KTM Journey Rallye
Excessive Nation Version, Australia
With Wayne Vickers, Photos by Wilko Photograph
Ooooooooohhhhh the place to start out with this one. A few of you’ll know by now that my time on the KTM Australia Rally didn’t fairly go to plan. There’s some footage floating round of me hobbling up a hill with what I didn’t know on the time was a damaged Tibia.
Only a case of me placing my foot down awkwardly (with a straight leg) on the low facet of a hill at lower than strolling velocity. Yep. A kind of.
Regardless of that, in actual fact most likely due to it, I’ve a good greater regard for the occasion and the entire help crew.
I wish to begin by saying that when Trev initially requested if I might be fascinated about having a crack at writing some opinions, the one and solely factor we had been each steadfast on was that it needed to be real. No click on bait. No hiding any downsides to a motorbike or solely mentioning the nice bits. (Trev “Wayne has appeared to not recall the bit about not falling over…”)
I’m not about to cover the truth that I obtained damage. Let’s preserve it actual. We get damage sometimes. And if we’re all sincere, that threat element is a part of the fun of driving.
That’s not about to cease me from doing what I really like. My mindset is one for being a bit adventurous and making recollections, not wrapping myself in cotton wool and avoiding potential threat.
That’s additionally to not say I’m reckless. That is the primary time I’ve stepped off a press bike. The final time I dropped a motorbike that wasn’t my filth bike was greater than 5 years in the past. That was once I clipped a wallaby coming down Hotham.
The one different time I’ve dropped a motorbike on the highway was my 08 Blade once I didn’t discover some spilt coolant within the moist and tipped in a bit extra enthusiastically than what the tyres might deal with. However it may occur.
Okay, indulgence accomplished – let’s speak a bit in regards to the occasion.
It’s a reasonably spectacular factor. 150 riders plus 30 or extra help workers. A bunch of medics, help automobiles, video and photograph snappers recording the occasion, baggage vehicles, cellular workshops for every evening to offer bikes a contact up and restore any battle scars.
Tyre truck readily available to swap out for contemporary rubber. Motorex had been there doing air filter cleans after every day (stunning quantity of mud in these filters after simply someday by the way in which whenever you’re driving in teams!). It’s a bit greater than only a small handful of bikes with a help automobile… It’s a giant deal!
As a part of entry, every rider needed to get their bike tech inspected nicely earlier than the occasion to make sure it was as much as the duty of 5 days and round 1,500 km of a few of the finest tracks and trails the Victorian Excessive Nation has to supply.
Every rider was GPS tracked to ensure nobody was left behind. Even when they did trip off a cliff. Taking a look at you Rod – hope the hand is therapeutic up okay!
I didn’t have to fret about that prep facet of issues as us media princesses had been equipped with shiny new 2023 890 Journey Rs to get a really feel for… I’ll come again to that in a bit.
Mornings had been a busy however orderly affair with scheduled departure instances to try to unfold the mud out.
Every evening we’d have a full recap over dinner of the day’s highlights, particular shoot-outs of worthy deeds and path tales. Then a briefing of the subsequent day’s driving choices, maps and GPS information distributed and any particular notes gone over. After which a frothy or three.
Driving choices ranged from the primary line which was usually rated to 2 chillies (out of 5), however break-outs provided choices all the way in which to fives relying on how adventurous and succesful the rider felt.
After all the advice was that for tracks above a 3 you’d wanna know what you’re doing. And doubtless be on a 690. However there have been lots who tackled the actually powerful stuff on larger machines. Effectively performed.
I arrived on the night of day two, taking up from one other journo who couldn’t do the total 5 days both so it labored out properly. Vivid is one in every of my favorite locations so it wasn’t a foul place to begin for day three.
