Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 15

Coffs Harbour to Home

Sunrise

I departed Coffs Harbour relatively early to make time to visit Mal from the Port Macquarie Men’s Shed to discuss our visit on Oct 1st. The day started out with a few clouds and a bit cool but otherwise the conditions were perfect for a long day’s riding. I had a quick brekkie then said goodbye to Dave, Nerida & Kim before heading off to fill up at the first major stop I came to out of Coffs Harbour – Boambee. Once I was underway I was headed for Port Macquarie. I wasn’t aware of where the “Town Green” was but found it easily enough at the end of Horton St, one of the main streets of Port Macquarie.

Winston

I met with Mal & Dennis & their wives for breakfast where we got to chatting about various topics, including depression, riding, cruising and what we wanted to achieve with our upcoming ride to the Men’s Shed (as part of Riding4aCause). I headed off a little later than I wanted and hadn’t worked out which route to take so just barrelled down the Highway until I needed to stop. A quick pitstop in Kempsey, then continued on until the Taree Service centre where I stopped for a stretch and to refuel. It was here that I sawa sign to the Bucketts Way. I’d heard of this road before from other riders and here was the sign I was looking for – I had to take it! After a few km of this road I wondered what the fuss was about – the road was very bumpy, full of potholes and debris (leaves, logs, sticks, twigs, gravel and mud) and after about 15km I was thinking of turning back. As it was getting on for lunch time I decided to press on as Gloucester is a great place to stop for lunch.

Gloucester

Once past Krambach the road improved dramatically, and I could see why the Bucketts Way is a favourite bike road – the road surface improved dramatically and it became enjoyable. I stopped at the Mograni Lookout where you can grab a great view of Gloucester and the surrounding valley – As you can see from the pics, the sun was out and the wind was low which made it perfect for riding! I continued the ride into Gloucester and felt at home amongst the 15 or so other bikes that were parked along the main street. I ordered lunch at the Roadies Cafe where I chatted with another couple of riders who were headed back to Sydney after an early morning jaunt to Gloucester for lunch.

Roadies Cafe

The rest of the Bucketts Way was equally as fabulous as the run from Krambach to Gloucester – smooth road, open sweepers, some twisty corners as well as open plains to ride through. Traffic was light, and most were obliging to give me room to overtake so I could enjoy the bike and the road. Eventually I met up with the Pacific Hwy again north of Raymond Terrace and followed the signs towards Sydney.

Road Warriors

A quick refuel in Beresfield before hitting the F3 Freeway for the run home….although I detoured at the Central Coast Hwy to hit the Old Pacific Highway (aka “The Old Road”) for a bit more of a fun ride home. In recent years they’ve dropped the speed limit on this road to deter speeding – however most people believe it’s a conspiracy to raise revenue and deter people from having fun. It was late afternoon by the time I’d stopped at the Road Warriors Cafe for a stretch and a quick drink & bite to eat, but it was good to stop with other riders who had been out on their bikes enjoying the day too. I was tired by this point but knew the next stretch would be fairly easy then all I’d need to do is battle the Sydney traffic on the final run home.

I made it home by 6pm on Father’s Day and spent a wonderful evening with the family after being away from them for 2 weeks. Keep an eye out for my upcoming posts!


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Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 14

Dalby QLD  to Coffs Harbour NSW

Winston

Another cracking day was brewing and I was itching to get on the road early – I departed with Dave who would be my riding buddy for the day, final destination was Dave’s house in Coffs Harbour. We weren’t 100% sure what James, Kim and Sharon would be up to today – they’d let us know as the day progressed.

For me, today was the best day of the ride. 

