150CCCC - Newcastle to Perth

Skidoo

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#1
Preamble
The dye had been cast before I had even finished my 100CCC ride in March 2013. During my check-in on the return Newcastle leg OX said, 'you look so fresh why don't you turn around and do a 200C ride as it’s never been done here'?

I had completed a few shakedown runs (1,600km) in preparation and hit a roo during the Bathurst two-stage ride causing substantial damage to 'Kiss me Kate' (Kate). Kate was finally repaired and back on the road about 10 days before this ride after sustaining over $12,000 damage, not fully complete but she was structurally sound. I completed a quick 1,000km shakedown ride ensuring all was sound and I was confident
Kate was ready.

Day minus One
I was up at 0730hrs, checked the bike and inventory and was on schedule for a 1400hr departure from Dubbo to Newcastle for the commencement of the ride. I just needed to change and balance the
tyres. I fitted and balanced the front tyre, but the rear tyre posed somewhat of a problem. I had fitted numerous PR3's previously without issue however I just couldn't seat the bead. I tried all the usual tricks;
heaps of lube, tie down strap around tyre, removed valve but all to no avail, bugger. I learned that there is always a reason for these things, so don't fight it. I contacted witnesses, apologised for the change and
asked that they amend rendezvous times accordingly.

Day One
In Dubbo, the local Kawasaki dealer attempted to fit the tyre as priority at 0830hrs, they had never seen such a problem child and referred me to a specialist that they had confidence in. The specialist started fitting
the tyre and asked how much pressure does it usually take to seat the bead, I replied 45 to 50 psi, then pop pop bead now seated, I went to the office to pay, no mate she's right have a great ride. Local people!

Now that I was pretty happy that the tyres were fitted, I relaxed for a few hours and had lunch with Jo, headed off to the Kawasaki dealer for a signature, refueled at 1452hrs and departed to Newcastle. It was an
easy ride and I arrived at the BP West Newcastle. Refueled Kate and arranged to set the swag up in the far corner of the yard. I have previously stayed at motels but never really sleep much as I usually have only three hours sleep before these rides, then I have to repack Kate.

Day Two
I had two hours sound sleep and woke up fresh and ready to go. I rolled the swag, tied everything in place and checked fluids. Damn the radiator reservoir was down about 1.5cms! A quick examination revealed no obvious leaks however a couple of very small drops of green fluid were spotted on front guard, nothing else obvious. I had installed the new radiator after the previous rebuild and so double checked all clamps during the installation. OX turned up before 0230hrs, we discussed the issue. I couldn't ignore it; no radiator 'stop leak' was available at service station. Well, this was a problem, not only mechanically but my initial ride plan was to run through Muswellbrook and Gilgandra. TigerBill rolled in and we discussed my dilemma but it was not going to put me off, Kate will be right, and I got a depart receipt at 0259hrs. OX led the way to the Putty road. Fantastic and thanks for your support guys! The run to Dubbo was uneventful; scattered fog was experienced but it had no impact on times and I only saw one roo sitting on the edge of the road. I was still a bit skittish after my last encounter with Skippy that put Kate off the road for close to eight weeks.

I contacted Jo; she had the workshop open, two pieces of toast and a hot coffee ready (decaf) as I rolled in. The GTR’s fairing needed to be removed to get to most of the engines components. Everything was nipped up tight, nothing obvious so I drained 500mls of radiator fluid, poured/poked in additive, ran the motor and topped up with fluid. I disconnected the radiator overflow hose and pumped fluid into the hose to top up the radiator reservoir on the opposite side to save removing that fairing as well. I knocked some skin off my hands in the cold but reinstalled the fairing and tightened all fasteners.



A well known landmark when heading West

I rolled out over an hour later and making some quick mental calculations, I assessed this would have no real impact I would just need to adjust my sleep pattern to balance times. The weather was overcast and very cool, I stopped at Cobar for a photo and refueled ready for the long leg to Broken Hill. I experienced slight head and cross winds, but the countryside was absolutely lush after the recent rain and as usual hundreds of goats lining the side of the highway but otherwise a smooth trip.

Had a good run to Wilcannia, a few locals hold hands and block part of the road near the service station causing me to ride around them near the burned out general store. I refuelled about 75 kilometres short of
Broken Hill, which took about three minutes to dump 10 litres into Katie's tank and an estimated two minutes required to slowdown and accelerate away. Refueling time is a critical component of my ride and the Jerry Can is held in place by one strap to facilitate refills. I started eating a home-made blend of 'trail-mix' (mixture of dried fruits and nuts) that I created as the blend that works for me. The only disadvantage is you need to increase fluid consumption during this snack period. I arrived at Broken Hill, refueled, completed documentation and was off again. About 15 kilometres West of Broken Hill three emus appeared from nowhere, I swerved and was close enough to slap one in the head; they are dumb, real dumb!

