After a smack up dinner last night it was time to head out on the first riding day of the 2016 Tenere Tragics River to Ranges ride. Because of the 40+ degree weather that’s been about it was generally agreed that we’d leave early and get the riding done before it heated up too much. A pre-ride of the route though indicated that the first leg of the planned ride that was to go through the Mungo National Park had been turned into a dust bowl so that leg was altered to a scenic tar run from Mildura to Pooncarie
We turned on to Fletcher’s Lake Road, beautiful as the sun was coming up. I need to go back there to grab a pic one day. But we did stop at the corner with Pooncarie-Wentworth Road. I found out that corners were often gathering points in this type of ride. The first of many things I was to learn over these four days.
More scenery up to Pooncarie who I reckon might have had their busiest day for quite a while with the Tragics topping up fuel and buying B & E rolls to support the small regional business. The I took a photo of people taking photos.
Then I took a photo of what they were taking a photo of.
A gathering of Tenere’s of course. I was riding with Tragic Mick who asked me if I’d ridden open gravel roads before, “Nope.” from me and he suggested I went ahead and if I got stuck they’d catch up. So off I went on the High Darling Road. Not long in fear, profanity muttering and sphincter tightening almost took over my will to continue as the open gravel often turned into patches of sand that saw the Super Tenere throwing itself around like a four year old having a tantrum in a supermarket.
“Weight back, look up, keep the throttle on and let the bike move under you” chanted over and over and over again. Each time I made it out the other end with no idea really how that happened. Then pretty much each time I was back on a normal gravel stretch I’d be passed by a few bikes and spend some time eating dust for a while. It gave me the opportunity to check out what other riders were doing in the sand in front of me. I just don’t understand how they made it look so easy.
At one point I caught up to one of the riders who’s strategy was to slow on the sand. That worked OK for me until we got to a sand stretch that was quite long. “Weight back, look up, throttle on and let the bike move under you”. “Oh Shit, I’m catching him, speed up mate PLEASE, oh shit, he’s not”. He ducked left seemingly with as little control as I had and I weighted lightly to the right took aim and rode past him in the sand. I was more terrified of what might happen if I backed off than I was to bite the bullet and ride past. Somehow it worked out fine but it didn’t feel good at all. Take a moment to think back sand legends who are reading this wondering what all the fuss is about. I’m a noob learning dirt riding on a Super Tenere, it’s perspective talking here.
We turned left onto the Para Mail Road which turned into the Low Darling Road and just before we landed back on some tar I took this shot of the scenery, I love this stuff
From there the ride took us back to Wentworth for fuel and food. I got fuel, It’s not really my habit to eat too much during ride days so I pushed on towards the second instalment, the Old Mail Road that led us through the Wargan-Mallee Bushland Reserve and the Murray-Sunset National Park.
The day had warmed up to the high 30’s low 40’s. As long as I was moving and standing on the pegs it was fine but taking opportunities to stop and take some pictures competed with getting the ride finished and cooling off. But if there’s no pics it didn’t happen, did it?
A varied set of views from flatness in the agricultural areas
to the spectacular Murray River
With the road being much easier to ride than this morning’s route. I settled in an relaxed, but not too much. Following our noses took us to Lindsay Point and in to Renmark for the check in and the first night. I stayed in the Ventura Motor Inn, cheap and adequate.
I had dinner with the sweeps and others at the RSL Club overlooking the river. Debriefing and hearing the stories of how others coped with the day and the adventures they had was almost as good as riding it again. Except for the nudity and river swimming, I’m not sorry I missed that.