11 September 2012

Davo Memorial Run 2012

It seems there are a lot of memorial runs these days. Good thing too. It reminds us that our chosen pastime is not without its dangers.

FarRiders have their own special Memorial Run which we have held for the last three years. I haven't been to every one, but this year things fell in to place.

Time was a bit short so it was to be lots of kilometres in a short time. Nothing unusual in that.

Normally before a big trip we get all excited with anticipation and cannot sleep. Not a good idea for LD riding and with practice, I'm getting better at relaxing for sleep before departure.
So early to bed and I awoke five minutes prior to the 2am alarm. Excited? Me?

Under way by 2:30 my intended destination for the day was Broken Hill. Not really sure if I could make it, I had not booked a room and wasn't carrying a swag on this run. Mistake.

The run up Cunninghams is improving with the roadworks of the last few years nearing completion. Just a small 40kph section and the rest is 70kph. Very sharp corners make this a comfortable pace.

Then it is through Warwick and west on the long road to Goondiwindi via Inglewood. Lots of roos inhabit this bit of road so extra care must be taken and good lighting is essential. GoldWings have excellent lights as standard and I have the added benefit of a couple of HID driving lights. Also a couple of small DRL (Daytime Running Lights) which run LEDs for their source. They are not for lighting up the road but for being seen by others. They work very well - maybe a little too well.

First stop at BP Goondiwindi and as usual I wandered over to Maccas for a coffee. There was a coach reversing around in the car park and it turned out it was full of schoolkids and had suffered a mechanical problem. So they had dropped everyone off at Maccas while they went for repairs. What a noise! I got my coffee and escaped.

South now, down the dreaded Newell Hwy. Boring it may be but with the 110kph speed limit now re-instated, it is still the quickest A to B in that part of the country and I was in mile-munching mode. The all too familiar towns went by and knowing the distance and approximate times from one to the other makes the run easy, if a little clinical.

One difference between motorcycles and cars is the ease of overtaking. A large capacity bike can be out, around and back in while a much heavier car is still building up speed. It is just physics, but car drivers often don't understand.

And so it was that a bright orange GT kept getting left behind when I could overtake a semi in a very short timeframe then resume normal speed. Sure enough, time and time again the bright orange GT would eventually catch me again. Hate to think what speeds he was doing just to catch up with me travelling on the posted limit.

Turning off the Newell on to the much quieter Oxley Hwy, there are not so many big trucks holding up the pace so I had nowhere to hide from the big orange GT. I still made it to Warren well in front though. He must have had engine trouble. Or something.

I had a little look around Warren. We will be holding a FarRiders meeting here in November. The town was a little busy though, one of the local cotton gins was ablaze. Quite some damage I heard later. I did manage to get out to the racecourse where our meet will be held. The amenities look good.

Well, places to be, so away I went. No more GTs to play with. Out through Nyngan and then Cobar where the sun began to get in front. I had to stop and purchase a new tube of sunscreen and plastered it on. A call to Charleen to book a room in Broken Hill as it seemed sure to be tonight's stop.

Then the run in to the setting sun and a fairly strong headwind for a few hours. Nothing serious but is does use up fuel. I topped up in Wilcannia - the less time spent in that town the better - and had to ride the next hundred or so with one hand up blocking the sun which insisted setting down the end of the road.

A nice cloudless sunset then dark set in and the lights took over making riding easier for the last few kays in to Broken Hill. I knew my FarRiding mate Bazz was playing a gig tonight, but I didn't feel like a big meal at the club and a very nice bed beckoned.

Very nice because the only room available was their deluxe suite. Sure was an expensive very nice bed though. Almost as much as we paid for very nice beds in Manhattan, New York!!

I'd had visions of departing at 3am and breakfasting in Port Augusta where a few FarRiders were to gather, but wanting to get my money's worth, I remained sprawled on the king-sized bed until nearly seven. Truly leisurely.

But there's riding to be done.

Under way just before seven I was on target for arrival at the Wilmington meetup. Even had time for a leisurely breakky at Yunta. B&E and bottomless coffee.

With the sun behind me and a light headwind - the previous day's gales to the south had abated somewhat - I made it with plenty of time to spare.

Arriving in Wilmington, another bike fell in behind. Another FarRider for sure. Wombattle (some of us have funny names) was there on his first Davo Memorial Run and on a new bike. A happy lad.

