Chance plays a big part in my life…
I had a full-on week, culminating with a drive to Bruce Rock on Thursday evening for a meeting. I drove home again on Friday evening. I was back by 8 but pretty tired, even for an old geezer. I was asleep by 8.15. Surprised next morning to find I had slept in until ten am.
There was a ride to Hyden Saturday, and I was to have joined the lads on it. But, for the first time, I was strangely reluctant to fire up the Silver Lady and take her on a ride. I did not really feel up to it, and I could not muster any enthusiasm at all. It feels very odd for me to choose to stay home and do the vacuuming over riding a motorcycle through the countryside. Yet my head was telling me that would be the thing to do. I usually trust my intuition in such a situation. It has often proved a mistake when I did not. Perhaps my brain unconsciously processed some data and concluded riding a long way that day is not a good idea. Thinking about it, the Silver Lady is due for a new rear tyre soon, and it looked as if it may rain. Rain after well over three months drought could mean some nasty slippery roads where the road trains haul.
Combine that risk with feeling a bit run down, and a slight loss of attention at the wrong moment could be painful.
Roy rang Friday morning to tell me there would be a bike run on Saturday. A charity fundraiser called 2 Wheels to Wagin. Leaving from Perth.
Leaving Pete’s Harley Services at 11am sharp. First stop for lunch will be the Ship and Dock Inn, Then the Dwellingup Hotel, Next will be the Ye Olde Quindanning Inne, Last roll of the dice will be at the Highbury Tavern before finishing at the The Wagin Woolorama Showgrounds.
Roy said we would leave his place around 11, and ride out to join his mates, and the ride, at Quindanning.
This morning I rose early, started the laundry, had a quick whip round the house, phoned Dad for a chat, gave the Silver Lady a quick polish, hung out the washing. I packed a few bottles of ice water and a can of Coke Zero in an eski which I strapped to the bike. I then rode down to the servo to fill the tank, and headed to Roy’s place, arriving bang on eleven.
Greg, a friend of Roy’s I had not met before was there. We sat and talked for a while. Roy had just received a phone call from the others who said they were at Dwellingup. Greg rode off on his beautiful blue softtail to refuel and Roy pulled his Harley out of the garage. He then commenced to repair it. The bolt holding the oil tank had vibrated out. We got a new one in and tightened it. Then he adjusted the chain tension.
“You know you are going into my blog again Roy” I said
“Repairing instead of riding”
Greg returned and we rode to collect his son who would be riding pillion with him. Roy told me his nickname was “Thrush”.
“You know why?”
“Because he is an irritating c*nt”
Our first stop was Williams, where we had a soft drink and a sausage. Roy received another phone call. The others were on their way.
“Yeah. ” I heard Roy say. “I am with a couple of guys you haven’t met, and Alan. Yep. the mad c*nt with the chickens. Yep.”
This led to Roy telling the others the story of the Erics, and other tales of the Windy Harbour ride. It was after that they started calling me “Chickin”. I guess I am OK with that. It beats “Thrush”.
We rode on to Quindanning, arriving to find about a hundred bikes already parked outside, and more arriving every minute. In the end I guess there were at least three hundred; mostly Harleys but with a good leavening of other marques. Ducati, Kawasaki, Triumph, MotoGuzzi, BMW, and several other V-Stars. The biggest gathering of bikes I had ever been with, and I suddenly realised I had not packed a camera. People chatted and drank. I nursed a lemon lime and bitters until it was time to move on. The throbbing crackling sound of hundreds of exhausts filled the air. Everyone seemed to be of the opinion that loud pipes save lives. I am of the opinion that loud jackets do too. My fluorescent green hi viz armoured jacket is certainly loud amongst all the black.
A lot of bikers look like members of ZZ Top. I am not sure I want to be quite that individual.
Soon we were back on the road to Williams from whence we had just come.
It is a nice road between Quindanning and Williams. Pleasant curves, good seal. It is interesting to ride in such a large group. This was the biggest bunch I have ridden with, and I am not entirely sure I like it. It is well enough with everyone riding properly spaced and at a sensible speed, but quite disturbing when faster riders come bearing down and overtake at breakneck speeds. The noise was deafening. I found myself following a couple on a Fat Boy. The girl pillion was bare armed although her companion was properly jacketed. I wondered why a man would let his lady take such a risk, not only of sunburn, but of severe lacerations should anything untoward happen. I wondered if I was the only one carrying a first aid kit as well as tools.
At Williams bikes filled the service station yard as scores of riders refueled. Seeing others taking pictures with their phones reminded me my phone had that capability. I took a few shots too. After a short break and stretch of the legs, it was on to Highbury for yet another Pub stop, though I just sat on my bike and chatted with a few people. Then to Wagin. That is where the fun was going to be tonight. But for us from Katanning, this was to be a day trip only. No partying through the night and sleeping in swags this time. As the others settled in to do some serious drinking, we rode on, stopping one last time at the Woodanilling Tavern for a beer (or LL&B in my case) before riding the last leg on the backroads between Woody and home. It was dark by now, and Greg found he had no low beam. He could not just ride on with his high beam, so we regrouped, me taking the lead, Greg following with just parking lights on, and Roy as rearguard. No Skippies, no police, no problems. We all made it home safely.
There are some very effective cleaning products available for motorcycles. Many of them work very well indeed, some not so well. One thing they all have in common is that they cost a lot. Put a picture of a motorcycle on the label and double the price. Put a motorcycle marque on the label and the sky is the limit. In Albany I saw a very nice HD motorcycle wheel detail brush for $43. The HD spray cleaner was $35 for 600ml (20 fluid ounces). Similar car products cost almost as much. One that Sue and Steve gave me for Christmas was very effective, but it did not last long, and at those prices I did not replace it, but set about finding an effective cheaper alternative.
