10 September 2010

Day 6 and 7 The Ride Home and the Darkside explained.

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.


07 September 2010

Day 5 Ebeneezer to Alice

Well Drain's Ride didn't go as expected.

I was sitting at Erldunda watching his SPOT tracker and it stayed in one place for over an hour.
Zooming in and going to satellite view showed him to be at Renner Springs Roadhouse. Well short of his planned schedule.
I looked up Renner Springs' web page and found they opened at 6:30 so I rang them on the dot.
When the lady answered I asked, "Is there a bloke on a large motorcycle outside?" She sounded surprised, but said, "Yes."
"Can I speak to him please?"
"Um - OK. {There's a phonecall for you}"
Drain came on the line to tell me that he had suffered from a bout of fatigue and so had called the ride off and bedded down beside the bike. He had the foresight to make it near a roadhouse so those watching his SPOT would not be too worried.

That over, I didn't have to wait too much longer for Erldunda roadhouse to wake up and I was tucking in to breakfast when the others arrived.

Then it was the 200km run in to Alice Springs. Dave needed new tyres for the Yamaha as the two days of riding leaning into the crosswinds had scrubbed them badly. So while they sorted that out for after lunch, Tack went off and found Paul and Mosey who were travelling in the area and we all went for Lunch.
Then found the Alice Motor Inn and settled in. It is a nice old place with an art deco style section which was probably the old house. Large rooms. Good price for this Tourist town.

This afternoon is being spent resting up and getting those necessary supplies for the trip home.

Day 4 Coober Pedy to Yulara and Ebeneezer

It sure was nice and dark in the motel. Those in the back rooms didn't surface until nearly 8am. Well, we all needed a good sleep.

On the road again before 9am, our goal today is to meet up with Drain at Ebeneezer and then go to Yulara to witness the start of his ride.

The ride up the highway was uneventful, only stopping at Marla for fuel and the SA/NT border for photos.

We arrived at Ebeneezer and found Drain, who had been resting up for a day. We all went the two more hours to Yulara. We had a couple of hours to spare so went and got some photos of the Rock and checked on the timing of the servo's cash register. It was a few minutes out from real time and as Drain's ride is to be timed we had to calculate what time to be at the counter to get a 7pm receipt. The blokes running the servo were helpful and intrigued.

At 7pm on the dot, we got the receipt and Drain headed out the door, on his bike, and was gone.

The rest of us headed back out on the highway and had a nice dinner at Curtain Springs roadhouse before travelling on to Ebeneezer, our digs for the night.

I couldn't sleep and as there is no phone service at Ebeneezer, I left early and traveled to Erldunda. From here I can keep an eye on Drain's SPOT tracker while I wait for the servo to open and Tack, Dave and Grumpy to catch up.

SA/NT Border

Red bike and Red Rock
Drain on the Rocket III

06 September 2010

Day3 Port Augusta to Coober Pedy

I had pre-organised accommodation at the Big4 Pt Augusta in a cabin. But there was a bit of a mixup. They were great and had left a key out for us in a safe place for our late arrival.
But they had given us a Honeymoon Suite!!

Now I think Tack is a nice bloke, but I ain't sleeping in the same bed. He snores.

So we dismantled the settee and converted it to a bed. Ian was there too and slept on the settee cushions. I had the nice queensize bed all to myself and managed a good night's sleep.

In the morning, after the settee was re-assembled, quite a few FarRiders gathered for breakfast at the BP Servo where they do a pretty good burger-with-the-lot. Add coffee for the perfect start to a travelling day.

Then a few of us went back towards Horocks Pass. Tack had yet to see the place in daylight and we also stopped at the Banner Shot Location. This is a spot on the road near Horrocks where he once stopped for a photo which became the banner photo that adorns the FarRider Forum pages. he once challenged us all to get a similar shot and there have been several examples over the years. So we took a few more.
This is one of those places, like Horrocks Pass itself, that will forever remind FarRiders of the man who got us all started.

Tack, Grumpy and Dave, and I then set out North along the Stuart Hwy to eventually catch up with Ian who had left earlier for Mt Ebeneezer where he will be resting up for a whole day. More to come on that.

There isn't much to say about this highway. It is long and straight, but there are a few spectacular spots where the vastness of outback Australia is made apparent.

We made it as far as Coober Pedy and "holed up" for the night in an underground motel. Nice and dark with the lights out.

05 September 2010

Day 2 SS1600 kilometers and a Ceremony

Day 02 Goondiwindi to Port Augusta

Today was to be our big day - and it was all it promised to be.

With bad weather being promised, we were ready to go at 3am under clear skies. We had the four bikes and five people.
We fuelled at BP Goondisindi and had the attendant sign our witness forms, to show we were here at that time for the start of our run.
It was probably the most fun she had all night.

The first hour was great with fine and cool weather, the lights on the Wing working well, lighting up the sides of the road like daylight.

Just south of Moree though, it began to get darker overhead as the stars were blotted out by the clouds that would accompany us for the rest of the day.

