SS12000 - Beyond the Barrier - Part 1/2


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SS12000 - BEYOND THE BARRIER - (Part 1/2)

I’d been planning an 'extended' ride for about a year, an opportunity approached so I seized the moment whilst the weather conditions were favorable.

I had previously discussed a ‘Coast to Coast’ (50CC) with a fellow long distance rider (LDR) some time ago. I met Abe at St George hospital in Sydney about a year ago after I had an ‘off’ in New Zealand whilst riding with a mate, Wombattle in harsh weather conditions. As usual we were pushing the envelope and I came off second best, that’s miles ago now.

Abe was interested in attempting a 50CC so we worked together finalising plans; I mentioned that I was continuing on after the 50CC until I was either sick of riding or just too darn sore. The silly buggar appeared interested in continuing with me seeing what happens during the ride.

I had received enquiries about the same time from a few LDR’s seeking advice on specific aspects of an East/West coast 50CC ride. After much deliberation I opened the ride to the LDR community with IBA experience. Numerous enquiries and discussions transpired and I ended up with three confirmed starters opting to take the opportunity in attempting this prestigious ride being; Kiwimartin (riding a GS1600), Abe (riding a ST Honda), and Freddo (riding a Goldwing).

It should be noted that several riders opted ‘out’ after discussing their riding history and risks associated with a ride of this magnitude. I don’t think anyone was upset by the process as they were able to identify their inexperience and made the decision not to ride on their own accord.

Our depart date was set as 12th March 2016 from Coogee beach at 03:30hrs.

It was unusual to have the GTR 1400 (Wicked Kate) packed ten days before any ride. The reason being I would be working in Sydney until the night before the ride. Packing the bike doesn’t usually take me long as I have a simple system and the only additional item packed was a spare high capacity lithium battery.

My plan was to travel to Sydney the night after I flew home and ride back to Sydney and stay with Abe prior to departing. The week before the ride I double and triple checked the plan and rang the remote Roadhouses confirming their opening times as they have a history of changing them to suit themselves. I was caught at Nullarbor Roadhouse when they closed 20 minutes prior to their advertised time on a previous crossing.

I said my goodbyes to Jo and my daughter Katie. The run into Sydney was uneventful, traffic was crippling and it was snail’s pace until I reached my destination.

Abe was waiting at the street corner and mumbled something about, is this 'country time' as I pulled up. I previously rung ABE and said I’d only be an hour but that was two hours ago and guided me into his garage, no sooner was the bike parked a beer was cracked open.

We chatted excitedly discussing the plan, strategies and potential issues, but otherwise relaxed and looking forward to our pending adventure.

The trip from Coogee to Scarborough has challenges, it was important that we follow the plan closely. If we deviate too far outside our plan, a follow on effect will potentially cripple the remainder of the ride due to opening hours of remote Roadhouses. I had concerns being; rider experience, differing fuel capacities/ranges, refuelling times and most importantly how fatigue would be managed. I factored additional time into different components of the ride addressing potential issues.

Abe had carried out research and identified mosquitos were bad on the west coast, he had obtained a couple of mosquito nets that would pay off during the trip.

Day 1

I stayed the night with Abe, had a superbly cooked medium rare steak cooked by his son. I opted for an early night and we departed at 02:30hrs picking Rob and Knave up on the way who took the lead and guided us to Coogee.

As we arrived Coogee beach JohnL, Enterprise and Frans were waiting for us. We chatted for a while, Kiwimartine and Freddo wheeled in a few minutes later. Photos were taken and we headed towards the service station. We refuelled, filled camelbacks and completed appropriate paperwork ensuring it was signed by three witnesses. Once everything was completed I obtained another receipt that gave me my correct depart time. Often minutes can be wasted completing paperwork and completing speedo readings that in fact affect sign-in at the other end. Obtaining a second receipt reflecting the actual depart time addresses this issue.

Four adventurers; Freddo, Kiwimartin, Abe and me

Rob and Freddo

The sound of a dog barking brakes the silence as a bike bursts into the servo, ED535 arrives on his green machine and pulled to a halt parallel to the bikes and dismounted in one movement.

We departed and are escorted through the city in a long convoy that was only broken by traffic lights. Having someone taking the lead removes many stresses as you don’t have to concentrate on the route or pace. We re-group on the main highway and charge down the freeway at the posted speed limit.

