Who, Why and When

Hello and welcome to our mid life crisis. We are two thirty something blokes with a love of motorcycles and wide open spaces. This blog not only follows our four week trip into the unknown but also contains information and links on how we set up our bikes for the trip. Hopefully our story not only inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and do something mad and liberating but also gives you a bit of a laugh.

Cheers Mike and Rod

Friday, August 27, 2010

A long 220km and Bryson and Pete JOIN THE CRISIS

Day 14 Timber Creek to Kununurra

We had a bit of a lie in this morning as we only had 223km to travel to Kununurra. The first 100km went well but we were crossing the plains and it was a bit boring. We hit the hills and pulled up in a nice rest stop for a break but we were really tired.
Last rest stop in the Northern Territory
We got back on the bikes but the last 110km seem to go on forever. The scenery was spectacular but this was our 14th day on the road and we felt it. Got to the border and went through the quarantine drill. They were mostly worried about cane toads but apparently they are now already over the border. We had seen a couple of the little buggers at Timber Creek the night before. Two little old ladies in a ute next to us got busted for bringing plants over the boarder. Crikey it was like an episode of border patrol!
Made it to the border
We then cruised into Kununurra and headed straight to a cafe for a well earned coffee and muffin before arriving at the campground to do a wash, have a swim and try and set up camp. You can tell by the photo below how out of it we were.
An engineer and his tent, the geologist didn't do much better
After a break we headed down town and caught up with our workmate Bryson and his brother in law Pete. What was supposed to be a quiet coffee turned into 5 pints before dinner (we forgot lunch......). Great pub grub here! We got kicked out the pub for wearing thongs and instead of doing the smart thing and going home we kicked on to a resort bar to watch the footy and drink more. Poor Bryson and Pete are now in the dog box for leaving their respective partners home alone with the baby! Love your work boys!
RMG monthly meeting
Bryson getting ready for the racing cup
Pete trying to come up with an excuse for the missus
 We stumbled into a taxi about 10pm and just made it home (never swear at the taxi driver in Kununurra aye Rod!).

Day 15 Kununurra

So as you can imagine this morning has been a bit slow. We headed into to town for bacon and eggs and to do a bit shopping. We still haven't heard from the two boys yet. We were going to go out and watch the Kununurra Cup but Rod's currently asleep by the pool and I'm not far off.

Tomorrow we head out to El Questro to check out the gorges and camp for the night. After that we are supposed to tackle the Gibb but we are reserving judgement until tomorrow. Apart from being really tired my right side is still crook. I rode the Buchannan ok but I was in a bit of pain by the end of the road and the Gibb will be worse. We've also heard there may not be fuel half way down the track so we have to check that out as well. Sounds like a lot of excuses I know but I suppose we're coming to the final stage of the trip and we just want it to go off without a hitch. At the moment we're still doing the track but if not, we're hitting the bitumen and riding the long way around. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All's forgiven, lets hit the dirt

Day 13 Daly Waters to Timber Creek via the Bucannan

Poor Rod didn't sleep well that night. I was worried because we had 460km that day, 390km off-road. I'd got over my hissy fit and was keen to get going. We rode 40km back down the highway then turned off onto the Bucannan. We didn't know much about this road, just that is was "not to bad except for the last 100km".
Start of the Bucannan
In fact the first 180km of the road was boring. Straight, dusty, full of cattle but a good dirt road. We stopped for fuel at Top Springs where we outnumbered by the staff 3:1. They said the next stretch was really rocky but there would no water in the Victoria River. Well the road wasn't bad for the next 150km, just a few savage dips and THERE WAS water in the Victoria River but only a foot.
Victoria River Crossing
We then hit Jasper Gorge which is beautiful. The road got worse though but not horrible. Rod had been leading for the past 100km. He can fly down these road but I'm carrying too much and don't have the suspension travel so I happily just plodded along enjoying the view and taking some pics.
Heading into Jasper Gorge
The road through Jasper Gorge
The bikes at the end of the off-road, very dusty
Once we hit the bitumen again we had a quick 30km to Timber Creek. We found a great caravan park behind the roadhouse, in fact the prettiest we'd seen so far. We set up camp and relaxed having dinner in the bistro.
Camp at Timber Creek
Beef strogg and beer overlooking the roadhouse, ah the serenity!

