Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Far Riding

I am sure that most motorcycle riders have heard of an organisation called the IBA. The Iron Butt Association is an American invention (I think), consisting of riders who like to cover large distances in limited amounts of time, for no real reason other than to ride.
As well as the IBA, we have a derivative group here in Australia called Far Riders. I remember seeing their details about 15 years ago and promptly forgot all about them.
Now, getting back into motorcycling and having an endurance mountain biking background the logical extension must be doing some long distance motorcycling in as short amount of time as possible, right?

Touring motorbi-cycles.....(190/50-17s were hard to find in 2003!)

Well, not so much actually.
The mtbing is a real challenge physically as well as logistically and has the spinoff of hugely increased overall fitness. The motorcycle equivalent has.....er......it helps burn heaps of fossil fuels, wears out chains, tyres and engines.....and I can eat meat pies and sit still for hours on end....

Well, despite not exactly stacking up on every count, a Far Ride IS a good excuse to go for a ride to a place I have never been before and meet a bunch of peeps I have never met before. A challenge not to be sniffed at for an introverted person that struggles a bit with meeting new people.

So, I joined the FarRiders forum and looked around. An east coast ride was organised for late August. FR#57’s location was set as Turkey Beach, Queensland. Be there between 1130am and 12 midday, having ridden 1000km(620mi) since 1201pm the day before and you have completed a FR10. For this one earns a FarRider member number.

 I didn't want to just ride 500km up to the meeting point, then 500km home (which is an acceptable way of racking up the 1000km in 24 hours as well) because that would likely mean droning straight up the Bruce Highway and back. No, I wanted to check out some new-to-me territory on this ride.
So I had to come up with a route to get to Turkey beach that was at least 1000km as I would be leaving home at 1201pm on the Friday. The 500-odd kilometres home after the meet up would just be a bonus...

As you can see, I added another 130km to the route to cover for any gps "annomolies". I ceretainly didn't want to turn up at the meeting point with 990km and no time to rectify it, or anything like that!

I would be all set to ride at ~1130am on the Friday. Fuelling up at 1159am and getting a receipt date-stamped at 1201(or slightly after) would qualify me and give me the most available daylight to rack up as many kilometres on the Friday as possible. I really didn't want to do any night riding as my planned route is in kangaroo and cattle country and the headlights on my BMW are really woeful.

Fuelled up with starting docket in hand!

My planned route was the quickest way up to Miles (the bit where the red line above kicks up north), even though I would rather I was going to take in the road from Esk to Hampton. It is a great ride but I needed to cover the distance and I was being mindful of fatigue as I had done a 'red-eye" at work the previous night.

Mike, Jon and I on the Esk-Hampton rd from a few weeks back.

So, I droned out the motorway toward Toowoomba and liked the fact that traffic was pretty light for a Friday lunchtime. I was up and over the range in good time but did get a little bamboozled trying to get through Toowoomba. In doing so I managed to get onto the new range crossing road and enjoyed a traffic free run to it's western end as the eastern end isn't opened yet!

The ride out through Dalby and Chinchilla to Miles was much more fun on the bike than it was in the car last month. In the car I was stuck behind many trucks for many, many miles which is quite frustrating but even the moderately powered BMW made overtaking a breeze. I was soon stretching the legs in Miles. I grabbed a coffee milk and a chicken sandwich while I topped up and got my next "corner docket" to prove that I was here.


Just out of town was the turn north, toward Taroom. This was new territory for me, never having driven or ridden this way.

The sun was getting low and was flickering annoyingly through the trees into my eyes from the left all along here. I must be getting old as (or feeling the effects of the red-eye last night) as I found it quite annoying and fatiguing. I was glad when the "Welcome to Taroom" signs appeared, just before dark.

Yes, Taroom is in the Banana Shire.....

That 129km cost me $10.80!

I had pre-booked a cabin in the Taroom caravan park because as I mentioned above, I didn't want to ride at night with these BMW lights. To be honest I was done for the day and another 97km to Theodore just wasn't going to happen. 473km for the afternoon wasn't as good as I'd hoped and left a sizeable chunk (657ish kilometres) of riding to be completed before 1130am in the morning.....

Nice clean accom in Taroom.

I enjoyed the stop though with a quick shop for some breakfast fare, then a steak and veges at the Taroom Hotel. I have been alcohol free now for exactly 4 weeks (thanks Chiller) and it was funny to watch and hear the antics on this Friday night as the locals caught up on the week while I sipped my lime and soda.

Taroom community hall. That is one hell of an acronym!

Doing some number crunching before I went to sleep I figured that I had better get up at 4am and be on the road by 430 to make sure I had some "wiggle" room to make the check in window from 1130 to 1200am tomorrow.

So it was, I was up at 0400, munching on a few muesli bars and some yogurt while sipping a strong black coffee to coax some motivation into my veins.
It was cold outside. Damn. I had only brought one merino undershirt and one t-shirt with me. No thermal liner for the jacket nor winter gloves. Needless to say, the heated grips were set to high as soon as I started the bike to warm it up!

Now, what was that I said about not riding in the dark with crappy headlights....? Yeah, I didn't want to do it. But needs dictated that I get going. Even if it was a steady 80km/h. At least I was covering ground..... Did I mention it was cold? The temp guage on the bike registered between 4 and 11.5C as I rode along and I was not impressed when it hovered close to the lower end of that scale for too long. I saw a few roos by the side of the road and confirmed that my 80km/h was the correct speed to be going. Maybe even that was a smidge fast as these camouflaged marsupials were hard to see until the last second. I am glad none tried the usual dumb "jump into the light" bullshit they normally try as some where honestly as big as I am!!

Apart from the roos and cold....it was pleasant morning to ride and as daylight broke I passed the northern edge of Theodore. Turning north I had to be on the lookout for the Moura-Theodore road. Sure enough, it had a tiny sign and I blasted past to do a quick u-turn and head north-west toward the tiny mining town of Moura.

This section of road proved to be a bit of winding (in an outback AUS kind of way) fun as it made it's way through farmland toward a tiny gap in the MASSIVE line of open cut coal mines that stretch for hundreds of kilometres from north to south along this coal seam. I stoped for a quick photo here, just as the sun was coming up behind me.

Moura-Theodore rd underpass.

The road became much more mundane from here until I rolled into Moura. There was quite a bit of mining traffic on the road in spite of it being 6am on a Saturday.

A small, old fashioned dragline bucket......

I was trying to follow my little eTrex gps track through town and it was messing me around. This is where the extra kilomtres on the route were need as the Ride With GPS track took some "interesting" routes through town that backtracked and befuddled me, but added to the distance it showed for the route. I quickly (but not quick enough) reverted to my small town knowledge in that "the road out of town will be fcuking obvious!! and ignored the gps, soon finding the road out of town - heading west toward my next turning point - Bauhinia.

This really was a dead straight drone for too many kilometres. I was soooo pleased to get to the turning point I just stopped for one quick shot then took the turn north.

Yeah, that is about all there is to see...

About 20km north of Bauhinia I felt the coffee starting to kick in. Looking for a tree to duck behind I soon gave up. There weren't any on my side!
Looking back, south-west, there was a kind of beauty to this area. you just need to see it in the right light I guess?

Soon after this the road turned to loose dirt!
I had deliberately chosen sealed roads to make my first 1000km/24hr ride a bit easier.
Shit. I wonder how much dirt there is?
The surface condition slowly got better so that 100km/h felt safe enough and I guess the total dirt was about 10-15km, so no too bad. the road after this was quite good, winding it's way over hills and down dales.
Turning right at the Capricorn Highway I buzzed into the dot-on-a-map of Duaringa to top up.

Here I also ordered a coffee and a pie. I should have noticed all the patrons standing around like wax works dummies and stuck to a quick cold milk coffee as I had finished the pie and was left standing there scratching myself, waiting. I could see that people who had ordered before me were still waiting I thought "fcuk it!" and left. I had places to be and the clock was ticking!

Most expensive pie and sauce I have ever bought!! Most expensive coffee that I never got too!!

The Capricorn Highway was a reasonably major road so was wide and smoothish but also had a bit more traffic headed toward Rockhampton. I only had to endure it for about 65km before turning south again for Biloela. (p Bill-oh-wheel-a)

Here I stopped for a photo and noticed that my bike had just ticked over 30 000km!

11 000km in 12 months.

I also noted here that I had about 260km to go and 2.5 hours to do it. barring any issues my timing was looking good!

The 99km down to Bilo was actually quite a pleasant ride. The town itself looked quite prosperous and was busy with Saturday-morning-country-town-catchups. It felt a bit like home on a Saturday morning in that respect.

I turned east to Calliope (p Kall-i-oh-pee) via Mt Alma. This road proved to be quite good fun as well as it swept over hills and wound it's way toward the coast. There was no stopping now and despite Calliope looking like a very picturesque town, worthy of a photo or two, I was just in get-there-now mode.
I finally came to the Bruce Highway (main road from Brisbane to the Cape) and had to put up with the trucks and constant speed variations for road works. You serously need to be on the ball in Australia these days as there are soooo many roadworks, all with their varied speed zones and all zealously policed by the mobile revenue collectors. Everyone drives crawls around at walking speed (feeling safe) with one eye on their speedo and one on their mobile phone.............. no wonder accidents happen!

Turning West off the highway the last 30km into Turkey Beach was nice. I arrived to see the street in front of the little shop totally packed with bikes! Shit, I though this was a little underground group?! I managed to find a park, right on the corner and totally illegal but hey, this didn't look like the kind of place you find a traffic cop.

 Checking in was a non event. I grabbed the complimentary burger and sat down to eat. I was actually feeling pretty weary and not really looking forward to riding home today. I had done 1106km for the 24 hours. 24km less than the gps route said so definitely worth adding a "buffer"' to.

Photo courtesy of Ghostrider. I hid in the back.

 After a quick group photo, people split off in all directions. Most only stayed for the check-in 30 minutes or so, then were off. By the time I finished my burger and wandered back to the bike for a photo, most were gone.

