Bermagui Far Ride

So this weekend we stepped it up a bit in terms of prep for the IBR with a 1000km day ride to Bermagui and home again… The Far Rides are always a great get-together for the LDR community in Australia and a bit more achievable for those of us who don’t always get a kick out of the 1600km IBA rides.

As usual, it wasn’t a great lead-in for either of us with busy weeks at work. But we got a decent night’s sleep in on Friday and then hopped out of bed at 4am (or 3.30 if your name is Kiwi) to get going.

We rolled out of Neutral Bay, onto the Harbour Bridge and then out towards the M5 at about 4.40am and TBH I have very little memory of most of the first 1.5 hours of the ride. I know we went through the M5 tunnel and that we ended up near Picton at some point but mostly I was just dozing on the back. Not exactly asleep but certainly not what you would call ‘awake’…

Breakfast was at Berry, a cute little town in the Kangaroo Valley – and the coffee and sustenance was much needed. A loo break and then onwards where I managed to keep my eyes open for about an hour and then drifted off again until about 9am. We had diverted over Berry Mountain and then back to the Princes Highway and as we were ahead of schedule when we got to Cobargo, we fuelled up, had another toilet break and then proceeded down to Bega before returning for the 12 noon check in.

Things got a little interesting about 30kms out of Bermagui when the gear shift lever decided to go awol somewhere along the road and Kiwi tried to rear-end a car turning right because he couldn’t shift down a gear… I was not super impressed, but he managed to get us to Bermagui unscathed where we did some running repairs on the bike involving a 6mm shifting socket and a couple of cable ties!

I hadn’t registered for the ride (preferring to keep the pressure to a minimum) but Kiwi checked in, we socialised for about an hour over lunch with some friendly and familiar faces (LTP, Fatman, Ollie, Derrick, Liz, Crappy, Vlad, Gags, Hackle, Craig, Ian and more) and got back on the road again.

Initially our plan had us going up Brown Mountain to get the requisite kms up, but with our detour to Bega, we could head back to Batemans Bay and up Clyde Mountain instead. It was at this point over lunch that I started giving a new app (recommended by Nadine Huval) called ‘inRoute’ a workout. It does similar things to Google Maps, but with the advantage that it caches your route so you can access it even if you don’t have a mobile signal. It was a winner.

We headed home via all the ‘Bs’: Batemans Bay, Braidwood, and Bungendore – then back out to the Federal Highway and home via the Hume.

With roughly 300kms to go I was not a happy camper and the late afternoon head games were in full swing. My butt hurt, I was on the warm side and the thought of doing this day on steroids and then multiplying it by 11 to do the IBR was beyond what I could consider. How am I going to pull this off?

We paused at Sutton Forest to refuel the bike and ourselves and I took the opportunity to stretch my legs out and get some food in. That last 150kms was looking mighty unattractive.

We ordered home delivered dinner on the way and had just jumped out of the shower when my mum and dad arrived bringing home our puppy dog from a big play day. By the time I hit bed at 8.30pm, I was done. And I was (again) questioning whether the IBR was really my thing.

So what did I learn yesterday?

  • You need to start big rides well-rested.
  • High-quality nutrition is important – for me, this means lean protein and lots of vegetables/salad, not carbs and sugars
  • Long rides without a puzzle to solve are really hard for me. I need the bonus-gathering and routing options to keep my mind busy
  • Podcasts help. When Kiwi’s comms battery died I listened to some ‘West Wing Weekly’ which took my mind off things and made the distance feel easier. We need to find a way that we can listen to things but still talk to each other when needed/wanted.

I’m still working my way towards that IBR. It’s going to be one of the biggest personal challenges I’ve ever set myself, and I will need to be really clear about my boundaries and when I need to just take 10 minutes to regroup, but I still want to give it a red hot go. I feel a lot better about things today than I did this time yesterday, but it doesn’t mean I think this is going to be an easy thing to do.

This afternoon we’ve spent a reasonable amount of time playing around with routing software – how to get bonus point coding out of excel and into gpx files, how to get gpx files to show up on inRoute, and how to waste as little time as possible on the things that add the least amount of value to our ride. More on that later.

Next week we head to Phillip Island for the Superbikes – and more stories for sure!

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Baby steps

It’s February already (only 17 weeks until we leave for the US!) and my IBR prep is happening, but slowly. Mainly my prep this month has been in the form of working on my fitness. Turns out if I want to eliminate my lower back pain I need to work on getting ‘buns of steel’! So we’ve been showing up to PT every Wednesday morning since boxing day, most recently at 5am!!!, to put ourselves through hell in humidity.

This weekend we’ve come to Canberra to get my Honda 800 serviced, some new tyres put on and some engine bars fitted so that if I do drop it, it doesn’t cost a fortune and a half to fix!