By the time we got to our first planned fuel stop at Coonabarabran, we were starting to get soaked. Final pieces of wet weather gear were added and on we went through the drizzle. The rain was not too serious, just enough to be annoying.

While we were travelling south, we had a nice following wind helping us along, but when we turned right at Nevertire, we were hit by crosswinds from our right. The four bikes were leaning hard to the right to keep on the road.
The rain seemed to be getting heavier and in Nyngan I called Charleen to see what the radar was showing locally. They were showing clear!!??
By the time we finished refuelling again, it was coming down a bit heavier. But to go back was to run with the weather. Better to continue on and punch through. Hah!!

It had rained quite a lot recently and all the creeks were flowing and the road washouts were awash.
Dave was leading now, and his brake lights came on constantly. Lift the feet and splash through the water.
One was a bit deeper and a large splash was blown by the wind on to my windscreen. I was OK. but Tack, on the ST1100 with a smaller screen, received the equivalent of a bucketful of water over the top of his screen and down the neck of his jacket.

We pulled up in Cobar for lunch, got chatted by the local copper for parking on a footpath close to shelter and had to move them up the road. Thanks a lot!!

Now out on to the road to Wilcannia and Broken Hill, the rain was easing off and we were only getting the occasional shower.
But the Wind!! Coming from our right and forward we were pushing hard in to it and it began to play havoc with fuel consumption. Trevor and I were carrying extra fuel, but Dave and Tack weren't. Finally, Trevor pulled up to pour in some extra and Tack and I pulled in as well. He was very low so I only put in just what I though I needed to get to Wilcannia, and kept a couple of litres spare in case he ran out.
Not long up the road, there was Dave stopped on the side. The Yamaha was dry.

So we tipped that last precious couple of litres in his tank and we set out into now a strong headwind to try to get to town.
I went in front and the two bikes tucked in behind for some slipstreaming and we made it with very little to spare. Tack still had two litres in his tank, so the ST had done well.

Refuelled and happy, we headed out for broken hill and beyond, now making sure to refuel every 200km to allow for the 30% more fuel we were using.

Approaching Peterborough, we finally went through the eye of the low pressure system that was to cause heavy damage to country Victoria that night. The wind died down, the rain came back, then once we got through town the wind hit us from the opposite side and battered us again.

But ahead I could faintly see clear patches on the horizon so took heart and pressed on. We finally got to the Horrocks Pass cairn and met up with a few other FarRiders who were beginning to gather for the Midnight vigil.

However, we still didn't quite have enough kilometres up for our SS1600km ride, so continued in to Port Augusta to get a final docket to prove our arrival. We checked in to our accommodation, grabbed some hamburgers for tea then headed back up to the Pass.

By now most of the FarRiders who were attending had arrived. I took a headcount and called out a roll. Quite a few had not made it for various reasons - all harmless but disappointing. There had been mechanical breakdowns, weather related problems and some who had decided to not ride. A good idea if your head is not in the "right place".

Only two were missing, but just before midnight they turned up and I was relieved to have us all there or accounted for.

We had our little informal ceremony to remember our mate Davo. Russell led the talk and several told stories of their times with him. There were poems read aloud. Some blokes had cone to considerable work. Such is the man's legacy.

After, we broke up fairly quickly and dispersed back to our various digs for the night.

All in all, many kilometres were travelled by men and women to gather and remember our friend, 12 months from the day he left us.

More tomorrow.

03 September 2010

Day 1 Home to Goondiwindi

An easy day today so I left home at a leisurely hour. I had only 360km to do.
I even had enough fuel to make it there but decided to do a fuel stop at Warwick just to see how quickly i could do it.
Pull in, switch to accessories so the GPS doesn't go off.
Open tank with spare key
Fuel up
Enter details on Iphone app
In to office to pay and grab a drink
Back out on the bike - helmet on
Gone in under five minutes.

A loo stop would take a few minutes more but that isn't every stop.

I arrived at Goondi well before the others and set up the computer to watch them come in. Two have SPOTs just like me.
Eddie and Grumpy arrived first on their Yamaha FJR1300, then a call from Trevor who was lost in town. Quick directions and he turned up on the Kawasaki GTR1400.
About half an hour later Tack arrived on the Honda ST1100 and we were all here.

Tomorrow we get serious about riding. We are keeping an eye on the weather but it seems OK for now.

02 September 2010

Off on Another Ride

A meloncholy ride this weekend.
This Saturday marks 12 months since we lost FarRider #1, David Davo Jones. He was participating in his love of LD riding and taking part in the Ironbutt Rally in the USA when he got taken out by deer strike in northern Idaho.
His favourite quote was "We are all destined to die. Some choose to live while alive."
All his fellow FarRiders certainly agree, but we didn't expect him to go so soon.

So, this weekend, about 25 of us from all over the country will meet at one of Davo's favourite places on his LD rides, Horrocks Pass in South Australia. There we plan to have a small service, where we will remember Davo and give each other support.

After that, a few of us plan to ride home via Uluru and Alice Springs.

I will attempt to update this blog as I go, but cannot guarantee there will be access everywhere.

You can follow my progress with this link
which will be active from Friday morning 3 Sep 2010.