Published on December 11th, 2006 | by Al
STATE OF FATALISM
Klink on the 2006 Xmas Road Party
Borrie doesn’t bullshit. When he said he’d be leaving Colo Roadhouse at 7am, I believed him. I set the alarm for 5.30am. I’d packed everything the night before. So at 6am I woke up the neighbours with the Buell XB12SS’ bark and thundered off to meet the BIKEME! gang on the Putty. I miscalculated slightly. After navigating Galston Gorge, Cattai Ridge Road, Sackville Ferry and the lower Putty, it was 7.01am when I rode up to Colo River. It was deserted of course. Well, not quite. There were two guys with bikes sitting there. When they saw me they grinned, pointed and waved up the hill.
I twisted the right grip as far as it would go. The Buell blared and galloped off in pursuit of the rest of the group.
I’ve declared a state of fatalism for this trip. The cops know of our coming. They will either be out in military, first strike, Iraq-invading force, or they’ll give us a bye. Either way, I’m not going to worry about it.
So, I’m riding the Buell in its private storm of noise just about as fast as it will go, trying to catch up. A few kays up the road I come across a group of riders. Seems probable they’re our lot, but I’m not going to stop and ask. I blitz past and keep going. Next up is a brand new, schmick-looking Yamaha FJ1300, ridden by Al. Al is wearing a ChiPs jacket and aviator shades. Good thing he hasn’t got a Zapata moustache and a leather cap. Onwards. It takes longer to catch Mick and Boris. Mick is easy to spot, riding the GoldWing BIKE ME! is testing. Boris is on some kind of cruiser BEAST. He’s leaning back, in proper, feet-forward chopper stylee, but this is not a hog. He’s moving er, very quickly, but this is not a Street Rod. He’s rolling on a rear tyre that is unmanning in its width. It smacks you in the face with its contempt for anything you thought you knew about motorcycle dynamics.
Mick spots me first. In his usual overly-demonstrative style, I get a quick head dip via the ‘Wing’s rear view mirrors. I’m weaving in the slipstreams off these two behemoths, and soon Boris spots me. I get a cheery wave that gets rapidly smaller as Boris opens the taps and adds 20kph to the devil-beast’s speed.
It’s not long before we’re at the Halfway House, filling up with PULP. Big grins all round, as there always are at the beginning of a long ride. We’ve finished filling and are ordering breakfast by the time Al turns up, and then the group arrive not long after, and the tables fill up with laughing, happy people. Drink coffee and take pictures. Boris’ bike is a Suzuki Boulevarde, the new king of a new motorcycling sub-category: the Power Cruiser. With 1800ccs of water-cooled, V-twin mumbo, the Boulevarde is the fastest accelerating bike in our group, except for Mick’s Touring Bike, ridden by Andrew McScotty, BIKE ME!’s photography dude.
We finish our coffees, put our cameras away and we’re off again. It seems no one else wants to ride at the speeds Boris, Mick and I prefer. Very sensible. I admit to a certain admiration for Boris’ utter disregard for the safety of his new licence.
Because we’re honking along, down the straights of the Putty, north of the Halfway House. The Buell is having trouble keeping up, and I have to cane the beast unmercifully. Until we reach the twisties south of Ten Mile. Then they belong to me. It’s actually so funny I’m guffawing into my helmet like an idiot. Boris is trying to keep the big Boulevarde up to a respectable pace, and he just can’t. When your boot heels are being knocked off the forward style ‘pegs, there just ain’t no more ground clearance, and you have to slow down, or risk dancing with the big suzook down a long, tree-studded hill to a boulder-filled river. Mick is likewise handicapped, with sparks flying off the ‘Wing’s footpegs and bellypan as he drives the 800lb beast on.
Meanwhile, I’m dancing around them like a mongoose around a couple of pythons. But I’m not a cruel man, and after tormenting them for a few miles I piss off and leave them to wrestle their boats around Ten Mile.
Once clear of the twists and turns, I slow down to a cruise and eventually stop and wait. Couple minutes later they’re parked beside me, cursing like longshoremen. I try, and probably fail, not too look smug. Bastards have been railing on Buells for weeks!