Eventually all had turned up and I realised I had not taken any photos up to now. How slack of me.

So here's one of the bikes gathered at Wilmington.

Toura then led us out to the Memorial plaque. This involved a very nice run over Horrocks Pass, a renowned, if short piece of twisty bitumen.

Davo's Plaque was placed beside an open part of the road just on the western side of Horrocks Pass. It was selected because it was a favourite spot of the founder of FarRiders. It is also the spot from where a certain photo was taken. This photo now sits atop our forum site and the challenge was once put out that all FarRiders should at some time visit the spot and attempt a similar shot with their own bike. It is a quaint little ritual, but one that means much to FarRiders.

This shows the location of the plaque amongst the saltbush with the Flinders Ranges in the background.

And here's the dozen or so bikes that turned up for the event.

OK so it isn't as many as some much larger Memorial Runs. But its ours.

After our short ceremony it was back to Wilmington for lunch. Those who were staying overnight settled in at the pub and a few of us who were travelling on made use of the little cafe across the road.

Then it was back on the road and head for home. For me that was 1927km away.
But I'm a FarRider and on a GoldWing so no real biggie.

For a start, I had a gentle tail wind, the sun at my back and a cloudless sky. Great riding conditions.
I refueled at Peterborough and heard the attendant's radio blasting out the footy. The Adelaide team was playing in the semi-finals. The town was empty. The road was empty. I was pretty sure everyone in the district was glued to their TV either at home, in a pub or at the police station.

I made good time to Broken Hill.

Refueled and it was now dark, so on with the big lights and head east. Ran in to a problem that was to plague me all night. Obviously the footy was over as there was now traffic on the road and my low beam lights combined with the DRLs seemed to be too much for most oncoming traffic. If I dipped too soon - before they saw me - they seemed to assume I hadn't dipped and would try to "teach me a lesson". For some that was a little flash and I would give a quick flash in return.
Others were much more rude and got what they deserved.

It would be nice if drivers realized that motorcyclists need to still see the sides of the road for wildlife, even while being dazzled by oncoming lights. My low beams are set up carefully to spread low across the road to the sides. They do not shine up into the eyes of oncoming vehicles.
If a hoppy bounds out in front of a car, it may get a damaged front. A truck might get blood on the bullbar. A motorcycle will have a catastrophic crash.

I learned to leave my high beams and driving lights on until oncoming vehicles were well in sight and they would be sure I had dipped and then most of them left me alone. Most. Please pardon my rant, but oncoming vehicles were most annoying that night.

I arrived in Cobar around 11pm and thought it might be nice to get a shower and a bed but all the accommodation had the bright red NO out front. The lass in the servo happily informed that the town was pretty full except maybe one of the pubs but they had a band playing. I rode on.

Cobar to Nyngan was Roo City. Dozens of them sitting beside the road. Hardly moving in the by now quite cold night. But I was very wary. Speed was way down and luckily not much oncoming traffic.

Nyngan had a motel with a sign that advertised 24hr checkin. "Just dial 9", read the sign on the door. Dial on what? There was no phone. I could see where it had been.

Ride on.

By now it was too late to get accommodation anywhere and I was ruing not having brought a swag. But I was wide awake and feeling OK. Self checks were positive.

Refueling at Gilgandra I longed for a coffee. Not only did I need to wake up the attendant to get fuel, but I had to boil the kettle myself! Coffee was good though.

Over the ranges to Coonabarabran and on through the Pillaga, where the temp dropped to zero on the dashboard. The occasional roo sitting beside the road. Another coffee would be nice, so I set to refuel a little early at Narrabri but the kitchen was closed at 4:30am and the urn was out of order.

Ride on.

Moree saw daylight and a big Maccas sign boasting a 24hr opening and a McCafe. Coffee at last and even a little snack.

Much refreshed now I set out on the last five hour stint to home. Turned to face the sun at Goondiwindi, slathered the sunscreen on nose and cheeks.

And rode on.

Over the Gap and down into warm sunshine, the dash temp was rising. Over 20 and quite pleasant. I was now reaping the benefit of that long leisurely sleep-in in the very nice bed at Broken Hill. 24 hours on I was still going strong and the traffic was making me concentrate and keeping the alert levels up.

Made it home with a straight through run of 1927km in 21hrs 15 minutes with a total of 3960km in two and a half days.

A good ride.