Traffic is light, we burned the kilometres quickly whilst Rob and Knave waved as they departed the freeway towards home, I have a feeling they may have stopped at the Golden arches as they disappeared into the distance. Frans on his blue Goldwing tagged along ensuring we didn’t stop for coffee. Following Frans is like being at a 70’s disco, he has bright blue and red lights and his 'wing' glows brightly in the distance. I stayed at the rear whilst the lead changed a few times as we continued south towards our first refuelling point.

About an hour later the temperature dropped noticeably, the fog thickened and became continuous reducing visibility noticeably. I found I didn’t change pace much as my lights punched through on low beam allowing the steady pace to continue. I took the lead and continued until we approached Yass where the temperature dropped to around 12 degrees Centigrade.

It was cold however I'm on an adrenaline high as we pass the Yass turnoff. A rider was putting his helmet and gloves on, I waved as I passed and sometime later Simonb caught up escorting us into Gundagai, it was nice putting another face to a name.

Refuelling was slow due to the Console Operator being on the phone trying hard to fix a computer problem. We developed strategies that improved our efficiency refuelling, the additional bikes took a little longer to refuel. Freddo had stopped for fuel before South Gundagai and was a few minutes behind but arrived as we were about to pull out.

The run down the highway was uneventful, going through Wagga Wagga is always painfully slow, Abe and I took a shortcut and ended up arriving in Hay a few minutes behind the main group. Sometimes shortcuts just don’t pan out. We were met by Fatman and Lyn the Pillion (LTP) who were busy taking photos as usual. This fuel stop was more efficient. We had discussed that once a bike is refuelled; it is to be moved forward a couple of metres allowing the following bikes to start refuelling. Having additional bikes on the ride only added a few minutes to the refuelling stop. I later found out that Fatman had pushed Kiwimartin’s bike away from the bowser allowing Abe to refuel, well the idea was there.

LTP taking more photos of us arriving Hay

Quick snap at Hay

This was a turning point for Frans, we said our goodbyes and he wheeled the blue steed into the sun and continued his journey towards the sun as he had other plans.

Fatman and LTP continued to take photos as we headed out of the servo towards Perth, these guys turn up anywhere on rides supporting other riders, there awesome.

Freddo on his ‘Wing’

Kiwimartin on his steed

It was getting hot, I wasn’t looking forward to the higher temperatures that we were about to experience. Dehydration is a silent issue that creeps up, it can catch even experienced riders suddenly adding to fatigue and riders safety.

Grey Gentry appeared from nowhere just out of Euston, he took the lead and guided us through a shortcut avoiding the Euston township saving us a few minutes, Freddo was just behind Grey Gentry when he turned off the highway. Freddo didn’t catch on who it was and continued straight ahead on the highway into Euston. He re-joining the group on the other side of town.

Marls met us at Buronga where a couple of the guys refuelled. We decided to have a longer stop at Renmark having a break from the 40 degree heat. Twenty minutes of relaxation and sharing stories in the shade readied us for the next leg into Port Augusta. I must have been like an ‘old woman’, I regularly reminded everyone to ‘drink plenty of fluid’.

A quick breather at Renmark

Changes to our ride plan occurred frequently and unexpectedly due to differing bike ranges and rider needs. This second stop at Renmark addressed impending fatigue and allowed Abe and myself to stay within the rules of the ride due to our different fuel strategies.

We generally rode as a group with riders occasionally falling behind, catching up, taking the lead however we were basically one cluster for the majority of the ride.

Our next scheduled stop was Port Augusta; Freddo indicated just before Port Augusta that he needed fuel and pulled into a service station
, the rest of us arrived nine minutes ahead of schedule at our designated destination being the BP service centre on the opposite side of the road. Freddo didn’t see us parked out the front of the BP and passed by. I sent a message giving our location but he didn’t get it in time and met us at my favourite (not) place, Kimba.

Before I refuelled I walked inside and ordered a burger with the lot with a handful of chips on the side. In our household we don’t add salt to meals however I always add it to my meal whilst riding to assist in replacing it. The process of ordering a meal before refuelling saves a few minutes, I go outside, refuel and tend to tasks requiring attention on the bike. Kiwimartin ordered fish, it didn’t look like fish and he left most of it whilst Abe ordered a burger but couldn’t finish it off. We relaxed in the restaurant for approximately 20 minutes and departed into the setting sun headeding towards Iron Knob. Kimba was in complete darkness as we arrived at the famous landmark to take a few photos.

