The helmet is shelved, the pipes have cooled and I’m on the computer at home, sipping some Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey... tired, a bit sore in the shoulders and happy as a four-armed monkey in a shit flinging contest. The inaugural ride of the Brisbane Cafe Racers is done and dusted. What an adventure.
The day dawned predictably enough with the sun coming up. The clouds were thick, black and heavy, which is great for Italian coffee, but not as a precursor to the day’s weather. A quick check of the BoM radar showed that the clouds were big fat liars and had nothing to deliver. Not that it mattered, today was happening regardless of what the weather did. By the time I’d travelled the 60 odd K’s to the meeting point at the cafe, the clouds had already given up their futile attempt to look fierce and were moving on.
Catching up with old friends and making new ones is a joyful pastime that is made even more joyful when fine two-wheeled machinery is involved. It was interesting for me, as the first face I saw was a very old friend who I hadn’t seen for almost 14 years and the second was a very new friend I had only met the day before. Such is the diversity of the motorcycling lifestyle. In what seemed like no time at all, the ranks had swelled with more machines rolling in on a regular basis. Judging by the unsettled looks on the faces of the natives, the sleepy Sunday people of Bardon were not sure about these dangerous contraptions suddenly clogging their little side-street.
The breakfast may have been a touch dodgy (Dear Future-Me, eat at the place before starting a ride from there next time), but the company was top shelf and enjoyed by all. By the time our last rider rolled in, there were 15 bikes, 2 support vehicles and a car carrying one of our photographers. The last rider was a touch late due to a snapped clutch cable, which required an unscheduled bike change. Ironically, the same rider required an unscheduled bike change on the DGR, due to a snapped clutch cable, on a completely different bike. Hmmm.
Soon enough our southern creator, who had made the pilgrimage north to check out the quality of our winding black pathways, was regaling us with witty comments (read smart-arse remarks) and some basic housekeeping. Jackets were zipped, helmets were donned and rides were mounted. The few who had to depart immediately due to other commitments were bid farewell and I personally thank them here for stopping in to say hi and being a part of the day. And so it was that 12 bikes rolled out through the streets of Bardon. The dirty dozen giving the local denizens an echoing sound of thunder in the sun.
There is nothing finer, or more fulfilling in the field of transportation than a group of bikes terrorising the streets with noise and frivolity. I love riding and I love watching bikes, in a group you get to do both at the same time and enjoy the sights, sounds and occasional two-stroke smells of it all. Where else can you appreciate the brap-brap of an immaculately presented XT500 as it pops the front wheel off the lights, just a foot or two away. Gets me grinning like a spastic on a rocking-horse every time.
It wasn’t long before we had blown off the city streets and were getting involved with the twistier, narrower roads of the country suburbs. Thanks solely to TeeJay’s knowledge of the area and a last minute diversion from the scheduled program we were on the good stuff in no time. Superbly worth the detour. I think there was a smile inside every helmet by the time we’d finished playing through there. The little two-stroke T185 worked so hard it put down a smoke screen 007 would be proud of and the ’69 Bonnie showed why Triumph ruled the salt flats and the 500 milers. Although stopping it required a formal plan submitted to the council the day before, along with a good pair of thick shoes and a small boat anchor.
The first stop at Dayboro was filled with excitement and shenanigans. Friendships were established, experiences shared and a certain amount of fun was poked in everyone’s general direction. There was also a small amount of drooling as a vintage motorcycle group paraded a rather extensive array of old machinery past us. Oh! And there was a girl on a horse.
A few chose to top up their fuel and our two photographers set off ahead of the group to gain a good vantage spot for some passing bike action. We were away again, passing through the photo-spot in due course. Unfortunately we weren’t in the bunched up, spread across two lanes, group that Brenden on the video camera was hoping for (which would have looked impressive), but our photographer Justin made the most of the gaps between the bikes to get some great action shots. At one point he was in the middle of the on-coming lane snapping like a man possessed.
At this point our photographers had to bid farewell along with a couple of other riders who only had the morning to play with. The Bonnie was having oil pressure issues, so it too headed for home along with the little Suzuki. Then there were eight.
The group was a bit broken up for a while by roadwork and circumstance, with us all reunited on the way in to Woodford. It was decided to stop here for lunch and a pie and drink were consumed by most of us at the very popular bakery. The view was also great as bikes rolled in and out of the carparks and along the main street. The people of Woodford seemed quite used to it. A little country town during the week, filled with motorcycles on the weekend. I expect in these financial times, they were happy for the money that came with them.
After ogling a couple of well-maintained old BMW’s and sniggering at a chopper that was obviously trying to make itself look big by wearing a fuel tank that was 2 sizes too small, we mounted up for the second half of our journey. TeeJay bid farewell and we thanked him for directing us along a great piece of road that morning. Then there were seven.
The lead rider missed the turnoff to a more entertaining road, (Geez, some people need to ride with my eyes open), but it was only a short slightly boring ride to Kilcoy where we all fuelled up for the winding roads that lay ahead. The road around Somerset dam starts off fairly open, but tighten up into a series of hairpins and tight bends when you get closer to the dam and the township. The roads were a little rough (I have seen them both better and worse), but they were still fun with the only spoiler being the presence of cars full of weekenders gawping at the scenery and using the roads purely as a means to get somewhere. The beauty of a well-laid series of bends is lost on them.
