All photos © TFB, Watto, & Warwick, 2016.
Ah... sooo long since the last ride. The greatest challenge, of course, is getting these lazy terds to actually commit to a weekend! But I must go gently on them, I suppose... they have fairly unforgivng slave drivers, especially Watto who single-handedly is keeping the edjamacation sistem of Western Australia afloat. Or something like that. (Although when I later heard him waxing lyrical that some painting on a wall was a "text", I knew he'd been sipping too many chardonnays with edjamacationalist academializers! But I'm getting ahead of myself.)
As is befitting a bunch of blokes who are now, for the most part, now aged 50+ (although looking at him, you wouldn't know that the inimitable and indefatigable Watto is a decade ahead of the rest of us), we seem to have settled into a routine. Which looks something like this:
Yes, the routine now seems to be: 1. gather at the Dwellingup Roadhouse at around 5:30-6:00pm on the Friday afternoon, then 2. blast off to Dwellingup, then 3. set up the tents in the dark at the Dwellingup caravan park. Nothing wrong with that. Although #3 is now off the agenda, courtesy of Mr. Miserable, the proprietor of the camping ground. We got there at 6:03pm, and the office was CLOSED. He must have shot out of there at 5:59pm. But he turned up again at 6:05pm, having heard the bikes etc. "YOU'RE A BIT LATE," quoth he. The sound of eyeballs rolling in their sockets was deafening. "YOU SHOULD HAVE BOOKED A SITE," he added in a rather testy fashion. Wart chimed in with the fact that we had indeed phoned to book a site, but had been assured by Mr. Miserable that bookings were not required. This stumped His Grumpiness for only a nanosecond or so. "Yers can have a site down yonder, and square me up at 9:00am when the office opens." What a chap.
So it was that we burbled off into the bowells of the dark camping establishment. Gear was hastily offloaded and then it was ORF TO THE PUB for a great meal where Geoff loudly regaled us with tales that had surrounding diners pausing for effect. Watto was trying to tactfully hush him down a bit but Fingers couldn't see the problem and so the evening wore on. Then it was back to the campsite where Watto and I both cast our wizzened eyeballs skywards and declared that NO WAY was it going to rain. So we just wrapped ourselves up in (separate) tarps and hit the hay.
At about 3:00am I felt a light patter of rain landing on the side of my face. Hmm. "It'll blow over in a minute," I thought. The rain fell more heavily. "It'll blow over in a minute." By now the rain drops were splatting decisively through my 'tarp' which was really an old tent fly, ie. a glorified sieve. "It'll blow over..." -- yes, you get the picture. My Internal Optimist takes some beating, but only when my left earhole had filled up with rain water after an hour or so, did I call it a night and admit defeat. By now the cold rain was pelting down, my sleeping bag was soaked and it was a MONUMENTAL battle to pull my wet boots onto my wet feet. Then I stumped off through the puddles into the dark, looking for the campers' kitchen. I stretched out on the kitchen bench for the next couple of hours, trying in vain to enter the Land of Nod.
At last the rain called it quits at about 4:30am, so I limped back to an utterly dead campfire, wondering how on earth I was going to get it lit and begin the process of drying out my sorry ass. I managed to bust off the dried leaves of a grasstree nearby, and then only *just* managed to strike a damp match and get it all going. The next 2 hours saw me roasting my steaming sides as the sun rose and all the gents began to stir from their slumber. Thankfully Warwick had also got rather wet in his tent, Johnny was likewise a bit damp even though he had a proper tarp. And here we are drying out...
Alas Geoff, Joe and Ade were all bone-dry courtesy of their cars/ swags. Their smugness was noted, bikes were fired up, as was Warwick's Lotus which he had brought along for a change to his R1:
This nifty jalopy (prised out of his father's paws) has taken up any spare time Wart has been able to throw at it in the last 2 years. The engine has been in and out umpteen times, the block has been rebored, recalcitrant oil leaks have been attacked with determination, etc. and this weekend was its first dash into the wild forests of the South West! Despite Warwick's anxious occasional glances at the dipstick, the Lotus went like a rocket with not a whiff of smoke, hooking through the bends and twisties that some mad Pom had originally designed it for.
And here's an incidental shot of us lads inspecting the progress on Project Lotus with inspirational beers last year some time. :-)
Anyway, once Mr Grump-meister had been squared up with some dosh (and we had vowed under our breath never again to grace his establishment with our carcasses) we tore off into the South West. The GS1000, having its main jets spot-on, reached the old ton with ease. Nevertheless Ade steamed past in his Landie a few times, and it was good to have the lad back for these jaunts I must say.
Naturally we found our way to The Cidery in Bridgetown where the fatigue was beginning to show itself:
From there we wound along the familiar and beloved strips of tarmac that join Bridgetown to Nannup to Karridale. We set up camp and after a few beers and the inevitable fry-up of lamb chops washed down with stubbies of Vic Bitter, all chased down with some Black Label that Warwick generously doled out, it was time to hit the hay. For a change I pitched my 'tarp' between a couple of poles and so we turned in for the evening, ready for a drier night's sleep. Yes indeed, we were all a bit tuckered:
27 years later, the gents at Hamamatsu turned out another 1000cc beastie:
The next day it was north up Caves Road, back towards Perth and home. The weather was still a bit damp, so some hot coffees at Yalingup were welcome:
After taking some time to view the heaving ocean swell, we then more or less then split our various ways. By now my back was giving me jippo, so I had to stop about every 20 mins on the way back to Perth and rue my ageing frame.
It was on the final bum-break at a BP roadhouse that I found myself staring into the bottom of a cup of coffee, reflecting on the fact that the weekend had been -- weather-wise at least -- the most miserable ride for a long time. My back was sore, my feet were still damp and semi-numb, I'd hardly slept, and my tired brain was swilling around somewhere in the bottom of the cup when...
... a Japanese tourist gent walked up and asked, "Is that your motorcycle out there?" 'Oh blast,' I thought, 'don't tell me he's backed his Hertz rental van* over it?!' "Err, yeah it's mine," I said, mildly startled. And I will never forget what he said next. Pausing for a few seconds as he gazed off into middle-distance, he then quietly said, "That is a nice motorcycle!" What better tonic could a knackered biker have?! And so it was, folks, that my misery was BANISHED!
Stay tuned for the next venture, when Warwick returns to the saddle of his R1, Joe and Watto give us all another run for our money, Ade brings his new V12-powered Defender, Geoff decides that he'll do more than one evening at Dwellingup, Edan rises from his hospital bed, Pete is back from grey-nomadding around the continent, and the weather is dry!
* Not to be confused with 'Hertz Van Rental', the famous Dutchman who founded his own car hire company.
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