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"Oh no...not the gravel road"

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' at netrider.net.au started by Kezza53, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. My daughter has just bought a Ninja 250...first bike. "Come on Mum lets go for a morning ride somewhere...you pick".
    "Mmmm, let me see, where can we go?"
    I had read somewhere, probably here, that a biker group rode to Dalbeg and back for a day ride.â€Must be a pub or 'something' out there. Let’s go there.†Google maps said it was 143km each way from Townsville....a good run for a beginner.
    "Okay" she said.
    We stopped at Ayr for a tankful and it was there that the attendant said there is nothing out there...I mean nothing! Doesn't matter we'll go for the ride anyway. Better than cruising the highway bumper to bumper with caravans and Winnebago’s and besides on the way back we'll stop for Subway. "Sounds like a plan" and off we took.
    We turned at the sign to Clare, just before the Burdekin Bridge. Been past here heaps of times and never ventured. This is the part of riding I really love...exploration! Don't seem to do it as much in the cage...anyway not far down the road is a massive sign reading 90k's to Ravenswood...49 of them gravel and steep climbing. Caravans trucks and trailers KEEP OUT! Mmmm...I am interested! We pull over and discuss the possibilities of doing it. I will if you will said my daughter! Ahh the fresh youthful exuberance of a teenager! And besides, I know there are 2 pubs at Ravenswood!
    Just as we turned into the road a small truck was pulling out. I waved him down and asked what the road was like. I have been around long enough to know that there are dirt roads and DIRT roads. The gentleman reiterated that it was in fact gravel and I said yes I know, but is it good or is it shocking? "A little bit of corrugations but not many." he answered.
    In the back of my mind was the thought that we were not really equipped for such a ride. Not a lot of water, no food and I didn't pack my 'finileak'. Not sure if it would have been much good anyway but it has been like a 'security' blanket on long trips...sort of like a lucky charm. "Oh it's only 49ks ...how bad can it be?"
    WWWeeee rattttlllledd alllongg thhhhe rooad fooor abouttt 20 kssss and ttthhhouggght ttthat iiiit waass ttooo fffarr ttooo gooo bacckkk nnnnow.
    Just as well because a part from the obvious dust and slow pace we had a great time. Had to stop numerous times for a picture or two. Took us 2 hours with all the stopping and starting. Yes it was bumpy in parts but for the most it was smooth (ish). Not heaps of soft dust although I kept away from the edges. Fat Mamma under a VT750 Shadow not a cool look!
    Plan A was to be home by lunch to help in the garden. Opps! At least we made it to The Imperial for lunch before the kitchen closed.
    We washed the dust from our throats with a schooner of lemon lime and bitters and filled the gap with a burger and chips (outback style) and even did some retail therapy at the local potters. As I was going home via the Flinders Highway (no corrugations) I thought I'd risk it!
    We made it home safely and intact...pottery too...washed our bikes and then I picked up the shovel for a token effort in the garden.
    Our bikes performed as would expect...dreadful! I know there is a technical term for it but geez...the biatch didn’t want to stop when you put the brakes on and she didn’t want to go when you gave it some! She (VT750) has learned a new dance...the fishtail. My daughter said it was poetry in motion. Awesome Mum...it looked great from behind! I wonder if there is a bike out there with as big a seat as the Shadow and with the appropriate stuff for off road...oh and close enough to the ground for a shorty? The Ninja rattled and shook but it didn’t seem to hurt it. Both are having a service this week!

    [Townsville to Ravenswood via Ayr Ravenswood Road and Flinders Highway back to Townsville. 346kms]

  2. Haha! Short answer is no! Dirt bikes are notoriously tall and have dental floss for seats. Closest bet would be dual-sports like the Varadero, V-strom, Beemer GS etc, although from the little I know of these they are quite tall seat-wise too, and none of them anything like a cruiser on the road!

    Sounds like you had fun though, and that's the point.
  3. Great story Kezza. Getting out there and experiencing life. The worst I have ever done on a road bike was a section here in Victoria called the Grand Ridge Road. Spectacular scenery but a puncture on a mates bike miles from civilization meant some roadside wheel removal (damn sports bikes without a center stand) and a mercy dash for a new tyre. Lucky there were two of us.

    Despite that one of my most memorable trips, an adventure!. :)
  4. i cut a short cut on the way back to melbourne from wagga at christmas time accross about 50kms of dirt... it was great fun, the Hyo was a fair bit better than i thought it would be. It did introduce me to my first tank slapper on a road bike though! whew... glad i had spent time on trail bikes.

    since then i have probably done around 500-600kms of dirt on it, including 10 kms on a mystery ride.... thanks gooch!
  5. Great story, great attitude!
  6. Our little adventure may have started something...my little girl came home with the news that the road from Paluma to Mt Fox is really 'smooth'. Shhhh don't tell my Shadow...not yet at least! Say...enlighten me...what is a tank slapper?
    Thanks for the comments. :wink:
  7. its when your bars try and steer left and right in quick sucession, normally after hitting something like a pot hole, big rock, dodgey road repairs.

    Full kudos to you though, dirt on a cruiser, that's a win in my books.
  8. Yep...I gues that will do it! And the way I am built I'd be doing more tank slappin than some! Can't say I did that on the above ride though. The sound of rocks pinging and popping was a bit disconcerting till I got used to it. I wonder if I should change the tyre pressure for dirt? Maybe then I'll boing over the corrugations!
  9. If you're looking for an adventure tourer that suits shorter riders then there are a couple of options.

    BMW sell the G650GS (single 650cc) 780mm or 750mm seat heights and they also sell the F650GS (twin 800CC) 820mm, 790mm and 765mm seat heights.
  10. Letting the tyre pressure down a LITTLE can help road bikes cope with dirt roads - it'll be a bit less inclined to jump around when it hits rocks, and won't bounce quite so badly over corrugations.

    Don't go overboard and halve your pressure, and don't expect miracles. Bottom line is that the bike wasn't designed for gravel. That said, never let that be a reason not to have a crack at it!
  11. Thanks for that! Much appreciated. I can't see me trying out too many tracks but I won't let it stop me. I think next time I will be more prepared for the worst though. We didn't even have enough water with us....not a good example to set for my new baby rider! First time lucky...won't press luck any further :-s
  12. The biggest issue for most road motorcycles on typical dirt/gravel roads is that the tyres are pretty much slick as far as tread is concerned. Especially sports tyres.

    Doesn't matter if it's a race replica sportsbike, a dedicated dirtbike or a 15kg mountainbike, slick tyres are skittish as all heck on loose material. (Believe me, I've tried slicks offroad in a mountainbike event. :LOL: )

    Proper dual-sport tyres will help out a bit with confidence on hardpacked dirt roads. For mud or deep sand/gravel, proper mud tyres are best but they tend to get chewed up on the pavement.

    Or, if you are using slick tyres offroad like I did with the mountainbike... Just be mindful of the reduced traction; smooooooth with the throttle and brakes, and use caution on the turns of course.

    http://www.advrider.com/ is a good resource for dirt/offroad/onroad touring of all types, btw. :)