Mike gets grumpy

Day 12 Three Ways Roadhouse to the Daly Waters Pub!

We had a good sleep that night and got on the road early. It was quite windy this morning, a nasty cross wind making riding hard. Rod led out for a while but the rain had buggered his speedo. He thought he was going 105km/h when really he was struggling to make 95km/h. He wouldn't believe me though and told me to lead. He was going to check his speed using his GPS and get back to me. We made our first stop at the Rainer Springs Roadhouse. Nice spot but I had to wait 10 minutes for Rod to catch up. Apparently he got bored of the bitumen and decided to ride in the dirt at the side of the road for fun.
Waiting for Rod
We continued on and fueled up in Elliot around 11am. We weren't ready for lunch and we only had 140km to go until Daly Waters. Rod told me to take off and he'd meet me there. I suggested stopping for lunch at a roadhouse 100km up the road but he really wanted to push on. So I took off up the road and stopped a few times to take photos. I pulled into the Daly Waters Roadhouse, fueled up and then waited for Rod. An hour later he rocks up wondering why I'm pissed. Apparently his bum got sore so he pulled up at the roadhouse down the road where a tour bus driver feed him lunch. He couldn't understand why I was upset at standing in the hot sun for an hour, starving and worrying about what had happened to him. Still you can't let that get in the way of a good night out.
Still waiting for Rod
We then hooned up to the pub checking out the WW2 airstrip on the way. We set up the tents as quickly as possible, had a shower then hit the pub. The pub is a classic but getting very touristy I suppose. We meet a few funny blokes and had beef and barra for dinner. Unfortunately we couldn't kick on too late as we had 390km of off-road then next day.
The bar complete with authentic Irish backpacker barmaids 
It comes in pints!
Rod in his element

Still wet and cold then....

Day 11 Alice Springs to Three Ways Roadhouse

Well we really enjoyed the day off in Alice. The bikes are now serviced and each has a new back tyre. We had to swap to Dunlop 606's so it will be interesting to compare them offroad vs the Pirelli's. Unfortunately just as we went to bed on the Monday night the rain started falling again in earnest. We had heard that day that there were a lot of people stranded on the 4WD tracks all through South Australia so I'm glad we didn't turn south! Still we saddled up Tuesday morning and had a miserable 60km ride north in the pelting rain. We then had to ride another 100km in the cold overcast before we finally got out into the sun at Ti Tree roadhouse. We stopped to fuel up and dry off a bit. Rod got his obligatory morning Chicko roll but was then accosted by the locals for it outside of the roadhouse.
It looking ugly at Ti Tree
From there we rode for another hour and had a nice pie for lunch at the Barrow Creek Roadhouse/pub. Best pie so far!
Barrow Creek Pub
It was really starting to get hot now so we ditched the jacket liners and merino jumpers and got back on the road. We stopped next at the Wycliffe Hotel which apparently is the UFO sighting capital of OZ. Maybe it's because the joint is owned by an ex US Marine?! He also had a large collection of beer so here is another of my waiting for Rodney shots while he has his afternoon constitutional.
Pick the Alien
Just up the road we stopped at another geological field tip site, The Devils Marbles which are just stunning. There is a campsite here and I've love to spend the night but we had to get to Three Ways that night.
Mick in raptures
Look I know this is silly, an engineer pretending to think
From here we had a 130km cruise up to Three Ways roadhouse. Nice ride but very hot. We pulled in to the caravan park the same time as 30 truckies heading to the Trucking hall of fame 25th anniversary in Alice. Ever showered with 30 truckies, mmmmmm not a great experience, worse than rock apes. We had a pleasant evening in the roadhouse bar, great burgers!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wet, wet, wet COLD!

