Dusty butt impressions Rusjel


Premier Member
I’ve taken a while to put pen to paper on this one, taking time to absorb it I guess and wanting Ed and Thommo to tell their stories first for a change!

I wanted to do the first Dustybutt in Oz. In 2010. That was the focus back then, until Thomo and I got our leave mixed up in 2012 and the ride turned into a reconnaissance mission.

I rode parts of the Oodnadatta, Birdsville and Borefield track on the Tiger and while convinced the ride could be done, I knew it couldn’t be done by me at that time on that bike.

There was also a realisation that this is a pretty huge undertaking, so while being first would be amazing, getting the job done and done right was now my priority.

There’s a Dusty Butt finisher from Seth Efrica riding my model Tiger and all I can say is, kudos. There will be folk out there with the skill to ride a top heavy 19” front wheel FAAB in that kind of terrain, but not me. I felt my averages were too slow and it was taking too much out of me. Maybe someone on a Super Tenere or GS 1200 would find the going easier.

So I needed something that I would be confident tackling the ride on. That meant buying a one lunger for the trip or as has turned out, waiting for KTM to make my Adventure bike.

Of course, going Orange means other er, complications. In my case it meant running around on the Thursday finding replacement fork seals and then finding a way to fit them in Maree. Never travel in the bush without a Thommo folks.

Then there was the ride down the old Renmark Rd on the way to Maree. Bikes sliding around all over the place and Ed and I seriously detuned, even after we dropped tire pressures.

Am I right for this ride? Will the bike even make the starting line? Not the demons you want gibbering in your head before the start of a ride like this.

Ed and I set about reloading the bikes sharing our tools, spares and hucking anything we didn’t think we’d need for the run.

Then just as Ed and I were feeling a bit better about our state of prep, Thomo found he wasn’t making friends with his new tires on the reccy run out to Lake Eyre and the Borefield Rd. More doubt creeping in although he had found a rhythm he was happy with by the time we got back to Maree.

Lake Eyre South

Random art, Oodnadatta Track

Then my head got a much needed boost and reminder at our 15 buck dinner and a show. About ten of us locked into a small courtyard trying not to make eye contact with each other and thus lose it, our singer was a nice lady after all. A lady sitting diagonally across from me was making faces at me, trying to get me to break. ‘Eyes on the prize Russell, let her do her own dirty work’. In the midst of the performance I caught Thommo’s eye. He signalled ‘maintain focus’ which got me through the next 20 minutes. Walking back to the Hotel we reflected on the discipline required to eat that meal and compared it with that which we were about to undertake. I also reflected that she was a pretty self aware person and probably does know what she sounds like, just out here in the bush in her middle years and she’s always wanted to sing! No way of knowing for sure, but the point was, maintain your discipline and kindness if you’re faced with such a performance and if you are the performer sing for yourself first, you are the one who has to look in the mirror and like what you see.

After the traditional lying in bed not getting much rest we found ourselves at the start of the Birdsville track at 0300. Not sure about the bike, not sure about my ability or indeed the others to do this ride, or with the rest we had, then the lesson of Glen’s flooded out 50cc came to me: “just don’t give up”. I think another key here was, not denying the doubts, but acknowledging them and still saying to yourself “I’m going to have a go”. Thommo and I had a conversation like that out the front of the pub and all three of us had said something to that effect earlier.
Within the first hour on the track we were blessed with two unexpected pieces of serendipity. Firstly, maintaining your focus on that 30cm wheel track means there’s no time for the nods. Secondly, our 15 km system of leapfrogging each other was paying big dividends. Lead for 15km, then stop and let the other two through. 2 precious minutes of not focusing on the road, getting a bite to eat or a drink played a big role in keeping us as mentally fresh as possible.
By dawn the Moving and overall average were looking a lot better than expected. Rolling through Mundgerannie was a big psychological boost for me as was striking the first real sections of gibber plains at first light and raising our cruising speed.

The other thing we were all noticing and I think Wom alluded to it as well in his report, was that sitting on a bike in those conditions for that period of time, is a noticeable improvement in your skills and confidence. Suddenly crossing the gravel median strip to the next wheeltrack was simply, stand up and weight back, power on. Barely a wobble in an activity that had caused pause just a day ago. Even with all my off road experience, it took 4 hours on the track for standing up in tricky conditions to become the default rather than the last resort. Also, we were adjusting to more finely moving our body weight around, making the bike’s job easier and making good progress less fatiguing. By the time we hit the dune country 100km south of Birdsville the sand had ceased being an obstacle and became one of the joys of the ride. At one point I had to tell myself to settle it down, lest I become one with the scenery. It’s not about feet up slides, it’s about 1600ks dumbarse. Focus!

At the same time, while the terrain was presenting the main challenge it was allowing a measure of enjoyment as we adjusted to conditions and made progress. The conditions are taking enough energy out of us as it was, but if you welcome the challenge you get a bit back as well.

By the time we hit Birdsville we were well in front of target times, relieved smiles all round for a moment, then refocus, respect the ride. That’s just leg one.

Coming back down the track it was getting progressively hotter and as the speeds and confidence rose, a new challenge. Particularly in the gibber plains we were hitting some pretty big bundies at speed, Ed’s front rim copped a big ding. So discipline extended to, focus on the wheel track, rest your eyes and your head when you come off the lead, stay in the now, don’t over ride just because you can. Thommo’s ‘just sitting on 105’ was starting to seriously nudge credibility and cartwheeling down the road through lack of self control would have just been dumb.

The cool thing was, none of this was openly discussed, we just settled into a sensible rhythm all of us could live with, which meant we were back in Maree with a minimum of risk and well inside 12 hours.

