Ride of the Valkyrie

OX-34

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#1
It was pretty short notice, but I realised I had some time off to go for a ride for four days - umm, starting tomorrow. A quick check of the weather, packed a pannier liner with some gear, off to the shed for a bit of eeny-meeny-miny-moe with my stable of bikes and lo and behold its the Valkyrie. Tops. I buckled a 20litre jerry can onto the back and went to bed for some shut-eye.


On the road with a pic across from my place:



Then a start docket at Newcastle West at 04:22hr AEST (22088km odo, 0km on the GPS), a slurp of iced coffee and I was off into the dark heading due west. This time of the morning there is a steady flow of coal miners in HiLuxes for company for a couple of hours, but otherwise not much else. I had heated grips, a heated vest plugged in and for good measure I'd bolted on a spare FJR1300 screen to help keep some of the cold at bay. It was pretty cold early on, too. I even started to fog my visor despite having a pinlock insert in use. I had to pull over, remove the visor and reseat the pinlock because with the fog trapped inside it was terrible for visibility.


A quick pause at Mendooran to pour in 20 litres and soon enough things were feeling routine as I stopped for a pic for Nevertire Nic:


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First proper fuel stop at Nyngan (11:14hr, 544km, 31.57L)




Then I just settled in to the wide open spaces and 110km/h zones of the Barrier Highway, the Valkyrie just humming along. Another jerry can stop somewhere or other, then Broken Hill just before dark (1742hr, 1134km, 36.0L).


There had been the usual butcher shop array of roadkill between Wilcannia and the Hill and the carcasses continued well into South Australia. I stopped for a leak in Yunta and continued with the fluids theme topping up the tank with 98. I'd fitted a torch on a RAM mount pointing directly down into the filler and I must say it came in handy when wrestling with the 'Airhawked' 20 litre jerry can in the dark.

I passed through Horrocks and had fun in the bends, then with a nod to Davo I was soon enough in Port Augusta (22:47hr AEST, 1543km, 25.18L). It was cold again here and just above zero. I broke my rules and stopped long enough for a hot coffee in the warm servo lounge and pulled my helmet apart again because of fogging. I noticed that there was a huge gap between the pinlock and the visor proper. Is it any wonder it fogged up? I've never noticed that before, but a twist of one of the pins and a more careful placement and it sat down well enough.

At the western end of town I made a right turn onto the Stuart Highway, the only road I'd see for the next 2700km and settled in for a long night of kangaroo spotting. Thankfully there weren't many about. The odd tap of the brakes but no close calls. Just me and a handful of roadtrains out, time passed easily enough and I reached Coober Pedy at 0523hr (2086km, 28.21L). I'd planned to have a longer break here and maybe a nap, but the coffee prevented that. Another hundred kays or so later I did pull over though, into a nice wide open rest area and I could make out a picnic shed in the moonlight as a bonus. Weird shed though. I'd grabbed my little poncho/groundsheet and wandered in to the 'shed' only to find that it only had a gravel floor, no bench and the walls on the shed started a metre or so off the ground.

Basically I was outside inside. Never mind, I slept easily enough and woke to a typically wiiiide outback dawn:


I was glad to be back out this way, its been a while.


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Approaching Erldunda Roadhouse I looked at the huge line of grey nomads with caravans at the fuel pumps and decided to push on through the glorious meandering and even undulating part of the highway through here. I ran the numbers in my head and cut things pretty fine, pulling in to Stuarts Well (12:21hr, 2682km, 37.62L) where it is much quieter.



No need to stop in Alice Springs, I just grabbed a pic instead:



I pulled over just north of town at the Tropic of Capricorn and made a couple of calls home.



Then rode along enjoying the 130km/h zone for a while. There's not much to say about these sections, but it is great for the head to just kick back and ride. A quick stop for the obligatory shot at the Devil's Marbles, though there seems to be much more fenced-off areas these days.



