Published on November 1st, 2013 | by Boris
BENDS, BUGS & WHALES – A TALE OF MOTORCYCLING DEPRAVITY
Once again, and for what seemed like the thousandth time, I commenced my annual odyssey to the Phillip Island MotoGP from the delightful surroundings of the Pheasants Nest Roadhouse, Truck Stop & Cockrag Repository.
My companion that morning was a bearded Son of the Semi who had clearly not slept since 1978. He decided to be my companion because my proper companions had not yet arrived, and since I was sitting at the sheltered picnic table around the back all by myself, he might have imagined I was in need of company.
So he came and sat down and talked at me.
For 37 minutes.
For that was how early I was.
Thirty seven minutes.
I now know shit about a Kenworth gearbox I never wanted to know. I also know some shit about his three ex-wives that upset me on a genetic level.
Then The Samurai arrived.
“You need to fuck off now,” I said to the truck driver.
They were the first words I had spoken to him in 37 minutes.
They worked. He fucked off.
I hugged The Samurai.
The Samurai was stoically unresponsive.
I would expect nothing less from him. That is why I love him.
I told him about the sleepless truckie and some stuff about a Kenworth gearbox.
He nodded sagely and looked to see if there was a body that needed hiding.
The Samurai’s arrival was rapidly followed by the advent of The Punisher, Le Baron, Rare White Ape, Biffa, Bloodilee and the Iron Hippy. And we also welcomed two newcomers to our hurtling phalanx of immorality, The Scotsman and Leather Monkey, who was The Scotsman’s lady.
We welcomed them in the same time-tested tradition we welcome all newcomers to our cabal of depravity.
Firstly, we smoked a joint and peered at them suspiciously through the smoke.
Then we explained The Rules to them.
“Do not fucking fall off.”
They nodded in agreement.
“Keep the fuck up.”
They nodded again.
“Do not be afraid.”
A final nod.
Then we were off.
Ganesh the Lesser had arrived as well, astride his gleaming new F4 MV Agusta, but since he was only accompanying us to Goulburn, I did not include him in our ongoing plans.
And the plans were relatively simple, for we were simple men.
We would, that evening, after essaying the manifold delights of the Cooma Road via Snowball and Numeralla, proceed to Bombala, and afterwards descend onto the coast via the twisty blessedness of the Mount Darragh Road and head to Eden.
Apparently because there were whales there.
And, if The Punisher was to be believed, there was some small merit in beholding these creatures without plunging harpoons into them or riding on their backs; or, as Bloodilee suggested that evening, placing one’s erect penis into their spasming blowholes.
Having never seen a whale before, except on TV, I did not have an opinion about any of this, and tried to focus on not speeding down the freeway to Goulburn. I kept telling myself not to give into temptation, lest the Highway Patrol fill my blowhole with their erect penises.
It was not easy. Ganesh the Lesser was in my mirrors and I was astride a Benelli Tre-K, reputedly good for 280 km/h, despite the fact it sounded like a giant kazoo. And it would have been interesting to see if the balls dangling from Ganesh the Lesser were packed with the right kind of zest; the kind of zest that would see him creep past me on his way to 312km/h.
Instead, we behaved and arrived in Goulburn, where the petrol situation proved frightening and confusing for Le Baron and The Punisher.
The Punisher paid for the petrol that was used in Pump Six. But the petrol he used came from Pump One. Le Baron paid for the petrol that emanated from Pump Four, which had filled up two other bikes as well as his, and so left him with a petrol bill of almost $50. And no-one paid for the petrol that was squirted from Pump Two.
The Punisher went to remonstrate with the cashier.
“Who the fuck numbers their fucken pumps like that?” he wanted know.
The cashier didn’t know.
The Punisher paid for the petrol from Pump Two on the understanding that the police would be called if someone didn’t fork over the cash and stop yelling about pump numbers.
We said goodbye to Ganesh the Lesser, and immediately began speeding towards Boro, Doughboy and Braidwood.
Had I known Ganesh the Lesser would very soon thereafter throw his brand new MV under a length of Armco and break his hand, I would have hugged him for longer.
There are two schools of thought about where the blame for this incident can be laid.
The first contends that Ganesh the Lesser is entirely and personally responsible for fucking the proverbial porcupine and binning his bike when he failed to negotiate a bend.
The second holds that the Iron Hippy is partially to blame, for it is he who advised Ganesh the Lesser to take the path less travelled.
