Friday, August 3, 2012

Great Central Road Summary

Overall, how did I find it. I'd rate it as the best road I rode in Western Australia. I enjoyed the dirt riding. The level of traffic wasn't excessive for me. There were days when only a few vehicles passed, other days,  a short stop while the convoy passed and it was good to go again.
I carried 24liters water out of each road house, so had ample water for the weather to make it to the next water stop. While I was initially planning 80km days, the cold nights meant a late start to the day - the sun needed to be well up and have warmed to between 5 and 10C before riding. When sunset in WA was at 5pm, I'd stop at 2:30 ish to have a relaxed camp setup. Overall this meant shorter riding days but 60km was achiveable.
I didn't find the road terribly bad. There were certainly sandy spots that I walked. The road in NT was more sandy than in WA.  There were times of dragging the bike through the sand. Been on better, had worse also.
Corrogations - yep, plenty. Weave about the flat spots, or worse case, ride slowly over each one. Riding was still faster than walking..
Sometimes the sides and the banks were in good shape, but other times they were churned up also. I experimented with going off road a couple of times, but when the road was sand, off road was also sandy, so it was no gain. Worse in fact.
Seemed to be more upgrades happening in WA, but it may also depend on the time of the year of the ride - it upgrades have just happened for the tourist season, and before its had time to break up again.
Slowest average for travel in WA was 12km/hr. In NT it dropped to 9km/hr.
The other traffic - is the full list of considerate to "did they see me?". Lots of wonderful people stopped and handing out fruit or other food treats. Always very much appreciated. How can you thank those people enough?
I had enough food options at the road houses that I didn't feel constrained. Basics were available everywhere. Prices are higher, but your a long way from anywhere, and it costs a lot to get food in.
Traffic on the Great Central can only go up. Talking with carvaners, many said the numbers have risen in recent years as more baby boomers retire, load up the 4x4 and set off to "do" the desert tracks.
Camels - my count was less than a dozen, till one herd of eight upped the numbers. Not sure why this was. I saw dust in the distance a few times. Maybe they have been culled lately.
Car wrecks also was down. I did spot some collecting areas where perhaps the road crew had gathered up the wrecks.  One thing on the wrecks, the cost of a tow from the Great Central Road would be pricy. I spoke to a guy who broke his axle, $4000 was the quote for a truck to Alice Springs. Kalgoolie would be the nearest point in the other direction. Insurance options off road were also pricey, or not an option. So dumping the car could be a sane financial decision, expecially if the car is old, like most of the wrecks were.
One funny incident. I rode up to two guys whose 4x4 had just rolled to a stop. I called out "I can give you a tow, but I don't have a rope". One called back "push push".. They were getting stuff out of the car,  and I stopped. "a push" the other guy said. I was worried this point, did they think I was serious? Turned out they had a flat tire, and yeah, the battery was flat, so the more help push starting on the sandy road was certainly welcome. I got a laugh from it..  And yeah, push starting a 4x4 on sand is a hard push!