As we got off the bikes in Glenambo, Ed looks at me and says you’re not feeling the love for this ride are you?…
This week was meant to be a week riding with mates with an attempt on a couple of IBA ride (50cc and then a Centreline24). But we all have had bad lead ups to this ride – both physically and mentally, which left us all with fairly low reserves. Not a good lead up to rides of this scale. And Russell had a mishap in the States recently and injured his hand so that was also playing on his mind – could he even ride that far?. So before we even started there were a number of large grey clouds hanging over our heads.
But we were keen to get out on the bikes! I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Rolling out of Canberra set the scene with bumper to bumper traffic from the snow, followed by high winds throwing debris at us and all over the road heading down to Cann River. And then to complete the ensemble patchy storms and drizzle coming into Melbourne.
Plan – day 1 – Melbourne to Marla approx 1800km
Today started out well. Up at 3am and fairly seemlessly get ready and be at the servo at 4am to fill up before departing. Slight wrinkle in the plan with a mix up of where we were meeting who were seeing us off. But with that sorted, we were off leaving on an adventure heading to Darwin and back.
And then it all started to come unraveled.
It was cold and wet. And it was Victoria. There are so many little towns to get through with the constant threat of the local police pedantically grabbing you for any slight infraction over the limit. And this just makes traffic that much worse. This place just does my head in.
As we approached our first fuel stop of the day Russell pulled us over and said that he was done. His hand was not up to this ride. And with that he wished us well and disappeared.
And then there were two.
It quickly became apparent that my plan was a NSW plan and not a VIC/SA plan. The high number of small towns in close proximity just killed our overall average speeds and quickly put us behind schedule. In NSW we can run much higher averages as towns are further spaced apart and there is more open roads. Lesson learnt. While I told myself that it was all good it still plays on your mind. With so much time to think these things can start to play on your mind.
By the time we got to Port Augusta we were over an hour behind and while the ride had been a bit of a grind to this point we were still in pretty good spirits. Yes it was still cold and wet but largely we were warm (ish) and dry.
And then we turned right heading north. The winds that we have been battling all day, now is a constant pounding from our left with no escape and no let up. The only reprieve you get are the road trains acting as a wind break as you move passed their massive length, only to be hit again as you pop out the front. It just doesn’t stop. And it was taking its toll. It was taking a toll on me physically and the pain I was experiencing was crushing me mentally.
So as we got off the bikes in Glenambo, Ed looks at me and says you’re not feeling the love for this ride are you. No. Not really. For the last couple of hours I have not been enjoying the ride and battling the crosswind has killed my neck. At one stage I pulled over and attempted to make a neck brace out of my thermals to help relieve the pressure from my neck. That only worked with limited success. Then the sun started to set and we are riding straight into it – sitting below the speed limit, ensuring that road trains are not looming up behind, not seeing clearly what’s in front, looking into the sun giving you a headache, and having a couple of close encounters with wildlife because you can’t see them due to the sun. Did I mention the crosswind. Yes I was struggling and for the last two hours I had been weighing all this up and had come to the point of questioning whether I could do another 500km tonight with this wind. And if my neck got worse could I do tomorrow, and then what about… I was in a bad place. I’m going to have to talk to Ed about this as I can’t go on.It turns out that Ed had been going through similar feelings and had an overwhelming sense that continuing was a bad idea. And that 5 more hours in the dark on this road in our current state of mind was not a good idea. One thing I have leaned over the years is that you always take note of those feelings – I like to call it my spidey sense. So we sat and had dinner and agreed that Darwin wasn’t going to happen and that we were pulling the pin on this ride.
With the decision made we booked a room and we now had to come up with a new plan. But more on that later.