A Tragic Bunch - Ténéré Tragics
Story & Photography by GregSmith and Andrew Clubb
Ténéré fans are a patient bunch. Just think about this for a minute: it’s been almost a decade since we’ve had a brand new Ténéré to ogle over. The XT660Z Ténéré went on-sale in Australia in 2009, and the XT1200Z Super Ténéré followed a year later in 2010. Since then, well, ‘Bold New Colors and Graphics’ can only do so much to quench your thirst for adventure on a brand new bike bearing the mighty Ténéré badge.
A decade between new Ténérés? Really? Oh, Yamaha … haven’t you heard adventure riding is the only growing sector of motorcycling in the world right now?
Thank the Lord and praise the Yamaha R&D department that the new Ténéré 700 is now, finally, a reality … at least for those of us in Europe and Australia.
And thank goodness for the Ténéré Tragics in the land Down Under, an annual gathering of the most devoted Ténéré riders, that for ten years now has celebrated the mighty Ténéré Spirit.
IN THE BEGINNING
“Hey mate, what if we staged a ride just for Ténérés; do you reckon anyone would turn up?”
It was a half-joking, half-serious question, that then TRAIL ZONE magazine Publisher Andrew Clubb and his Adventure Bike Editor Lance Turnley pondered some 12 years ago on the way to a magazine assignment. Both were devoted Ténéré fans, each with Man Caves packed with old and new Ténérés alike.
History shows that Clubby and his wife Tania picked up the bat and ran with it and, in 2011, through the pages of their magazine, promoted the inaugural Ténéré Tragics Run to the Rocks at Arkaroola Village in the heart of the rugged red Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
Clubby made like the Pied Piper of Ténérés and set off from Sydney on the three-day ride to the Flinders, picking up Ténéré devotees every step of the way. Some 50 Ténéré Tragics ultimately fronted for the debut Run, aboard every model of Ténéré known to man, from the original XT600ZL Ténérés and XTZ750 Super Ténérés, through to the then-new 660 and 1200 models.
The Run to the Rocks was an instant hit, and the Tragics have been going hard at it every year since.
A DECADE OF Ténéré GOLD
In the ten years since that debut Run to the Rocks, the Tragics have gathered in a different state of Australia during the first week of March each year, to scratch the itch that is known as Ténéré-itis. Yes, to these guys and girls, it is a disease.
The Tragics Run is now a five-day Safari-style, self-navigation event following supplied route notes over the course of around 2,200km, moving from town to town each night. Each Run includes a pre-event ADV Skills Session with Yamaha dirt bike racing legend Stephen Gall, and festivities through the week include slap-up three-course Welcome and Farewell Awards dinners, as well as nightly Q&A sessions with celebrity riders. This year the special guest riders included MX legend Craig Dack, Yamaha Dakar racer Rod Faggotter and Gold Logie winning TV presenter and car racer, Grant Denyer, while Global Ténéré 700 Ambassador and accomplished Round the World rider Nick Sanders even jetted in for the final night.
Each year the Tragics Run books out in a day, as Clubby (aka Captain Tragic) puts a cap of 100 on the total number of participants on the Run, including sponsors and support crew.
Impressively, nine Tragics have ridden all ten Runs over the past decade, and all the ‘100 Percenters’ were duly recognized this year with a special commemorative plaque and Yamaha Gift Card.
With Tragics rumbling in from all states of Australia for the tenth anniversary Gold Rush Run, the seaside town of Lorne on the famous Great Ocean Road just west of Melbourne became Ténéré Central for the start of this year’s Run.
With a route planned to traverse western Victoria and cross into South Australia, the Tragics instantly went into scenic overload from the very start of the Run as they conquered the lush green forests of the Otway Ranges before following the rugged coastline to the world heritage listed 12 Apostles. Forests, pine plantations, farmlands, and fresh baked ‘snot blocks’ (vanilla slices) at the food stops were all on the agenda as the Tragics dove into their much loved annual feast of Ténéré Goodness.
By day four the Tragics climbed high into the Grampians National Park, only to be thwarted by rain, fog and mist that obscured the much-anticipated mountain views, before then setting their cruise controls for a long afternoon spent chomping through big miles across central Victoria to the next overnight stop at Shepparton. The long transport was worth it, though, as the fifth and final day of the ride delivered simply sublime and dust-free ADV-riding conditions through multiple forests and national parks on the way to the finish of the Run at Sovereign Hill historic gold town in Ballarat.
No less than 23 Ténéré 700s fronted for the Gold Rush Run and being the new kid on the block, there was tons of interest in the machine. The new bikes received glowing reports from their new owners, and indications are the sharp-priced twin-cylinder ADV machine will be a sales success, as full stocks become available in markets right around the world.
Here’s hoping it’s not another ten years before we see the next new Ténéré … the Tragics will go into withdrawals!
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