Well I’m back – from Postie Bike Charity ride from Hobart to Alice Springs
And what an adventure…
For the weeks leading up to the event we all started getting our gear organised and buying a few creature comforts we could add to the bikes to make it more enjoyable. It also meant we could get together and have a few beers while talking all this through.
There were four of us from the Shire who joined in on the event, Paul ( Pil ), Matt ( Randy ), Ken ( Ken Doll ) and myself ( Wreck’n Ball ). We flew down to Hobart a few days early to acclimatise ( as we put it ) and set up our Postie Bikes ready for the 3500km ride. Then the first hurdle hit, I got a massive case of the flu… and yes for all the females, it was a bad case of Man Flu! Bad enough so that on the Saturday night in Hobart, I was in bed all afternoon and then again by 8:30pm that night.
Sunday night night saw our first injury, yes even before the ride started. Ken tripped up a gutter and something popped in his ankle. It looks as though he snapped his achilles in his leg. I have ridden hundreds of times with Ken over the years with injuries along the way but this was the most pain I had ever seen him in.
We pushed on, and on Tuesday we received our bikes and started setting them up with seat covers, hand warmers, new grips, flag poles and our sponsors’ milk crate cover… and then the guy next to us had made a front shield that covered the headlight and above the handlebars. He told us that it gave him 5km an hour in speed the year before…
So there is no way we were going to be beaten ( on a social ride ) by other riders… so Pil and Randy headed off to Bunning’s to buy some material to make our shields. A few hours later we were set…
Day 1 – Off we went from Hobart with our destination Cradle Mountain. We were not even out of the Show grounds and the idiocy had already started. We were racing over speed humps and racing for the lead. Our first mechanical issue started only 15km’s down the road when Ken’s rear wheel jammed on. His rear brakes were done up too tight, the heat built up and they expanded and jammed. Was an easy fix and a bigger laugh.
As we hit the Great Lakes in the middle of Tassy we were in the highlands and the snow all around. We had hit dirt roads by now and we were in our element. These little bikes took a beating and kept plugging along.
Part of our setting up was buying an intercom system so that all four of us could communicate up to 1km apart. They worked a treat and the jokes were a flying.
The tanks on our bikes could travel around 130km, and we also had a 5 litre drum in our milk crates to give us another 130km. After this, our back up vehicles would be at a certain point where we could do a full refill. Well on day one we beat the truck and were a little confused as to where they were meeting us, so we discussed it over a beer at the pub.
The road into Cradle Mountain was cold and windy and knowing it was going to be freezing that night, we pre booked a cabin. Still sick as a dog, I had dinner and hit the pillow.
Day 2 – After a night of -6 degrees we hit the road to Devonport, and boy, wasn’t it a day of incidents. A few km’s up the road we saw Postie Bikes scattered everywhere. Four riders had hit Black Ice ( thin ice covering the road ) and slid off and crashed. One lady broke her wrist and that was her ride done.
I must admit the four of us slowed down until we hit warm dry roads that morning. But to make it interesting, my throttle decided to jam on and with no way to stop, I had to turn the ignition off. We later found out off the mechanic that the carby slide was jamming due to the cold. Once we left the snow it didn’t happen again, thank goodness!
Back on the dirt we were back in race mode and flying through the pack and having a ball. Randy & Ken were in front and told me and Pil to watch out for a pothole on a crest, so as we came over the crest we did, but didn’t see the sharp left hand turn 40m down the road… we both locked up and Pil crashed into a safety rail pole and I went off the embankment. I held my bike up and didn’t crash but Pil smashed in his front headlight.
This meant that he had to put a pink mohawk on his helmet, that Ken so kindly supplied… and his pride was hurt just a little. After we had a massive laugh about it, we hit the road again and not even 5km’s down the road it was my time… and in a big way.
