Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 7

Heavitree sunrise

We pottered around in the morning and ran some errands (purchasing a throttle lock for James and an audio adapter for me to be able to listen to music through the headset on my helmet). We wandered towards Lasseters Hotel and Casino to catch up with the others who had amassed at the Heavitree Gap Resort. As we approached the roundabout, the riders had just begun streaming around, so we waited, and saw almost every bike on the Black Dog Ride to make their way through.

BD Riders

It was another fabulous day weather-wise in Alice Springs, with many bikes on display out the front of Lasseters, in readiness for a lunch (more sausages!) put on by the Lions Club. Steve Andrews, Michael Sluis and Damien Ryan (the Mayor of Alice Springs) gave a short talk before the ride out to Glen Helen. A couple of the statistics:

  • 1 in 5 people will suffer from depression in their lifetime
  • More people commit suicide each year than die on the roads
  • Personal conversations with people you know and people you meet are more powerful in understanding and destigmatising depression than large billboard advertisements.
Sunset shadows

We stuck around at Lasseters having a great chat about various topics, and before too long it was 3:30pm (if you’re ever wondering what to eat, the calamari is absolutely fabulous). We got going somewhere after 4pm, again knowing that we’d be riding into the sunset. We stopped by the side of the road for a few pictures in the afternoon light. One of those pictures will become my new Profile picture (James took the picture with his sisters’ SLR camera). I shot some on-the-bike video of the sunset just to show the beautiful colours in the sunset sky, as well as document yet another stunning late afternoon ride into the sun.

Guess where?

We were the last to arrive at Glen Helen Resort. The place was already buzzing! We’re staying in a permanent tent with a real bed for the night, rather than having to grapple with our own tents in the dark. Many stories were shared amongst the riders, before, during and after the official festivities. The down-side of arriving so late was that we did not get to experience the waterhole, nor go for a walk up to the gorge. We’ll have to do that tomorrow instead!

Steve

It was a short day riding-wise, but it was filled with discussions, great people, great stories and tales of woe from the ride. A number of riders from the East coast seem to be heading home the same way as we’d planned, so our little group may expand to over 10 for the return journey – we’ll see who’s left in the morning to know what the next part of the adventure looks like!

 

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 6

Radeka Sunrise

We had an early (7:30am) start from Coober Pedy as we had a long day ahead of us – it wasn’t a tough day as there were plenty of well-timed/spaced rest stops along the way, just long. I set out with Kim (in the support vehicle) leaving James/Sharon to play catch-up. James says we had an approx. 30 second head-start on them, but it still took them 140km before they caught us!

Stealth Fighter

A quick stop at the Cadney Roadhouse to fill up (not for me, my bike’s range is pretty fabulous compared to some others) before setting off for Marla Roadhouse, where almost everyone fills up. Whilst relaxing amongst the bikes, Daryl asked how my Airhawk was going (it’s designed to prevent soreness, pressure pain or numb-bum on long motorcycle trips). I admitted that my testicles were not used to it, and he informed me that it was because my Airhawk had too much air, and rather than being conforming to my butt, I was practically sitting on a cushion of air – this isn’t what it’s for.

Marryat

I’ve done some bone-headed things on the road in the distant past, but did not appreciate almost being taken out by one of my ‘fellow’ riders. I had indicated to turn right into a rest area about 60km out of Marla. I’d tapped the brakes twice (to indicate to James and ‘Mum’ that I was slowing down), and waved them through on my left (to say ‘go on ahead, I’ll catch up – we’ve become a good little group, keeping together and sticking to a great system that ensures no-one gets left behind). I started to tip in (to turn the bike) when I noticed something in my right-hand mirror – another bike! It seems another rider was overtaking everyone at the same time – over double lines and almost cleaned me up trying to turn right!

I continued slowing the bike, missing the entrance to the rest area and wound up slowing in the gravel. Once I’d come to a top did I realise how lucky I was and the seriousness of what just happened. I toddled into the rest stop for a breather! My buddy David Lee was in the rest stop and asked ‘what happened’ when he saw me in the gravel. He (and I) were astounded that anyone would be stupid enough to overtake anyone close to the entrance of a rest stop (or any other road/driveway for that matter!).

Erldunda

I caught up with James/Sharon and Kim at the NT border and we posed for the obligatory pictures with the ‘Welcome to the Northern Territory’ sign (see slideshow, below). This time last year, a whole bunch of us from Sydney had posed for a picture with our bikes, however the riders were quite spread out over vast distances. So I took a pic of James and his mum, Kim.

A quick blast up to Kulgera (rest/drink) and Erldunda for fuel & food, before departing for a great run to Stuarts Well, another rest stop and ice-cream. Earlier in the day, Ric Raftis had a visit from Dick Smith! No such luck for us. On the way into Alice, the sides of the roads were burned, with a lot of controlled burning in recent days. Some of the trees were still smouldering, and there was the smell of bushfire in the air. It made breathing a little difficult.

