The Adventure Ride………that never really happened.
Preamble: This report is very text heavy but has a story to it, this is not my usual light hearted report, I am a total whinger in this one……um…enjoy.
Well, I had planned from last year to do Cape York
over my September holidays, had it all planned with a mate etc. Then, my brother in law decided to have his wedding smack bang in the middle of these two weeks (Problem 1). So a new plan arose to head of for the first week of my holidays out west and out to some country I had never been to before. The route was planned something like this, but was very flexible.
The journey (from planning onwards) was almost a whole bunch of mistakes, taped together throughout a number of weeks. So anyway, I began on bike prep a couple of weeks prior to departure and fitted all kinds of nice adventure bits (check out the build log here): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...=504280&page=2
(Problem 2)The first “major” thing to go wrong was the ordering of a few “necessary” items, I really wanted a larger screen as I was to pump out some big KM days and was dreading the buffeting caused by the standard screen. The screen I wanted – two weeks it would take to get made and sent, this was a week before departure, BUGGER! Oh well, I can live without it.
(Problem 3)One thing I really wanted though was a fuel bladder to make the necessary carrying of extra fuel much easier, ordered over the phone a week prior and made sure it was getting express posted to be here well before departure day, after many phone calls etc, the bladder never arrived, so it was on with the old fuel can which seemed ok (although, as we will find out later, no so ok).
(Problem 4)Another thing I wanted was company. I am used to riding solo, but this ride was taking on some rather remote places and myself and my wife would feel much safer if I had a/some riding buddies. Due to my last minute planning etc, no one was ready to up anchor and jump on board with my ride, oh well.
The last major thing I wanted was a SPOT, because I would be doing it all solo I really wanted that kinda backup safety etc, and also to give my wife piece of mind. Luckily a fellow inmate was able to lend me one at such late notice and I picked it up the day before departure.
So departure day came, the bike was all loaded up, the night before I got plenty of sleep……..not something that usually happens before a big ride.
I decided to do a quick little reminder for my tank bag so I could look down at it at time to time. On a lot of my rides, I seem to want to “push on” all the time and start to sweat it about making it to certain destinations etc, I really wanted to enjoy this ride, take it easy and have some fun. It says on there “Have fun, Enjoy, Smile J
” then it has a pic of my two youngens and then says “Take your time, NO RUSH!! And PHOTOS”
So I head off from work at
from Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast
. I aim the bike west on the black ribbon and let the GPS guide me to the promised land, the “Outback”. I was going to try to make it somewhere near St George for my first nights camp.
Heading along towards Dalby.
Headed through Dalby, hooked along for 50 odd Ks and (Problem 5) realised I needed fuel, I had no idea what the fuel situation was between Dalby and St George, so decided to treck back to Dalby for fuel, so an added 100ks on the “transport” section is never welcomed. Later found out there are two major fuel stops between there!! Bummer.
Another rest stop before Moonie, I was making good time (albeit with the extra 1hr turnaround for the fuel)
Made it in to St George at about
with spirits reasonably low, but I really wanted to press on as far as I could to start the real adventure tomorrow (Problem 6 – not looking at my tank bag at the reminder I had written for myself!). I had some dinner, fuelled up and decide to wait at the towns edge for a truck and follow it for as far as I wanted to go. I would do this to sit just the right distance back to allow for Kangaroos to be seen and scared away etc.
As it turns out, I waited for a good 10mins and nothing came through, so I headed off into the Roo laden darkness at a rather slow pace. After about half an hour a caravan caught up to me and I allowed it to overtake. It was doing a good pace so I sat a safe distance behind it and it worked perfectly, he spotted the Roos, braked, allowed me to slow right down behind him and watch for the “secondary” roos that sometimes pop up out of nowhere.
We made it in to Bollon at about
or so and it turned out that both of us were chasing the same camp site, we ended up finding it after a while, set up camp and I was ready for a good nights sleep.
I called the wife to see how things were and how the SPOT tracking was going (Problem 7). For some reason, the tracking was not working, as far as I knew, I was pressing all the right buttons and the lights were definitely flashing like they should me! It was not what I needed to know, as if I was in an emergency situation, would the 911 button actually work? How was I to know? (Problem 8) My wife had had a terrible day with the kids, it made me feel really really guilty and I felt like packing up camp and coming home straight away, but she assured me that it was fine and all would be well tomorrow.
The camp in the morning in Bollon.
I was up early and on the road at about
. Still heading west.
(Problem 8) I am a real animal lover and especially a bird lover, hooking along the road a pack of Galahs take off and shoot across my bath…..SMACK. Better pull over to inspect the damage, I really felt for the poor thing, at least it was a quick death.
Into Cunnamulla for a fuel stop and a chat to the wife. Thing were better that morning, but as I chatted on the phone to her, I was explaning that I was just not feeling the ride, like I explained earlier, I had slept well the night before departure, something that never happens, even the morning before actually leaving, there was nearly no excitement and this morning, spirits were really low. I have no idea why.
Some bloody beautiful country out this way, I really love it!
