Archive for August, 2011
Yesterday we had a great time coming through the Flinder Ranges on our way in to Port Augusta, South Australia. As we drove in to the caravan park there were Black Dogs everywhere as riders from the East and West finally met up. After setting up camp we headed over to a local club for a roast dinner that the Lions had cooked up for us. It was a fun evening of catching up with old and new friends but most everyone headed back to camp early to grab some sleep before tomorrow’s big ride to Coober Pedy.
Today we dragged ourselves out of sleeping bags in the dark to meet up for breakfast at 7am. I had decided the night before to break off from the ride and head back to Canberra on a solo adventure. Ten more days of riding just isn’t on for me so instead I’ll be exploring a bit more of rural NSW on my way back home.
That’s the end of this years’ Black Dog Ride for me and now it’s time to plan the next adventure.
Last night we stayed in Burra at the Paxton Square Cottages. What luxury and class these 160 year old cottages built by a mining company are. Five of us shared a three room cottage and enjoyed a warm fire while we blogged and swapped ride stories from the day. We also enjoyed a lovely meal at one of the most classic pubs I’ve ever been in.
This morning we had a relatively short 200km ride to Port Augusta so we split off from the main Ulysses club riders and headed for some fantastic country roads. There was plenty of time to enjoy the view and stop for photos and joke time.
We stopped in Munro for a late pizza lunch at a beautiful pub which was great given I was starving by then.
I’ve just set up my tent and got all my gear settled in at the caravan park in Port Augusta. In just a half an hour I’ll head down the road to a club where the riders from the East and West will party for the evening before heading north to Coober Pedy in the morning. More news about that tomorrow.
Today our first stop is Mildura. On the way I pulled over to dispose of some fruit before crossing in to Victoria. That small stop caused me to end up losing site of both the early and late riders. I decided this would be a good opportunity to just cruise by myself and enjoy the scenery which included a lot of vineyards and an emu here and there.
Right now I’m sitting in a Mildura bakery with no idea where the other riders are. Odds are they are just around the corner somewhere but I’m content to sit here and catch up on a few things. But I’ll have to get going now to ensure I’m not too far behind in an attempt to catch up with everyone in Renmark.
[A local fellow rider just walked in after seeing my bike outside and asked me to pass on a donation to the ride. People's support of addressing mental health issues and the great work of the Black Dog Institute is so amazing. I'm meeting so many nice people on this trip. It's a pleasant change from all the doom and gloom we are all bombarded with every day by the press.]
Time to get back on the bike. More news later, including photos and some video previews.
About half way to Hay it began to warm up and I remembered what I liked best about this ride. The air was crisp and the early morning sun cast long shadows over the flowing fields of bright yellow canola. Rural NSW is simply stunning at this time of year with things just beginning to show signs of Spring approaching. Lots of orange and apple trees just staring to bloom as we zoomed by.
At morning tea I was sitting on a corner to mark where those behind me should turn (corner marking). As I sat there reading email on my phone while waiting a ute pulls up and asks if I’m with the Black Dog Riders. After a short introduction this total stranger hands me a donation and asks me to pass it on as he’s on his way out of town and won’t have time to join us for morning tea.
Morning tea was hosted by our friends the Lions in a community hall. The people were incredibly friendly and we had a wonderful time talking with them and laughing together.
So off we headed for Hay were one of the riders had the good sense to cancel our plans to camp and found us a great family sized room for five of us to share. Finally, luxury in a warm modern room. I was so tired and beginning to fade from the pain of my foot and the threat of the flu that I was most grateful to have such a nice place to sleep that night.
On the way to Hay I had the most lovely ride with a friend of mine. We decided to take advantage of having the road to ourselves and crank up the level a bit. It’s great fun to ride with someone you know well and have enough experience with to ride in similar styles.
Off we went to the pub for more Lions generosity and a lovely meal that of course included sausages. We made a short evening of it and headed back to our little bit of paradise for an early night. We ended up staying up to almost midnight looking at videos and photos of last year’s rides.
Our spirits are quite high but we keep being reminded of the horrors that come with depression and mental health issues. At both towns we were in we were told stories of young people taking their own lives since the last time we visited. I was very shocked by this very sad news.
I had given thought to returning to Canberra the next day being worried that I might develop a full case of the flu. I took some flu medicine and decided to see how I felt in the morning before I would make any decisions.
Having missed the official start ceremonies last year I decided to head up to Sydney this year to join in the fun. The plan was to go a day early and get up rested and ready for a full on day. That plan went out the window due to work commitments so off I headed from Canberra on Sunday at 4.30am. I won’t be doing that again as riding in the winter rain at that time of the day has to rank as the worst decision I’ve made in quite a while. I did make it to Sydney for 30 minutes of speeches etc but no time for coffee with friends. It made for a very hectic and tiring day overall.
The ride over the Blue Mountains to Lithgow was just as bad so by the time we arrived at our destination in Young I was already beginning to feel the flu coming on. But the day wasn’t without some good highs as well. It was great to catch up with friends from last year’s ride and we all swapped storied over the sausage sizzle that the Lions put on in Bathurst.
Some of us couldn’t resist a few laps of Mt Panorama while we were so close. So out came the cameras and off we went for a couple laps of the race track. It’s a normal suburban street when races aren’t on but it’s still a blast with some fantastic views at the top.
Off we headed to Young for a lovely dinner, again arranged by the local Lions club, and a very interesting presentation by one of the riders who volunteered to give a talk about the Black Dog Institute’s research in to mental health issues.
We returned to the caravan park to freeze which didn’t do my flu any good as I had a terrible night’s rest. At some point I had pinched a nerve in my foot and couldn’t walk due to the pain. That kept me awake most of the night as we all enjoyed a zero degree night.
So the start of the ride didn’t go that well for me and I think the other Canberra riders who went directly to Young as I did last year had the right idea.
After airing on Perth and Darwin television this week the Black Dog Ride 2010 documentary has finally been released for viewing on the Internet! We’ve been waiting a long time to see the final outcome after some sneak previews were published late last year.
You’ll have to be very quick to catch a glimpse of me riding as most of the footage is related to the Perth and Sydney riders who were involved with the ride from the start. However, three short clips from my helmet cams made the cut which was fun to see. Don’t forget there are three videos about the trip that I made on the video page of this blog as well.
The clip coming up alongside of ride Ambassador Angry Anderson as a pillion was from my GoPro Helmet Cam and one of my favourite moments. There’s also a very nice time lapse of the sky framing the front of my beloved Suzuki waiting patiently outside my cabin in Port Augusta, South Australia while I was taking a Nanna nap.
Much more important is the message. I dare you not to tear up while listening to the ride founder, Steve Andrews. What a fantastic guy.