Heavitree sunset

Once at Heavitree Gap Lodge, there was the usual kerfuffle as many bikers were trying to check-in at the same time. The staff didn’t seem to be too interested in customer ‘service’, as they were quite inflexible with room bookings, and many people did not get the rooms they’d specifically requested! We were given a single room with 1 bed for 3 people, where one of the other riders (who’ll be undergoing a knee operation soon) was given a room with 6 bunks on the second floor! We eventually traded our rooms so he got the ground floor unit. There were other stories like this so it’s hoped that the situation improves next year.

One thing I am disappointed about? I missed seeing the ‘Rhino on a stick’ that I saw last year!

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 5

Pimba

We’d all agreed to meet at 7am for an 8am departure, and had decided to ride with Daryl & Dave for the day. Considering our tardy start to the previous day, we were all packed and ready to go by 7:30am. That’s when our buddy Dazza dropped a bombshell that he would not be continuing his Black Dog Ride for a number of reasons. We wished him well on his return journey and promised to keep in touch to see how we has.

The rest of the Brady Bunch left at 8:30am for a casual ride up to Pimba. It was some time out of Port Augusta that an iphone decided to test it’s ability to escape the tank bag at 120km/h. It succeeded at escaping, but did not survive the impact or slide along the road. I went back to retrieve it in the faint hope that there’s some way to retrieve the data. We heard that one of the WA crowd had a camera ‘in his lap’ that decided to hit the road, only to be run over by the support vehicle!

After a fuel and pit stop at Pimba, we headed towards Woomera to look around. I got an eerie vibe last year, and got another eerie vibe this year. So much so, I did a short video about it here:

 

Glendambo

Glendambo was the next stop – there’s not much to do except fuel up both you and the bike. There’s not much shade around and it is quite warm – the bike showing 29c. You often need to stretch out here more than usual as the next fuel stop is quite a lot further away (254km with no fuel stops) – many people break up this journey and use the rest stops provided to recharge/refresh for the next leg.

Cat on leash

One of the last rest stops (known as Ingovar), I saw an odd sight, of a cat on a leash. In case you don’t believe me, have a look at the pic! The sun was setting to our left as we rolled into Coober Pedy, which made for great, long shadows in pictures. As you can see in the slideshow, the area around Ingovar is quite flat, and stunningly beautiful.

Once in Coober Pedy, we settled into the Radeka Downunder Hotel before heading off for official duties at the Opal Inn, with dinner again put on by the local Lions Club. Ken Williams was able to have the proceeds of the evening’s drink sales donated to the Black Dog Institute as part of the Black Dog Ride. Everywhere we went, people wanted to help, from generous donations such as what Ken arranged, to $5 donations from locals in towns.

The Lucky Dog award went to Jim Williams who rolled into Coober Pedy at 10:3pm after having to replace his tyre in Pimba – it shredded itself just before he got into Spuds roadhouse! After waiting 4 hours for a tyre to arrive from Port Augusta, he was on his way again.

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 4

This was our shortest day distance-wise (230km to Port Augusta), and we seemed to be quite tardy in the morning. Dazza had wandered through the town already having arrived quite early the day before. James, Sharon, Kim & I went for a walk and took a few pics of the place whilst mega-huge coffees were ordered. Sharon visited a local shop and bought a coffee plunger to be able to have ‘real’ coffee on the ride!

The ride itself was wonderful! As we had a small group (aka ‘The Brady Bunch’), we were free to take whichever route we wished to Port Augusta. Our journey took us through Mt Bryan, Hallett, Jamestown, Stone Hut and onto Melrose for our lunch stop.  We stopped at the North Star Hotel, and had the most wonderful pizza – they were so good we wanted to take them away for dinner! We met with three Black Dog Riders from Adelaide who had stopped in for a drink and had a quick chat with.

A quick blast through the countryside to Wilmington for a fill and a chat with the owners of the local service station before making our way through the twisties close to Port Augusta. These twisties were so much fun for others that they dumped their gear at Port Augusta and rode back to do them again!

James decided to revisit the scene of the infamous gaffe from the 2010 Black Dog Ride by posing for pictures (see the slideshow below, or visit my Black Dog Ride Day 4 Picture album.

At Port Augusta we pitched the tents (away from the noisy buggers) and wandered out to Westies Football Club for the presentation and dinner. As one of the longest legs of the ride was upcoming, we did get to bed early in readiness for an 8am departure.

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 3

Balranald, NSW to Burra, SA

A big day’s ride today from the sleepy mining town of Balranald, in the Riverina District of NSW. Dinner the night before was at the local Golf Club put on by the Balranald Lions, but no locals were in attendance. As mentioned in my Day 3 check-in video, Michael Field spoke about his family’s battle with his brother who does not acknowledge/recognise his depressive symptoms. It’s stories like this that help us understand a little more about the people we know/ride with and how they’re linked to Depression and the Black Dog Ride.