I came into a right hand turn way too quick and the corner tightened up. Postie Scooters don’t handle the best and I went off an embankment, hit a large rock and went over the handle bars. I was winded for what felt like an eternity and the Boys said I was wailing in pain trying to get a breath… my ribs were killing me and I was sure they were broken. While I was on the road recovering, another rider in our group went off the same section and battled his way through… no, he didn’t come off and we had a good laugh watching him fight the bike and try and stay on…
We were in the middle of nowhere, so when you come off you must get back on and keep going… that day we kept going to Burnie then along the coast road back to Devonport, where we called into the East Devonport Bowling Club for a couple of cold ones. By the end of Day 2 we were known as the “Flag Boys” and we passed every rider on the tour in slipstream format like cyclists. I needed to ride this way as my bike was the slowest and allowed me to stay up with the other three.
But I had broken my bike and needed a new one – I snapped the steering lock of the steering shaft in the crash and they gave me a replacement bike.
That night we rode onto the ‘Spirit of Australia’ for our overnight trip to Melbourne. Again I was in bed by 8:30pm.
Day 3 – The next morning was an early start – 5:30am, pitch black, pouring rain and we were greeted by 50 Police standing at the gates. We didn’t realise until later that day that there was a drug bust about to happen on the boat… it was all action. Ken’s bike was playing up again with dirt in the main jets. Because it was pouring rain, we left him behind that morning and us three powered through the rain on our way to Horsham. On a refill his motor came good…
There was nothing fun about riding on a cold day in the rain, being sick and sore and there was definitely no way I was going to camp – so we got a room… Campers we are not!!!
Day 4 – Horsham to Loxton – the rain did nothing to help my Man Flu and I felt like I was getting worse. The sun was out and the days were warming up so we were able to de-robe a little. It was a nice cruisy ride to Loxton where we decided to do our first night camping. What a mistake that was… now someone please help me, in what world does a two man tent mean it is only suitable for one person??? Is it just me???
So Pil and Randy had their own tents but I purchased one tent for Ken and I, as it was a two man tent… Oh my was I wrong, we basically spooned the entire night with our riding gear out in the mildew. And didn’t Pil and Randy have a good laugh at this…
The next morning an official announcement was made – that was our first and last night camping – full stop!!!
Day 5 – This was the best day of the trip and highly rates as one of the best days of my life. We headed from Loxton to Orroroo. On the path we had to get a ferry across the Murray River and shortly after, I came around the corner into the town of Morgan and what did I see…???
There was a Motorcross meeting on, so of course we had to go in for a look. And boy didn’t we turn some heads. It’s not every day they get 50 Postie bike riders pull into their meetings. Pil and I were talking to the race co-ordinator about our ride etc and she said well why don’t you all do a celebrity lap…
Who am I to refuse such a generous offer? So Pil raced into town and got the other Postie’s, I did an interview with the Commentator and then we got organised. What we didn’t expect were the starting gates to be up. In English we had a full starting grid of Postie bikes, 30 plus in a Motorcross style start.
I remember saying to the boys ” I am so nervous”… She then held the 15 second board up and Randy asked what that was, then it flipped to the 5 second board and the gates dropped. I holshotted and was running my bike out to get half a bike length on the pack and we hit the first turn and boy wasn’t it greasy slimey mud… by turn two I was in the lead and racing like it was the World Finals.
I had no idea that a Postie Bike could clear a tabletop but it did and on the third last corner i slid out a bit and another Italian rider just got past me ( sorry Dad )… and he beat me by half a bike length.
What I didn’t know was what happened behind me… there was at least 15 plus riders crash in turns one and two… basically the track looked like Chaos.
It was the most fun I had had in years…
Later that night we watched all the Go Pro footage and You Tube footage and seen Pil come in 4th and then Randy in 16th and Ken ( who still races Motorcross ) come in 19th… he won’t live that down for many years to come.
The rest of the day we only spoke about the race… and did a little pub crawl with a beer at each town in Burra, Jamestown & Orroroo.