Reading ďThe Old BikeĒ magazine about three years ago I
noticed a rally advertised for T150 and T160 bikes in Ballina
NSW called ďThe Aussie Triples RallyĒ. I thought Iíd love
to do that, until this year I wasnít able to do it for various
reasons. I sent away for the entry forms organised my
accommodation, paid the money, thatís it I was committed to do
it, so no backing out now.
Iíve owned my 1975 T160 for six years, after a few modifications
to improve it, twin discs, English tank, electronic ignition,
Mikuni carbs, back rest and rack. I changed the speedo to
kilometres to help work out the petrol stops. The trip meter was
broken so I replaced it. I fitted a water proof cigarette power
source for a GPS and to charge my phone and with a new chain new
rear tyre, a Dunlop Roadmaster TT100 and new oil filter it was
ready to go.
I set off early on Saturday 9th August 2014 having packed the
bike carefully so I could carry three litres of oil in one
saddle bag, three litres of petrol in the other with some tools,
an inner tube etc. I put my back pack bag on the bike back rest
backwards to give me a more substantial back rest, I had my
small tent, sleeping bag and air mattress on the rack.
Not to mention my sheepskin to sit on, probably the most
important bit of kit on board! Iím up at five, raring to go, all
kitted out, helmet on, try to kiss the wife goodbye oops! Got
the helmet on too soon. Put the GPS on, no it wonít work, itís
the old one from the car, it worked perfectly before, never mind
doesnít matter Iíve got a map! With a big smile on my face Iím
off, I head for Esperance, the bike is great, started with the
push of a button, bloody hell its cold!
How I wish for heated grips, after an hour Iím thinking a
heated seat would be good, bit longer down the road and Iím
thinking a heated suit would be even better! By mid-day Iím
still freezing cold, my nose is streaming. Not to worry I have a
plan, every time I stop to fuel up Iíll put Vaseline on my nose,
bloody hell by the time I get there Iíll look like ďRudolph.Ē
The T160 runs great all day and I get to Balladonia about 4:30
pm Iíve travelled 800 klm, I think to myself if I stop I will
only put up the tent and go to the pub so I decide to go onÖ my
first mistake! The next road house is 200 klm away Caiguna. I
planned to stick to 100-110 klm per hour which I did till it got
Fifteen minutes later Iím doing 110-120-130, its ok líll get
there soon. Well 30 klm to go and the bike starts to miss, no
funny noise, I try the reserve tap and off we go again. Bit
later Iím thinking Oh shit am I going to make it, well the tank
was completely empty when I rolled in with a little leg power to
the pumps. I can get 260 klm travelling at 100-110, what a
day, let me tell you I was so pleased to get off the bike my
arse was so sore.
Now I have to put my tent up in the dark, no fun at all. The
tent thatís another learning curve, I bought a cheap tent being
a scrooge McDuck, big mistake, you only get what you pay for,
take my advice and buy a decent one itís worth the money! My
tent was bloody awful! My air mattress was great thank heavens
and the little 12v air pump to blow it up was excellent. It was
so bitterly cold I slept in all my clothes in my sleeping bag
every time I slept in my dodgy tent!
Up early next day check the bike over, oil the chain, check
engine oil, pack up my stuff and Iím away by 7:30 am, Iím a bit
warmer today. I make it to the Nullarbor Roadhouse and even put
my tent up in daylight and had time to check the bike over, it
needed a drop of oil and lube the chain. Another cold night off
to the pub and a bite to eat. The bike gets a fair bit of
attention form ďthe Grey NomadsĒ, it appears a lot of them used
to have one! Usually they are surprised itís got three
Port Augusta is the next destination, another early start, off
and riding, on the second fuel stop I notice there is oil
leaking out of the front push rod tubes. I decide itís not bad
and I can fix it in Ballina, but it does make a mess. By 4:00pm
I was at Port Augusta with my tent sorted and mattress blown up,
shower and pub now. Iím thinking I could get to Cobar
tomorrowÖitíll be a very big day.