Kimba, happy little vegemite’s

Freddo was parked a little further up the road at the service station, it closed at 19:00hrs. Wombattle and I arrived there a few years ago just on closing time. All the lights were turned on and the console operators was seen hiding behind the counter so they didn't have to serve us, suppose they wanted to finish on time. Recently a 24hr self-service bowser has been installed and Freddo was topping up his Goldwing. The stretch from Port Augusta to Ceduna is 469 kilometres and the only fuel available is from the automated bowsers at Kimba. I don't particularly trust or like automated after-hour fuel pumps.

This next section of road is a well-known fatigue section. We pulled over about two hours later and stretched our legs with a quick welfare check at a house with a public telephone box out the front. The name escapes me but this is well known to riders. This was a long day and I was mindful of fatigue and continually looked for any sign of it in the riders. I reminded the guys of the signs of fatigue and a few things to be aware off.

We pulled into Ceduna an hour ahead of schedule; the guys did a fantastic job riding the plan.

We pulled over and confirmed our meeting time and headed towards are rest areas.
Freddo and Kiwimartin opted for the luxury of the hotel whilst Abe and I were in training for the second component of the ride and roughing it. We ‘swagged’ it at the Shell service station where I had previously stayed countless times over the years.

Showers and hot meals are available and a selection of suitable sleeping locations available. We had previously arranged to meet at the BP service station at 05:30hrs (est) giving us approximately five hours sleep. I unfastened the swag and it unrolled in one motion as I kicked it open. Abe set up his sleeping bag adjacent to his bike. I purchased a pie, carton of iced coffee followed by a hot shower. I returned to the bikes and Abe was sound asleep on his back next to his bike.

I previously discussed the need to lock the phones restricting them from automatically updating their time, Ceduna is minus 30 minutes when compared to EST. I believe this is a critical component when zone hopping occurs as riders have enough to worry about without calculating differences in times especially when fatigued, this is when errors and self-doubting occurs.

I was feeling pretty good and had consumed eight litres of water during the day and drank three electrolyte replacement drinks. This was probably slightly more than I would have normally drunk on a similar day however my urine was clear indicating my hydration management was effective for the day.

Day 2

Abe and I woke to the chime of my alarm, packed our gear and were off with 15 minutes proceeding to the BP service station for a quick coffee. The coffee was hot, smelt fine however tasted ordinary. One of the guys was already walking around saying he woke to his alarm 30 minutes too early.

The previous day ran as planned, fantastic weather, everything was in sync, I was optimistic that today would continue and we would all have a great day.

Once we all gathered, we headed West right on schedule looking forward to the adventure that lay ahead.

I have travelled this road countless times and always loved looking at the GPS’s directions on this leg, it’ a bit hard to take a wrong turn during the next 1,000 odd kilometres.

The route is complex

It was going to be another warm day, the long flats running parallel to the Southern Ocean attract the warm breeze in the warmer months that can make riding uncomfortable.

Overlooking the cliffs on the Nullarbor (Southern Ocean)

We pass through Penong, the town of windmills; I was surprised by the lack of wildlife as previously I have observed large numbers of wombats just West of Penong. On one trip I counted over a dozen dead wombats within a few kilometres of each other.

The long straight

The run into Nullarbor Roadhouse is uneventful, a couple of the guys stopped for fuel and a few photos, everything was green. It should be noted a tank of fuel from the Roadhouse does not usually give the rider the same range as a ‘usual’ service station tankful. I have been previously caught and tend to by-pass the Nullarbor Roadhouse due to this and irregular operating times preferring to carry additional fuel to refuel at either Ceduna or Border Village.

The countryside changes with every trip and responds quickly to any rainfall. There are so many things to enjoy, if you’re interested in Whale watching, the ‘Head of the Bight’ is the place to get up close to them. It’s a photographer’s paradise, so many areas to take photos, however we are limited to approximately thirty minutes on this trip.

Nullarbor Roadhouse

Boarder Village is our scheduled stop for fuel, a bite to eat, break and a few more photos. We are running well ahead of schedule, it’s important not to squander saved time but utilise it effectively where the time in credit can be utilised most effectively at a later stage.

