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December 7th, 2011 | Australasia

Things Fall Apart…!!

Today was one of those days that I would rather forget, but probably never will…!!

Before I had even left Townsville, things had begun to go pear-shaped…!! I guess it all started when, on pushing my right foot into my boot, I discovered that I had actually forgotten to put my sock on first…!! Off came the boot, on went the sock, and back on went the boot…I had never done that before, and shook my head to clear what might have been an addled brain…!!

Australian advertisers keep motorists smiling...!!

My laptop had been downloading a few updates that Telita believed I needed to keep things working smoothly, and when I pressed the restart button, prior to packing it away, the screen went blank and the laptop would not restart…!! We tried for ten minutes and eventually I gave up and packed it away…

Down at the bike, I tried putting the video camera back into it’s holder on the crash frame, and it went in skew, breaking the plastic housing, and rendering the holder useless…!! No more video footage from that position…!! I had no spare holder for it, and muttering a few words that had Telita covering her ears, I packed the camera into my tank bag in disgust…!!

I bade my cousin goodbye for the second time in little over a week, hugged David and Jaedon, and prepared to leave Townsville for the last time…

I plugged the earphones from my I-Pod into my ears, and tried to switch it on to select some music for the long ride ahead… I discovered that my I-Pod was no longer working…!! It had gotten a little wet during the ride into Townsville a few days previously, and had now given up the ghost…. The 2000 km I had to ride to Brisbane without music, were going to be challenging…!!

I left the city thinking that maybe bad luck did come in doses of  three after all… The laptop, the video camera and the I-pod… All no longer working…!! Well today, bad luck did not come in “3’s”… It came thick and fast in doses too large to count…!!

Shortly after exiting the city limits, my head started to itch…then my beard… I rubbed my face through the visor, and could have sworn I felt something crawl over my cheek…!! I pulled over, peered closely into my side mirror, and saw a moving brown dot on my left cheek… I whipped my helmet off, lifted my sunglasses and peered into the depths of the helmet… A colony of ants had taken up residence in my helmet during the night, and were none too pleased about having to leave Townsville…!!

It took ten minutes and half a litre of water to get the buggers off my head and out of my helmet…!!

I rode the 130 km to Charters Towers, and stopped to refuel… When I opened the tank flap, ants poured out of it in their hundreds… Many of them carrying larvae in their jaws…Some of them made a beeline over my hands and went up into my sleeve while I was trying to get my tank bag out of the way…

Mileage in brackets indicates that the destination is off the route you are on... I forgot that little fact and almost reached Hughenden before being forced back by flooded roads...

I had no choice but to remove my jacket and shake the darn things out, while people around me had a good laugh…!! The first splash of petrol from the nozzle went all over the tank to kill the remainder of the colony, who were now running in every direction…!! I was far from amused…!!

“What next…??” I thought to myself… Maybe I should go back to Telita’s and start again tomorrow…!!

Leaving town I inexplicably missed the turnoff to Frankfield and Clermont, and rode on merrily for a good many miles before glancing down at the GPS, and noticing that GiGi was suggesting I make a U-turn…!!

“Nah….!!” I thought, “That can’t be right…!! Bloody woman has gone on the blink again…!!” I continued on for another 40 kilometres, glanced down and still the respectful suggestion was, “Make a U-turn…”. I stopped at a small fuel station and consulted the map… That’s when I discovered that I had missed the turnoff…!!

A passing trucker suggested I go back to Charters Towers if I was heading for Emerald, but I ignored his advice and pushed on, having seen many roads that cut across the countryside ahead of me, and would connect back onto the road I was supposed to have been on… At that point, I had traveled about 65 km in the “wrong” direction… I rode on, determined not to turn back, pleasing the “Gods of Stubbornness” no end…!!

At Torres Creek, a small place consisting of a hotel and pub, a single petrol pump and a general store, I saw a small group of Khaki clad guys standing in a huddle outside the hotel, and decided to stop and ask them if the road I was intending to ride across to the Clermont road, was in good condition or not… I grabbed my map from the tank-bag envelope and approached them in what can only be described as an enthusiastic and hopeful manner…

The road that ran through Blackwood National Park was narrow and unmarked...!! Oncoming road trains made things fairly interesting...!!

“All the roads out here,” one guy said, stabbing a mud-encrusted finger at a huge area on my map, “are closed until further notice, Mate…!! Most of the bridges are washed away… All the Creeks have filled up, and Davey there, just made it through this morning by the skin of his teeth…!!”, he said pointing to another guy leaning against a mud-splattered pick-up, standing forlornly under a tree…

“What do you suggest…?” I asked, dreading the reply I knew was coming…

“You gotta go back to Charters Towers Mate…!!”

“You kidding me…!!” I exclaimed, my eyes probably bulging from my head… “That’s 180 km back the way I’ve come…!!”

“Better get started then…!! And you won’t make it to Emerald tonight either…!!” he laughed, seeing the look on my face…

“Time to get going, I suppose…” I eventually said…

“No time like the present…!!” he replied…

“Time waits for no man…!!” I grinned, enjoying the banter…

“Tick, tock…!!” he shot back, roaring with laughter…

“We could do this all day…!!” I said, taking a long slug from my water bottle…

“Yes, but you don’t have the time…!!” More laughter…

I thanked him for his advice and walked back to the bike, muttering to myself about the vagaries of the weather in those parts… One minute it was blazing sunshine, and the next it was pouring with enough rain to shut down an area the size of a small country…

The road south towards Clermont was an endless ribbon that ran straight to the horizon... Boring as hell...!!