“Don’t be fucked,” he said to him. “Don’t take the fucken stupid coast road. Go and hammer the fucken bends from Goulburn to Oberon. It’s more fun.”
Personally, I feel the blame should be divided equally between the two of them. I fight this strange pluralism constantly.
But on that day, as we left Goulburn and pretended there were no cops left on earth, we had no idea that Ganesh the Lesser was eating Armco. I was far too busy trying not to eat it myself as I tore after the Iron Hippy and his stupid, thundering, cheating-with-traction-control Streetfighter.
It was during this dry-mouthed pas de deux that I realised the fellow who had advised me that the Trek’s top speed was 280km/h was resplendently full of shit.
Still, it was not a slow bike. And it handled rather well, I thought. It could have done with a little more damping on the back, and on the front, and I told myself to do something about this at some stage, but never did. I just concentrated on not dying.
As we filled up in Braidwood and prepared for the unknown quality of dirt road that awaited us ahead, I was pleased that no-one had yet perished or been locked in chains and shot in the face on the side of the highway. We all congratulated ourselves and I observed that neither the Scotman nor the Leather Monkey had fallen off. They had also kept up, and had displayed no fear, thus far.
The Punisher was smashing cones under the gaze of the local ambulance crew, who were clearly fascinated by the antics of the man with his head inside the smoke-emitting Gearsack on the back of his bike. It is a ritual one has to see to fully appreciate.
Thus prepared, The Punisher hared off to photograph our jelly-bowl of jocularity as it hurtled out of Braidwood. And I saw him on the side of the road. But what I have never seen are the photos he alleges he takes. Many is the time The Punisher has pointed his camera at our antics. Not a single image has ever been made public.
I can only conclude that the camera is nothing but well-disguised chillum, and he is not taking pictures at all. He is sucking back great lung-fulls of superheated THC and lying to his handlebar brothers. If this is the case, then he would be close to being dead to us.
The road south was a deserted racetrack and I contended for glory with the Iron Hippy, The Samurai, Rare White Ape and Bloodilee. The Iron Hippy had somehow managed to wire up his brake-light so that it would flicker on and off, or stay on, or not light up at all. This made it interesting to follow him, if you were interested in dying or being maimed. Because he rides at a goodly pace, passing him is a challenge. But it is one I accepted, shooting past Rare White Ape, who had already been on the road for some days because he was escaping from Reichsfuhrer Newman’s newly-minted Fascist Peoples’ Paradise north of NSW, and almost died when I realised that 178km/h entry speed into a 50km/h corner was not workable.
I overcooked that fucker like a Boss.
I knew the Iron Hippy was laughing at me. I could feel his contempt and scorn frying my spine as I wound the Italian kazoo up some and tried to gap him.
And then the road turned to dirt.
“Ho ho!” I ho-ed. I has an “adventure bike”. It will feed my hot shit to them all, I thought, and proceeded apace.
And it did indeed feed most of them shit.
Except for The Samurai.
Who was clearly indisposed to eat anyone’s shit and followed me as close as he could through the cloud of dust in my wake.
We paused briefly at a small causeway and waited for the others to catch up. More dirt stretched ahead, and we wanted to know if anyone had died in the preceding section before carrying on.
Everyone arrived hale and well and only Biffa appeared discomfited. He does not like riding dirt, and that is his prerogative. But he rides it, for to not ride it would require experienced surgeons to remove his mighty red-furred testicles.
The Leather Monkey and The Scotsman were also well, a little wide-eyed at the pace and somewhat perturbed at the amount of spiced herb that was being smoked. The Scotsman nonetheless partook, clearly of the view that if ingesting this shit made us fearless and mad and enhanced our riding skills out of all proportion to reality, then he’d best get some up him.
The dirt was a little rocky and chopped up, and the Benelli wandered a bit, but not unpredictably so. I could maintain a steady 90km/h without fear impacting my colon.
Up ahead, a roadcrew was watering down and grading the road. We stopped at the hand-held Stop sign, waited until it said “Slow” and opened the taps. The dirt was now smooth and cambered and I increased my speed to 120km/h. The Samurai, astride a GSXR-1000 with anti-Jesus Manga-porn painted on its fairings, hammered past me at 160km/h.
I rode on in his dust for a while, wishing my balls were as rich with meat as his were. I could see his line etched in the dirt ahead of me. He was certainly on the pace, as it were. The indications of massive wheelspin were everywhere.
