Day 42 - Arthur River to Queenstown - 255km
Chris: Hey pops, what did you think of today's ride?
John: I crashed more today than I have in the past ten years of riding combined.
Chris: It's good to be challenged isn't it!
Our first 25km of the day took us 3 1/2 hours and the remaining 230km took about 3 hours. Needless to say I picked a pretty tough trail for us to follow in the morning and between us we had 9 different crashes. It started nice enough with a winding road along the coastline line and slowly got sandier and sandier. As the ruts got deeper and the sand finer I came around a corner to find my dad laying on the ground. We picked up the bike and I gave him a few pointers on riding heavily loaded motorcycles in the sand then ended up flat on my face two corners later. I'm not sure what was different about the sand but we struggled for the next hour to stay upright on the winding sandy road before finally finding our turnoff to more solid ground. There was a sign that said something about traveling in groups, having a snorkel and winching capabilities which we briefly looked at and decided under no circumstances would we turn back. (Note: The photo of my dad near the sign is after we finished the trail, if it had looked like that before we would have known better) We went past the sign and started down the Balfour Trail and it began as a nice firm and somewhat rocky track. It quickly degraded into mud holes and water crossings of jet black water that masked the depth and the obstacles. I won't bore you with the description of all the wrecks, just two of the more notable ones.
First Wreck Story - My father was approaching a rather ominous water crossing and decided to go around the edge. Unfortunately it was quicksand on that side which swallowed his front wheel and sent him over the handle bars. He was still laying in the water when I got to him and I found his arm and leg were both stuck in the quicksand. Standing on firm ground I was able to get him up and together we got the bike out and went on our way. Luckily we found no more quicksand through the day.
Second Wreck Story - Being a bit more cautious after a few previous falls we parked the bikes and looked for the best route through a long wide mud bog with ruts deeper than bikes tires. My dad had a route picked out through a boggy grassy area but I preferred a very skinny strip of solid ground with mud pits on both sides. Being the balance master I am I went for the skinny strip against my dad's advice. All was good until the rear wheel started spinning, the bike came to a stop, and there was nowhere to put my leg. I slowly fell over with my leg out until I hit the muddy bottom a few feet below with the bike nearly upside down. We managed to get the bike upright and right as my pops was saying "I told you so" I dropped the clutch and covered him in mud.
After 3 1/2 hours we made it out to a civilised gravel road, drained our boots, and rode some of the steepest curviest roads through the mountains I'd ever been on. It was a very memorable day and our dinner and wine was well earned.