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Bike Life : September 6th 2011
1HERSA1 0009 The Sydney Morning Herald August 26, 2011 9 BikeLIFE Wheel life . . . (from far left) Nick Pedley, Chris Boyle, Hugh Reynolds and Mick Matheson gather by the campfire; Matheson, Trevor Hodge and Michael Oliver at The Pub with No Beer; Matheson tackles a water crossing. Photos: Mick Matheson, Trevor Hedge throughout the world -- have enjoyed the course at their own pace and had their own unique experiences along the way.'' The oldest rider to complete the course as a solo entrant was Queenslander Warren Day. The 62-year-old rode the course on a KTM 690, as did fellow sexagenarian Ian Nitschke, from South Australia. Day had fitted out his KTM with a long-range safari tank for the event; it was that modification that nearly ended his rally early. ''I had the bike break down heading west from Hattah, about as far from home as I could get and very isolated,'' he says. ''Five guys stopped behind me and we spent about three hours diagnosing the problem, which turned out to be a loose electrical connection due to the remounting of the ignition coil that we had to do in order to fit the large tank. ''Using my Leatherman as a crimping tool, we managed to get up and going again and still finish the event a little ahead of time. ''I wasn't initially planning to do the rally two years running but, when I was a couple of days into the event, my son and son-in-law sent me a message that they had paid the deposit to do it next year so it looks as though I will be doing it with them next year.'' At the other end of the age scale was 19-year-old Ash Caldwell, who rode the course on a Suzuki DR- Z400E accompanied by his father, Geoff, astride a DR650. The big single-cylinder Suzuki was one of the most popular mounts for the trip, thanks to its relatively low purchase price and proven reliability. A nightclub DJ from Townsville, Ash's previous longest ride was only 200 kilometres, so 7000 kilometres of the Australian outback was a real eye-opener. ''Covering so much different territory and so many different surfaces was just insane,'' he says. ''Desert sand, forests, mud, snow, even a little ice; and I experienced riding through a hailstorm for the first time, all with an open-face helmet.'' The father-son trip was made all the more special because Ash was diagnosed with leukaemia at age 15, two years after he had started riding an XR100 around the yard, and the pair started dreaming of doing a big bike trip together. The last to make it home was long-time enduro rider Steve Ryan. Piloting a KTM 950 Adventure, the motor mechanic fell behind schedule when his bike suffered numerous punctures in the rocky sections around the NSW-South Australia border. Undeterred, the self-sufficient Queenslander did not rush his return to the trail, taking the opportunity to visit friends along the route and sticking to his creed of ''tight swag, loose plan''. ''If I wanted to race I would go back enduro riding or do the Safari,'' he says. ''The trip is part of the destination and I had no real time limit, I was on holiday.'' Triumph Australia entered the APC event in order to prove the durability of the British marque's new Tiger 800 XC on Australian soil, a test the Triumph crew and their new machine passed with flying colours. I was at the bars for the enjoyable final 2100 kilometres of the journey between Woodenbong and Albury. We finished the event a couple of days ahead of schedule and the following morning it was somewhat of a relief to not be on the bike and riding into the bush by 7.30am. But while a few extra minutes in bed were welcome, by 8am I felt lost and really wanted to go riding again. The route covered 60 state forest and national park sections, linked via pre-organised access through numerous private properties, dirt- and road-course sections. All participants were supplied with a GPS route, which was loaded into their mandatory satellite navigation equipment, providing a comforting safety net, with their position on the route continually displayed, helping to minimise any risk of getting lost. Organisers are planning to run next year's APC Rally on almost the same course as 2011 but in reverse direction, along with some tweaks along the way to include more technical riding and a little less open country. More than a dozen participants from this year's inaugural challenge had already registered for 2012 before even finishing this year's course.
May 28th 2011