A nap at sundown in Tennant Creek (1850hr, 3280km, 37.58L). The last two fuel legs were barely under 600km and the Valkyrie was sipping fuel at 16km/L. Not bad for a larger bike - well over 370kg loaded and passing through space at 130km/h and much more economical than my skinny KLR650 at 110km/h.
I was surprised by the wildlife out and about. Counting on fingers I think prior to this trip I've ridden up here in the Northern Territory a half a dozen times, covered about 12000km and counted maybe 20 kangaroos. North of Tennant Creek I reckon I saw a couple of hundred just this night. Thankfully the roads have very wide verges, but I was reluctant to sit on 130km/h through the night. I pulled up in Daly Waters to fill the tanks, trying at first to use the auto card pumps but the place was still open so didn't need to (22:58hr AEST, 3678km, 25.69L). I also had to add layers because it was much colder than I expected this far north. A jerry can stop in a carpark in Katherine seemed of interest to the local constabulary, enough for them to pass by for a look a few times.
Back on the road. Its a simple 300km commute to Darwin from here, thankfully a bit warmer by the time I arrived, too.
Darwin (05:24hr AEST, 4268km).


No fill yet, its time for another nap.........
 

OX-34

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#2
I found a comfy place just up the road near Doctors Gully and was soon off to sleep. No alarm, rolled up T-shirt for a pillow and back at the same servo soon enough.
Darwin (07:27hr AEST, 4272km, 33.45L). Leaving just on dawn with the commuters, I started to retrace my steps, running the numbers in my head as I went. I'd given myself a target to get back to Newcastle by 07:22hr in 2 days time, so roughly the same 49 hours it had taken me to get here. In hindsight I shouldn't have mucked around so much on the first leg taking pictures of other things, so potentially I'd have a buffer of time if I didn't do that again. I determined to not stop for pics....
Lots of roadwork heading south, lots of grey nomads in caravans and lots of roadkill with flocks of feeding birds to contend with through this section. I stopped briefly at Adelaide River for a shower in the great little rest area they have, had a liquid breakfast and hit the road again. I'd kept most of my layers off at the last stop and was glad for that as the temperature was rising. Probably the forecast 30C by the time I reached Daly Waters (13:33hr, 4861km, 36.3L).


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Tennant Creek for another fuel stop at 17:40 AEST (5257km, 25.5L) then a roadside nap and change of layers around sundown.

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In to Alice Springs later than I'd planned but I'd needed the rest. I thought the Shell on the north side was 24 hours but it seems its not ?!?!
Topped up 29.85L - but only after first handing over my licence inside the shop. (23:46hr, 5765km). Warmed up with a hot chocolate and kept on going. A jerry can stop in one of the jam-packed rest areas near the border at Kulgera and then into the roos of South Australia soon after. No close calls, but I couldn't maintain 110km/h. With bushes near the fog line there were enough crossing the road to slow me down. Marla Roadhouse at 05:08hr (6219km, 25.12 L) and still over 2300km from home.


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Just a tunnel of light and flashing white lines for hours through here, and thankfully not too many of these around (not my pic):

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Straight past Coober Pedy sometime around sunrise
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Then a liquid brunch and rest at Glendambo (1054hr, 6705km, 26.94km). I was very happy to be doing this section in daylight. There were some huge dead roos around, cattle as usual but more traffic here than I'd encountered before.Through the moonscape and salt lakes of Pimba ever southward and into Port Augusta at 1400hr (6990km, 16.19L). I ran the numbers... Still 1550km to reach home and 18 hours or so by my clock. That's doable and I have done it before but I'll admit I was feeling pretty tired at this point. With another nod to Davo I was back in the bends of Horrocks Pass and heading east. A splash of fuel from the jerry can not long after and then the dusky grind into Broken Hill, with furry company for much of the way.(1846hr, 7407km, 25.5L)






I needed a rest here. As is my preference I grabbed a power nap to get me from light into dark and I'd timed the fuel stop well leaving the Hill in black-dark. At the first 110 sign on the way out of town I flicked on the spots and nearly freaked out. AGHH!. A truly enormous kangaroo appeared on the road on my right. Too late for brakes and not even close but up ahead the were more. I'd hoped to maintain 100 at least, but in the next 5 kays or so I think I braked to save my life a dozen times. Each time I'd accelerate back up again, but this couldn't be happening.
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I recalled my first ever trip heading this way in the dark. Over seven years ago. Not a single kangaroo for the next 1000km that time and here and now I can see fifty on the road up ahead. I honked the horn. It seemed to work. A couple of roos seemed to prop. I honked it again. In the distance a couple more seemed to stop. I honked that horn incessantly for the next 450km though crawling along at times. Sure, a few kept moving, committed to heading who knows where, but I only braked hard once in that next leg. What I couldn't do, though was hold 100km/h. No chance. I had to slow any time I saw one with its weight leaning forward of course, but tooting the horn gave me purpose and I really took note. The tooting mainly caused them to shift their weight backward. I didn't want to scare them away as once moving those cute stupid creatures have no idea where they are going in the headlights.
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It was a terrible night.
I stopped briefly at Cobar to add a layer and get off the road. Just after leaving leaving town I lost time looking for gloves after I'd swapped a pair. I'd ridden east then turned back to find it, gave up and headed off off again. A little while later I leaned back and felt a lump behind my hip on the seat - a glove - now stuck with velcro to my jacket back there. They cost a lot so I turned back again and looked for the other one. I found it flapping away sitting on top of a pannier stuck to my phone charging bag.