I arrived at Port Augusta, refueled at the Caltex and ran into 'Brownie' the console operator who signed my first IBA documentation almost exactly a year before when I was riding to the border. I arrived at Ceduna at 0120hrs, still behind time; often it is virtually impossible to make up lost time on a tight schedule. I had a quick chat to Sarah (console operator, I know the three girls quite well now) and set the swag out in my reserved spot. I confirmed that the alarm was set and was off to sleep within minutes. I back-tracked my day’s activities and I had travelled 2015 kilometres and had no aches or pains.




Yet another sunrise

Day Three
I woke to the alarm, quickly got dressed, rolled the swag and packed the bike. I could not work out why I was yet another 30 minutes behind schedule. I bought 2 litres of water, chocolate milk and had a quick chat to a local courier who suggested that I be careful whilst travelling West of Penong. Numerous wombats had been seen in the area, I thanked him and mounted the beast and was off again at 0405hrs. I passed the inspection station and true to his word I counted over 10 dead wombats between 20km and 75km West of Penong. The night run was relaxing when I finally settled down. I had previously collected a roo on my previous 100CCC in this area, Kangaroos were scattered but I only counted 15.




Don't miss the turn off

I passed the Nullarbor roadhouse before opening time and several vehicles and trucks were parked outside. I avoid purchasing fuel here at all costs as I have found the fuel does not give me the range per litre as elsewhere. I have also found unreliability in their closing times and almost got caught on my last trip when they closed 30 mins early. The sun was starting to rise so I pull over to get a few snaps and within a minute was off again.




What a fantastic sunrise

I pulled into Border Village, refuelled the fuel tank. The price had reached $2.16 a litre, which might seem expensive but Border Village is not really in the metro area and they have to generate their own power to pump fuel.




Current fuel prices

At about 20km and then again at 30 kilometres West of Eucla I passed marked and unmarked highway patrol cars heading East, both drivers seems friendly and waved, maybe thinking ‘we’ll get him on his return trip’! This was the first time I had seen Police on the Nullarbor.




The Long road ahead




I rarely look back, I'll be returning soon enough

There were fairly heavy head winds, and with the gross weight of Kate close to 450kg, it would take a bit of wind to throw her around. The fuel efficiency across the paddock was 17.5 kilometres a litre so I monitored fuel figures carefully as I didn't want to spend time refueling unnecessarily and burning up crucial time. It started drizzling again and the increasing cross winds threw me around a bit more then it started raining about 100kilometres out of Perth. Gus, Mike and Lindsey met at the rendezvous point in the rain. These guys are awesome, always happy and smiling when they greet you.

I felt well and was on a mental high; I was not sore and was ready for the return leg. Gus led me to his house, and as usual made me a superb toasted cheese sanger and cuppa: it tasted so good! We chatted for a while and I finally discovered how I lost the 30 minutes at Ceduna during my sleep, I forgot to disable the automatic time update. We calculated the depart times and Gus double and triple checked them allowing me the get as much sleep as possible. I was told, ‘you better get some sleep and don’t forget your toothpaste’ (which I did on my previous trip).

I had travelled 1940 kilometres and finally had my saddle worked out. I felt mentally great and today was the first time that I listened to music (for about two hours) since I had left home.

Day Four
The alarm chimed and I jumped out of bed, got dressed and packed my gear. Gus was up, he opened the garage and I load my gear. I have a system on packing so this didn’t take long at all. I don’t have time to double check anything so would rather do it right first time and be confident that it is done correctly. Off we went to get a depart docket at Scarborough Beach. Gus gets a photo and guides me out of the city. The weather was a bit ordinary but not too cold. I encountered fog intermittently all the way to Southern Cross. Some patches required me to slow but I kept pushing on as I didn’t want to lose momentum or time. I refueled at Norseman at midday and took 30 minutes to refocus, have a cool drink and a hamburger. Refreshed I departed at 1230hrs, it was still cool and windy but it felt like a tailwind.