Day 9 Yulara to Alice Springs

It had rained pretty hard over night and was continuing on in the morning. We didn't get much sleep because the rain was accompanied by thunder storms. We packed up wet and then tried to get through the rain as soon as possible. The wheelchair riders were leaving with us and we all had a bit of laugh at the servo while fueling. 50km up the road we hit a bad squall. At one point we were riding in hail as well as torrential rain. We got to the first roadhouse not in good shape. Rod couldn't stop shivering and I wasn't much better. I've been hypothermic before and I knew we were close now. We stopped for half an hour and had a cuppa but we were still wet and cold. We both added another layer but I had lost my buff which I wear over face to keep warm. We said goodbye to the wheelchair riders who were heading offroad (LEGENDS!).

We rode another 100km and finally got out of the rain but I was cold. We stopped again at another roadhouse and after a hot pie I finally found my buff and my beanie. We rode to the Stuart Highway and had lunch, finally feeling a bit warmer. We meet a couple who doing a bitumen ride, the block on BMW 1150 Adventure and the missus on a Suzuki Bandit. Great couple! We meet up with them again at the Cannonball Monument where some bloke had killed both himself and his Ferrari on the first NT cannonball run.

The bikes getting chased by the weather
The weather was chasing us and we had to take off. Luckily on 100km to Alice. We got into town and both agreed we needed a break from the camping. We managed to find a nice cabin at the holiday park and settled in for a good nights sleep.
Love Shack
So today we're having a quiet day off in Alice while the bikes get serviced. We've done a bit of shopping and had a decent coffee. We'll be out of communication for the next few days until we get to Kununarra so we'll update then.

Cheers Mick and Rod

Yulara Day 2

Day 8 The Rock

We headed out early after saying goodbye to the last of the tag along tour group. We checked out the cultural and then did a ride right around the base of the rock checking out the various walks.
Rock Pool Gorge
At one point we came across a big 4WD bus, landcruiser, hair stylist, makeup artist, photographer, entourage and Jennifer Hawkins. Actually a bit of a pain having them there although one of the Resort workers we had got to know invited us back to Jen's trailer for a muffin and coke. Unfortunately we had to decline, the Crisis stops for no-one! Not even a former Miss Universe.

The rock is just stunning (read Mike in raptures again!) Unfortunately the climb was closed again due to high winds at the summit and Rod was SAD!
Sad sook!
We then headed back to camp and did a quick service to each bike before starting to pack up. That night it started raining........


Day 7 The Olga's and Mike Hit's The Wall

Orginally that morning we were going to go to Uluru so Rod could climb it but it was quite windy and the climb was closed. We headed out to the Olgas instead and did a couple of the walks. I was in Geological Heaven of course which kept Rod in stitches.
Olgas Lookout
View from the West
About half way through I hit the wall. I really didn't realise how much the last week had taken out of me, particularly the Gunbarrel. Rod just laughed at me and took a funny photo of me collapsed on a chair. Rod hit the wall about 5pm!
Mick Hits the Wall
We did manage to get our first holding hands in the desert shot. Sorry Nick we've just been to busy.
Holding Hands In the Desert - A photo for our good friend Nick
We then had a relaxing coffee back in Yulara before heading back out to Uluru for the sunset. Stunning stuff!
Boys at the rock
We then had dinner with the last of the tag along crew. Hamburgers, mmmmmmm. Just as I got up to do the dishes though I re-tore my rib cartilage which I had damaged on the Gunbarrel. Not good!

The last Day of Dirt

Day 6 Warrakurrna to Yulara

We had a reasonable sleep the previous night but we were still getting used to the sleeping mats. We packed up early and then took off to the Giles Meterological Station with the rest of the tourists to see the balloon go up at 8:30am. Was a great tour and now we know why they send a balloon up each day. If you want to find out feel free to drive to 2000 odd km's and see for yourself.
Sending the ballon up
We then started the last offroad leg of this part of the trip. The road from Warrakurna to Docker River was great until about 20km out when you hit deep rutted sand. I got to the border and waited for Rod, and waited for Rod, and waited for Rod. In then end I just took a photo of my bike at the border sign which upset him a bit but I still don't know what he was doing back there....???!!!
NT Border Crossing
We then meet up down the road in Docker River to re-fuel. By this stage we were on the Opal Fuel (the non-sniffable version of unleaded). Rod's CRF seem to go fine on it but the KLR's fuel efficiency wasn't crash hot  on this stuff so I had to fuel up where possible. We then took off for the last 200km of dirt. I somehow got into the zone and rode 180km non-stop. Poor Rod's bum gets sore after 70-80km so we normally stop every 100km or so. By the time I remembered to stop I had a very grumpy Rod. While he was ranting I decided to put the time to good use and check over the KLR. Lucky I did because I noticed one of my lower sub-frame bolts (holds the bike frame together!) had shaken loose. Luckily I had a spare but then Rod realised he had lost one of his back rack bolts as well. Love those ruts!

