Day 14: Live update – Odometer 20915km. Bruised but renewed. Tired but content. Enlightened but still learning. Discovered but not yet totally explored. Most crucially, I am humbled but grateful. That felt like much more than just a 14-day period out of Sydney. Great to be back home!
I’ve had my fair share of travels on asphalt across the country in the past. I’ve visited every state and capital city in Australia on motorcycles that a normal rider would regard as not suitable for what I was doing. This adventure trip, on the other hand, was a completely different story. I finally bought myself the right tool for the job back in May 2017, purchasing a 2016 Honda Africa Twin, which is an ideal bike for the interstate hard yakka stuff.
With no proper prior experience in interstate dirt riding and no formal training on such terrain, I was throwing myself into the deep end. Despite having the right bike for my planned endeavours, this adventure was one of self-imposed tough love. Negotiating every encountered obstacle across the rugged outback landscape as a rookie dirt rider, I was learning every little skill and technique as I progressed on a day to day basis. I have compiled the daily ‘rookie mistake’ list seen below as a review of these learning points.
For a quick overview of the whole trip, see the Introduction.
Rookie mistake #1: Strapping on a whole mountain of luggage for a road trip without considering the impact on the dynamics of the motorcycle.
Rookie mistake #2: When I fully knew that there will be hundreds of kilometres of gravel and dirt up on the route ahead, but didn’t bother to drop those tyre pressures until the journey went off its rails.
Rookie mistake #3: Assuming that there will always be a way to your end destination. The difference between a planned and unplanned journey can be the difference between life or death.
Rookie mistake #4: Slowing down and remaining on the seat when riding on sandy terrain; the slower you go and the less you insist on standing on the pegs, the more likely you will lose balance and consequently fall down!
Rookie mistake #5: Omission of a purpose-made offroad recovery system left me open to vulnerability over unsuspected ditches and bogs.
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.
Rookie mistake #7: Being prepared might simply not be enough. Luck may play an essential part of your journey when things grow worse than you would have expected.
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.
Rookie mistake #9: The more that you try to do, the less that you will come across wholesome experiences.
Rookie mistake #10: Allowing regrets to cloud up my journey. Never regret what you could or could not do. Instead, cherish the time that that you have already spent, and look forward to what is still ahead.
Rookie mistake #11: Just because you’ve ridden a road once in the past doesn’t mean that it will be the same old trip. The same path can be seen from a different point of view.
Rookie mistake #12: Searching for a campsite at night without prior research. It’s difficult enough to be riding all day. Attempting find and set up a sleeping space in the dark makes it worse.
Rookie mistake #13: Riding through one of the most populated kangaroo regions in Australia late at night.
So, what are the things I would have done differently if I were to do this trip again, after realising the above mentioned points?
- Carry less luggage
- It’s bloody hard work to wield a heavy bike around on sandy terrain, and more so when you have to pick the bike up after a fall.
- Plan the route
- Sounds like common sense but, as mentioned in the Introduction, I really did just point on the map and decided that I’ll try and reach the destination on the shortest route possible!
- Research the roads ahead
- Due to failure to research sufficiently, I also had no idea what I had to expect. Not only this was dangerous in the case of emergency, but it also meant that efforts were applied inefficiently as I was a little indecisive with the decision-making process, making a lot of simple things, such as photography and meal times, a needlessly time-consuming activity.
- Allow for much more time
- I don’t think this will ever be an aspect that I will ever rectify as I love making money at my job and hate taking too much time off. With the time I do have for myself, I try my best to go as far away as possible from home, prioritising long distances over time off the saddle. Funnily, this doesn’t necessarily mean a good quality time spent on the road. If I were to look for a slower-paced travel experience, I need more time. Can somebody please give me the winning numbers for the lottery so I don’t need to work so much?!
- Go with a friend!
- The inland of Australia can be a deeply isolated place. So much so, that even I, as a massive introvert, began to feel that this trip would have been made better if I had a friend, or even a group of mates to have around me. It would be nice to have someone else to pick up the bike for me after the umpteenth drop!
The real MVP of this trip is the bike. The Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin is tough as hell, and more capable than I could ever be. To recommend the Africa Twin for big trips that include an extensive amount of both dirt and tar is to point out the bleeding obvious. The value for money factor also doesn’t need to be mentioned in the face of much pricier competition. Apart from a bent front rim that has since been repaired, I could literally just take off its scratched up aftermarket items, and very well claim that it had been babied because there isn’t much that the outback elements had inflicted on the bike itself. The bike has been built tough to withstand the abuse of a clumsy rider like me.
Thankful for the bike’s forgiving character, I am bruised but renewed. Tired but content. Enlightened but still learning. Discovered but not yet totally explored. Most crucially, I am humbled but grateful. This whole trip felt like much more than just a 14-day period out of Sydney. Great to be back home!
Basic Statistics for the day:
- Route: Cobar, Nyngan, Dubbo, Bathurst, Sydney
- Total distance: 894km
- Range of temperature: 8°C to 17°C
Expenses for the day:
General map route: