Border Run 2011 – The one that nearly got away

This is a ride report from 2011.  I have included it in my blog as a way of archiving my ride reports in one location.


The border run. I remember as a teenager reading about these guys from Sydney and Melbourne riding to the WA and back.  They must be mad!

30 years on and here I am prepping for my first border run.  One week out – Russell and I are taking our wives out for a quick latte ride.  500 meters from home entering the servo and somehow I stalled the zed, it lurched to the right and I stuck out my right leg to hold the weight but I caught it at the tipping point where the full weight of the bike is felt.  So there I am holding up the bike, Deb and me.  Not wanting to put it on the deck I just stand there, everything slows down.  The leg quivered and then gave way.  As I went to get up my right leg was screaming at me.  No.  Not now.  All I could see was my border run moving from my grasp, Deb was okay, and the bike was on the deck.  Within days this is how my leg looked, my hamstring was killing me.

The day before our departure I still could not throw my leg over the bike very easily so I decide to leave the ventura bag at home to keep the rear seat free to make it easier to get on the bike.

The day arrived.  2:45am I roll into the Majura servo, Russell is there waiting, contemplating the day that waits before us.   (need to include something about the IBA and the SS2000)  2,000km, I’m having trouble getting my head around this, but with Davo’s words in my head, I just try and focus on the next stop.  Ed has now joined us so we roll up to the bowsers to get the first of our many fuel receipts for the day.

The trip north to Goulburn for our first corner receipt was fairly uneventful as we settled into the ride.  However turning south from Goulburn and back down the same road started to screw with my head and by the time we started to see the rays of the new day weariness had started to set in.  Days before we had spoken of the importance of being able to say to each other when we needed to stop and not simply keep going.  But now?  We are only 10% of the way through our first day, how the heck can I keep this up.  I needed to focus, put these thoughts aside.  By our second fuel stop at Wagga Wagga it was evident that we all struggled to some extent in that stage and agreed to play it by ear.

However, with the sun up, the weariness had gone and replaced by the anticipation of what lay ahead.

Ed was keeping us on track as all our timing was geared around making the Wudinna service station before it closed at 10pm.  Bottom line – miss Wudinna and the SS2000 is over.  By the time we entered South Australia we were making good time, our breaks whilst couldn’t be called slick, were fairly good given there are 3 of us which always slows the process down.

By now this is all new territory for me and I am just soaking in the vistas.  The beautiful Clare valley and my first experience of Horrocks Pass.  I tossed up about stopping for photos but it was pitch black by the time we crossed Horrocks.

By the gutta we were getting weary, but hyped.

As we rolled into Wudinna, we met a few other riders heading to the WA border.  Now we could relax a bit, so we had an extended stop and enjoyed a nice meal and chat.  One more tankful and we have the SS2000 kicked, done, dusted.  We were on the home stretch.

The road just stretches out before us, there is no animal life and we are passing through the country side all lights blazing, each taking turns at point.  Half way through this stage the days weariness catches up with me and I hit the wall.  I signal the guys that I need to stop.  It’s nice to get off the bike and wander around, soak in the crisp night air, the stars, and the quiet (when not interrupted by the occasional road-train).  With only 140km to go the mood is high.  Okay let’s kick this SS2000.  I thumb the starter, all lights dim, and the bike hardly turns over.  No!  This can’t be happening.  I try again and this time not only do the lights dim but my trip meters reset to zero.  I quickly flick the gauge over to the battery voltage and it is showing low 11 volts.  Not now!  I start to see the SS2000 slipping away and worse than that Russell and Ed’s as well.  I take note of the time and see how much time we have and decide at what point I’ll send them on their way.  They have come too far to throw it away this close to the end of the run.

