As a man that likes to favour the scenic route, motorbiking down highways wasn’t of great appeal to me, so after spending some time pouring over maps, I had selected a route down the coast towards Cape Leeuwin that took in the smaller roads on my maps. This would take me through national parks, forests, beaches, and other bits of interesting landscape. However, having never motorbiked in Australia, I did not reckon on there being quite so much sand. Riding a motorbike in sand was a whole new experience to me, and suffice to say, I’m not that hot at it, yet…
Having dropped it in my first 100m of heading down a sandy trail, a local in a big 4WD turned up almost immediately, and in-between laughing at my entirely unfounded belief that I could ride a motorbike in sand, informed me that the conditions improved just around the corner so I would be fine to continue down the trail. He also warned me that he kept over 100,000 bees just around the corner too, so I should watch out for them. “British tourist killed by bee attack on motorbike” wasn’t the sort of headline I wanted to make.
A few kilometres later down the track, I was struggling through sand much deeper than that at the beginning, and fast cutting my teeth on both not falling off my bike, and the most efficient way to pick it up when I did inevitably throw it on the ground in a regular demonstration of off-road riding ineptitude. 7 years of riding motorbikes on every sort of ‘real’ road had not prepared me for this.
Once back on the harder stuff, the local passed me by a few hours later, and apologised profusely for suggesting that I should continue, as he had had no idea it had become so sandy. I think he just thought it would be funny to watch me try…
Up to Cape Naturaliste I rode, taking in the coastline, and for every fuel or coffee stop I made ending up in conversations full of good tips for places to go, things to look out for, and the occasional story about travelling through Asia whilst being shot at, back in the ‘good ole days’.
Camped up for a couple of night halfway between the two Capes was the perfect opportunity to go for some day rides, and ride some trails without the weight of my full kit.
Beautiful orange dirt trails criss-cross their way across the Margaret River region, and I could ride for miles without seeing people or tarmac. I didn’t get too carried away with disappearing over the horizon though, as I was acutely aware that without a sat phone or company, one little slip could severely curtail my future plans for ‘living’, and result in a rather embarrassing “British tourist” headline. I’d wait until I had obtained a sat phone and EPIRB before going all out with the off-road riding.
Back at my campsite, I set about some routine motorbike maintenance, as my chain tension was a little too loose after smashing around on trails for few days. However, without a centre stand, this isn’t the easiest of tasks, especailly on uneven soft ground. In case of emergencies, I’d packed a length of light line, originally from the heavy-weight spinnaker of Team Garmin, which met a messy end in the North Pacific years before. The line was salvaged, and has been waiting to be put to good use ever since. A well placed tree and some knot work (a combination of a bowline, Klemheist knot, and round turn & two half hitches for those that care) saw a remarkably stable motorbike suspended far enough off the ground to work on.
Dinner was my favourite, pasta pesto as usual, and a bright moon made for a nice evenings camping, before setting off further south the next morning.