Here it is. Handy hint one:
In a spray bottle put a quarter bottle of Spray and Wipe, a squirt of dishwashing detergent, two capfuls of methylated spirits and top it up with water. Spray it on, wait a tick then scrub and/or hose it off.
This removes dirt, mud, dust, grime, brake dust, bugs, mild grease and bird droppings. If your bike has a chain, and throws chain oil, spray that with degreaser first, then use this stuff.
I clean the fiddly bits with an old electric toothbrush (my ex-wife’s as a matter of fact). I have a wheel detailing brush identical to the $43 Harley one, except it does not have an HD badge, and cost me only $7 at Woolworths.
There are some magnificent polishes available out there too, Some give a magnificent showroom shine. And cost a magnificent showroom price. It seems to me they are getting more and more expensive. I am not convinced they are getting any more effective for the price.
Handy Hint two:
Mr Sheen does the job cheaply and well. Paint, Stainless Steel and Chrome. Don’t spray any onto the tyres.
Speaking of tyres, I also have an extra use for Armour All tyre foam
It is great for polishing saddlebags and the matt black parts of the engine and frame. You can use it on tyres too of course, but you should NOT spray it on to a motorcycle tyre as you would on a car. Spray it onto a sponge and apply it carefully by hand to the sidewall so as not to get any at all on the tread of the tyres. Your safety will depend on this, so be careful.
I cut up old towels, tea towels and tee shirts for washing and polishing. I have a microfibre cloth for the final detailing of the chrome.
It is just as well that part of the pleasure of owning a bike is the cleaning and polishing of it, because after 30 minutes on any Australian road, you have to do it all over again.
After the trip I spent the whole of ANZAC day compiling a 55 minute movie of the video clips and photos I had taken. Saved every few minutes , as Dave suggested. All complete and about to finish when the software crashed. Every time I reload the project it crashes again. A day wasted. Thanks Microsoft.
A few days later and three more crashes strained even my saintly patience. Finally at 2am I managed to save a 33 minute version.
Never mind. It is finished. The Redux will have to wait until I am independently wealthy and can afford an IMac.
This movie makes Lawrence of Arabia look like an Epic.
Norseman to Esperance, Esperance to Albany, on to Bridgetown and then to Perth.
Norseman to Esperance. A short hop. Esperance is a beautiful seaside town and quite the prettiest place I have encountered. No wonder they have no problem recruiting health inspectors. Unfortunately the weather was cool enough that I did not go for a swim.
High speed on my bike causes vibration. My engine is not rubber mounted like the others, and so the frame vibrates. I really only notice it when I am trying to keep up with the bigger bikes. At my own pace it is not so much a problem. Now I know why I must trade the lovely lady in.
Riding from Esperance to Albany, we encountered several swarms of locusts. Being hit by a locust at 100 kph is more painful than being hit by a paintball. Being hit by a swarm is much more so – and messier too. My jeans, boots, jacket and helmet, and any part of the bike and its fittings facing forward were all smeared with kacky grasshopper goo which dried in the wind to a tacky mess. It was a real bugger to remove. Goop!
Next day, from Albany, we rode to Bridgetown, me getting separated once more! Missed lunch too.
Then, on our last day we rode the back roads around Nannup before heading for Perth.
On the way to Perth we got separated yet again at Pinjarra. By now I’d had enough and just headed straight to Steve’s place via the Kwinana and Roe highways. Steve went another way, and Gerry and Jaimie yet another. I got there first. By the time the others all arrived no one was in a good mood and what should have been a happy ending to a long and mostly fun trip was a little tense. After a couple of coffees, I jumped in my car and drove to Katanning. I was home by 7.30 pm and in bed by 8. I hitched a lift back the following weekend to collect the bike.
We covered a total of 5,984 km by my odometer, in 16 days of riding and one rest day on Sunday 25th. We mostly did about 350k a day, except for across the Nullabor, which we did in two hops of 672 and 528k, and we had one short day from Norseman to Esperance of about 200k. We had some interesting group dynamics.
It was a great ride and I enjoyed it very much. There were some disappointments of course, mainly because I seem to have different expectations of group riding. I had hoped it would be all for one, one for all with plenty of allowance for stopping and keeping up.
I would have liked to spend a bit more time sightseeing and exploring side roads and tourist spots. Also to have time just to stop and take some considered and planned photos, rather than quick snapshots. I ended up alone a great deal, because I fell behind most often. Three main reasons, needing to stop and work my knees, my interest in looking around and taking photos, and the fact that my bike does not cruise comfortably at the pace set by the others. Falling behind occasionally meant ending up on a different route when the others turned off without waiting for me. At first I found it irksome, but in the end I simply made sure I knew what our destination was for the day, and just muddled along. I now have in my head some ground rules for group riding which I shall share with others before I undertake such a ride again.
There was nearly always a few hours of daylight left at the end of the day’s ride, and I felt we could do shorter hops and longer stops in interesting spots, or more side trips to nearby locations. From my point of view we just flew along ignoring much of what was around us.
Half way along the route, the others decided they would prefer it if I had a room to myself. It seems my snoring has become much worse lately. That increased the accommodation costs somewhat. It also prompted my Dad to suggest I be tested for sleep apnoea, of which I proved to have a severe case. I now sleep well with the aid of a machine.