It was a combination of things that allows me make this statement: The early start to the day; the pace of the ride; the journey; the conversations with Dave throughout the day; listening to music through my helmet, and the weather. It’s quite often hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes something great, and for me today it was the combination of all of these things. Days like today make you appreciate why you ride 🙂


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Metal bikes

We departed Dalby quite early (we even beat Daryl onto the road, but only because he’d lost his glasses and had to turn back to find them!) First major town we came to was Toowoomba where we stopped for a quick drink break, and to navigate our way out of here onto the New England Highway which lead us into Warwick. This trip was decidedly chilly, yet I was steadfastly sticking to riding with my Hornee jeans, which are great in warmer weather, but nowhere near as warm as my leather pants when the temperature drops. Besides, this was Queensland with the motto: “beautiful one day, perfect the next” 🙂 In Warwick we had a full pit-stop (fill the bikes and the tummies – with a pie!) and I spotted some motorcycles made from nuts, bolts and chain links, something James had been looking for all trip.

Bumblebee

Tenterfield was to be our next stretch stop riding through/past Stanthorpe (with it’s Big Apple) which is close to the Queensland/NSW border. We had a pretty traffic-free run so far today, with good quality roads all the way from Toowoomba. I would have liked to stop off longer in Tenterfieldbut we only needed a stretch stop, and we had other places to stop for longer later in the day. I decided to change into my full leathers to stay warmer as it hadn’t warmed up enough since starting the ride. I was instantly rewarded as I no longer shivered whilst riding (yes, I should have done it earlier!)

From Tenterfield we had a choice: head east through Casino and onto Grafton, or keep heading south towards Glen Innes. Here Dave showed some of his local knowledge by deciding we’ll head towards Glen Innes, but cut over at Dundee to the Gwydir Highway. We stopped at Deepwaterfor a fill and lunch (Here I had the 2nd-worst pie on the trip – the worst was the scaldingly-hot & sloppy pie from Cloncurry). This one was dry and warm-ish, with the consistency of an apple pie. Still, it had to do.

That way!

If the Warrego Hwy into Dalby was the bumpiest we’d come across in Queensland, then this little 11km stretch between Dundee and Bald Nob was the one in NSW. Admittedly this is listed as a minor road and you expect it won’t be billiard-table smooth, but it was quite rough, bumpy and full of potholes to be avoided. Once we hit the Gwydir Hwy, we had a great, cruisy run towards Grafton.

It was on this stretch of the ride where it all came together – due to the relaxed pace of the day, I could hear the music and simply go with the flow – the ride seemed easy and effortless, into and out of the sunlight through the National Park. We stopped off at a lookout overlooking the valley and Dave proclaimed “isn’t it beautiful? We’ll be riding down there soon enough”, pointing out the valley floor far below.

Sunshine

The weather was glorious – a few scattered clouds, patches of sunshine and blue skies helped make this ride fabulous. By 3pm it was colder than when the day started, however I was perfectly warm in my leathers now, and was thankful I made the switch earlier in the day. The Gwydir Hwy reminded me of Macquarie Pass in the NSW Southern Highlands with it’s scenery, twisty turns and a few hairpin bends. It straightened out as we headed down into Grafton for our last pit-stop for the day. Once Dave had fuelled up and we bypassed Grafton proper and headed toward Glenreagh & Nana Glen instead of taking the Pacific Hwy to Coffs Harbour.

The ride from Dundee to Coffs Harbour was spectacular, scenic and a great way to cap off a great day’s riding with Dave. Dave put us up for the night and we had a wonderful dinner with real vegies! Kim, James & Sharon arrived a few hours later after having had a scenic & longer trip home. I went to bed early as tomorrow was my solo ride home and I wanted to get underway before 7:30am.

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 13

Augathella to Dalby QLD

Main St, Augathella

Today was a reversal of riding from yesterday, with Daryl deciding to sleep in and make his way to Dalby after the rest of us. Dave joined us for the ride, which got underway under gloriously blue skies. After filling up at the local servo we were off for the morning’s ride through grazing country. We would be riding the last 91km of the Landsborough Highway (which runs from Cloncurry to Morven). James couldn’t get off this highway quick enough, remembering that it was the bumpiest road we’d ridden in 2010!  The Landsborough is the central part of a tourist route known as the Matilda Highway which stretches from Kurumba, QLD to Bourke, NSW. When we hit Morven, we’d travel along the Warrego Highway, which stretches from Charleville to Ipswich.

Morning tea in Morven

We’d happened to stop in Morven at morning tea time, where the local CWA ladies has setup a morning tea stall to raise money for the Cancer Council (as part of Daffodil Day). Dulcie was undoubtedly the leader of this quartet of baking goddesses as she commanded her tribe with great enthusiasm and energy. She chatted with us and the locals who’d turned out to support her venture. I donated all the gold coins I had on me (approx $7) and had a cup of tea and a lamington. I’ve often been misquoted (my statement is ‘meat pies are the breakfast of champions’), but today I’ll state that the lamington is the cake of champions. YUM!

Mitchell, QLD

Onwards to Mitchell, where we enjoyed a dip in the hot-springs pool at the local community centre in 2010 – except today we had more brilliant blue skies and not a drop of rain. Riding in the rain is OK when you have to do it, but after a while it becomes unpleasant and lowers your enthusiasm for riding. Usually because it’s cold as well, and once the water gets into your clothes AND you’re cold, it’s just miserable. No such malady for us this year! Whilst the others filled up, I was telling jokes to a couple of young kids on BMX bikes. They particularly enjoyed the jokes, aimed squarely at 8-10 year old boys. Here are the favourites from the trip (plagiarised 100% from “The Bad Book” by Andy Griffiths/Terry Denton):

  • Q: What’s brown and sticky?
  • A: A stick
  • Q: What’s yellow and smells of bananas?
  • A: Monkey vomit
  • Q: What’s brown and yellow and sticky and smells of bananas?
  • A: Monkey vomit on a stick
Roma, QLD

We’d decided to make Roma our major stop for the day, as we’d all had a couple of things to do. It seems James got greedy and picked up the lurgy from me so needed to find a chemist, whilst I needed to find a loo, fill my backpack and eat! I set myself up in the Bakearoma with a pie and milkshake and proceeded to upload photos, bang out a blog post and tweet with people who’d sent me questions during the ride. Roma has a big country town feel to it, reminding me of Bathurst. After all the to-ing and fro-ing around town, today was shaping up to be another day where we’d get into our destination after sunset. We’d briefly seen Daryl in town and Dave had gone on ahead.

A quick stop in Miles to stretch before I decided to push on as it was getting late (I don’t particularly like riding when my circadian rhythms are telling my body to sleep. Energy drinks certainly help me stay alert and awake, but it took it’s toll – more on that in a separate blog post). So I rode on, and in some way I must have blinked and missed the town of Chinchilla as I don’t remember it at all!

Dalby sunset

If we thought we’d had the bumpiest road on our journey so far, we were mistaken – the roadwork and flood-damaged road from Chinchilla to Dalby was the worst we’d come across. Some of the bumps were so bad you felt like you were getting airborne, and others had me thanking many things that the Airhawk was protecting me from some of the nastiest bumps. Coupled with an inexplicable number of drivers traveling well below the speed limit (70km/h on a 100km/h road) and the afternoon setting sun in my mirrors, this stretch of road was the most dangerous we’d traveled. Once into Dalby, I quickly checked in, dumped my gear and went back out to try and catch the last few rays of sunshine as the sunset descended. I would have liked 5 more mins of sunset, but like in life, you take what you can when you can 🙂

Daryl had chosen a great motel in Dalby, right across the road from a pub! Daryl, Dave, Kim & I had wandered over there and had a drink before James & Sharon showed up. It felt good to have a meal with real vegies! The meals were great value too, not too large and pretty reasonably priced. After many discussions, the journey home was changed, which wold see us all arrive home a day earlier than originally planned. This way, I’d arrive home on Father’s Day instead of Monday. This years’ Black Dog Ride was moved earlier to avoid the complications we had in 2010 (we departed on Father’s Day).

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 12

Winton to Augathella

Winton Sunrise

Daryl had the right idea today – he woke up early, and said ‘bugger trying to sleep anymore when this gorgeous day is waiting’, and started his ride at 5:30am! He got to see the sunrise (which I’ve been attempting to do each day, as well as catching the sunset pics from wherever we end up. You can see these in most of the folders I’ve created for each day of the ride.) We were underway by 7:30am on another long stretch to the next stop – Longreach.

Since we’d spent a sizable amount of time in Longreach last year, we stopped at the Qantas Founders Museum so Sharon could pop in and buy a couple of gifts. I hung around outside in the sunshine & shade taking some pics and keeping my fluids up. I also took the opportunity to line my bike up near the parked 747 and take some pics – some would say ‘you and that bloody bike’, or ‘taking pics of the bike again?’. That bike is a part of me, and I’m simply capturing it in as many places that have meaning to me along the way. It’s also one of the most distinctive bikes we had on the Black Dog Ride, so why wouldn’t you take pics of it? 🙂

Barcaldine

Drinking so much to keep my fluids up had the side effect of needing a loo break quite regularly (which I prefer to dehydration and sickness), and on the odd occasion the loo break turned into something interesting – check out this pic looking through one of the breezeblocks in the public toilet in Barcaldine (aka ‘Barcy’ to the locals)! After morning tea (coffee) for the gang, we headed off towards Blackall. I got to see this road in daylight this year, and I’m saddened to say that I can only remember this road for one main reason: roadkill. This stretch of road had the most roadkill that we’d seen that any other stretch of road on the trip so far. So much so, I called it the Roadkill Highway. The others commented that it was probably a goof thing I could not smell anything (due to my cold) as it was pretty stinky. That’s finding the positive in the negative!

Warning!

We fuelled the bikes and ourselves at Blackall, and bumped into Zephyr & Paige again. They were merrily plodding along a similar route to us, however we were travelling quicker and resting for longer which would see us cross paths a couple more times.

Tambo Teddies

Off to Tambo next, with another stop at the Tambo Teddies shop to see what was on offer. The weather was much better this year at Tambo (compared to the rain & drizzle we had all the way from Blackall through to Mitchell in 2010). Beautiful sunshine and blue skies greeted us this time! It’s a shame that there were hardly any ‘small’ teddies/animals for sale at the Tambo Teddies shop this year. The lady explained they just don’t have the time to make them! This was a disappointment as I didn’t want to buy 2 large teddies for the boys, and something small (like a mouse) would be easy to squeeze into the fairly packed luggage.

Ellangowan Hotel

We’d ridden off to our home for the night in Augathella after hearing from Daryl that he’d scored a house large enough himself & Dave, as well as the rest of us (Brady bunch). Because of Daryl’s early start, he’d arrived 3 hours before I showed up. An early start almost always means an early start at the pub at the end of the day :-)) Once the rest of the gang arrived, we made our way to the local Pub (the gorgeous Ellangowan Hotel, as seen in the pic). We had a few drinks and dinner and wandered back to the house for chatting and shenanigans…although most went straight to bed!. Augathella to Dalby tomorrow!

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 11

Riding time

Up bright and early for our trip out of Mt Isa towards Winton. The first stop was Cloncurry, after a great run of easy twisties which was a welcome relief from the long, straight roads we’d experienced from all the way back at Port Augusta!

Zephyr & Paige

Zephyr & Paige.Whilst at the service station, we met a couple who were on a riding trip from Darwin to the Hunter Valley – they were riding a Tenere, and from the look of it, there wasn’t a spare spot on the bike to store anything! They had a huge aluminium box on the back, as well as custom-made panniers, and sleeping gear strapped to the crash bars. Once they were on the bike there wasn’t much space at all – Paige had only been on the back of the bike for no more than 1 hour prior to their trip, and we’re sure this will be the last ‘big’ trip she undertakes! During the next couple of days we bumped into them at various stops along the way. Best of luck to you both on your journey 🙂

McKinlay

Since Three Ways, I had been taking cold & flu tablets to try and overcome my cough & stuffy/runny nose, but they hadn’t really done the trick. In Cloncurry, I was made to purchase stronger cold & flu tablets, as well as Senega & Ammonia (which Sharon called ‘Synagogue of Ammonia’). I could not taste anything so the taste was lost on me, but I have been told it tastes quite bad. After we scoffed a meat pie (a sloppy, scalding-hot abomination) we headed off to McKinley. A sense of dejavu came over me as I’d ordered the same lunch at the McKinley roadhouse that I had ordered last year – a burger with the lot 🙂