Five minutes before and you couldn't wedge a Tally-Ho wrapper between the bikes!

The 500km or so home went pretty well and I was pleasantly surprised how little traffic was on the highway. I stopped at Mirriam Vale for fuel, where I chatted to a couple of blokes on cruisers for a while.

Mirriam Vale

Then again at Maryborough for fuel and a bite to eat. I had been on the bike so long now that the inside pattern of my helmet was firmly imprinted on my head!

Maryborough truck stop.

Tired and impressed-upon.

There were no more stops until home. These last 290km were grinding, especially from the Sunshine Coast down - so the last 200km. The traffic was heavy and everyone was doing 10km/h below the speed limit. I spent 2 hours weaving through the mobile chicanes but on the plus side, it took my mind off my sore legs and helped pass the time!

I arrived home 30 hours and 10 minutes after I left with 1634km added to the odometer.

Would I do it again?
If you had asked me Saturday night I would have said no. There were too many interesting, cool looking places that I had to just blast straight by as I was on a tight time frame. This plus the wear and tear on my bike made the ride seem just plain dumb. Maybe that was the fatigue talking though because a few days later I am sort of thinking "that wasn't too bad".
So, I may be on the fence as far as Far Rides go. They seem to be few and far between for the organised rides so I think I will have plenty of time to think about another one.

In the mean time, meet Far Ride Member #1152.

Cheers and thanks for reading.


  1. A-ha! You'll be hooked now!

    What's this 24hr limit eh? 1,000km can be ridden easily in 12.5 hours including a lunch break.

    Time you came over and did the TT...

    IBA# 73269

    1. Yeah, but my little 800 feels like it's revving it's tits off at $1.20, plus they wont let you do anything over the 1000km (FR10) for the first four rides. I can see why their forum is a bit of a ghost town and that IBA is far more popular. Being able to do rides whenever you want and whatever distance you choose is much more appealing and in tune with modern workers shift patterns. We don't all have Saturday/Sunday off any more.

    2. Almost everyone else was on a great big mobile lounge chair. Thats cheating. Do it on you WR250 next time, then we'll talk about 1000km/12.5 hours and see how you feel.....

    3. Don't think I haven't thought about it...

      Bike has nothing to do with it. We had an RG50 do a 1,000miler once...

      IBA takes some organising (paperwork etc).

      BTW: I may still have a logon to the Far Riders - Davo Jones invited me to it (fellow Connie rider). Good guy and terrible that he got killed on the Iron Butt Rally.

    4. I was wondering about Davo but didn’t want to ask anyone. I figured something like that because they have the ride to the middle of nowhere in South Australia.
      As for the bike, yeah, it can be done but it gets harder and harder the more unsuitable the bike....

  2. Ah just great, soon you'll be just as mad as that looney kiwi nutter.

    I'm not impressed one bit with those wankers riding their goldwing lounge chairs 1600kms. I AM impressed by someone who does it on an R1 though. Now that's respect in a nutty sort of way. Yes Andrew do it on your 250.

    1. I met a guy who had ridden from Sydney on his GS1200. i asked if he left Sydney early and he said "no, he can't seem to get organised before lunch time" so he rode Sydney to Gympie the previous afternoon, then to Turkey Beach that morning! Respect for keeping his eyes open that long AND not collecting any of the native wildlife.
      As for doing it on a sportsbike or a Postie bike, both would be nuts! I would neck myself out of boredom!! If one could poke around at the 140-160 that we did 25 years ago, then sure, it might be a little more interesting but I am not sold on the concept just yet.

  3. Welcome to the long haul club Dave, that's a great write-up! Different bikes offer different challenges. My Blackbird was painful because of the long stretch to the bars. The best over 1600 km was my Street Triple with an Airhawk pad - brilliant ergonomics. I still fancy having a crack on a CT110 postie bike for the added challenge!

    Much respect mate.

    1. You sir, are certifiable! A posite bike would need some hotting up and I would need some "hopping up" to ride it!
      I could see a nice GS1200 being the perfect perch as you have the power to wind it on but can still tackle dirt with relative ease.
      Still, as I said above, I'm not totally sold on the concept. I think the roads chosen might have a lot to do with the enjoyment.

    2. I'll follow Geoff's postie bike on the WR if he's game...

    3. I'll follow that WR and postie bike on the R1...

    4. That's hardly a challenge. Plenty of R1's have done it...

    5. Its a challenge for a decrepit old codger like him though.... ;)

    6. "Plenty of R1's have done it..."
      Pfft, yeah right, only your nutter mate Chris.

  4. On my very first 'tour' a mad mate of mine from Alstonville and I rode down to the Snowy mtns and back in week. It was sheer madness on naked bikes and one day was 1100km. Can't ride those speeds now.

    Oddly the experience did not turn me off touring (quite the opposite) but did so for my friend who has never really toured much since.

    1. Yes, it is something that you either love or loathe. I must say I like touring but I like to be able to stop and look at things that interest me.


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