Motorcycles and travel.

Two of my favourite pastimes and when combined, equal a bloody good time. I’ve been fortunate enough to ride motorcycles all over the world – from the Himalayas, Vietnam, Canada and the USA to name a few. However, for some reason, I’d never really been on a big, multi-day trip in my epic backyard of Australia.

Needless to say, when Tom from Purpose Built Moto invited me to be a part of his documentary/motorcycle adventure to Tasmania, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Wide Of The Mark

I’d be coming on board as a photographer and sponsor (Akin Moto), but also as a featured rider, which to be totally honest, was a strange feeling for me. I’ve spent my entire professional life behind the scenes, so to jump on the other side of the lens was a weird concept for insecurities aside, my involvement meant I had a great excuse to build another project bike so I was stoked!

I’ve been obsessed with ‘Desert Sleds’ ever since watching ‘On any Sunday’ as a teenager. The aesthetics and character of these classic bikes are awesome, plus there’s something really appealing about taking a heavy road bike off-road and thrashing the shit out of it. With that being said, I’m not a mechanic, and I prefer riding bikes rather than fixing them…so for these reasons, a ‘period correct’ Desert Sled from the 60s/70s wouldn’t be a smart choice for me.

Wide Of The Mark

The search for a suitable donor began and I managed to find a cheap 2005 Triumph Bonneville T100 locally and got stuck into the build straight away. Before getting too carried away, I spent a few hours in Photoshop and came up with a render that I used as a benchmark for the entire build. From there I contacted my buddies at British Customs  – having already built a Triumph Scrambler with them a few years ago, I knew their parts were going to be perfect for this build. I completed as much of the build as possible in my single car garage, and then called in the help of my buddy Brian. Brian doesn’t have an Instagram, Facebook, or anything like that. Brian loves beer and is nice enough to fabricate awesome shit for my bikes. Last but not least, the tricky matte paintwork was done by Renea from AeroStyle.

One of the most memorable parts of the build was the epic group chat with all the WOTM riders. It was great to see the progress of each bike – especially the stuff from Keeley, Justin, and Tom. My bike build consists of mostly bolt-on parts… whereas these guys are completely transforming their machines and creating almost everything from scratch. There was a stage where we didn’t think Justin was going to finish in time, but in typical Justin fashion he pulled off a miracle and had a running and registered bike ready for Tassie. With all the bikes ready to roll, the journey down to Tasmania began.

I really didn’t know what to expect once we arrived in Tassie, but I knew we were spending the whole time on motorcycles so I was stoked. Our first rendezvous point was in Launceston where I finally got to meet talented motorcycle builder/rider Keeley and our lead trip photographer Lex. This would also be the first time that the whole WOTM crew were together in one place – it was the start of 2 very special weeks.

The first 2 days of riding would set the tone for the rest of the trip. Within a few hours of meeting the crew, we were flying down a deserted beach having an absolute ball. Honestly, we could have called it after the first day and I would have been satisfied. We definitely had a few struggles with the heavy bikes in the soft sand (not to mention I’d never really ridden in the sand before), but these struggles made the first few days even more memorable. Emma McFerran also had one of the biggest crashes I’ve ever seen on the sand dunes… wait until you see the footage of that one!

If I had to pick one stand-out moment for the whole trip, it would have to be the afternoon we spent at ‘Jacobs Ladder’. I had high expectations coming to this particular stretch of road as I had seen so many photos and heard great things, but it was way more fun than I could have ever imagined. We must have gone up and down that road at least 10 times and didn’t come across a single car. The road surface was perfect and to top it off we got an absolute cracker of a sunset. We managed to get back into camp just as it got dark, build a campfire and watch the Tesla satellites fly in perfect formation over our heads (I’m still convinced it was aliens).

Motorcycles and Travel

The following morning would be a different story. We woke to the sound of rain on our tents and a temperature that was somewhere between 0 degrees and freeze-your-nuts-off. The amazing road we rode the day before was now covered in snow and we had a big ride to the next stop. We packed up and hit the road, battling freezing rain and strong winds until my bike started to cough and splutter until it finally stopped on the side of the road. Keeley pulled over and we tried our best to quickly fix the issue, but due to time constraints we had to throw the bike in the support van and continue on. This was a bit of a bummer for me as I really wanted to complete the whole trip on my bike. What made it even more frustrating was that once we pulled over an hour or so later, we found that it was a simple vacuum issue due to the fuel cap! All things considered, I was extremely fortunate for this to be the biggest problem I had all trip.

Roadside repairs were a common occurrence on the trip, and they quickly became bonding moments for the whole crew. Some of my fondest memories are of us all working together to repair a bike on the side of the road, bump starting Matty’s CB down a sketchy road or seeing how far we can kick an apple core through the bush while we wait for someone to repair Emma’s constantly snapping throttle cable. Justin also provided plenty of comical relief when he snapped his clutch cable – or more importantly when he forgot that he snapped his clutch cable and had to throw his bike into the ground at an intersection. Classic.

Another standout moment for me was ‘Point Bender’. Perched on the side of a mountain on the edge of the Huon Valley, lies one of the most spectacular private motocross tracks I’ve ever been to. We spent the afternoon having XR100 time trails and watching Matty Mac convince our support driver Donny to hit his first-ever FMX ramp. Matty was also instrumental in building the confidence of all the WOTM riders (myself included) to hit the motocross track and send the jumps on our road bikes. I’m stoked he did because it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had! A special thanks must go to James and Katie for letting us ride our ridiculous bikes on their beautiful land… not to mention letting 10 filthy campers crash on their floor for the night. Thanks, legends!

Wide Of The Mark

The rest of the trip is a bit of a blur for me. There were so many great roads, awesome campsites, and delicious beers enjoyed along the way that I’ll need to watch Wide of the Mark a few times to remember everything that happened. One thing that I’ll never forget is the time spent after riding those epic roads… camping out under the stars with a bunch of mates, immersed in the beautiful part of the world known as Tasmania.