What a terrible night, freezing my butt off out in the sticks. I'd already determined I wouldn't make it home on target but kept heading east.
Nyngan (03:39hr, 8016km, 34.24L). Ah well, 8000km in under 4 days isn't bad.

I continued south east down the arrow-straight Mitchell Highway heading for home. 99% of the time I turn left at Nevertire and then through Warren and Gilgandra. This night I thought I'd head home through the bright lights of Dubbo for a change. By now it was about minus 6C apparently, and I'd started to fog up the lower half of my visor. I was soon getting sick of the bumpy Mitchell and the trucks flashing me from 10 km away. I thought I'd pull over to read my GPS properly and plan my last few hours of the trip around about here:



There was no traffic in sight so I pulled over on the wrong (right) side of the road so I could drop my wheels in the dirt and cut the engine but not the lights with the side stand on the tar so I'd be pretty upright. I kicked the stand, took my left hand off to tap the GPS and all hell broke loose. I guess I kicked down on the centre stand by mistake. The engine didn't cut. Its a big engine, with lots or torques in it.......


It shot straight off under its own steam, me holding the throttle but my left hand flapping in the breeze and me staring through fog at the little GPS screen wondering what the hell was happening. Straight down into the table drain, I gassed it a bit to bounce up and though the grass and into the bush, grabbing the left grip finally but not game to brake in the dirt and bushes. I could hear a loud aagh-AARGH-aagh-AAGH-AHHHHHGH noise filling my helmet. All I could see was the bright pinky white of the frost covered clumps of thigh high grass and weird-looking bushes in bold relief against the black of the night. It was like I was in an aquarium. At last I rolled to a stop ever fearful of dropping the mighty beast.

I looked around.


There's no way I could get off and push myself out of here. I was stuck an unknown distance from the road in great clumps of stuff. With the eye of faith I thought I could make out some wiggly car tracks up ahead, like maybe there was a side road I'd not noticed perhaps.... Bugger it. Feet up I bounced and wrestled away scraping through bushes until again with the eye of faith I thought I could make out the flat level road a bit up ahead. What, I've just about done a u-turn bouncing around in the scrub?!?! As I approached the grey 'road' I realised I was wrong. It was the railway line that appeared out of the black - running parallel to the road as it does - I'd been bouncing the wrong way. Bugger. I ran it up the slope toward the tracks a few times and jigged back and forth until I was pointing back where I came.


Oh well, here goes. I just plowed my way back the way I'd come through the scrub, bounced down through the tabledrain and emerged back out onto the Mitchell.

Off to my left I spied a car parked that I didn't see before. There was a guy in Hi-Viz in the front seat looking at me like I'd just come from Mars. "Hey mate, which way to Nevertire" I yelled. "West" he said. "Which way is west?" I yelled. He pointed. "Thanks mate".

I headed the few kays back to Nevertire. Stopped to have a drink and a leak. Was saddened to see my heated vest cord had snapped somewhere back in the bush. Rolled through Warren with kangaroos in the main street, and saw great mobs leaving as I left town.

I've had enough.

I turned back yet again and rolled in to a motel just on dawn. The lady said "do you need a nap?". "Take room number 1. I'll see you later". Ahh, a hot shower, electric blanket and my ride was done.




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Vlad

Premier Member
#4
What Crappy said. Tough but good call. These rides really are a game of attrition at the moment.
Minus 5 with no electrics is no ones idea of fun. Wind chill down below minus 10 makes me cold just reading about it.
Congrats for wringing every last drop out of it.:)
 

Tele

Premier Member
#6
What everyone above has said, and then some. Awesome ride, great ditch recovery and excellent call to grab the motel bed when you did. 8000 klms the hard way (not that it's ever easy). Awesome work once again Ox
 
#8
Another great ride and a very entertaining report to go along with it.
Now I know what happened when your spot stopped moving. It would have been a tough call to make so close to home but a good call when you know you had enough.
An amazing ride.