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Far Riding.....again

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by cougs, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. It had been about 18 months or so since I’d completed my first Far Ride; in that time I had changed bikes and just hadn’t found a ride that suited for various reasons but had always intended on doing another.

    The Far Riders are the Australian arm of the Iron Butt Association and bill themselves as the home of long distance riding in Australia –It's just a road... Their entry level ride is the FR10 which is 1000km in 24hrs or less; I had previously completed Far Ride East 26, thereby earning my Far Riders membership (read about that ride here) and was keen for another crack at it so signed up for Far RideEast 35 to Aireys Inlet.


    Having registered for the ride, the fun started – firstly planing the route. In basic terms I had to complete at least 500km by the time I reached Aireys Inlet between 11.00 and 11.30am and plan to complete more than 1000km by the time I got home that night. Being fairly close to home (about 200km-ish) I didn’t want to make this an overnight ride, I also didn’t want to be out especially late so preferred an early start and to bang out the bulk of the kms early in the day. Various different routes were looked at over the coming weeks, with thought to a balance between not being too boring (not hwy for 500km then turn back), fuel availability, ability to maintain a reasonable average speed and riding roads that I hadn’t ridden much or at all before and I settled on the below loop – Skye > Ararat > Hamilton > Warrnambool > Colac > Lorne > Aireys Inlet > Torquay > Ballarat > Skye which acording to Google is about 1000km once you add in a couple of sigh seeing detours – a good day’s ride. It would also give me about 650km before the meet point which was about where I wanted to be.

    The morning of the ride rolled around and the Honda and I were up at sparrow’s and ready to go. ‘The Honda’ is a 2007 model VTX 1300. Whilst not designed or built for outright speed, with a v-twin powerplant is oozes torque and the shaft drive system rather than chain its built for all day cruising. When I first bought it I rode it home from Warrnambool and only stopped to fill up with fuel, otherwise would have kept goings its that comfortable.


    Built to cruise

    First stop – the servo down the road for the all-important fuel docket with the start time on it; and so it was that at about 4.10am we turned out of the servo and started heading west – high beams and driving lights blazing from the front of the bike, buff pulled up over my face to keep out the cool pre-dawn air common in mid October and clear safety glasses replacing the sunnies for the first couple of hours at least. Pretty much just freeway for the first couple of hours – the day was all about mile munching and the more that I culd churn through in the morning, the easier run home I would have that afternoon. Through the city, out the Western Fwy and past Ballarat I saw a few cars, a couple trucks and watched the run rise in the mirrors, only stopping for a stretch somewhere near Bacchus Marsh before pushing on. As I mentioned earlier -long distance riding is about keeping up your average speed; its not about speed in itself, but consistency. If you fly along at 150kmh everywhere, you’ll be stopping for fuel more often which negates any advantage made up by speeding. I’ve seen write ups where guys only use pay-at-the-pump options for fuel, plan how close to the step near the bowser they pull up so as to save a second or two getting on and off the bike – I wasn’t that conscious of time, but also wasn’t going to waste too much time sight seeing.



    At Ararat it was time to get off the Western Hwy and head Sth West through country I had not seen before. Willaura, Glenthompson, Dunkeld and Hamilton were all new to me, as was the scenery. Being early in the spring its was still reasonably green but even then you could see that the grass was starting to cure and things were starting to dry out. The weather was overcast but nice – low 20s and perfect riding weather with a little breeze. Its funny thinking back on rides such as this; as you’re riding along your mind thinks all kind of thoughts from a running commentary on the country you’re passing through to keeping an eye on average speed, kms traveled and mentally calculating arrival times and if there was any need to change the route to an impromptu game of ‘punchbuggy’ coming through Penshurst (for the record, it was yellow and this game is much better with more than 1 player). Being nice open flat farm country I probably sat on $1.20 most of the time which is a nice comfortable speed for those roads, which is lucky as I probably stopped for too long when I had the coffee in Ararat and things were starting to look a bit tight for the 11-11.30 arrival time. Next fuel stop was in Warrnambool and a quick coffee and dodgy chicken wrap there were washed down by a bottle of water as I mentally calculated distance v time left to achieve checkin and figured it would be fine and I would arrive right on 11am.


    Coffee – its not great, but better than what you get at BP

    Then the roadworks. Great. So much for maintaining an average speed in excess of 85kmh. Add to the roadworks the fact that I was back on the Princes Hwy which – as anyone in Victoria can verify – means incompetent drivers, trucks and potholes. Trucks are not generally too much of a problem, they are usually good drivers and don’t like having bikes behind them so will wave you past where possible; potholes are annoying but with foresight and concentration can be successfully navigated; throw in mouth breathing window lickers who have no business behind the wheel of a car madly updating their Facebook status and it makes for an interesting time and I was glad to turn off for Birregurra and Deans Marsh. By this time I was spending as much time concentrating on the road as I was the odometer and clock; calculating complicated equations using long forgotten Year 10 trigonometry and snippets remembered from sci-fi movies about the space/time continuum trying to work out if I was actually going to make the check in on time. Far Rider rules state that the checkin closes at 11.30am – no ifs or buts, if you roll up at 11.31 then you’ve probably had a good ride but cannot be declared a finisher; as this point in time I still thought I’d be right but as always, the best plans do not always go off as expected.


    Birregurra Festival – right where I was to ride!

    Who’s bright idea was it to have the Birregurra Festival on the exact same day that I wanted to ride through the town without delay? I’m sure its got something to do with the Otways Shire, no doubt backed by the forces of evil – regardless instead of scooting straight through town it meant another 5-10 mins lost in a detour down some dirt roads and dodging families walking to the displays set up along the closed off main street. Right turn a Deans Marsh and it was down through the beautiful forested areas of the Otways north of Lorne. Usually a good spot for some smooth riding by this time there was a light drizzle wetting the road and a fair amount of leaf litter on the road which slowed progress a bit. The ‘I reckon I’ll be right’ thought process was just about out the window by this stage, by about 1/2 way to Lorne I had resigned myself to the distinct possibility that I was going to be too late; especially when as I turned left onto the Great Ocean Road I hit more roadworks. But, as they say in the classics, you never know until you get there so ‘head down, throttle open and lets see how we go’ was the mantra that was mumbled Tibetan-monk like for the next 15 minutes or so until I pulled into the carpark of the Aireys Inlet Hotel. According to the clock on my bike it was 11.27am; a bloke joghged out as I was climbing off – “Are you a Far Rider?” Yep. “Then you have 1 minute to get to the table with your docket” and so I stumbled up to the table, helmet sill on, fumbling for my docket and was checked in with 30 seconds to spare. And I wasn’t the last to arrive, with a bloke 10 seconds behind me!



    Aireys Inlet Pub

    After a quick chat with various other FarRiders and the obligatory group photo it was time to climb back aboard and head off – 638km down, at least 360 odd to go. Not wanting to waste too much time off the bike I had decided not to have a pub lunch due to the crowd but instead stop further along for a quick bite and another stretch so I grabbed a pie & can of Coke in Torquay and sat under a tree by the beach for 10 mins enjoying the solitude. It was time now to turn inland again, through small country such as Bannockburn, Lethbridge and Elaine. Towns that as you ride through you feel are way off the beaten track but in reality only minutes from the main freeway between Melbourne and Geelong. Scottsburn is another beautiful little town, closer to Ballarat, I did a couple of laps of the town as I love the older architecture and buildings; I feel for them after the fire that burned around and in the town in December.

    Ballarat was its usual bustling regional hub and with the sun now shining I spent a little time riding around its picturesque streets and the tree lined Avenue of Honour. Apparently the first of its kind in Australia and possibly the world, the Avenue of Honour at 22km is also the longest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Comprising 3771 trees the plantings were started in 1917 and completed in 1919 and represent local men and women who enlisted to serve in the First World War form the Ballarat and surrounding areas. After a look around it was time to fuel up again and head for home. From here it was pretty much boring Fwy riding all the way home, ending the day as it has started – mile munching.

