Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

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Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  jstava on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 2:33 am

Well this trip has been a long time a-coming.  I'd been progressively debilitated by an arthritic hip over the last 15 years and rather than just hang up my helmet, I stopped riding the SRX6 with its kick start rigours and bought a Bandit 3 or 4 years ago.  A very good move.  The Bandit was less cramped and while any ride approaching an hour got pretty uncomfortable, I was still in the game. 2 Years ago at Easter, I rode to a "do" at Nymboida with the aid of a couple of highway pegs to provide some welcome relieve in varying my leg position.  Coming back, I did the 1230km in one hit - mostly on account of the weather, which was very wet.  I only wanted to get off and stop the once, and did not relish getting back into sodden gear in any morning to follow.  

Now there has been a lot of water under the bridge, so to speak.  I had a hip replacement last August, and was riding by the end of November.  I was for all intents and purposes normal by Christmas but halfway through that month fully ruptured my left achilles tendon.  It was just one of those things - a freaky full rupture of the tendon requiring a surgical fix and the usual lengthy down time.  I've been out of the Moon boot about 7 weeks now. There is still lots of physiotherapy to come.  Anyway, Gympie was the destination for Easter.  

Now I've never liked travelling on the double pointer weekend, so left home at Tocumwal at 6:00 AM on the Wed, droning my way up the Newell, as one does, and more or less burned up 5 consecutive tanks of fuel.  I didn't carry a map.  I was told not to bring camping gear.  There would be a bed.  I had the name of the town and a phone number to ring when I got there only.  Oh I'd done a bit of homework, looked at Google Maps, Whereis, and the advice was to go through Brisbane.  Right, I should be able to follow the signs. Anyway, I've got a decent phone, and so long as I've got reception, I should be able to navigate just fine, albeit pretty slowly using it.  Yeah, right.  The bike had got a new set of Pr4s, I put the Corbin seat on for the trip, the Pro-oiler got a top up - it holds about 150 ml, and fresh synthetic oil duly exchanged for old, Oh I put some +120 globes in and adjusted them so the few candles did as well as they could. That did improve the lighting - to be regarded as a work in progress.  Yeah, I know how to do the relay with heavier wire thing. I caught up with Banditdave at Gympie who actually knows the voltage figures and drops.  As it turns out, I've got a couple of relays and suitable wire here at home.  I must do it soon.   

The scenery rolled back steadily, without much traffic, really, for that road.  Fuel at West Wyalong, road construction somewhere around Forbes, Gilgandra, had the late afternoon lag happening a bit. Moree was interesting - no roadhouse on the highway.  You have to go into the town.  I would imagine that you wouldn't want to be trying to get fuel there late at night, as those servos would most likely be closed. Anyway, a large Red Bull put me right for a while. 

I had a light feed at Goondiwindi with coffee. This picked me up no end and I got into night time mode properly during the next leg to Toowoomba.  The road was wet there, with a bit of a spit in the air.  When I stopped for fuel, I took my time and slipped on the waterproof bottoms just to make sure it didn't actually rain. It worked. At the servo I asked a couple if they knew the area well and asked if they could give me any pointers about how to get through Brisbane, preferably to avoid paying the motorway toll - which I hadn't thought about.  The lady gave me some directions - simple enough, the names of 3 roads and signage to look out for and I let it go at that.  

Then down the great gully out of Toowoomba and on through Ipswich and on to the big city. I had no trouble reading the signs and finding the roads but the last one plumb evaded me.  I just ran out of route.  So I pulled up, consulted the phone, picked a route, then another one and another - they all led to the motorway.  Pharke! I tried 3 or 4 times including getting real systematic about it writing down some notes, after discovering that initially, my sense of direction was back to front.  I'd never actually used a phone to navigate before so did manage to spend some time in different locations confirming my actual location against the map I was seeing and working it out.  Actually, in the end I probably wasted the better part of two hours at this and in the end just got on the motorway and headed North out of town. So put me in gaol. 

