SS3000K Gold: 3000km in 36 hours

Last week the weather was rubbish so I went searching for a ride to do.    I saw on a the list Iron Butt Association rides an SS3000K so I sent a call out to see if anyone knew exactly what it was. The 3000K metric ride is a bit of an oddity. It’s 220kms short of an SS2000 Miles so I thought that there might be a time adjustment and it may be a 36hr ride.  It wasn’t but I was pointed me to a Gold Version of the SS2000M and suggested that the 3000K in 36 hours would do just to make it tougher.

Sounds easy enough but when you sit down and really think about it some things pop up that make it challenging.  The obvious one is rest, I assumed my body would need an adequate amount of rest after the first day (for me about 2000k).  It didn’t really matter that the second day was only 12 hours, similar rest still required for my body clock.  The not so obvious one is that because you cover the same distance in 36 hours instead of 48 hours for rthe normal qualification you need to plan for the same number of fuel stops crammed into less time. Both of these factors mean a decent step up in overall average which means every second counts.  I did some sums based on 3 hrs rest including docket, unpack/pack and 10 x 8 minute average fuel stops to compare them, interesting results.

Looking back at some of my recent rides I noted that at 36 hours I was usually between 2800km and 2900kms and I didn’t recall having any spare time on them so this was definitely a step up.  So the minimum goal was an SS3000K GOLD, the nice to have (but dreamed of) was the equivalent of an SS2000M GOLD or 3220k/36hrs. This was never going to be easy without an auxiliary tank but I’ve been steadily improving with my twin 10 litre jerry strategy.

My recent SS1600K on the CBR125R and the 1600K and 100CCC  (never doing that again) on the CBR250 have also helped a great deal with my mental approach and focus.  You can’t let up for a second on these little bikes and

I was interested in finding out what I could do on my kilometre munching Super Tenere with the same approach.

Day 1: First 24 Hours

So this morning I arrived shortly before 3.30am at the local servo and met up with some other long distance riders who offered to help out with witness forms. A quick chat, a docket at 3.36am for a transport leg in light rain to Greta that was to be the start location for the “on the clock” ride.  It took an hour to get there because of two very, very, very wide loads. Fortunately I got in and out of the Caltex there before they passed me again. No more rain and I was on my way.

The slow part of the trip through Branxton and beyond was done and all was quiet through Kangaroo Alley, Jerrys Plains and I finally got a green light at the roadworks just before Denman.  The sun rose behind me heading towards Merriwa, but photos were not on my agenda (didn’t even pack my camera but had the iPhone just in case I found some time).  Fuel economy was down a little and I had to refill use one of the 10 litre jerrys I carry in the main street of Duneedoo. I usually make it to Gilgandra on fumes and thought it a little strange. But I took the opportunity to make use of the freshly cleaned PT’s and burned a few minutes.

I refilled everything all at Gilgandra, which wasn’t part of my original plan but necessary. The fuel consumption was confusing. Then on to Walgett.  Today I was riding to Port Augusta but I wanted to make it as close as 2000k’s as possible, the straight run wasn’t far enough. I ran a number of plans but this seemed the best mix of open, unpopulated roads despite the need to gather corner dockets.  Well almost unpopulated.

This was the first of four areas where cattle were grazing over the road on the trip.

There was some IBA certification risk with the square route though. It’s easy to punch in town names in Google Maps and ride a square but there’s nearly always a shortcut of some description so I insisted on getting fuel/corner dockets at each turn to prove my route. For example, you can take a shortcut between Giralambone and Hermidale without going to Nyngan.  Google Maps won’t tell you about it unless you zoom right in but no corner docket at Nyngan might mean your ride certification is screwed just because it exists.

So after Walgett I rode to Bourke, stopped for a docket (bought a drink only, not fuel) ready to do a twin jerry stop (sub 7 minutes) somewhere between Bourke and Nyngan. This would see me with enough fuel in the front tank to make Cobar. I rode into Nyngan to just to grab a docket. I whacked 4 or 5 litres into one of the jerrys so I didn’t need to take the tank bag off and was out of there in less than five minutes.  Next stop Cobar where I filled the two 10’s and the main tank for the long haul with one stop to Broken Hill.  The wind was up but not too bad.  The temp was sitting about 35C, not perfect but no special management required other than some air up the sleeves and the Bedouin option. Zipped up and sweat slowly.

At Broken Hill I only filled the front tank, I planned to stop in Yunta, South Australia, as I considered it quicker to fill up there than to look for a light to stop under or fiddle with torch in mouth to refill from a jerry.  And there’s no point carrying 20 litres of fuel when you don’t need to.  Of course, leaving Broken Hill I got stopped at the roadworks and waited while no traffic came the other way.  Didn’t take a pic of it this time though.

I rode into the sunset towards Yunta and really appreciated the internal tinted visor in the Shoei Neotec.