Between Cunnamulla and Thargomindah I pulled over for a rest, took off my helmet and popped in on my rear rack………my rear rack……..isn’t there supposed to be gear on my rear rack?????? (Problem 9) I checked my pictures to make sure the gear was on there when I fuelled up in Cunnamulla (pic above), so somewhere in the last 100ks I had lost it all. I stopped and thought for a minute, fuel container……important, but I might be able to get one at the next servo, brand new $200 tent……yeah, better go back. Heading east, I was scanning the road side for my gear, 60km back I find it.
Fuel container, destroyed. Chair, seems ok. Tent, pretty torn up! I have another ponder for a few minutes. I am really considering continuing east all the way home! (in hindsight, I should have!) I decide that the tent might be ok, but I will be relying on getting a fuel container at the next servo as there are sections later that I will not make on my standard tank. So I press on to Thargomindah.
(Problem 10) I have a very small budget for my rides and a $30 fuel container was not going to help things out! But alas, I pay through the nose for it and make sure things are strapped down good and proper. Wishing my fuel bladder had have turned up which is easily strapped securely to the rear of the bike!
I really try to focus on where I am and try to enjoy myself but by now, but spirits are rather low.
Although they do pick up as I see “The sign”.
The real adventure will be starting in 20KM!! Yahoo!!!
I head in to Noccundra which is the last town before Tipooburra/Cameron Corner. There are a bunch of Adventure bikes out the front which is great and we have a good chat.
They inform me that the road is in reasonable condition but there are some tricky patches (Problem 11) and that a rider went down and was air lifted out that morning, this really put a dent in my confidence.
(Problem 12) I fuelled the bike up just to make sure and spoke to the publican about the looming cloud, he said “Not a chance of rain mate” So I was satisfied with his local knowledge. As I am leaving, some of the bikers warn of the impending rain coming this way, I don’t worry too much on the advice of the publican, also a ute is loading up ready to head to Tipooburra, he said he will follow me to make sure I am doing ok, that suits me fine.
Finally, I hit the dirt/sand/bulldust……ahhh nice! The bike is handiling it great, I turn the steering dampener up to settle the bike down a bit over the loose stuff. By this stage in the afternoon the wind has really picked up, I am leaning the bike immensely just to keep going in a straight line. The guy in the ute is behind me, which I don’t really like, I feel like I need to push fast as he is in a car that can travel at good speeds and I am a bit of a novice on a bike so I slow down to let him pass, as I do (Probem 13) the new bloody fuel container comes loose and I almost lose it!!!! I pull over to let him pass and fix up the container. He pulls up beside me and I tell him to keep going. He says he does not want to so he can make sure I am ok, I say thanks but I am fine, he tells me that he was one of the people on the scene to this mornings accident and he was the one to retrieve the busted bike, now I understand his concern. I tell him I will take it very slow from now on being on my own.
Just as I finish strapping my fuel container back down (Problem 14) the bloody clouds open up!! Not heavy rain, but enough for concern with all this red dust/bull dust around. With my thoughts turning to my low front guard (the high guard being another thing on the to do list BEFORE starting this trip that I was unable to do) claging up with sticky mud and locking etc. I decide it was time to cut my losses and head back to Noccundra and have a good think. So after finally making to the start of my real adventure ride, I was tuning around, now you can see why I called this the adventure ride that never really happened.
So 70odd ks back I am at Noccundra, I pull up and ask how much a room is and with my already dwindling budged I decide to consider it over a beer. I head down to the camping area to scope it out and sit and have a think. I am considering my options, the rain has eased off to a few spits etc. I am thinking (1) Get a room for the night if the rain starts getting heavy. (2) pitch the tent and try my luck with the rain (3) hang around and see if the rain stops later and press on to Cameron Corner later risking a night ride (4) L
head home. I head back up to the pub and chat to a few travellers who are there. They then inform me that the rain is sticking around as a front is coming through and will be bad weather for the next few days!! All around the areas where I want to ride!!!
By this stage I have already made my mind up, I was putting my tail between my legs and heading home. I tried calling my wife, but could not get through, so I called my parents instead. I was just looking for someone to tell me I was doing the right thing. I talked to them about the dramas etc so far and the looming rain. Being parents, they gave me the sound advice that I needed. The places I want to see will always be there, but I will not if I take silly risks. I had no idea what the tracks were going to be like wet or after the rain and I was still uncertain if my SPOT was going to work if I got into too much trouble.
Mounted the saddle once more and started heading east L
…….. Back to Bollon for the night in the same camp spot, made it back there by around 9:00pm to set up in the dark again.
Up early again to get home to the family, just the most direct route with the GPS leading the way. I was home by about
So, the things to take away from this ride:
- I am going to try to always find others to come with me on my rides, there is no doubt in my mind that if I had others with me, I would have continued the ride anyway or maybe diverted and gone somewhere else adventurish away from the rain!
- Don’t let the little things sap your spirits, this is the reason it is called an adventure ride, it is all part of the adventure.
- There should be no rush, I really need to relax and enjoy the ride, it must be the racing spirit in me as I am still a (relatively) young fella.
- Start my bike prep earlier to allow time for ordering of parts, things that inevitably go wrong etc
- TAKE MORE PHOTOS!!! Even with my reminder on my tank bag, I still only took a handful of photos, I know this was only the “Boring” section so I wasn’t really interested, but still, more photos would be good.