Iron Butt Secrets
How does Australia’s best-known long distance rider do it?
Photos: Lou Martin, Davo
It’s almost 11pm, I left home at midnight. That was Queensland and I am now almost to Adelaide, SA. The road through Burra twists and weaves and there are people on the verandah of the hotel as I slide by, they in their world and I in mine.
I feel good, it’s been a regular ride for me apart from a mix up on fuel at 5:30am this morning. OK, so the 1400 GTR will not run on diesel, heck who would have guessed. It’s good but not that good. A three-hour mistake; got distracted by a fellow at Goondiwindi.
I have been giving some thought on the ride, as I do, about something commonly asked of me – in this case by the Bear. How, and why?
The why is hard to answer, so maybe the how.
Let’s start with clothing. I wear a product called LDcomfort, which is a pair of firm-fitting riding shorts and top made from some material that “wicks” away the moisture and helps me with the changing temperatures on a ride. They also have limited seams, so no chafing.
Over those, I wear jeans on the lower half and Joe Rocket Ballistic7 gear top and bottom over my other clothes. I have tried a number of options for this, but so far I am more than pleased with the JR gear. I choose to wear a front-opening helmet by Shoei and rarely remove it during the day, just open the front.
This is basic gear, I am sure, not much different from what many of you would use. But it’s an important part of the armory of a long-distance rider. If you do not feel comfortable, you are limiting your range. There is an oft-quoted saying among distance riders: find whatever made you stop and fix it.
I move about on the bike, never allowing myself to get stiff or sore. It’s a matter of rotating your shoulders, moving your arms, changing the seating position and stretching your legs. Do it often, before you need to. Moving your feet to alternate right foot on the front peg and left on the rear peg and so on from time to time. Get that body moving and increase your circulation. Many riders get a sore butt because they sit in one place for too long. On that point, I do not use an AirHawk seat pad any more these days. I did early on.
Practice anything long enough and it becomes second nature.
I have ridden an efficient day today apart from that brain freeze this morning. Being efficient by getting into a habit, pull up on the right-hand side of the pump and do the exact same routine every time. Right, because that brings the side of the bike the sidestand is on closest to the pump. Therefore it’s the side you get off, why waste time walking around the bike? Little things add up during a big day.
Eating and drinking are personal things, I can no more give you advice on you how to manage yours than I can advise you which bike to buy. I choose a large, powerful, faired tourer, I feel comfortable on it and it’s what I like. I eat very little during a big ride day but I drink more than I would while doing a regular work day. I use either a CamelBak or a version of one, connected to my bike.
I am nearing Gepps Cross now, the day is almost over. But it’s potentially a sad day tomorrow as I have ridden down to help support the MRA SA, which has organised a ride for an 11-year-old lad dying of cancer. But that’s what motorcycle riders do, isn’t it, biggest hearted people I know.
I took two Panadol this morning before I left to keep my muscles relaxed while I got into the ride. US mates take aspirin but my wife says noooo way, that stuff will kill you. Who knows, but as the main supporter of my travels I take notice of her. Most of the time.
I find it helps me remain focused and on my game knowing the family are with me in spirit, plus the occasional 2am phone call when I have a brain wave. Well, to me it was earth shattering at the time, so I wanted to share the moment.
I stretch my feet, wriggle my toes and rotate my ankles. Comfortable lightweight boots are another sometimes overlooked part of the kit. Someone once told me to buy boots you can walk in, then you will be good all day.
My mind works all the time on the bike.
How about before I leave? I have often been asked about the lead-up. I know I am jumping about here, but hey, it’s my head.
A multi-day ride needs to be thought about if you want to come out of the other end safe and healthy, so about two weeks beforehand – and I am mainly talking big rides as on a mere 24 hour trip you can always rest the next day – I stop drinking alcohol completely. There’s no real scientific reason for this, but for me it works. I also take better notice of my food intake, eating healthily, which is no fun at all but something that must be done for my peace of mind and body. I also try to get plenty of sleep. Sleep is not something you can bank on when you need it but you can make sure you start well rested.
That’s a small insight into how I do what I do.
Now, why do I do it?
Like the wise man said, “If you need to ask you will never understand”. I sought to enlarge my playground, Australia is now my playground.
More than 300 riders turned out for the ride in Adelaide that next day, I managed four hours sleep before fronting up. It was a top day. Young Jayden had a great day and I was glad I made the diversion to attend on my way to the BMWMCC VIC Icicle Ride in Melbourne later that night. Sadly, he passed away a few days later. So young.
Why do what I do? Because getting out and following your dreams is what matters. People talk of thinking outside the box. The problem with that is they placed themselves in that box. To be able to ride 2200km to see a young man smile and be a small part of his life, that’s not in anybody’s box.
David ‘Davo’ Jones