Odo Distance: 294 km
Since doing the ride out to Adamsfield I've been itching to do the Saw Back Track, it's the alternate Adamsfield access track, it's closed over winter so it doesn't get too chewed up... Early in the week I called Parks and Wildlife to find out when it would be re-opened, they were heading out there on Wednesday to clear any fallen trees and said it "should" be open after that....
Friday I woke at about 3am, I couldn't get back to sleep, and I had no plans for the day, so I decided to head out to Mt Field, and if the Saw Back track was open, grab the key and go do it... I originally planned to find someone to come along with me on this ride for safety, but I don't really know anyone, and I was reluctant to drag someone of unknown ability into a potentially hard area.... I didn't want to get someone else in trouble, or have to turn back at the first obstacle.. So off I went, solo as usual...
The Saw Back track is considered fairly hard, I was under the impression the northern end was the worse part, I did that bit a couple of weeks ago with no problems, so I figured the rest would be no issue:
"4WD access is provided by the Saw Back track. People using this route must be experienced four-wheel drivers with high clearance vehicles. There is a particularly steep and slippery section on the Saw Back track just before it joins the Adamsfield track."
I couldn't find any info about what time the visitor center at Mt Field opened, but since they close at 3pm, I figured they must be open fairly early... I was wrong, I got up there around 7:30am only to find they don't open till 9:30... To waste some time I rode the 16 km road up Mt Field to Lake Dobson/Fenton and back. (52 to 83km on the route)
I still had a bit of time to waste so I headed across the road from Mt Field and up Cassons Rd and poked around Blue Top Rd and the other forestry tracks around there... (85km to 100km on the route)
Some of the tracks are good, some are a bit crappy and interesting:
(I didn't take many photos so I'll just use some GoPro video screenshots to fill in the gaps)
Arrived back at Mt Field at 9:30 to be told the computer still shows the Saw Back track as closed
... She went and checked with someone else and returned with the key and permit forms in hand, it was open
Filled out the forms and left them with a $300 credit card imprint for the key deposit.... and off I went
The Saw Back runs off Gordon River Rd at 147km on the route:
The first part of the track was pretty good, but it wasn't long before it turned into VERY slippery clay with 4x4 trenches up each side...
It seems safer to stay in the trenches rather than balancing on the slippery ridge in the middle, but when you're in the trenches you have to deal with all the over grown trees, and try not to pin a leg between the bike and the bank at the side... Through the day I often tried to ride the center part of the road, it was faster, but generally ended in a drop...
It wasn't long before we were laying down for a rest
Part A, a 10 min video of the start of the track, it's starts getting crappy towards the end, with the drop in the last min of the video:
I was having to lug the engine more than I would like, I've still got the original gearing, it wasn't ideal, the slowest it would go was still too fast... (I have a 14 tooth sprocket on order, which will help)
The clay was evil stuff, it wasn't long before the Tenere was laying down again:
(Being so tall and heavy, once it starts to go down, there's no stopping it)
Saw Back Track B, about 10 mins, more clay, ending at the dreaded bog hole, a drop about 2 mins in, excuse the girlie giggling, I knew it was going to happen:
(after the second drop I discovered the key needs turning off and back on, after a drop, before the bike will start again)
At about 150km on the route, 3km into the track, I came to this evil bog hole:
I considered turning around, but I came out here to do this track, not run home with my tail between my legs at the first hurdle... I wandered around here for a fair while considering my options... The bank at the left looks flat, but it was a bit of a slope, and as slippery as hell, at the end there was a narrow bank between the trees and the bog hole which I didn't think I had any hope of getting around while staying upright...
I figured I was better of starting down in the bog, rather than end up falling face first into it with the bike upside down in the water.... I tried checking the depth with a stick but it was very questionable so I waded through and back.... Most was around knee/wheel deep...
It seemed doable, even though I've never been through something this deep before... I psyched myself up, telling myself.... "Just keep going, keep the momentum up, don't think about it just do it, plow through, youuuuu caaaaan dooooo eeeeeet" ..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMFg2aU3x4o
And in we went:
Part C - The Sinking (90sec video)
I sorta got into a bit of a panic when the front wheel dropped down into the hole, I just wanted to keep going... Probably good I didn't bounce the front wheel out, with the rear wheel in the hole the air intake would probably be well under water
Turns out the front wheel ended up in a small deep hole which I missed when I walked though... The bike was standing up solid, with the front wheel firmly located in the hole... I think the hole was dug by a narrow 4x4 tyre, or another bike, it was a nice wheel size...
A good lesson to learn, walk heal to toe through the exact route you plan to ride
It was clear the bike had sucked in some water, but first priority was getting it out...By sitting on the bike and digging my feet in, I managed to jerk the front wheel out of the hole, then I found the best method was to hold the bars in the middle with 1 hand, and put my shoulder into the box on the back to push it out... It was hard, but easier than I expected considering the bike weighs well over 200kg... The box on the back adds high up weight, but it sure makes the bike a LOT easier to push backwards...
With the bike in the shallows out of imminent danger, I had a break and a walk around:
There was a drainage trench at the side that was clogged with debris:
I cleared it out to try to drain the water level down a bit:
I dragged the bike out a bit further then started pulling it apart... I drained the airbox, about 1/2 a cup of water came out the drain, then off with the top-box and seat:
The inner filter was fairly wet and full of mud, a combination of the muddy water and the dust that was already in the filter, the outer filter was a bit wet, and there was a bit of water around inside the airbox:
There didn't appear to be any water up around the engine side of the airbox outlet
... I wiped the filters off and soaked the water out with rags... (I wrap a lot of my tools and such in rags so they don't vibrate together, so I always have plenty)... I Pulled the spark plug out and cranked it over, some mist came out, I think that might have been fuel and not water... It seemed no water actually got into the engine
With the spark plug and air filters back in I hit the GO button
she instantly jumped to life
... The exhaust must have had some water in it, a bit blew out when it started, and she blew steam for a min or so... I let it warm up and dry out for a couple mins then shut it down.....
Checked the oil, it appeared water free
Impressive, I'm amazed an engine be fully submerged for a while and not get water in it.... While I was dragging it out of the water I was thinking about the oil, I was sure it would have water in it, I figured I'd just ride till I got phone reception and call someone to bring me oil so I could change it on the side of the road.... Turns out it wasn't an issue, I checked the oil numerous times through the day and it seemed water free... The bike has 5500km on it now, 4500 since the oil was changed, it's a bit discoloured, so I'll change it before the next ride just to be safe...
****** To be continued*******