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Lightning Ridge - Ride report

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by Highett, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. #1 Highett, Nov 12, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
    Highett's (Paul) - Ride Report - 25 May 2012

    Singleton to Cleveland / SS1600 Cleveland to Lightning Ridge / Lightning Ridge to Singleton

    I planned on doing the FarRide East# 19 to Lightning Ridge and I decided that I would combine it with a SS1600

    Singleton NSW to Cleveland QLD

    I left Singleton at about 11pm on an overnight ride to Cleveland, The temperature in Singleton was 7 degrees c, at Tamworth it was down to 2 degrees c, once up on the Dividing Range the temperature dropped to a low of -9 Degrees c at Glen Innes, it was beyond chilly, least it did not rain.
    I rode up to Brisbane overnight deliberately, I knew it would be cold and I wanted to check my kit.
    I was wearing 2 pairs of thermal and I pair of double layer woollen socks with my boots, Bottom & Mid layer thermals and Dryrider Blizzard Pants, Bottom & Mid-layer thermals on the body with a fleece top layer and a Dryrider Compass Jacket
    Gloves were Synthetic gauntlets, wind proof, water proof triple insulated work gloves combined with my heated grips I was comfy at -4, I knew it was cold at -9 but my hands were OK
    You do not really appreciate the protection from the elements on a bike like the GTR until you experience bone chilling cold, What I learnt was that with my gear I was comfortable at -2, Just feeling it at -4, when it got down to -9, I knew it was cold, my feet froze but it was tolerable.
    On my head under the helmet a Dryrider insulated balaclava, it worked great, kept the cold off my neck and chin area
    Oddly enough I could feel the temperature change in one degree increments.........funny that when I think of it now
    I was also trialling a new helmet, A Nolan N43E, I was using a Sena SMH10 Bluetooth Helmet Communication set up, it was good, phone & music while I was alone and being able to talk with my riding mate during the ride made the hard parts that bit extra enjoyable
    I am seriously thinking of adding heated insoles for the boots and perhaps socks as well and maybe a heated vest to my kit,
    I had arranged to meet up with Chris (Brisbane GTR) from the GTR-AUS Forum on the Brisbane side of Warwick for coffee and a chin wag at 7am on the way to Cleveland, it was good to meet face to face.
    Brisbane & Work
    Same sh*t different day and location
    I got the work stuff done and dusted during the week and was toeing the line to get going on Friday
    Final Preparations
    Kevin & I sorted out the final route we would take after a bit of disagreement then a compromise, the bikes were packed, we had a quick photo session at Kevin’s place then we headed to the servo (another photo session) for a time/date/location stamp at our starting point.

    The SS1600 Ride

    My friend Kevin and I headed off at about 11.45am, a bit later than we planned as the servo register clock was out by 7 minutes, we needed the time stamp to read 11.30 or later for the FarRide.

    It was raining when we left Cleveland and it continued to rain for the next 5 to 6 hours, previously I suggested to Kevin that we run his Shadow dry to see what his range was as he did not know, after refuelling the Shadow at Beenleigh we set out for Dalby (219 Kms) however Kevin’s Shadow ran dry about 20 km short of Dalby, so that meant about 200 km with a tail wind was the Shadow’s range, after refueling it from spare fuel that I was carrying, it then flooded while Kevin was trying to start it and suffered a flat battery and it took a while to get it started, push starting the Shadow is not high on my list of things to again.

    We also found out that the pouring spout we had did not fit all of our fuel containers (Bummer) that meant we had to decant fuel from one container into the one with the spout, Learnt a lesson there!
    The rain continued to Moonie and then started to clear, Kevin was wet and cold and bought a fleecy vest and we continued on to Miles.

    Road works between Miles and Roma (More Delays), Trucks had turned the dirt road section into slop and there was only one lane for both directions, traffic control was managing the traffic, still had to wait and I was caught up in a bunch of B-Doubles and could not get past until we were back on the sealed road.

    I was talking with Kevin over the Sena and I calculated our fuel and time and it was oblivious we needed to carry more fuel than we were set up to carry, as the leg from Roma, Charleville, Cunnamulla to St George was 761km there was no way we could make the last fuel for the night at Charleville at 10pm due to the delays getting this far and with the low fuel range of the Shadow we had no choice but to purchase extra fuel containers and fit them on the bikes at Roma.

