Far Riders – Skidoooo
Back in October 2013, I was having a chin wag with a mate when he mentioned he was thinking about doing a Far Ride. He told me The Far Riders* were associated with The Iron Butt Association (IBA)* in the United States, and that you didn’t join by paying your dues and/ or attending a couple of meetings at a local pub or club house.
Instead you have to complete either:-
- A sanctioned Ride To Eat – Far Ride, which is a 1000 km (600 mi) minimum round trip in 24 hours, from a point (your home) to the destination of the Ride To Eat where you have to check in at a specified time. You can do the 1000 km one way, or split it 500 km each way, or some other combination that gets you to 1000 km round trip.
- Or, be an IBA member having completed and IBA certified ride within Australia.
In both instances proof is required; Fuel receipts, photos of your odometer; that kind of thing.
Before that day I’d never heard of Far Riders, and to be honest, I had no inclination on finding out any more about them. Not because I wasn’t interested you understand, but because my calendar was full, with the little spare time I did have being reserved for family.
That changed on the first day of our trip down to Sydney. The Pillion and I met a Far Rider and his partner at Macca’s*, Wawrick earlier in the day. They were travelling two up from Brisbane to Melbourne for an extended holiday. Even though they were heading south, they weren’t going to be part of the Ride To Eat, meet and greet (Strewth!* That’s a mouth full) scheduled at Walcha later that day.
The second Far Rider we’d met on our trip down to Sydney was Skidoooo, he’d left his home in Dubbo at 03:00 and had pulled in at The Royal earlier that day as part of the Ride To Eat meet-up and was enjoying a few Sherbets while he relaxed.
Now, there’s nothing too extraordinary about riding from Dubbo to Walcha, after all, it’s only about 430km (267 mi). No Big deal. Except for two things:-
- He’d already completed (over) the required minimum of 1000 km, and
- He did it on a Yamaha R15
He’d decided to do the full 1000 km run at the beginning of the trip and stay the night. So instead of taking the more direct route from Dubbo to Walcha via Tamworth, he decided to take the more scenic route through the National Capital; Canberra.
Now, I don’t know the exact route he took, but it would have been something like the one above. Or, he may have come through The Blue Mountains west of Sydney, I’m not sure. Either way it’s over the required 1000 km qualifying distance for a Ride To Eat event.
It’s not the first time Skidoooo has done big distances on an R15. In fact, he was onto his 3rd R15 in 2 years when The Pillion and I met him, and he has covered over 75,000 km (46,600 mi) in that time.
If you’re like me, you’d be thinking; That’s nuts, because for big distances you need a big capacity cruiser or tourer, right?
No so. He’s ridden across Australia, East to West and return several times on his R15. Just to give you perspective of distance, Sydney NSW (east coast) to Perth WA (west coast) is 3,940 km (2,448 mi) via the most direct route.
… and he’s done it in 48 hours!
As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, in August 2013 he completed a 16,000 km (10,000 mi) ride in 10 days; That ride included 3 east to west trans Australia crossings in 6 days. He’s also done Adelaide SA to Darwin NT and back a couple of times as well; which is a smidgen over 3000 km (1,864 mi) one way.
The R15 he rides is basically stock, but has modifications so it can handle the long distances more reliably and to add some measure of safety. The most noticeable mod is the aircraft fuel cell mounted on a custom-made frame that sits over the pillion seat. This runs in tandem with the standard fuel tank and extends the fuel range significantly.
Well, because there ain’t too many servos* in The Outback. If you do come across one, they usually close at 21:00 and few if any sell premium fuel. This is because diesel is the fuel of choice in the bush; better economy, less volatile during transport, diesel vehicles can be driven across swollen creeks, lower exhaust temperature and lower maintenance costs. The list goes on…
Anyway, I digress.
See that exhaust pipe?
That started out life as a fire extinguisher. Skidoooo reckons its good for a few extra horse power and has improved the fuel economy too. It’s loud, but functional.
Creature comforts extend to an Air Hawk seat cushion, a throttle rocker and some padding on the pillion pegs where he sticks his feet to stretch out a bit. Nothing too elaborate.
The front of the bike sports a pair of high output LED spot lights, while the original head light globes have been replaced with after market items. I thought the additional lighting might drain the battery prematurely, but, apparently the whole setup is no worse than running on standard high beams.
Other inclusions not seen in the photos include a GPS and Spotwalla personal location manager. Skidoooo tells me the Spotwalla is there so his wife can keep tabs on his whereabouts; That, and so he can be found easily if something goes pear-shaped. Regardless, I reckon it’s a must have bit of kit if you’re traveling in remote areas of anywhere, let alone Australia.
Skidoooo spoke a lot of doing long rides on small capacity bikes. I thought there might be some sort of licence (LAMS) restriction, so I asked him why such a small capacity bike on such long distance rides.
He said that even though big capacity bikes were generally more comfortable and loped along at 100km/h (60mp/h) easily eating up the miles, he enjoyed the added challenge of Far Rides & IBA on the smaller capacity bikes because they required more planning, preparation, time and fatigue management. After all, smaller capacity bikes will rev considerably higher at the same speed and they generally won’t go much over 100km/h unless you’re going down hill and have a stiff tail wind.
Another attraction is that small capacity bikes are cheap and can be bought second-hand for as little as AU $2500, usually with low km on the clock which makes for a cheap way of getting into distance riding, without killing your main bike.
He went on to say that he had a Kawasaki GTR back at home up until a few weeks ago. He’d bought it new and in the 18 months he’d owned it he’d done 70,000km (44,000 mi). This was in addition to what he’d done on the R15.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing… er… riding with the GTR though. In May 2013 a ‘roo caused AU $9,500 damage after trying to hitch a ride back to Dubbo with him. When we met in mid November he was awaiting an insurance assessors verdict after he’d collected another ‘roo, this time 20km (12 mi) out of Canowindra NSW.
He’s certain that this time the bike would be written off. I think, looking at the big picture, he was a very lucky man to have come out relatively unscathed after hitting 2 ‘roo’s in 18 months. I’ve seen the damage these animals can do to a cage, to hit one on a bike wouldn’t be high on my To-Do list.
It became obvious during the course of the evening that Skidoooo enjoys his riding and the challenges that Far Rides offer him. I can’t help but admire the man for what he has achieved in 2 short years and for what he is going to achieve in the next few months.
Wait… I can’t tell you about that, pinky promise and all that.
Watch this space.
- Far Riders: http://farriders.com.au/index.php
- Iron Butt Association: http://www.ironbutt.com/
- Macca’s: McDonald’s Restaurants.
- Strewth: Used to express surprise or dismay.
- Servo: service/ petrol station.
- LAMS: Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme.
Links to articles by Skidoooo
- http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=11743&PN=1 – (149cc bike)
- http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=9928&PN=1 – (149cc bike)
- http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=10416&PN=1 – (149cc bike)
- http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=12819&PN=1 – (125cc bike)
- http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=10132&PN=2 – (CFMoto ride)
- http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=10481&PN=1 – (GTR1400)
- http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=12798&PN=1 – (GTR1400 – The last ride)