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October 2013 Club News

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Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre 2013

Story & pictures by Chris Sainty

Rob Woods, Nic Weissenfels, Lez Baines, Chris Sainty
          and Roger Seeney.
I have been so fortunate to be able to complete the Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre this year. Fortunate, not only in that the crew at home were happy to do without me for a few weeks but that they were massively encouraging and that I had my fair share of support, advice and genuine ‘help’ from a number of friends and club members.

Nic with the Black Dog Ride banner.Many of you will know about The Black Dog Ride, the brainchild of Steve Andrews, which aims to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention. I first heard about it from a girlfriend who had just completed the ride in 2012. Her recollection of the ride inspired me to have a go myself and so this year I teamed up with four others from Denmark to form the Denmark Bushies; Roger Seeney, Lez Baines, Nic Weissenfels, Rob Woods and myself. The Bushies’ name comes from the others membership of the volunteer fire fighters brigade. My lack of bush fire fighting was overlooked out of kindness and a lack of another suitable name for our motley crew.

Roger, Lez and I left Denmark for the start of the ride in Busselton on Friday 16 August in bitter wind. It was cold, let there be no doubt, but I was so rugged up that even the southerly had no chance. Nic left with a great crew of support from Albany on the Saturday morning and to be true I’m really not sure where Rob left from but he was definitely with us in Esperance on the first night.

Roger and I had a more than interesting interaction with a backpackers van just outside of Walpole that got the adrenaline pumping. The three of us were riding at about 100m spacing, all very pleasant when we came up on the van. Lez was able to get past on one of the few safe overtaking spots, while I waited for my opportunity. The driver of the van, in a moment of consideration for the lack of safe overtaking, pulled off the road onto the gravel shoulder. Unfortunately, not reducing speed and careering out of control to come back on to the road on two wheels directly behind me (both my rear vision mirrors went white!) and in front of Roger. Roger was on the brakes with the ABS doing its thing. At the very last second, the van slid just far enough out of the way for Roger to get past without hitting it. These frantic seconds saw the van end up on the other side of the road facing the opposite direction. My heart was thumping so fast, it was such a close call so early in our trip. Needless to say we all rushed off to buy lotto tickets that afternoon – I still have them in my jacket, maybe I should check if we won.

So in Busselton bright and early Saturday morning we were enjoying the first of a number of delicious bacon and egg breakfasts supplied by the Lions Club while we registered. I was a little apprehensive with the sheer number of bikes and the cold wet conditions; I wondered what I’d got myself in for. But heading out that morning with the sun warming through my layers, hundreds of bikes behind me (I was in the first six bikes to leave the car park!) and the privilege of being part of such a great event was an awesome feeling.

We enjoyed mostly dry if not cold conditions for the next few days through Esperance, where we met up with the other Denmark Bushies members Rob and Nic, onto Madura Pass, Ceduna and Port Augusta. Each day we travelled around 700kms. I love wedge-tailed eagles and was rapt to see so many so close up as we travelled east. All the way there riders joined us while others left after a day’s ride or two. Many of us carried ‘Winston’ the Black Dog mascot on our bikes and it was often Winston that got the conversations about depression going at the roadhouses.

I truly enjoyed my time across the Nullarbor; the sense of space was fantastic. I realised I’m used to seeing the horizon over water or through trees. We met some wonderful people and heard story after story; some incredibly sad and others very entertaining.

I had a few moments of embarrassment in Ceduna. The command vehicle driver Morgan also happened to be a masseuse who was offering 10 minute neck and shoulder massages for a $10 donation to the ride. I watched as Morgan expertly put riders out of their neck and shoulder pain, thinking to myself ‘what I could really do with is a lower back/bum massage’. Sadly this thought was spoken out loud to the wrong person and I received an intensive ‘bum’ massage thanks to Morgan’s elbow in front of the group as a finale. Morgan is to be thanked, as from that point on I had no more sore back or bum and the crew did not suffer from the laughter provided.

Riders from all states except Qld and N.T. met in Port Augusta. A massive get-together and another wonderful meal was had. A lot of eating and drinking goes into a great bike trip. Lions Clubs along the way provided us with many memorable meals and were generous in welcoming us all into their communities. Many thanks to a fantastic group.

Underground Hotel in Cooper Pedy.From Port Augusta we travelled north to spend the night underground at Coober Pedy. Another first for me, I was fascinated but convinced I would not like to live underground. Though I’m told if I were there in the summer, I’d quickly change my mind.

Northern Territory border.The ride culminated in Alice Springs with the Qld and N.T riders joining us on the Thursday night for dinner. Again, many great people and many laughs. The following morning we rode as a group of 300 through the Todd Mall which normally is a pedestrian area in the centre of Alice Springs.

Dave Mckenna - Freestyle Rider.We were also lucky enough to have a stunt bike demonstration put on for us by Dave Mckenna - Street Bike Freestyle Rider who had delayed his departure from Alice to coincide with the ride. He was incredibly talented, earning more than a few ooooo’s and arhhhhhhhhh’s from the crowd.

The final dinner of the ride included an auction of generously donated gifts, live music and yep, you guessed it, dancing. A grand night held at the Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge against a rock backdrop.

Chris at Uluru.Leaving to come home we all dispersed, each state’s riders going their own way. Our group split between visiting Uluru and Darwin on the way home, all having our own adventures in different directions. My interest in motorcycle travel has well and truly been ignited and I’m putting a ‘wish list’ of places to visit together.

I loved riding my G650 X Country but confess to riding a F650GS while away and enjoying it just a little too much. My current limited fuel capacity meant that when all loaded up and with headwinds at times I was only getting 130km to a tank and relied on the 7L fuel bladder I carried. The fuel bladder is now affectionately named Connie, short for incontinence as she had a tendency to spontaneously ‘leak’. To be fair, Connie enjoyed the hospitality of Lez and his hotel on wheels (Gold Wing) and sat upright for part
of the trip. She was however put securely back on the G650 for a few days when Lez offered his pillion seat to Bronwyn after her bike’s radiator failed.

We are all home now, having helped raise awareness of depression and all the better for the experience. The Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre not only raised awareness but also in excess of $350,000 for Lifeline and Mental Health First Aid. Denmark Bushies as a team have raised $7,300 to date, making us the seventh highest fundraising team in Australia. Thank you to all of you that donated to the ride. These much appreciated funds help support Lifeline’s on-line and telephone crisis support services and Mental Health First Aid’s training to ensure members of the public are able to provide help before and during a crisis situation.

Thanks to those that I rode the 8,763km with, came with me in my helmet or have been there to help me on this great adventure.

Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre
Mental Health First Aid

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