Published on October 27th, 2014 | by Boris
PHILLIP ISLAND GP? I’M DONE WITH YOU.
I first went to Phillip Island when Mick Doohan won his fifth title. I held it to be one of the great places upon this earth.
Over the years I have continued to journey south to the most beautiful racetrack in this country, twice a year. Once for the World Supers and again for the MotoGP, revelling in the roads on the way down, spending my money like a sailor and enjoying the company of my friends.
That ends now.
I am done with riding to the MotoGP.
And so are my friends.
We shall take our money and we shall spend it elsewhere. We shall still watch the MotoGP, and we shall still cheer on the fastest motorcycle riders on earth, but we shall no longer subject ourselves to the grotesque farce that plays out on the way to and upon the Island itself.
Dave Cooke from the NSW Motorcycle Alliance recently penned a great article, which you can read here. It pretty well sums up how the childish antics of VicPol, urged on by its motorcycle-hating police commissioner, have contrived to destroy this event for me and for many others.
As a result crowd numbers are in the toilet and sinking each year.
And I can tell you first-hand that this is exactly the case.
But VicPol is not alone in its efforts to empty your wallet. The good burghers of Cowes are also complicit in a price-gouging and profiteering racket, the likes of which has not been seen since we started drilling for oil in the Middle East.
To add to the fact that a can of bourbon and coke was selling for $15 on the main street of Cowes on Friday and Saturday night, and a beer was $10, one must pause and consider what we are also being charged to attend the race.
It costs $80 for a day ticket. This ticket entitles you to stand in the paddock in the sun (or the rain) and see a small section of track, and maybe a big screen.
One would think that Lindsay Fox might have built a permanent covered grandstand by now. Maybe planted a few trees for the fans to shelter under, or invested in a few truckloads of gravel so that fans and local racers do not have to stand in ankle deep muck by the side of the track.
The track itself is a world-class marvel and is rightly loved by all who race there.
But everything around it is shit. Utter, rip-off shit. Our bikes are still parked in a boggy paddock. The security morons still can’t manage to open the gates for the fans despite the fact that the races have started, or can’t seem to work out that pit crews need to get to the starting grid to assist the local riders, and should therefore be granted crossing privileges ahead of people looking to find a parking spot in Parc Firme. The trackside food is dire. The toilets are a crime against humanity and the trackside expo is yawnworthy.
And surrounding all of this is the nauseous miasma of police harassment, which has reached Biblical proportions and doesn’t look like relenting down any time soon.
Fair enough. This is what has been justified in the “public interest” and until this public starts feeling our disdain and contempt manifest itself in its hip pocket, nothing will change.
Fuck you until then.
And if you trained and uniformed apes wish to make my trip to the island and back a shit-fight flavoured with pointless “intelligence gathering”, dumb arrogance and retarded lectures about “road safety”, then that’s fine too. You may also go and fuck yourselves.
I am done. You are free to revel in your New World Fascism all you like, but you shall no longer revel in it at my expense.
I would just like to advise you that you are a disgrace. A shameful, non-professional, non-accountable collection of revenue-raising lickspittles who are held in contempt by every rider you’ve ever harassed, and who continue to act entirely against the public’s true interest.
And make no mistake, monkeys. We may ride bikes. But we are also the public.
But like I said, I am done with you and your bullshit.
I had already decided not to attend the MotoGP again (I think it was on Saturday night when the price of drinks in the main street was making my brain bleed with horror), and my friend Bly and I were making our way back to Sydney, having come out onto the Hume at Benalla. We were riding at the speed limit and just grinding out the miles, hoping to get home before dark, when 40km out of Albury a VicPol motorcycle pulled us over.
Or more accurately, pulled Bly over. I pulled over as well, since one does not leave one’s mates in the clutches of the forces of darkness and evil.
What followed, over the ensuing two-and-a-bit hours, beggared my belief, and would have passed as some kind of comedic masterwork written by Woody Allen or Mel Brooks, were it not so deadly serious.
The police officer who dismounted was not a big man, which is immediately a bad sign. Physically small police officers tend to have large chips on their shoulders and large guns worn gunslinger style low on their thighs.
Such was the case here. The bonsai-cop made every effort to look down his nose at us, which was hard from his altitude, but he made the effort.
“May I ask why we have been pulled over, officer?” I said pleasantly.
“Your mate was riding with his feet on the back pegs, which is illegal and I don’t like the angle of his numberplate. I also don’t think he can see much out of his mirrors.”
Bly was non-plussed. His mirrors worked fine, his numberplate angle was not illegal by any stretch of the imagination, and sticking your feet on the back pegs is one of the ways we cope when we ride a Streetfighter at 110km/h on the freeway.
He demanded our licences and proceeded to defect Bly’s bike.
He then informed us he would conduct a random roadside breath test and drug test.
We both blew a negative alcohol reading, but after swabbing our tongues and leaving the samples on the side of the road for a few minutes (to bake scientifically in the sun presumably) informed Bly that his saliva was not kosher. He informed me that mine was kosher, but he was gonna swab me up again just to make sure. So he did. This time, my saliva was poorly flavoured.