I guess I'll just have to wait for the bill.  Coming from rural NSW, I have no need to have any sort of e-tag for a major city.  It's probably cheaper not to have one at all for the once in many years trips I make into toll-able territory.  That bloody road was so full of active road construction, its a wonder that they have the nerve to charge at all.  There were stops, police control points, endless flashing lights, but in the end it was behind me, and good riddance too, now to find my exit.  I thought I'd missed it, but there was no turning around so I kept going and after one more exit, there was Gympie on the signs again, and I got off on the right one.  

Not knowing the layout of the town, I had to stop at the first servo I came to and ask directions, (and fill up) to a place fitting the description given.  It made sense to the console operator, and I reached the appointed meet up point at 4:00 AM.  That's 22 hours on the road.  After 1664 km. I wasn't done yet. 

So I rang the number.  I had been told "Hey just ring me any time of day or night and I'll come and get you.  I don't care if it is 2 o'clock in the morning."  Well it was 4.  I was overdue and the number wasn't playing the game.  I thought it was him on the phone, but it turned out to be his voicemail answer, and I hung up just on the beep.  Oops. Try again.  This time I got a "this number is not connected..." message.  WTF? Well I sent a text message.  Let it go half an hour and tried again.  I still could not get through to the number.  So I stalled around, drank some most excellent coffee, watched the coppers and ambos refuelling their vehicles at the end of their shifts, stood around some more and finally got the "big breakfast" before deciding to just ride around the town maybe in search of a park bench to lie down on for a while.  I found an ATM and got some cash out and the phone rings.  It's not my mate, it's his daughter in-law.  Apparently his phone went dead during the night and she was ringing to see where I was - the text message appeared when he put it on the charger.  He gets on the phone and asks where I am, I told him and he was there in 10 minutes.  We go back to his place for some brekky, have a bit of a catch-up, then over to the sons place for lunch and a yack and by 12:30 or so I'm starting to hallucinate. I'd been awake 31 hours. I'm finally in bed by 1 and sleep until 7, then it's more BS, beers and Wild Turkey until 3:30 AM.  It was a pretty slow day Friday.  Sat, we spent riding around some of the hilly swervery with others - 300 km or so.  It was a pretty social time with old and new friends until Monday when I left for home.

I didn't get out of town until 10:00 - not the sort of start I like to make, but at least I was on the road.  Determined to not go back the same way, I went North a bit to Kilkivan, then West and Southwards through Kingaroy, Dalby and back to Goondiwindi.  It was a very pleasant ride with only light traffic and it only got to be a chore once I got to Dalby - where I had a couple of NICE pieces of Red Emperor - possibly the best fish I've ever had at a fish and chips joint.  The road south of there was a BRUISER! It had been mostly flooded for some time.  It had been patched and otherwise fixed, there were no holes or broken up bits, but it was ROUGH.  That stretch took more out of me than any tank of fuel had on the trip.  I had a long break at Goondiwindi and got fuel.  

Next stop Coonabarabran, where I talked to a proud owner of a early model square case Ducati SSD900 (first of the electric only start Ducs)- with 30,000 km on it case seals intact.  He was over the moon.  It was not exactly a typical long neglected and forgotten barn find.  It was totally original apart from the paint and had been run regularly up until 3 or 4 years ago.  I changed clothes as it was getting cold as it was getting on to the middle of the night. Bring on the heated grips. Fuel again at Gilgandra, I got held up a bit by a mobile speed camera operating South of Forbes - travelling at 5 kph below the speed limit. I couldn't work out what this yellow thing ahead of me was, but didn't rush up to it to see and when I eventually got close enough read mobile speed camera on the back!  As I drew up I could see someone coming at a great rate of knots from way back.  I hung around behind him for quite a while, not game to give it a squirt to dodge around between oncoming trucks but I got my chance when an overtaking lane appeared.  I was off the hook a bit and he actually slowed down as I went past.  There is a God! Then we entered the road construction, a seemingly endless 80, with one pair of 60 signs right in the middle.  That's his game, working the road construction zone.  I eventually drew right away and the white rocket eventually overtook me.  Better him than me.  He was just pulling out of the West Wyalong roadhouse as I was pulling in.  The last tank of fuel had me stop at Narrandera for a big breakfast - with only 150 km or so to go, I could have a good feed.  Home by 6:30 saw 1550 km for the return trip which took 20.5 hours.  $220 worth of fuel for the round trip (leaving out the tankful I burned around Gympie on the day). 