We all arrived safely in Cooma. Dusty and gritty, but uncrashed.
The Scotsman briefly lamented that there was no point in washing his bike when he came on rides with us, and we all stared at him in blank incomprehension. The Iron Hippy was at a loss to understand what point there was in washing any bike ever, and I only ever wash them when I am compelled to by the people who lend me motorcycles. The Punisher, who is profoundly OCD about keeping his bike clean, enjoys dirtying it only so that he can spend millions of man-hours restoring it to sparklingness while slamming cones in his garage.
I consumed a divine kebab in the Cooma Café and expelled urine in what must be the sweetest-smelling public shitter in all of creation. I wished that my aftershave smelled as fine.
Then we rode to Bombala.
Whitey lives in Bombala. He is our beloved friend, but he was unavailable that afternoon to set the pace down Mount Darragh Road to the coast. Which was just as well, because he is criminally fast, and some of us may well have died trying to keep up.
The Darragh however, is a stunning section of bitumen. I commend it to you all. Except for these two corners about halfway along that were filled with evil and hate and cracked bitumen. You will not enjoy those.
The Iron Hippy and I were the first to hit the Princes Highway and a few minutes later were parked in front of a motel on the outskirts of Eden.
“What was the name of the motel we’re booked into?” I asked.
“I think it was the Furry Seal,” The Iron Hippy replied.
“I think it was the Blue Whale,” I said.
“This is the ‘Sapphire Coast’,” he nodded at the sign.
“That’s like the Blue Seal,” I shrugged.
The motel certainly looked like one The Punisher would have booked us all into. It was old, smelly, and there were legions of dead flies at the bottom of the dirty window sills. Truckers had clearly murdered and skinned teenage prostitutes inside those rooms.
“No-one will call the cops on us here,” the Iron Hippy observed.
I nodded and was about to ride to reception when the rest of them rode past us along the highway.
Clearly, this was either not the motel we were staying at, or The Punisher had simply ridden past it, oblivious to the sign.
The Iron Hippy and I followed in their wake.
I was then surprised to see our growling assembly of heartbreakers turning into the nicest motel in Eden. It had palm trees and a view of the water. Truckies with drugged-up whores were clearly not welcome there.
I was also surprised that The Punisher had taken to heart my previous years’ lament at his choice of accommodation on that particular odyssey.
The embarrassing disaster in Gundagai, where the rude and dozy slut behind the bar seemed to think that “12 single beds for 12 single men” actually meant “Six double beds for 12 single men”, had scarred us all.
There had been blood that night. A lot of it, in fact.
Biffa had clearly been so discomfited by his sleeping arrangements that when the three men we were drinking with on the balcony said the wrong thing, he was compelled to split their faces from eyes to chin, much like a logging axe splits hardwood.
Poor Bloodliee almost slipped in the resultant torrents of blood and tears as he arrived on the battle balcony in his riding boots and underpants, alerted by the noises of combat.
And Mighty Res, who had also emerged upon hearing the sound of fists sundering faces, was forced to tiptoe gingerly (pardon the pun) his way through the lakes of blood that resulted from The Punisher’s poor accommodation choices.
I later explained to him that War Rangas (and he is one himself, so I tend to think that he may have done what he did on purpose) are drawn to the sounds of battle and the smell of blood excites them much like it does sharks. So when one War Ranga commences battle, it is only normal for all of the others to arrive and immediately participate as well. It was fortunate for the small population of Gundagai that the three fellows who had been educated by Biffa were loud, sincere and convincing in their pleading for mercy and succor. Normally, that kinda feminine whining only makes things worse.
Anyway, we were all in much nicer accommodation this year. The weather was balmy, the sea was blue (and apparently full of whales) and the palm trees were being gently kissed by the ocean breezes and swayed their fronds about the place in a most relaxing manner.
I immediately went to the pub because I was not a palm tree and ocean breezes only make me thirsty. The Iron Hippy joined me, because he was thirsty as well.
The others made their ablutions. Apparently, it was more important for them to apply some type of lady-scented body washes to their decaying bodies and don clean clothes than it was to neck bulk piss. The Iron Hippy and I speculated at length about their sexuality over several beers.
We also speculated at length about the sexuality of four ageing gay pirates at an adjoining table. Certainly mounted upon Harleys, and adorned with their faux-outlaw bullshit-regalia, these four worthies felt that they could safely number themselves among the Alpha males in the pub.
