I feel I have prepared myself and the bike well in the lead up to Saturday: the bike is serviced, new tyres fitted, additional fuel, water and food was sorted and packed in the correct places on the bike. I am well rested during the week and I even leave work early on Friday to ensure I got some sleep ahead of the start time of 3:30am. I am up at 2:00am dressed and ready to go by 2:30am and motor out of Crows Nest and across to Coogee. At this time of the morning it takes barely 20 minutes and I arrive at Coogee Beach to find the rest of the ride group already there quietly chatting away while the rest of the Coogee nightlife carries on its business.
Group photos are taken at the beach, I collect my east coast sand and then we head up to the service station to obtain receipts ready to ride west. We fill the parking spaces at the service station while receipts are obtained, witness forms signed and final handshakes exchanged. Then we’re off, winding our way through the eastern suburbs of Sydney to the Eastern Distributor then onto the M5 heading southwest. The M5 tunnel at this time of the night is free of the usual choking pollution and before we know we’re out of Sydney and heading towards Goulburn. The temperature and humidity to date has been very warm for this time of the morning and it’s a relief to enter the Southern Highlands and feel it get cooler.
For this part of the journey we have Knave, Rob Macpherson, Frans and others (apologies for being forgetful of the names!) for company and Rob and I (inspired by Fatman and LTP) have our “light off” as we motor down the road in the dark. Our Clearwater Lights are impressive as a combined set, although I have to say I think Frans’ setup on his Goldwing is pretty good also. At Sutton Forest some of our support group peel off for an early breakfast while the rest of us continue heading west, settling into an easy riding rhythm and sharing the lead bike role. At Goulburn I wave the others on as I stopped to put warmer gloves on and take a quick pee. (When you gotta go, you gotta go!) I re-join the group as we ride past Yass in the dawn and am pleasantly surprised to see Simon from Canberra who has ridden out to join us for a while.
We roll into Gundagai, our first scheduled fuel stop, slightly ahead of schedule and refuel quickly, carry out a quick review of how we’re going and get back on the Hume as we head to the Wagga turn off. The weather is good, lots of sunshine and it feels good to be out on the bike heading west. I’m pleased and surprised to be making good progress through Wagga at this time on a Saturday morning; I had been expecting the worst. Once free of Wagga it is down to Narrandera where we turn left for Hay and settle into the long stretch across the Hay Plain. With the sun out the temperatures are getting hot and I open all the vents on the Aerostich.
Approaching Darlington Point I recognise the RT1200 of Fatman and LTP waiting patiently for us on the side of the road. Champions for riding up from Melbourne to see us, they ride with us to Hay, taking pictures of the group along the way. At one point I have to wave them on as I felt no need for photos of my comfort stop. We also have an unscheduled stop for cattle grazing on the long paddock. It was only cattle and there were no sheep to be seen or so a certain pillion reports. Not that I was looking or anything like that. Hay is fuel stop # 2 and we regather there along with Fatman and Lynne. It’s hot and as well as refuelling the bikes we replenish the camelbaks. Karl and Abe join us several minutes later having taken slightly longer checking out a bypass through Wagga.
Time to depart Hay and Lynne is making suggestions that she might like to occupy one of the spare pillion seats so Fred and I seize the moment and get going while the others are occupied fitting new batteries to Skidoo’s Spot. Our escorts: Simon, Frans and the intrepid couple from Melbourne (Fatman and LTP) bid us farewell here and we are down to 4 riders as we continue our way across NSW heading towards our next fuel stop at Renmark. Fred isn’t quite able to match my range of 400kms so a stop before Renmark is on the cards. Just before Euston I notice a Triumph rider on the side of the road taking photos of us as we pass; it’s Ron who has been waiting patiently for us in the heat. He leads us through a bypass of Euston and onto Buronga (Mildura) where we refuel and cool off in the shade of the servo. It’s now seriously hot with humidity to match. Ron’s wife also riding her bike joins us too.
Getting going again we wind our way through Mildura, with Ron again showing us a neat little diversion that shaves a few minutes off this part of the journey. Once clear of Mildura it is onto Yamba and then into Renmark where it is time to refuel and refresh our water supplies.
We bid Ron and his wife farewell here and continue our way westwards towards Port Augusta via the Morgan/Burra road. Great to have some corners again at last after the plains of NSW and we make the most of this while we can. Popping back out onto Highway One after Crystal we motor up to Port Augusta for our scheduled dinner break. The sun is starting to set, still very hot but a real sense of achievement so far and I am really looking forward to the cooler temps in the evening. About 50km south of PA, Fred peels off to refuel his Wing while the rest of us continue on. Port Augusta is dinner time (for us and the bikes) and it is a good opportunity to stop, rest and do a stocktake on how we’re going and tweak the strategy for the next stage to Ceduna which will be ridden in the dark.
The stage from Port Augusta to Ceduna is beyond my tank range and I plan to top up the tank in Kimba using a 5 litre container I am carrying in the tail bag. Riding out of Port Augusta the sun has set and the stars are out in all their glory, magnificent! I am happy to ride at a slightly slower pace for this part of the night ride and ride along on my own, enjoying the cool night air while overtaking the odd road train. My Clearwater lights are causing an issue for the truckies and I have to turn them off every time I come up behind a truck. I manage to maintain a reasonable pace and roll into Kimba right behind Skidoo and Abe in time for the night photo of the bikes in front of the Kimba “half way across Australia” sign. Not so sure the photos turned out any good but it was good practice nonetheless for ButtLite. Once complete we motor around to the servo where Fred is refuelling and I top my tank up using my on-board supply.
