Big ride out


10,000km in a month,
on a 30-year-old bike with a 60-year-old rider

Words and photos: Don Thomas from Cairns

Hi, Bear

Greetings and felicitations etc from a subscriber.

Many years ago I did the GOR in a tin-top and my few remaining memory cells recalled the beauty when reading my stack of ARRs. I decided to make the pilgrimage and hunted around for my Motorcycle Atlas of Oz.

I have some recollection of loaning it to someone but no one will own up. So I obtained the third addition and began at page one.

Under “packing” I followed your suggestions to the letter, including a bent wire coat hanger, but had three of my own additions: a pack of 10 inch zip-ties (20th century fencing wire) a half used roll of duct tape and a flat pack of baby wipes. I never leave home without these wipes. Even when I go for a “McShit” while on the road I take them as sometimes their paper is too rough or depleted. (If you get sprung by the unfortunate spotty-faced kid who is responsible for the upkeep of the dunny it can become a “McShit with lies”.) They are also very good for removing bug splat from my visor, helmet and screen, as well as washing hands.

The zip ties fixed the broken top-box mount on the first day and the duct tape patched a tarp and a split in my sheepskin seat cover.
I had about six weeks to make the journey and as I’d never visited Tassie, various articles in my stack of ARRs sold me on extending the trip across Bass Strait. The next step was to mark in on my state maps (thanks RACQ) all the east and southern rides in the Atlas. There’s not much between here and Brisbane, so I went through Charlie’s Trousers and Emerald then on to Melbourne to catch the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry. This 3000km journey took 5000km, along rides numbered: 1, 5, 35, 31, 16, 33, 28, 37, 20, 15, 40 and 57.

This took 10 days, including a couple of days of rest in Brisbane and two and a half in Tumut.

In 10 days in Tassie, I did rides 67, 73, 66, 69 (awesome), half of 70, half of 65, 62, half of 60, 64, 71, 74, 70, 63, 67 and 72, and obviously some interlinking pieces, covering almost 3000 klicks.

By the way, the Elephant Pass pancake place has changed hands again and is still very biker friendly.

On New Year’s day after overnighting on the ferry, I tackled GOR and Colac (rides 48 and 44). There were far too many tin-tops enjoying the scenery and the weather turned for the worse after Apollo Bay.

Mr Plod does not subscribe to the notion that double white lines are the biker’s lane! I think that unmarked patrol cars are most unsporting (3 points + $182)!

From there on to rides 54, 50, 49, 52 and 20. I spent a few days at the Summer Nats in Canberra and headed off through Goulburn, just north of where I was rear-end shunted by a young driver who was unable to cope with some (insert your own expletives) person towing a caravan who executed a u-turn from the overtaking lane in a 110km/h zone.

This particular (non) intersection has recently undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade. My view is that the architect of the upgrade may be a latent psychopath. So, 10,000km and a month after setting out, my ride was over. But with only one scratch and two bruises on this nearly 60-year-old fart and a write-off 30-year-old Beemer it was my best-ever holiday. (I also went to the Isle of Man last year for the Centenary).

The most memorable rides were Oberon to Goulburn (28), wet and slippery on the dirt section, very exciting on a 30-year-old sports bike with narrow handlebars, road tyres and a fairing, and The Barry Way (40) for the spectacular scenery as well as the ride: lots of loose dirt, but dry.

One day in the not too distant future I’d like to do the rest of the rides at least once and then go back again to enjoy the scenery I missed while enjoying the twists and turns.

May I express through ARR my thanks to the following: You, Bear, for the magazine and the Atlas with all the information and inspiration, Bazooka in Tumut, Lyndell from Tassie, Kerry from Goulburn, Keith and Sue for the chase on ride 49 and last, but in no way least, Max and Wayne from Stay Upright whose training and instruction not only saved my life just north of Goulburn, it also enhanced my pleasure with better riding skills.

Warmest regards, paint up and rubber down.