We headed off again and twenty minutes of dust choking later (plenty of 4WD traffic!) we got to the end of the dirt and what a view!

We then had half hour ride to Yulara along some smoooooth bitumen. It was a surreal ride. Rod just out front pealing through turns, the Olga's on the left and Uluru on the right. We got into camp, set up the tent, put on a wash and had a long shower!
Yulara Camp
After we had recovered we hit the supermarket. While there we meet a group of guys in wheelchairs riding quad bikes through the desert. These guys are legends. They are following a trek across OZ that visits where each of them was injured. They had tackled the Gunbarrel a day ahead of us ON QUAD BIKES! I have a lot of respect for these guys and their trip puts ours into so much perspective.

We then headed for the (one and only) pub in town and had dinner with the tag along crowd before they all took off the next day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Gunbarrel Part 2

Hopefully the last post left you on a cliff hanger!

Day 5 Beedle Camp to Warrakurna

We woke up the next morning very tired and not looking forward to another day day of heavy ruts. We still had 67km of the Gunbarrel highway proper left and then 38km of the Heather Highway which was supposed to be just as bad. We packed up early to get ahead of the tag along tour so we would be in clean air. We were just about to leave when Greg the tour leader called us over and stuffed two bacon and egg rolls into our hands. We love these people! We took off but twenty minutes later I heard Rod yelling at me to pull over. He could smell something burning on my bike. We realised that when my back shock was fully compressed it rubbed my back tyre into the exhaust. Not much we could do but carry on. 

We continued on through horrible ruts and then into soft deep sand. Rod's a champion in the sand but I struggled. I was going really well until I had to brake for some rocks on the road. I stopped and over balanced and tipped off the bike. Not a big off and Rod soon helped me right the bike. I then had two offs trying to start up in the sand the second one trapping my boot under the bike. I was pinned and screaming the Rod to come and get the bike off me  (in pain!) when I realised he was walking back to his bike and still had his helmet and ear plugs in. It took him two full minutes to realise  I was stuck by which time I was laughing my head off. We then managed to get going again and my riding just kept improving.

The last part of the Gunnbarrel is all washouts and rocks, really technical riding  and we loved it. We got to the Heather Highway turnoff and had morning tea with the tag along group.

End of the Gunbarrel Higway, Start of the Heather Highway

The tag along tour chasing us! Brain our new Dad yawning on the left

We then took off up the Heather and it was not long till I had my fourth off of the day. I was going through a washout and thought I had missed a rock, but no, I hit it straight on and it threw me off. I managed to badly strain the muscle along might right ribs and break my left wing mirror in the process. We got going again thankfully and continued until we hit the main road. It was still a little bit rutted but it looked like a highway compared to what we had just rode. I was in a lot of pain and just needed to push on the last 100km to Warburton.

We pulled in and had lunch  (fatty burgers!) and I got some pain killers in. We then decided to ride the next 225km to Warrakurna and camp. It was a good ride and we nailed it in just over 2 and half hours. I was leading and we have an agreement that I'll pull up every 30km and make sure Rod's still on the bike. I have to wait a bit though and I've start a series of photos called "Waiting for Rod".

Waiting for Rod 90km out of Warburton

A great little camp at Warrakurna. Best camp kitchen I've seen yet. We weren't expecting the tag along tour that night as they were going to pull up on the side of the road 100km west of us but we were servicing the bikes before dinner and all of a sudden we heard eight car horns and yells of "Whats for dinner?". In the end we had another pleasant evening around the campfire with Brain and Diane (our new mum and dad) feeding us beers.

