Where to start, where to start? That is the question. The beginning is to far back and the end is never a good place to start so I think Ill just jump right in about here. Lets go to the Birdsville races was the drunken cry from the cook as we stood around the Andamooka Hotel about three months ago. For those of you not from the promised land of OZ the Birdsville races are a country race meeting attended by thousands of people from all over the country. It is held in the tiny Queensland town of Birdsville whose only real claim to fame is that it at the end of things. They are at the end of the Birdsville track. A road that will play a heavy part in this tale, and they are also at the end of the Simpson desert another Iconic track for both bike riders and 4x4 enthusiasts alike. Oh and camel pies, they are pretty famous for them for some unknown reason. You can have a look at some more info about Birdsville here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birdsville Right where were we? Drunk in Andamooka if I recall. Well despite the fact that I had not done more than the odd day trip on my bike since I managed to pilot the thing home from NSW last year some time and I had not done any riding in about 8 months since my bike had stopped running and despite my best efforts of both throwing money at it and swearing at it on numerous occasions it would not go. Despite these things, I in my inebriated wisdom declared to all and sundry that I would pilot my mighty DR650 up the Birdsville track to the races, This was met with both derision and mirth by the idol drunkards about the place who were well aware of my lack of saddle time and my virginity when it came to any sort of long distance high speed dirt riding. So it was with a little trepidation that I took the plunge and dragged my bike the 300kms to the nearest bike mechanic and gave it to him with instructions to get it running and to upgrade the suspension so it could lug my hefty frame and a bit of gear without dragging its arse on the ground like a worm riddled dog. Three bloody months they had the thing for. :eek1 All that time to rebuild a top end and do some black art voodoo magic on the suspension with valving and gold and possibly the sacrificing of a chicken or two. I honestly have no idea what it was they did, but it works well. So 3 days before we are due to depart on our 1500k off road journey I finally get the bike back. I had hoped to get some serious saddle time in prior to departure to confirm that I could actually ride a bike off road well enough to travel 1500ks and to ensure that the bike was not going to explode on me 100kms down the track. The Big Girl back from the mechanics ready to rock and roll I know there are those amongst the ADV fraternity that believe its not a real adventure ride unless you single handedly carved your engine block from a solid chunk of cast steel with nothing more than a toothbrush for a chisel and a thighbone for a mallet and the mere mention of a support vehicle makes them feel physically ill. Well If thats the case for you I suppose now is the time to say our goodbyes because as I mentioned earlier it was my wife who had first come up with the plan for this trip and considering that she doesnt ride and there was no chance of her getting on the back of the damn thing with a N00B at the controls she would be following along on four wheels. And both I and another rider we found along the way was happy to have her along as you will see if you stick around for the tale. The support vehicle The big day arrived and after 40kms of blacktop we were on the Borefield road that runs from near my place to the Oodnadatta track. The dirt was pretty solid though and was well packed for the first couple of Kms so my confidence was up. until I hit the first section of loose gibber stones (small marble sized rocks). The dreaded gibber So I did what every good noob should do in a similar situation and forgot everything I had read, learnt and promised myself I would do. I grabbed the handlebars in a death grip a screamed like a little girl into my helmet. The motorcycle gods must have been smiling on me though because the gibber soon returned to hard pack and I was still on two wheels and the screaming had stopped ,but my heart rate was matching the rpm of the bike. I was a little more prepared for the next lot and was loose on the bars and a little calmer all around, it was still a little sketchy getting through with the bike moving about under me a lot more than I was going to be happy with for 1500kms. I had only been going about 65kmh (40mph) when I hit the loose stuff so I thought what the hell lets give it a bit more right hand and see what happens. My logic being that the hospital was still only 20kms behind me at this stage. Lo and behold a little faster and the bike flew straighter through the loose stuff and it felt a hell of a lot more stable. "Lets give it some more go gas then" were my next thoughts and so I did. I got the old girl up and humming to between 90 and 100kph 55-65mph. Oh yeah baby this was the sweet spot. The bike was humming and my rear end was no longer puckering at the sight of loose gravel. I was off and running. I was grinning that much my cheeks began to hurt. 100kms later I was still grinning as I hit the Oodnadatta track but now it was my butt cheeks that were hurting , I had forgotten about the marble seat that Suzuki had installed on their bikes. At the Oodnadatta track The view from the end of the Borefield road I decided to give standing on the pegs as a go as I hurtled down the Oodnadatta track towards Maree. I had installed lowered pegs in the past but it was still not enough I just could not get real comfortable in a standing position I need to raise the bars just a little to get a more comfortable stance on the bike. So it was back to sitting and back to bouncing my rear end around on the slab of marble. Thankfully there are a few things to see on the track like these weird and wonderful sculptures stuck in the desert half way between the Borefield road turnoff and Maree. Weird and wonderful sculptures stuck in a cow paddock on the Oodnadata track. There was also a lot more traffic on the road 4x4s towing camper trailers and caravans , and throwing up dust and rocks that brought my vision down to five fifths of fuck all. :eek1 And they were all traveling bloody slowly, on the plus side the amount of traffic had pushed a lot of the gibbers into neat windrows leaving nice clean wheel tracks to run in. On the down side I was going to have to get across these windrows at speed to pass theses slow moving behemoths if I was ever going to make it to Birdsville before the races were over. I never really ended up feeling 100% comfortable crossing over them at speed but I managed to do it without biting the dust. We made it the 200kms to Maree and fueled up the bike and the car with fuel and then headed to the pub to stock up the beer fridge. Another great thing about having the support vehicle is the ability to have cold beer on hand if and when the day ended with me still upright. An old mosque at Maree. They brought a heap of camels out here in the late 1800's to transport goods between remote cattle stations and towns, they also brought out a heap of Afghani cameleers to run them. We left Maree for the 200k trek up the Birdsville track to Mungaranie pub, our overnight stop for the day. The road was in good condition with only a few loose sections and a bit of sand scattered about. I was feeling good and the bike was doing its thing my arse was still sore so I was alternating between sitting and standing in an effort to get the blood flowing to my nether regions again. I had to pass a dozen or so slow moving caravans which added a little spice to my life. Whipping past a couple of ton of bouncing swerving metal at 100kmh on loose gravel does wonders for your concentration, especially when you get up close and visibility drops to zero for a few seconds We got to Mungaranie pub at about 15.30 and I was still pumped up and grinning like an idiot as we set up camp and cracked a few beers. The camp site was pretty full in all of the areas with shade so we ended up in the middle of the paddock with nothing but dust flies and thistles for company There is a very neat little water hole near the pub that is home to a wide range of birdlife and is an oasis in the desert for all manner of life including fat blokes on motorcycles. Mungaranie Pub a great place for a beer and a chat. The water hole beside the pub. The desert dunes coming right up to the waters edge We met a few blokes from Melbourne in the pub that were also on bikes Im not sure if they are members here on not but they were a great bunch of blokes that we would run into over the course of the next few days at the Birdsville pub. They had done the trip from Melbourne only hitting about 500kms of blacktop out of the 2500km they had traveled. Sunset at Mungaranie After a great feed a few beers and talking shit with the Melbourne boys the adrenaline or dopamine or whatever it was that had me feeling as happy as a pig in shit had worn off and I realized I was knackered, both physically and mentally. I was in bed real early and I slept like a log. Some of the birdlife at Mungaranie, their squawking in the mornings ensure you dont sleep in. To be continued.