Winton

We’d been leap-frogging some of the other riders on the same route all day so we’d see the same people at the same stops. Kim had a particular dislike for Kev ‘The Garden Gnome’ from WA, and it seemed that everywhere we went…there he was! Kim took great enjoyment from passing him along the road or getting out of a stop before he did. Another stop at the Kynuna Roadhouse before heading off for the final stint into Winton.

Winton is one of my favourite towns that we visited. I’d happily come back here again, and bring the family so we can check out the Dinosaur attractions that Winton’s famed for.

Birthday!

Almost all of the riders were staying in the same caravan park and we’d decided to head to the Tattersalls (Tatts) Hotel for dinner. We’d also been informed that two of the crew shared a birthday, so it was a pseudo birthday dinner for Mick & Sharon. The publican was a wonderful host bringing out the port for us all to share to celebrate the occasion after I’d arranged a piece of chocolate cake for each of them – everyone joined in with the birthday song 🙂

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 10

Here comes the sun...

Three Ways, NT to Mt Isa, QLD

This journey was to take us along the Barkly Highway, which from memory was one of the most boring parts of our journey last year. The road is fairly straight, it’s hot (36C in 2010, 32C in 2011), and windy – there are no trees, bushes, hills or anything to stop the wind, so you end up being battered around for a few hours. The last fuel stop before the NT/QLD border is tshe Barkly Homestead, which is a great little place out in the middle of the Barkly Highway. If I’m ever out this way again, I’ll probably choose to stay here rather than at the Three Ways!

Where to?

Once we filled up and headed towards the Queensland border, James pulled over and decided to fill up from the jerry can in the car rather than risk running out somewhere along the ride. It’s one thing to run out of fuel if you’re the only person on the bike, but since Sharon is a pillion, there’s an extra person to think about, too. My bike’s been even more brilliant this trip fuel economy wise, as it’s been using 5.5L per 100km (or about 17km per litre), good enough for approx 260km per tank. So far, the largest fill I’ve done is 18L, meaning I could still travel for another 50-odd km! The longest part of the trip with no fuel was between the Barkly Homestead and Camooweal, the first town across the QLD border.

Barkly

We had a quick stop in Camooweal as we were running later than we wanted, and had to be in Mt Isa by 6pm before the Caravan Park closed. We made it as far as the next rest stop before needing to pull over and stave off the waves of tiredness. There are many ways in which riders will try and stave off tiredness: some of these methods work well, some do not, but the results will depend on each individual. James has been scoffing jelly snakes (which Sharon has been hand delivering to him whilst riding), whereas I’ve required a VRedBullMonsterMother energy hit sometime in the afternoon to help me get through. Fatigue is something to be managed by whichever means possible. Starting earlier in the day is usually the best method for not having to ride so much in the late afternoon/early evening. Unfortunately we’ve had many late starts on this trip, necessitating resorting to other means for energy…

The moment we reachd the outskirts of Mt Isa our phones went crazy with SMS messages and missed calls. I finally linked my phone to the headset on my helmet and made a call to the Caravan Park, then to the family, and held the conversation whilst trundling through Mt Isa to our destination! I have yet to master the making/taking calls hands-free so not likely to try it anytime soon.

Once we pitched the tents, it was time to head over to the Overlander Hotel for dinner – we came here last year and had a decent meal for $8 and gave it another go. None of our meals were good – the lamb roast looked less like ‘lamb roast’ and more like ‘chunks of old meat’ with some sad looking tinned/frozen veges. The crumbed barramundi looked like deep fried chicken, and the cannelloni was overcooked and had gone hard on the top. The dessert order took 6 goes to get it right, but at least they looked OK. A number of the other riders had gone to a pub for early birthday celebrations for Mick from Port Macquarie. We should have joined them, I think their meals were pretty good!