We head towards the inspection centre and they insisted that our panniers be opened completely, they thoroughly inspected all contents.

I smile as I open my pannier containing my dirty clothes, wow, talk about bringing tears to one’s eyes. We rode around the corner and took another photo of the South/West Australian border sign.

SA/WA border – Kiwimartin continued ahead

We fuelled and had refreshment stops en-route and the following signage on the fridge at Caiguna never fails to amuse me even when the packaging is swollen and out of shape.

Abe needed a quick powernap and settled down in a chair in the shade against a wall. I left a note for him saying we would catch up at the next refuelling point.

Caiguna Roadhouse – nothing like fresh milk

I reminded the guys about hydration, yea mum but it’s easy to overlook this critical component of long distance riding. We continued and noticed how the lushness of the countryside continued. The kilometres kept rolling under our wheels as we stopped at Norseman ahead of schedule for fuel, food and a quick break. This is a long boring haul from Balladonia with very little to look at.

Thank God for cruise control

The heat was catching up with everyone we had a quick kip on the far lounge floor at the servo restaurant. I found it particularly comfortable as I’m not used to sleeping on carpet.

We headed out again about 30 minutes later; from previous crossings I knew we would be hitting the setting sun in a couple of hours. We were getting tired, it has been a long couple of days and the setting sun was in that position that punished everyone. We just had to, ‘suck it up’ or pull over depending on our riding ability. I pushed forward concentrating on the road and vehicles that I was following.

We had previously agreed, if we separated we would regroup at the bottom of Greenmount hill.

Plenty of time to take a photo

We wheeled into Southern Cross for fuel as one of our scheduled stops. I was mucked around with issues with the console operator regarding pump numbers, all was good until one of the guys made a remark that almost set me off. Obviously he was tired however I said what I needed to say and just needed five minutes to regroup. Fatigue and dehydration can make riders less tolerant, something that may be insignificant or normally wouldn’t affect them now becomes an issue. Having been there before I played the issue down and defused the problem. It’s not about being right or wrong; it’s about getting on with business and focusing on the task at hand without being bogged down on a non-issue in the big scheme of things.

Frog appeared from nowhere on his Triumph, equipped with multiple driving lights, FLIR, swag and long range fuel tank just in case he needed to have a quick run across the continent. This guy is a machine, he just turns up anywhere at the most unexpected times. We chatted for a few minutes; he was as fresh as a daisy and led the riders out of Southern Cross towards Scarborough.

We refuelled a few hours down the road as one of the bikes had limited range, It was said we were travelling a little fast until Frog explained the differences in measuring speed.
I utilise an eTrex and GPS with longer rides as a 6kph difference between the bikes speedo and actual GPS speed doesn’t seem much. Multiply that by 18hrs in the saddle and you just gained an addition hour’s sleep. If that's a multi-day ride you can gain several additional hours sleep.

Frog led the way again and headed off; I took the rear and followed through the hills that was in contrast to what we had been travelling through for the last day. It was drizzling and dark and I had the urge to stop for a nature break but knew if I stopped I wouldn’t catch up. I tried a new technique of emptying my bladder, it worked well until I had to negotiate a left hand bend when things went a little wrong.

We approached our rendezvous point and there they were again, Gus, Jeff and Lindsay, these guys are awesome! They are always on time waiting for the ‘Easties’ and chaperoning them through the city to Scarborough Beach. This takes pressure off riders as they are fatigued at this stage and the increased traffic appears daunting in a busy city.

We chat for about five minutes at the rendezvous point and Gus said we’d better head off and led us out towards Scarborough Beach. We were welcomed by well over a dozen riders at the servo. What a turn up!

OzStoc had a conference and pulled themselves away from the pub to greet us, thanks guys, it was appreciated and exhilarating to see so many faces waiting for us, many looked familiar. Receipts obtained, paperwork completed and we had arrived within ten minutes of our estimated arrival time. Now that’s not bad travelling across the country with three riders and arriving within minutes of our plan.

A few stories were shared and several riders had plans that necessitated them continuing without spending too much time chatting. I always find it hard to leave, these guys make an effort so I always want to share the experience with them.

Four happy blokes after an awesome adventure

A great welcoming at Scarborough Beach BP

Abe and I had plans and needed to head off to stay within our schedule. A couple of the guys gave us some directions to miss the wildlife and I left Abe in charge of the pace and route to our next stop. I needed a break from thinking and enjoyed the road as it twisted through the hills on countless curves and undulations. I just following Abe’s tail lights and though this would be a great ride during the day.

