Day 8: Live update – Odometer 17200km. I made it “home”! It’s taken me countless falls, a flat tyre and even a flat battery from this morning, but I’ve made it back on asphalt! I will never take a tarred road for granted ever again!
Rookie mistake #8: The difficulty of a road trip is not necessarily proportionate to the amount of fun that you’ll have. You’re here to enjoy your time, not break records.
The majority of my days on the road so far in this trip had been spent on gravel and bulldusted tracks. Riding on such surfaces as part of a day trip is one thing, to be spending your time day in day out on it for almost a week is another. With no time to properly recuperate, and with your mind set firmly on survival and distance coverage, both the mind and body are constantly working overtime to continue on with the ride. The clock was ticking as I approached the end of week 1 of 2 of the trip. Alice Springs, the halfway point of this outback series, was still a few hundred kilometres ahead of me.
To date, I’ve had five falls on dirt, once bogged in sand, afflicted by a tyre puncture in one desolate section of the trip and, now as of this day, left hanging with a flat battery in the morning. Every single little event that occurred has taken a substantial amount of both time and energy, resources of which would have been much more usefully utilised for other activities.
Riding on unsealed surfaces for many consecutive days has its distinct challenges compared to asphalt. It is difficult as you cannot simply flick on the cruise control as you would on asphalt and lazily travel at a consistent highway speed to eat up all those kays. You have to be continually and vigilantly alert and cautious to every metre of inconsistency, every bump and ditch, at varying speeds and with various levels of intentional rider inputs.
My search for adventure on more challenging terrain, relative against asphalted roads, was motivated by my perception that it would be more involving and exciting. It certainly had been much more involving in the way that I’ve experienced all the falls, bogs, punctures and battery flats in just this trip with the Africa Twin alone. None of my road trips with my previous bikes have gone through so many setbacks. Does this make a road trip more exciting? Not really, until at least you make it back home and review your footage with a beer in hand.
The west of the Atitjere region of the treacherous Plenty Highway becomes a proper sealed highway. I was totally happy to be back on asphalt! Literally what I exclaimed loudly inside my helmet as the wheels of the motorcycle glided across the heavenly predictability of a consistently smooth expanse of endless asphalt: “I am not going to take a sealed road for granted ever again!”
Not too far off from the Plenty and Stuart Highway intersection is the major outback town of Alice Springs. I had lost my main camera tripod somewhere in the vast sandy plains in Innamincka, South Australia. Expecting to be able to buy a suitable replacement, I was left in disappointment as I discovered that the local camera and electronics store was closed on Sundays. Darn it.
Alice Springs is the point where I am officially at the half way point of my 14-day road trip. I wasn’t really bothered to explore the town, due to the accumulated physical fatigue as well as the heat that was making me even more tired than I should be. The longer I spent in town, the closer my body was approaching its absolute limits before requiring a total end for the day’s ride. There’s no fun in walking around tiresomely in a foreign town like a zombie on the verge of dying under the intensity of the outback UV.
I settled for a quick fast food meal and a top up on fuel for the bike before moving on to find a proper camping spot for the evening. 100km down the road from town, I found a roadside camping location, bordering the Owens Spring Reserve. More excited to be able to see Uluru again in the next day, I wanted nothing more than simply a quiet evening whilst the sun was still up. I was done with challenging myself at the expense of enjoyment. After all, I wanted to be able to return to work, feeling that I actually had a holiday away from work, not an experience where work is actually more enjoyable!
Basic Statistics for the day:
- Route: Atitjere, Alice Springs
- Total distance: 380km
- Range of temperature: 21°C to 35°C
Expenses for the day:
General map route: