Day 6: Live update – Odometer 16380km. Now approaching the Tropic of Capricorn, where the temperatures remain at 36°C. Those who know me well enough will realise that I don’t cope well with the heat, which is one reason why I’ve had my longer road trips during the winter season. Now at the small outback QLD town of Boulia to have a shower in a normal bathroom and a “gourmet” beef burger with chips before heading out to the remote desert tracks again.
Rookie mistake #6: Offroad tyres aren’t invincible. Murphy’s law will apply if you treat it as such. They still get punctured, even if you have the best tyre and tube combination.
The road northbound out from Birdsville is mostly made up of gravel surfaces until it reaches Bedourie. From that point, the road is tarred all the way up to Boulia; a welcome difference from the past few days on unsealed roads.
The Heidenau K60 tyres have performed well so far. There were no issues with punctures or deflation up to this part of the trip to Birdsville. They’ve kept the bike upright in most circumstances, apart from falls caused by my own mishaps. The best aspect about this tyre is its long wear. From rocky and stony trails to sandy vistas, the tyres have successfully completed over 2000kms of inland Australia.
All the punctures that I’ve experienced as a motorcyclist up to this point in my life occurred in urban areas. The cities are where stray items such as sharp construction waste and loose automotive debris pose as a bigger hazard than the elements seen in a more natural environment.
In general, dirt-biased tyres swallow up irregular surfaces with much greater ease than that of which is more catered towards asphalt roads. Not only does it benefit from better grip, lower tyre pressures can accommodate the bike for better bump absorption. However, it will not completely take up every single bump, as you will see soon later for this day.
Boulia is the last stop before venturing on to the Donohue Highway. Here, I collected my supplies and took a much needed hot shower before continuing on the path. The Donohue Highway is a gravel route rated for only 4WD and dedicated offroad vehicles that leads to the border of Northern Territory, where it becomes the Plenty Highway. Due to its harshness, widespread aridness and lack of amenities, it is a road that is only travelled by those who simply want to avoid the longer but much more civilised, fully tarred alternative towards Alice Springs through Mount Isa and Camooweal.
Travelling on the Donohue Highway, the gravel road of the night was a journey of scenic monotony, with no other sight to see other than the starry sky above and the road ahead lit up by the dual-intensity Denali LED driving lights. To curb the boredom that was developing, I picked up the pace, despite the murkiness of a dusty night that harbored kangaroos shielded by darkness.
In practice, the raw speed of 100km/h is not that fast. Despite that, for a moment, I felt like an eagle swooping between mountains and canyons. The rush of trails passing past underneath the tyres as I held on tightly to the tank with my legs, all those small bumps that were so noticeable at crawling pace were no longer the case at higher speeds.
Out of nowhere, like a kick in the gut, I hit a large pothole. It was already 20 metres behind me when I could have reacted to it. Brushing off the incident as though it were a slightly more substantial small bump, I tried to continue on with the journey. That is when the front tyre gradually softened up. Eventually, I came to a stop when I lost absolute feel of the front end. The front tyre had totally deflated.
Coincidently, the tyre deflated just 500 metres from the QLD/NT border. I walked the bike to the border. At least, I thought to myself, if I reached border, it would count as an achievement of sorts, and I wouldn’t feel so bad about the damage. I was too tired and sleepy to do anything more for the night, so I decided to leave the tyre repair for the next morning. Seems like I’d have to be camping on the state border in the middle of the Aussie outback tonight!
Basic Statistics for the day:
- Route: Birdsville, Bedourie, Boulia, QLD/NT Border (Donohue Highway)
- Total distance: 625km
- Range of temperature: 23°C to 38°C
Expenses for the day:
General map route: