In March we wrote about our friend and client Leigh Gesthuizen who was embarking on The Long Ride - a ride of more than 4000kms raising much needed awareness and funds for the fight against Prostate Cancer. LMP are proud to support Leigh on this epic journey.

In this blog Leigh shares with us his experiences.

The Long Ride 2016

What was I getting myself in for.  I had never ridden my bike out of Victoria, let alone ridden it day in day out.  I did not know any one on this ride, feeling pretty nervous about the whole thing.  Everyone was saying what a trip, you will love it.  What a great cause.

I found 50 good reasons not to do it, not many to do it (no time, too busy, don’t have the right gear, what if something happens etc.  Initially I felt I was doing it for others – Parents, PCFA, another thing on the list of things to do.

It is often said that we need to “find a bigger problem to think about”.  This was done a week before I left.  If I thought getting there was a challenge.  One week before I left, Sam and I decided to ride back straight away two up.  This did put the trip there into perspective as the return trip was longer in distance (different route), shorter in time and I now had a passenger to think about (space, weight, comfort, accommodation).  This dilemma started to make the fun raising ride become somewhat smaller in size.

So, on Friday the 8th of April 2016 I left for the meeting point for the Melbourne based riders (still thinking – did I pack the right things, what if, what about etc).  By day 3, I worked out that everyone else was right.  When I forgot what day it was, stopped asking myself questions and just took it all in, the journey changed for me.  You can only affect what you have control over, so whilst I was riding between Broken Hill and Port Augusta, no phone reception, I realised that I could only affect my immediate surrounds.  If I couldn’t see, hear, smell, feel or taste it – I put it away and focused on where I was right there and then.

So everyone else was right – I was wrong.  It was an absolute journey of a life time.

A lot of time alone to contemplate where you are in your life, not having time to procrastinate.  Meeting some amazing, inspirational and authentic people.  Seeing bikes of all shapes and sizes travel a long way. Everyone having their own story to tell.

I would not change anything.  I will remember the sights, the conversations and the characters for a long time to come.  I would do it again tomorrow if I could.  I am looking forward to the next long ride. Overall, I travelled 8680km in 16 Days, fuelled up 36 times, got asked if I was an accountant more than 100 times (thanks LMP for the shirts, caps and stickers) and most importantly, increased the awareness of men’s health issues and prostate cancer.

I raised over $10,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and could not have done it without your support.  I was the top individual fund raiser out of the group.  A special thankyou for your contribution and making it possible.

Below is a little diary and some pictures of the journey.

Day One – Melbourne to Mildura.  Distance 600Km

Meeting at the Calder BP service station at 9:00 for a 10:00 departure, my first challenge was to navigate the Melbourne morning peak hour traffic.  After fuelling the bike, I parked alongside some other arrivals.  Every couple of minutes, bikes were arriving, so it was a big meet and greet.  It was obvious some were travelling in groups and some were travelling alone (first timers).  At 10:00 we had a quick briefing to sort out the convoy arrangements (limiting the bikes to a maximum of 8).  I followed some bikes out and onto the Calder freeway we set off at 10:00, first stop was Kerang for lunch.   We headed out to Lake Boga to see the museum of the Catalina flying plane.  Running short of time, we continued to Swan Hill and arrived into Mildura at around 5:30pm.  Ridding into the sun for the last 30 minutes was annoying and I was pleased when we arrived.

I hooked up with a first timer called Dave – from Queensland, he is based at Pukapanyl.  He didn’t know too many people.  We went into Mildura for a quick bite to eat.  There were four of us in the site cabin.  There was a group of guys from the military who were camping.

Day Two – Mildura to Broken Hill:  Distance 298Km, Progressive total 898 Km.

This ride was a short one.  In Broken Hill we were meeting up with the riders from Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and some from other regional areas on the East Coast.  A short four hour ride, we got to Broken Hill by lunch time.  Dave and I rode out to Silverton.  A town about 27Km from Broken Hill.  Silverton is where Mad Max 2 was filmed.  It was a small dusty town with a lot of art galleries, a nice pub (lunch) and a Museum of Mad Max 2 memorabilia.

Back in Broken Hill, we took a quick trip to see the memorial at the top of the lookout, dedicated to all the people who have died at the mine site.

After checking into the hotel, I prepared my things for the next day.  We had dinner at the Musicians club.  The room was pretty full with riders from the east coast.  Lots of meeting and greeting.

My roommate was a no show, so it looked like I was going to be paying for the full motel room.

