50CC - North/South on 149cc's

Skidoo

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#1
Shakedown Ride

Shakedown rides are a crucial part in the testing process when preparing for long distance rides. Perception of long distance (LD) rides varies from person to person however for me it involves at least two days continuous riding.

LD rides involves comprehensive planning of the route, fuel, witness and rest stops. Small capacity bikes add complexity including terrain, wind direction, traffic, towns and fatigue. Consideration must be given to limited power output and longevity of the power-train with sustained high revs, often the small motor revs continuously over twenty two hours a day. These bikes also push one’s personal boundaries especially pain, discomfort and boredom to another level. It is impossible to maintain the speed limit across all terrain types.

The ‘Davo’ memorial ride was planned for the following week, this would give me an opportunity to complete both a shakedown ride and attend the memorial ride. If all went well I would attempt a longer ride that I had been working on for a few months.

Witness forms were signed at Dubbo; time stamp reflected 11:07hrs on the docked and I departed for Yass. Just out of Dubbo some roadwork’s cost me over ten minutes, last year during the same memorial ride I lost 20 minutes just down the road at Wellington. I pulled into Yass for fuel and a corner docket, I was fronted by a bottle neck of vehicles requiring fuel and only three bowsers were operational. I considered making the run into Yass Township however this would have taken about twenty minutes turnaround so I wouldn’t be any better off. I utilised the fifteen minutes to make a phone call whilst waiting, refuelled and headed towards Narrandera. Traffic was light, the bike was running well and I made up time arriving exactly on scheduled time.

The cold was slowly wearing me down; I had underestimated this leg and pulled into Hay instead of the scheduled stop at Balranald. I enjoyed the meal and took this opportunity to put an additional two layers of upper clothes on. I spent close to 30 minutes here however it would not affect my overall plan as I had planned to have a meal at Balranald.

As the ride progressed it got colder, I decided to have the scheduled two hour sleep at a rest stop between Hay and Balranald on the side of the road. I slept well on the 25mm self-inflating mattress that was not self-inflating anymore. I was involved in an accident a few months ago and the mattress apparently sustained damage and did not maintain inflation.

It was cold as I arrived in Renmark ahead of schedule. A quick run into Port Augusta for a corner docket, quick chat to a few fellow riders and then through Horricks pass finishing at Wilmington arriving fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.

The shakedown ride identified only one minor issue with one of the ram mounts, however this caused no real concern.

After paying respects at the memorial plaque we headed back to Wilmington Hotel, great fellowship with a dozen or so riders, consumed a few ‘reds’ followed by a great feed. I headed off to bed for a relaxing night’s sleep just before midnight.

Transport Leg

What a great day; a few riders left before sunrise for their run home. I didn’t get up until about 06:30hrs had a shave, shower and packed the bike whist talking to a few of the guys. It is just over 1,000 kilometres to the starting point of my next ride. I had an easy day’s riding today and planned to leave after breakfast. I caught up with Hagar, Grey Gentry, Nico and Myeeme at the café for breakfast. We finished and left about 09:30hrs on an absolutely clear wind free day.



Enjoying the countryside

I had a mid-morning start after breakfast and rode with Allan maintaining about 95 kph. The scenery was absolutely superb, green and lush; we stopped at a bakery in Angaston for lunch, there had been a steady flow of traffic due to the weekend and great weather. Allan waved me off on the outskirts of Adelaide and I continued and spent the night at Nhill, this was a scenic 600 kilometre run. The countryside was green; I had passed through several small villages and towns that I had lost count. I passed through a town called Kaniva, it had pigs scattered through the town and I stopped to take a photo. I was later advised that the locals were sick of the animals being called pigs and placed several signs around town stating; ‘sheep ahead’.



Little Piglets at Kaniva

I woke at 07:30hrs and had a sound night’s sleep; it was an older style motel but the shower pumped out the hot water and the bed was comfortable, what else do you need? In the morning I packed the bike, had a continental breakfast and the bike fired on the third attempt as usual. The previous R15 always started on the first go, for some reason this one always took three attempts when it’s cold. The roads in Victoria are smooth compared to central NSW roads. I maintained a steady 95 kph plus and passed a massive koala and pull into Dadswells Bridge for a photo opportunity and phone call.




