Well, having only been on one adventure ride, reading about this longest day ride thing intrigued me. Seeing as it was leaving from very close to my home town, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. What I didn’t realize is how serious this all was!
This is a tradition that has been going for a few years with a crew from NSW having many attempts to leave from the east coast of Australia
and make it to Camerons Corner (the meeting point of NSW, Qld and SA). The aim is to do so on the longest day of the year and do all the riding between sun up and sun down.
Bike Prep: I fitted up a set of Mitas E-09s because the thought of sand riding on 50/50 tyres freaked me out. Not only due to the lack of grip, but with my lack of experience in the sand (basically none) I needed all the help I could get. Airhawk was fitted up to the nasty DR seat (helps out a lot, but still not the best). Lastly, got myself a Zumo GPS.
So with bike all prepped it was time to prep myself. I was getting to bed gradually earlier in the weeks leading up and fully hydrating myself for the three days prior. Mind and body ready – check.
The night before: Went to bed around 8pm and got in about an hours sleep before the nerves kicked in, then I was getting rather frustrated at waking up every 5-10mins looking over at the clock and rolling over again. About
I would say I got to sleep again properly.
ready to head down to sunshine beach, bike was packed, loaded and fueled up so it was time to hit the road.
The route for the day
Pretty long way in the grand scheme of things!
Got down to the Surf Club carpark but no one was there. So waited round. Then Dave turned up. He was going to do a bit of photography for us on some of the way.
The other two soon arrived, there was Mark on his 640 who had done the Aus Safari and Linford on his 525. With introductions and small talk out of the way, it was time to gear up and hit the road! Leaving at 0452.
We headed out through Cooroy then out towards Nanango via the Amamoor, the first bit of dirt we hit, with Mark in front of me, he stood up on the pegs and LET RIP! Within one corner he was already out of sight. As I rode as quick as I could I couldn’t help thinking; how is someone with very very little dirt experience supposed to keep up with someone who has raced in a Safari??? Dave was supposed to meet us at Nanango for a pic but we were 10mins late and he had already pushed through. Up through the Bunya Mountains
and through to Dalby for our first fuel stop. By the time we hit Dalby we were 20mins late and again Dave had already passed through. Quick bite to eat and back in the saddle. We were on bitumen for many hours to come so we could make up some time………..
Linford behind me
Mark in front, resting his legs.
When we rolled into St George we were something like 30mins behind and Linford needed some more fuel to make it to our next stop so put us behind again, things were looking grim!
Still had a smile on my face though, I was still having fun!
Whilst actually on the bikes, we were averaging about 120-130kph (even with my insane speed wobbles at anything over 118kph) but it just wasn’t enough. Bollon for a fuel stop and again, getting further behind. When we got to Cunnamulla, spirits were very low. We stopped off in a park for a re-think. It was
and we were WAY behind schedule, something like an hour or two. Linford was getting very fatigued and in his words “was not having fun anymore” and Mark was not feeling it either. I think their goal was to do it properly and make it from the Coast to the Corner in the daylight hours, which is fair enough. Me on the other hand, I just wanted to make it there, I didn’t care if I rode all through the night and made it there in the morning, I was going to make the corner in one ride.
So I left the boys at Cunnamulla and smashed the bitumen some more all the way to Noccundra and made it there by
or there abouts. I still had an hour of daylight, but something like 250 odd ks of dirt, sand and dunes to go and with my absolute lack of offroad riding experience, things were about to get interesting.
Leaving Noccundra and racing the sunset I was able to make a decent average speed on the dirt. By the time the sun had set at about
I had done just over 1300ks. This is where the fun really began. I still had about 150ks to go to the corner. So off with the sunnies and on with the glasses, the goggles came off at the stage as they were rather filthy. It was slow going, making my way through the dark with a candle for a headlight (thanks for nothing Suzuki!), not having riding on sand properly before and navigating over dunes which I had DEFINITELY not done before. A lot of rabbits and a lot of roos. Speaking of, Kangaroos really are the dumbest animals ever created, us Aussies know that if there is one on the side of the road, it will, without a doubt jump across the road in front of you, they NEVER jump off into the bush on the side of the road that they are on. Anyway, the one did the usual and jumped across in front of me, he must have thought how much fun that was and tried it again. By this stage he is basically beside me so I twist it to the stop to get in front of him, but he turns back for another ago and is heading straight for me and the side of my bike. So out comes the boot and with a size 11 to the face he was down and smacking his head on my panniers and what felt to be under my back wheel.
The distance traveled
As time passed by and the Ks hardly rolled on due to my slow going I wondered if I was ever going to make it there, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm and still not there. I had all sorts of thoughts going through my head but I knew I was going to make it there no matter what. As I rolled on the throttle once more around a bend I could see lights, LIGHTS! THE CORNER STORE!!! I HAD MADE IT!!!! At about
I had made it, 1465km all up. I hadn’t made it there in the daylight, but bugger me I had made it!
Only four of the NSW crew were still in the pub, the rest of the pikers had hit the hey earlier (I am sure some of them will tell the story). Many many brews were sunk with stories of the days riding being strewn across the bar. Bill the legendary owner of “The corner store” runs a bloody good show there and I was able to get a room for the night.
In the pub that night was Craig, Tony, Borris, Dan and Myself. Of course Bill the legend was behind the bar.
So that is it. About 17 odd hours on the bike 1465kms with my first real desert riding experience being in the dark, but boy did it feel good knowing I had done what I set out to do.
P.S. There is more to come, the ride home report will follow soon.