2008 St Helens to Strahan Ride (Background)
2007 saw the birth of the St Helens to Strahan ( St2St ) concept, which is coordinated by Andrew and Craig through the trailriderz.com.au website/forum. The forum provides the rider community with a place to post news, pics and videos ... arrange the bulk purchase of tyres (by the pallet), body armour, bike parts and other dirt bike gear ... and of course to discuss when and where the next rides will take place.
The original 2007 St Helens to Strahan adventure saw 11 riders taking 2 days to effectively cross the breadth of Tasmania.
For the 2008 ride extra stages were added, and with a larger contingent of riders, the event was held over 3 days of riding (5 days all up, if you include the time to get there and home again). Covering around 800Km (that's 500 miles), this was to be "the trip of a lifetime" for some of the participating riders.
The 2008 group, many with enduro experience, had an average age of 42 and comprised of 23 Taswegians (aka "locals"), 3 riders from Queensland and 1 from New South Wales. A bike compliment of 12 Yamahas, 6 KTMs, 3 Suzukis, a couple of TMs, a Honda XR400, GasGas, Aprillia and a Husaberg were all loaded onto the truck at Deloraine (in the states North) for the trip to St Helens.
Loading and unloading bikes and gear were projects in themselves, made easier by the whole group jumping in to help out. The bus ride to St Helens was its own adventure, complete with part-time comedian bus driver and a bus full of excited little boys, now all "off the leash". Thursday night in St Helens provided a good opportunity for the group to meet in a social atmosphere and start to gel.
Unloading Bikes and Gear at St Helens
2008 St Helens to Strahan Ride - DAY ONE
After the traditional bikes on the beach photos and a quick but thorough briefing, the 7am departure from St Helens on Friday morning was in beautiful sunshine. What followed was a fantastic morning's riding through some of Tasmania's best trails, covering a variety of different terrains varying from soft silver sands to rocky fire trails, leading into 'designer' fast flowing bush trails.
At the first fuel stop, a new system was introduced to reduce filling time by having two fillers, two counters and one man with a bum bag full of notes and coins to give change to riders. This way we only had to pay the shop once, then every one is on their way again. All of the service station opperators loved 'the system'.
The ride then wound its way through a tough, solid rock trail that led onto a long downhill trail, a favourite among many.
The first leg had saw the group head towards Pyengana, followed by a section through to Weldborough. Then on to some more trails of mossy mud and gravel and a quick fuel stop at Ringarooma. Somehow we got wheel bearings for a GAS GAS in the tiny rural town and then moved on to our lunch spot at Myrtle Park (between Targa and Myrtle Bank by around 2pm), where Jacqui had a full-on meal waiting.
The is where we got our first taste of rain ... and on the advice of a senior member a quick re-route to catch up the schedule a bit ... and the group went through some more forestry land.
Another quick fuel stop at Lilydale saw the proprietor donate loads of chips and pies, seems he liked 'the system' too.
A few kilometres past Lilydale we passed through to an old train tunnel, in the vicinity of 350 meters long.
Although it had been planned as surprise, the effect was overwhelming. The video showing the bikes coming through gives you goosebumps.
It was later learned that, even though trains no longer used the tunnel, not many riders knew that. So many were extremely relieved to come out the other end ... those who had already lost their headlights during day 1 had an altogether more exciting experience. The buzz was incredible.
Onward towards Pipers River, through to the last tracks for the day, more bush trails with fast gravel sections. Some old gravel roads looking more like enduro tracks, some plantation, then a rocky as hell leg to end day one. Onto the highway across the Batman Bridge in atrocious conditions ... but no one seemed to care.
Beauty Point for night one, 310kms and ten hours on the bikes saw some tired bodies, but buoyant spirits ... and the parties still went until 2 am.
2008 St Helens to Strahan Ride - DAY TWO
Day two began with a 6am wake-up call. It was pissing down. Really pissing down. After an 'Adjustment Briefing' based on the weather and time to complete the previous days stages, we rode off into the heaviest downpour many had ever ridden in, all before 8am.
After the soggy fuel stop at Beaconsfield, the rain stopped (or at least backed off) just at clutch-off, so it was back to plan A and on with the ride.
Then followed some awesome sets of tracks, a missed marker and a small delay heading towards Bakers Beach. We soon after arrived at the first Support Car fuel stop at The Apple Orchard.
An excellent back up crew, doing repairs, loading and unloading the ute and trailer at every stop, getting fuel drums ready and re filling, getting spares and generally keeping the group rolling.
A very tight and rocky single trail led through to Kimberley, then onto grassy plantation mixed with pine forest and fast forest trails. A final windy tar section led us to lunch at Sassafras. Day two lunch was another fine BBQ hosted by Jac.
Then we were away again up through Liena, up to near the Caves and then down to near the Lake Cethana through some of the most entertaining trails on offer, finishing with a massive hill trail of grey sand and bike eating ruts.
Then the coldest section of road ever. The Cradle Mountain link road put on a show for the Queensland guests by having wind gusts strong enough to almost blow riders off bikes ... with hard evil stinging rain. The group was so glad to see the cabins at the tourist park.
Saturday night involved being ferried to the Chalet for tea in the support ute (up to 8 at a time), for a great meal then an Awards Night where certain riders were nominated for awards based on their performance. Such as a Slow Award for the quickest rider, Double Banger award for one who got two flat tyres in the same section, A dip your lights award for a bloke who dipped his lights in a river and so on.
Top fun over some drinks, but again, the parties didn't end until after 2 am.
2008 St Helens to Strahan Ride - DAY THREE
Not surprisingly, all were keen just to get to Strahan, but there were still a few tough sections left.
After breakfast, fuel, accessories and some photos at the shop it was onward to Magnet Valley.
Starting with grassy and gravel forestry, plus a few crossing challenges, making our way through to Waratah for a quick squirt on a track that many riders loved.
Then once more onward to the West Coast. The long stretch of smooth white gravel to the Punt at Corinna was a hoot. Crossed the Pieman River on the Punt.
The sand was wet and fast. Everyone loved the blast had on the beach sections. Then into the tough stuff ... solid granite for miles, with bogs between it. You've gotta love the unforgiving harshness of the West Coast.
Finally, the last leg home. Everyone was pumped. All the bikes made it, there were no injuries, and all congregated at the Pub in Strahan for some well earned drinks. Bikes were everywhere, gear was lying around on all the footpaths, just happy dirty people everywhere.
Some riders later rode an extra 200 k's home that night, while another group left in the morning, bringing their total distance to over 1000Km ... sore butt territory.
A well documented ride, with the camera man getting over 1100 pics and the riders about the same amount.
An exhilarating weekend, a bit of everything, literally.
A great bunch of blokes,
A great ride.
Take a semi full of bikes, a bus full of riders,
a course across Tasmania in every type of weather,
a support team plus a sense of humour and adventure ... and what do you have?
The trailriderz.com.au 2008 St Helens to Strahan Trail Bike Ride
If you are considering doing an ST2ST ride you can find the details here at www.trailriderz.com.au
and read the extended blow by blow ride report or see the hundreds of photos and clips.