Hard Men for Hard Times

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					Hard Men for Hard Times

1ST to the 12th of July 2006, ’ The Simpson Crossing’

This adventure’s title of "Hard Men for Hard Times" became the catch cry of
our trip. Not because we crossed the Simpson Desert in the hardest direction,
upon its hardest tracks, in the toughest and driest of all conditions (soft sand),
and on totally inappropriate motorcycles, but for the high class dining we
enjoyed, being supported by 4wd, driven by a superb cook serving fine food
and cold beer. Not to mention the additional pub cuisines, where we stayed
along the way - oh, yes, the hard men, indeed.

The Adventurers

Matt "always on the" Edge                                GS1200
Ben "VB " Callow                                         GS1200
Steven "Stevo" Enticott                                  GS1200
Dennis "the Arkaroola streaker" Kelly                    DR650
Mark "choo-choo" Salter                                  DR650
Shane "Shano" Roberts                                    DR650

The Simpson 4wd Support

Peter Noble                                              Nissan STR
Sarah Callow                                             Nissan STR
Daily Adventures

1      Melbourne to Renmark
This day will always be fondly remembered, but before we read on, think first
how a slick, highly organised premiership team functions, as a unit with a
clear focus, all heading in the same direction in a maximised and team-
efficient manner. Contrast this with our team’s effort on day one, which will be
remembered for receiving the wooden spoon and facing relegation after just
one round! Frequent stops for chain guard repairs, toilet breaks lasting half
an hour, and then 4km before a fuel stop, non-synchronized fuel stops (bikes
fuelling at different times), coffee breaks after toilet breaks in different
locations in the same town, pie stops, lunch breaks after all sitting and
watching someone fix a bike first, all ensuring a dark arrival in Renmark after
an all day 700 km effort riding in the rain and on the black bitumen. Thinking
back on it — a day memorable for the comic relief our athletic prowess as a
team produced — the real upside, the brilliant motel heating, enabling the
hanging of riding gear on every available fixture in an attempt to dry wet
boots, gloves, pants and jackets overnight, combined with one of the best pub
meals, made the first night a good one.

2      Renmark to Yunta then onto Arkaroola
The roads and scenery were brilliant today, especially before lunch; all off-
road, sandy at times, gravel and in beautiful blue sunshine. Matt, the true
team man he is, volunteered for the first crash of the trip, dumping it on the
first sighted mound of sand. Still our team struggled to get off the bottom of
the ladder, with navigational skills resembling the Titanic’s graceful steerage
through the ice field. A combination of chain guard issues, T.V. in the motel
rooms, and a GS flat tyre just on dark (punctured through a side wall blow out
over a cattle grid, and necessitating a tube in its tubeless front wheel), all saw
us into Arkaroola again well after dark. The upside (again) was a very fine
meal in a very fine place, a few cold beers, the warm shower, and the dry
rooms (albeit a little rat infested)!

Day 2 Highlights
3       Arkaroola, old Strzleckie, Bore rack to the Cullymurra Waterhole
The phrase “this is as good as it gets” was coined for the first time today, and
what a magnificent day it was, beginning with the back track out of Arkaroola:
a single stony track, winding out to the main road under granite hills, following
along creek beds and through mountain passes; a great way to get started.

At lunch on the Monte Collina Bore, we were greeted with the news that our
route would need to change, as Cameron Corner (a necessary fuel stop) had
sold out of fuel. Instead, we took the old Strzleckie track to the Merty Merty
turn off, and then up the final section of the Bore track, passing many oil and
gas wells on the way up on a (at times) very sandy track. All day was spent in
the dirt and sand, with no major issues except for bikes running out of fuel on
the final approach, requiring top-ups from the DR's 32ltr super-tanker fuel

This is where we met up with our Simpson support crew, literally on the banks
of the Cooper Creek, greeted by welcoming smiles, cold beer, a perfect
sunset, followed by a roast lamb and vegetable meal - oh, yes, the hard men,

Day 3 Highlights
4      Cullymurra Waterhole on the Cooper Creek to Birdsville via
       Cordilo Downs
All off road and fast. The section along the Cooper Creek where we had
camped is where both Bourke and Wills drew their final breaths on their
infamous ill-fated journey. We checked out the monument to Bourke before a
quick fuel stop at Innamincka, and then on to the now derelict but very large
shearing shed at Cordilo Downs for lunch.

