We were well rested for the big ride home and so were ready to go early, heading out the gate of the motel in Alice Springs at 4:02am. It was, in hindsight a little early.
Fuelled up at the Caltex, the Shell on the outskirts of town is no longer 24hrs. We hit the road and were soon in to the 130kph limt highway. With the HID spotlights adding to the Wing's already excellent high beam, the road was lit up for miles and well in to the sides. It is mostly cut way back from the edge giving plenty of vision for spotting animals. There weren't any so that made the riding much more relaxing.
But there is a price for high speed and that is fuel consumption. By the time we got to Barrow Creek we were all running a little low and not sure if we could make it to the next town. Only problem was Barrow Creek was closed and didn't open for another hour. I was carrying an extra ten litres but decided it was better if we all stayed together.
Going again, we again hit the 130 limit. It was now daylight and I reached in to the glovebox for sunnies to discover there were none there. Damn. Seems they were still in the motel back at Alice. I hope the next owner likes them.
We pulled up for a little look at the Devils Marbles and I put the dark tinted visor on my helmet and that improved matters a lot.
Tennant Creek was soon after and time to stop for breakfast. Nothing like a few hundred kays before breakky to have the appetite ready. Here we also met some other riders on a couple of Cruisers heading east as well. They were worried about fuel consumption and so has strapped a plastic container of fuel to the back of their already well-packed bags, using good old duct tape.
Off again, it was soon a big right turn at the Three Ways and east bound and down was the order of the rest of the day with stops only at Barkley and Mt Isa before completing a 1308km day at Cloncurry. Cloncurry is a difficult place to get accommodation mid-week. There are quite a few motels, but with the resurgence of mining in the area, not nearly enough. There were a couple of spare cabins at the local caravan park so we were happy with that.
It had been a very hot day and I was feeling the effects, so I peeled off and jumped straight in to a cold shower to get my core temp down.
Next morning we left Tack asleep as we headed off at 5am. He was heading directly east to Townsville, while we were going further south.
We were heading in to heavily infested animal country so I dropped right back to be able to use all the lights. However nothing turned up in them before daylight.
First stop was at Winton where the servo was quite busy. Lots of travelling caravans, but also many bikes at a charity run was in progress. While inside having breakfast, we even caught a quick glimpse of Tex and Bundy on the Hayabusa but they didn't hang around long enough for me to get outside to say Hi. They were leading the Charity ride so were pretty busy.
The next section was to Longreach where Eddie and Grumpy pulled up to go do some touristy stuff and then move on to Barcaldine for their overnight stop. So after good-byes, I headed off to Barcy and some more fuel.
I re-attached the Air-Hawk to the seat. The GoldWing seat is quite comfy, but after this many days my rear end was aching for a change.
All alone now, I only had to make it as far as I wanted to go for the rest of the day, taking stock of my feelings at each town.
At Augathella I received a message from Charleen warning me of storms in the area and sure enough, there was a big downpour happening just to the west of me. I was heading south-east and it came at me from the right. Luckily, I managed to out-run it and only got a little damp.
Then at Morven I was going east again and the storms were mostly behind, but travelling pretty fast. They caught me just before Roma but were only light rain by that time.
I looked for accommodation at Roma, but it is another of those towns that gets really crowded midweek. Even with several big new motels, they were all displaying the NO sign beside their Vacancy sign. Nothing for it but to continue the 140km to Miles and see what the conditions were like there.
About half way everything cleared up as I got well in advance of the weakening rain front and at Miles I was feeling pretty good. So I topped up on fuel knowing I could make it in one go from here, less than 400km to home.
I made it by about 11:50pm, doing the 1708km in just under 19 hours. Time for some sleep.
I didn't even bother with ear plugs.
All in all I did a total of 6892km for the week and had encountered all types of weather. From freezing rain and cold in the south, to 35°+ heat in the north and everything in between.
Naturally, the GoldWing never missed a beat and gave me a smooth comfy ride.
Car Tyre on a Motorcycle?
As many of you know, I was trialling a different sort of tyre on the rear. Many Wing riders the world over have recently been using car tyres instead of motorcycle tyres on their GoldWings.
The practice has become known as 'going to the dark side' and has tended to polarise opinions.
The only way was to try for myself and when Camo imported a spare rim the opportunity presented itself.
The Kuhmo 155x95x16 RunFlat did the job very well, but I still have a few misgivings.
There are definitely many plusses to using a car tyre, including cost, wear factor, improved traction. The tyre is also run-flat capable and certainly Camo once rode for quite a time with the tyre flat and hardly noticed. This is a great feature for extended country travel.
But there are drawbacks as well. The tyre, due to it's flat shaped cross section, tends to tip in to any irregularity of the road surface. This can be disconcerting to the rider as the bike doesn't stay properly on the selected line.
Also, turning in to a corner, the bike at first hesitates, then goes over with a bit of a rush. It is not a smooth transition from upright to lean.
Once in a long corner, the bike is continually attempting to upright itself, requiring rider input all the way around a corner. Normally there is effort required to tip in, then a small effort to make the bike upright for the corner exit, not a constant effort to keep it tipped.
In many discussions I have heard and read, there have been a lot of misgivings but most have not come to the fore. The tyre holds on to the rim quite well. The sidewalls are more than capable of handling the downward force in a corner. Insurance is no longer a problem with my current insurer on record as saying they are happy so long as the tyre is not the cause of an incident. In many thousands of miles and kilometres in other countries and here, I have never heard of an incident that has been caused by a car tyre.
So my personal verdict is that a car tyre is good for long haul situations, perhaps including towing a trailer, but not for general riding.
General riding is the occasional day ride with a few twisties with my riding buddies.
I will probably source a spare rim and have a car tyre on hand for my occasional Long Distance rides. But I prefer the proper motorcycle tyre for all other riding.
Until next time. Here's a graphic of this ride, with each day depicted by a different colour.
Click on it or a larger version.