Sitting on the lounge the other night Deb remarked that this sounded like me – “I’d rather be one of those people that look back on life and say I can’t believe I did all that, than look back and say I wish I had done more.”
When walking out of work recently I was asked how one of our colleagues was … I looked at him blankly. I hadn’t heard that he had had a stroke a couple of weeks earlier (certainly one of the downsides of working primarily from home is you just don’t hear about the broad goings on within the organisation). And only a couple of months earlier another colleague (the same age as me) died of a heart attack.
I have to say I didn’t get much sleep that night … I just couldn’t turn off.
We really don’t know what’s around the corner, or how much time we have.
After a big accident in 2004 I had plenty of time to sit and think, look at maps and plan. One of my plans was a motorcycle trip around Australia, a bucket list item for many Australian riders. My plan wasn’t a leisurely trip but a two week ride around the block. While there is a specific IBA ride called The Lap around the Paddock which is a 14,500km (9,000m) circumnavigation of mainland Australia using Highway 1 in under 9 days. That’s nine 1,600km days back-to-back. I didn’t want to do it at quite that pace – my plan was a more leisurely 1,000km per day spread over two weeks. That’s a better balance of riding and still having the opportunity to have a look around. Not constantly battling the clock, ensuring you arrive at fuel stations while they are open, and getting enough sleep.
It’s scary how fast time moves. I look around at work now and I am that old guy.! How did that happen.!
A lot has happened in the last 16 years and the round Australia ride is still sitting there, taunting me every time I open a map. One day. With everything that’s happening, now might be the time to dust off the plans. Originally this was a solo trip, camp gear strapped to the back seat – roughing it for two weeks. Just riding and camping.
Life is different now, the kids are grown up and left home. And after a couple of extended riding adventures overseas we’ve discovered the joy of motorcycle travel together. So while we aren’t ready for a caravan, we do have a motorcycle and we are ready for adventure.
I really don’t want to wake up one day thinking about the could-a, would-a, should-a’s. Don’t get me wrong, when I look back and think about all the things I’ve done and places I’ve been, I know my 16 year-old self would have been blown away. I can only imagine what would have been possible if I only believed more. Dreamed bigger.
A couple of those pinch yourself moments.!
I don’t want another 16 years to pass and find it’s too late to ride around Australia. If 2020 has taught us anything its that we just don’t know whats around the corner and how quickly our whole world can be turned upside down.! So before more times passes I want to start laying down a plan to make this happen.
So where to start.?
The plan at this stage is to take some long service leave and hit the road for a couple of months. To ease the burden on the budget we are planning on camping as much as possible rather than staying in motels. No real plan, just take it as it comes. Okay … if it was me that’s exactly how it would be, but it won’t just be me so there will be a bit more planning involved.
The purchase of the Honda ST1300 was our first step to having a bike more suited to a trip of this nature. And over the last few months I have been getting it set up with a number of upgrades including a more comfortable seat and a better screen.
However, if we are planning on camping then we’ll need to look at how to carry the extra gear. Solo camping is easy as there is heaps of room on the bike for tent, sleeping gear, cooking gear, etc. However, travelling two-up you have less available room and the need to carry additional supplies and camping gear for 2 people is much more of a challenge.
Therefore we need extra room … the answer … a small motorcycle trailer to carry the extra gear.
When you google motorcycle trailers there are so many options out there – from small single wheel trailers the size of an extra pannier, all the way up to large camper trailers with pull out canvas tents mounted to the lid of the trailer. From very basic trailers to sleek sophisticated colour matched trailers.
I know nothing about motorcycle trailers, so I had a chat with a few friends who’ve towed motorcycle trailers for years to get a few pointers. For me it’s really important that the trailer doesn’t detract from the riding experience, otherwise what’s the point.
The idea of a camper trailer certainly appealed as they are all in one. However looking at a number of camper options, they are either just somewhere to clamber up into to sleep, or something much more elaborate and a lot heavier. So rather than a camper we were looking for a regular trailer and a tent. And I really wanted a proven light weight trailer. This should keep the whole setup much smaller and lighter, thereby give us the best of both worlds.
After keeping an eye out on many different sites I found a trailer made in Queensland that has a good reputation and should meet our needs perfectly. It’s just over 10 years old and is in great condition, with a tare weight of only 70kg.
When I saw it, it was exactly what we were after so I shelled out the money and brought it home. I have also purchased and fitted a tow bar for the ST. Nothing like jumping in the deep end.!
The first couple of rides were very local as I got used to the sensation of towing a trailer. The trailer is only 1m wide so it’s only a little wider than the bike (less then 10cm wider each side) so it tucks in really well behind the bike. I was expecting that I’d have to significantly change the way I rode and my lines through corners, but as the trailer isn’t much wider than the bike I found that I didn’t need to change my lines really at all.
Following the initial getting to know you rides the next few weekends we ventured out further and further with only a 20kg bag of cement to weigh it down taking in all sorts of road conditions to built confidence and experience with the whole setup before setting off on a real test fully loaded.
A couple of initial thoughts on towing –
- the trailer tracks really well and you can generally use your normal lines
- the sensation on rougher roads is different as the feedback from the trailer goes through the tow bar mounting points.
- you certainly need to give yourself more room when braking and I find I use my rear brakes more than I usually would.
- you certainly notice the extra drag and weight of the trailer when riding, which in turn increases fuel consumption.
- you get a lot of looks
Overall I am very happy with how the trailer performs and my initial concerns about ruining the riding experience is no longer there. Yes it certainly changes the experience and you need to be a bit more circumspect about your riding. After riding it for a little while I am glad that I went for a lighter setup rather than a bigger heavier setup.
With the bike and trailer now organised we need to now start putting our camping kit together. As we’ve camped for years we will have most of the gear required, however a lot of it is more suited to family car trailer camping, rather than a couple on a bike. So we’ll need to pull it out, see what we have, and what we need.
Then we’ll need to get away for a few weekends and test what works and what doesn’t.