The fatigue is real! (Part 1)

Just four months now until we leave for the US of A and the rubber has well and truly hit the road, as they say.

After last Saturday’s outing, the K1600 is out of action for a while which means one of the (many) other bikes is filling in. After a short 15,000km lap around the paddock that is Oz chaperoning Dan Simmonds, the 1200GSA was warmed up and conveniently located to take us to the Superbikes at Phillip Island this weekend.

I should state first up that (once again) we didn’t have the ideal lead in to the weekend. I won’t go into all the details because some stories are just too long to tell. The condensed version is that we managed to combine very busy work weeks and family dramas into the four days between getting back from Dartmouth and leaving for Phillip Island. There were tears (on my side) and a night of minimal sleep (for both of us), but I guess it’s all good preparation. I can say that I’m wishing and hoping that we have a good lead-in to Butt Lite, but I will also say that knowing we can get on the bike and ride even if the days prior have been shite is kind of reassuring.

Anyway, the plan for the weekend had been to leave from Canberra on Thursday around lunchtime, have a stop part way there and then finish the trip to Phillip Island on Friday, have Saturday and Sunday at the track watching the races and then do the ride back in one day on Monday. Basically, that’s what we did last year, though last year I was riding my Honda 800 CrossRunner rather than pillioning, and it all went very smoothly. This year the plan didn’t quite come off. Kiwi’s work required him to be in Sydney on Thursday morning for meetings, and I ended up changing my work plans so I could also be in Sydney for us to leave on Thursday afternoon. We also had to be back mid-afternoon on Monday to get the K1600 to the dealer for the wheel rim replacement. So that meant our riding time was somewhat condensed.

Leg 1 – Sydney to Albury

After a few days of drama and no little stress, we managed to get the bike loaded and be on the road by roughly 2pm on Thursday. Leaving Sydney at that time usually isn’t too bad, but Thursday it was shocking. The major motorways were piled up and even taking the long route so we didn’t get stuck in the exhaust fume soup that is the M5 tunnel when it isn’t moving (5km long and no air flow) it still took us a good hour and a bit to leave Sydney behind us. And the intercom wasn’t working. I could hear Kiwi but he couldn’t hear me. And Kiwi’s visor was smeary. Nothing was right with the world.

We made it to Sutton Forest and stopped to regroup and grab a snack. I found the loose connection for my microphone and plugged it back in, cleaned Kiwi’s visor, we had some chocolate milk, a muesli bar and some jelly snakes and things were starting to look better. Things from here improved. The next stop was South Gundagai for fuel and another snack (for me this involved finishing my lunch!) and then we had to make a call about whether we were going to try for Bright in the Victorian Alps that night or pull stumps a bit earlier at Albury. The difference was only an hour and a half, but it was an hour and a half at the end of a 4.5 hour day to make it 6 hours, or at the beginning of a 6.5 hour day to make it 8 hours… It was also the difference between arriving somewhere we weren’t sure we could get a meal after an hour riding in the dark in prime roo country, or staying somewhere we could get a certain meal and an early night. We chose the latter, and were both glad we did in the end.

A shower was the first order of business for both of us, and getting out of motorcycling gear and into shorts, t-shirts and thongs made the world of difference. We lucked out with our first choice for dinner (we ordered drinks and then realised they were doing jukebox karaoke or something equally dreadful) before settling on a quiet Thai meal and crashing into bed.

Leg 2 – Albury to Phillip Island

Stopping at Albury meant we had a big day ahead on Friday so I promised I would be up and ready to go by 6.15 so we could get to Bright when our breakfast venue of choice, Ginger Baker, opened at 8. As promised, I hauled ass out of bed and into riding gear, brushed my teeth and packed my bag in the space of about 20 minutes. I do a very good zombie imitation when I need to. Thankfully since I’m not the rider, I don’t need to have firing synapses when I get on the bike, and Kiwi more than made up for it getting us out of Albury and to Bright ahead of schedule and without any wildlife encounters to speak of. The sunrise was very pretty though!

