Laws and I need to give the Australian Property Centre (APC) Rally a well-deserved plug because the little bit of adventure motorbiking experience we have is almost entirely thanks to the blokes involved in this event. The APC Rally is designed for riders who want an adventure and not a race. It is planned as a two week event (once a year) typically covering in the vicinity of 7,000km… courses link up famous tourist destinations, great trail riding areas and pass through spectacular scenery on every adventure rider’s bucket list. The courses test ability, endurance and aptitude.
If there’s two things Laws and I don’t let get in the way of having a red-hot crack at something it would be skill and experience. Our crack at the APC Rally in 2012 is a perfect example. I had a little sports bike experience and Laws had a little experience from a casual ride through the top end of Australia. In short, we scored zero in relevant skills and experience. Funny thing was we actually thought we had some clue before we rocked up to the 4 day prep ride (a few 4 day prep rides are held in different parts of Australia before the main event). Upon arrival at the meet point we only needed one glance at the other blokes and bikes to realise, “Shit.”
We had all the wrong gear – wrong lid, boots, pants, gloves… wrong protective gear or lack of it… wrong racks and luggage carry… wrong cockpit tank bag arrangement… and that’s just the stuff on the surface. We lacked the right tools, spares and consumables… and carried shit we didn’t need. We were running stock suspension, which handles like a pogo-stick… not cool cornering off-road. If we knew how many times we were going to lay our bikes over in those 4 days and how battered we were going to end up we just may have pulled the pin. Fortunately we didn’t because the learning has proven invaluable.
John Hudson rides sweep and patiently gave hot tips throughout day one. We both improved rapidly and by the end of day one we were convinced that we were hot shit. Paying no attention to the fact that we were on a long and steep learning curve we entered Day 2 feeling pretty deadly… and so the carnage began.
Amongst the highlights included Laws going through a shallow creek too quick and getting on the gas too hard too early coming out the other side where moss lay hidden under the water. He was 100m out of the creek when I got to him – he’d managed to tank slap a long way before he kissed the ground. Brand new $800 GPS smashed, speedo smashed, snapped rear brake lever and a whole lot of cosmetic personalisation. Seriously, what position does the bike need to move through to smash the speedo? As for Laws… how to describe his sitting position on the side of the road? I would say in a heap.
Another was me going over the handlebars on a highly rutted steep downhill section… too busy looking at the impending doom in the deep ruts and not the line I should be focused on. You can really appreciate just how heavy the bike is when you have to lift it out of something injured. I also had a lot of spills from going too hot into corners complacently touching front brake when I should have been stomping on rear and gassing my way out of trouble.
Another good one was Laws in an infamous slick black mud section – dab throttle or brake with even the smallest lack of timing and the bike is on it’s side. I didn’t even know this bloody material type existed! Unfortunately Laws ended trapped under his bike with his foot locked under the exhaust. Wearing a more highway oriented boot he had a deep hole burnt into his foot before I was able to lift the bike off him… that’s another manky scar for life. John just sent me these photos the other day:
Our riding continued to improve rapidly over the course of the 4 days and we got better at crashing… well, avoiding the topple effect anyway. The fact the bikes stood up to the punishment is just another testament to the mighty Suzuki DR650. We really needed to steady things up but the places we were riding were too freaking inspiring… and the course of happy pills we had started after major crashes Day 2 may have been effecting our judgement. If anything we rode harder and harder without sense of self-preservation… we’d never experienced riding like this before… we almost didn’t even feel the pain of our injuries while we were riding.
By this time the other riders were calling us the Young Bulls riding for the Factory Suzuki DR Team. The other riders had a lot of time for us and consistently helped us out of the shit… we can’t thank them enough. I think they had a lot of respect for our attitude and how quickly we improved. I think they also just let us pass if they saw us in their mirrors… interaction with us was probably not a good idea and they didn’t want to watch us die… or maybe it was just sheer entertainment to watch and wait behind us. I swear some of these blokes were riding before they could run. We quickly gained appreciation for the fact that a 50-year-old bloke might look a bit steady poking around the pub… but standing on his pegs a freaking bat out of hell like it’s nobody’s business.
Those 4 days were of detriment to our bodies and bikes… but only for the short-term (we were walking around like retired cowboys for the next couple of months). That 4 day ride experience proved invaluable for the long-term. We acquired the knowledge to square away our setups for the main two week rally a few months later… and we had acquired the ability to successfully complete that rally in the 14 days. In retrospect the APC Rally is the platform from where our adventure motorbiking skills have evolved.
If you’re interested in the APC then do not go about things the way we did… that would be stupid. Give John a call and get mixed up in some one dayers… build up to the big rides rather than dive into them. There is no APC Rally this year but check out the ride they have planned in it’s place exclusive to AdvRiderMag… 7,500km from Perth to Byron Bay launching 31 May! I dug up some GoPro footage from our APC Rally 2012… it’s 6 minutes of edited video on edited video so a little disjointed but you’ll get the idea 🙂 Enjoy!