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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Nathan, Oct 23, 2010.
Nice RR. Bike pictures are great.
The grab rails/indicator mounts actually work surprisingly well. What's the point in having light soft luggage if you heavy it up with a big rack? Elena's rear fender and side panels are a little marked now, but that just adds to her charm.
Well there we go. A cicada. He must be of the stealthy variety, because I didn't hear him at all.
I spent most of the morning faffing around at the caravan park in Bourke. But it started heating up near midday, so I figured I would check out the fancy History of Bourke attraction for the air conditioning. The lady at the counter said it was $20! Why would anyone pay $20 to learn about the history of Bourke? :huh
I declined and decided to hit the road, following the Darling River back towards Wilcannia. That place is like a magnet.
Looking at the map, the road seems promising, but in reality it's terrible. It's quite busy (by outback standards), dusty, and you don't even get to see the river. I didn't even bother taking any photos.
The temperature and humidity were colluding to knock the stuffing out of me. Riding with the top of my jacket open did almost nothing to cool me down. I arrived in Louth hot and frazzled, got a drink and sandwich from the pub. The publican said the rain was still coming, and after some chatting I headed to Tilpa.
These pictures are crap, but they're all I have for the day.
Inside the Tilpa Hotel, there a was fat old lady behind the bar and a lone, old guy drinking. They spent 15 minutes talking about the chicken fingers she had given him a previous night. The guy must have been hammered, driven home from the pub, and he didn't know where the chicken fingers were now.
Then a bunch of 4WD guys came in. They all purchased some stubby holders for the princely sum of $8 each. The main attraction of said stubby holders being a hairy penis with legs running after a hairy vagina with legs and the caption: "Just one fucking thing after another." Classy.
I was intrigued by this basket. It's adds an exciting third dynamic to the classic soft luggage versus hard panniers debate.
And here's another random photo from Tilpa just because I feel like a knob for not having more photos of the day.
I decided to head to Cobar--instead of Wilcannia--to have more options if it did rain. My enduring memories of the road from Tilpa to Cobar will be of locusts. They were just starting to flying and swarm. For considerable portions of the road, I had to close my jacket up and ride through storms of the wretched insects. They get everywhere--including one going up my sleeve, which sent me into an emergency stop and a frantic panic to get my jacket off and remove it.
I stopped to clean my helmet visor, and a few kilometres down the road, it looked like this. Notice the locusts wedged into the top vent and sides of the visor.
And a random picture of a rest stop that was pretty enough that people seemed to be camping there.
I arrived at Cobar pretty damn sick of this whole adventure touring lark. Some days just suck and there ain't much you can do about it.
The guy in the caravan park wanted $18 for a camping site. When I tried to pay with my bank card, he changed the price to $19. I dunno about Aussie, but that's illegal in New Zealand.
It did finally rain a little bit in the night, but it sure as hell wasn't worth being chased across a third of the outback for.
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Great pictures! This gives a new meaning to the lonely and desolate road. Thanks for taking us with you!
A pub, sattelite dish and couple of buildings was all we found there in the early 80's.
Had an overnighter in the camp ground, they were in the middle of a mouse plague, cute little critters but they got into everything.
Two of them managed to get into our food box in the boot of the car!
They were still in there when we got back to Melbourne.
My best memory of Tilpa was the comment on the camp ground sign - 'TILPA, we came, we saw, we F*&^%$D off, and so should you'
Travelled there from Wilcannia, crossed the river at/near Tilpa and came back to Wilcannia on the other side of the river.
Some big stations, "Oh the small paddock is 10,000 acres" :eek1
Enjoying the pictures and ride report, thank you for sharing the experience.
Behind the Scenes - Stuff I Carry On Me
Here's a sneak peak at what I carry on my person while riding.
Bottom Left Jacket Pocket
Top Left Jacket Pocket
Custom fitted earplugs, which I don't use because they hurt my ears, but I can't bring myself to throw them away.
Cottonwool. The only thing that I've found works as earplugs and doesn't hurt my ears.
Bottom Right Jacket Pocket
Swiss army knife.
Watch. So I can turn my cellphone off when there's no reception and still have the time.
Top Right Jacket Pocket
Important documents and spare key in a ziplock bag. This is zipped into an internal pocket in the backpack.
Survival kit from an army surplus store.
Personal locator beacon.
Garbage bags. Useful for all sorts of things in a survival situation, but especially handy for getting drinking water from trees, urine, etc.
Waterproof liner for my riding pants.
Small Motion Pro tool kit. I just like to have this handy, and it won't fit in the tool kit holder on the Elena.
WD40 for lubricating the chain.