Talk about big day, my arse is completely numb, the seat on
this T160 is bloody awful I think they ran out of foam at the
factory, in fact Iíve got my sheepskin doubled and itís still
bloody awful! So anyway I push on, I made it past Broken Hill
then Wilcannia on dusk, Wilcanniaís not a great place to stop,
so Cobar here I come. Well my mind was quickly taken off my sore
arse cause out came the wildlife. Never in my life have I seen
so many goats, bloody goats everywhere, emus, roos and yes sheep
too! It was a very bad decision to push on, I even stopped
feeling cold I was so intent in looking very carefully at what
was crossing the road.
Finally at 7:30pm I see the sign for Cobar and the Pub! Sod the
tent tonight Pub it is tonight, man oh my sore arse. You
wouldnít believe it, get to the pub and the pub was full up.
Went to the next one ďsorry weíre full upĒ I was just about to
go and put the tent up and the lady called me back, yes they had
a cancellation. Apparently the variety club were in town and
thatís why everywhere was booked out. Word from the wise never
ride that road in anything other than daylight.
I passed masses of dead animals on the side of the road as I
leave Cobar on my next dayís ride to Tamworth. A great
uneventful ride to Tamworth and it gets even better I stay at a
Big4, luxury! After I set up my camp check the bike and shower I
decide to treat myself to a decent meal.
So Chinese it is, now I have to tell you Iím allergic to
crustaceans but usually there is no problem I just make sure or
should I say my wife makes sure nothing Iíve chosen has prawns
etc. in it! Yep you guessed it, a couple of prawns must have
slipped past me, next morning I wake up with eyes so swollen
theyíre like slitsÖ great! Thank goodness for antihistamines.
Iím thinking what with the cold weather and all by the time I
hit Ballina I should look reasonably normal!
The ride to Ballina was very beautiful countryside, passing by
Armidale and Grafton, the roads are really good around there
too. Honestly it makes me wonder why I live in WA. Sometimes. I
arrived in Ballina at 2:30 pm, after booking into my
accommodation I thought Iíd better tidy up my bike. The front
mudguard had come loose so I had to repair it, the chain guard
as well but she still started at the push of the button. The oil
had made a bit of a mess but after a trip to the car wash she
looked as good as when I left home.
Most people at the rally thought I was crazy to ride 4437 klm just to get there. Its funny when you have done it you forget about the cold and the discomfort and your arse has recovered when you thought it wouldnít be possible!
The bikes at the Rally were fantastic, better than new ones,
there were BSA Triumph, Legend, Rob North, and Hurricanes. The
people were great, very friendly, helpful and great company. The
rides were all well organised, the entire thing was well
organised and Col and Nancy are to be thanked for that, they did
a brilliant job.
The weather was terrible for the rally it poured with heavy
rain the entire time. I confess I did have another mishap, my
iPhone got wet even though it was in my inside pocket, so did my
tom tom, but through a very wise ladyís advice I discovered the
magic of rice and luckily my phone is back to normal. My track
records with phones is not good so this was a great result. I
did win the trophy for the person who travelled the longest
distance to the rally which I shall always keep with pride.
I left Ballina early Monday morning to start my journey back to
Albany knowing Iíd have very long, wet, freezing cold days with
the compulsory sore arse. My plan this time was to stay in pubs
all the way home which I stuck to and I went through Cobar in
daylight! I had to replace my rear tyre in Port Augusta, they
only had a front one so I had to change the old front one to the
back, and the new one to the front.
I wasnít impressed with the Dunlop Roadmaster TT100, I only got
7550 klmís out of the rear tyre. The bike was really great, I
didnít repair the oil leak because I couldnít get the gasket or
pushrod seals so I had to put up with the mess. The chain and
sprockets were worn out and still she started on the button. I
arrived home in Albany Friday night at about 7:30pm having
travelled 9972 klm, thatís there and back including the
organised rides at the rally.
Here are list of things I learnt:
A very big thank you to Col and Nancy McAndrew and to all the
people I met and made friends with at the Aussie Triples Rally
Bob's presidential note:
Congratulations Steve, great achievement and its a complement to you having the bike so well sorted.