Day Three – Broken Hill to Port Augusta: Distance 412Km:  progressive total 1,310Km

Leaving nice and early, Dave and I headed out of town.  I filled up with fuel before meeting up with Dave.  He chose to fill up at a service station 50Km out of town.  Err, when was the last time that service station had fuel.  Perhaps 4 years ago.  We continued until Dave thought he was about to run out.  Stopping in front of a small road side cafeteria, he managed to buy 5 litres from the café owner.

We returned the favour by buying a cup of coffee and some homemade banana cake.  She was not very busy, so we pre-warned her that there were more than 300 bikes on the way.  With our bikes parked out the front, It was a calling card for those behind us.  She was going to have an OK day.  When we left, there were bikes pulling in for a break.

One thing learnt is that bikes will usually stop where there are other bikes.

We headed to the next service station – 50Km away, crossed into South Australia then had lunch at Peterborough.  A quick look at the motorbike museum, then off to Port Augusta.   Some nice windy roads coming down the Flinders Rangers.

Again my room partner was a no show, so I needed to find someone to share my room as otherwise this was going to get expensive.  Dinner at the local football club and more meeting and greeting.

I really enjoyed the day, and had no idea what day of the week it was – Sign of a good break.

Day four – Port Augusta to Ceduna – 468Km: Progressive total 1,778Km

In the morning, we headed off to Ceduna.  A fairly boring ride, straight road.  Some riders took of south to take in part of the coast line, we made tracks for Ceduna.  Dave was turning back after today.  He only had 8 days leave, so 4 days to get back.  

Ceduna was like an oasis in the middle of nowhere.  Nice ocean view, cute town.

We bought Dave a 5 litre fuel can to avoid him running out on the way back.

Day Five – Ceduna to Boarder Village – 490KM, progressive 2,268Km

I found some other riders from Victoria in the morning and headed out with them.  We set a good pace, dodging a lot of dead animals on the road.  We stopped at the Great Australian Bight on the way.  The view was surreal.  Worth the 2,200km to see it.

Jeff and I were staying at Boarder Village, the others were at Eucla – 15km down the road, so we departed company.

The accommodation was the space behind the fuel station.  No record of Jeff or my booking.  Eucla is full – you will have to camp was the response…um we don’t have any camping gear.  I went for a walk and found a friend who had the same problem for most of the trip – no roommate showing up.  He had two spare beds in his room, so Jeff and I bunked with him.

Day Six – Boarder Village to Norseman – 711Km, progressive 2,979Km

The next morning, Jeff and I headed off, crossing the border into Western Australia.  Today was the biggest ride day with 711Km to Norseman.  We set off pretty early, stopping in Madura for breakfast (only 200km away).  Most riders had the same idea, so it was like a swarm of locusts pulling into the service station.  Bikes everywhere.  Fueled up with food down as well, we hit the road, knowing we had another 6 hours in front of us.

Arriving into Norseman, I found John and bunked in together.  Caught up on some emails, phone calls and an early night.

Day seven – Norseman to Esperance – 203Km, Progressive 3,182Km

A short ride today, we had the local bike club in Esperance arrange a bike ride around town and a viewing for the public.  I took the afternoon to catch up on some washing.

A picturesque  town, a long way from anywhere.

Day eight – Esperance to Albany – 480km, progressive 3,662Km

A wet start to the day and a close encounter with a road train.  I put it down to the driver not seeing I was overtaking him when he decided to overtake the truck in front of him.  Hard on the brakes, I just managed to slow down before running out of road and the bush was not looking inviting.  John who was following me thought I was a goner.  The back wheels of the trailer or the bush on the road side…..A close call.

It stopped raining about 100km from Albany, so the gear dried off pretty well.

We had four in the motel room, two travel friends from John were camping and thought the motel room floor looked better than the caravan park.  

Some quick sightseeing in Albany before heading out to dinner.

Day nine – Albany to Margaret River – 342Km, progressive 4004Km

A nice days ride, the only time the GPS played up.  A new road has been built that was not on the GPS.  We followed our noses for a while, then I pulled over at a scenic hill stop, declaring I was lost.  Thinking we were the only  bikes on this lonely road.  Within 5 minutes, 10 bikes came over the hill, stopped looked at the view, then took off.  I said, they seem to know where they are going and they are going fast.  We followed them when some one pointed out that they were from QLD and probably had no idea where they were going.  We were so close, so who cared they were heading west.

We got to Margaret River, I picked up Sam, fuelled up then went to the meeting point for a convoy ride into Margaret River.  A sight to see with 460 bikes in a line.  We pulled into the accommodation, found our room then filled up the spare beds.  The pool looked inviting, and Sam told me it was heated, so in I went. It was freezing, but refreshing.

We had a celebration dinner, totaled the amount raised  $316,000; my contribution was $10,000.

Day 10 to day 16 – The trip back with Sam
That is another story. When we arrived home, we had travelled 8,682Km.