An uneventful ride into Birdsville to set up camp in the caravan park for a
magnificent “final” shower, in preparation for the night at the famous Birdsville
Hotel - yes, life is good.

Day 4 Highlights
5      Birdsville to 120k into the Simpson Desert along the QAA line
Late start after more DR babysitting (tongue in cheek), this time rack welding
repairs, combined with group hugs and a discussion on options if we couldn't
actually get the bikes over the dunes, ensured a very late departure from
Birdsville for a “big dune-busting ride”. Quite simply, this is the highlight; the
thing, on reflection, where you sit back at night and ponder the adventure; the
thing you think most about, and then smile with satisfaction and pleasure
when you do. Just how good it was cannot be expressed in words or put down
on paper. You simply had to experience it to know it. Bear with me a little
while; I will attempt to express the joy from within via this medium. Tolerate
my attempts and understand that it is one of those “guess you just had to be
there” kind of things.

Think about the build up, the preparation, the costs, the pride, the journey
there, the uncertainties surrounding the attempt, and the nervousness of the
moment: will we fail, and what will we do if we do fail. . .

Logically, everything said we would do it tough. We were going in the hardest
direction across the sand and against the prevailing wind, meaning we had
the steep side of the dunes to traverse. We were tackling the toughest route
over the Simpson: that of the QAA line; big dune country. To compound this, it
hadn't rained for more than two years, the sand building up on the dunes like
powder snow on a mountain top, making climbing up and over tough.
Consider also the fact that, between rains, approximately 6,000 odd 4-wheel
drives with over-inflated tyres had churned up the tracks, making them
extremely sandy indeed. Let’s not ignore the bikes we were using, either, in
particular the GS. With small front wheels, already heavy and made even
heavier with 40 kgs of fuel, water and luggage strapped on top of the big
beast, it was not going to be easy.

Many reports said not to take a GS into that country. There were also reports
of KTMs failing and falling apart under heavy loads, only to return home
wounded. Logic said we would not make it across, and would retreat to the
south for an easier crossing along the Warburton Track and onto the eastern
edge of the Old Rig Road. Sometimes logic is illogical, though, and we
planned this to be true.

So, we leave Birdsville and head for the uncertain, and after 35 kms of flat
road, a mountain emerges: a mountain of red sand; the southern end of “Big
Red”. Welcome to dune country — BIG dune country. We ponder our fate
while reducing the bikes’ tyre pressures to around 10 psi.

That's it then — “let's get it on”. . .

The previous paragraphs offer a big build up — as it was — but technically,
the dunes are not that hard to ride over. It's much harder riding down a
slippery and wet, red clay single trail than these sand dunes, as we quickly
discovered. Two things actually make the Simpson hard: its remoteness and
its size (600 +km, with 1,100 dunes to cross). Combine this with fatigue and
rest assured that the trip across is gruelling on the body, not to down play the
effort (as it was extreme), but to show the build-up and then its subsequent
release. . .

Sitting back watching the first five riders get up and over the first big dune with
excess speed and relative ease (except for Matt, who decided the track wasn't
steep enough and took a much steeper alternative — good rider that fellow).
Then, with the GS pointed towards the dune, it was time to get up on the
pegs, knees tight on the seat, hit it at about 45 kph in third with a final kick
down to second, and ride the torque up and over the top.