The following morning’s break-out was going to be a tricky gig with about 40 river crossings and the media group didn’t take a lot convincing to take the marginally simpler route. Regardless of what you may suppose we don’t go full nutter on different folks’s bikes…
We had barely left city the subsequent morning and had been straight onto a terrific gravel forest monitor that winded its approach up and over a bunch of hilltops. Some very nice trails. Nothing too gnarly however sufficient to maintain you in your toes for certain, finally popping out at Harrietville for the run up in the direction of Hotham on the black stuff.
A fast cease up on the lookout close to the highest then we ducked again down in the direction of the Blue Rag monitor. I’d not accomplished the total size of the monitor to the tower earlier than however the brand new 890 dealt with it with none fuss. Up hill, downhill, jumps, nothing an issue.
I really like the brand new frontal styling. Like it. It now matches up with the 1290SA and now not seems to be a bit praying mantis, with the brand new headlight and display screen space being absolutely built-in with the entrance facet panels. A lot nicer wind safety too. Properly accomplished. The opposite fundamental updates are within the sprint and a few digital and suspension tweaks.
We had been operating 30 psi to try to keep away from punctures and over notably rocky sections of Blue Rag I did discover the entrance deflecting a bit greater than I’d favored on that first day, however backing it off a contact for day two had it sorted, with out wanting remotely like bottoming out on something I used to be ready to throw at it.
It’s nonetheless out of this world that suspension set-up. Simply the category chief.
Regardless of different digital updates, the one which I observed essentially the most was that in Rally mode (the one with traction management adjustable on the fly) setting 1 is now ‘off’. Or it’s so far as wheelies are involved anyway. Giggedy. After I rode final yr’s mannequin it could nonetheless juuuuussst retard issues a bit which was annoying. In order that’s a giant win so far as I’m involved.
From the Blue Rag we headed off in the direction of Dargo, the final leg being on tarmac – and even on knobbies (Dunlop 606s) I discovered the run down a whole lot of enjoyable. Black strains had been laid apparently. And so they held up nicely too. I wasn’t getting on the fuel onerous out of turns but it surely was holding loads of nook velocity and simply strolling round on the knobbies properly.
We had been having a cracker of a time. Loads of shenanigans, each on the path and of the night. Met a bunch of nice guys, loads of good steerers with one specific couple charging onerous two-up on an 890 and a few starting their journey too. Even had a number of 390 Journey riders alongside!
Day 4 began out properly, one other nice path heading in the direction of Bairnsdale that was tight sufficient to maintain you in your toes earlier than it opened up a bit for us to both get a bit caught in, or take a breather. Or each in that order.
Then we hit the day’s first break-out which was superior. Difficult sufficient with out being dangerous. Some nice little jumps on descents into little creeks after which steep pinches out. In direction of the top of that breakout we got here onto the hill that I got here unstuck on.
As a hill itself it was no more durable than something we’d already accomplished. Ought to have been a stroll within the park for me. The one complication happened three-quarters of the way in which up at a dip that became a pinch the place one other rider had stopped on the left on what would have been the road.
No biggie, I figured simply take the opposite line on the fitting and provides him loads of area in case I bounce off-line a bit.
Turned out the fitting line was fairly free and gentle. I misplaced all drive in a giant hurry. A lot in order that my GoPro determined to desert ship when it clipped the highest of the entrance display screen. After that I used to be simply rolling the bike again downhill to reposition for one more crack when the bike overbalanced, I stepped off the downhill facet to try to help it and landed with a straight leg.
Doofus. Shoulda simply let the bike go! It didn’t get a scratch on it anyway… From that time it was fairly apparent that I’d broken my knee as I couldn’t bear any weight on that leg in any respect – I truly thought it may need been ACL injury.
And it was right here that the entire occasion crew did their factor. Troy from Gasoline Moto who’d been driving with us media muppets and was following me on the time helped me carry the bike up. I’ve identified Troy since Gasoline Racing days and it was good to catch up, although I didn’t precisely placed on a present for him…
Then Beefa rode my bike up the hill for me as I attempted to scramble/hobble up in gradual movement. Therefore the footage Damo has of me limping up a hill like a cripple.