Day 3

We arrived at Yanchep National Park at 04:20hrs, found a clear car park and bunked down for the night. We had just over two hours of a planned rest and that was all we needed until our ‘long’ scheduled break later in the day.

The goal of this short leg was to get us out of Perth and well into our next stage where we planned an extended sleep later in the evening. I went into a deep sleep instantly and was plagued by cramping in my legs during the rest. I don’t usually get cramps however sitting in the same position for hours and days on end seems to provoke the issue. In an attempt to overcome this I exercise every thirty minutes ensuring blood doesn’t pool for too long in my legs.

Abe and I groaned as my alarm chimes, I silenced it in one movement. We headed towards Jurien Bay within minutes of waking up as there’s no coffee or croissants here. Jurien Bay gives us an opportunity to refuel and have a bite to eat, short break and continue as the sun is rising. The scenery is spectacular and it appeared unnatural riding adjacent to the Ocean, occasionally sand is blown across the roadway.

Day three on any multi-day ride is always the hardest and often the most challenging. Most riders go through it, if you are aware of it you just work through it ensuring you maintain hydration and eat appropriately knowing that things will improve.

Abe appeared as though he was stunned by a spot light. He had that typical dazed fatigued what am I doing here look, we would work through it. I’m sure if I suggested anything to Abe he would have agreed, I've been there myself.

We pulled into Carnarvon almost two hours ahead of schedule after a text book run. The weather is perfect, not too hot and we are now in the ‘zone’. We stop for fuel, watering and a feed. My jacket zipper derailed, I swore quietly to myself and though I must have done something to it earlier and I was annoyed with myself. I don’t remember forcing it or having any issues with it. Abe said, ‘that’s OK, mines fine’. I could have kicked his arse but violence doesn’t really solve anything I thought to myself. I pulled out my Leatherman and gently manipulated the zipper. I didn’t want to rush it and it came good, I was relieved as the nearest bike shop having jackets would be Katherine some thousands of kilometres away.

We had another drink as the temperature was hovering around the 37 degree centigrade mark, Abe’s dash reflected 41 degrees.

ABE kept saying it was hot, I just thought he was whinging

Abe took the lead, I took a few photos and followed a few minutes behind, about fifty kilometres out of Carnarvon the low pressure warning flashes and 220KPA appears on the dash indicating rear tyre pressure problems. I pulled to the edge of the road, drag the bike on its centre stand and activated my SPOT indicating that I was stationary and OK. I have previously been chastised for not utilising the SPOT indicating my status due to lack of movement of the tracker.

The dash indicated 37 degrees, two trucks passed as I sat down and worked my around the tyre attempting to locate the culprit. I couldn’t find a darn thing, I was thinking this could turn nasty if I can’t find it. The tyre was coated in dust and dirt where I had pulled off the tarmac. I inflated the tyre to 350KPA and rode on the bitumen to clean any dust/dirt from it facilitating the ability to locate the culprit. I pulled over and tried again. Couldn’t see a thing, the tyre pressure reduced to under 220KPA and nothing obvious was seen. I reinflated the tyre and could hear the air gushing out, by the time I removed the compressor line tube and rotated the tyre it had stopped leaking again. I slowly worked around the tyre putting water on anything that I suspected might be the hole, hang on, it looked like a bit of bone as I probed it with the Leatherman. Bingo, there’s the culprit, tiny bubbles were surfacing from a slight indent in the rear tyre that’s been ridden for only 6,500 kilometres.

There’s the culprit

Sticky friggin stuff

Roadside workshop

I attempted to ring Abe letting him know what happened however my call goes straight to message bank, I leave a brief message. I plug the hole, inflate the tyre and I’m off again hoping the plug is secured. This puncture repair will chew into my rest time however we do have some time in reserve.

Roadworks again, we have passed possibly a dozen different sections so far.

