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Old 08-07-2014, 12:16 AM   #1
richo360 OP
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Bottom of the barrel and still digging
Oddometer: 825
Vic/SA Border country

Seeing as myself and a number of riding mates have signed up for next years APC-X across OZ, thought it was about time we started training for it by riding some sand.
One of the best areas in Vic with lots of sand is Big Desert NP, around the SA border. So on a not- so- sunny Friday morning we all loaded up and headed west.
With a big cold front coming through Victoria, just around Ballarat a blast arrived with a vengeance, and blanketed the Western Highway and surrounds with snow.

After a quick lunch at the Golden City Pub, back in the cars before heading through Horsham, to Jeparit ( Ja-Paradise according to the locals). Once there, a quick beer in the Hopetoun House Hotel with Mel the publican. With the weather clearing, we figured wed be right to camp out at Shulzes Beach on the western side of Lake Hindmarsh, 15 ks out of town. We did have the pub as a fall back, they do meals (as we returned for later) and accom, pre-booking is necessary. We had a quite amusing few hours with the locals seeing who drew the short straw on the town bike. Ha ha. The best comment from a local was along the lines of When she was younger, she was so hot everyone wanted to have a go. The trouble is, everyone did. Classic.

A few beers whilst setting up, dinner /beers/Sambuccas at the pub then back to camp. It was cold overnight, below zero, and despite the lake being dry the damp settled onto a nice layer of ice over the swag. Proved the worth of prior shopping at Andys Strapz for an Exped down filled mat and sleeping bag liner- warm as toast thanks Andy!

Saturday dawned crisp and clear, perfect riding conditions.
Bikes were Pete on a DR650, Nick on a BMW 800, Pexy on his XR400, Jase on his Rally Raid kitted 690r, and me.

We geared up, and initially tried to head north along the shores of the lake, but with thick heavy sand about a foot deep we quickly retraced our steps and took the main road up to Netting Fence Rd. A ways along here we turned right (north) onto Chinamans Well Track, and the start of the sand and whoops.
A brilliant track, we quickly settled into a good rythym (more or less) with a few bar swapping moments here and there.

The first good hit out on the H.A.R.D 700R kitted 690r, and Im impressed- it has great balance and with the front tanks it feels a lot less flighty than stock. However, I now know that even with about 15l in the tanks (can carry 30 remember) it needs stiffer fork springs. Not bottoming overly harshly (thanks to recent valving tuning) but still sitting down a few inches into its stroke further than Id like. And heavier springs will mean more pace with control too.

Its good to have mates.....

Chinamans Well was a great run, ending at Nhill-Murrayville road, which was hard sand/clay and GREASY. About 35ks along whilst waiting for others to catch up, I saw an offshoot track and climbed a dune for a look around. A tricky climb in deep sand, but a great view.

Left onto Cactus Bore Tk, and wind on the gas.. really digging this bike and feeling like Im on my own Finke run LOL. Did I say Im loving it? Some open plains type terrain with low scrubby vegetation meant great visibility. Even so, a there was a few corners that snuck up on you, rising over 8-10m high dunes with softer deep sand that can catch you out. Great fun.

Left again onto Coburns Track, another ripper, which took us nearly to Pinaroo , then via a few farm across roads and lanes. Checked in for a well deserved beer at the Golden Grain Hotel, where we bedded down for the night after a huge steak and a few frothies.

Sunday morning at the BP truck stop for fuel for the bikes and us, and we headed east towards the Vic border where we picked up the Border Track (clearly signposted on a bend on the highway right on the border funnily enough).

We did about 80ks (I think?) of the border track, which includes a number of steeper and soft dunes- the 4wd wheel tracks are quite deep and can catch you out. Stopped at Hensleys Trig for a breather, then onwards south again.

Pexy and I had a good high speed run through here, swapping the lead a few times. Amazing how he can wring the neck of that 14 year old XR400 and mono past at over 100.

We exited out of the northern section of the Border Track, and turned left onto Red Bluff Tk to take us back towards the cars (or in that general direction). Wow. A large section of this part of the park was taken out by fires 12 months ago and the landscape looks like sun bleached dunes embedded with black sticks. Numerous camel tracks everywhere. Surreal looking landscape.