Back in the saddle, I pinned the throttle back and rode back to Charters Towers, and stopped at the very same service station I had refueled at just four hours previously; refueled again; and then tore off down the right road this time… I had covered 500 km since leaving Townsville, and by midday, was barely 130 km from where I had started out from…!! We were not amused…!!

Things were not going my way today, that was being made abundantly clear… The Big Fella and GiGi, never made so much a squeak for the next few hundred kilometres, knowing that I was “stewing” quietly to myself…!!

The sun sets on my ride... Wallabies began appearing on the roadside, drawing straws to see who would be committing suicide tonight...!!

We hammered south, through Frankfield, and on to Clermont, where I refueled again, for the third time that day, and then considered my options…

I had already covered over 800 km for the day, and Emerald was 120 km further away… Halfway between it and Clermont, was the mining village of Capella, and I figured we could make it there an hour before sundown… Good enough…!!

By the time we reached Capella, I had changed my mind again and rode straight down the main street and out the other side, determined to get to Emerald and cancel out the silly mistake I had made earlier that day… We cruised into the town of Emerald, (that had all been washed away by flooding earlier this year), just as the sun was setting…

Despite being dog-tired, I was happy to have ridden this far, considering that at 11.00 that same morning, I had been having an attack of the mutters at a place called Torres Creek, over 625 km away…!!

My bad luck was set to continue though… I rode around town for almost an hour, tried four different hotels and a few other dodgy looking places to stay, all without success… The town was bursting at it’s seams with visiting mineworkers…!! At the last place I tried, the receptionist suggested I keep riding on towards Rolleston, a mere 140 km away, but to stop in Springsure and try the caravan park on the edge of town…

A storm of protest broke out when I returned to the bike and hopped into the saddle… Both the Big Fella and GiGi took it in turns to remind me that it was now pitch dark, and riding any further was pure folly…!!

“Well apart from asking the local police if I could use a cell for the night, I don’t see that we have any other options…!!” I said as I stomped down into 1st gear, and popped the clutch…

“What’s this thing between my left pannier and my seat…??” asked the Big Fella innocently…

“It’s a tent, dammit…!! But I am in no mood to be pitching a tent in the dark, thank you very much…!!”

“What about Wallabies…??”

“Will you shut up about Wallabies…!!”

“But you’ve ridden so far already… Aren’t you tired…??” This from a concerned Gi-Gi, proving that she did have a softer side to her after all…

“We’ll be OK, Springsure is only 70 km down the road… Now pipe down the pair of you, and let me concentrate…!!”

Just as I rode into Springsure, my daily mileage counter rolled over from 999,9 km to zero, which heralded another 1000 km day had been completed...!! We had been going for 13 hours.... A big day...

An hour later, having had a few near misses dodging Wallabies and what I thought were large birds but might have been fruit bats, we arrived in Springsure…

We had battled through blizzards of insects attracted by the headlights, many of them having made contact with my face, leaving their splattered remains on cheek, nose and eyebrows…

The owner of the caravan park in Springsure stepped back in alarm as I walked up to the counter in the small reception area…

“Strewth…!!” she said, trying to compose herself, “You look like you’ve been through the wringer…!! Poor thing…!!”

I had been on the road for almost 13 hours, traveled a little over a thousand kilometres, and considering all I had been through, yes… I actually did feel like I had been through a wringer, and told her so…!!

“A hot shower will soon see you right…!!” she said, “I’ve been expecting you…!!”

“You have…??” I asked, thinking she might have a crystal ball hidden beneath the counter…

Parked outside the little portable cabin that was home for the night in Springsure... And for only $100...!! Strewth, these guys aren't shy when it comes to charging...!!

“Yes, I received a call from my friend at the Palm Hotel in Emerald, and she said to expect a sorry-looking biker at around 8.00 pm, and here you are…!!”

“Well bless her cotton socks…!!” I said grinning, “Now please tell me you have a room or a cabin for me…!!”

While I was unloading, the owner of the caravan park brought me a hot dinner...!! Chicken schnitzel, chips, and just the right amount of salad....!!

“No: 2 on the left, “she said handing me the keys, “I put the lights on over the porch so you can see where to park…!!”

I thanked her for being so thoughtful, and then plodded out to the bike, and got into the saddle…

“Well…??” shouted the Big Fella and GiGi in unison… “Are we staying…??”

“Nah, they’re full, we have to push on…!!”

“Damn…!!” and an, “Oh dear…!!” followed, as I turned the bike around and rode up the narrow driveway and stopped outside No 2…

“Gotcha…!!” I said aloud, startling a large cat that was sitting on the top step of the porta-cabin…

“Not funny…!!” and “Oh good…!!” from my traveling companions…

Within a few minutes I was standing under a hot shower, letting the water ease the aching muscles in my back and shoulders, while massaging my left elbow with my right hand…

It had been a long, hot and rather bothersome day…

One that I must remember to forget…!!

©GBWT 2011

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