At least until we showed up. Then they were a little more circumspect about their strutting.
I did not speak with them, since I cannot speak to people like that unless it is to tell them to stop struggling and go to sleep, but the Iron Hippy did.
He later told me the pirates were in a state of angst regarding their accommodation options. I initially considered if Biffa would be required to maybe split their faces and thus alleviate their anguish, but it turns out that there was more to it.
“We have a lot of trouble getting a place to stay,” one of the pirates informed the Iron Hippy.
“Why is that?”
“It’s because we look so bad-arse.”
How the Iron Hippy managed to not burst into laughter, hit him with a chair and splatter the dining room with his bad-arsery is beyond me.
As it turned out, after we had all eaten a wonderfully exotic dinner of seafood that had been hauled freshly from the nearby ocean, and drunk several litres of alcohol, we all kinda felt it would be best for us to leave.
It was clear to us that if we remained, there would be blood. Again.
There would be blood because the pirates were also drinking and when pirates drink, they tend to lose whatever inhibitions they have and they start to believe that the costumes they’re wearing grant them some type of super-powered fighting ability. When they subsequently discover that this is not so, and realise their decorative bandannas are only really fit for the splinting of pulped bones and the staunching of arterial blood until the ambos get there, they are always surprised.
I only learned of the Pirates’ lament an hour or so after we had returned from the pub, and were sitting on chairs in front of our rooms, drinking hard liquor and congratulating ourselves on having left the pub in good order.
It was a funny and very immediate departure. One minute we were all sitting around a big table, the next minute we were all making our way to the bottle-shop to buy some booze to drink away from the pub. As we walked back to the motel, we all agreed that it had been a wise choice.
The ratio of fucktards to tolerable humans in that pub had reached critical mass. Had we stayed on, there would certainly have been carnage, broken furniture and police sirens in our future. Once upon a time, not only would I have stayed on, but I would have switched to tequila and methamphetamine when the championship rounds began. I am now of an age where I would rather sip Scotch and smoke a bit of weed before bedtime. In my underpants, no less. For they are comfortable.
The next morning, I was up at dawn.
Being well-disposed to my fellow travellers, I let them sleep until it was actual daylight, then I woke them up so that we could all debate that day’s route.
We knew we were to spend that evening with the Southern Clan in Jamieson, a town not far from Lake Eildon in Victoria.
With maps spread before us, we finally understood where Jamieson was in relationship to Eden.
And that was several shitfuckloads of miles away.
“Whose fucken idea was it to meet in Jamieson?” I wanted to know.
“J’amie’s,” The Punisher advised me.
“J’amie is like some kind of massive swollen female sex organ,” I sighed.
“Which way are we going?” The Iron Hippy wanted to know.
The Punisher and I conferred. He did this by waving his phone around and stabbing it with his finger, and I did it by staring at a paper map.
Then The Punisher was distracted by whales.
“Look!” he sang. “Whales!”
We all looked out into Twofold Bay.
We saw no whales.
“There are no whales there,” the Iron Hippy said.
“I saw whales, fuck yas,” The Punisher raved, waving at the ocean. “There! Their spouts are there and they’re leaping into the air.”
I stared out to sea.
The Iron Hippy Stared out to sea.
The Samurai, Le Baron, Biffa, Rare White Ape, Bloodilee, the Leather Monkey and The Scostman also stared out to sea.
Only The Punisher saw whales.
“There they are!” he declared.
“Yes,” I nodded, grasping the paradigm with all the speed I could muster. “There they fucken are. Now can we decide which way we’re going to fucken Jamieson?”
So after some to-ing and fro-ing, we decided to ride down the coast along the Princes Highway until we got to Nowa Nowa, whereupon we would turn right and head for Omeo via Bruthen and then over Mount Hotham and then over another mountain range and then finally, Jameison. It was a ride of a billion kilometres and we headed to the nearby petrol station so that we could begin it.
Whitey was waiting for us there.
“Do not be fags,” Whitey said to us all. “You must ride the Bonang. Riding the Bonang will only add 15 minutes more to the trip.”
“But to ride the Bonang, we must ride back the way we come to Bombala,” I said to him.
“Yeah, but then you get to ride the Bonang,” he said.
“Yeah, then we get to ride the Bonang,” The Punisher agreed.
“Fuck off, whale boy,” I said and went to get on my bike.
A few minutes later, we were haring back up the Darragh to Bombala and Whitey was faster than me. I could barely keep him in sight, but then I had to stop and piss and he disappeared. Local knowledge, lotsa skill and a hell-fast Fireblade are an unbeatable combination – and certainly a combination the Benelli Tre-K and I could not approach.
We re-assembled in Bombala and ate breakfast at the pie shop.
The Benelli vomited petrol onto the ground because I had over-filled it.
The weather looked pleasant, though not overly warm, and my egg-and-bacon sandwich was very yummy.
No-one had yet died, no-one had yet been gaoled, no-one’s bike had yet ceased to proceed.
And ahead of us lay the Bonang.
Burping breakfast, we made for Delegate, which was the gateway town to the Bonang proper.
It was a stunning ride. Fast, cop-free and with little traffic. Before we knew it we started to get into the tighter stuff of the Bonang and the thick temperate rainforest closed in around us. The road was awash with leaf-litter, bark and tree-limbs, ranging from Island-Mick-smashing twigs to thigh-thick man-killers. Little wallaby bastards were hopping about the place. I beeped the horn as I approached them, hoping that one of them might leap into the Iron Hippy’s lap, or onto The Punisher’s tank, but the bastards just hopped off into the bush.
The Bonang is truly a splendid section of road, even when it’s been hammered by storms. It might be worth doing again, I was thinking as I levered my way through the endless bends.
And then the road opened up a bit and I saw a dirty four-wheel drive parked ahead and a giant man waving me down.
One part of me wanted to go down two gears and fuck off around him. That was the part of me that is full of suspicion. That was the part of me that saw this forest giant braining me with a length of timber and dragging me off into the scrub to make bacon out of me. The other part of me wanted to see what this enormous man had to say.
As I pulled up, the Iron Hippy also pulled up. He later told me that he was also concerned by the intentions of the forest giant, and that he was ready to ride for help the instant acid was thrown in my face or a star picket punched through my chest.
“Hey, mate,” the forest giant said though a mouth sown with the remains of teeth. “The cops have set up a booze bus and are drug-testing and doing defects 15 kays this side of Orbost.”
“Thanks, mate,” I said and rode on.
How the forest giant could know what the cops were doing 80km away was beyond me. It could only have been magic.
Very shortly after encountering him, I found myself juddering along the dirt that occupies the middle section of the Bonang. It looked to be damp and then it actually was damp as raindrops started to fall. I carried on at a reduced pace and realised that Whitey’s view about how the Bonang would only add 15 minutes to our trip was entirely contingent upon it being dry and all of us riding at MotoGP qualifying pace. Something that was clearly not going to happen as the rain started to fall a little harder.
And then the dirt ended and as the Iron Hippy and I pulled up to wait for the others, it really started to rain.
“Welcome to fucken Victoria,” the Iron Hippy grated. “At least all this fucken gear you and I are wearing is finally justified.”
As usual, the Iron Hippy and I were clothed for the advent of ice gales, monsoons and possible tsunamis. As a consequence, unless those weather conditions were encountered, we normally sweated like hogs. But as we were going to Phillip Island, the chances that we would encounter these conditions were quite high – and on that day, actually occurring. Of course, we had no idea of how bad things were actually going to get. At the moment, it was just raining.
The others arrived, and they all started to get their wet weather gear on. Biffa was profoundly unimpressed.
“Is there any more dirt?” he demanded to know.
“No,” I said. “There is no more dirt.”
“Yes,” the Leather Monkey said. “There is a bit more dirt.”
Biffa stared first at her, then at me.
The Leather Monkey shrugged. “I think there is more dirt.”
I shrugged as well. “I think that’s it for the dirt.”
And then I got on my bike and rode off. There was either more dirt, or there wasn’t. Either way, whatever was there was going to be ridden.
There was still about 85kms to go before we got to Orbost and the day was almost half done. At this rate, we would not be rolling into Jamieson until about nine o’clock that evening.
Still, the scenery was beautiful to behold, and this was greatly comforting.
An hour later we began to trickle into Orbost and fuel.
Half-an-hour after we had all arrived, there was still no sign of Biffa.
Half-an-hour is about when one starts to think one needs to go back and search for the corpse. The Iron Hippy, The Punisher and I began the pre-let’s-go-back-and-look-for-the-cunt ritual. We made calls, we sent SMSs, then we began to gear up.
Then Biffa rolled into town.
