Thief in the night
After an easy day yesterday, servicing the bikes and swimming, Pumie bore was a great camp, hot shower, table, and shelter. After a night spent relaxing we were keen for the French line and the dunes to start. Phil’s morning brew was put into jeopardy by a thief in the night that broke into his saddlebags and stole all his long life milk capsules, leaving a trail of little footprints back to his hole.
After that setback, we only got about 30km and my frame broke where the rack mounts, we braced it up, moved the weight forward on the seat and kept moving. This had the undesired effect of making the front knife and make it harder to get my weight back to help it float. Up to then, the dunes were no problem, a few tight corners on the downslope caught us out a few times. The wheel ruts were hard to get out of, until carrying too much speed for the corner you climbed out of your rut, across the next rut, up a three-foot bank and straight down the back side of the dune in a blink of the eye.
Not bad fun but a bit unsettling, a bit further on I clipped the bank on an uphill dune with my tank, destroying my momentum and burying the DR into the dune. Digging out and turning an overloaded bike around on the face of a steep dune proved a challenge. Apparently, you turn the bike around before picking it up, wish I would have known. Numerous attempts had the bike almost around and the rear wheel would slide backward and overbalance the whole show.
Ten minutes of this sapped my energy and instead of having a five min break I charged off madly chasing the guys. Five kilometers later another mistake and heaps more energy, charged off again quickly followed by another front wheel tuck uphill.
By the time I caught the guys I was exhausted but still hyped and keen to go. Billy had one look ay me, called a break and threw me a can of spaghetti and was told we could leave once eaten. Despite washing it down with lots of water it took 30mins to finish the tin, layed down in the shade for another 15min before coming good. Next time I promised to have a break when first tired.
Feeling refreshed I jumped into the lead avoiding the fresh ruts by the other bikes and started making really good time. I was enjoying it thoroughly when I got A call on the radio from a 4wd relaying the call from the guys to come back. 30km’s later I found the guys rearranging Billy’s bike as the frame had broken were the pannier frame mounted. They pretty much had it sorted by the time I got back so the journey east continued.
Another hour or so a nice area with a few scrubby trees looked too inviting for a camp, so we did
As we set up camp the rats came out, the ground was literally crawling with thousands of big bastards. Billy’s last packet of ciggies was sitting on his bike and they disappeared, at first he thought we were playing jokes on him but eventually we found them wedged in the entrance of a rat hole.
We set up camp, hung ow food between trees on straps and grabbed a bit of wood. In the distance we could hear a bike close, eventually stopping just over the next dune, we got on the radio and the West Aussie turned up 5 mins later with Billy.s gas bottle and my thongs.
My thongs had now been picked up and returned in three states
The hunters became the hunted
As we chatted and prepared for tea, a huge rat had positioned himself under my food bag and was aggressively guarding his find, not sure how he was going to get it but as the crawled around our feet it all became too much and as I had a good solid piece of wood in my hand I pegged it at him.
As the wood scored a direct hit and lifted the rat well off the ground he let out a death scream, and the rats were gone. The boys just went yeah, grabbed some makeshift clubs and split up, the west Aussie scored the next one, followed by Billy a short time later. Phil, on the other hand, wandered off into the night and we would hear a thump, thump then swearing, nothing if not competitive our Phil and despite an hour of hunting no more rats were found.
We even put food out in an ambush point that a too cute bilby scored without becoming target practice.
Rested and with all the fuel now in the tank, the lighter DR started to behave better, soon we were out of the dunes of death, had a look at the flooded cooper? crossing and headed for the 80km detour. This was a blast and rewarded with a swim in the middle of a desert, the crossing was tackled carefully and we blasted back to the Qand A line with the bikes lighter again we skipped through this section, although the dunes were higher they were firmer and further apart.
The woops between could be doubled, it was all just too much fun, mid-afternoon we reached big red and after playing on top, Billy was keen to camp. We had plenty of food and water, the lake beside big red made the view enticing, after some debate the desire for a bourbon and a shower was overpowered with reason.
As the sun went down and all the stars reflected in the flooded dune area it was all too good and glad billy talked me into a magic campsite.
My camera died that afternoon so I will make the rest short, skipping over the drama of getting in in the dark and other adventures. After days of seclusion Birdsville full of people for the races was too much so we kept on moving, innamincka first night, Barron Junction and a swim in the hot bore the next. Breakfast at Narrabri and just five hours home. It was amazing how much energy we all had after two weeks on the bikes to the tar from Guyra, the boring run seemed to drain the energy out of us till we split up at Thora.
Dirty and scruffy it was definitely a ride to remember, just one more trip to NZ then time to go back. With the water down from Queensland, it should be similar conditions this year.