“What does this mean?” Bly asked.
“I’m going to conduct a more extensive roadside drug-test,” the bonsai informed him. “Will you submit to it?”
“What if we refuse?” I asked.
“Then I shall seize your keys.”
He then got on his radio and called for back-up which arrived in due course and in the form of two older and much larger police officers in a station wagon.
They produced an aluminium suitcase. From this suitcase the bonsai produced two plastic swabby lollipop things which he required us to hold in our mouths with our heads down until he said not to do so any more. This took forty minutes. One of the older cops took pity upon me and gave me a fold-out chair to sit on while my saliva made its way into the lollipop.
“Gravity pushes things down,” he informed me, after he removed the unco-operative swab from my mouth, peered at it and asked me to place it back in my mouth.
No-one was wearing gloves and there looked to be very little scientific rigour involved in their saliva-gathering.
It was very warm, and apart from the bonsai, who was busily filling out forms, everyone looked bored and yawned and sighed and wandered in circles trying to stay out of the sun.
After forty minutes, the bonsai collected our samples and went off to play with them on the bonnet of his car. He then returned with forms and asked us a series of questions…
“Have you taken any drugs since you were pulled over?”
Apart from the syringe full of smack I hammered into my bicep when you had your back turned, no.
“Have you ingested any drugs in the last 24 hours?
Yes, I took pills for my heart condition.
“What are they and what dosages do they come in?”
You need to speak to my doctor about that.
He walked off, conferred briefly with the two larger cops, then called us over to the car.
“My tests have detected the presence of cannabis in your system.”
I looked at him.
“Is there any reason why there would be cannabis in your system?”
“None at all.”
“Were you around people that were having a puff?” one of the older cops asked politely. He had a twinkle in his eye.
“Without a doubt,” I stated.
“Then you certainly breathed it in.”
“So what happens now?” I asked.
I assumed that since there was allegedly cannabis in both mine and Bly’s systems according to plastic stick we had both been sucking for forty minutes, the next step was obvious. We were to be locked in handcuffs and all of our belongings would be kicked up and down the freeway verge until the marijuana that was not in our system was discovered. Then back to the cop station for charging, etc.
The older cop, yawned and scratched his belly.
“Nothing much,” he sighed.
The bonsai strutted forward.
“I require you to remain here for four hours,” he stated.
Bly and I blinked at him.
“Where?” I asked.
“Here,” he indicated with his arms.
“By the side of the road here?”
“Yes,” he affirmed.
“You gonna stay with us?”
I swear one of the big old cops stifled a grin.
“No, he said. “I have lots of paperwork to do thanks to you two.”
I thought this was a great pity, but I didn’t tell him so. He may well have shot me for my insolence.
“So do you have any water?” I asked. “It’s very hot and we may struggle to survive out here for the next four hours without any water.”
“You could catch a cab into town,” he leered.
I nodded. That was certainly an option. Not a great one given how many cabs had not whizzed past us 40km outta Albury.
The he got on his bike and rode away, while the two big policemen packed up their suitcase.
“What’s going to happen if we ride off now?” I asked one of them.
“Well,” he said in a fatherly manner, “if you ride off while we’re here, we have to book you. If you wait until we’re gone, we probably won’t see you. And if you wait a bit longer, the motorcycle officer would have turned off so he won’t see you either because he really does have a lot of paperwork to do.”
“Are we being charged with anything?”
“No,” the policeman shook his head. “We’re just collecting saliva samples and sending them off to the lab.”
“And what happens when the lab send the results back?”
The policeman shrugged. “That will depend upon the officer who took the samples.”
“How?” I said. “How is the lab able to establish a degree of impairment to by riding abilities? What is the number? With DUI it’s point-o-eight. Is there a marijuana number? How many cannabises am I allowed to have in my system”
“We’re just here to collect saliva samples,” the policeman said flatly.
Then they left too.
Bly and I waited ten minutes, drank the water we had with us, then rode off after them.
Ten kilometres further on, their station wagon was parked on the road shoulder. They gave us a wave and a smile as we rolled past.
We have been held, but not under arrest, on the side of the road for more than two hours while this farce played itself out.
We were not charged with any offence, but we both had a small vial of our spit sticky-taped to a sheet of paper stating who had taken the sample and when. The sample that was taken from us was not refrigerated, nor was it dealt with in a sterile, scientific manner. For all I know, the positive result came from the police officer’s own hands when he was handling it.
Were we intimidated? No, not really. We’re too old and scarred for this kinda stuff to be intimidating to us.
Were we harassed? Certainly.
Was our way impeded? Absolutely.
Were we breaking some law? Well, Bly was riding with his feet on the back pegs and had a numberplate that was perched at an angle the policeman didn’t like – so I guess we have to cop it sweet in that regard.
Was any of this inane bullshit justified in any way?
I’m sure you can make your own minds up about that.
I’ve certainly made my mind about riding to the MotoGP and the Superbikes again.