Panigale Around Australia 2016: Day 1 – Sydney to Gundagai

“Day 1: Odometer 44694km. Surprise, surprise. 6pm on a Friday, and going away for a roadtrip. Goal: Perth by Thursday evening. First stop, the Victorian capital. See you in the morning, Melbourne!”

Fully loaded, ready to roll by 6pm in the evening.

On the eve of any new adventure, good quality sleep is usually unwittingly placed down the bottom of priorities. The places that you will discover and explore, the journey that leads you to your planned destinations and all the experiences that you may come to cherish later on; the mind buzzes as neurons are blasted around in the brain, and emotions leave you unsettled in the nervousness, fear, and the excitement of it all as you envision all the things that you anticipate for your trip.

Sleep, then, was my forgotten gear for this journey.  Leaving at 6:02pm, I make my way on to the M2-M7 motorways, without any prior rest after finishing work at 4pm. It was essentially a disaster waiting to happen. This will serve as my biggest flaw of the trip for this evening later on.

About the trip, my initial objective was to first make it to Perth, and this was intentionally implicitly stated as my last destination, as I didn’t have the outright confidence that my back or wrists would allow me to continue on with the rest of the round of Australia. It just seemed a little crazy and overly ambitious at this stage. However, I did pack my luggage with that intention in mind.

Sydney’s late-Autumn balminess, for a welcoming depature..

This was the first time ever that the new luggage rack was being used in unison with all the gear that I had packed for the next few days of the tarmacked wilderness. As a matter of fact, no proper road tests were conducted for the luggage rack. An estimated load of at least 60 kg were held up by the bike’s tail section, a substantial heft by sport bike standards. It was a risk that was possibly wrought with ramifications that could destroy this road trip or, even worse, the bike’s sub frame. All I could do from this point onward was to either turn back home, or trust the science of Gas Metal Ark Welding and chemistry of high-tensile steel and just simply go for gold.

First stop, at Goulburn’s Big Merino for a fuel top up.

Three hours into the trip, I noticed that the lower plate covering the pillion seat cavity of the rear tail was unsecured. Long story short, I stupidly tried thrusting in my rain pants, among all the other things that I could have done, between the upper and lower plate to keep it held down in place. Of course, the band-aid solution did nothing to counter the coarseness of the Panigale’s low-RPM highway NVH. Long story short, I lost my wet weather pants, and spent an hour going back and forth on the same section of the pitch-dark Hume Highway, and figured that it wasn’t worth spending so much time on a piece of gear that is worth peanuts. My brain was skipping a few thought processes; the effects of fatigue were already showing.

Stopping at the Dog on the Tuckerbox in the Gundagai region of country NSW, I recharged myself with a power nap and some carbs. Power napping is one of my few key areas of expertise that I’ve developed over many years. For as long as I remember, I’ve always held at least two jobs as a young adult, with shift work required now and then. I find that a nap between 10 and 30 minutes hits the sweet spot before the body lapses to slow-wave sleep, the stage in which you experience deep sleep. A good dose of caffeine to accompany a power nap has been my prime method of an effective nap.

I depart the Dog on the Tuckerbox, forcing my conscience to believe that I am fully rejuvenated from the nap. Inevitably, power naps are strictly a temporary measure of rest on the open road. No amount of energy drinks and trendy napping tips will substitute for good quality sleep. All the while I was riding, temperatures continued to drop and energy was being sapped away from my lifeblood, fighting against my desire for sleep. Every kilometre felt like a massive journey as I counted the digits on the trip meter, every small incremental increase at a time.

Lucid train of lights on a road dominated by heavy vehicles at night; Hume Highway, Gundagai.

As lucid trains of illuminations emitted by passing trucks bring to light the bare remnants of my deteriorating willpower to stay awake, I submit to the inevitable pit of the circadian rhythm. I pull over near a group of trucks at a highway stop to close my eyes for but 10 minutes, before grudgingly continuing my way south on the Hume Highway to Australia’s Culture Capital.



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