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May 27

Dave Darcy : The Tropical North Adventure Part 2

Dave Darcy hits the trail for the first day...
With its deep river crossings prone to flash flooding rains and steep hills lined with slippery clay, the Creb Track is renown as a four wheel drive wrecker and a track worth respecting on a bike.

Pic 1:  Where the bloody hell are ya!  The Creb track is in far north Queensland in dense tropical forest and around 450 ks from the northern tip of Australia.
Constant light rain in the morning had me slightly crapping myself as my KTM690, with its big fairing, is set up more for open trails than mud wrestling.  But just a couple of hundred metres onto the track the last thing on my mind was mud.  We were greeted with a decent river crossing; depth unknown.  The size of it was challenging but the added complexity was the crocodile warning sign.  But what really got us going were the fresh crocodile slide marks, just under a metre wide, at the entry point to the crossing.  We knew the crocodile that made those slide marks was probably around 4 to 5 metres long.



There was a general reluctance for any of the riders to try to cross.  Nugget and Philippe then commandeered a boat to find out the depth and without thinking launched into the unknown only to find there was one paddle.  Very quickly the current took them down stream and we were none the wiser about the depth of the river!  Nugget and Philippe started singing that Dean Martin hit, ‘That’s Amore’ as they disappeared into the sunset.



When Nugget and Philippe returned we were still on the bank.  By this stage Nugget had had enough of stuffing about and he jumped on his bike and headed out.  Once he successfully made it to the shore that broke the ice and we all tentatively jumped into the task.  But with that depth you had to commit and it was best to maintain a constant speed to develop a bow wave and keep the water out of air filters.



I took a route slightly to the left of Nugget’s and quickly found myself in water over my high front guard.  Fortunately the Kato690 has an air filter box with a high snorkel.   We all made it across safely in the end.  A couple of riders stalled but quickly got going.



Next was a baptism of steep hill climbs of slippery clay that was sometimes very hard packed that felt like ice and other times was soft and gooey.  We found ourselves opening up our big singles when we dared.  Fifty foot roosts were the order of the day and no matter what, keeping momentum to make it all the way to the top.  For the steep slippery descents we were lightly using the front brakes and back brakes assisted by engine braking in an attempt to maintain some form of traction and control.  At times I felt my wheels were turning at 20 kilometres per hour and bike speed was closer to 50!

It really is a horrible feeling when you know the descent goes for another couple of hundred metres and you’re not sure you can keep on the bike that is getting progressively faster.  I kept chanting to myself, “Hold onto her! Don’t let her go!”  The great thing about the bright orange clay is you couldn’t hide it if you came off.  Nic turned up at a regroup point smothered in lashings of orange clay. We all laughed heartily before he had time to open his mouth to explain.



My Rally Raid KTM690 that has taken me from London to Sydney, a couple of crossings of the Simpson Desert and other adventures.  With its big fairing, its set up for more open stuff in preference to tropical rain forest.  Whilst I’ve got your attention I’m wearing a KLIM Dakar Pro Jersey with body armour underneath. These jerseys are on the expensive side but they really are amazing when the temperature climbs with an excellent cooling effect from the use of wicking technology.  In more varied climates I’ll find myself wearing one under my jacket and if it gets hot  I just open up the jacket for an air conditioner effect.  That way I can maintain higher levels of protection whilst preventing myself getting over heated and fatigued.



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