What a rush — what a relief! These dunes are rideable, and just how much
fun it is to ride them. Yes, it is the old “you had to be there”, but rest assured,
it is a huge adrenalin spike. To stand atop a dune and look back down at
where you have come from, to then look forward to the next series of dunes,
is a pleasure — one I want to experience again.
The rest of the day was spent sorting out techniques on how to get the
heavy bikes up and over sand dunes. Matt was struggling to stay upright with
the excessive weight; after we moved it to the 4wd, he literally floated over the
sand. Lucky bugger! An obviously well thought out and cunning plan to travel
the Simpson without a load, while secretly “smirking “at those of us with fully
loaded bikes.

The riding became a balance between blasting up a dune too fast and
launching yourself at the top (something I did, and which seriously scared the
living daylights out of me), and not going fast enough, getting bogged in the
powder sand at the top, and literally burying your rear wheel.

At times, you could see the sand flowing down the dune and filling newly
created ruts. That’s how dry and how sandy they are right now. Getting de-
bogged from this type of sand is as bad as de-bogging in mud (but cleaner); it
requires either laying your bike on its side to lever the back wheel out, then
either dragging the bike around and going back down for another crack, this
time tired and down on confidence, or getting going again with a push (you
need a great bloke for this, and Mark bore the brunt of many GS sand blasting
roosts – thanks, Mark).

Some thoughts: doing the Simpson unladen on a GS would be just awesome,
or on a fully supported dirt bike. The riding is just brilliant; simply some of the
best riding I have ever done.

With the weight, after picking your own bike up a couple of times, one soon
became too tired. We implemented a strategy to wait for assistance. Believe
me, it did make the difference. The fatigue was bad enough without the added
effort of constantly picking up a fully laden bike. It seems a cure for picking up
a laden GS, which I plan to write to BMW about, is to simply mount hydraulic
rams inside the handlebar tubing that can be activated while the bike is lying
on the ground — not sure why they haven’t thought of this already.

Being half supported by 4wd was what made the trip achievable and a whole
heap more enjoyable. Basically, we each carried 40 kgs of food, water, and
luggage, and the 4wd carried 40 kgs of fuel and water for each rider, plus cold
beer, great food, and a few creature comforts. So many thanks go out to Peter
and his very able “lets roll the car” co-driver, Sarah.

Day 5 Highlights

PS: “GS” stands for “Good in Sand”.
6     QAA, French Line, lunch at Poeplle corner (where the Northern
      Territory, Queensland and South Australian borders all meet, then
      15km down Knolls Track)
The best thing about the short previous day was that we weren’t so fatigued,
and now knew how to get over the sand dunes, which enabled us to really —
and I mean really — enjoy the morning’s ride to lunch at Poeplle corner. The
same amount of fun as the day before for some, with one notable exception.
Dennis had a “big one” on a sand dune, busting up the plastics on his bike
(and his very pretty face) by cart wheeling his DR and scattering his luggage
with an explosion of bike verses sand dune. The dune won.

Lunch was very enjoyable. Little did we know of the next 40 kms to come: a
descent into a sandy hell; a track called the French Line. The French Line
doesn’t let up. It’s just constant deep sand, with no clay flats between dunes
— just deep, deep sand all the way. Due to its proximity, nearly everyone who
crosses the Simpson uses this line, and after two years of no rain it was well
and truly churned up, resembling little more than a child’s sand pit.

The 4wd managed 8 kph, and the GSs struggled along at 20 kph, with stops
every 5 kms to get your strength back (reducing the average to 10 kph). A
tough ride, but a memorable one, because on a big and heavily laden bike
that’s “as hard as it gets”, and the GS came up trumps. A phenomenal bike.
The DRs did it easier today, and we all met up at the Knolls track turnoff,
where we headed south on what we thought would be an easy 40 km run
down to the Rig Road intersection.