    Arrived home about 4.45pm that night, a little stiff (not nearly as bad as I was when I did a FarRide on the Nightrod though), covered in dead bugs and a happy, satisfied individual.


    The route, minus a few detours

    All up the trip was just under 13 hours and 1017km which translates to a speed average for the whole day of a smidge under 80kmh….pretty good when you include stops which again reinforces the truth that long distance riding is about efficiency and consistency rather than outright speed. Oh, and having a bloody good time!

    Coug's Contemplation
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  2. Another great report and photos that give a good impression of what a Far Ride is like, thanks cougscougs. HighettHighett has also posted some Far Ride reports and between these it makes me wonder if I might attempt a Far Ride one day.
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  3. XJ6N - I can highly recommend giving it a go. You have 24hrs to complete the 1000km so if unsure can do over 2 days as long as the check in rules etc are followed.

    I'll be doing more for sure, thinking about doing the next on on my SV1000 - bit more of a challenge comfort wise than the cruiser
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  4. One day..

    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Hey! I was at this one too. Any planned for this year?
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  6. Thinking about Lobethal SA in May....
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  7. All the FarRides are listed here.

    Hey, I'm in that group pic, thanks for posting.

    Planning on Lobethal and Silverton this year.
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  8. Thanks Grey GentryGrey Gentry , already registered for my next attempt (Armidale). Have intentions of a few for this year.. Lobethal, Silverton and maybe Moree too
  9. I was surprised to see no Vic rides coming up. I'm a bit keen to have a go at this myself, I like to just get on and ride without a lot of stopping and faffing around.
  10. Good clicks & a good read.
    Just a thought, Grant & Susan kicked off Horizons Unlimited 20 years back at least from memory..... I documented my RTW, road less traveled journey's with them circa 1994 - 2001 & in conjunction with operating another online travel forum, m/c specific, now owned by Permira, so maybe worth uploading there (& other forums) if your after exposure feedback. We used to make a quid out of it in the early days of online travel, much harder now.
    Suggest copyrighting all uploaded material as well.
    Keep the headchecks happenin'.
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  11. Thanks for sharing cougscougs
    Great read.
    Makes me really think I need something for decent touring to bookend the MT09 and hooning.
  12. Top effort great read :finger:
  13. Nice report. Might give this a go at the next QLD one.
  14. XJ6NXJ6N There's a FarRide to Armidale on Feb 13th - would be a good one for those in our area. Hopefully I have a new ride by then.
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  15. G'day _wheel__wheel_, the St Kilda Hotel Far Ride to Armidale in February would be the best from here but unfortunately I won't make it. :-/

    The Moree one later in the year might be a starter for me, have to wait and see.
  16. Great report. Well done on another ride cougscougs

    Lazy LibranLazy Libran BitSarBitSar - your Yamahas should be good enough for a ride like this, just get an AirHawk seat pad. A mate of mine and I did a FarRide on our nakeds, can be done.

    I am planning for a few this year, including Armidale on 13th Feb and Morree, maybe even Lobethal, SA. Hope to catch up with you lot on at least one of these.
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  17. Not too concerned about the ergos or the wind.
    Just the range.
    14L tank on an 850 triple......eeeek.
  18. That's what 280-300kms? Indeed on the smaller side but that also provides opportunities for regular breaks. On other hand, the FjR1300 is highly respected among long distance riders, $5k can secure a half decent one if regular long distance touring is on the cards.
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  19. Furthest I've pushed it is ~250kms + reserve.
    Got in ~13.5L
    So in theory ~300ml (500-200) of useable fuel.......might make 280? Dunno, not be that game.
  20. go on...give it a go...be daring lol
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