Dadswells Bridge

I continued to somewhere near Mitchell Park; turned off the highway and took the ‘scenic’ route bypassing Ballarat. Geelong is a hive of activity; I fill the tanks with the prescribed amount of fuel, check tyres, oil and lube the chain. I continue and arrive at Nikos’ around 1645hrs; the shed door starts to open as I approach, Nico heard me coming. I ride straight in and park next to two steeds parked waiting for their next adventure. I had a delicious dinner, steak cooked to perfection, salad and potato bake beautifully presented thanks Nico and Julie; a feed fit for a king.

I’m off to bed at 20:30hrs set the alarm for 00:45hrs and go to sleep easily. I wake about three hours later, then just drift in and out of consciousness until 00:30hrs when I finally get up and dress. I walk into the dining room and Nico is already up making two mugs of tea.


The ride

As the garage opens, I push the R15 down the street as she is a little noisy to say the least when it starts on the third attempt, especially at 01:00hrs. I’m now a little anxious, a bit apprehensive as I realise the magnitude of the ride I am attempting. I start remembering the pain and discomfort from previous LD rides; it doesn’t put me off for a second as I follow Nico towards my starting point at Torquay. Nico leads me to the Southern Ocean; this ride signifies the ride from one ocean through Australia to another ocean on the other side. This will be the first time that I have attempted this ride; I have travelled the East West coast to coast route numerous times in the last eighteen months.

We head towards the Westpac ATM for a start docket and check our times. We chat for a while as we have fifteen minutes to kill. It is mild with slight drizzle; the sky is dark, very dark. Paperwork is completed, start docket obtained and the journey begins.



Westpac Bank Torquay

The R15 starts instantly and I follow as we weave through the streets and avoid Geelong on the ring road as we head towards Ballarat. It’s an easy run, traffic is light, slight drizzle continues and Nico waved me by as we approached Ballarat. I was alone, I needed to focus and get into the game plan as quickly as possible. The first few hours will set the pace for the whole trip as this leg was 455 kilometres. I experienced fog in sections and recorded a minimum temperature of minus one degree on the Oxford bike clock that I had purchased for this ride. I had anticipated a cold ride and had six upper layers, two pairs of silk liners under my gloves and two pairs of thermal socks, I was snug, comfortable and on a mental high despite having what I would describe as pain starting to develop on my left knee, and lower back.

The bike was running well; everything was as expected as I pulled into Bordertown some nine minutes ahead of schedule. I refuel with 20 litres as the next leg was over 570 kilometres.

I enjoyed a carton of iced coffee and headed off on schedule. It was a dream run up the highway; I turned off at Murray Bridge on schedule at 09:20hrs. The next hundred plus kilometres will require me to monitor and focus on my current speed at all times. It only takes a second for the speed to drop and within minutes the OA drops blowing out times that cannot be pulled back on the R15.

I had calculated that it would be tough on the selected route to maintain a decent overall average (OA), previous discussions with Hagar determined this was the fastest route with my planned schedule.

Maintaining the speed limit is impossible, if time is lost it cannot be made up. I need to continually push the bike to maintain a decent OA, this is the only way I can successful complete the ride.

Horricks Pass is exhilarating, I throw the R15 from side to side; I weave my way downwards through the sharp curves, pull over for a few moments to pay my respects to FarRider#1. I pull into Port Augusta five minutes ahead of schedule and have difficulty dismounting the bike. I hobble around on my painful knee and am bent over like a cripple; I must have been a sight and the ride had just begun.

A guy on a Harley comes over and starts chatting about the bike and notices the tank log; enough said. I visit the cafe within the service station; the pre-cooked food on display appeared well cooked and crispy to say the least. I decided on a couple of ‘corn jacks’ as they seemed cooked and more palatable, I add salt and get a buzz. I tend to cramp on these smaller bikes; to counteract this I ensure I consume adequate salt. Depending on temperature, I supplement my water intake with electrolyte drinks ensuring electrolyte balances are maintained. When a rider feels thirsty or starts cramping, it is often too late or very difficult to reverse on the run.

Exercising is challenging to say the least, every time I change my posture from the crouched position, between 5 and 7kph is lost. Often after exercising a cramp is induced making this a little interesting.

Unless there are extremes in temperature, I rarely remove the inner liners of my trousers opting to open the vents as it is time consuming removing boots, and liners especially when the liner has to be re-inserted later as the temperature drops. Projected temperatures are not anticipated to exceed 36 degrees Celsius. The next leg will be challenging as the road undulates uphill for what appears hundreds of kilometres. My next schedule stop is 540 kilometres away as I remove my glove liners and three upper layers.

I work my way to the base of the Sturt highway for the long stretch to Darwin.



The Fun Begins

Once I make the turn Northward, I notice the incline immediately; the R15 gets into a steady pattern and starts grinding away on the long uphill section. Road trains pass and I try and gain any advantage by slipping in behind them gaining sometimes hundreds of metres on the uphill section, it all helps. The recent rain has vegetation sprouting up creating colour and contrast between the vegetation and red earth. As darkness falls cattle are seen standing on the highway, I have been lucky as the lights easily identify them allowing ample opportunity to take evasive action. The cattle just stare as you pass; they don’t really move that fast however they would instantly cripple the R15, and myself if I was to hit one. Kangaroos have been scarce with only a handful seen hopping across the road. My mind drifts as I think about the kangaroos I have seen and the awful mess they make when you hit them, just then a kangaroo lands slightly to my left, is startled and falls over, I safely pass on its right hand side. I need to focus and concentrate again on the ride.

I pull into Coober Pedy and attempt to take a photo of the well-known landmark in the dark but to no avail, that’s O.K. I think to myself, I’ll get it on the return run. I head off to the service station and arrive eight minutes inside my plan at 20:22hrs. I refuel with 23 litres, I plan only to get a receipt at my next leg, and check my oil and chain tension. I add approximately 100mls of oil as the R15 had to work hard during the previous section with the engine running in excess of 9,000rpm on countless sections. I enjoy a carton of Chocolate milk, cherry ripe and head off again.



Cooper Pedy

The road appears to have levelled off and I settle back into the grove. The R15 is humming at 6,200rpm that equates to 95kph in 6th gear on downhill or flat wind still sections. Any wind or change in conditions requires 5th to be selected and the engine comes to life at 7,300rpm for the same speed. The sweet spot being 7,100rpm upward and previous dyno testing demonstrated that the torque is a flat line from 7,000rpm to over 9,000rpm. She sounds real sweet and is happy to sit on 7,100 to 7,950rpm hour after hour, day after day as she has done on previous trips.

I pull into Marla fifteen minutes outside my schedule, this poses no issues but I need to get a receipt and bunk down for a few hours as quickly as I can. I purchase a cool drink, obtain a receipt and find a slightly grassed section and lay out the self-inflating mattress, set the alarm and am asleep within moments.

My alarm chimes; I groan as I struggle in an attempt to get off the ground, I lay back down for a moment. I think, is it all worth it and in a moment struggle to my feet as I have to seize the moment; this is why I ride! I have previously learned to distance pain and discomfort otherwise I lose focus on what is important. I roll the mattress, pillow and fasten them to the bike in a few minutes, obtain a receipt for a packet of chewy and the attendant cautions me regarding large numbers of cattle and kangaroos along the road and suggest I follow a guy in a four wheel drive who has just purchased fuel. I walk outside and ask the guy if he would mind if I followed him for a while, my first impressions of him were not good and he said he preferred that no-one follow him as he will pull over, I mumble something under my breath and am on my way again. Still sore but it doesn’t seem quite as bad. Things are running well; a few rouge kangaroos raise my pulse with only one causing a sphincter moment, there was a particularly dark section of road ahead and suddenly I observe ‘cattle’, I serve around them and continue. The modified headlights are superb, low beam now comprising of duel 35 watt Cree Led’s offer an excellent spread. High beam consisting of duel 35 watt aftermarket Led driving lights gives enough depth to generally see ahead whilst the side spread illuminates the fence line. The brakes however are far from desirable, panic stops are a bit ordinary to say the least. As I continue the sky lightens and sun slowly raises improving visibility however the kangaroos are still hanging around the edge of the roadway.

Another photo is taken at the gateway to Alice Springs, the weather is superb for riding and I roll into the service station three minutes behind schedule. I refuel with 18 litres, have an iced coffee and make a quick phone call. All is well and running exactly as planned. Things are looking good as I pull out for another 533 kilometres leg.



Alice Springs at sunrise

I maintain a blistering pace; take a few photos and the weather starting to warm up, traffic is sparse with road trains being the majority of traffic. In the middle of no-where the road is closed for roadwork’s. I spend about fifteen minutes just sitting there in the sun enjoying the heat. It is now 35oC, only a day ago the temperature was -1oC near Melbourne, this makes kitting up more challenging. I maintain my hydration and am still feeling great, my mind is clear and pushing for the next scheduled stop. I’m hoping that it doesn’t get much warmer as I have not yet removed my trouser liners and it’s getting a little warmer down there.



Roadwork’s in the middle of nowhere

About ninety five kilometres from Tennant Creek I finally come across the ‘Devils Marbles’. These are huge granite boulders scattered across a shallow valley. They have significance to aboriginal people and range in size up to about six metres in diameter. Many boulders are precariously balanced on top of each other. I spend about ten minutes taking a few photographs and taking in the atmosphere of the significant location. The dirt is just dust, about 5cm deep; it reminds me of talcum powder





Devils Marbles

Tennant Creek is a hive of activity as I pull in for fuel about ten minutes behind schedule. I’m having trouble making up these few minutes that I traded some hundreds of kilometres ago for a few minutes rest. I fill with 16.5 litres as my next leg is only 380 kilometres away. The console operator is not is a rush, she obviously doesn’t want to be there but I maintain my composure and just use the wasted minutes to relax, I have a cool drink and enjoy a snack, I finally pay and get away a few minutes later onto the next leg.



Ample opportunity to ride the R15 legally flat out

Daly Waters is a few minutes off the highway, I couldn’t believe the number of people that were at the pub, it was a hive of activity. I partially filled my auxiliary tank and went into the pub to pay for the fuel and the young girl was being chatted up by a truckie, I clearly remember him saying, ‘he had a big day in the morning having to travel almost 900 kilometres that day’, I thought whoopty doo, that’s a big day for you big-fella, you don’t want to exert yourself. I head off and the sun is setting fast, I face more cattle wandering across the roadway and need to remain focused. I am still pushing the R15 as hard as I dare, it’s an amazing motor, and it really shows large capacity bikes are not mandatory for long distance touring. I have crossed our sunburnt country numerous times on a bike that has a motor smaller than many lawn mowers. Mind you, the extra horsepower allows for easier touring and the ability to carry luxuries being; spare clothes, tools and food.




The long straights



The R15 ate the kilometres

This last leg into Darwin seemed to drag on forever, it was a long stint; in hindsight I underestimated the strain on body and mental state, during this leg. I passed through Katherine on schedule towards Darwin. About thirty kilometres out of Katherine I stop for a quick stretch and call my contact person in Darwin, Wendy advising that I was still on schedule. I had previously given her a spot link assisting in the rendezvous. I headed off again and within about fifty kilometres started feeling really down and challenged myself on why I was attempting this ride. I had an overwhelming feeling that I should just back off and enjoy the ride. I self-assessed hydration, mental state and they appeared fine and I could carry out the usual calculations without much stress, something was not right.

Traffic was increasing consisting mainly of road trains, they would blast past you shaking the bike violently and would gain momentum going down the hill for the incline on the other side. The road undulated and I had difficulty maintaining a speed within 30kph of the posted legal limit of 130kph. I had an overwhelming feeling of tiredness and was daunted by the lack of safety barriers on the edge of the roadway; if you were to ride over the edge, well that would be it. I found a safe area and immediately pulled onto the edge of the road as I knew something was not quite right. I parked the bike being mindful that it was top heavy and I didn’t want it to fall, I groaned as I dismounted and walked or probably staggered for a few moments. I realised that I had not eaten much for several hours so started sucking on some barley sugar. I felt better and regained my drive within moments and realised that was the problem, my blood sugar levels had dropped, and this accounted for changes in my thought processes.



Lighting configuration worked well

I mounted the bike and continued, the next hundred odd kilometres were an absolute bore, I had no idea what to expect, it just dragged on and on and the road or traffic didn’t change.

I had arranged to meet Wendy about sixty kilometres out of Darwin; I was looking for the agreed meeting point but I was getting nearer to the city. Having ridden almost non-stop for the last two days I was a little overwhelmed by the traffic. There wasn’t much but I really felt out of place and not at all comfortable with the vehicle around me. I was really quite spooked by them and wanted to keep my distance.

I passed a small car parked on the side of the roadway, within moments it stated to tail gate me, I felt a bit insecure then it pulled to the right of me and this young lady smiled and gestured to the side of the roadway. I followed and Wendy introduced herself, I had met her through the Honda ST Owners club. She was to meet me on a BMW however it had a partially flat rear tyre. I followed her through the city at lightning speed to the service station. As I dismounted the bike she seemed more excited than me with a huge smile, I went inside for a carton of milk and a docket. We chatted for about 10 minutes whilst I fuelled the bike with twenty two litres of petrol, Wendy notices that the date on the docket is incorrect, buggar. As I pay for the fuel I obtain another receipt and confirm the eftpos receipt has the correct date and time even though it is ten minutes later than the initial time. I am happy to have successfully completed the run in 47.5 hours arriving at 01:34hrs. I arrived in Darwin at the service station nine minutes outside me schedule however if I had checked the docket earlier I would have been one minute early. It was hot; I was not used to the humidity, the perspiration just dripped from my face and I also released that I had travelled from Port Augusta through central Australia to Darwin in less than 36hrs, now I was really happy about that.



Arriving Darwin

Wendy takes me for a run through the city, it is remarkably clean and I head off for a rest before attempting the return run.

My alarm chimes at 03:15hrs, I pack, push the bike out of the driveway and she starts, I’m off again. I obtain a depart docket at 03:45hrs, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. All witness documents are signed and I’m feeling great and exited as I head South in the humidity. As I approach Adelaide River I had trouble concentrating and completing my usual mental maths, without hesitation I pulled over and had a twenty minute powernap.

I awoke to the alarm and felt better, very little traffic was seen and no wild life observed, I had a great run and as the sun rose the countryside sprang to life in contrasting colour. The humidity had dropped; this was the start of another great leg, no traffic, no wind, great scenery and great mental state.

I took several photographs and a few of giant anthill mounds. There was scattered road kill but still very little traffic. For approximately ten kilometres I had to swerve to miss carcases scattered across the roadway, growing numbers of eagles and other birds were feeding from them. About 250 metres away a group of eagles were feeding, I manoeuvred the R15 to the opposite side of the roadway and to my dismay they turned to take off into the wind, you guessed it, in my direction. I was on the edge of the road when an eagle brushed against me knocking me even closer to the edge of the roadway; I corrected and returned to the centre of the road thinking thankful it wasn’t a kangaroo.



Not a good place to camp

I was not sure if it was twenty or thirty minutes later I looked down confirming my running time and couldn’t see the white iPhone charging cord. A moment of panic, I checked the other tank bag pockets, my pockets; the Eagle must have collected it on its way through me.

I did not even consider returning, traffic continued to be light but I would have little chance of finding it as I had no idea where it may have ended up. Due to the isolation, I carried a spare Nokia phone in the tank-bag and decided to continue to Daly Waters where I would remove the phone and turn it on.

I pull into Daly Waters at 11:12hrs, twelve minutes outside my plan. I order a hamburger with chips and a cool drink. I go outside and refuel the bike with eleven litres, checked the engine oil and chain.

I opened the tank bag and to my disbelief the Nokia was turned on and the screen displayed something like; PUK code, 9 attempts remaining. I had absolutely no idea and no way of getting a PUK code, what a buggar. I was shattered as communications are critical on a ride like this. I could still make outgoing emergency calls without an activated sim if necessary but cannot contact anyone to give updates. I didn’t enjoy the burger as I was thinking about the phone. I talked to a couple travelling through the area, they also ride bikes and thought I was a little touched riding such a bike, I refocus on the ride plan and start the bike and head off to my next fuel stop.

As the kilometres rolled beneath my wheels a head breeze started developing making me work a little harder, I noticed that screen on the GPS was getting darker and harder to read. I reset it several times attempting to recover the readability but to no avail. It got to the stage all that could be seen was faint marks on the screen even though it appeared fully charged. I didn’t need the GPS, there aren’t too many turnoffs and I was pretty sure I could meander my way back from Wilmington without too much trouble back to Torquay. I uncovered the Oxford bike clock, you have to be kidding, it appeared the battery was flat. This was a brand new unit when I started. Now I have a major problem a problem.



