Sept - 2009
~ bike preparation
The Mule was
It had been 3 mornings
out of bed before 8am that week already - and now he had to be at the Donkey’s house to fit up the bikes on
Saturday morning at 7am!
Worse still, the bike
was still filthy so would need a clean before being dismantled.
Which meant an even earlier morning.
So at 6.30am the
pounding sound of the 950 warming up woke the neighbours, who all came out to see what the noise was
Mule - “Good Morning!”
Neighbours - blah blah blah (something inaudible...)
Mule - “what ?!”
And at 7am sharp the
Mule rolled into the Donkeys driveway for the day to begin...
Donkey - “What are you doing here? - Did you shit the bed or something?”
Mule - “You said to be here by 7am...”
Donkey - “Yeah but since when are you on time for anything?”
Mule - “Can i have a coffee?”
13 hours later both
bikes were prepped:
Michelin Off-road Tyres,
heavy duty tubes, rim locks
Oil change and
All nuts and bolts removed
and replaced with thread lock
Safari Long range tanks -
High flow, (cleanable)
foam air filters & pre-filters
Larger Idle Jet to stop
backfiring and improve throttle response
Cruise control (throttle
Folding rear brake
Touratech Side stand foot
Fork air bleed
50W HID globes and
KTM tank bag and rear
18-9-09 ~ The big Shake Down in the Flinders
Monday morning on the
“that can’t possibly be the road...”
then the internal dialogue stops. Only time to
I see is rocks, big rocks and even bigger rocks, forearms burning, and hands are hurting.
ahead for smooth passage through, which of course there isn’t, so I make the best of it and just try to avoid
the bigger ones - which of course I can’t.
front washes out on some shale, I turn into it, and from what feels like the second storey somehow get a foot
down to keep it up.
are like jelly, and breathing hard, but the big 950 effortlessly chugs its way up yet another hill, hurtling
stones the size of your fist out from under the Michelin knobby like it’s firing rounds at the Red Devil
Madness, the last 15
mins had been a continuum of that awful feeling you get when you’re just about to fall off, and yet somehow the
big Katoom keeps it’s feet and they keep moving forwards.
A brief respite as the
track improves marginally, and the 3 conspirators can have a seat and shake out their hands, but then its into
another dried up riverbed full of rock with no clear path again - shit.
The next rest stop at
the top of a hill where the wasn't even enough flat ground to put the bikes on their stands...
“I spent the last half hour continually amazed that i hadn't fallen off”
“I’m not getting off the bike”
Red Devil is cackling manically and muttering something about the Diavolo Rosso.
The gale force wind
that will eventually bring a sea of red dust to the East coast of Australia howls and collectively they almost
get blown over.
“lets get out of here - i cant wait to have a beer...”
left Adelaide on Friday morning, intending to ride on some dirt roads to see how the bikes and gear held
It’s 6.30am and the
pounding sound of the 950 warming up wakes the neighbours yet again. The Red Devil arrives on the XLV750R he’d borrowed for the
weekend. A quick chat and they headed off to the Donkeys place
to start the ride to Wilpena Pound.
Riding out of Adelaide
on Main North Road, perched atop the 950SE and looking down into the cars of the urban commuters, the Mule
couldn't help but think about how lucky he was not to be a part of it for the day, and judging by the looks from
many of the motorists, they were thinking the same thing.
They went via Gawler
and Clare and arrived at Wilpena in the afternoon and made camp in the Caravan park.
There they quickly
settled into a routine.
Donkey gets up at 6am,
and wanders around quietly until about 7am, loses patience and starts banging pots, panniers or as a last resort
the tents of the Mule and Red Devil.
Mule and Red Devil get
up around 8, they cook and eat dodgy canned breakfast (picking out the gristle) and then look at maps for a
On the road by 8 or 9,
ride out to a station getting lost on the way.
Spend the next 4-5
hours riding the stations roads, river beds, stone infested hills and muddy goat tracks.
Cannonball run back to
either Wilpena or Blinman to get lunch at the pub before service stops at 2pm.
Leave the pub at 3pm
and ride another 2 hours through the back roads of the National Park for a bit of fun, learning that the 950
will spin the rear wheel in any gear at any speed.
I crack the throttle it reminds me of a sprint car”
Get back to the
campsite by 5.30pm, fill the bikes with fuel, buy beer, ice and firewood.
beer, and borrow an axe and split aforementioned firewood.
