February 24, 2017 3 min read
When I crashed exactly one year ago, a surge of various emotions ripped through me - embarrassment, grief, frustration, and anger. It wasn't until the following day when I was able to even look at my bike, which was sitting in my carpark in various pieces. The entire left side was ripped to shreds and the bike was a write off.
Her name was Sheba. My 2007 Suzuki GSXR 600 was the second bike I purchased a few months after moving to Melbourne from rural Victoria. Before moving to Australia, I was well and truly a city person, born and raised in the Vancouver East Side. Being a Vancouverite meant having a certain expectation of how things worked. Housing should always have central heating, manual labour was only for tradespeople, and pets were small and ate out of a plastic dish.
My bike was named after a dog: a beautiful blue German shorthaired pointer who loved jumping out of moving vehicles to indulge in her passion for sprinting. We lived together on a farm near Maldon, Victoria for 3 months as part of my visa conditions. As a city person, you can imagine how hard it was to get used to the fact that warmth came from a literal fire and the only way to mentally get through cleaning a birdcoop was to sing to yourself and think happy thoughts.
Sheba got me through a lot of tough spots. She had a little orange ball that she'd drop off when I was on my knees scraping 700 chooks' worth of faeces from a wooden floorboard. It was one of the few things that kept my sanity, and admittedly I learned more about myself in 3 months than I did in the 27 years leading up to it.
I named my bike Sheba not for the good memories we had together, but because of how she made me feel during the bad ones. Post crash, I did the honorary thing and resurrected my bike over the next 3 months with two talented friends. On the last day of the repairs, Sheba (the bike) and I rode from Melbourne to Sydney, then back again days later... and never looked back.
It's fitting that Sheba and I are now pursuing the ultimate in road trips together this March. An 18,000km ride through every major Australian city along the coast and including Uluru (1500km from the nearest city). And I have to tell you, looking at Google Maps of the 6th largest country in the world can be quite daunting.
Lo and behold: this is a portion of a spreadsheet that I have been building for about 3 weeks and counting, day in and day out. Sometimes just staring at these names helps ease the daily anxiety a bit.
I'll be going clockwise first to tackle the hardest bit, which is the most isolated city in the world (Perth) and the longest, straightest, road in the world (Eyre Highway/The Nullarbor). On top of that, being Canadian and all, I'll have to tackle the most difficult thing first: heat. Temperatures in the Australian desert can reach upwards to 45 degrees, putting huge amounts of fatigue on my body and soul. Not to mention, Sheba is happy running her engine at 105 degrees and I don't believe in squidding (riding with little or no gear) so I will be covered head to toe.
These are just a few obstacles I will be tackling during this trip... and that's the first half.
More to come regarding body prep (weightlifting) and gear prep (eBay is life). If you'd like to learn about Sheba's name origin, you can here.