Since meeting and riding our KLRs to the June 2017 KLR Riders Rally at Tottenham in NSW, Tom and I have been trying to get together for another ride.
Work commitments meant Tom turned back from the October 2018 KLRRR at Stonehenge, Queensland, and the October 2019 KLRRR at Iluka NSW was within 90 minutes ride for both of us. Bushfires ruined recent plans of any longer rides.
Tom hatched a plan to visit Longreach with a departure date of Monday, January 27, from Grafton, NSW. Bikes were serviced. I had to replace steering head-bearings, chain and sprockets, tyres and perform an overdue valve adjustment. Tom’s Touratech KLR had new Bridgestone tyres of some sort fitted.
I was treating the planned five-day trip as a chance to try out some new Adventure First panniers on my own KLR, as well as a recently acquired adventure-riding suit. It was my first time riding in ‘adventure’ pants instead of jeans and I was very sceptical about how cool they could be on a warm summer’s day.
I nominated Tom as Tour Director, and he obliged by arriving with some scribbled road names on a piece of paper jammed in his backpack. (What the…?).
Departing at 8.30am, we travelled west towards Glen Innes before detouring to Dundee, Emmaville, Ashford, and Yetman then lunching at Goondiwindi.
Stops were frequent to reference the road names Tom had written down, or to consult with Google Maps. The effects of last years’ fires were evident before Glen Innes, and then the drought-affected landscape was evident after Emmaville.
After lunch we headed towards St George, and the 37-degree heat made itself felt as we travelled through the landscape.
Leaving St George, the decision was made to head for Roma via Surat. In places, heavy rainfall had filled dams and left roadsides with long waterholes surrounded by kangaroos who seemed reluctant to leave the shade of roadside trees. The roadside was also littered with many rotten kangaroo carcasses, and the stench on a hot day meant a longing to be somewhere else more pleasant.
We arrived in Roma around 5.00pm after 800km of riding. I retired to the motel pool while Tom cooled off in the airconditioning and attended to work matters.
The next morning I was fitting my tankbag when I noticed the green slime on the front of the engine cases. It was the dreaded cracked radiator. With no used parts at the local wrecker, and not wanting to risk possible further engine damage if a temporary fix failed while riding, I made the call for Tom to continue and complete his work while I phoned my wife and daughter to bring the HiLux and trailer.
It was a hard day, wandering the streets of Roma, lounging around the pool in 36-degree heat, and having a nap in the airconditioning.
I wondered how Tom was handling the heat. I hoped he wouldn’t break down as I’d volunteered to rescue him after he’d declined to take any of the KLR spares I carried.
All he took from me was a map printed off the internet, which showed distances between towns.