02 May 2013

A Little Ride Around The Block

I’ve not been getting much riding in recently, what with the Wing in getting repairs and all.  I had also double-booked for the FarRally weekend and was down for hosting a get-together for another club.  I wasn’t really needed at the FarRally so that had to miss.

The CeeBee, Charleen’s old Honda CB1300S was in need of a good run.  It has just been doing local running about and a lot of sitting since she stopped using it for commuting.  It will soon be doing a 10,000+ km trip under my mate Jack so a good run to use up the PR3s seemed like a good idea.

Decision to go was made Sunday.  Planning done Monday in between loads of washing (gotta keep the housework up to date).  Start Shell Belmont then via Toowoomba to Roma, head north through Carnarvon to Rolleston, out to the coast and down the Bruce. On Google that came to 1609km.  Dammit!  So to make the full 1610km required for an IBA SS1600K, I picked a servo in Gladstone which added a good 25km to the total.  Nice.

The idea was to have as little time as possible in the dark on roo-infested roads.  I’m a little wary of them right now.  Of course that meant taking on the crazies of the Bruce but I’ve dealt with them a lot before.  Just need to be aware that every other driver is trying actively to kill you, so keep vigilant.
Bike packed with essentials and me in to bed at 8:30pm.

Tuesday morning awoke 15 min before the 2am alarm.  Shower, coffee and away by 2:40.  Charleen signed the forms and my docket time at Shell Belmont was 03:04.

Straight out on to the Gateway and immediately on to the 100kph zone.  This is good for the Overall Average (OA) which I had set at 85kph to get me back to Shell Belmont at 23:00, allowing for five fuel stops at 10 minutes each, leaving four hours for things to go wrong.

The GPS was having a problem and imagining the round trip was going to take more than 24hrs.  Not sure why but couldn’t be worried about that now.  It was pointing me in the right direction but I mostly ignored it as I have been over all these roads plenty of times.  I brought up the screen that shows OA.  That was  the most important thing, keep the OA above 85.

I also had switched on the SPOT II at home and set it to tracking and in my pocket was the phone, running Bubbler, a $10 program that works much like SPOT using the gps in the phone.  More on that later.

First problem was Roadworks.  Night works on the Logan Motorway had the traffic crawling along at 40kph for a while, not good for the 85kpk OA I needed.  But there was lots more to come.

Out on to the Ipswich Motorway and Warrego Hwy towards Toowoomba and everything was fine – until the roadworks. And the roadblocks.   Roadworks started at the end of the Gatton bypass and continued on for hours.  Even worse, there were several convoys of slow-moving wide loads heading west.  So if I wasn’t crawling along at 40 under the watchful eyes of the traffic guys, I was stuck behind a lot of flashing lights.  Add to that a heavy early morning fog and travel was not very pleasant.

Crawling up the Toowoomba range, down to one lane with roadworks and behind a wide load, I had plenty of time to realise the SPOT was not flashing.  Switched it back on and it immediately began flashing red.  Low batteries.  Damn.  There is a spare set sitting in the Wing – in Melbourne!
Found a servo in Toowoomba and paid premium price for a new set.  I had awful trouble trying to get the batteries out of the package and found it was mainly that I was cold and shivering badly.  Threw on a pullover under the ride jacket, finally got the batteries replaced, but guess who had overtaken me by this time.  The wide loads.

Between Toowoomba and Dalby was where we had a major crash in 2010, totalling my then new GoldWing.  I blamed the road, among other things.  At least now the road is being completely resurfaced.  But the long straight road is currently adorned with double white lines and 90kph limits.  Let’s hope that is just while the re-building is going on.  Nothing for it but to sit back at 60kph behind the wide loads.

They stopped just west of Dalby after doing a very slow crawl through the town.  I was finally free to move but the OA was now down in the low 70s.  OA to do 1610km in 24hrs is 67kph so I hoped this was not going to keep up.

First fuel stop was Chinchilla and they have a brand new BP/Maccas just opened.  Looks like it might be 24hrs.  Good to know.  By now it was light and the fog had lifted to a nice clear day.  Still cool, so I kept the pullover on. Stop time was 10 minutes, exactly as planned.

Next was a short 186km run to Roma to top up for the longer distances on lonelier roads to the north.  Also served as a corner marking docket.  Nine minutes stop here and the OA was looking a bit healthier in the high seventies. Still half an hour behind my schedule.  Need to fix that.

The Carnarvon highway is a nice long lonely road and apart from a five minute roadworks stop south of Injune, I was able to stretch the legs of the CeeBee a little.  The 110k section was a big help in building up that OA.

Just short of Rolleston I got a call from Ghosty.  He wanted some info from the computer.  Sorry mate, riding today.  See you tomorrow.

Fuelling up at Rolleston took a little longer.  It was time for a bit of sustenance.  The 2am coffee had well and truly worn off.  So an iced coffee and small chocolate bar was lunch.  Total stop time here was 13 minutes.  I allowed myself that luxury due to the good run up the Carnarvon which now had me half an hour ahead of schedule.  OA was in the mid-nineties and the best it was going to be all day.

East now and it was a 215km run in to Biloela only stopping for the occasional roadworks and the single photo I took for the day. 

Another 115 in to Gladstone and I was pushing the limits for the CeeBee’s fuel.  I was carrying a spare 4 litres so no worry.  The warning lights were well and truly flashing and in went 20.3 litres.  Bah! Coulda done another 20 kays or more.

I was by now a good hour ahead of the Plan so it was time for a quick meal.  I found a Subway nearby for a six-inch sub and iced coffee.  You may have noticed I run on coffee.  Never been able to fathom riders who do the no-coffee thing prior to and during a ride.  Good on ‘em, but I doubt I’d function.

A six minute fuel stop and a 22 minute meal break meant nearly half an hour stop time in Gladstone.  Sheer luxury.

Now it was just a simple run down the Bruce for the final 560km.  But who ever heard of a simple run on the Bruce Highway.  
Roadworks.  Roadworks. Roadworks.   
After the lengthy Gladstone stop the OA was down to 86 and I didn’t want it to go below 85.  But every time I managed to get it up near 90, there was the familiar stop/go and wait for a few minutes, watching the readout drop away. 

The trouble was that at the speed limit I was only 15kph over the OA, but stopped I was 85kph under the OA.  So it takes 6 times longer to build up than it does to run down.

This continued all the way to Gympie with just one more nine minute fuel stop at Torbanlea.  Lots of early evening bugs to wipe off the visor.  And of course with my nice clean visor I just got back up to 100kph when a big bug went Splatt! Right in the middle.  Grrr.

After Gympie, things got much better.  There’s a nice little 110kph stretch, then a maddeningly slow 90kph section until Cooroy, then 110kph all the way to Burpengary and mostly 100kph back on the Gateway to Belmont where Charleen was waiting to sign me in.  I ended up 90 minutes under schedule and with an OA of 88kph.

Now to clean up the bike.