We re-assembled as a group, having been broken up by some getting past cars and others not, and pressed on. Mark, being from Sydney and knowing nothing of the roads or what direction we were going, shot ahead to continue the riding pleasure. Okay so I may or may not have indicated that we were just going straight on from this point when he passed. And I may or may not have forgotten that the turn-off was not that far up the road. Luckily, a couple of the boys caught up to him in time to just miss the turn-off. A quick U-turn had us all back together and pointing in the same direction. As several of the group knew this road, it was a bit of every-man-for-himself through the open sweepers and rolling hills that joined Somerset to the base of Mt Glorious. It wasn’t long before we were pretty spread out along the road.
Now, there comes a time in every rider’s day when you have a pucker moment. Sometimes it’s due to your own over estimation of your natural ability to defy gravity, sometimes it’s due to someone else’s determination to test your avoidance skills. Coming over the hill and seeing bikes and cars all over the road on the corner below was my pucker moment. When you ride, you become quite adept at assessing a situation at a glance and the game of “which of these things is not like the others” is played in a very quick manner. Of all the cars and bikes stationary on either side of the road, the one half standing up, on the right side of the road, facing the wrong way up the corner was the thing out of place. One does not need the mathematical processes of Sherlock Holmes or the deductive reasoning of Einstein to know that someone had erred on the side of bugger!
At that instant you realise someone has gone down, (puckered) you scan every bike and rider in the vicinity in a split second to assess if it was one of our guys. They were all there except Bruce... whew, he was stopped further up around the bend, the bike was not one of ours (un-pucker). It had been established in the morning that I was the only one with a current First Aid certificate, so any relatively dire injury would fall under my jurisdiction. By the time I’d bounced in behind Matt’s SR in a conveniently wide grass area, they had lifted the bike and the signpost off the woman that was lying face down in the dirt and her husband was over the top her in the process of falling apart. He had his arm torn up a bit and a wonky shoulder, but not too bad, she was bleeding from inside the helmet and her right hand was bent at an angle not conducent to being still connected to its natural pivot point. Nobody else appeared to know what to do. Shit, fuck, poo! This was my jurisdiction.
So that’s how we spent the next bit of forever, which is what it seemed like. Trying to get phone reception, finally getting onto the paramedics, then waiting for them to race out from Lowood, which was at least twenty minutes away even under lights and sirens. If it hadn’t been for the American fire-fighter that pulled up and quickly changed into his superhero costume behind the nearest tree, the day would have been quite morbid. Even the paramedics, when they eventually arrived, were conducent to giving him the morphine just to get him out of the way. Luckily they sent him to get the stretcher out of the Ambulance, otherwise the rest of our guys that were standing across the road under a shady tree would have had no entertainment at all. As Matt said later, if Henry Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk had been playing the scene would have been complete.
Eventually my first experience with a compound fracture was loaded into the ambulance and the husband and I briefly discussed physics and the relative instability of extended front forks when combined with an uneven surface. We all bid adieu to the Greatest American Super-hero, with his modern-day pudding-bowl helmet with the built-in drop-down half visor still firmly ensconced on his noggin (where it had remained the entire time), perved on his wife’s arse a little bit as they walked back to his mobile armchair and then did a runner because the cops had arrived.
To Mt Glorious! Matt and Mark on the competing SR’s took off in a whirlwind after Bruce with the rest of our group in tow. I caught up to them at the turnoff to the Northbrook Parkway, where Matt seemed to be having difficulty gaining some forward momentum, even though the rear wheel seemed to be turning at an average velocity conducing to propulsion.
I must admit, I was a little more subdued on the ride over Glorious than I have been in the past, but some of the others used it as a tool to blow the earlier scene out of their heads. Not that it mattered, fast, slow or in the middle, Glorious is still fun to ride over. A stop for a cold drink at the cafe on the Mt Nebo side gave us a chance to relive the sight of the Greatest American Super-hero trying to open an ambulance stretcher. Michael called it a day and rumbled off. Then there were six.
It was a downhill run to Samford Village from there, where a few cold beers were calling. Unfortunately, they would have to wait a little longer as Mark’s loaner SR decided that fuel was no longer to be consumed and refused to be involved in any form of powered movement. After two stops for no seemingly good reason, Mark eventually convinced it that finishing the journey would happen either under its own steam or on the back of Ian’s ute. The SR chose to finish under its own cognition and started. It then ran perfectly well all the way to the fuel station. Two more turned for home and the last four bikes went and parked outside the Samford hotel with the two support vehicles in tow.
We enjoyed some cold drinks and good conversation to end the day. Indeed, what an adventure it had been. After a while it was time to head our separate ways, so it was handshakes all round and back on the bike. I still had another 45 minutes to an hour to ride before I was home, which may or may not have taken a little longer due to missing the Settlement Rd turn and having to go through the city. (Really, are you sure you want me to organise rides?)
In all it was an excellent day, with some fantastic roads and a great bunch of guys that I look forward to getting to know and ride with as the group grows. A big thanks to Mark Hawwa for all his efforts and his vision in getting the group going and for making the trip from Sydney to meet us. An even bigger thanks to the small group of guys (you know who you are) who stayed at the scene of an accident that wasn’t ours, for someone we didn’t know. That speaks volumes about the integrity of our group right there. A final thanks to our photographers and our support vehicle drivers for all your efforts and for being a part of the day.
Thanks to all for being a part of Brisbane Cafe Racers, this group will rise or fall based on the quality and enthusiasm of its members. I for one, think it’s going to go through the roof.
Written by Jeff Gough
Photography by Justin Ma www.jamphotographics.com.au