Ride log

I pulled into Three Ways one hour behind schedule at 16:24hrs and filled with 18 litres of fuel. I went inside to pay and found out that they had no water, what no water! The console operator gestured to some four litre bottles sitting on the floor; I thought its bit tricky to carrying a four litre bag on a bike. I asked if I could borrow the phone to make a phone call, ‘not a problem’. I called Jody and she already knew that I had lost the phone. Apparently someone had picked it up from the roadway after they saw the white power lead on the side of the roadway, called the phone number that was on the case but unfortunately they were headed in the opposite direction to me. I continued riding and made another stop at Tennant Creek a few minutes away to purchase some water. I waisted about five minutes during this exercise, not happy. I asked if they had any watches, alarm clocks or egg timers, no, sorry mate was the reply.



Road train

Now I had an issue, I can live without the GPS but without a clock, this creates so many issues. It was a long 533 kilometres haul into Alice Springs; I passed only a handful of vehicles during this stage. I arrived about one hour outside my schedule at 22:59hrs, this was a scheduled long rest stop. Running one hour outside my schedule would not cause too many issues if this gap didn’t widen any more. I always factor a little ‘fat’ into these longer rides for unforeseen circumstances.

I refuelled, had a well heated pie and drink, the service station was a hive of activity with people continually coming and going, the guy was flat out. I was the only person wearing footwear and felt out of place. I asked the attendant if I could kip down around the corner for an hour and a half and if it would be possible if he could wake me. He was obliging but said he couldn’t guarantee being able to as he was not authorised to leave his station when people are in the shop. I understood and decided to continue for about half an hour and have a powernap, the challenge; how do I wake myself up after fifteen minutes? The eTrex was still working however I found the text was extremely small and I couldn’t read it, besides it didn’t have an alarm.

I parked on the side of the road and slept sitting against the bike facing oncoming traffic. I had not passed a vehicle since Alice Springs, the sky was dark and the road very lonely, I thought not much support if I need any. I had a quick nap, woke and continued for a bit longer but decided to have another nap; I was not rested as I should have been. I took a photo and had another nap. I awoke refreshed and headed off, I realised that this was an impossible task to continue safely and would find a suitable spot for a longer rest. I was trying to run to a schedule without a clock, absolutely impossible. About twenty kilometres further I realised I left my camera on the side of the road, I returned and picked it up and continued for a distance until I found a comfortable resting place. I can’t exactly remember where I stopped or how long but I felt great except for some knee and back pain.

The sky was clear, air crisp and the sky completely covered with stars, it was so quiet. It is easy to relax and escape by staring upward towards the sky, the evening is cool and I drift off quickly.



Another colourful sunrise

I awoke some time later, packed and continue to Marla. Marla is quiet as I roll in at 10:30hrs, the bike was idling roughly, revs declining and stalled after about ten seconds. I pause for a moment, pressed the starter, she leaps to life but idles erratically but runs smoothly at 3,000 plus rpm, I back off and she stalls again, I’m a bit worried, did I pick up a bad load of fuel? I refuel and order breakfast. This R15 (month and year) had a scattered history of fuel pump failure. I had replaced it sometime earlier hoping to mitigate this issue, I had a spare spark plug otherwise I really couldn’t do too much else. Breakfast comprised of a burger with the lot, iced coffee and bottle of water. I left most of the bun and half of the meat. These country kitchens serve unbelievably large portions. I also purchase a ‘phone away docket’ and called home giving an update with a phone that was covered in about 1mm of red dust.



I was paced for hundreds of kilometres by this rider

The wind was picking up as I departed for the run to Coober Pedy, I arrive at 14:17hrs, refuel and have a cool drink, the bike is still running roughly and stalling. I reset the ECU to a more conservative setting and restart the bike. Presto, running smoothly again. I reset to the proven calibration setting and things are all good again, why, really don’t know but will pass the information onto the manufacturer. I stop at the Coober Pedy sign and take a few pictures as my previous one were a dismal failure that were taken at night.

My next stop was Port Augusta, some 540 kilometres away. A headwind had increased substantially; I had to start pushing the R15 harder as my goal was to get there before midnight.