    I knew I could do the leg easily on my GTR, it was Kevin’s Shadow with its low range that was the problem, I could carry an extra 20 Litres as I had anticipated this and packed my bike accordingly all I had to do was move my back pack off the rear rack and stick it on top and a 20 litre plastic jerry fitted nicely on the back, Kevin was limited to what he could carry because he did not have the room, we had to move his gear around to squeeze on an extra 10 litres, I had calculated that we would need an extra 30 litres above what we currently had to make the distance, as it turned out I was pretty much on the mark.

    I had a full tank – 22 litres and carried an extra 40 litres

    Kevin had a full tank – 15 litre and carried an extra 30 litres

    Between us we had 107 litres of fuel

    Kevin got soaked from the rain and as the temperature dropped he froze his butt off, We stopped at Morven, Kevin fuelled his Shadow and I made coffee with my Jet Boil stove and supplies I had in my Kit, at this point the temperature was around 3 degrees c and Kevin added some extra clothing over his wet thermals trying to improve his warmth, the wind chill was hard on him.

    Kevin was on a naked Honda Shadow, I was fine my gear stood up to -9, heated grips - Love em and other than a small amount of water around my neck I fared pretty good in the rain and I handled the cold without any problems the GTR offered me a lot of protection from the elements.

    As we were riding between Morven and Charleville I could hear Kevin's breathing over the Sena, I knew he was cold so at Charleville I dug out a spare thermal T shirt to try and warm him up a bit, Kevin stripped and changed on the foot path outside the NAB at Charleville, we still had a long way to go and it would stay cold until after sun up.

    We got a time stamps from the bank ATM as nothing was open, the first Bank was the NAB which did not have a location on the receipt, we looked around and found a Commonwealth Bank, it did, we then headed for Cunnamulla, I made it from Roma to Wyandra where at a truck stop I put the 20 Litre Container of fuel in the GTR, and Kevin fuelled his bike, it was very cold and Kevin was shivering, I was rugged up and was fine – So glad I did my homework and packed for the worst.

    We then headed for Cunnamulla where fatigue was starting to set in and I was feeling a bit drowsy (always happens to me around dawn on an over nighter) and Kevin was frozen so we stopped for a 40 minute brake and I made coffee again to warm up a bit and then we hit the road to St George

    I had checked through the tourist information centres before we left so knew there was nothing open in Cunnamulla and there was no access to the ATM which was located inside the IGA supermarket, it was locked up for the night so we took photos to capture our ODO readings with Cunnamulla Signs as it would tie in with all our ride log – (hope it’s enough for the IBA).

    The police were cruising around giving us the eye, they pulled over just as we were getting ready to head off, they were OK, just wanted to know the usual stuff – who we were, what we were doing etc.

    The police wished us luck and a safe trip and we headed off to St George

    At about 75 Kms out of Cunnamulla we stopped on the side of the road to fuel up Kevin’s Shadow, I put nothing in mine, Kevin was shivering so bad he could not fuel his bike, I did it for him while here ran up and down on the side of the road trying to warm up, I really felt sorry for him, I knew what he was feeling as I had experience with cold weather riding some 25 years earlier, you don’t forget. After I fuelled Kevin Shadow we had one 10 litre container of fuel left, we planned to wait until my GTR hit reserve before we used it.

    I had to run on reserve for a while as there was no place to pull off the road, the soil was soft and the side stand would not support he bike, we could not use the road because it was a secondary sealed road and it was narrow also we had B-Double and Semi Truck traffic constantly, we finally found a place to pull off the road which was approximately 83 Kms from St George I took 4 litres and Kevin took the remaining 6 litres.

    The road from Cunnamulla to St George was straight into the rising sun and it was hard to see even with the dark glasses on we had to hold up a hand to block it to be able to see the road, on this leg from Cunnamulla to St George I ran over two dead wallabies, Kevin was in front, he even called out on the Sena to look out for it however once I saw it on the road it was too late to avoid it, one of them was bloated and burst under the bike as I went over it.
    We pulled into St George and fuelled up, I could smell that damned wallaby and it stunk, we were both on reserve, I took 20.3 litres, and Kevin took 14 litres, between us we carried 107 litres of fuel, and just made it, I only had 1.6 litres left.

