta on the tank and jerry my plan was to stop at Yunta for quick bite to eat.  The extra couple of kph I might pick up from not lugging 10kg of extra fuel I thought would be worth it.

The sun went down around Olary and I stopped by the side of the road to change into my night glasses. The GPS wasn’t getting any charge so I swapped the adaptor out and plugged in my iPhone which was getting very low on charge.  ON the side of the road along there somewhere someone has put up a Hills Hoist with a bunch of clothes on it. As I rode past there were people stopped taking photos of it. I didn’t have time.

I arrived at Yunta, bang on the ride plan time with the OA having crept back to 87.5kph. I was very happy with that. I pulled in to fill the tank only. A minor disaster. The key got stuck in the filler cap and I couldn’t get the cap to secure back on to the tank. 15 minutes later the key came out and the cap went on. I got to the point of thinking about snapping the key off and gaffer taping the filler down to see if that would work.  I had a spare key in my pocket for the ignition.

I looked at my phone, it wasn’t charging and was nearly flat.  On my usual quick glance around the bike I looked at the rear tyre that I didn’t get a chance to replace before leaving..mmmmm. I went inside to take stock of my position, eat a pie and have a hot chocolate.  The next stop was to be Port Augusta.  From there I would be heading into the middle of nowhere with no phone, no GPS, a SPOT that I wasn’t completely confident in, one mirror and a filler cap I wasn’t confident in.  Nothing at all was going to be open for the 468kms to Ceduna. Oh, and it was really cold again.  To seal the deal my OA was going to drop below 84kph before I got out of Yunta.  I called it, my opinion was that it wasn’t meant to be this time and the test ride had revealed what I needed to know.

I sent some texts, rang my wife who was surprised because she knew I’d arrived at Yunta on time,  and we devised a new plan. A quick 85k each way to Peterborough then back to Broken Hill to salvage an SS1600K was the new plan. I was heading home.   My wife said “Why don’t you just go straight back to Broken Hill?” “It’s not 1600k’s” I said “Oh” she said.  She gets it even if she thinks I’m a bit barmy.

In no rush now I took some time to reset the brain while my wife organised some accommodation at the Hill for me. I rode the familiar route to Peterborough where I got a splash of fuel and a turn around docket. I knew it was 290 or so k’s back to the Broken Hill from there but I put another splash in on the way back through Yunta for conservatism’s sake.  I had also noticed that when the temperature dropped significantly the Little Mango’s performance took a little dive too. The look on the attendant’s face at Yunta when I turned back up for fuel was priceless.

As the ride continued I got colder and colder. Karl and I have discussed this issue with riding little bikes and I fell foul of it at the end of my 100CCC on the CBR250R.  Normal “on bike” exercise routines are out the door on the little bikes. You sit up and you slow down.  Stick an arm up into the wind for a bit of resistance exercise and you slow down. Stick a leg out to stretch and if your boot doesn’t hit the road you are likely just to get a cramp out of it. Standing up in the 60 zones is possible but precarious. So the riding is pretty much squeeze down low for as long as you can, wait for the pain and cramps to arrive, acknowledge them, pack the pain away for later and just keep going.  But it’s this lack of movement that just allows the cold to creep in and drain your energy away. It’s winter Wombattle, what were you thinking!?

I made it to Broken Hill, managed to fill the tanks at the Shell and get a witness signature from the attendant. 1697kms on the etrex for the day, very pleased with that.  I went to the hotel, found the key and let myself into the room shaking and shivering uncontrollably. Hot tea and a hot shower didn’t dent the cold and the aircon had the rattle from hell so off it went and I’m sure I slept for a while still shivering but not intending to leave while the sun was still down in the morning.

Here’s the etrex for the trip.  Only bad point is the stopped time. For me it should be about 1:20.