While not as tough as the French Line, it is still very sandy, and after being
continually in deep sand with no let up, fatigue soon set in, combined with an
increasing number of crashes. An early camp was set up after covering just
15 kms of the distance, and with only 115 kms covered in the whole day.
Day 6 Highlights

       7     Knolls Track to Rig Road to Dalhousie Springs
       This is a much quicker way out of the desert, with the sand dunes not so high,
       and clay capping in between the dunes. Still not easy riding, with the sand
       build up on top of the dunes providing plenty of entertainment. Comparing it
       with the past two days, though, it was easy going (including a 180 kph blast
       along the billiard-table-top smooth Fogarty’s claypan). It was a real ride of
       satisfaction and celebration, as we enjoyed the restful “clay-based” moments.
       The day finished with a 36 degree warm water swim, with a cold beer, in the
       Dalhousie Springs, just relaxing worn muscles and cleaning filthy bodies after
       three long sweaty days without a shower. After riding through the dust and
       sand, just how good did that feel, enjoying the moment, knowing that the
       Simpson had been conquered? Very good.

       Many adventures end with their destination, but the great thing about this trip
       was not that. This adventure closed one chapter, only to open another. The
       three married riders went south (all family men with kids), and the three
       unwed riders went on for another three weeks of riding further north.
Day 7 Highlights

          For those that went south, Matt, Mark and Steven, the journal continues.

          8        Dalhousie to Oonadatta
          A very easy day. Starting with a restful morning that didn’t end until 1.30 pm,
          we finally “hit” the road, and quite literally, in my case, as the front wheel
          struck the Gibber rocks hard, destroying another GS tyre just 70 kms into the
          ride, requiring another new tube.

          Then it was down the Oonadatta track to the Oonadatta Pink Roadhouse,
          where we promptly booked into room 2. . . Unbelievably small, a dog house
          would seem palatial. Imagine jamming a bunk bed and single beds into
          something the size of a coffin (forget about room for the riding gear). I have
          stayed in plenty of dodgy places on life’s journey, but for $58, this topped the
          lot. An emergency pow-wow saw us return the key and try out what seemed
      from the outside to be a very dodgy looking Oonadatta Hotel.

      Well, it turned out to be the best place we stayed at on the trip, and we highly
      recommended it to anyone passing that way. The meals were superb, and
      even though they closed the bar at 8.00 pm, the manager sold us a few quiet
      ones to keep cold in the kitchen area. So we sat up in front of the big screen
      T.V., and watched Saturday Night Football.

      A night to remember, after roughing it out in the scrub for the past few nights,
      then to be greeted the next morning by a stunning continental breakfast. It
      was too much; still emotional about it now.

Day 8 Highlights

      9      Oonadatta to Lyndhurst
      An easy run down the Oonadatta track, with lunch at the famous William
      Creek Hotel being well worth the effort, followed by a meditative stroll out onto
      Lake Eyre, and an encounter with a man and his camels travelling for no
      particular reason (for the past four years), before a mid-afternoon arrival in
      Maree for one of Mark’s highlights of the trip.
      Mark “Choo Choo's” nagging finally worked. There are only so many times
      you can hear “we have to stop at the Maree Train Museum - we have to stop
      at the Maree Train Museum - we have to stop at the Maree Train Museum”
      before one gives in and agrees. A train spotting buddy of Mark’s
      recommended it as a great place to see “loco’s” (train spotting lingo for
      “locomotives”). For the record, we saw “loco” numbers 57, 62 and 67 — Mark
      dutifully recorded this in his little notebook.

      The final ride down to the Lyndhurst was a real shock to the system, with the
      last five kilometres on brand new shiny bitumen (almost forgotten what it was
      like). Since leaving Renmark a week earlier, this was our first encounter with
      “the black”.

Day 9 Highlights
10     Lyndhurst, Gammon Ranges, Flinders Ranges to Hawker
Diversion day, we were very keen to ensure there were a few highlights on
the 2,200 km return trip. Heading back east from Copley saw us heading
straight back into the rising sun, bringing out spectacular colours in the
Gammon Ranges. The riding was awesome but difficult at times, on Gibber
stone with sandy creek crossings, following a 4wd loop through the very dry
country, then to re-emerge on the other side of the Gammons just south of

Down to Blinman for lunch, and on into the Southern Flinders Ranges. Unlike
the morning’s Gammon Ranges traverse, it was much damper and greener.
The gorges were stunning and the riding easy, giving us plenty of time to take
in the views. Heading towards dark, we ended up missing the Wilpena Pound
and instead headed for the Hawker Hotel for another feast and warm beds. A
very satisfying day, I have a burning desire to return to the country around
Arkaroola. Ideal GS country with spectacular scenery, the requirement would
be to return after rain; very drought affected at present, it would be fantastic to
contrast this with greener conditions.