Road conditions change quickly challenging our senses

Things were looking up at Caiguna with much better conditions. It was still overcast with some light rain but finally I got a tail wind and the fuel economy now averaging 20.5 kilometres a litre and at times 23.7 kilometres a litre. I started feeling a bit second-hand, not fatigued but just generally not well. I pulled over for a power-nap. I pre-set my alarm for 15 minutes and activated it, I find that a 15 minute power-nap gives me a good four hour benefit, and so is an excellent investment. Often I will rest against a tree or just lie down on the ground. I awoke, feeling still a bit ordinary so I relaxed for another 15 minutes which made me feel a little better so I continued on my pilgrimage.

I Refueled at Border Village at 2005hrs and continue through to Ceduna. I see a reasonable number of scattered kangaroos and one live wombat. I rolled into Ceduna at 0115hrs, refueled, and had a quick chat and rolled out the swag again. I complete a ‘mini ride report’ just to keep everyone up to date and was hoping to do a couple more but time was at a premium, I would need to work smarter next time.

I had travelled 1958 kilometres today; the regular exercise regime carried out on the bike was certainly paying off as I had minimal aches or pains.

Day Five
I beat the alarm this morning anticipating the ride. I felt like I was now in the groove, everything seemed to be working and I was focused and looking forward to completing the 100CCC today. I again spoke to the courier that I spoke to several days ago and he couldn’t believe the distances that I travelled. He had no more advice regarding wildlife. The weather was cold and foggy, I always seem to find Kimba is either foggy or raining when I pass through. Kimba is a miserable place when it’s foggy, I don’t look forward to it at all.

As I approach Port Augusta near Iron Knob the sun is starting to rise: what a fabulous sunrise! I pulled Kate to the edge of the road and almost dropped her on the soft shoulder. I carefully parked her and got another couple of photos. I always make time to get a few snaps and often plan them from previous rides through the area.




Another bright sunrise

I pulled into Port Augusta at 1003hrs, refueled Kate and topped up the jerry can as I was anticipating head winds to Broken Hill. As I approached Yunta there appeared to be clothing laying on the roadway but as I got closer I noticed it was a dead emu laying on the roadway within the village limits. Emus are big birds; I once hit one in my car and when it connected with my bull bar its head swung over and broke my windscreen. I refueled at Broken Hill and Kate had only consumed 20.58 litres, the head wind I had anticipated didn’t eventuate.

I pulled into Newcastle West BP at 0252hrs and was met by Ox and TigerBill. We had a bit of a chat the100CCC was done and dusted! I was still feeling physically and mentally fine. OX gave me a bed for the night and he calculated my depart times; I was unable to make the mental calculations at this time. I felt it was not from fatigue but rather my mindset which was totally focused on my current plan and leg, not what was happening next. I like to be in control and I take responsibility; it is my nature. I relinquished responsibility of my depart time to OX (who I have absolute trust in) and found that extremely challenging for me on a personal level. OX made the calculations effortlessly, what an awesome mate. If not for him I would have left two hours earlier thus loosing much needed sleep.

I had travelled 2025 kilometres today and was still in the grove. These long days appear to be routine now, I was still riding comfortably and had developed moderate right handed wrist tenderness, to overcome this I decided I was going to utilise the cruise control more.

Day Six
I was out of bed on the first chime, got dressed, packed Kate and was off to the service station with OX and I filled up and left at 0639hrs. Again, OX escorted me to ensure I left Newcastle in the most efficient ay.

I had a great run through to Gilgandra and Cobar and refueled again on the side of the road North of Wilcannia. I arrived at Broken Hill, had a quick break and snacked on a Cherry Ripe and an Iced Coffee.

The wind was horrendous, with scattered rain turning into torrential rain about an hour out of Peterborough. I reluctantly reduced speed substantially in places and experienced very poor visibility; I was at an emotional low, so tried focusing on Port Augusta but doubted myself due to the cold and rain. I finally stopped just outside Peterborough at an information booth. I removed a torch from my tank bag and cased the shelter out, it had a sand floor, was flat and dry so I backed the bike up as much as I could into the shelter and rolled out the swag. There would be no advantage in continuing. I really thought of calling it quits at this point as I was mentally drained due to the concentration required in the inclement weather but decided to set the alarm for two hours and revaluate my options when I woke. I was woken by the alarm and notice only slight rain so things didn’t seem so bad, I packed the swag and rolled into Peterborough a few minutes later stopping and tidying up a few things.

I find riding therapeutic to my mental wellbeing. Sitting in the saddle for hours is relaxing and allows me to reflect on all facets of my life, the longer the ride the more I feel in touch with myself. I rarely listen to music whilst riding and never get bored of the solitude.