“A bush turkey ran across my path,” he declared. “I was traumatised. I had to stop and smoke cigarettes until my nerves settled.”
I was just grateful the bastard was alive. Waiting for the Careflight chopper to winch his cadaver out of some gully was seriously going to impact on our arrival time in Jamieson.
And the weather was getting worse.
We came out onto the Princes Highway and headed for Bruthen.
I resolved to ram The Punisher with my bike if he continued on to Omeo and Mt Hotham without a further consultation.
As luck would have it, he stopped at Bruthen.
To our right, was the range. Atop the range was nothing but blackness. The weather reports for Mt Hotham stated it was minus three with a minus 14 wind-chill. It was snowing and the winds would, by the time we arrived at the top, be gale force. But that wouldn’t matter, because in all likelihood, we would all be dead.
“I am not going to Jamieson,” I declared.
The relief that materialised upon the faces of my fellow travellers was instant and profound.
“But J’amie and the others are waiting for us at Jamieson,” The Punisher observed.
“Be that as it may,” I said. “If we try and ride over that mountain, we shall all die. And even if we do not all die, some of us will. But even if none of us die, we will not be able to ride quickly, and therefore, we shall not get to Jamieson until 10 or 11 o’clock tonight. Then we shall have one drink with J’amie and the others and promptly pass out. I fail to see the point.”
The Punisher had to agree. My logic was rock-solid.
“Where shall we go then?” he asked.
“Sale,” I said. “We shall go to Sale. It is about 120kms away. It is a big town. It has everything we need.”
In short order, The Punisher had booked two houses for us all and we were on our way to Sale.
We took the Bengwarden turn-off just the other side of Bairnsdale to avoid the mindless, police-rich drone to Sale and we only had 50km to go when the blizzard hit us.
The wind was astonishing. I do not think I have ever ridden in stronger crosswinds. The trees were being rag-dolled from side to side, the rain-hail was hammering us like an ex-wife’s vengeance, and we were all riding at a 40 degree angle to the road. The gusts would sometimes blow us across the road, and The Punisher was forced to ride with one hand holding his helmet’s chin-strap. The rest of my companions managed as best they could and we were strung out over about two kilometres of back road as the storm front continued to flay us with a savagery that literally took my breath away. Had this caught us on top of Mt Hotham, our deaths would certainly not have been figments of my imaginations, but headlines in tomorrow’s newspapers.
I carried on, grim and determined and counted down the kilometres to Sale. The temperature dropped into the low single digits, the wind got more violent but the hail had become ice-rain instead, so that was good.
And then we rolled into Sale.
A few minutes later, having paid our tariff and located the rented houses, we were rolling into a beautiful garage, sealing the door, turning on the central heating, showering, drinking good whiskey and congratulating ourselves on having the wisdom to order 20 pizzas.
No-one on this earth loves a hot shower and shelter from the storm more than a motorcyclist who has been fighting hypothermic death for the last hour.
That night, as we sat on the sheltered patio and took turns passing out in the Coma Seat in front of the TV, the weather howled and screamed and threw everything it had at the world. But we were safe and warm and not lighting the fat off one of our dead mates on top of some blasted mountain.
The next morning the world has been washed clean and we proceeded to Yarragon in brilliant sunshine and balmy spring breezes to meet up with the Southern Clan and thence make our way to the Island. Biffa had left us to return to Sydney, being of the view that it was better for him to spend his son’s birthday with his son in person, rather than do it via the telephone as we advised him.
Since Yarragon was not that far, we got there relatively quickly, despite a detour because we were frightened and confused by being on the freeway for too long.
Reassured by iPhones and satellites, we proceeded directly to the Yarragon Brewhouse to await the arrival of the Southern Clan. They arrived in dribs and drabs over the next two hours, which gave me time to sample exotic ciders that made me feel vaguely like a man who haunts public toilets in search of sailors on shore leave.
Then suitably fortified for what I knew was going to be a race, we hit it.
The frontrunners, J’amie, Mighty Res, Canning the Uncatchable, the Iron Hippy and Bluey were on it hard.
And I do mean hard.
The Punisher chose to hold his fire in this instance. Mostly in his lungs. In the form of smoke.
