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1600km+ 1 Day : Fun on the Harley

By Wom Battle
Category: Rides

JP and I are now Road Captains of our local HOG® Chapter and a while back we mentioned we were going to do an Iron Butt SS1600K for a bit of fun  and were happy to take a long anyone who might like to have a crack but weren't sure how to do it (other than just getting on a bike and riding 1610ks).  We got two starters on bikes and a pillion, KL, JP's wife who pumped her heart up and decided to come along for the day. Here's the route

Yesterday the weather was bad and the forecast for today's ride was worse, what's a monsoon anyway? The weather outside was dreadful as I was getting ready to leave and at 3.15am the phone rang, one less going and I couldn't blame him.  The hardest part for me when the weather's that bad is to ride out of the garage into it, you all know what I'm talking about.  Then it's just too late, you might as well keep riding. A first for me this morning though, I put a set of Harley-Davidson® plastic wet weather gear on over the KLIM Latitude goretex jacket and H-D Road Warrior goretex pants. I wanted to keep the water out as long as possible.

At the meeting point at Beresfield, JP and KL were there and Dave (DR), the other participant too.  I was really happy to see that DR had a Road King® too.  That made a trio in red white and blue! Seeing his Harley-Davidson® I immediately changed the ride plan,  the other bike coming had less fuel range so fewer stops now required for the run, we should all get similar economy.

It was raining and blowing so we went inside, organised the IBA witness forms, ride logs and left with a start docket of 4.21am back out into the savage weather we went. It rained solidly all the way to Marulan and at some point the sun came up.  DR first IBA stop, fuel, empty, docket, log 23 minutes!  We'd have to work on that.  I went over to KL to see how she was going and before I could say anything she looked at me and said emphatically "I'm never doing this again!".  I said, "It's too early in the day to make your mind up, let's see how you go."

Somewhere between Marulan and Yass the rain turned to showers, the showers to overcast and by the time we go to Wagga Wagga the sun was out. We stopped for fuel, ate a little, slipped out of the wets and refreshed ourselves ready for then next 1000kms or so.  Then to Gillenbah for a corner docket where we happened across some Central West HOG Chapter members who had been riding around Tassie for a couple of weeks.  They couldn't really understand why we were at Gillenbah while riding from Newcastle to Newcastle in a day and kept asking where we were staying the night. You get that on these IBA jaunts.

It's been too long since I've had the Road King out. t was really fantastic to be back on the big white Harley, effortlessly munching through the k's, relaxed, legs stretched out, plenty to room to move, calmed by the deep sound of the 1700cc V-Twin through the SuperTrapps.

Next stop was the BP in Finley, it was sunny, warm, a few clouds about and a bit of wind but all in all lovely riding weather.  DR fished around in his luggage and swapped out his full face helmet for a skull cap, a bit of a surpise!  Finley was the half way mark and by then we were all having fun, even KL.

Between Finley and Albury the sun was out but we rode through a few light sunshowers that didn't raise an eyebrow. We fuelled up in Albury with only two more planned stops to the end of the ride. 

After riding nearly 1000k's in a day the the mind can play tricks on you and the pressure of keeping all the required documentation for the IBA can be stressful if you aren't used to to.  As we were riding out of Albury DR panicked and told us he'd forgotten to get a receipt where we fuelled up.  We were still in town so I suggested he go to the servo across the road and grab one. 

He rode over, went inside and started to walk back to us. Realising he'd forgotten his bike he went back to the servo and rode out another entrance ready to turn right and join us back on track.  We rode across the lights and waited for him, the lights changed and he didn't come around. We waited, no Dave, so I rode back and he was back in the servo.  Forgot to get a docket.  We've all been there.

Soon enough we were back on track and rode through to Yass, just shy of another 300k's.  During that part of the trip we were riding ever closer to a looming bank of very, very dark and mean looking  cloud with the occasional damp road and light shower.  We stopped at Yass, decided to have the first coffee for the day, gather our wits, put on the wets and batten down the hatches for what we know was going to be a tough finisheh for the ride.  We'd called home and had a fair idea what we were in for, floods, power outages and record rainfall in NSW here we come.

We also took a moment time to review the paperwork and Dave found the receipt he actually did get where we fuelled up in Albury!

Here's the red, white and blue Road Kings

Harley-Davidson Road King

I took the lead and 10 minutes out of Yass we hit the rain, not too bad at first but as the sun went down the rain got heavier and and it didn't stop for the whole 275k's or so to Thornleigh.  I was acutely aware of the two bikes behind me who were following my tail light and with the conditions and the traffic there wasn't a moment to relax. Except for the odd time I pulled in behind a car to reset my head, take a breath and hook back in I tried to lead them as smoothly through the rain and traffic as I could.   

A strange thing happened at Thornleigh.  I was quietly elated when we got there, it was tough going and I was chuffed that it went so well. But I was concerned about how the others were going, whether I pushed to hard, whether the rain was too much, whether they'd never want to ride with me again.....  As the helmets came off I saw JP with a huge smile on his face, KL too, and DR was grinning ear to ear.  We ran around the servo high five'ing, and dong Turtleman impersonations "YeYeYeYe Live Action!" and the ride wasn't even over.  That was a tough leg and we were happy to have conquered it. We only had 70ks or so to go and we thought we were through the worst of it, we were wrong.

Out on the F3 the wind whipped up to a gale and the rain was so hard that the drops penetrated straight through my goretex lined BMW Pro Summer gloves.  At one point a cross wind almost picked up the 500kgs of Road King and rider tossing us sideways the complete width of a lane.  KL later mentioned she was so frightened by that moment (they got hit by it too) she nearly threw up.  Trees had been blown off the sides of the rock walls onto the freeway, cars were stopped, a few pranged.  On the Mooney Mooney bridge there were cars facing the wrong way, one with a trailer and traffic was everywhere.  It was carnage! However, I quietly picked a way through it all, with JP and Dave close behind and a few k's from the twin servos the rain suddenly stopped.  We pulled in and the SS1600K was done. Smiles, laughter, hand shakes, back pats, cheers... woo hoo!

We didn't need fuel, but we did need McDonalds.  We took all our soaked gear inside, with our folders, receipts, gadgets dumped them on a table and settled in to finish the paperwork and sorted it all out while making puddles on the floor.  We took photos, the other patrons must have thought we were mad!  What a ride! Now we only had to get home.

So, Dave and KL will, assuming the paperwork's good, soon be IBA Members and by all indications FarRiders too!  Given the early pronouncement I asked Kristilee if she would ever do it again..... she said later "I have an arse of steel" She will be back.

For those of you who like the numbers, our moving average for the trip was 103kph with an overall average of 86.4kph. Not to bad given the conditions. Here's some the water that came out of one of my boots taken this morning (Sunday)

Harley Davidson Collectionary


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April 2024