We ended up having a delicious breakfast at Food, Wine, Friends instead, since they were open when we arrived at 7.45, and by 8.15 we were back on the road and heading up the hill to Mt Hotham.

From Bright the ride to Omeo was lots of fun, but a bit cooler than expected. We stopped at Mt Hotham for Kiwi to change into warmer gloves, but then kept moving pretty quickly. Our next stop was at Swifts Creek for a cup of tea and some Vegemite toast, and then the last stop for the day was at Sale for fuel, some beef jerky and a toilet break before the final run to Phillip Island.

All up the day went pretty quickly, but I was feeling the fatigue when we arrived at Cowes. To be honest, I didn’t eat enough during the day. When we stopped at Swift Creek I wasn’t hungry yet, and there wasn’t much at the servo in Sale that made me want to eat. Also I have that girl guilt thing that means I feel bad about myself if I don’t eat things that are ‘healthy’ and food on the road doesn’t often fall into that category. I am really going to have to find some staples that will fit on the bike, cope fine with the vibration in the panniers and that make me feel good both physically and mentally. Any suggestions from the brains trust?

After the compulsory shower and change, we had a decent walk from our accommodation into town for dinner on Friday night, where I splurged on lasagne and a couple of glasses of red wine. I collapsed into bed, but at temperatures of 26 degrees all night, sleep didn’t come easily. I think we might have managed about 3 hours all up, and when I surfaced for breakfast and coffee on Saturday morning, I was not a pretty sight…

Speaking of fatigue, it’s getting late, so this post will have to be in two parts. I’ll leave you with a few more photos from Friday’s ride and the promise of stories of fast bikes and a long ride home later in the week.

The view towards Mt Bogong from Tawonga Gap

The ride up the hill to Mt Hotham

Mt Hotham, sponsored by Audi

Kiwi and the GSA at Swifts Creek

Me and the policeman whose radar clearly wasn’t on the lookout for cheekiness or Martin would have been pulled over long ago!

We made it!!!!!


Far Ride #48

So, spoiler alert, we did it and returned to tell the tale… 🙂 if that’s all you wanted to know you can stop reading now… for those interested in the long-winded version, read on!


The week was a fairly busy one – now that I have a vague idea what’s going on at work, people expect me to actually do things!! What’s that about?? Which means I spent most of the week trying to find an hour and a half on a day and at a time in the next 3 weeks where ten people were all available – and not people like me who have nothing better to do, people who run divisions of superannuation companies and travel and by the way we won’t be paying you for your time so if you could just do this out of the kindness of your heart that would be lovely, thanks… I’m pretty sure I get paid both too much and not enough to do this job. But it’s done.

Thursday night we splurged and had pizza and a wine (just one) and on Friday I could definitely have gotten stuck in but in the interests of this whole experiment with my body I abstained, had water with lemon in it (*eye roll*), an early dinner, and hit the mattress at about 8pm.

Sleep was somewhat hard to come by. The dog decided that there was just too much going on and she couldn’t get comfortable. She tried this pillow, then climbed over me to Kiwi to try his pillow, then sat on him for a while, then back to me, then jumped off and went to see my dad downstairs (who kindly came to look after her while we were out riding), then came back, then needed to wee and chase the possums outside… OMG! But when it was time to get up at 4am I was surprisingly ready to go and lacking the usual slight grogginess. Which I think means I’m forced to admit this whole ‘cut back on the booze’ thing is working. Sigh. I do feel better for it. Much as it pains me to admit it.

Leg 1 – Canberra to Wagga Wagga – 350km

After the ‘get out of bed, drag on clothes, shove food and coffee in mouth, brush teeth, leave the house’, the first thing I realised as I got on the bike was that I’d forgotten my camel back which was still sitting on the chair inside. So strike one for preparation – I went back inside to get it and we were on our way.

Getting a start receipt definitely went better than the last time I tried – I managed to press all the right buttons in the correct order and was ready to go in 2 minutes. Unfortunately I had forgotten that for Far Rides we each need a receipt, so Kiwi had to go do his own. But we were both done in under 5 minutes and we were on the road at 4.27am, three minutes ahead of schedule!