First thing we try is pushing it.  Damn it.  It just doesn’t want to know about it! Again. Again. Again.  No, this can’t be happening!  What if we pull it.  Using my luggage straps Ed and I attempt this very gingerly but we can see this will end in tears so a halt is called to this endeavour.  So I pull the zed apart on the side of the road and wonder what we can do.  Jumper leads are not something we even think about packing and try calling a couple of trucks but there is no place for them to stop safely so they just keep going.  One car stops but he has none either.  Options.  Our catholic vest connections.  Maybe we can trickle charge enough from one bike to another…?  But how to connect them.  Ah my heater socks adapter.  I quickly rip out the connectors and we connect the two bikes together and Ed starts tigger to charge the zed.  Minutes seem like hours.  I have no idea how long we gave it but it made no difference.  What that doesn’t make any sense!  It should have made a bit of difference.  (the next day I realised why – my vest is connected via the acc circuit so there is no way it would have worked unless I swapped it’s power source).  What next? We take stock of what we have and Russell pulls out a roll of light gauge figure 8 cable.  “What about this” he says.  With that we fashion a set of jumper leads and after stripping the bike further to get to the battery we successfully jump start the bike.

And off we head back into the night.

An hour and a half later we enter the Penong service station – 2,064km, 23.5 hours since we left Canberra.  I’m not sure whether I’m excited, relieved, or just exhausted.  However, after pitching the tent in a nearby rest area, sleep was not hard to come by.

Saturday morning came around with Ed and Russell making non-to-subtle it’s time to get up sounds.  And after camp was pulled it was coffee time.

With only 400km to do today – Saturday was turned into a tourist day.

Fueling up on the Nullabor

Out on the Nullabor

Russell was our OH&S officer for the weekend and was eager to point out all the things that would harm us.
Number 1 – animals that are trying to get us.

Number 2 – beware of the cliff.

Number 3 – the dangers of rain-suits and high-winds – you risk getting blown away

Number 4 – fences are put there for your safety.  And as you can see Russell took his role seriously and was seen here attempting to rescue Ed from himself.

Thanks Russell.

The cliffs along the Nullabor are simply breath taking.

So onto the border …

After booking in we found our accommodation at Camp Davo

And then off to do some more exploring.  I mean – we rode this far we might as well go for a spin in WA.  So we went down to check out the old telegraph station just out of Eucla.

As we cross back over into SA I spot the SA/WA border structure so I signal to Russell that I’m going back to take a picture so back through the border, another brief chat with the border official and then around to the structure.  I ride up to it and then I went to turn around and before I know it I’m on the ground.  What the hell is going on.!  (I later realise that my phone charger hit my front brake at full lock, locking the front wheel and bringing us down) As I jump up, slightly embarrassed but very angry with myself I notice the border official running over.  I quickly yell. “I’m right mate” as Russell gives me a hand to right the zed.  The official yells back that he’s not interested in me but points at Russell.  “It’s him I want to talk to!” and proceeded to give Russell a dressing down for not stopping at the border.  You’re a bad man Mr Smith!. Bad.

Back to the bar, and catch up with other FarRiders, and sit and enjoy a beer with John and share our road stories.  Rest in Peace John.

I must say that as a party animal I’m a failure, as I hit the sack quite early that night.  I heard Russell and Ed walk back over discussing the idea of a shower back at the roadhouse.  I remember thinking what a great idea that was.  But the thought of getting up, walking back over was just too much.  Within seconds I was asleep.

Sunday morning came and it was time to leave.  And after a laugh with Mel about only catching up at the WA border, Victoria or the north coast of NSW (even though we both live in Canberra), we start our trip back east.

Including a number of impromptu meetings at various service stations

At Port Augusta we farewell Russell and then there were two.  By Horrocks it is again pitch black so again no photos.  Peterborough was closed for the night so we pushed on.  After a close encounter with a few roos we found some suitable accommodation under a veranda in Manna Hill.   This put us half way home.

On Monday the wheels just keep turning.  Fuel up – ride.  Fuel up – ride.  Fuel up – ride.

Love it.

3 thoughts on “Border Run 2011 – The one that nearly got away

  1. Had a similar tip over with my ST1300, except my permanent reminder is a divit in my right bicep. Since then, 3 more tip overs, but now I just jump off and let her go. No more wrestling with a 740 lb beaST!


  2. Pingback: Lighting – Making night into day | zed14

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