5,700kms on a B50 BSA in two weeks!
I started riding motorcycles with a mate Sav just over 50 years ago. A few years back he purchased a Suzuki DR650, popped in to see me and suggested I do the same so we could do a bit of outback adventure riding as well as the usual road and trail riding we were currently enjoying.
The idea crossed my mind for about two seconds and much to his disappointment I said ‘Stuff it, I’m going to build the B50 I planned to build back in the early ‘80s when I collected most of the parts. Nine months later it was finished and had completed its first Red Plate Enduro.
We decided to leave after the All British Rally before it became too cold, however, our intended destination, central Queensland, was still flooded so a slight change was required. Cameron Corner sounded like a good idea, so one not-so-wet Melbourne morning we departed and headed to the North-East of Victoria via every twisty road we could find. This included Reefton Spur, Eildon-Jamieson, MansfieldTolmie then bush to Cheshunt for the first night and then bush to the Murray and along the river to
Howlong. From there it was basically head NorthWest to Cameron Corner via every minor dirt road we could find, including a few we didn’t intend to travel on (read: lost). Cameron Corner is one of a couple of places in Australia where you can visit three states in less than five seconds by foot and, apart from the corner store and a fun ride (the Dunes route), that’s about it. The bikes were running well, our bodies were holding up, so where to next? Innamincka sounded like a good idea. So off we went.
A fairly casual day later found us there but still wanting more. Birdsville was the next logical destination but the flooded, fast moving Cooper Creek meant a detour would be required. This, however, would stretch our fuel carrying capacity to the limit. Sav had a 30L tank on his DR and I had 13L in the tank and five on the back (that’s the way I like travelling with him). Time for a change of plan: we headed South to Arkaroola in the Flinders ranges where we did a lap of the North and South ranges. Sav had suggested this and it seemed like a good idea to me so off we went. About a hundred km down the road it dawned to me that all our fuel consumption figures were predicated on traveling North not South. It was as far to Arkaroola (the next fuel stop) as it was to take the detour to Birdsville. It was a long 450km and after milking Sav’s DR twice we just made it. I gladly paid $2.07 per litre.
The following day I encountered the one and only problem I had with my bike; the battery died – it internally fell apart. Rough roads had taken their toll. No problem: when I built the bike I kept the original Lucas Layout: Zenner, capacitor and points ignition. Kick-starting, although a little awkward with 11 to 1 compression as compared to the electric start I’m used to, worked well. That was until my kick-starting foot slammed into a block of unseen concrete, resulting in one badly bruised foot; so it was off to Port Augusta for a new battery and with a small mod to the wiring we were on our way again.
A few days later and many more dirt and twisty roads found us back home. All in all it was a great ride ...but I will admit a warmer time of year would have been preferable.
Doug trying to find his billy for smoko. LEFT A cool start above Dandongadale, north-east Vitoria. ABOVE RIGHT A quick stop to top up the oil.
Sav having smoko in style.