Today’s ride took us through Euston, where one of the service station operators donated $100 to Michael Field for the Black Dog Ride – many of the riders have similar stories (including the $10 from 2 of the locals in Burra to help the cause). We arrived in Mildura for the next round of chaos – Being at the back with the L & P-plater, we did not know where the meet point was until a friendly local advised us where to go and we soon found the rest of the mob down by the river. I scooted off to find a few stragglers, and when I got back there I barely had a chance to say ‘Thanks’ to the Mildura Lions and grab a pic:

The mob started to move off and left Peter behind with a bike that would not start. James’ to the rescue! James, Sharon, Kim & I stayed to help him out, eventually failing to push-start the bike down the hill. Emptying half of the car to let more people in (it’s quite packed to the rafters), they eventually found a battery at the local bike shop. A short while later, we had the bike going again, packed the car and set off at 12:30pm – the rest of the pack had a lunch date in Renmark, 150km away!

The 5 of us had a great day’s ride from then on, winding our way through Renmark & Waikerie to Morgan. A quick pit-stop, some piccies and a lemon calippo later, we set off for the final stretch into Burra – into the sunset! I say that in all the riding I have done, this was the most spectacular, serene and spiritual ride I have been on. The setting sun, the blazing rainbow colours of the sunset and twilight made it a truly magical experience. Keeping an eye out for natives (I saw 1 kangaroo, 2 possums and a mouse), we cruised along at 80km/h, well below the speed limit but allowing us to see more and be ‘more’ prepared (well, as prepared as you can be for native wildlife crossing your path).

* We were attired for the lovely spring weather and sunshine we experienced.
* But it got cold.
* And we froze our little tushies off!

We rolled into Burra at 7pm, found a local pub and tucked into dinner. We sat up chatting until way too late, but with a late start on Wednesday, it didn’t turn out too badly. I really really enjoyed the ride today and we bonded very well as a little group. More stories to come tomorrow!

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 2

Young, NSW to Balranald, NSW

I pitched a tent.
In sub-zero temperatures.
Without enough to keep me warm
= I had frozen sleep most of the night – A light covering of frost the next day told me just how cold it was without checking the temperature gauge on the bike!

We waved goodbye to Nathan & Roger who returned home to Sydney. The rest of us faced gloriously blue skies on our way through  and the riders were on the way to Balranald. Once again we had great support from the local Lions Clubs in putting on the Tea/Lunch stops, but there seemed to be little support from the local community to hear the presentations about the great work done by the Black Dog Institute. Steve also commented:

We all need to do more to spread the message that it’s OK to speak about depression!

Pics:

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 1

Approx 60 riders from around NSW descended on Hills Motorcycles early on Sunday morning for the official NSW launch of the Black Dog Ride. After a wild’n’woolly weather week prior, many wondered if the ride would go ahead. It went ahead under gloomy skies, but they did not last too long!

After an introduction from Angry Anderson, a quick thank-you from the Mayor’s representative, and a pre-ride briefing from our ride leader Phil, we were off. A number of people ended up at Lithgow when the majority went through to Hartley. We all managed to regroup at Bathurst for lunch (put on by the Lions Club). A couple of laps of Mt Panorama (ooh yeah!) and we headed off to catch the last few drinks at the afternoon tea stop at Cowra. We had a great chat with them before scooting off to Young.

The Young Lions club put on a great roast dinner whilst we listened to Nathan share a presentation from the Black Dog Institute, as well as sharing his personal story. Many friends were made and stories shared amongst the riders. I want to send out a big note to Nathan, Roger, Rod, Sharon, Kim, James and Dazza for the great chats and buddy-rides we had during the day.

Here are some of the Day 1 photos:

2011 BDR – The Prelude



I am once again doing my bit to raise the awareness of mental health issues by embarking on a 7,000km motorcycle ride to the red centre of Australia. I participated in this ride last year with my Riding4aCause buddies and loved it because I met new people, got to ride my bike and found out first hand more about the illness known by many as ‘The Black Dog’.

I am a strong believer that we need to talk more about the things that truly matter in our lives. Men, in particular, seem to miss opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings on topics that are important – families, relationships, money, and how they’re coping with the many changes going on in society today.

In every conversation I have, I urge people to share their stories, to discuss what’s important in their lives with the ones that matter to them most and to let go of any fears they may have of opening up about their thoughts, feelings and emotions. There’s enough to worry about in this world and keeping things inside is not the way to live and stay healthy. It’s the self-same philosophy behind MyProactiveLife that’s truly changed my life over the past few years. I hope that in everything I do I continue to have a positive effect on people, no matter where they’re at in the journey of life.

 

What I expect from this year’s ride:

To do this, however I need your help!

  1. I want to raise OVER $2000 (and SMASH the amount that we (as Riding4aCause) raised in 2010) Donate here!
  2. I want this message to go out to as many people as I can, so I’d like you to pass along my blog info to your friends, family and loved ones.
  3. Subscribe to my blog post feed over on the right —->
  4. Become a fan on Facebook with the Like button on the right or through this link: http://www.facebook.com/MyProactiveLife

I will again be blogging parts of the journey, along with videos and pictures just like we did for the Black Dog Ride in 2010.