All photos © TFB, 2010.
Great expectations were held for this year's trip (last weekend of October, 2010), but unfortunately a few of the lads couldn't make it for various reasons, so in the end we were down to five motorcycles: Mick with his GSX-R 1000, Edan with his warp-speed Hayabusa, Alastair with his GPz900R, Mark with his noicely spruced-up BMW F650 (complete with fresh satin-black paintjob and Dakar decals), and myself with the super-fettled Katana. After last January's white-knuckled sphincter-tightening affair down the Walpole-Manjimup road, with the old machine wallowing over every bump and through every bend, enough was enough. I spent the months before the ride trawling through every aspect of the running gear... new front tyre, new front wheel bearings, new swingarm bearings, stiffer fork springs, rebuilt rear IKON shockies.
Alastair, however, was still feverishly spannering away on his GPz even as the rest of us left Perth heading down to his place, the man having been rather TARDY in attacking what needed to be done prior to the ride (small matters like leaking front brake calipers, etc.). But amazingly as we pulled up at the western end of the Coalfields Highway, there he was sitting in the shade like nothing had happened. All that was about to change...
Mark left us to go via the bush track route with his GPS on his F650. So that left four of us to tackle the tarmac of the South West. Tootling along at a nice clip between Boyup Brook and Bridgetown, I was overjoyed with the Katana's fresh handling; all the fixes had paid off, and every bend I hooked into failed to get the old girl to even shake the 'bars. Ah, it was handling like a 28-year-old motorcycle once again (and full credit to Warwick for this golden little quip ). Anyway, I somehow ended up in 'the zone' and before we knew it we were on the winding downhill run into Bridgetown. I came over a crest and what did I see but a cop car with all the fruit on the dashboard. Eeek, pulled on the anchors but it was too late. Plod lit up his Christmas tree and I rolled off the throttle, Edan and Mick rolling to a stop with me. Then we just waited for WA's finest to return, and see what tune they would sing.
Return they did, basically sitting on Alastair's exhaust pipe as he pulled in ahead of us on the gravel shoulder. The young friendly 'good cop' sauntered over to Edan, Mick and me, gave us some sort of warning about slowing down "because there are a few hoons in the area" (ahem, yes indeed, not us sir, we'll keep an eye out for them, etc. etc.). Meanwhile, the 'bad cop' (they all seem to like this game: 'good cop, bad cop') was giving Alastair a bit of a lengthy chat and for the record, that's Alastair's scaly nut circled there in the photo below. Couldn't hear what the issue was but Alastair wasn't looking happy. So the three of us burbled off down the hill and did the remaining few hundred metres to the pub, where we waited for Alastair.
Ten long minutes later the sound of the GPz was heard, and Alastair rolled around the corner. Why the delay? "He booked me!" Al just spat the words out, barely able to contain how utterly cheesed-off he felt. Turns out that 'bad cop' had told him that Edan, Mick and I hadn't been booked, because we were too tightly bunched and so he wasn't able to say who was doing the speeding and 'group readings' don't stand up in court.
But Alastair, however, who had been a little bit further back behind us, was another matter! Initially he was accused of doing 124kph, but when Al responded with a polite "I don't think so!" the copper returned to his vehicle to look at the radar readout (presumably), and came back with "How about 119?" Great... who knows what was going on here. Was the 124kph reading he'd first quoted actually for us first three blokes, but now he was trying to foist that upon Alastair? Al smelled a rat, but there's no point debating with these gents. Anyway, the upshot of it was that with 2 points off his licence and his wallet $150 lighter, boy was Al PEEVED. Naturally we offered the standard forms of consolation, thanking him for "taking one for the team", etc. Strangely this didn't do much to mollify the lad.
On we flew, enjoying the great roads and the pefect weather: cool air, warm sun, clear winding roads with only the occasional 'grey nomad' towing a weaving caravan to contend with. Not too long after we pulled in to the Hamelin Bay camp ground, Mark rolled in on his F650. We set up camp, and took stock of the fact that we hadn't really brought along much cooking gear or food at all. This sorry state of affairs was fixed by a trip to the shop in Augusta where we bought everything from matches to cups to you guessed it MEAT.
Then it was time to head off for some tasty fish & chips.
Even the view from the fish & chip shop was spectacular:
On the way back, it was Mark's turn to "take one for the team". Being well-and-truly dark by the time we rode back to the campsite, the thought of crazy kangaroos was in the back of our heads. The rotters are always bounding around at dusk; hitting one in a car is bad enough... but on a bike? Yep, one of the jumpy marsupials leapt from out of nowhere and promptly ploughed into the radiator of Mark's F650. Thankfully he managed to keep the plot upright, but the damage was done: coolant dumped out of the radiator and after riding it until the coolant light came on, Mark then had to push the thing the rest of the way back to camp. BLAST. The next day, the full extent of the damage was revealed: a busted radiator, bent crash bar, and various cracked and broken panels. Ker-chinnngggg... yes, the sound of the cash register could be heard ringing in the distance all the more annoying because Mark had just spent some major dosh giving the F650 its rather smart face-lift.
The next morning Alastair decided to head home (was our 'encouragement' too much for him?!), so he was able to give Mark a lift back to Margaret River on the GPz, where he then codged a lift with Adrian in his Landrover back to Perth. Mark then returned with his trailer behind the Commodore, complete with surfboard on the rack. He wasn't about to let an errant moronic marsupial completely wreck his weekend, obviously.
On Monday morning we went off looking for the offending kangaroo, as we'd seen it by the side of the road the day before. Yep, there he was, now buzzing with blowflies and with one spectacular wound; his head had been half ripped-off, so at least the daft animal wouldn't have suffered for long. It didn't take Mark long to find pieces of F650 scattered around the impact zone. Normally we would have carved a few steaks off the dead beast, but the flies were a bit of a put-off so we settled for shop-sourced protein instead.
Edan couldn't help himself; the 'Master Chef' within just had to point out a choice cut or two...
And here is Edan displaying his exotic cooking skills, after the rest of us managed to get a fire lit:
As you can see (above photo), Hamelin Bay is a very picturesque place. However we were not down there to faff around looking at the scenery; we were there to ride our bikes through the scenery (without joining it, of course). So on Sunday we did about 600kms through the South West down to Walpole, where we had an great lunch at Leila's Cafe Gallery Restaurant in the main street. The coffee was excellent and the ploughman's lunch just so generous with the slabs of fine cheeses, etc. Then we headed back up that most marvellous biking road of them all: the Manjimup-Walpole road. Sheer bliss, swooping through the cool forest of massive Karri trees, the sound of howling exhausts bouncing off the hillsides. Heading west again we arrived in Hamelin Bay WELL before dusk and the prospect of kangaroos boinging into our path. It turned out that this was not good enough, however; barely had the shadows begun to lengthen than we noticed kangaroos with suicidal intent hopping around the roadsides. Not only that, but there were quite a few lizards and snakes basking on the road, so we had to do a fair bit of dodging to avoid flicking up one of those nasty beasts into our laps, too.
After another evening of beers and meat and slightly embellished fireside tales, Monday saw us basically heading straight back to Perth... although the northern run up Caves Road to Yalingup was a lot of fun indeed. I popped in to see Alastair on the way back, checking to see if he'd summoned the courage to tell Kylie about his 2-point, $150 shellacking and yes, the deed had been confessed, and husband and wife were still on speaking terms! But will she ever let him out for another ride with the rest of us? Only time will tell...
Until then, folks...
And, see yers all for yer ride of 2011!
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