    Kevin got directions for Lightning Ridge from Antony at the Servo, Kevin had his Garmin, and because his bike was the slowest he was in the lead, we used the same staggered file we used for the ride from Roma, Charleville, Cunnamulla, St George leg as there was a lot of wallabies and Kangaroo’s about and the brakes on the Shadow were not as good as mine so I wanted Kevin in front, if Kevin hit the anchors hard to avoid wild life I could easily out brake him and avoid him, if I was in front and hard braked and took evasive action Kevin would be right on me or worse hit me or go off the road trying to avoid me, better safe than sorry.
    We were on the last leg from St George to Lightning Ridge, Kevin was playing with his Garmin looking at his average speed stats and I did not have my Navman set up, we were both tied and somehow we missed the turn to Lightning Ridge and got lost, once we figured out where we were if was obvious we could not make the Lightning Ridge check-in by 11.30am, it was just too far and not enough time plus the road was gravel so a quick change in plans and we went after the SS1600, we needed to make up some kilometres so we headed to Mungindi, got a time stamp from the local store then headed back to St George which we made with 10 minutes to spare.

    We went to the same service station we fuelled up at earlier, Anthony the service station attendant made us a coffee and we recounted our navigational stuff up and we all had a laugh about it.

    Anthony agreed to be our witness for the SS1600 Finish Statement, (Thanks Antony)

    We both felt better because we had salvaged the SS1600 and at the same time disappointed that we missed the check-in for the FarRide and the lunch with the other FarRiders at Lightning Ridge, I sent a text to the Ride Master (Clint) to let him know we were OK and what had happened, that we were on our way and would arrive at Lightning Ridge mid-afternoon.

    We left St George and headed to Lightning Ridge and as there was no need to rush so we just took our time, Chatting over the Sena to keep out spirits up, we were both very tied and as it turned out there was road works along the way, we arrived in Lightning Ridge at about 3pm.

    We were both very tied, we had been riding for about 27 hours all up by now so we checked into the Motel and we got something to eat from a local cafe and crashed for the night.

    I was up early on Sunday Morning as I am a habitual early riser, Kevin was out like a light so I went for walk around town, there was not much open that early but it felt good to walk off some of the stiffness from the long ride.

    I came across Paul (Ghost Rider) and his better half fueling his Bike up at the servo getting ready to leave Lightning Ridge, so I went over to say G’day and explain what happened to us, we had a laugh but agreed the main thing was we were OK.

    When I got back to the Motel I started sorting out and scanning my receipts, ride log & notes, Kevin had woken up by this time so I did his too, turned out he had lost his receipt from Moonie and went through all his gear looking for it but could not find it, as I kept all my ride details including Kevins ODO in my ride log, I think it will be OK as the numbers all add up.

    Kevin was still feeling a bit off colour from the cold and thought he had gotten a chill, the wind chill he copped on the naked Shadow took its toll, he also did not think it would be as cold as it was and agreed that his gear (Clothing) could have been better suited to the task, some good lessons were learnt for both of us on this ride.

    It was mid-morning and we decided we would walk down to the Artesian Baths (Hot Mineral Water) for a soak, it was great – getting out of that hot water and taking a cold shower, that was a shock to the system.

    An easy day on Sunday, we bought some food and drink and basically stayed the motel for the rest of the day working through the details of the ride and getting all the data sorted and scanned and recounting the memorable bits.

    Kevin wrote a ride reported on his I-Pad while I was busy on the laptop, it was a good read and seeing the ride from Kevin’s perspective was interesting.

    Lightning Ridge to Singleton

    On Monday we headed to Singleton, it was a mid-500 km ride so we did not hurry, there was a strong wind which was quite cold and again Kevin was feeling it again.

    Along the way Kevin lost a couple of small bolts from his carry rack so we had to stop and fix it in a small town – They had a hardware store so Kevin was able to get some replacement bolts.

    We had a hot meal and some decent coffee and hit the road.

    We arrived in Singleton at about 4.30pm; it was good to be home.

    My ride was over, Kevin had some business in the valley and headed home to Cleveland later in the week, Kevin went up the coast road (about 850 Kms), which worked for him as he had an overnight stop along the way.
  2. Roach's (Kevin) Ride report

    FarRide 19 and IBA SS1600 ride for Kevin (Roach) and Paul (Highett)

    Left home (Cleveland, QLD, Aus) with Paul around 1100 on 25 May 2012.

