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!
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.
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!).
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.
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!