Day 10 Highlights
11     Hawker to Ouyen
Another GS tyre blow out requiring a tube, the previous damage to Matt’s tyre
(from Arkoroola) had finally eaten its way through the tube, destroying it in the

Then it was lunch in Renmark, offering “closure” to our loop, followed by a
mainly bitumen ride under clear blue skies through Red Cliffs to the Ouyen
Hotel. The Ouyen Hotel is a great place to stay with two exceptions: no
heating in the rooms (it was freezing), and the very dry old bread offered for
toast in the continental breakfast (like a rock) — think we’ll find another town
next time.

12     Ouyen to Melbourne
A dull, minus one degree morning ride down the Calder Highway for lunch at
McDonalds opposite Calder Park, our starting point; what a way to complete
an awesome 12 days of riding pleasure.

That wraps up our 5,200 km round trip, the most enjoyable part being that
nearly 3,500 kms of it was off road. I must admit to being very tired for a few
days, with plenty of early nights to catch up, but it was all very much worth it.
In the next section, I will pen a few words on bike set up and riding, to assist
and encourage others out into the desert.
Bike Set Up

We have a new dog, a beagle called Lulu. Our previous dog, a part
Dalmatian, was at least three times the size of Lulu, and the holes it dug were
three times the size of Lulu’s holes (quite pathetic efforts really; more like a
golfing divot than a hole). What has this got to do with bike set up you may
ask? You'll have to read on.

Setting up the bike is an adventure in itself. The journey is enjoyable, and it
would have been more enjoyable if I’d allowed more time for repeat trips to
steel yards, camping stores and bike shops. In reality, this time it was last-
minute panic!

Soft panniers are essential in serious terrain, as crashing is part of the
adventure, and they cope quite well with impact.

Weight is the killer. Take the absolute bare minimum, like only one set of
clothes; who cares what you look like or indeed smell like out in the desert.

Regardless of the bike, GS or DR, a rear shock re-valve job is needed to cope
with the extra weight. Krooz Tune in Melbourne did ours and it was the best
$220 spent. The GS would not have coped on standard suspension; even on
full spring preload (after the valve job) was just enough. An argument could be
mounted for an extra heavy duty spring on the rear. I baulked at the cost to
get the telelever front done. If I had an endless supply of money and wasn’t so
much of an accountant, this too would have been done.

The construction of solid aluminium 25 mm square racks survived unscathed,
and protected the bike well when crashing. The lighter gauged steel racks
were re-welded at Birdsville. My thoughts on this are to simply over-engineer
everything for extreme conditions.

The Continental tyres on a GS are brilliant, whilst the Karoos did not cope with
under inflating and Gibber rock, breaking sidewalls and producing egg sized
lumps protruding from the side of the tyre, which became disconcerting after

Pack extra tubes, a bead breaker, spare brake pads, oil, nuts, bolts, screws,
and air cleaner socks, which are all essential items, plus whatever else you
can think of (including the espresso machine). Take a satellite phone and
epurbs, and everyone carried a basic first aid kit, not to mention all the
camping gear, maps and food – a big load.

Under these conditions, tie downs seem to cope better than any other

What about those Lulu holes?
Well, after loading all of the above, I had to push my bike backwards up an
ever so slight rise to get out of the shed. Dumb move really; I should have
backed the bike in, in the first place. So, at 10 pm the night before, I’m huffing
and puffing, trying to ease my GS out of the shed, and the front wheel lodges
itself in a Lulu hole! Well stuff me, I couldn’t move the bike. All the weight,
combined with a very gentle rise, had me bogged. It was at this point in time
that the realisation hit me: getting over big sand dunes and through bulldust
holes was going to be a lot more difficult fully loaded than I first thought. As it
turned out, I had to fire up the GS and its Staintune exhaust to ride my way
out of the Lulu hole — a hard man, indeed.

