Sunday, 15 May 2011

Indian Ocean Drive

At 4:30am Bob, our home phone, woke us up with a wrong number. “We will never get back to sleep now” said Steve all bleary eyed. So I made two cups of strong coffee and we sat in silence while the passing of time readied our minds for motorcycle riding. It wasn’t actually Bob’s fault, but it felt better to blame him anyway!

By 6:30am we were on the road, heading north towards Dongara about 450km away. “Navigating the 100km of freeway shouldn’t be an issue at this time of day,” said Steve as we pulled out of our driveway. Wrong! Only 20km from home there was a flurry of heavy breaking. I ducked into the outside lane to avoid the merging traffic; wrong again! Steve stayed in the inside lane and I watched his little black helmet disappear into the distance while I was left cursing and crawling along in 1st gear. Although we stayed in our respective lanes, it was over 30 minutes before we found each other. Not a word was spoken, we just waved in the sure knowledge that we were riding in company again. You don’t know how good a McDonald’s breakfast muffin can taste until you have been stuck in traffic for 90 minutes!

We soon forgot all about the city and the traffic as we rode along The Indian Ocean Drive. At one point, as we came over the crest of a hill, with the view stretching for miles all around, I felt like we were on the open road with many miles to go before we would be home again.

We stopped for lunch at The Pinnacles and the GS’s looked incredibly handsome against the desert sand. The 4km Pinnacles circuit seemed like going for a ride at The Royal Show, however it could turn out expensive if one of your panniers has an altercation with a Pinnacle or you tank-slap your beloved while not paying enough attention to the pockets of extra deep sand. For the record, neither of these events happened to us!

From The Pinnacles we surrendered ourselves to the landscape and the seascape. The empty road ahead seemed like heaven to me. Gliding along on my F650GS is the closest I have ever come to flying; awesome.

Our host, Mary, was dutifully waiting for us when we arrived at Sea Vista House Bed and Breakfast. We had made a good decision with our accommodation. The bikes were parked, on carpet, inside a locked garage. Our generous room had four beds, a lounge and views to die for. Breakfast was served in the al fresco dining area overlooking the stunning Indian Ocean. There was fruit and bottled water, and if you timed it right, homemade sausage rolls – ever likely we felt like we were on holiday!

The next day I slouched into the pillion seat on the R1150GSA and Steve took me to Geraldton. By the time we had seen some of the sights around town, I could barely get out of the saddle let alone walk. Pillion passengers – respect!

I think I could have stayed a week in that house on the hill in Dongara. All too quickly our time was up and we were back on the road, heading south again. We retraced our steps and enjoyed a different view of the shifting dunes and Wedge Island. How the residents of that squatters community must have wept into their home brew when they opened The Indian Ocean Drive and included an access road directly to their doorstep. We never saw anyone but I felt there were 100 eyes watching. There is a sign which says you are welcome to wander around the settlement. Steve was interested, but I couldn’t help think that somewhere there was a pack of savage dogs ready to be set free at a moment’s notice; no thanks!

Fuel management can become a challenge when the mother ship carries thirty litres and the little sister only sixteen. Add to that, reluctance to top up at “one pump” service stations and you probably get what you deserve. My fuel light had been blinding me for at least 50 kilometres. When I couldn’t bear to watch anymore, I switched off the display that was counting down the number of kilometres before I would run out of fuel. I preferred to ride on, with cautious optimism, paying particular attention to the kindness of the road verge! I needn’t have worried. Turns out the parallel twin will do at least 350km on her 16 litre tank. Nice work BMW!

The heavy afternoon traffic was waiting to carry us home once more. There is always a tinge of sadness when a ride is coming to an end; may the next one not be too far away!