Snack food (not shown).
30/10/2010, Lake Cowal
Some locusts on Elena's oil cooler. She smelled like locust guts. During the night, I rolled over and put my face directly on the locust covered legs of my riding pants. The smell was terrible.
Cobar has a badass town sign.
I headed out of Cobar to a little place called Nymagee. At this point, I had to find back roads to keep having fun on the gravel.
No idea what this is.
I was riding along happily when this little guy face planted into Elena's Safari tank. I stopped for more "rendering of assistance," but he was toast. The impact had knocked out all but one of his tail feathers.
The road to Nymagee is very pretty and even has a few swoopy corners. Highly recommended.
I really like these purple flowers, but I suspect they're actually a weed.
My pictures of Nymagee came out crap, so this mail box will have to be representative of the place. The doddery old chap running the pub gave me directions to everywhere except where I wanted to go. I don't think he could even read the map.
Onwards to Condobolin. But first, a few more purple weeds.
I was close to civilisation now. The roadside had crops instead of, well, nothing.
And more purple weeds.
Condobolin is a dump. Sorry, Condobolinians, but it's true. I couldn't find anywhere to eat on a Saturday afternoon. Only one place was open, so I asked if anything special was happening. The lady at the counter said "No, this is Condobolin; everything is shut on Saturdays."
I was offered the choice of regular salt or chicken salt on my fries. Being an intrepid adventurer, I ordered the chicken salt just to try it. Apparently chicken salt is quite a big deal in Condobolin. I think it was just chicken stock.
Once free from the gravity well that is Condobolin, Elena and I hit the back roads again. We found a place to camp off the side of the road in some very long grass with spines that wormed their way into everything I own.
The mosquitoes were insane. I biffed my tent up as quickly as possible and jumped inside. Around 10pm, I really needed to pee, but if I opened the tent, I knew I would be swarmed. So I applied my ludicrously oversized mammalian brain the problem at hand... and pee'd into a plastic bag. I could pretend that it was a flawless operation executed with military precision, but the truth is, it didn't go so well.
Now, I've had some feedback from geographically challenged people that they have no idea where I am. Behold! A map.
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The rain that had been chasing me from the Outback finally caught up good and proper during the night. Morning brought more mosquitoes and frantic packing up of my soggy tent. I headed down to West Wyalong, then across to a tiny place called Quandialla.
I rode through Young and Boorowa. Not a lot happened, I gotta admit. The riding is nice in this part of Aus, with cool temperatures and sweeping roads through green countryside. More wind turbines!
I finished the day in Goulburn where my friend, Amanda, is doing temp work as a radiographer.
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1/11/2010, Rest Day
My first day off in over two weeks. I went for a walk around Goulburn. It's an incredibly exciting place, so I ended up taking this photo because there were just too many choices for good photos. Would you get these guys to design your house when they work in a place like that?
I managed another food shot! I was going to get something healthy, but the smart 1% of my brain was drowned out by the other fat-loving 99%.
I was staying in the nurses' housing at the hospital. I know, this sounds awesome: hot young women in nursing uniforms having pillow fights. The reality is... well... Most of the woman living there do so because they're a bit strange. It was also a typical institution-type place. I didn't really enjoy staying there, but it was free.
And a couple of pictures from the cathedral.
Each one of these cushions has a name embroidered on it of a serviceman who died in the war.
Hrmf! Your pictures are showing-up as red X's from my Japanese IP. Oh well.
Fantastic report so far Nathan! And truly excellent pictures...
Great catching up with you in Gulgong - actually feel guilty now about not talking you into a feed and a few beers at my place - the offer still stands if you are heading back through this way though!
Looking forward to the next instalment
Picasa was doing that to me the other night as well. It seems to have sorted it out on my end, so you'll have to yell at Google.
Hi Ian! Good chatting with you. Gulgong was a nice wee town, so I may well turn up on your doorstep in the future.
Much like ragwort in New Zealand.
Right, enough dallying. On with the ride report, and I've got some doozies.
2/11/2010, Mount Panorama and Sofala
I spent a bit of the morning checking out Amanda's work and helping make her Melbourne Cup hat. She didn't want her photo taken (because she knows what a lecherous lot YFFs are, smart girl), so no hat photos. But I do have some photos of the new student radiographer giving some dude cancer. Amanda said something about patient-doctor confidentiality, but I wasn't really listening.
[Edit]Picture removed to prevent Amanda getting in trouble![/Edit]
Is it terminal?
Did you know the Blue Mountains get up to 1200 metres? I didn't, so I froze my ass off. It was also very foggy. Imagine this much fog, a fogged visor, and fogged glasses. I was doing about 50kph, and still couldn't see where I was going.
