Published on May 13th, 2019 | by Boris0
TALES OF THE NIKEN – EPISODE 12
In which our hero suddenly remembers that winter was coming, and had in fact largely arrived in the darkness before the dawn upon a road fraught with vermin. And at a time when sensible people are asleep in their beds, our hero reaches a new level of appreciation for the supernatural effect two front tyres offer a man who is scant moments away from freezing to death.
“It’s the wake of all evil
A universal mess
I’ve always found trouble
Even at my best
No hopes to get better
’Til they put me down to rest
I am a troubled man
Anxiety and sorrow
Underneath my skin
Self-destruction and failure
Have beat my head in
I laughed out loud once
I won’t do that again
Always traveled the hell fire road
To chase the sweet smell of sin…”
I always come to the realisation I’m an idiot right about when it’s too late to do anything about it.
It is the way of the idiot.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but I have to tell it anyway.
Only idiots go riding up the Putty Road at 430am in the morning when it’s single-digit cold.
That would be me.
And in case you’re in any doubt about my idiot bona fides, I embarked upon this ride dressed in a pair of jeans, two T-shirts, summer boots, mid-season gloves and, somehow, through a sheer oversight on my part, a pretty decent jacket – which is probably why I’m not now being used as a salty ice-lick by the local panther population.
I suppose the ‘why’ of it is important for all sorts of esoteric reasons, so I’ll tell you.
I was going to meet up with Justin Chisolm from Trooper Lu’s Garage, Sean Goldhawk from Yamaha, and Adam Spence from Friction Designs, and together, like a herd of vaguely sexy wildebeests, we were going to shoot a video of the Turbo Niken.
No big deal, right?
Correct. No size to that deal at all. People shoot videos of bikes all the time.
But none of those people possess a tenth of the iron-clad idiocy from which I am forged.
So I leave my house in Singleton at just after 430am.
It’s cool, but not bitter, and as I’m filling the stock Niken with petrol (yes, two Nikens were needed for the shoot because that’s what the script called for. And yes, I did write the script.) I’m also having a chat with a wild-eyed drug addict. The drug-fiend is crawling around the forecourt of the BP servo, disturbed beyond measure by the Niken.
“Man…oh…that’s wrong…that’s doing my head in…man, what…I mean WHAT THE FUCK is going on there…”
“I’m going to pour petrol on you and set you alight,” I smiled, holding the 98 Octane petrol nozzle in my hand. “Get away from the bike.”
“Aayyeeeeee!” he shrieked. “Chill, brother! Chill! I’m just spinning…man, look how many tyres its got!”
“How many do you see?” I asked.
He actually counted them, mouthing the numbers and poking his finger at the Niken. Took a while because he kept starting over.
“Three!” he finally declared.
“Wrong!” I cried and pointed the petrol nozzle at him. “There’s four! You got it wrong. You have to burn.”
“Aayyeeeee!” he screamed again. “You didn’t say it was a test!”
“Davo, get the hell out of here before I call the cops,” came a voice over the servo loudspeaker.
Davo screamed again and got the hell out of the servo as instructed by the loudspeaker.
I paid for the petrol and exchanged looks with the owner of the voice that chased Dave out of the servo.
We’re country people out here. Often a look is as good as a discussion.
About 15 kays out of Singleton the temperature dropped.
As I passed through Bulga, it dropped some more.
It was now genuinely cold.
Did I turn back? Did I head home get some different gear and start again. Of course not. I had to be at Colo River, some 150km away at a certain time, and I am punctual.
It would be rude to be otherwise.
So I pressed on.
As I entered the twisty shitbuggery of the Ten Mile it got colder again.
A shudder ran through me.
This was suddenly rather challenging.
My hands and feet were numb. Not that cute, tingly pins-and-needles bullshit. I’m talking bone-death, nerve-severed numb. My breath came in short gasps. My eyes burned and my lips felt like unthawed liver.
“Your kidding,” I rasped to the night.
The night didn’t care. The bends were relentless and unforgiving. No care there, either. “Do us or die” is the only thing they ever say to me anyway.
Warm-blooded creatures moved on the sides of the road as I rode. Movement was what was keeping them alive in this frozen nightmare. Movement I was not capable of. It was all I could do not to just close my eyes and tumble onto the road.
There has been no other time in my time with the Niken I was ever more grateful for its amazing front-end grip.
I was riding like a trepanned tundra mule – all worthless hooves and ice-blinded eyes. I would have crashed a normal bike – no doubt. My lines were wild and irrational. I braked too late, too soon, or not at all. I struggled to change gear, so I left it in fourth. It was one less heat-draining input I had to make.
The Niken forgave all. It somehow went around the corners I needed it to go around, even though my riding skills had all but deserted me as my body reprogramed itself to just not freeze to death.
I got to the end of the Ten Mile and stopped. I could barely get the sidestand out. I got my left leg to the ground and then fell the rest of the way. The ground was cold.
I tried to start a fire. I managed to get a few gums leaves to flame, but without twigs to keep it burning, the warmth was fleeting.
I remounted and continued. To remain was to die. And then I’d be late. I hate being late.
I stopped again in about 20km. Then I stopped five more times.
By then the sun was mostly up, though it was hidden behind the hills. So while it was no longer dark, it really wasn’t any warmer.
I was now having spasms. Clearly death was approaching. I had maybe 30 more kilometres to go. It would be a shame to die when I was so close to Colo River, but I have learned to live with such disappointments.
When I passed the Shell servo at Colo Heights, I thought of stopping again. I thought of coffee. And drinking it inside the restaurant. But then I would have been late.
And I would rather die than be late.
As it turned out, I was two minutes late.
Justin was already there, as was Adam. Sean was pulling in just as I put down the sidestand.
“You’re wearing jeans,” Seam observed, rubbing his cold hands together. Though how they could be cold given the wondrous heater in the truck he was driving was something I still do not understand. “What kind of madman rides the Putty in this cold in jeans?”
I looked at him. He was a bit out of focus because my contact lenses had not yet thawed, but he sounded sincerely concerned.
“I’m not mad,” I wheezed. “I’m just an idiot. Sorry I was late.”
The shoot went well. Adam shot some neat stuff, which you will all see in a few days. My ride home was a bit warmer, though it did rain on me some. Once again, the Niken did not put any of its tyres wrong.
I owe it. Big time.