Sunday, December 23, 2012


I spent the last three days on a ride with my friend Marlon.

Tuesday night Marlon messaged me to say he was looking forward to leaving the next morning.  I reminded him that we were leaving Thursday morning, not Wednesday, and so we did.

We headed east through functional little towns.  We lightened that experience with a run at one point along the coast, and a stop in Orbost before we headed north.

We were then on endless winding roads through mountainous bush.

Passing through Delegate we arrived at Bombala just on dusk and spent the night at the pub.  I will speak more of the pub in another post - I took few photos, so when Marlon sends me some of his I will post them up.  I will write a review of the pub because it is excellent accommodation for motorcyclists, with the patrons particularly welcoming of riders, providing them with excellent food, cheap beds, and undercover bike parking out the back.  

On the Friday we headed up the coast, from Pambula to Bateman's bay, and then across one of the best roads I have ever ridden - aptly named King's Highway (the twisting section up and down the mountain that separates the inland from the coast) - and on to Canberra.

From Canberra on Saturday Marlon and I split up - he to Sydney, me back to Melbourne, where I had to be by 6PM for a birthday dinner.  It was going to be 650km of the Hume.  That's 650km of heat - high 30s - high winds, and a road that would not change it's purely boring nature.  Being the Christmas weekend there were long lines of cars at every service station, and the lines of people waiting to pay at the counter wound out the door!  At the towns the shops were also crowded with lines on to the street.  I have never seen such a thing.  I could not buy lunch.  I did 450km of this but then could take it no longer - the crowds and busy-ness, the heat and boredom - and so at Benalla I dropped off the Hume and on to the Midland Highway.  Immediately I knew it was the right choice.  A two lane road, bush close by the edges, and winding, hilly ribbons of tar.

I had been carefully planning my fuel stops and I reached down about 10km before I was due to go to reserve, and discovered that I had left the fuel tap on reserve since the last fuel up.  This meant that I could not gauge exactly when I had gone to reserve, and had to assume my fuel consumption was normal - a 15L tank giving 200km to reserve, and then 100km of reserve.  I passed a small bush petrol station but, wary of no-brand fuels, decided to keep pushing on for the BP some 60km down the road.  I then passed another small station, 40km later, and decided again to keep going.  It was a very hot day and I mused on how annoyed I would be if I was to run out of fuel after not stopping.  And then I ran out of fuel.

And so I turned the bike around and push it back in the direction of the last petrol station.  As I walked, sweaty and thirsty, I watched all those caravans which I had worked so hard to overtake, passing me.

It is clear that my tank only provides 14L of useable range (I did not think to lean the bike over and possibly gain enough to ride to the servo).  This is scary given that on that low-fuel ride over the snowy mountains in November which I blogged, I had only 20km left of range before I ran out of fuel, not 40km.  I also found on the present occassion that 14L only got me 230km, which means I was burning a lot on the Hume (Curse you, Hume Highway, in every way!  You are not for motorcycling!).

I got my fuel and was back on the bike.  I was very sore - the Hume had taken it out of me in a way which no busy, demanding, active day of interesting roads ever does - but the road for the next 200km was a joy by comparison.  Despite my hurting muscles, it lifted my spirit which had hitherto sagged.  The contrast was a glimpse into what is refreshing about motorcycling.  And into how the act of refreshing one's spirit leads to a refreshed body.

More to come when I receive some photos from Marlon.

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