You know, I actually prefer travelling at night.  It's easier on the eyes than dealing with daytime glare and traffic.  There IS very little traffic especially after 11 PM or so until about 5:30. animals were no factor at all.  I saw one roo - the ears only about 30 metres from the roadway in some tall grass.  There were only about 10 or 12 going each way rolled out on the road.  The amount of water there has been about has a lot to do with it.  There is no going for the roadside green pick when feed is so plentiful elsewhere.  This was enough time on the bike in a few days that when I had to drive my own vehicle once back, I really didn't like the isolation from the road.  It is actually easier and more relaxing to ride a motorcycle.  You have more meaningful input from more senses. This means that distractions are less effective.  A good example would be that on a right hander, where one largely loses sight of most of the roadway in the glare of oncoming lights, ones lean angle becomes the teller of the consistency of the turn.  

I'd have to say the Bandit performed faultlessly.  It really is such a good bike to go big distances on.  Shame about the timing of the trip and the route and all of the scrutiny it entailed.  It could easily have been a quarter shorter in time, with no stress at all.  I tried to get a bit of a handle on the issue of fuel economy and fuel grade.  It was a good opportunity to do it, as my speed was very consistent and pretty legal.  I did notice one or two tanks of premium fuel 95 or 98 did actually result in poorer km/l than 91.  There is nothing in it. No point in burning the dearer fuel where it is going to vary so much.   

In the space in which the mind wanders on such journeys, I had to marvel at the near absolute absence of motorcycle traffic later at night (1 only, out on the road the entire trip) led me to think What? don't people ride motorcycles any more? The legs gave me no problems whatever for the first time in many years.  I'm back.

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  Ewok1958 on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 7:36 am

Well done jstava. You're a better man than me if you can ride a continuous 1664kms and not be done yet! I'm impressed. 
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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  Chook on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 10:34 am

@Ewok1958 wrote:Well done jstava. You're a better man than me if you can ride a continuous 1664kms and not be done yet! I'm impressed. 

x 2, very impressive!!

If you are travelling anywhere near a motorway in the future, jump online and get a temp account

Last year in Melbourne it cost me $10 to set up, once I'd used all of that they billed me the extra $3 or $4

This year I set one up for Sydney, cost $2 or $3 to set up, same again, once that was used it billed me the rest. I went online to set one up for Brisbane to find the Sydney one covered both, I didn't use toll roads in Sydney but used heaps in Brisbane, total cost including the initial deposit, just over $14 and I didn't have to navigate Brisbanes for ever winding narrow main roads.

In both cases, no e tag required and motor cycles are exempt from plate matching fees
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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  jstava on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 12:04 pm

Maybe it's case of having got a bit carried away, You know, the seduced by distance thing.  I certainly wasn't working the time/space equation.  It was a drone, an exercise in self control.  I didn't consider it to be a personal test as such, though realistically it was.  Testing enough to make me think about food and fluid intake - you know, types of food, the amount and timing, interval.  Boundless cups of coffee are not the answer. One has to recognise and consider ones own body rhythm and start well rested, stay as relaxed as possible as much of the time as is possible on the road. Stretch, relax, move around, well timed stops with walk around time.  

I believe there are plateaus of fitness to ride in relation to the body. These relate to different on the road systems at work: The skeleton-muscular part,  the control centre - (nervous system - senses reaction time), and the reflective mind (like the overseer of all) so critical to fatigue management - the watchdog on level of alertness, hazard perception, manager of relaxation techniques, "duty time" limitations. It's a very personal thing.  I've always been pretty good in the endurance area.  