I participated as well as I could, and the Benelli acquitted itself reasonably well, despite firing the back wheel sideways a few times. Canning the Uncatchable made me his slave-girl whore, and Bluey was a joy to watch. The bastard rides ‘outlaw”, ie. on your rear tyre, tight, as if he’s been riding in a pack of screaming one-percenters all his life. I remain amazed that he’s been riding road bikes for a handful of weeks. Mighty Res is pretty quick too, throttling his R1 with pure, Grade A hatred. J’amie does okay for a postman and the Iron Hippy is consistently heroic. The mix lacked Gonzo, Luke and Dino to make a real cunt-fest along the back roads to Phillip Island, but we worked with what we had.
Just after lunch, I was on the Island and bathing in the garlicky, meaty glory that is one of Kristo’s indomitable souvlakis.
It is the first place I ride to upon landing on the Island. It is tradition.
I was pleased. No-one had died. All had arrived safely. Everyone was smiling. A man could ask for nothing more. Except maybe teenage hookers, but there ya go.
And so the weekend unfolded itself for me.
This year, the theme was hash covered in chocolate icing. I was told it was special cake. But that was a fucken dirty lie.
It was nothing but a block of hash covered in chocolate.
The consumption of which prevented anyone leaving Island Mick’s house. Or standing upright for very long.
So much for us all going to the Euphoria Café and settling our bets. I gave Island Mick the $100 I owed him and ate more cake. I drank some beer, too.
The next morning, it began all over again, but this time, we celebrated Cricky’s 50th in the evening. There was still heaps of that appalling cake left. I ate more of it. I then ate Uncle’s and Rachel’s ajvar. Out of the jar. It was delightful.
That evening, back at our house, I watched as The Punisher educated Mighty Res in the intricacies of cone-cleaning and why nails are not the best tool for that job. It was a watershed moment in all of our lives.
Sunday, I did a bit of work out at the track, adjourned to the RSL club to watch the debacle that Bridgestone and Dorna had made of the MotoGP race, ate some more great food at a restaurant called the Goat in the Boat, and went to bed relatively early in preparation for the journey home.
We kicked it off before the dawn and were breakfasting in Healesville a short while later. One needs a full tummy to lash out at the Black Spur. We followed that up with a dash along the Mansfield-Whitfield Road, bumped into Old Griffo and his crew, and eventually found our way onto the dreaded Hume at Wangaratta.
Six kilometres outside of Albury-Wodonga my right foot slipped off the peg. I put it back. It slipped off again.
Great, I thought. I’m having a stroke.
Then I looked down and saw oil – hot oil, all over my leg and boot and bike and rolled to a stop. The bike stalled.
The plastic oil cap on the clutch cover had gone to Jesus, leaving its threaded section still in the hole.
Now, we are on the way home.
After a big weekend.
A weekend living on top of one another, risking death and abusing substances.
Me, The Iron Hippy, Le Baron and The Punisher. And we know that The Hate will set in at some stage on the way home. It always does. We just wanna go home. We’re over it. We’re over each other. Oh, we are still all great mates, but we just hate each other at this stage and we don’t talk much. We just ride. And smoke and drink energy drinks and count the kilometres and wish the fuck the trip was done.
And now my bike has shit itself.
The Hate was palpable.
Thankfully, the Iron Hippy is a Master Woodcarver. And I used to own a Shovelhead. We shall not give in to despair while we have knives. In short order, I had despoiled a roadside banksia, utilised Le Baron’s saw attachment on his Leatherman (a world first), and with the Iron Hippy’s skill, we had soon fashioned a wooden bung that we bunged into the hole, wrapped a rag around it to catch any seepage, and proceeded into Wodonga to see if a replacement part could be sourced.
The first bike shop tried to help, and failed.
The second bike shop did not even try to help.
The third bike shop tried very hard to help (it was, after all a KTM dealership and understood what suffering was all about), but couldn’t, and directed us to a fastener place.
The fastener place tried to help for a while too, but the Benelli oil cap is a very unique piece of kit.
It can only be replaced by another unique piece of kit, or a hand-carved wooden bung.
“Get on your bikes,” I declared, screwing the wooden bung in as tight as I could. “We’re going home.”
And so we did.
Stalked by cops all the way from Gundagai to Goulburn.
Seven hours later, I rolled into my garage, stinking of burned oil, the bike as greasy as midnight kebab. Its back tyre, hell, its whole back end, was awash with the contents of its sump. The front of it was obscured by a billion smashed and pulped insects.
It looked magnificent.
It is not the first time I have come home like that.
It will not be the last.
And rightly so.