I’d originally planned to do the run from Rawnsley Park Station in the Flinders Ranges SA to Newcastle NSW in a day leaving at 4am. However yesterday’s two unceremonious binnings of the Super Tenere in the mud, one where a witness report had me flying over the screen, left me battered and bruised and not at all sure if I was up to a 1600k day. So the plan was scrapped and I set the alarm for 6am.
I had some breaky, watched some ABC New 24 and took my time packing the bike. A little more time and effort was required to straighten one of the pannier brackets that wasn’t where it should have been any more, much like the gear shifter. My new plan was just to head towards home and stop for the night whenever my will to keep going subsided. The no plan plan.
I’d spoken briefly with fellow Novocastrian Tragics Scott and Dave about possibly riding with them to Broken Hill today. After a quick look around without spotting them I left Rawnsley Park about 9:10am (AEDST), 8:40 local time. The first thing I noticed was that sitting on the bike seemed to be the best position to relieve the aches and pains. That was a good sign. It was sunny, mild and the scenery was breathtaking, even after a couple of days in the Flinders Ranges you don’t tire of the views. How could you?
I rode through Hawker and turned left on to RM Williams Way down to Orroroo where I encountered Mick, Troy and a bunch of Tragics sipping lattes. No doubt enjoying the caffeine after the post riding celebrations last night. I stopped for a quick chat with Mick and a wave to the others and I was out of there. It was way to early for me to stop and I was now back in very familiar territory.
In yesterday’s fraccas with the mud I’d done some damage to the clutch trying to get the bike unbogged. I could feel it slipping if I tried to accelerate hard but it seemed happy enough if I left it at or under 4000 rpm or I was going down hill. Professor Clive told me I might lose drive, I hoped not.
My first stop was Yunta (267km) for fuel and an iced coffee. There were some Tragics there who had ridden dirt from Rawnsley to Yunta. I was almost jealous but standing on the pegs wasn’t too comfortable on the shoulder today. While we chatted I got a bit jittery waiting in a queue dominated by two elderly females doing what they do. Finding change in their purses and asking ten times how much they needed to pay. These jitters signalled to me that I’d slipped into Long Distance Riding mode and autopilot saw me back on the road as efficiently as possible with a nod and a wave to the Tragics as I left.
A quick stop at the border at Cockburn (416km) for a picture
Some roadworks between there and Broken Hill
And my second stop for fuel was Broken Hill (465km). I then settled in for the long haul between the Hill and Cobar. I was feeling good, the clutch seemed to be holding together although accelerating to overtake was now out of the question – just roll on by.
Because of the clutch slipping fuel consumption was up around 5.8 litres per 100km. This meant a stop for fuel at the BP in Wilcannia (662kms). The “old darling” there and I had “the usual” servo conversation.
“Isn’t it hot riding today?”
“Yep, it’s 39 degrees”,
“Where have you come from?”
“The Flinders Ranges”
“When did you leave there?”
“That’s a long way. Where are you headed?”,
“How many days will that take you?”
“All going well, one ”
I saw some more Tragics having a break at the Spring Hills Rest Area and gave them a wave, by now I was on a mission. I was wondering how far they were heading for the day, it’s was an impressive effort for them to get the small Teneres that far by that time. At MacCullochs Rest Area I stopped for a short comfort break, some Powerade
and said G’day to the goats. This area is where the goats and roos pick up in numbers beside the road, there weren’t many out today though.
When I passed the Emmdale Roadhouse I knew there was a touch over 800kms to go, I’ve ridden out here just for lunch a couple of times. Then on the way towards Cobar I met up with the remains of Cyclone Winston and was prompted to proactively batten down the hatches
The storm was furious. Lightning everywhere but no sound of thunder because of the huge gusts of wind trying to separate me from the tar and the helmet from my head. The wind was so strong it just riding into it was causing the dodgy clutch to slip and I was slowing down as a result. Within a matter of minutes water was lying on both sides of the roads and floodways on the highway were 10-20cm deep with muddy water trying to find an escape. The temperature dropped from 40 degrees to 23 degrees quite suddenly. If this rain was in Cobar when I got there I was calling it quits. It was only a ride home after all.
I refuelled at Cobar (921kms), while it was still raining the sky in the direction I was heading was clearing and the storm front behind me. so I decided to push on. I stopped for a quick picture of the old mine. It’s a long story but to be brief the wife of a mate of mine hates this icon for her own reasons. My mate Karl takes a photo of it and puts it on Facebook every time he goes through Cobar as a bit of fun. Karl’s riding Sydney to Perth this weekend in 50 hours but going across the Hay Plains so he asked me if I’d mind taking this pic and Facebooking it to her as a surprise. I did and have now been threatened.
The sun was pretty much gone at Nyngan (1053kms) but the temperature had jumped back up to 36 degrees in places, 33 in general. At the BP there I took some time to do my night riding reset. I had a plain burger, my only real coffee for the trip, changed to night riding glasses and chilled out for a while.
Soon after leaving Nyngan I was overtaken by a big white ute who wanted to sit at a more comfortable pace. He seemed happy for me to slipstream him and use him as a roo bar so I tucked in until we hit this place at 1111kms.
This town name says it all for Iron Butt riders and turning here towards Warren always signals to me that there is only just under 500kms to go. All was quiet to Gilgandra (1218 kms), very little traffic, a few well behaved kangaroos and the temperature had dropped off to the high 20’s. I stopped to top up the fuel at the Shell Truckport, had some Powerade and a muesli bar and headed off towards Mendooran and Dunedoo.
This area is usually quite bad for roos. Tonight was a good night, I only saw two. At Dunedoo a drunk thought he’d play chicken with me while he was crossing the road. Wildlife takes many forms I suppose.
The next part of the ride became interesting. The clutch was getting worse to the point where going up hills was causing it to slip. This isn’t a great thing when you are crossing the Great Dividing Range. I basically had to set the rpm’s a 4000 and let the bike speed up or slow down depending on the slope and whether the clutch had any drive. I only had to change down once and was slowed at one point to 70kph. Fingers crossed now I would make it home and Professor Clive could make it new again later.
I rode straight through Merriwa, Denman, Jerry’s Plains (1494 kms) and past the Singleton Army Barracks. I normally make it home from Gilgandra on fuel on the S10 but consumption had spiked and I needed to turn left at the New England Highway to fill up at the United. I didn’t think I was going to make it up the hill to the servo after stopping at the intersection.
Now it was a cruise down the Hunter Expressway. Thankfully the last of the hilly areas was gone and I was able to maintain an OK pace and limp home arriving at 2:20am for a total time of 17 hrs and 10 minutes. 1594kms by Google Maps. 1635 by the ODO. Not quite an Iron Butt ride but a decent day’s ride anyway. I was frankly a bit surprised I ended up at home, it definitely wasn’t the plan when I left Rawnsley.
Final Note: I’m looking forward to trying that new comfy seat out Captain Tragic aka Clubby. After five days in the heat and today’s ride the skin’s wearing thin! Thanks to you, Madame and all the Tragics for a fantastic time!