Ed has said that the William Creek section was tough and it was, the ruts were deeper and the setting sun was pretty brutal. For some reason the mighty DR was feeling it more than the Katos, but the nature of this ride was keeping an eye on each other, adjust as necessary, maintain focus.

As we had found so often on this run, as Thommo turned for the return leg things became easier. Riding into the golden light of the late afternoon is my favourite time of day, the long shadows and the soil becoming redder as the day finally cooled off. For some reason being well on the way to the Borefield Rd turn off before dark gave me a big mental boost.

Ed has described the Borefield Rd well. I’ll just add a couple of thoughts.
The first was when Peter Rabbit made the mistake of throwing himself under Thommo’s wheels halfway along. He went under the front, got flicked into the back and into the sprocket, which sprayed bits of bunny down the road. It’s not funny, it’s not funny, it’s not funny, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Oh dear, I’m a bastard.

Ed had described ‘the frog in the kettle’ effect well as we stuck to three abreast as the gravel got deeper and the road narrower and windier.

About 10ks out of Olympic Dam we are into a tightish deep sandy right hander. I’ve got my front wheel rolling on the crown of the track, back wheel slightly offline and spinning, all good. I sneak a glance at Ed and Thommo and they’re in similar attitude, synchronised drifting, at speed, in the middle of nowhere, an image that will stay with me forever. Just as well the lights of Olympic dam hove into view and helped us dial it all down.

No power at Olympic Dam, onto Roxby, ice coffee, pies and social media. Really? Let’s just get this thing done.

Rolling abreast on the much wider Oodnadatta track into Maree I was pumped and relieved. What a day! Our hosts still had the bar open and there were a few locals there to have a laugh and a beer with, or maybe throw in an incredulous shake of the head.

The Maree folk didn’t understand why we would want to do such a thing, but if we wanted to do it, cool. The young pilot getting his hours up in the hope of a Qantas job, the serenading roadhouse lady or the couple who had come all the way from Burra near the ACT to run the pub. Meet each other as you find them, good luck doing whatever it is you want to do.

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and now it’s done, in the company of men I call friends who share some of my particular insanity. Cheers.


Premier Member
What a great read Rusjel, what an epic adventure! All the planning payed off and successfully completing it with a couple of mates, well done.
Loved the story and those photoes, wow! Really makes you want to go out and give it a bash.
Poor rabbit lol.
Congratulations to you all :)


Premier Member
To clarify my comments, I couldn't have done the ride on the Tiger, in 2012, post cancer treatment. My moving average was struggling to hit 93km/h during the day time on the Birdsville track. This was a combination of a bike that was a little ackward off-road and my own physical condition.

The top heavy nature of the 955 made it want to push the front constantly in gravel, fine for a casual ride, but draining if you want to keep it up for 21-22 hours.

Having ridden a 1200GSA recently, I think it would cope fine, as would a Super Ten. The big factor is the rider. If the rider is experienced enough and competent enough to do what must be done when things get squirrelly then a ride of this nature shouldn't be a problem.

But if the rider hesitates or loses focus at the wrong time, earth sky earth sky earth sky wokka wokka.


Well-Known Member
I'm with Crappy, in the crowd applauding. Another insight into an extremely difficult ride. You three, along with Wombattle, have got many a long distance rider at the planning table. Congratulations.


Well-Known Member
Along with Crappy, Hackle, and the throng of IBA Oz riders, applauding a difficult ride, in the planning, preparation and the eventual execution by three committed mates.
I dips me lid!


IBA Member
Wombattle, surprisingly, this is the first time the 3 of us have ridden any kind of distance together. I've ridden short days ( less than 500) with Russ a few times and Ed probably even less. Those two Austrian Hinckely brothers ride everywhere together..

I think the key thing here is we're all on a very similar wavelength and with quite a broad and varied riding background experience we could quickly and easily pick up what each other was thinking and make adjustments accordingly.


Premier Member
IBA Member
Thoroughly enjoyed your RR Russell. As have I the others reports of this splendid adventure.
Congratulations. cant wait to see the certificates. Special.


Well-known Member. Moderator
Thanks Russell - again, congratulations on a very challenging ride.
Great report too... enjoyed the read.
Having done quite a bit of dirt on the Super Ten, including the Borefield Rd, Oodnadatta Track and continue to do so locally, there is no way I could maintain the averages needed to complete that ride. Well done indeed!


Premier Member
Bowing and clapping all the way to the shower Rus ;: full marks to the 3 of you for an epic challenge, well met, well ridden; done and dusted one might say :D


Well-Known Member
Great ride and report Rus - I enjoyed it quite a lot. After including a very short run on the dirt on the Cobb Highway for the Renmark Muster, I have a whole lot of respect for anyone who can knock off a dusty butt - well planned and executed.

I am planning to take my GSA up the Birdsville Track later in the year (not an IBA ride) so I will let you know how it goes.

Finally, "earth sky earth sky earth sky wokka wokka" - hahahahaha


I put this aside for a day where I could appreciate reading all the reports from you guys, well it was worth it what a great read and also confirms that I am no way going to attempt a ride like this....it is a whole different level, especially completing an IBA ride. For all the dirt riders, you three, Skidoo, Wombattle and the myriad of others spattered across the IBA and other riding organisations...my hat is off to you all.
well done Rus, Thomo and Ed on this Dusty Butt ride


Premier Member
A Thommo in the hand is worth two in the bush. ;) You know, that's the thing with living in the bush, one learns real quick how to become a bush mechanic and a whole lot more besides.
Thanks for the RR Russ. Proud as punch for you 3 Faffers on nailing a ride that was a long time coming.
I've read Thommo's, now yours, off to read Ed's