The Blue Mountains remind me a lot of NZ. If not for the wombat signs, I could have been on a ride at home.
This is the town of Oscar, and a woman in a very small ute. It would have been cool if she was a midget.
And then on to Bathurst. I was super excited about riding around Mount Panorama, and it didn't disappoint!
Good Lord, this track is steep. I knew it was steeper than it looked on the telly, but now I have major respect for the guys that race on this circuit. I just about arsed off doing 50kph around the track.
And Conrod Straight. Gravity assisted, Elena managed to reach the dizzying speed of 55kph. Stupid speed limits.
Fun fact: in the visitor centre in Bathurst, Conrod Straight is mistakenly labelled as Conrad Straight. I was worried I'd been mishearing it all these years until I realised that it was women running the visitor centre and for the first time in history men have definitive proof of female wrongness!
Of course, Elena demanded a pitstop, so I lubed her chain and left WD40 all over the bitumen. If there's a big crash in pit lane during the next race, that might be my fault.
After setting lap records at Bathurst, it was time for something more sedate: Sofala.
I met Tony, who was pouring petrol into a couple of dirt bikes. He offered me the left over fuel and we got to chatting. Tony and his brother-in-law, Adrian, had ridden 120km mostly cross country, and were heading back along the same route the next day. He asked if I wanted to come. I looked at Elena loaded with gear, and knew it was a bad idea... so I said "Sure!"
We had a few drinks, and Tony told me about a free camp ground out of town. Once it started getting dark, I headed off to pitch my tent.
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3/11/2010, Off Roading
Tony and Adrian met me at the campground before 8am. It's a great campground, toilets, drinking water, lovely river without mosquitoes, and free. Enquire at the Sofala pub if you want to find out where it is.
On with the riding. Within 100 metres of the campground was the first water crossing of the day. It was probably half a metre deep and fast flowing with a slick bottom. Tony made it through with only a few wobbles. Adrian went next and his fancy Aprillia slipped out from under him. He pinned the throttle as he almost fell over himself on the greasy bottom. The Aprillia was still running with the seat nearly under water, until Tony jumped in to help (I was trying to figure out how to get off Elena at this point ), they got the bike righted, only to have it conk out now that its air filter wasn't in the water. :huh
Tony and Adrian got the Aprillia out (I had finally turned Elena around and got her sidestand down), and it fired up straight away. Not what I was expecting from a temperamental Italian. Elena made it through with a bit of help from Tony and Adrian (their boots were already wet, so why not? )
We continued along a twisty dirt road with two more big crossings. Here's the last crossing. That's Tony in the picture.
The dirt road turned into a 4WD track. That's Adrian and me.
Check out this tiny horse. I thought I had my hand lined up right with it, but I'm not even close.
And a bridge that had big gaps between the boards, but was surprisingly strong.
Blue Mountains purtiness. While I was taking this photo, and 'roo jumped out in front of me. My extreme, 0kph speed unnerved it so much that it actually fell over trying to get away from me. Kangaroos must be some kind of divine joke.
We finished the 4WD in Capertee and started following a railway line. Here's Tony messing up my photo.
The track left the railway line and became single track for a while. Elena was proving to be a real handful--kind of like an underdamped pogo stick.
I gotta say, the views made it all worthwhile.
This is me chickening out. Steeper than it looks, etc... Tony ignored my comments about how Elena is a big pig (sorry, girl), hopped on her and rode down it no problem.
And stuck again. I was really sweating at this point. It was hard going.
After the single track, we bounced (well, Elena and I bounced) along some powerline access tracks. Some of the climbs were pretty rough with foot-high step ups that I didn't really like. Luckily, Elena has tractor-like torque and got us up.
Tony and Adrian.
Here's Adrian doing an optional and quite nasty hill climb.
And our destination: Zigzag Station!
I will admit to doing the final few kilometres on the road. I was just sick of the pogoing after 90km of it.
An abandoned railway carriage.
Tony and Adrian said goodbye at Zigzag Station. They're both really cool guys, and I'm very grateful for them taking me on such a monster ride.
Unfortunately, the ride had taken me in the exact opposite direction to what I wanted, so I jumped on the bitumen and started heading north west again, which included heading back through Capertee by road.
Here's a view from the look out on route 86.
In Gulgong, I met a fellow inmate, KLEaner. He saluted me with the proper obsequiousness. Sorry about the bad photo.
And my epic day ended with some camping out on the side of the road.
The offroad part of the trip is missing from the map below. I had absolutely no idea where we were.
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And page break because this page is getting a bit heavyweight.