Day One, 2/27
Scheduled to leave
SFO at 9:48 PM. I headed
to the airport with my son James to drop me off with plenty of time to spare.
Seems like an excellent time to leave CA as it is raining hard and wind is
blowing. Traffic through SF is bad and we see a warning sign about trees
down but it was not for the freeway we were on—wrong. Traffic comes to a
standstill and inches along several miles from the airport. We finally come up
to the problem and the fire dept and Cal Trans are cutting up a large tree
across several lanes of the freeway. Clear sailing after that and James dropped
me off at the United terminal with time to spare.
I meet up with some of the crew from the Ack Attack and start to hear the
tales of woe affecting the other folks trying to reach SFO. The Amo boys were stuck in Denver with a fuel leak and would be delayed
24 hours. John Noonan and company were supposed to fly up from LA and take the
same flight we were, but somehow their plans were changed. The reservation desk
told them that Top Oil (their sponsor) had changed their flights but when they
checked with Top Oil they had no idea what was going on. So they flew from LA
to Sydney—and ended up beating us as our flight
was delayed when they waited for a weather delayed flight to come in from Boston, which of course
delayed our connecting flight.
I was flying on a United companion pass courtesy of my good friend and fellow
racer, Terry Parsley of Vallejo Buell, so I was upgraded to business class. Shucks!
Great flight over with filet mignon for dinner and slept very well. Thanks, Terry.
Day Two 3/01
Crossing the International dateline meant I
lost an entire day so 2/28 vanished without a trace. I was picked up at the
airport and arrived Paul Roger’s house in mere minutes
where Paul, Ross Northwood, and I worked on arrangements to get our bikes from
We went out and shopped for a trailer large enough for the two
bikes we would be hauling .We found one that worked, but the business closed as
we were arriving so Paul had to fetch it bright and early the next morning. Ross and I then headed to the shipping
company and procured the bikes and equipment and got back to the house just in
time for Ross to head to the airport (about 5-10 minutes from Paul’s) to pick
up the Amo boys. I stayed to keep watch on the
trailer and bike in the back, and started to take apart the shipping crate. In
a short time Joe and Jon Amo were on hand and the
bikes were unpacked. We worked on readying them for the trip and getting all
our gear sorted. Gary Baker (Hawkwind), another
Aussie motorcycle racer, arrived that evening to caravan with us to the salt.
Day Three 3/02
Paul had to leave for a business trip
leaving us in the able care of long time GF Kathy. We spent the day prepping
the bikes and stowing all our gear in Paul’s Ford F-250 for a very early A.M.
departure. We all enjoyed an evening out at a great Indian restaurant.
Day Four 3/04
At O’dark:30 we departed for a rendezvous with
the Ack Attack gang in Port Augusta, about a 3 hour
drive. It struck me as funny as the terrain we drove through could have doubled
for the drive I take to Bonneville every year through the deserts of Nevada. Same dry, desolate,
scrub brush, miles of nothing. Seemed fitting.
We arrived on time for the meeting with the Ack Attack bunch( 8:30) only
to find them way behind schedule and just sitting down for breakfast. And to
add the final touch, Gary
came back in from a phone call to tell us that there was water on the salt!!!
It had rained about 100 kilometers north and the winds had blown the water all
across the race course!! My rain curse had followed me all the way around the
world. We finally left for our final leg to the salt at about 11:30.
Thirty minutes later we turned on to the last leg of our journey— 230 kilometers of dirt
road with deep dust. The trailer and bikes were soon unrecognizable, blending in with miles
and miles of scrub and dry soil with nothing living to be seen. No kangaroos, no
emus, just a scattering of sheep—whoopee!!
We arrived at our
accommodations for the week—an old sheep shearing shed that had been leased by
the DLRA. Sparse is being mild. We set to work removing what seemed like inches
of dust and getting all our gear stowed. At least we had power and there were
showers set-up. Then we just had to go look at the “dry” lake to see the extent
of the water. It looked bad as we approached the salt and we drove through standing
water to enter the salt. But as we drove further to look over the course, our spirits
rose as it got dryer and dryer as we went. It looked like—if the weather and winds
cooperated—we would be able to run. I can tell you, the
relief we all felt was palpable. We spent the evening getting to know all our
neighbors, a great bunch of friendly folks from all over Australia and New Zealand.