Kimba to Ceduna is a slog in the late evening and about an hour out of Ceduna as I am leading the group I pull up for “walk around” the bike to rest and just take a moment. Pitch black apart from the nearby light of a telephone box we take 10 minutes to rest and reset ourselves. I feel refreshed and ready to go again. Not too much later we roll into Ceduna: Skidoo and Abe heading off to their IBA Motel while Fred and I adjourn to the relative luxury of the Highway One BP Motel. Feeling very satisfied with our efforts for today, a 2,000km ride in the bag, I waste no time in hitting the pillow.
Strangely the alarm goes off what seems like only 5 minutes later, but in reality was 4 hours. I have slept like a log! Jump out of bed, dress and ride the bike round to the front of the Truck stop where Skidoo and Abe are having an early brekkie having just arrived also. Fred joins us a few minutes later and we finish our breakfast. Surprisingly the coffee doesn’t taste too
[URL=http://s87.photobucket.com/user/martin_little1/media/Ironbutt%20Rides/F685B3A9-3AAC-420C-8480-B59C35654053_zpsnscyekxl.jpg.html][IMG]http://i87.photobucket.com/albums/k148/martin_little1/Ironbutt%20Rides/F685B3A9-3AAC-420C-8480-B59C35654053_zpsnscyekxl.jpg[/IMG][/URL]bad but I put this down to fatigue as opposed to the quality of the coffee.
We set off on schedule at 6:00am pre-dawn and pitch dark. Not much traffic around at this time of the morning and we settle into our ride routine as a group. About 30 minutes out of Ceduna I dodge a grazing sheep on the edge of the road and decide to wind the pace back, falling back behind the group as they continue on. Later at the Nullarbor Roadhouse when I’m explaining to Skidoo that my drop in pace was due to a sheep on the side of the road he gives me a sideways look: ‘sure mate’! After the Road House Skidoo, Abe and I stop at the cliff lookout for photos in the early dawn. It’s cloudy but the scenery is till spectacular and the diversion is well worth it. Fred decides not to ride his Goldwing out with us on the gravel and continues on.
The morning is pleasantly cool and it stays that way right through to Border Village, our next fuel stop. As we are slightly ahead of schedule we shout ourselves bacon and egg rolls. They are dericious! Leaving Border Village the road descends down the escarpment almost to sea level as we continue our way to our next stop at Caiguna. The sun comes out and the temperature and humidity skyrocket upwards. By the time we pull into Caiguna it is very uncomfortable and in the heat hardly anyone at the Roadhouse is moving quickly. There is a fair contingent of other bikes on the road including a sprinkling of ST1300s heading west for the OZstoc meeting in Perth.
Next stop is Norseman and this section of the ride is a real slog in the hot afternoon sun on a road that seems to go forever. It’s a relief to pull into Norseman BP, top up the tanks and then sit in the air-conditioned servo having a sandwich. Opening my sandwich I nick my finger on the hard plastic drawing a little blood. Not thinking much of it at the time, this would come to irate me immensely over the next 3 days. I felt like a catnap so grab 15 minutes snooze on the floor which is absolute luxury before we get going again heading for Southern Cross.
The ride northwards to Coolgardie is relatively easy despite the heat, however when we turn westwards for the run into the Southern Cross, the road runs due west and the sunstrike is terrible. Combined with the heavy late-Sunday-afternoon traffic, progress is slow while the sun disappears below the horizon. As the sun finally drops I stop to change my visor over from the tinted one to a clear one for the night’s ride. Not too much later I pull into Southern Cross where the others are fuelling up and Dave on his Rocket 3 is waiting to lead us onwards to Perth. Good on ya Dave for coming out to lead us! This is a real boost and much appreciated!
From here it is another 4 hours on into Perth in the dark. Not too much traffic, the stars are out and we have a relatively good run right into the suburbs of Perth where Gus and a few others (apologies for not remembering names) join us to lead us the final few km’s into Scarborough. It feels great to pull into the BP on Scarborough Beach Road right on 11:40pm (WST) where another welcoming group awaits us. Very humbling! Thanks again to all who came out to welcome the strangers from the east, it was really appreciated. Witness forms are signed, receipts obtained, photos taken and lots of backslapping and congratulations all round. We have just ridden a 50CC in 47 hrs, to say I am thrilled at this achievement is an understatement!
From here I plan to attempt a 100CCC so I don’t linger too long but head off to the hotel to get some much needed sleep, with the aim of being back on the road by 3:30am (WST) at the latest.
I will write a separate report for the return trip. Suffice to say fatigue got the better of me on the return crossing and I opted for sleep at Madura Pass on the Nullarbor. The 100CCC will have to wait for another time….unfinished business as they say.
And for those interested in the bike here are the details;
- · Auxiliary lights: Clearwater Sevinas integrated into the Canbus system
- · Beadrider fitted for extra comfort
- · ZTech Touring Screen fitted
- · Extra fuel (5 litres) carried in the tail bag