Since I don’t have much to share this month, I thought I’d put together a bit of a highlights reel of sorts from the ‘Dam Hard to Say Round Up’ – a 30 hour rally starting and finishing in Taree, NSW that we did two-up late last year.

Because we never learn, it started with half a day at work – then a race out the door to get to Taree on time and an extended period sitting in traffic on Pennant Hills Road getting out of Sydney.

We made it to Taree where the jacarandas were almost in bloom, checked into the motel and did some socialising before it was time to head to the local Chinese restaurant for the starting banquet. It was a pretty rowdy bunch at the table and competitive spirits were high.

The Motley DHTS crew

Rules of the game were fairly straightforward – do the base route precisely to be a finisher, or do a route of your own choosing and make sure you get enough miles up (a bit over 1000) and a decent score. The words below that are bold and underlined will come back to haunt us.

Rules of the game…

Nonetheless, the rally masters were very kind in allowing us to text them our photos to find out if we had successfully bagged the bonus, which meant we could leave knowing either we did or didn’t have the points in hand.

With rally books in hand we headed back to the motel where we were happily surprised to find out that the USB had not only GPX files and the rally book in PDF, but also an XLS file pre-coded with bonus point values! As a girl who loves a good spreadsheet this was a seriously happy-making find and with a quick ‘sort high to low’ on the bonus values column, it became fairly clear where we were heading: south through the Hunter Valley, down to Wiseman’s Ferry and then out across the mountains.

With a fairly clear route (at least for the first day’s riding) planned, our heads hit the pillows and we got a reasonable night’s sleep.

Heading out of Taree at six, it was two-up teams first 🙂 and we rolled out to retrace our steps of the previous day back down the M1 as far as Beresfield.

First up was Koorainghat – where we couldn’t find a sign for the town’s name…

Rally masters said ‘no’

Next up was Grahamstown Dam… And finally we had some points!

Then it was on into the Hunter where we collected some decent points, enjoyed a beautiful morning, lovely scenery and some great riding roads…

We crossed paths with Jeff the Chef a couple of times on our route!

The day got warmer as we headed south to the outskirts of Sydney and we paused at Windsor for some snacks – sandwiches and a cold drink… Then it was on up the Bell’s Line of Road chasing more bonuses. By mid-afternoon I was starting to feel like we had a rhythm going and our route looked pretty good. Then it started to go a bit pear-shaped.

First up we had some difficulty finding Carcoar Dam – the GPS coordinates weren’t quite right for the dam… But we were only 6kms or so away so we hoofed it up the road and got the bonus. More problematic was Wyangala Dam – which was roughly 70kms from where we’d originally had it marked.

We decided it was still worth it given the points and had a lovely ride in, got the sign and headed out again.

But now we were running behind the schedule we had planned and it looked like we were going to need to start dropping bonuses.

Things only got worse when we headed out of Canowindra for Dubbo and ended up on a dirt road. This was the one time the Garmin was saying ‘go this way’ and Google maps put us wrong. Again, being tired and on the clock, rather than turning around and taking the longer route, we persisted on the gravel, which became dirt, which became sand… And then we were in the sand and not quite so happy with life.

The squiggle in the road where we dropped the bike…

Although it was a lovely afternoon with the sun shining and the temperature starting to fall, my anxiety sitting on the back was increasing. As navigator I felt responsible for putting us on the dirt road and chances were we were going to be really late getting to our accommodation for the night.

Even more troubling, I was starting to doubt our route and whether or not the bonuses were going to be where we thought they were. In the daylight, finding alternatives was tough but do-able. In darkness I didn’t want to end up on another dirt road, miles from anywhere without phone signal.

On top of that, as we left our fuel stop post-dirt road, the Beemer did it’s ‘limp mode’ thing and told us to go to the nearest dealer. Thankfully after turning it off and turning it on again, the bike seemed to be back to normal, but it wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring.

We bagged our next bonus and then decided on a change of plans. Rather than heading across country to another dam, we’d keep heading straight up to Dubbo and stay the night in Gilgandra, leaving early in the morning towards Gunnedah and Walcha before the run back to Taree by midday.

We got our final few bonuses for the day – now few and far between – and booked some accommodation to get a few hours sleep.

What dam is this again??

Next morning with some much-needed shut-eye on board we headed off again in the dark for the last run home.

The rest of the ride wasn’t particularly eventful. We got back in the groove of ride – stop – take photo – write up log – ride again. And while it was a close thing getting back to the finish line, we did manage to get a coffee in Taree on the way and even got back to Koorainghat to get the bonus correctly this time.

Slightly less terrifying sight!

The scoring table was slightly less terrifying than the first time on BLIX and we came away without losing too many points at the table (with the exception of the ‘error free log’ which Kiwi and I interpreted as meaning different things).

How did we do? Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the finishers banquet but it turns out we won! And as with all these rallying things, it was a heap of fun in hindsight (if not always fun at the time) and we learnt loads to take with us to the IBR.

Until next time, ride safe all!