If there was a concern, it was in my actual physical fitness area - I'm still needing to look after my left achilles, and literally cannot afford to put a foot wrong - like the run out of reach, or step out too wide when stopping, but the years of arthritic coping have taught me how to "wrong foot" effectively when stopping. Hey it's probably motorcycling which brought it on in the first place.  To be able to ride free of arthritic pain is a revelation - like being 20 something again.  I just need to be a little careful and patient with the heal of the tendon.

Now this was a GREAT ride for me in so many ways.  I had another 4 hours in me on the trip up, but a weekend of socialising and the fact I caught a "real good" head cold meant that when I got home, I was done.  I first rode a larger road bikes in the early 70's when I had a Honda 4, and rode with a mate much of the time.  We just did it, as you do, when you are real fit 20 somethings and a little mad, and the imperative is to get back on the Monday and the best one could do was maybe take a sneaky Friday off to provide a bit of extra space by leaving ASAP on the Thursday night.    

THEN, it was all about playing the time and space game.  145kph was the standard speed with the occasional throttle stop burst for as long as was practicable to reel in the time even more and make the space go away.  We all know where that leads.  You might be able to eke out some extra attention and alertness, but to sustain this over real big distances is going to demand payback in real fatigue where the destination has not actually been reached in a predictable period of time.  It's a recipe. 

I wish I had owned my Bandit then.  The tyres, the suspension and pretty much everything about it, apart from the seat and the lights is generations ahead of the K2.  I did like the long flat seat on the K2 and the H4 insert replacement in it was a lot better in a variety of ways than what the Bandit has.  However, the roads were not as good as they are now - lining and signing, standard road widths, standard curve radii is something we take for granted now, but it was NOT like it was in the early - mid 70s. Everything about those days, apart from the necessity to apply firm self discipline in order to retain ones ability to continue to use the roads, was a true test of man and machine. 

We spent a lot of time hurling across large portions of the countryside in the pursuit of other sorts of thrills.  Nothing, well only one thing, ever turned us back - the unsealed great Southern Crossing - regarded as not worth trashing the suspensions in the end.  It was a long ride, to make the corrugated horror our reality and turn around, having had our look.  Yeah, we "woosed out".  All but forgotten now in blurry memory of rapidly advancing straight road countryside and concerns about fuel range where one doesn't remember even place names.  That mate is long gone, victim of a careless mistake, one I will never make due to the wonders of modern motorcycle technology (side stand lock out).  

Now at 65, I'd have to say I'm a lot more methodical about things.  Adrenalin does little more for me than make me fatigue more rapidly, though I can still appreciate the occasional burst for the focus and concentration required. Anyway, there are many ways of getting ones "hit" which do not include the possibility of loss of licence or endangerment of licence "points." It is the not the best fuel for longevity, but good for short sharp thrills.  It is all about the method.

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  Bosco15 on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 12:28 pm

Epic write up for an epic ride. 
Glad that you're back in the saddle after becoming bionic.

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  mtbeerwah on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 5:01 pm

Well done mate, good write up... and welcome to the night riding club. It`s all I do when on my return missions from Gladstone to Brisbane, or holiday based rides where I`m going to point X.
No grey nomads,( I`ll be one, one day though, but I`ll do the speed limit), and as you say, better on your eye`s, as long as you compensate by upgrading your lights, as you did.

As I was reading, I was saying to myself, you should have by-passed Brisbane, and gone to Kilkivan, then to Gympie, but you ended up doing that on the way back. Bit of a bugger the roads won`t too friendly in that respect.

Good to see your body is coping well with riding again.

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  jstava on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 5:33 pm

Yeah, well going North I was not at all confident of the route AND It was at the end of the trip where I did not need to be challenged. Looking at it now, I could see where I could easily have got it wrong in Kingaroy, or one of the little places North of there and ended up somewhere completely wrong.  I just didn't need to be on little unfamiliar roads at that point.  Anyway, it made for a great daylight ride on the way back.  It was good to see the two different routes.  An extra hundred kays wasn't going to make much difference, particularly on the way up.   