    Stop 1 - 25/5/12 @ 1130 Cleveland Caltex Service Station (SS) checked tyres, brought fuel and bugger me dead their time stamp on the cash register was slow by 7 minutes! waited until 1130 and brought a couple of Mars bars so we could get a time stamp. Luckily I looked, so Paul waited until 1130 on the register before he paid for his fuel!

    Stop 2 - 1222 Beenleigh 7-11 SS picked up some fuel for a time stamp and Paul some panadol and drink for his time stamp.

    It started to piss down once we got onto Logan motorway, luckily we were dressed for it - so I thought. By the time we got to Toowoomba I had wet and cold feet, chest and hands!

    Paul suggested we run my bike dry so we could find out how far it could go after the reserve was engaged. The Shadow started spluttering around the 179 km bracket and I turned on the reserve. Well just 21km short of Dalby, bugger me dead she ran dry at 201 km overall!!! Paul was carrying 20lts of extra fuel and do you think the bloody screw on spout of his or mine would fit - NO!!!! So we decanted some fuel into one of my 10 litre fuel cans and bugger me again if the battery went flat trying to revive the old girl. So there we were in the rain in full wet weather gear trying to clutch start the biatch! After a few goes and us being knackered we had a rest and tried again, this time on the side of the road on the bitumen. Finally she coffed and came to life, needless to say we weren't going to try that again.

    Stop 3 - 1532 Dalby Eureka SS we filled up and the Shadow took 13 and a bit litres tried to put my nice and thick Youngstown gloves on and do you think I could with wet and shivering hands - took longer to put them on than it did to refuel!!

    Stop 4 - 1650 at Moonie SS, by this time I was cold, really. Paid for the fuel (14ltr) and saw they had a whole clothing section, so I brought a fleecy zip up vest for $15, what a bargain. Went to the toilets to change and found out why I was so cold, my thermal shirt was soaked. So i stripped it off and put on the new vest and put the thermal back on over the vest and then the dririder jacket. Paul and I took off up the A5 to Miles

    Stop 5 - 1811 at Miles Caltex SS, the Shadow took close to 12 litres and I had to wait what seemed like forever as 2 locals were picking up some hot beef curry and rice whilst I was standing there shivering, lucky bastards. All I had was a handful of nuts and a date with a cold biatch of a night.

    Stop 6 - 1953 at Roma BP, filled her up and my 2 x 10 lire fuel cans for a total of 34 litres. We moved the bikes under the shelter for a check of times and to clean our lights as they were coated with red mud from all the roadworks we went through in the rain. Anyway, Paul did some quick calcs and realised we were not going to make any of the SS until St George as they will be all shut. Paul brought a 20 litre can and I a 10 litre one and we filled them both. PS I asked the guy at the servo for 4 shopping bags, you will see what for later

    Went to heaven on earth (well if felt like it at 2030 and shivering cold) to Macas for a cup of HOT coffee. I rustled around in my backpack and pulled out 2 pairs of socks and my 4 cent plastic bags. It was sooo hard pulling my original wet socks off and my feet were numb, but still pink not blue! I struggled to get my new dry socks on but made it with somewhat normal hands from the coffee. Anyway, I shod each foot with a plastic shopping bag and stuffed them into my wet boots and I had dry and warm feet, for now!

    Pit stop Morven where Paul boiled the billy for a cup of coffee and I filled the Shadow from the fuel cans. Took photos at toilet block for evidence. Coffee tasted like shit (used powdered whitener) but it was hot!

    Stop 7 - Paul and I rode into Charleville and rode around looking for something that was open to get a time stamp. Paul found a NAB ATM so we both used it to get a receipt 26/5/12 @ 0041, but bugger me if it didn't say where it was on the dam receipt. Bearing in mind it took about 10 minutes each time we stopped to get undressed and redressed into our wet gear - not impressed Jan. We finally found a Commonwealth ATM and got a time stamp for 12:58am on 26/5/12. Paul loaned me a thermal tee shirt as all I had on was a wet shirt and the fleece vest. He took pity on me as he said the chattering of my teeth was interfering with our conversations and his damn music!