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 9

Sunrise

I departed Lasseters at 8am for an early start to the day, deciding to ride with Daryl & Dave as James had some personal business to do in Alice Springs. They eventually departed at 10am.

Although it was a long day, they always seem to go quickly when you get started early enough in the morning. We made our way to Ti-Tree for our first stop of the day where we caught up with Jim & Keith from WA (Jim’s leaving his bike in Brisbane to fly home, and Keith’s still on his trip and will continue all the way through to WA over the next couple of weeks).

Old boots

We stopped at Barrow Creek for a pit-stop and tried to find DazzaB’s $2 note stuck to the wall (with all manner of other memorabilia like student ID’s, licenses, currency, business cards and pictures). The place has a few relics hanging around such as a pair of old boots, an old driveway bell ringer and a PMG box.

Black Dog Aliens

The trip was fairly uneventful as there wasn’t much to see or stop for along the way. I didn’t stop at the same places as last year as I took enough pictures last year (see my Day 9 Pictures from the 2010 BlackDogRide). We then stopped at Wycliffe Well (the home of UFOs) for more pictures of funny aliens and interesting signs related to aliens 🙂 The caravan park was deserted, with various statues of characters around the park, including the Hulk (who had me in a headlock) as well as aliens, monsters and Elvis!

VFR800

We wandered up to Tennant Creek where we hung out and chatted in Daryl & Dave’s motel room until James, Sharon & Kim arrived after their delayed start from Alice Springs (2 hours behind). We then scooted up to Three Ways to camp for the night. We met up with a bunch of other riders from the Port Macquarie region who we’d gotten to know well after the Black Dog Ride had finished, although we all left Hills Motorcycles together 8 days previously!

Black Dog Ride 2011 – Day 8

Tents!

As the Black Dog Ride was officially over, a number of people had departed Glen Helen early, whilst others took their time waking up/packing up and getting the day underway. After breakfast, I joined Jim & Chris in climbing up the rocks of Glen Helen. I’m not exactly sure what to call them, so hopefully the pictures will help explain where we went!

We had a good chat about depression and how it’s affected each of us – I don’t have it, but through the Black Dog Ride, and great people like Jeff Marsh, Jim Seymour and James Pralija, I’ve come to understand it more, and also understand how it has (and still does) affect their lives. It’s the personal conversations that are the most powerful way to understand and reduce the stigma of depression.

Glen Helen Gorge

Once we returned to terra firma, Jim went for a chilly swim whilst Chris & I dipped a foot (or 2) into the water. I headed back to the resort to catch up with the others who had a big sleep-in after a night of frivolity, chatting and shenanigans with Ash, the lovely lady who made the Black Dog Ride event at Glen Helen a success!

Time seemed to slip away today, until Sharon came over and advised that she’d just bought a helicopter ride for James & I! We had to wait a while before getting on board, and the pilot managed to get me to measure  something I’ve not measured for more than 6 months: my weight (which is used to help calculate take-off weight and such). In case you want to know, I am 81Kg 🙂 There are some pics in the slideshow at the bottom of the post, and you can see a sneak preview video of the take-off and initial flight:

Brady Bunch

After that, time seemed to keep on slipping, to the point where we were packed and ready to go at 4pm! Still no swim for me in the Glen Helen water this time around, but another sunset ride (this time away from the sun) back to Alice to settle into Lasseters, grab a quick swim (I dived in, swam to the other end then got out quickly – the water was freezing!. We chose to eat at the Juicy Bar in the premises – it was a little chilly at night in the Juicy Bar, and we were well entertained by the wait staff and security trying to light the ‘Dalek’ heaters. In the end they managed to fire up 2 of the 7 heaters and left the rest in a huddle, forgotten and lonely (it does not do your customer service any good to tell patrons that no-one filled up the gas bottles).

There was a bushfire smell and smoke all over Alice Springs from controlled burning – I even snapped a pic or 2 – it looked spectacular but the smoke made for difficult breathing for most of the night.

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!