Once everyone has caught up we set off again. Muswellbrook for fuel, then Singleton and north on the New England Highway. Here the giant pythons are at home, blasting along at speeds that might attract unwanted attention. But we see no cops. Anywhere. It is as if the Great Swine in the Sky has waved his trotter and blessed us with invisibility. Nevertheless, I stick I behind Mick and Boris, and keep a close look in the mirror. We have a light beer in some obscure pub. Andrew takes a few last pictures and turns Mick’s Touring Bike south.
After a blast down back roads known only to cattle thieves and outlaw motorcycle clubs, we end up in Nundle for lunch. The food is good. There is much joking and laughter. Strange Serbian stories are told. But very little alcohol is drunk, for there is still riding to be done. Back in the saddle, the temperature is 40deg C. Mick is fully camera’d up, and I’ve got my little camcorder mounted on the ‘bars of the Buell. In the interests of safety and avoiding dehydration, we make a sprint for Tamworth. It is quite a memorable ride. The countryside is beautiful. The road is a mix of bumpy straights and bumpier corners. It is empty. Wagner is blaring out of the GoldWing’s hi-fi. It is possible we became a little excited. We cover the 40+ kms to Tamworth in 22 minutes. As we slow down into Tamworth, Mick is conducting his hi-fi, where some bint with a high voice and a helmet with horns is well away. Again it take a while for everyone to catch up. Then it’s off to the utterly splendid Powerhouse Hotel and Museum.
We dump our sweaty gear in our rooms, stretch cossies over sweaty white man-flesh and sprint to the pool. Once in the water, we eye each other like hippos in the Zambezi.
Boris speaks: “We need beer!”
There is a silence, while we contemplate the horror of crossing the hot car park to the bar. A dozen pairs of ears twitch above the glass-like surface of the water.
“Bugger it, I’ll go.”
Surprisingly, it is I who has spoken.
Boris and Mick nod majestically at the soundness of my proposition.
“We’ll pay you back,” says Boris.
“No, we’ll pay you back, I reply. “I’m putting it on your room.”
I return with Hoegaarten, and a Shirley Temple for Mick. Sucking on ice-cold bottles of beer in a black swimming pool, after a 450km ride, we consider the beauty of life. I find myself looking at the huge tattoos on Boris’ chest. A dragon covers his right pec, while a sabre-toothed tiger roars from his left.
“So it’s a gecko and a pussy cat, is that right?” says Mick.
Mark (aka Madart) joins us for dinner, having ridden down from Queensland on his Buell XB12S. Apart from his talent we have much in common, including a bedroom.
Dinner is a fine affair. We are all dressed, one way or another. Mark has removed his singlet and dressed up in a full T shirt. Boris is wearing his Joe Rocket leather riding pants and JR boots. He mutters some excuse about forgetting his shoes, and his jeans not fitting over the boots. I think it’s bollocks. We’re all eyeing up the pretty young girl with the guitar playing Dido and Cranberries covers (hey, it’s Tamworth!), and I think Borrie believes he’s in with a shot. As if. Sweet, innocent girls like that prefer clean cut corporate types on Buells. Not tattooed ex-outlaws on Boulevardes. Meanwhile, Mick is making obscene gestures at the poor girl. No doubt that kind of thing is fine in Thailand Mick, but not I don’t think it’s going to get you laid in Tamworth. I hope her view is blocked by a pot plant.
The food is excellent. Mick demonstrates a taste in wine to which I can only aspire. We breath in the fumes of aged cabernet sauvignon as if it were manna from Asgard.
“God, you Philistine, you breathed in the fumes of a suitably aged shiraz from the Barossa Valley.
Ebenezer, if my grey matter serves me correctly.”
The evening ends in Mick, Boris and Al’s room. We’re drinking Angus’ generously, if foolishly, offered whisky. Boris, unable to root Dido, is now trying to pick an argument. He throws out ever more inflammatory statements like so much chum and eventually Al takes the bait. But Boris is magnificent in debate. Having doffed the Rocket strides, he’s now wearing nothing but a hotel towel and some Heinrich Himmler glasses. Whenever Al summons an argument, Boris starts to stand up, leaving the towel on the chair. Cowed into silence, Al cedes the floor to Boris.