Sorry about the spelling by the way. The keyboard and Internet connection are dodgy! We are just about to head out to the see the sunset over Uluru so I'll have to continue the story later.

Take care.

Rod and Mike

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Safe and sound in Yulara

Hi all

Sorry this post will have no pictures. The Yulara internet cafe doesn't have a computer I can plug the camera into.You'll just have to put up with a bit of a speal about the last few days

Day 1 Perth - Mt Magnet.

Great days ride in overcast conditions. Rod was late to the starting line but we took off and made our first stop the Booragoon Bakery for a pie and coffee. From there we headed north but we kept getting stuck behind two groups of wide loads taking new Cat Dump trucks and what looked like half a mill up to the  Pilbara.We finally made Mt Magnet about 5pm and settled in for a few beers and some pizza. I hit the wall around 8pm though and had to sook off to bed while Rod and Tony carried on.

Day 2 Mt Magnet - Wiluna

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Tony this morning. We all had breakfast together at the roadhouse and then he took for Perth while we headed east down the Sandstone road. We had to fight a cold easterly the whole way! We stopped in Sandstone for a coffee and met up with the weirdest bunch of Gen Y's . They were all stuck in the town not quite knowing what to do.

The Sandstone Road

Finally got the Leinster about 2pm, quickly fueled up and headed north to Wiluna. Once we got there we filled our fuel bladders for the first time. The only drama was where to put them. Rod had to wedge his between his big rear bag and himself, not to comfortable. I managed to squeeze mine into my left pannier, something I was very glad of two days later. We  ended up spending the night just out town at the old Wiluna Vineyard. I was really apprehensive about what the next few days would bring and didn't sleep well.

Wiluna Camp

Day 3 Wiluna - Carnegie Station

We got an early start and hit the road the next morning. The road through to Carneige is all dirt and rutted in places but  really it was a highway.

Mick Cooking Up Lunch

We were averaging 80km/hr and riding really well, so well we missed the Carnegie turnoff. We didn't realise our mistake until an hour later when we found Woongol Station and had to ask for directions. This meant an extra 70km to Carnegie along a very rough and washed track. Still we made the station by 4pm and set up camp and fueled the bikes.

Just About There

We paid $15 a head to camp and all we got was a spot of grass, a lukewarm shower and.....that it. No cooking facilities but they sell you beer and then tell after you've drunk it that they have no rubbish bins, we have to carry all of our waste out. That nights sleep was also not good. We had a generator  going all night outside of the tents, ahhhh.

Day 4 Carnegie to Warburton, oops, Beddle Camp

So yeah I got to ambitious with the schedule. We had planned to ride almost 500km that day. The first 180km were a dream. The road was okay and we were averaging 90km/hr ON DIRT.

The "good" Gunbarrel Higway
The scorebard at the Gunarrel Footy Ground Right in the middle of the Track in the middle of no-where!

Then we saw the you are leaving the shire of Wiluna sign and sure enough the track went from a highway to two very badly rutted tyre tracks. Rod had the first (and his only) off of the day travelling at 1km/hr. We had a laugh about it but then I had my first off, a bad one at 60km/hr. I bruised my right leg, knocked off a pannier and bend my crash bars badly.

Bent Crash Bar
Bruise Coming Up
My Right Pannier held on by cable ties

Still the bike kept going magnificently. I had two more offs that day but not so bad. Th terrain was killing us though. It wasn't the ruts you could fit a coke can into, it was big washouts and rocks. Quite frankly the worst track I've ever been on. We were nearing our limit  and had only covered 280km when we met up with 8 4wd's on a tag along tour.

The tag along tour at Mt Beadle

View from Mt Beadle

We set up camp with them that night and a lovely couple Brain and Diane took us in and fed and watered us. We owe them a lot of thanks!

Beadle Campsite
Engineers trying to fix the well, guess what!

Anyway we are in Yulara now and about to hit the pub. I'll update you on the next few days tomorrow.

Cheers Mike and Rod.