South view

North view with no improvement in sight

The road surface is hard compressed dirt occasionally changing to moist and greasy sections once the water truck dumps water reducing the dust. Sections of the road contained deep cut-outs and corrugations but I pushed on mindful of my OA. When I got to what appeared the end of the road work I was wrong, I continued for another 40 kilometres until a sign said something like, ‘use caution 80 kilometres of roadwork’.
I attempted to take a photo of the sign as I couldn’t believe it, I rattled past but was too slow getting the camera ready and wasn’t going to stop. I was thinking to myself and couldn’t believe that’s 130 kilometres of dirt with the occasionally short section of bitumen to tease me. The speed limit scrolled between 40, 60 and 80kph dependant on the road condition.

I caught up to several trucks, and I mean trucks. These monsters have four trailers and are over 60 metres long.

And more roadworks

These trucks are almost impossible to pass when they are back-to-back unless you have almost half a kilometre of clear roadway to use. Finally, clear road and things are looking up.

I arrive Nanutarra Roadhouse at 21:05hrs tired and dump 27.2 litres of fuel into the tanks. I go inside and buy an egg and lettuce sandwich, iced coffee, a couple of Gatorade’s and that’s $80.12 thank you very much. Not for a single second do I begrudge paying for the convenience of services in these grossly isolated areas. The console operator gave me directions how to get to the bungalow.

As I wheel around the corner, Abe is frantically indicating to me to slow down, I thought to myself there’s no one here, no dust and then I hit the sand. The GTR’s front tyre is inflated to 42PSI (280kpa) and has no tolerance to loose surfaces as I struggled to keep Wicked Kate upright.

Abe had arrived about 30 minutes earlier, had a shower did his washing and it was hanging over the outside tables, chairs and bike, it looked like a Chinese laundry. Abe had booked us into a bungalow with two single beds, the air conditioner worked a treat and that’s all that mattered with this heat and humidity. He said there’s a restaurant and if I wanted to go out for dinner.

Looking back I think he was pulling my chain but at the time I though great, had a quick shower, washed my clothes and said, ‘OK, let’s go’. You got to be kidding he said, I need some sleep and he put himself to bed. I don’t know, these young blokes have no stamina. I was disappointed as I would travel across Australia for a decent feed and anyone who knows me would attest to. I settled for a crappy egg and lettuce Sanger and Iced Coffee that I purchased earlier.

60 metres of beast

I Face-timed Jo, we spoke for about half an hour, technology is amazing as I showed her the sunset and the surrounding landscape whilst she sat in the comfort of our home close to 4,000 kilometres away as the crow flies. Abe has a Telstra phone but has no service, how does that work?

I sit outside sipping water and savouring the moment for what seems ages. I have completed several challenging rides in extreme conditions having concerns that I may be pushing Abe just too hard. I know what to expect, the pain, the fatigue. I’m very mindful of Abe’s fatigue, he never complains and we have not had a stern word to each other, mind you its only three days so far.

We are both aware of the plan as we have been discussing components of the ride for over six weeks but things are so different when the plan is executed. I go inside, hit the sack and am sound asleep almost immediately.

I woke up a few times during the night with crippling cramps. I’d jump out of bed and stretch the muscles in my legs, the cramps would spread to other muscles and it seemed that I was going around in circles trying to clear them. I was mindful that Abe was asleep and tried not to make a sound even though the pain was crippling.

Day 4

The alarm went off, almost immediately I silenced it. We had a great nights rest and were refreshed after a seven hour break from riding, actual sleep time was close to six hours. It didn’t take long to pack our bikes, the sky was clear and we were lucky with the weather to date. We headed off cautiously on the sandy surface and continued on our path northward for another days ride, living the life!

As we headed out in the darkness mining settlements were evident at numerous locations a few kilometres off the highway, they were easy to locate as the area was illuminated by countless flood lights, they initially looked like cities is the distance.

One of many mining settlements

One of numerous Road Condition Signs

This is a huge country we live in, no passports or visas are needed as we travel sometimes thousands of kilometres in the same state.

Many overseas visitors and locals don’t appreciate the vastness of our country. Our next fuel stop is 584 kilometres away. We need to be self-sufficient and carry ample spares including fuel and water as often minimal traffic travel these remote roads. It’s difficult to comprehend it may be hours before another vehicle is passed.

Abe was now in the ‘groove’, making great progress and really enjoying himself. It was a pleasure riding with him, we rode well as a team. He’s had some experience in long distance touring and this trip pushed him well into the next level and he embraced the challenge.