As soon as up the highest, Sam – one of many medics driving amongst everybody, quickly did a fast evaluation and threw some ache killers my approach, as a forged of about half a dozen helpers hung out checking GPS places and liaising with the 4WD help automobile determining the closest extraction level for us.
I ought to point out that they had been doing that whereas concurrently serving to the remainder of the riders up the hill. All people was pitching in. Absolute legends.
5 or ten minutes later we had a plan. Beefa had accomplished a fast sweep up and again of the subsequent part and declared it straightforward sufficient to do sitting down, so I managed to swing the leg again over the bike and we rode out.
Shifting gears was um… fascinating! In all probability 20 minutes later we met up with Peter and Co within the help 4WD and so they shuttled me to Bairnsdale Hospital.
That’s the place I ran into the aforementioned Rod who’d managed to overshoot a cliff edge and completely bury his 890 within the blackberries 10 metres under. Whereas the preliminary evaluation for him was no damaged bones, we’ve chatted since and it seems that he cracked the Trapezium in his throttle hand which might take some time to heal up. Bugger.
My evaluation was fairly fast. Doc took one have a look at all of the swelling round my knee and raised his eyebrow once I advised him I believed it was only a twinged ligament.
“See all that swelling… that’s blood that’s,” he stated. And after a bit of dialogue and prodding prompt it most likely wasn’t ligament injury and could be a damaged bone which might truly be a considerably higher end result than a wrecked ACL anyway. X-rays confirmed a compression break within the high of my Tibial plateau.
After we’d been summarily dismissed by the nice people on the Hospital we made our approach throughout the highway to Bairnsdale RSL, who had been fairly ace to welcome in two bent up and admittedly fairly dusty wanting motorcycle riders.
We discovered a quiet nook, tucked in to some liquid ache killers and a reasonably superior steak earlier than Huffy made the 5 hour return drive from Dinner plain to return decide us up and shuttle us again to our lodging for the evening. A 5 hour drive. After a full day on bikes serving to blokes trip up hills. Did I point out the crew had been legends? Deadset.
That subsequent morning I waved the primary crew farewell and the boys dropped Rod and I again to my automobile in Vivid on their approach again by to Lake Hume and we cruised on house to Melbourne. Rod drove the primary leg again to Melbourne to his place after which I shuffled off house to Anglesea from there. Grateful my new wheels has an auto…
Some particular shout-outs. Rosie – apologies that I didn’t observe the script and brought about a number of complications for you all. Not what I had in thoughts. As ever, you and the crew dealt with it with nothing however professionalism, care and a smile.
Harry – the go to man. Our concierge if you’ll. Absolute champion. Couldn’t do sufficient. Was being pulled in eleventy-seven instructions and nonetheless managed to deliver all of it house. And as all the time – Aussie Ron, Lewie and Robbo had been legends. Robbo didn’t even have to tug me out of a bathroom this time for a change. Good work Man for stepping up there in my absence.
So I’ve obtained some unfinished enterprise right here.
I have to spend some extra time on the brand new up to date 890 and do a full evaluation when my leg is again in enterprise which I’m advised can be six to eight-weeks.
I would like to complete a KTM Rallye occasion for the ultimate evening get together shenanigans.
I have to meet up with Birchy correctly and get some facet by facet wheelie pictures or one thing. I solely obtained an opportunity to briefly say G’day and was planning on getting some pictures on the afternoon that went pear formed… Subsequent time.
I’m wanting ahead to all three. Within the meantime I’ve obtained some sofa time and can then have to rebuild some health.
There’s no 2023 KTM Journey Rally Australia presently deliberate however keep watch over the KTM Journey Rally webpage (hyperlink) for present and future occasions, with the 2023 KTM Journey Rally New Zealand booked out.
2022 KTM Journey Rally – Excessive Nation Gallery