On the topic of night.  Sometimes I use trucks to provide a bit of a screen where I'm trying to avoid eye fatigue from oncoming lights.  It works.  I really don't like hovering around rearwards of trucks for a variety of reasons otherwise.  I'll never follow one closely.  Nightmarish shit can happen.  

I'd rather take my chances with a live walking or hopping animal out in the clear than one spat out the back of a truck at you for example. The drivers of transport would  rather have you in front (so long as you are a decent distance up the road) for some of the same reasons, foremost being, they can see you easily in front.  If there is someone close behind, they'll watch in the mirrors, and wonder where you are when you can't be seen, which is often if you are close.   I'll sometimes use trucks (or other traffic) to take my mind and eyes off the dial where I'm not wanting my speed to wander all over the place and one can be assured that trucks will travel as fast as they can legally. Cars with cruise control are not so bad either where the limit is 110 and trucks are too slow. 

While I prefer riding at night, particularly where distance is involved, there are places I just don't do it.  The Victorian High country has Wombats, and deer - out and about at any time, more so during breeding seasons.  Deer are like a lightening bolt - they'll just get you and you don't stand a chance.  Wombats are very numerous and very hard to see - impossible in the glare of oncoming headlights.  They would be like hitting a boulder.  I spend a bit of time driving after dark/before light up and down the mountain in the Winter. I see the carnage.  Don't want to play on a motorbike.  Good mid daytime fun though.

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  mtbeerwah on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 7:10 pm

I do understand what your saying. Wombats are one critter, we certainly don`t have to worry about, but pigs are our take on the wombat.

You`d be surprised at how many Dear, are around the Gympie to Kilkivan area. I`ve seen allot over the years.

Trucks can be your friend, or enemy, they do shower you in rocks and debris, and I try to get away from them, but they rarely do the speed limit.
Speaking of trucks,,,I had a B-Double pass me years ago, doing 150km/h...yes you read it right, on a double line and all. This thing went flying past me, and I sped up behind him to see what speed he was doing, he just sustained that speed, I backed off, and let him go, cause I was getting showered in shit. The night time is when the cowboys come out, and the milk run, so to speak, of Eastern Queensland, brings them all out, so they don`t miss their deadlines.

It`s all part of the fun!!

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  paul on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 7:52 pm

Wow ..........your report was as big as your ride ............and a damn good read it was as well .Glad you got your body sorted . I'm not sure what would be worse; having your body or your mind wear out first , I suppose we can always push our bodies to a degree ,as long as the mind is willing . Sounds like you had the trip of a lifetime 

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

Post  jstava on Fri 21 Apr 2017, 8:54 pm

I don't think I'd put in that league, Paul.  Just a longer ride to visit friends, done with a bit of a time limit.  Seems I'm a bit more pushed for time than I ever thought I'd be when I walked away from full time work 10 years ago.  

My Wintertime work supervisor did one that would be.  He flew to America, hired a Harley and rode to Anchorage Alaska and back to visit an old friend up there. He really wanted to test ride the bike.  It was a good excuse.  

I promise next time, I'll make more of a sight see of it, take more time and visit a few people on the way.  This time, I had some invites to visit in transit, but they were just too far out of the way this time, so I just had to pass.  I'd also like to visit a few that I'd either not seen in a long time or haven't met at all.  There is a lot of country out there between people that only takes crossing to visit.

The mind or body question. It's a good one.  I'm guessing the body will fail first.  I could see it coming with the hip, but managed to stay in the game with a change of bikes, which, if it wasn't for the wonders of modern medicine, would have had me riding nothing in a small number of years.  I'm taking nothing for granted. Since about age 12, I've only ever lived for a couple of years at a time without riding.  Few bikes, long period of ownership for each.  Everyday transport, not Sunny Sundays once or twice a month.

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Re: Easter in Gympie, from the Murray

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