Most of this leg was fairly uneventful. We headed up towards Goulburn on the Federal Highway, hung a hard left at the Hume (a 35km/h turn off a 110km/h road is interesting), made a right at the Sturt Highway and followed it down to Wagga Wagga where it was time for second breakfasts. The most interesting things that happened on this leg were the couple of roos who were keen to end our ride (and their lives) earlier than desired who thankfully were persuaded to live another day, and an interesting discussion about bodily functions when we stopped around sunrise…

Kiwi: I’m going to stop at the next truck stop for a leg stretch
Me: Ok
… (We pull over in a truck parking lay by – has rubbish bins but no seating area or toilets, it’s just for rest stops)
Kiwi: Wee time
Me: I need to do a wee too!
Kiwi: You can do a wee.
Me: I don’t think so, not unless you want this trip to get gross and disgusting really quickly.

Needless to say, we stopped again 20 minutes later at a rest area that had actual toilets. I know there are devices out there designed for women to be able to go to the bathroom like men, but I still have reservations about how I deal with the pants/undies thing. I’d rather just take the extra time to go to a real bathroom! Those were our only two stops and we arrived in Wagga soon after 8am.

The advantage of being on the back with mobile coverage is finding a good breakfast option on the go. A quick interweb search found me ‘The Blessed Bean’ and we had good coffee as well as scrambled eggs and bacon for second breakfast. It was a nice way to warm up again after a cooler than expected ride (it got down to 12 degrees at one point and we were both dressed for more like 18-20 degrees).

Leg 2 – Wagga Wagga to Dartmouth – 220km

We were back on the bike again 45 minutes later and the trip to Dartmouth was pretty uneventful. Though I did discover that I don’t like listening to music while riding. Usually Martin has the bluetooth on the bike going to listen to stuff, but with our comms kits on he used the speakers instead. The advantage of that was that the bike didn’t interfere with our headsets (usually mine ends up all crackly because of the interference) but the disadvantage was that I had ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ stuck in my head for the rest of the day. But I learnt something I didn’t know about myself before – which is a good thing. And we know now that we need a bit of a strategy for what we do when we each want to listen to different things. Some of the photographic highlights from the back of the bike…

We made it to the check in at Dartmouth roughly 30 minutes ahead of time, had some snacks, socialised and then successfully submitted our starting receipts! By 12.30 we were back on the road (bye Lynne, Fatman, PhilMor, Simon, and all the others I met/saw again)…

Leg 3 – Dartmouth to Corryong – 145km

Again, this was a fairly uneventful part of the trip, by now we were both definitely in the groove, the music was off (I still had Elton John in my head but only intermittently) and I was taking in the sights.

Who knew there was an international airport in Mitta Mitta!?

But we were both starting to get the hunger worms. This was where things could have gone badly wrong but thankfully didn’t. We were both in need of food by the time we hit Corryong, I’d done the interweb search thing and found out that our cafe of choice closed at 2pm (the time we hit town) but that another cafe and the bakery were open until 4pm. Lesson 2 of the day: Don’t trust everything you read on the interweb!! Turns out the other cafe was also closed when we hit town. Thankfully the community bakery was still open and had some vegetable pasties still available, along with an apple turnover (Kiwi) and a Lamington (me) and a full on riot was avoided! No photos were taken. The evidence was consumed. We left the scene at 2.20pm.

Leg 4 – Corryong to Home – 290km

So it was time to head for home. The electronics told us the final leg would take us 4 hours and with a couple of stops for bathroom breaks it was pretty much right on the money. At roughly km 863.4 (just over 500 miles for you ‘Muricans reading this) I hit the threshold of my butt hurts. The seat is definitely miles better than it was before Mick worked his magic, and I had been working my abs and my legs all day to try to dull the pain and move around but even so I hit the point where it was all hurting and my back was starting to ache. Even the beautiful scenery of the Australian ‘alps’ wasn’t enough to distract me, though the view did help…

Other than that, there was little to report – I loved the ride up and down the mountains! We had a great time on the curves and I was definitely feeling very relaxed about things in general. We were back in the garage at home before 6.30pm, having done just over 1000km in 14 hours. It turns out it was a close run thing as a rock we hit up in the alps bent the rim of the front wheel and we could well have ended up with a flat tyre and no way home, but I’m choosing to believe that the deity of LD Riding knew that would have meant an early exit from the fold by one of his/her newest members… So no harm done!