    Pit stop at Wyandra where we both fuelled up from our stocks and high tailed it for Cunnamulla, I was still freezing cold at this stage as we were riding through patches of zero degrees and I had a wet chest again. This was the hardest leg as we were both tired and we just kept on counting the distance down to get us to the Mulla. We ride around town and nothing was open at 3.50 am so we parked the bikes and made another cup of coffee this time sitting down in a nice rotunda. Had a nice cup of coffee this time with real milk and watched the local police go by. Just as we were packing up getting on our bikes, they rolled by again, did u-turn and called me over. They were nice enough and just inquired where we were going and where we come from etc and wished us luck.

    Net pit stop was just after sunrise at 5.30 am and Paul split his last 10 litres between us to get us to St George. My teeth were chattering and my hands were so numb, Paul had to refuel whilst I ran up and down to get bloody warm.
    I put my sunnies on and they kept on fogging up, so I had to leave my visor up to prevent the fogging and it was bloody cold. The sun was so low and bloody bright, we had to use one hand to shield our eyes until the trees blocked it out or the road changed direction. The road was so bad here as it had many undulations that sent your balls continually into your throat - bottom the old shocks a few times. I heard Paul swear when he didn't miss the dead roo when I called - lucky he was behind me. Not long after that, we both almost lost our front ends when we didn't see the deep washout until the last minute. We lent back and powered our way over it with a loud thud and a wiggle and kept going.

    Stop 8 - 26/5/12 @ 0812 St George Caltex SS, bloody ripper we made it with not much left in our tanks. Took another 24 litres for the Shadow and fuel can as Lightning Ridge was over 200 clicks away. Tony from the servo said in would take us 2 hours so we were set to take it easy for the last leg - so we thought!

    Well dickhead here thought the way was pretty easy and just head south from the George on route 46 and Bob's your uncle. So I turned the Garmin map page of so i could do a count down using the GPS which was more accurate. This is when we missed the Dirranbadi turn off for the Ridge. Anyway I turned the map page back on and kept going. We sailed past Thallon and decided to stop and add a few litres from the fuel can, it was then I realised something was wrong. We did a u-turn and followed the directions to Dunwinnie road. We turned left and followed the GPS until it turned to dirt! We stopped and check our hard copy of directions from google maps and could not find the road on it. Paul hooked up his Navman and it also said to go straight ahead on the dirt. Mind you the dirt was not the issue, it was more about how long it was and would we make it in time to the ridge. So we decided to go back, turn right on the route 46 and bolt south. We hammered it until we turned up at Mungindi. We stopped and went into the shop and we bought a snickers each to get a time stamp. I asked a bloke out front of the shop the quickest way top get to the ridge and bugger me dead if he didn't tell me to turn onto Dunwinnie road at Thallon and follow the signs - guess how bloody stupid we felt at this stage. I put the rest of the fuel in the Shadow from our supply and we did a quick check on k's and time and decided to hustle back to the george to get our 1600 k by 24 hours. The race was on!

    Stop 10 - 26/5/12 @ 1117 St George Caltex SS and Paul and I made it. Tony from the servo was great, he understood where we went wrong, gave us a free hot cup of coffee and signed our witness statements - what a great bloke!

    Well we finished the IBA 1600SS and sent Clint a from the FarRiders a SMS to let him know we wouldn't make the hard close at 1130. To cut this short, we rolled into Lightning Ridge at 1500, some 3.5 hours afterwards. Therefore, we missed the time stamp for the FarRiders , but considering we had been riding for 27.5 hours, I think we can forgive ourselves, especially if all our documentation is detailed enough to get the IBA SS1600 ride.

    The End

    End note from Paul
    For me though, its nice to see this from another persons perspective - I have ridden through extreme cold with inadequate gear, given it was over 30 years ago but I still remember it to this day and it was not pleasant.
    So I understand how cold Kevin was and how hard it was for him to keep going, all I can say is well done mate, but dress better next time.

    And for the record I did carry an extra pair of Blizzard pants up from Singleton for Kevin to wear, he was just a bit light on with what he wore up top, I do not think he realised how cold it could get, and getting wet did not help.
  3. Brilliant write up , again , Paul - big props to Kevin for toughing it out in the conditions too !