Taking this as far as we could, probably 60 kms, we crossed Nhill-Murrayville Rd again and turned right, about 15kms in that direction until be hit the western end of Netting fence Road (more like a track at this end). Along a fenceline track through here I wasnt paying attention (daydreaming about Finke again) and thumped into a mallee root with the front wheel at about 80. Suddenly paying attention again, thats for sure. Lots of very slick clay/sand based bogholes, interspaced with deep sand (although not many whoops).
Best method was sit back, and gas it to stay off the front end, and let the bike track its own course. With two others in front of me for a section and the left and right hand wheel tracks cut up with their tyre tracks, I sat in the middle, on top of the camber and made my own track. Interesting, and kept me focussed. The bogholes were best tackled by taking a wide line around them and riding across ground vegetation which at least provided some traction.

Back to the cars at the lake, loaded up and near on 5 hours drive home, after 400kms of a great training ride. Whilst Friday had looked ominous, we were very fortunate in that both days were clear and crisp, with temperatures in the low teens. Perfect for riding, with a lot of the sand still relatively damp which made for easy going.
Look forward to the next training run- with stiffer fork springs.
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Old 08-07-2014, 01:16 AM   #2
Over it
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Nice looking trip mate
Don't try and argue with me because i just don't care..

I ride a KTM, i'm not a KTM rider...

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Old 08-07-2014, 01:18 AM   #3
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Enjoyed your pics + RR.


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Old 08-07-2014, 01:22 AM   #4
Still a B.A.N
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Am dead jealous, off-roading is, for the most part, illegal here, but I love the idea of being able to load the bikes up and just take off like that with a bunch of mates.
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:14 AM   #5
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Looks like a good ride Richo.
Do you have a steering dampener?
It certainly makes long days in the sand a lot less stressful.
Ride while we can!!

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Old 08-07-2014, 04:45 AM   #6
richo360 OP
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Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Bottom of the barrel and still digging
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No Ando, no dampener.
Didn't seen to shake its head or move the bars around too much. Was a bit like a wheelbarrow at walking pace in the deep sand, ESP Sunday morning with a full 30 litres on board.
Nothing like the BMW 800 though!
Sit on the back of the seat, or stand well back, and gas it was the best attack.

Wish I'd taken the GoPro, some of the high speed sections were unreal.
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Old 08-07-2014, 03:59 PM   #7
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Is that Pete from AMTRA
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:08 PM   #8
get back on that horse
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Burwood, VIC, Australia
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Nice job, great shots. Bugger about missing this trip. Sand riding out that way is great fun.

Last trip out on the Snowy ride i came away with a massive ding in my front as well. Been riding around with a square wheel has been a real bugger. Picked up a new front rim from Mudders today.
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Old 08-09-2014, 03:22 AM   #9
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Nice country out that way. I think we were a bit further north of you guys on the same weekend.
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Old 08-09-2014, 04:31 AM   #10
Not the Messiah
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Nice work you blokes.
You're making me homesick but. I grew up in that area, spent a lot of time riding as you describe (sit/stand waaay back and hold it flat)!
I havn't been game to tackle Chinamans Track since I got the 1200GS though.

Glad you enjoyed it.

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Old 08-09-2014, 06:47 AM   #11
richo360 OP
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Originally Posted by craig525 View Post
Is that Pete from AMTRA
Nah, different one.
This one likes sitting crossed legged and sipping Chardonnay.
He rides a DR.

Will definitely get back and do another run AGF.
Also got a real sand ride planned over at Robe, Pexy on the XR has family with property over that way where we can camp.
Keep ya posted.

Jezuz, a BMW 1200 in the whoops. Would be interesting.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:29 AM   #12
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More sand further south

There are lots of sandy terrain right down the S.A. /Vic border region.

The Little Desert has a lot of tracks, the areas down near Dergholm, Digby area and further South down to the pine plantations down to the coast near Nelson have sand tracks.

If you want a variety of terrain as well as sand, check out the South West Adventure Trail on . The swat track goes from Portland to Casterton then back down to Nelson and back to Portland. You can get your sand fix, especially when it is not wet.
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Old 09-12-2014, 12:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by richo360 View Post
Nah, different one.
This one likes sitting crossed legged and sipping Chardonnay.
He rides a DR.

Will definitely get back and do another run AGF.
Also got a real sand ride planned over at Robe, Pexy on the XR has family with property over that way where we can camp.
Keep ya posted.

Jezuz, a BMW 1200 in the whoops. Would be interesting.

Trust me with mates like those two you don't need enemies...
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