Light fire and cook
Keep the rest of the
campsite awake laughing about the adventures of the day.
Shower and go to
1 Highlilght Skytrek
On day 1 the Quadrupeds
and the Red Devil (now known as the Diavolo Rosso) were very tentative on the dirt roads, wobbling their way
down to the Skytrek 4wd track... Thinking the road leading to the station was fun... that was all about to change.
Skytrek is a
challenging 4wd track about 100km long, with terrain ranging from average dirt road, to riverbeds, steep rocky
ascents and slippery decents, series of whoopee doos, fast flowing track and some amazing views from the top of
Mt Caernarveron at 932m...
final push up the mountain is getting difficult now, the road is all slate rocks and there’s one mound after
another in the road with tight uphill turns. I wasn't expecting
this. Not all all.
to be gentle with the throttle to keep the motor smooth off the bottom, but with more power than most small cars
that’s not easy.
bikes jump and bump over the rocks, impossibly soaking up even the biggest hits to the front end, and making me
feel a little stupid for not being a little better at this.
we're at the top, breathing hard but smiling, and laughing a little manically
“Am i the only one who almost binned it a hundred times up there?”
“nah i did too”
2 highlight - The Alpana Track
Just when the
conspirators thought they’s seen the worse they could possibly ride through, the Alpana track threw yet more
creek beds, bigger rocks and steeper hills at them. 100% fun.
3 highlight - The Oratunga Track
They should have
thought better of it when the station owner initially told them it wasn't passable at the moment -
... we have big adventure bikes” - said the donkey
well i guess you can have a crack at it”
At times resembling a
martian landscape, red, stony and dry, the Oratunga track is in 2 loops, one nastier than the next. But by now
the Donkey, Mule and Devil weren't afraid of anything, so they gritted their teeth and ground their way through
it. Highly recommended.
stand out moments on the Trip included:
The three 4wd tracks
The Red Devil Fearlessly
riding into a muddy water crossing at 60km/hr - that turned out to be almost a metre deep. Initially aquaplaning but somehow
keeping his footing, turning 90 deg and riding along the channel, before doing the same thing again to exit on the
other side, completely covered in mud from head to toe and laughing hysterically.
The Donkey falling off his
camping chair—always amusing!
The Red Devil’s fruit box
malfunction, (see pics for what happens when you leave a fruit box in your luggage when riding rough
The 950 Super Enduro’s
are amazing, it defies logic that something so well mannered on the road (or even a racetrack with the right
rubber), can also take the sort of abuse administered on this trip.
For the first few days i was continually listening for sounds that the thing was about to go to pieces, but it
just kept on chugging away. And when you open the throttle the
thing builds speed down a dirt road at rate that’s hard to fathom...
“It feels like being shot out of a cannon”
Diavolo Rosso (otherwise known as Sam)
The Red Devil has been
kicking tyres with the Donkey and the Mule since they can remember, and would probably be coming on the
Donkeyandthemule trip but he has bigger priorities right now with a little one on the way, but a few days away
were definitely appealing, and with a Honda XLV750R sitting in the garage - why not!
It’s a narrow angle V
twin 750cc shaft drive trail bike. Circa 1985 with only 16000km on it. So we saddled it up with some new rubber, put on some rego and fitted a
luggage rack, and thinking we’d only be riding on dirt roads we figured it would be fine for this trip...
Well things got a
little rougher than we’d planned, but credit to Honda for building such a solid bike, and even more credit to
the Diavolo Rosso for punting it through such rough terrain!
We learned a few things
on this trip, not the least of which was how to ride off road a little better, thankfully all those skills
learned racing at Mallala and Philllip Island on a race bike have somehow translated ok to serve us well
1. Camel backs are a
2. Head lamps are an equally
3. All the camping gear we
bought has been perfect.
4. The bikes are mental (we
already knew this, but even more so now).
5. Our ‘Waterproof’ riding
gear is not 100% waterproof in a Cyclone.
6. We need to carry more
7. Fully loaded on the
highway, the bikes will travel about 470km on a full tank.
8. Travelling slowly on goat
trails, the bikes will only get about 300km out of a tank.
9. A rear tyre doesn't last
long when you’re power sliding the bike at high speed on gravel roads.
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