For day seven of the Around Australia Ride I find myself getting into a rhythm. The night before I will pack all my gear, lay out everything I will wear the next day, ensure I have cleaned up all my possessions so I am ready to pack the bike and go the next morning. I’m normally up by 6am for whatever timezone we happen to be in, and will generally be on the road by 6:30 to 7am.
Waking in The Isa, at my now accustomed 6am, I could hear rain outside, just like it was forecast. Dammit. Peeking out the window I could see it wasn’t a heavy rain and a quick check with technology (using my now newly purchased Telstra NextG sim) the day’s forecast was only for light rain. Casting caution to the wind I decided to leave with only leathers and jeans for protection and for the following half hour I was fine, until the rain got too heavy and I was forced into a road side stop to do the one-legged-rain-dance of putting on rain gear.
Today was destined to be a 670km day, our longest in a while, and it was also to be our first with a designated road side stop. This was to allow a fuel top-up for riders who needed it as one of the legs between towns was 260kms. Normally not a problem for most bikes although we also discovered our first 130kmh zones. These zones are great for chewing up the distances, but also great for chewing up fuel. And at $1.77 a litre at one stop (with more expensive to come) it became a fine line of speed and conservatism, if there is such a thing.
130km sounds like fun I’m sure, but getting around road trains at 130kmh in the rain is, shall we say, exciting and not in a good way. The amount of spray they throw up in the wet, not to mention the undulating tail of these huge road going beasts, can really get the heart pumping. Especially when out of the gloom a car appears in the opposite direction and you really have to drop the hammer. I was quite thankful when the weather cleared and I only had to contend with watching the back end of these 50m monsters weaving back and forth.
The weather did come good in the late morning as we popped out the other side of the rain into clear skies and rapidly rising temperatures. Naturally I now had to do the one-legged-sunshine-dance of taking off the rain gear. Such a pain.
Speaking still of 130kmh zones, it was while I was taking a picture of one of the signs that my motorcycle had its first tumble (no I didn’t take a photo). I was positioning it on the side of the road when my foot slipped in loose gravel and the Roadie leaned to the left. I tried with all my strength to hold it up but it wasn’t to be and I laid the bike down on its left hand side as gently as I could. And I couldn’t get it back up. If I hadn’t of known how far away people were, which at this time was only a few hundred metre down the road, I might have tried to get the bike up with more gusto as the temps were in the high 30s and I had no shade. But as it was I laid on the air horn for a little while until I got their attention and received help. And a camera crew in my face to document the only damage which occurred, the damage to my pride.
This day was also to be my first of wildlife fatalites with not one, but two birds seeing if they could take on the mighty Road Star. They both lost. One I backtracked to make sure it was dead as it seemed to catch the bike with only a glancing blow, but if there is something about a Road Star is it takes no prisoners. Interestingly in the wildlife concerns I have been worried about kangaroos but have seen narry a one. I’ve seen quite a few cows though, next to the road on the wrong side of the fence – not so sure how the Roadie would go up against one of those.
To end the day as we closed in on Tennant Creek I side-tracked to an old abandoned telegraph station built around the 1870s. I wandered around the station with a few other riders, baking and sweating like a pig in my riding gear with 40c temps, and I couldn’t help but marvel at the people who came to these barren areas all those years ago, and for what, to man a bit of telegraph line. No internet or flatscreen plasmas back then, no sir. But I guess the aboriginals were able to do without for 10’s of thousands of years before white folk came along, so maybe not such a big surprise after all.
At Tennant Creek we cooled off in the motel’s salt water pool, told war stories from the last day or so – and yes, I did lay my bike down, no I couldn’t pick it up, yes I’m ok, yes it is quite heavy, no I don’t want to try it without any help… *sigh*