Day Seven
I stopped at Port Augusta at 0210hrs, refueled, downed a chocolate ilk and felt much better. I was off again in the rain. I felt I was losing he edge and pulled over at Wudinna for a 15 minute power-nap. I woke up before the alarm went off and was on the road again heading towards Perth.

I arrived Ceduna at 0815hrs, refueled and kept going, this felt a little strange as I usually stop here. The weather was foggy with scattered rain and I started passing FarRiders heading East. I had scheduled this ride to coincide with the annual border run however circumstances beyond my control stopped this from happening. I arrived at Border Village at 1300hrs and sat down to a hamburger and chips with Hagar, who just so happened to be on the border ride. I caught up on some gossip and I was off again about thirty five minutes later.

I refueled at Caiguna, it was dark and a few kangaroos were poking their heads out again. I encountered numerous road trains during the final stages of the Nullarbor run with several wide loads (and their support vehicles) slowing my progress somewhat.




What, no fences

An unforeseen circumstance developed on the final stages of the third leg; this challenged my whole plan and thought process. I had to re- schedule the remainder of the trip and complete it some four days early. I had no option; the plan had to be altered timetables for remainder of trip checked and my mind refocused on task at hand. I needed to keep moving forward.

Day Eight
Gus met me and chaperoned me to Scarborough Beach BP, where the appropriate documentation was completed. I refueled at 0609hrs knowing I had successfully completed the 150CCCC. I was ecstatic; it had all panned out as planned. I went back To Gus’s, had a quick kip and departed at about 0930hrs with a revised plan. I missed the turnoff on my way out of the city as I was in the wrong lane and the TomTom was not playing fairly. I had also been too busy looking around as every previous trip to Perth was completed at night. I corrected my path and was back on track heading East.

I had a good run along the highway and I pulled over to have a stretch. Ziggy rode past, did a ‘U’ turn and pulled up alongside for a chat. We chatted for about 15 minutes. Ziggy is an experienced long distance rider and we shared ideas and different strategies on coping with the challenges riders face. It was refreshing to catch up and we departed in opposite directions.




The long rough road

I was enjoying the ride and scenery and things were continuing to run smoothly. The sun had set, it had cooled somewhat and the air was still; traffic was almost non-existent.

I continued for some time on what appeared a deserted highway. I started experiencing hallucinations, which at first I found disturbing. The reflective posts and signs were converted to three dimensional images and as I passed through them they seemed to unpeel exposing intricate layers of my hallucinations. I found this unsettling so I pulled over on he side of the road and found a comfortable place to just relax and process my thoughts. I experienced a euphoric mental sensation unlike anything I had encountered before. It was a very personal experience and so is very hard to explain, I savoured the moment for what seemed like eternity in the quietness of my environment.

For some unknown reason I fired Kate up, did a ‘U’ turn and headed towards what I thought was Norseman, which by my calculations was approximately 75 kilometres West. After about ten minutes I stopped, I was totally geographically disorientated, which is foreign to me. I pulled to the edge of the road and tried to orientate myself, I had absolutely no idea in what direction I should have been going. I punched Norseman into the GPS and it indicated I was heading 180 degrees in the wrong direction. I corrected this and arrived Norseman shortly later. I refueled, had a meal and reflected on the trip. I was still on a mental high from my journey and earlier experiences.




Now that's what I call a hamburger

This was a hard day, physically my body is coping well, and my painful wrist had resolved itself with use of the cruise control, I had been exercising regularly during the trip but mentally this was a hard day.

I bush camped about 30km East Norseman on the edge of the highway. There was virtually no traffic and the sky was absolutely dark with a few stars breaking through the cloud.

Day Nine
I woke up after four hours of intense sleep; it was overcast and drizzling so without hesitation I crawled back into the swag for another two hours. I only heard two vehicles pass during the night. I packed up and headed towards Ceduna. I have travelled the Nullarbor several times this year and it is so lush.




What a view over the cliffs

There is an abundance of green ground coverage and the colour is just brilliant. It never ceases to amaze me how far you can see on the open plains. The 90 mile straight is as boring as you can get so I play all the usual games: “guess the vehicle” and then have to wait ten minutes until it passes to see if I was right. At night I find this challenging, you dim your headlights and it can take what appears fifteen minutes for the vehicle to pass. I usually dim the HID’s (driving lights) and run high beam until they dip theirs or within a reasonable distance of the other vehicle. This poses substantial risk as kangaroos and camels are very difficult to spot so make taking evasive action in a timely manner challenging.