I refuelled at Port August at 21:05hrs got the witness documentation signed and head down the road and pull into the motel. I had completed over 4,000 miles in under four day, I was really happy with that effort. I buy a baked chicken dinner and head back to the motel to catch up on the news. My Bluetooth headset has an FM radio but I rarely use it even to listen to music. On this trip I may have used it for ten minutes in total. I enjoy the meal, have a hot long shower and work the heat into my knee and back. I didn’t set the alarm in the Motel, however decided if I wake earlier enough I had another ride plan otherwise I would just play it as it happened. I had a great night’s sleep however was two hours outside attempting my other plan.

Transport Leg Home

I looked out the window, another perfect day, I obtain a depart docket and head towards Wilmington. I stop at the memorial plaque where I had been only four and a half days previously, payed my respects and was overcome with emotion. It’s hard to explain what I felt but something happened. I headed towards the gap, I pushed the R15 hard, it was euphoric as I threw the bike from side to side as far as I dare. The road had been boring and straight for as many kilometres as I could remember. My tyre was flat in the centre with the mould nipples still on the sides. I passed through Wilmington on my way to Broken Hill; I miss the turn off as I was looking at the country side too intently. I do a ‘U’ turn and continue as planned and proposed to hit Dubbo by midnight. A few emu’s were seen near Yunta, I was pushing the bike a little but she was holding her own. Time passed quickly, this had been a meaningful ride to me, and I had learned much about myself and long distance riding. Just after midday, the bike redlined, without thinking I backed off on the throttle, gave it a blab and selected fifth gear, nothing, and another blab and into third but nothing, I let the bike coast to the side of the road.

I dismount the bike after parking it safely off the road. Stretch, traffic was light as I commence the painful walk back to retrieve the chain. The chain was on the side of the road covered in dirt and gravel. I had a spare joining link however the chain had broken in a way I needed a chain breaker or grinder to remove the damaged link.



Something missing?

I have no phone, within about fifteen minutes a campervan pulls over, two nurse educators just returned from the centre were happy to help. I phone NRMA and arrange for them to assist, I was approximately 160 kilometres West of Broken Hill. I am told it will be about one and a half hours before assistance will arrive. The nurses fill my camel back, give me a couple of chocolates, I give them my business card and ask them next time they are in Dubbo to look me up as they occasionally work in Dubbo.



A bit isolated

I push the bike on the Southern side of the road and position it enabling me to have a rest in the shade as there are no trees or shrubs offering protection from the sun. I loosen the rear axle and back off the rear wheel. The countryside is vast; I savour the moment for several minutes, inflate my pillow and drift off sitting against the girl, possibly half an hour later a Ute with a trailer does a ‘u’ turn and pulls just in from of the bike. A guy jumps out, Bruce from Yunta Auto Repairs brought along a spare chain, unfortunately it’s not the right size. He works on the damaged link and the chain is re-fitted, I offer him petrol to wash all the grease from his hands. I give him something for his trouble and I’m on my way again after about two and a half hours.

I refuel in Broken Hill and chat to a guy for about twenty minutes, I’m not in a rush, I always find time if someone wants to chat as I drink a cool drink, I head off again. It’s getting late but still light, I hate this section of road at night with a passion. I pass Wilcannia and the sun is setting, kangaroos are starting to emerge and by the time I pass Emmdale they are thick, there is a steady flow of road-trains and the carnage is everywhere.

About fifty kilometres further a semi threw bits of a kangaroo at me and I call it a night after I run over pieces of a kangaroo and bottom my front forks. I pulled into a truck stop and set up camp within minutes.



Carnage

I awoke just before sunrise, it was a cold night and I didn’t sleep well however I felt reasonably rested. I headed towards Cobar, passed by the usual photo opportunity location as Jody had cautioned me not to take any more pictures of Cobar as she was sick of them; I hesitated but passed the opportunity. I continued until Nyngan and stooped for breakfast, and what a breakfast I had. I did a quick bike check and noticed the front right fork was leaking oil badly, this must have occurred the previous night when I ran of the kangaroo, not much I could do with it.



A slight leak

I pulled into Dubbo just before midday with about a third of a tank of petrol after refuelling at Broken Hill over 750 kilometres away. I had a theoretical range of 850 kilometres if I filled both tanks to capacity.

I was away from home just over a week, had travelled 10,294 kilometres; when reflecting back on the ride, it had felt like only three days, I have a vision for another ride!



Another great run on the R15