Thursday, October 25, 2012

Joining FarRiders.....

As I put my passion for riding a Sports/Tourer as opposed to a Sport bike down to reading some inspiring stories from the experienced long distance (LD) riders at FarRiders, I couldn't wait to join them for some of their ride destinations in far off places. There is a wealth of information on that website from uber-experience riders, and whom are only too happy to share their knowledge and experience with anyone who asks.

You have to 'earn' your FarRider #, and that meant attending a FarRide.

But I was NOT 'match fit' for LD riding, and had to learn the craft and increase my stamina/alertness levels for the safe and prolonged operation of a motorcycle.

Australia is a VAST land with amazing distances to cover if you want to see a lot of her.

For instance - here is a map of Europe placed within Australia's boundaries....

Another interesting fact is that the combined population of the European countries you see here is around 700,000,000 people - compared with 30,000,000 Aussies. You can see that there is a vast area with only a few people to fill it! - comparatively speaking).

And unlike a lot of Europe - there are vast amounts of..... nothing! Absolutely Nothing!

These shots were taken on the Hay Plains...

Google Maps "Street View" link of Hay Plains

And these were taken riding from near the South Australian border to Broken Hill, through Wilcannia, and on to Cobar in what could loosely be referred to as the Australian Bush or 'Outback'.

And lastly - Google Maps "Street View" link to just outside Peterborough. Be sure to rotate the pics through 360* to appreciate the whole area.

So basically - if you want to get anywhere downunder, you have to either take weeks off for your travel or do loooong hours in the saddle.

Now, rarely can you just jump on the bike and go for a 5,000km ride without plenty of preparation. It can be done - but the chances of you arriving home safely are greatly increased with good preparation and planning. We have a saying here... "the 5 Ps:  Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!"

The most important things to consider in LD riding are to:
- recognise the initial signs of fatigue and dealing with it properly;
- have reliable, quality equipment, systems and components - so that you don't break down in the middle of nowhere and the next vehicle won't be by for two days!;
- plan fuel breaks - unlike Europe of the US - there can be hundreds of kilometres between fuel stops, and the petrol station may be closed for the night when you arrive - so planning is essential.

- keep your energy and liquids up - (Camelbak's and muesli bars - staple diets for LD riders).

Like a new pair of shoes or boots (particularly for the girls), - when you try them on in the store, they look and feel great, it is not until you wear them in earnest for a few hours that you notice how small irritations have become big blisters and lesions, and you can go from a consummate, beautiful and respectful lady, to a growling, howling, menacing beast who will have no problem inflicting grievous bodily harm on the next person whom looks at them the wrong way!

I may have taken a little artistic licence there to illustrate how a little problem can grow into a large problem after hours of discomfort - the same applies to sitting on a motorcycle seat for hours on end.

You can find that you start aching and are sore in areas you didn't even know you had areas! Many peers have complained of sore wrists, lower back pain, neck problems, knees and, of course, good old 'monkey butt'! Many more only comment on the "fantastic scenery" or "nice coffee" in a little town they always stop at. These are the people who have worked out long distance riding.

I say that if something annoys or distracts you whilst riding - banish or fix it! This can cost considerable $$$ in some instances, but your comfort (and therefore your safety) must be the top priority here.

All this being said - I had to work on my stamina, my constant alertness levels, the equipment I took with me, and general comfort.

I did this testing by riding the bike in ever increasing trip distances - much like anyone learning to distance run would work on their aerobic capacity, muscle stamina etc etc to improve their distance fitness.

Now - FarRiders are a group of distance riding motorcycling enthusiasts who all love riding to far away places 'just to see what it's like'. The founder of FarRiders decided to basically organise a pub lunch for these like-minded people - only catch was - you had to ride a minimum of 1,000 kms from home to lunch and back again - in 24 hours. This was called a FarRide. A lot of fun is had as a result of the social intercourse, and a great time in planning your route and ride plan is derived. There are always plenty of great yarns from everyone on the trials and tribulations of riding 1000 clicks to lunch!

I was finally ready to go out into the wild blue yonder on the wild candy Honda... and so that's just what I did...

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