At Yunta I grabbed a potato topped servo pie and an instant coffee to try to lessen the caffeine withdrawal headache that was reminding me that last minute rides with no time to wean myself off my caffeine addiction isn’t a great idea.  It was my first food for the day other than my sultanas and dried pineapple and two burnt muffins my 10yo daughter made me especially for the trip, delicious!

I the rode through Peterborough, Wilmington and some fun on Horrocks Pass ahead.  The dark wasn’t’ going to hold me up on this leg, I’ve ridden it many times this year.  The Super Tenere was very eager on the bends and at one point with frightened the joey out of a wallaby by heading straight for it  before taking the 45kph right bend in the road just prior to pinning it to the rock wall.

My dear wife and social organiser had booked for me at the Highway 1 Motel at Port Augusta. At the Shell there I filled the front tank only. Bought some water and rode next door to the Highway 1 where the key was in the door and receipt was on the bed.  I unpacked the bike, cleaned up lined everything up ready to put on and put back on the bike for a quick exit and had a few hours sleep. This was about the 11th time I’ve been to Port Augusta this year and the first time I stopped there.  It smells.

Just short of 2000k’s for the day and done with ease.  I slept like a baby.

Day 2: Final 12 Hours

Up at 3am at Port Augusta after nearly 2000ks ridden yesterday and a few good hours sleep.  I grabbed a docket back at the Shell next door to the Highway 1 Motel where I syaed the night at 3.36am (Eastern Australian Daylight Savings Time) for the start of the return trip, an hour earlier than I originally planned.  This made the 3220k’s plus ride in 36 hours look possible if I could stay focussed.

Back up Horrocks Pass was more exciting than usual. Once again on this ride I noted my Super Tenere seemed very responsive but the reason escaped me. The wildlife had come out over the last few hours, more bunnies  asking for a popping than anything but there were a couple of RooABS moments.  Well rested I had the game head on today  with 13 hrs riding max to do to finish the IBA ride.  Hydration mattered, nutrition didn’t. Today was to be warmer than yesterday, into the mid to high 30’s in Western NSW.

After Yunta, South Australia, I rode into a spectacular sunrise across the plain.

Of course riding into Broken Hill the Red Light  was waiting for me at the roadworks!

At Broken Hill I filled both 10 litre jerrys and took some personal care time ready again for the long haul to Cobar.  I avoid getting fuel at Wilcannia, the BP can be very slow.  There’s no 98 Octane at Emmdale so lugging it is my preferred option..  The goats at Macullochs Rest Area are always chatty when I stop there to refuel.

There were lots of lizards on the road here and it struck me that I don’t think twice about popping a bunny but I will always try to save a lizard, particularly those slow moving ones that look like they have a head on each end. They are cool!

Cobar a main tank fill only, making a quick stop then straight through Nyngan. My initial plan was to get a docket at Warren (3060kms) with a splash of fuel but I had enough in the tank to get to Gilgandra and time to spare so I rode through and filled the main tank there.

My 3220k+ option was Dunedoo, I pulled into the Kakadoo Café for a coffee, pie and docket.

Only a transport leg home now…hang on…. As I ate the pie I realised I could still make Merriwa on the clock, might as well squeeze it in and shorten the transport leg..

Of course roadworks got in the way again. This guy thought I was quite odd taking a pic of him.

He said something but I couldn’t hear him. I was learning Japanese from my iPod. “Konnichiwa. Atasiwa FarRiderGin desu. Kyou, tenki ga ii deska”. (learning to speak it not write it!)   Of course thought the lolly pop man, a Japanese idiot with a camera.  He gave me a grandiose wave  through as he turned the sign.

Now throughout the ride I’d noted how well the Super Tenere was going and also that more fuel was being used than I was used to.  While waiting at these roadworks I also  took a moment to stretch.  Looking at part of the instrumentation that’s hidden by my SPOT Tracker  I saw an “S” in the mode display.  Never seen it before, never used it  before, don’t even know how to change the bike to Sports mode.  But now the differences were explained. Clearly the mechanic made the switch during the service the day before I left and I hadn’t noticed.  I might just leave it there now though :-).

Anyhow I made it to Merriwa and put a splash in the tank to get home and checked the docket.  All good and 3342kms (Google Maps) covered in less than 36 hours from Greta. But wait, there’s more.  I was half a chance to get to Denman.  Off I went but this time I was finally thwarted with roadworks resealing the 60kph straight leading into town and less than 500m from a docket the clock ticked over. Bugger!

I gave a giggle and rode home arriving in time for my 7pm meeting. 3575ks or so for the whole trip (Newy to Lambton) in 39hours and plenty more in the tank but my wife had organised a nice Thai Green Curry and I had a meeting.

I can’t really describe how much I enjoyed this ride.  It was one of those times that everything went perfectly. The decisions were good and a seemingly daunting ride turned out to be way easier than it should have been. The Super Tenere as usual didn’t let me down and just ate the up the miles with it’s usual ease, just a little more keenly than usual. GOLD.