The riding

Is riding Australia’s biggest sand dunes in the steepest direction in the driest
and deepest sand conditions better than any other riding?
The answer is ‘yes’, and purely because we had 1,100 gorgeous and 200
significant dunes to delight ourselves with in two and a half days of riding

I’ve learnt a little after the crossing. In fact, I’ve learnt a lot, and these are the
questions to ask yourself if you’re considering the trip.

Can you stand up on your pegs pretty much all day?
Can you ride across the sand at a speed fast enough to avoid sinking?
Can you pick your laden bike up ten times a day?
How does your bike handle another 40 kg of weight?
Have you tried sand riding before?

Just some of the questions to ask yourself. If the answer is a genuine ‘no’ to
any of them, then forget it, the Simpson is just too remote to be under-
prepared — your physical wellbeing and wallet may depend on it.

From a monetary point of view, the average cost to remove a destroyed
vehicle is around $6,000. For injuries, an ambulance ride over bumpy sand
dunes would, in reality, be a very painful trip indeed. We all had a level of dirt
riding ability; try it out closer to home first, and then hit the big stuff when
you’re fully prepared. That said, if you can ride sand, then it’s not any harder
than anywhere else. My riding ability can be deemed as “cautious”, and I got
through with no problems. The difficulty lies is in its remoteness, and carrying
the heavy loads.

The trip was half supported, which meant we had a 4wd to carry half our
weight, with each bike carrying around 40 kg of additional weight. Carrying the
full 80 kg required would have been murder on both rider and bike. To have
back up also meant having a few luxuries, like a few cans of cold beer at
night, and a very decent meal served up at the end of the day’s ride. One can
survive on tins of Stag Chilli, but survival sucks – do it well, instead. Peter, our
cook and driver, and Sarah the gun back-up driver, did it very well for us. The
following picture is of the fully loaded support vehicle.
Our route
We headed east from Birdsville over the huge dunes on the QAA line, down
the K1 track to the French Line, turning south again at the Knolls track before
connecting up with the Rig Road to get out to Dalhousie Springs.

Other routes
The Rig Road is easy by comparison. I think that, after the experience, it can
be done by GS unsupported, coming from a west to east direction, as you
would burn of most of the additional weight in the first day or so in relatively
easier riding conditions. I don’t know what the road is like from the Knolls
intersection out through Warburton Crossing, but from what I hear, it’s much
easier than the way we came. Always do your research, as that route is prone
to flood waters from further up north, and will vary. Being unsupported means
risk — huge risk to wallet and body — so be ultra prepared and have
alternatives, escape routes and back up plans.

The South Australian Roads website is a great place to check the latest road
conditions. Other great places for research include South Australian Parks
and the Mount Dare Roadhouse, as well as the folk at Birdsville Auto. Simply
do not go into the unknown without up-to-date knowledge> I cannot
emphasise this point enough. The sheer remoteness of the location means
there is little room for error.

Probably the best research comes when you buy a desert pass for $95.
Required to enter the parks, it comes with a big book on roads, attractions,
and 3 maps (so don't buy any like I did). Buy the pass and get the book well
before you depart. Also take a GPS and compass as back up.
No one baby-sat anyone on the trip; it was just a matter of time before you
needed a hand to pick your bike up, or were in need of a fuel top-up, a flat
tyre repair, or a bike rack weld. We were all in it together, and we stuck
together. Dirt riding or mechanical ability had little to do with it. It seems it’s
mostly luck that plays its part, and when your luck runs dry – it’s your turn.