As I rode through the inspection station at Ceduna, I had a quick chat to the road-side inspection officer and asked if he had any ideas where I could get a hot meal this time of night, he suggested the BP would be the only place. I arrived at 2345 hrs. I refueled and went inside the BP for a hot meal. The kitchen had just closed however the attendant offered to reheat a meal for me. How could I give up an opportunity of both sitting down and using cutlery? It’s been over a week since I have used a knife and fork and it was a real novelty. The mustard lamb (or whatever it was meant to be) just tasted exquisite. I washed it down with an iced coffee whilst updating my status on the iPad.

This was a good break and I headed off towards Port Augusta in the dark, cold and cloud covered sky.

Day Ten
As I approached Kimba, it was raining and cold. I pulled into the IBA ‘hotel’ about 2hrs short of Port Augusta. This was my next planned rest area and I needed some respite from the weather and this would give me a good break. I rolled out the swag and had a few hours sleep, it was cold and raining but I snuggled into the doona and was cosy. I got up before the alarm and followed the usual routine for packing the bike and headed off.




Kimba, the half way mark




There is so much to see if you take some time out

I stopped at Port Augusta at 0845hrs, refueled and headed to MacDonald’s for a quick sit down feed and a full strength coffee, my first one since I started the ride. I had two or three mouth fill's but it tasted like crap so I threw it away.

I stopped at Davo’s plaque, payed my respects and headed off into the heavily clouded Horricks pass. The wind was building up and fuel economy started falling again.




Fantastic area even when clouded

As I passed through Broken Hill, I scored a tailwind and drove the last hour into Cobar in the dark and I had blown yet another low beam bulb but didn’t bother to replace it. I dodged several kangaroos as they approach from 45 degrees on a suicide mission, I checked myself ensuring I didn’t have a target on me. I try avoiding this area at night, as on my trip before last from Perth I got a kangaroo count of 200 between Emmdale and Cobar before I gave up counting.

I arrived at Dubbo at 2220hrs. I unloaded most of the gear from the bike and it seemed to sigh with relief as it stood there naked. This would be the first time the engine would get an opportunity to completely cool off since I started riding about ten days ago.

I had a hot shower and finally a decent home cooked meal that was waiting for me: Awesome Jo, I really appreciate it!

Day Eleven
I had a good sleep and woke about 0630hrs, it was cold, overcast and snow was forecast for Orange. I departed at 0830hrs for a quick 150km trip ensuring I had covered enough kilometres to be considered eligible or the 10-10ths.

I arrived at Dunedoo at 0940hrs and obtained a corner docket. , It was raining as I continued through to Mudgee, I just felt like riding and so continued through to Bathurst and then headed to Orange and felt the bitterness of the snow as it fell. I returned and finished my ride in Dubbo at 1410, a bit more than 150 kilometres but I couldn’t help myself.

Epilogue
I covered over 16,500 kilometres in 10 days and the bike ran well. My greatest concern was tyre wear, the PR3’s handled the distance well, both wore at the same rate and I think it would be possible to push them to around 20,000 kilometres if required. I was subjected to extremes in weather conditions however the clothing I carried was adequate as was the water and food. One pannier had been full of tools and spares but I only used one headlight bulb. The ten kilograms of tools and spares will have to be re-evaluated for my next trip to make better use of resources. I need to be smarter in how I fasten my swag o reduce loading time and fatigue to my fingers especially in cold weather.

Physically I was no worse at the completion as when I had started except that I had some tenderness to the sole of my left foot; I presume this may be pressure from my foot peg. I also had slight numbness to the tip of my right thumb which I can’t account for. I seem to have worked out seating arrangements as I had no discomfort at all.

My Spot appeared unreliable at times and I will need to have better phone coverage than was is currently provided by Optus.

Long distance riding is not beyond the scope of anyone, you just need to know your limitations, especially fatigue limits. You need to have a plan and stick to it in order to remain focused without getting side tracked however has flexibility to change as circumstances warrant. We live in a beautiful vast country and in one day’s ride we can travel from beaches through to deserts. One of the biggest challenges is the ability to obtain fuel when it is needed and this requires careful planning or sometimes thinking outside the box.

I have learned much during this ride and feel I have gained much from the experience.

I would like to thank all that assisted and supported my especially; Peter, Bill, Gus, Mike, Lindsay and my dear mate Jo.