All up

The trip went well. I had some painkillers with me just in case, and I’m pleased I did because it made the last 140kms much more bearable. Still painful, but not so much so that I was crippled when I got off the bike, and today I’m feeling only a little achy. My inner thighs are sore from holding on more with my knees, and I was really focussed on using my lower abs yesterday rather than slouching which I think helped a lot with my back. The nutrition for the day wasn’t great, and next time I’ll be making sure we pack more healthy stuff and/or make sure we have a plan on the road. I also need to remember to take my back brace with me (already packed for next week’s trip to Phillip Island) so that I have some extra support when I need it. But we both handled it pretty well. Granted, we weren’t trying to collect bonuses and I was completely wrecked by the time we were done last night (we had pizza again with Dad, and two glasses of wine, and I was hungover this morning…) but I stayed hydrated, we didn’t get cranky with each other at all and we both got back having had a good time… At least Kiwi said he had a good time. And guys always tell their partners the truth, right?

Back in the saddle

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with not much riding happening. Both Kiwi and I started new jobs at the end of January so since the last big ride we’ve both been fairly preoccupied with sorting out a new routine and getting our heads around the new roles. Kiwi is now based in Sydney three days a week which makes the weekends precious and means I need to get used to doing more of the ‘chores’ during the week. But a fortnight in things are starting to settle down.

Yesterday we both rode up to Goulburn to pick up the pillion seat for the K1600 from MJM. Mick took the fabric off it, replaced the block of wood that was apparently underneath with some foam, shaped it so that the edges are round rather than corners and then put it all back together again!

To be honest it’s hard to tell from looking at it what’s changed – but after a test ride out to Bungendore and back this morning I’m pretty happy with it! It doesn’t feel like I’m sitting on concrete any more and it has a butt-friendly shape. Clearly either BMW doesn’t expect anyone to actually sit on the pillion seat, or if they do, for no longer than about 5 minutes…

So we’re “all ready” for the big test next weekend – a 1000km ‘Far Ride’ to Dartmouth in Victoria. The plan at this stage is to the big miles in the morning – leaving here at about 4.30am and going via Wagga Wagga. Check in is 12 to 12.30pm and then we head home via the Alpine Way – back through the Snowies and Cooma and then home. My Far Rider number is 1035 – with luck by next Sunday I’ll have doubled the number of Far Rides I’ve successfully completed!! Hopefully we’ll remember to have the Spot on and you can follow the fun from the comfort of your couch! I’ll post a link later in the week.

And a quick shout out to Lisa Cover who saw my last post and sent through the rally rules re:pillions!! Turns out that I have to be in all the photos for our bonus points… Which means our well-honed routine for photo taking will need some modification. It also means y’all can enjoy the beauty that is me with helmet hair, me with the sun in my eyes, me with a big ol stick up my butt coz I’m hot/cold/tired/hungry/premenstrual… you get the picture. I may even manage a smile in a few of the photos but don’t hold your breath. For now, this is me post-brekkie this morning…

And this is us leaving Silverton after my first Far Ride check-in in September 2016… So you know what to look for on the road.

Aims for the coming week:

  • Get some sleep (the more the better really)
  • Buy some compression stockings to try to stop my lower legs swelling too badly on the ride – I find I get really puffy calves at the end of the day
  • Set up all my gear for Saturday morning
  • Keep up the abdominal strengthening exercises to support my back

Other than that, the no alcohol on school nights thing is going to plan (if you don’t count the serious amount of self-talk required to prevent the bottle being opened and drunk in its entirety on Monday night (because, you know, Mondays) and I’m feeling marginally less terrified than I was two weeks ago about the rally ahead.

Till next time!