One final thing: your bike must be ridden in such a way as to get it across the
desert in one piece. Take it easy and enjoy it; there are just so many bulldust
holes, Gibber stones, loose gravel, deep sand drifts, steeper (than usual)
sand dunes, 4wds and bikes coming the other way, ruts and a million other
ways to destroy a bike in the Simpson.

Bike Carnage

The main source of the carnage came from the word “Gibber”. The dictionary
describes “gibber” as “to chatter rapidly and incessantly”. Yes, that’s it alright,
but just exchange “chatter” with “shatter”, and that’s what happened to the GS
front wheels — describes it perfectly.

Now onto stuffed front tyres and punctured “tubeless” side walls. Where there
is nowhere to replace a blown tubeless tyre, you have to compromise on
safety and put in a tube (and adjust the riding to suit, of course). There is no
difference between putting a tube in a tubeless tyre or a tubed tyre, except
that you need a bead breaker to break the tubeless tyre‘s bead. We carried
the Tyre Pliers model. Compact and light, just throw it in the bottom of a
pannier and bring it out when needed (three times on this trip), so tubeless is
not a problem. In fact, I believe it’s better, taking just a few seconds to plug a
normal punctured tyre.

The blow outs we had were in the front, and we travelled many thousands of
kms with tubes and no rim lock. The situation may have been different if back
tyres blew out — rim locks are needed and we will be carrying one on future
rides, just in case. What a rim lock does is prevent the tyre spinning around
the rim, especially under throttle (when the rear wheel is spinning). When the
tyre spins, it takes the tube with it and breaks off the valve stem.

Other than rims and gibber rock not mixing, trashing three GS front wheels
(though less speed equalled less damage), numerous scratches from drops in
the sand, brushing past salt bushes, broken racks and chain guides, dusted
air filters, oil changes, and a night or two re-tightening every nut and bolt
shaken loose on the endless bumps, whoops and corrugations, all represent
happy by-products of riding the Simpson.

GS verses DR

Or was it the long awaited showdown of David and Goliath?

Logic would suggest that the GS should thrive on the fast gravel roads and
bitumen, where the DR would do it tough, while the DR should thrive in the
desert and the GS would really struggle. Logic seems to have little to do with
reality, though, and the DR coped well on the trip up (touring on 110 no
problems), while the GS shone in the desert, except when you had to pick the
big brute up.

The reality is that when you put a 32 litre tank on a DR, or any other bike, then
add another 40 kg of extra fuel, water, and camping gear to the rear, you have
one almighty leveller.

Yes, the DRs did it easier in the extreme conditions, and the GS did it better
on the open, but in reality the differences are just academic. All bikes do it
tough with added weight.

To set a GS up, expect little change from $26,000. Then compare this to the
DR’s cost of around $11,000 — you decide — both bikes are more than

We saw plenty of wildlife, and the chances of ploughing your motorcycle into
some of them are greatly increased at dawn and sunset, so avoid travelling at
these times, if possible.

Wildlife we saw included kangaroos, emus, cattle, sheep, wild goats, camels,
birds of all shapes and sizes, foxes, dingoes, and feral cats, all of which can
put a nasty end to a trip. Be wary and expect the unexpected to jump out.

After thoughts

There is a lot of talk about what bike is the best adventure bike, which are
adventure bikes and which are not. The argument generally comes down to a
KTM for serious dirt, and the BMW for moderate dirt difficulties.
After this ride, though, I think that it's not so much the bike that matters, but
the adventure. The thing is, most bikes nowadays are good enough to go
anywhere when set up right. It's the rider's ability and determination that
decides where it goes.

We had a great adventure, and it didn’t matter whether it was on the DR or
the GS. All bikes suffered equally under the loads. We just had a great time.
So, I encourage you all to get out and enjoy it, rather than debating over
which bike can or cannot do it. After punting the GS over these “inappropriate”
conditions, they all can if set up right.

Life is just too damn good.

Feel free to drop me an email. If I can help out with planning your trip, I gladly
will.                                           Life is good…

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Tags: Hard, Hard, Times
Description: Hard Men for Hard Times