SS1600K: Mackay QLD to Newcastle

I was in Cairns and I needed to get home. The HOG Rally was fun but didn’t leave me in an appropriate condition to take on a one day trip so I left Cairns before lunch on Sunday and rode down the Bruce Hwy to Mackay, which is conveniently located 1621kms from home.

Some of the roadworks between Cairns and Townsville had been sorted but it wasn’t all smooth sailing

It was a lovely day out

The sunset was beautiful, my photos aren’t

I arrived at Mackay a touch before 7pm and decided to grab something decent to eat. Bucket curries, roasts, Bratwurst in buns and hot buffet breakfasts had been the order of the day at the HOG Rally. So I had a crack at a very popular Thai restaurant very close to the Motel I found. Should I have been worried? Did the locals know something I didn’t?

In bed by 8pm alarm set for 3.15am with a target start time of 4am at the 24hr Caltex 1km away I’d sussed out.  Alarm went off and my motel routine kicked in with a docket at 4.01am and a witness.  It was cool so the heated vest was turned on and away I went.  I wasn’t sure if I had enough fuel to get to Rockhampton but there were plenty of options just south of Mackay, Sarina so I considered it likely there’d be more north of Rocky to choose from if fuel was short.

A couple of dead wallabies, perhaps one live one, not quite sure, but I’d chosen this route to stay east in more traffic while in the dark, I felt it safer.  There are some good sections of 110kph heading south which was nice. Getting close to Rocky though it became apparent that fuel wasn’t going to be common. The Harley says “Lo” when the DTE gets below 15kms. It said “Lo” with 30kms to go and I rolled into the first Caltex in Rocky on fumes. Had a hot chocolate (it was cooler than at 4am) and got set for the day.

I grabbed a sunrise shot along the way.

I had decided on the Leichhardt Way, a route I’d not ridden before and looked forward to seeing some new stuff.  I went out through Gracemere, Mt Morgan, not too bad a road but was shuffled onto a winding detour around one part of the highway, the first inconvenience of the day but the bends were fun. With the jerry destroyed on the trip up and a close call into Rocky I decided to play it safe with fuel and stopped at Banana.  Not sure how it got the name, the park had some fake cattle in it, not a banana to be seen anywhere.  Maybe they should have called the town Cows. :whistle

After Banana the road got a bit crook which wasn’t a great help to my tenderised back and kidneys after the hammering they got on the way up. I didn’t have as much luggage on board this trip, I sent the dirty laundry and anything else I didn’t need for this ride home with my wife.

Heading down to Miles the road got worse and the significant delays started. The first few were roadworks. Here’s one

and then at least a 15 minute delay because of a wide load. The Policeman doing the escort was friendly and stopped for a chat.  He commented on the cold, the sun hadn’t brought much warmth with it and asked me where I was going. “Newcastle” I said. “Where have you come from today?” “Mackay” I like to be truthful but he looked surprised.  “What time did you leave?” “4am” I could see him doing the maths in his head, it was taking a while, perhaps because he was escorting wide loads and not in the CIB so I helped him.  “I’m averaging 86kph”. “Oh, OK, good. Enjoy the rest of your ride” “Thanks, I will unless I keep getting stopped by roadworks and wide loads.” He smiled and said, “There’s more roadworks just up the road”.
What to do while I was waiting? Take a selfie.

Set off SPOT so the missus didn’t get worried about me being stopped in the middle of nowhere. And a snap of the wide load going past.

And a snap of the roadworks 5k’s up the road delivering another significant delay.

The next bit went on for Miles, so I stopped there for fuel  :facepalm

The story of the rest of Queensland down to Goondiwindi was to be degrading road conditions delivering bigger hits and roadwork delays. I watched the OA and MA going backwards further and further, nowhere near critical but it was turning what I would have expected to be a sub 18hr ride into a 19hr ride.

More fuel at the new Caltex Roadhouse at Goondiwindi, very nice truckstop, the dunnies were spotless and even smelled nice! Then I made it to NSW, the roads sorted themselves out, the 110kph signs appeared and even the one bit of roadwork between there and Moree didn’t slow me down.  I had intended to stop in Moree for fuel but I had enough to get to Narrabri and I wanted to get as much ground covered as I could before dark.

The sun set just as I rode into Narrabri, it was busy so I rode through to the Shell Servo south west of town where I had a plain burger (first meal for the day) and a flat white and got ready for the night. The day never really warmed up but it was getting colder now so I turned on the heated vest and off I went towards Gunnedah.  Guess what?

It was like salt into the wounds.  I knew I was still on track for 19hrs which isn’t really too bad but to say that I had the shits with this ride would be an understatement. I felt like stopping the ride in protest, but I had to get to Uni the next morning.  It didn’t help that there had been a dirt road detour around the railway crossing at Curlewis on the way north, that seemed like fun at the time but not today.  Thankfully they’d finished the work  :thumbs

Across Breeza, Willowtree and the last fill at Scone where I had a hot chocolate to warm up.  Then the normal ride down the New England on to that lovely new Hunter Expressway for a trouble free trip into the heart of Newcastle.

OX-34 had been watching and was there to greet me when I arrived (with his new LD Scooter). It took me a moment to expunge the expletives and express my frustration as we discussed the strange goings on with the SPOT and my lack of progress during the day.  93TigerBill turned up shortly thereafter also wondering what had gone on.  Good humour returned as the paperwork was done and I secured my traditional twinpack Cherry Ripe purchased for the docket.

Thanks for signing me in Bill and Peter, much appreciated once more. We chatted for a while about the scooter exploits and home I went after Bill took this pic.

Now nothing about this ride was particularly difficult other than the (com)pounding my already delicate back and kidneys received. I was happy enough to cope with that, the only way you can control that is to take another route next time.  19hrs to the minute isn’t “really” a bad time for an SS1600K. I was very efficient with all my stops that probably accounted for less than an hour all up for the day. What I was surprised with was my reaction to the constant interruptions to the flow of the ride. It didn’t make me ride faster or take any risks, I’m thankfully too disciplined for that now.  It just gave the the shits! I’ll have a chat with my missus to see if she can recommend some strategies for me to deal better with intra-ride inconveniences and some anger management  :hide

To see how the delays affected the ride, compare it with the trip up.
To Cairns. MA 106, OA 98.6
This ride.. MA 97.7 OA 87.3
I did nothing different. Amazing.