As we approach Karratha we took the left hand turn and proceed following the GPS until we enter the township a few kilometres away from the highway. No fuel was available where the GPS had indicated. We re-grouped, had a quick chat as there was absolutely no need to get fuel here. The only logical reason for entering Karratha was during initial planning this was an initial refuelling point. ABE follows his GPS however it was taking us in completely the wrong direction, as was mine. We just followed the road back to the highway and continued.

The ride now became automated, it was relaxing and I hadn’t listened to any music or radio stations to date preferring to just enjoy the scenery and enjoy the experience. We refuelled at South Headland and this was an easy stop. Abe seemed a little confused, he had it in his mind that we needed to go to the township of Hedland, not South Hedland as was our designated stop. Sometimes our minds just get a fixation and it’s challenging to change the initial idea. We continued on and traffic was light.

Sometime later whilst my mind was relaxing and somewhere else the rear tyre low pressure warning appeared pulling me back to reality. I found a clear location and pulled Wicked Kate over and did a quick check searching for the leak. The plug that I inserted many hundreds of kilometres earlier had started to leak. I inflated the tyre to around 320KPA and continued the ride. It appeared I could ride for a couple of hours before significate air leaked necessitating me to pull over re-inflating the tyre. It takes about five minutes for the compressor to re-inflate the tyre to 320KPA. I considered re-plugging the hole however was concerned that I may make things worse if I tamper with it. I’d wait and see as it was over 2,000 kilometres to the closest motorcycle shop.

The road was literally covered with Cane Toads and I got a kick out of running over them. Even at 110kph I could hear the ‘Popping’ sound they made when the wheel crushed them at cruising speed.

Cane toads were introduced to Far North Queensland in 1935 to eradicate pest beetles on sugar cane and have no known predators; they have spread from Queensland to Northern Territory, Northern NSW and just into Western Australia.

The weather is closing in; clouds have filled the sky with rain imminent. I’m optimistic that it won’t be heavy

Things were looking a bit bleak ahead

As we enter Sandfire I continue riding along the highway enjoying the ride, I miss the turn to the fuel station and am happy to continue as I thought it was adjacent to the highway. Abe pulls alongside and gestures that I missed the servo, we turn and I wasted a few minutes by riding past the turnoff. We refuel and I wheel the bike to the air compressor to re-inflate the tyre. The long brass fitting does not fit the rear valve so I install my compressor and re-inflate the tyre yet again whilst I look at dead Cane Toads splattered on the driveway.

Cane Toads were everywhere

The weather has become overcast, I can usually pick it if I should gear up but I opt to stay as I am and head off whilst Abe is chatting on the phone. Approximately two kilometres later the rain came with a vengeance, I was absolutely wrong and should have kitted up. I pull under a tree and quickly put on a one piece suit as Abe approached. He also dressed appropriately and off we headed again.

We pull into Halls Creek at 23:30hrs for fuel, we are feeling a little second-hand but still running ahead of schedule. Our plan is to try and achieve getting to Kununurra Roadhouse for a four and a half hour rest. Abe departs a minute or so before I was about to depart when three young boys turn up on their bikes and asked a few questions. I ended up removing my helmet and chatted to them for about ten minutes. It was refreshing chatting to these young guys, they hadn’t ever been outside the area, and I kitted up and left continuing into the darkness.

We decide to call it a day just north of Dunham River at a rest area. I would classify this spot as three star accommodations as we had separate picnic tables that were covered, amenities and water.

The pump got a real workout

Re-established links
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Premier Member
My dinner has gone cold reading this far, like a good novel I cannot get my eyes off the page. A great yarn mate ........ excellent detail and I love the insights you are sharing about the "psychology" of the ride. Awesome in the extreme. :)


Premier Member
Great write up Karl!

I'm so excited reading thinking its time to go again!
If you do ever decide to go again, you might consider giving me a call ....... I guess a bloke has to do a 50CC one time in his life. (I had myself convinced I would not bother with the effort, but ...........). My son lives in Perth, so I won't plan on riding straight back like some of the lads did last time :D


Premier Member
If you do ever decide to go again, you might consider giving me a call ....... I guess a bloke has to do a 50CC one time in his life. (I had myself convinced I would not bother with the effort, but ...........). My son lives in Perth, so I won't plan on riding straight back like some of the lads did last time :D
It's already in the planning and your on the list :D About riding straight back, can I convince you to come along for a little ride down the road :p