“Whisky Angus stole from a drunk in Kings Cross whilst working his patch as a bankrupt rentboy”.
Saturday is cooler. It’s clear and sunny, and the temperature can’t be more than 22degC. Perfect. We’re on the road by 9 a.m. In Walcha by 10, where we meet up with BIKE ME! member Spottedquoll on an R80 that looks like it’s seen more miles than he has.
“Quoll’s bike is an R65 you filthy, doughnut-punching Nazi.”
We pause at a spectacular view outside Walcha for a photo shoot: the Suzuki Boulevarde, the Yamaha FJ1300 and Mick and Boris’ Joe Rocket gear. After taking a few shots of the bikes, Mick hands me his camera to get some shots of him and Borrie. I get a few photographs of them looking determined.
“OK, I’ve got that, do something else.”
“No worries.” Mick picks up Boris and holds his bellowing, thrashing body over his head.
“Yeah, lovely. I want more. Throw him in that paddock!”
Photo shoot in the bag, we’re on to the Oxley Highway. Pausing only for the group to re-gather, and to shoot a few pix of the Oxley Highway road sign, we ride onto one of the great motorcycling roads.
Mick and Boris are in front at first, with Mark’s and my Buells snarling at their heels. Then the road starts twisting. Mark and I sit back and watch Mick and Boris wrestle with their bikes, but before long we are waved on with an impatient hand. Overtaking the bouncing space hoppers, Mark and I have a nice little dice down to Ginger’s Creek. It’s a shame we live so far apart, as I feel we would be a good match, riding together. As we close in on Ginger’s, I hatch a little plan. We’ll ride in, park and doff our riding gear as quickly as possible. With luck we can be sitting at a table reading a book before Boris and Mick turn up. The insult would be gratifying. But it is not to be. Barely have we got our helmets off when Mick and the ‘Wing hurtle past Ginger’s Creek and carry on down to Long Flat. I imagine Mick’s furrowed brow as he smoothly scrapes the ‘Wing around the tightening bends of the Oxley in our pursuit. Spottedquoll is third, a creditable result on a bike that should have been cremated some time ago.
Boris arrives a few seconds later.
“I’d kill ten men to be on one of those bikes, back there!” he roars, pointing at the Buells.
He laughs when I tell him Mick has missed the pub. “He’ll be back!”
“Had you homos not got off your two wheeled monstrosities, I’d have run over you both. Deep in your tiny, shirt-lifting hearts you knew this, so you stopped.
I will be forwarding any and all speeding fines to you both, as it was you I was hunting down.”
Eventually, everyone assembles and it’s camera time. Mark and I get a couple where we point out the superiority of the Buell to everyone present. Boris and the rest of the BikeMe crew stop for an early lunch. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of brownie points and have to be back in Sydney that night. So after a long drink of water I’m back on the road, chasing Mick into Long Flat. It’s a pleasure doing the Ox on your own. With no one to catch up, one can settle into an easy rhythm, swinging from side to side. A special ride.
But no Mick. I get to Long Flat without seeing him, and wonder if he’s piloted the GoldWing down through the rain forest like that Concorde outside Paris, leaving a long trail of flame and felled trees. No signal on the mobile, so I push on to Wauchope. There’s the ‘Wing, good as new — well, nothing a new pair of footrests couldn’t fix — and there’s Mick, coming out of a milk bar at the sound of the Buell’s growl. He’s going to wait for the others, and I have to make tracks. A quick handshake and I’m off.
“There’s no way in God’s green Earth I was going to back track to those lazy, slow bastards. They could come and find me — and they did.”
All the way home I never see a cop, until the Old Road. After leaving the Road Warrior’s café I am lucky when a police car pulls a maroon Subaru right in front of me. Like a shark, the cruiser leaps out of a side road and runs the wagon down in seconds. Too slow, pal. Better you than me.