Aug 1, 2017 - Posted by: Prickle

The Boys Are Back In Town.

Well, it has been a while since even feeling like hitting the road for a weekend away as life, well I will correct that because really, it’s been mates passings that have been getting in the way. Let me explain that last sentence; it has become more and more frequent the older I become that more mates are...

taking that road none of us wants to ride yet. Just in the last month, two great blokes have shuffled off this mortal coil as Shakespeare once wrote, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause”. But it’s been giving me more than just pause it has stopped me in my tracks to reflect and take stock of life and what we do with it. When we were all young, this end of the of the dash of life wasn’t even in the foresight. I can only speak for myself when I say, with every parting of a mate gets me in the throat and turns my every thought to the point it can easily take over one's mindset. What I’ve found it’s other mates that seem to pick up on exactly what is ailing you and know what a bloke that loves to ride needs to get the head right and to say good bye to those that are not with us no more.

This is what happened, I was talking with a mate how the passing of these two blokes Wayne and Greg had affected me and his words where yep we really need to get the things that we want to be done and don’t waste any time doing it.  Oh, by the way, a few of us are going on a weekend run back to the Lunatic Bar, and maybe I should come along. Right at that moment that sounded great but I replied cool, but I would let him know later that week. So, while I was going about my business those words of the road trip, kept being flipped around in my head and then an epiphany occurred, what better way to say goodbye to these two mates. They both did ride, then what better way than going on a road trip, always plenty of time to talk it out while pushing out those miles. It wasn’t until the Friday I got back and said if that invite is still open I would like to take you up on it, the answer was yes, it is, great to hear your coming, see you Saturday morning.

Saturday morning weather was looking beautiful, I got my gear I was taking packed, and into my saddlebags. But I broke with my regular routine which had been used for years. I would first start my bike but this time for some reason I was out of whack, or it was a practical joke of the spirit world haha. This time I started with ignition on, choke out, press starter bike eventually started but didn’t sound right, maybe it was just cold, nope that wasn’t it. Pushed choke in a bit, nope that didn’t help. A couple of revs on the throttle,  it sounded and felt like it had dropped a cylinder, yep it was only running on one cylinder, what’s going on. By this time it had made me focus on what my routine was when starting the bike but all the while inside my head I was feeling disappointed as no bike meant, no ride. All this time I am thinking back to the starting process,  you may have guessed it by now, for some reason I hadn’t turned the fuel on. Funnily enough, this is one of the things mates do to each other, another good one is turning the kill switch to off, always gets a bite.

Turned the fuel on and she fired straight up as I was chuckling to myself and mumbling which one of you departed buggers having a shot at me, but it did bring my head back to focus on what was at hand which was having a great time on the road. Topped up at the garage we were all meeting at, said our hellos and got a bit of a rundown of which way we were going to go which happened to be the reverse from last time we went to the Lunatic Bar at the Drake Hotel, so this time we headed south and took the turn off to Lismore. Well, we made our way out onto the highway, and it wasn’t long before the Saturday traffic jam was upon us. But that wasn’t going to dampen our enjoyment as we just filtered the traffic. Some of the cars even made room for us while others showed their disgust of a few bikes getting further down the ride than them, well get over it and buy a bike. By filtering in between the vehicles keeps you alert and it didn’t feel that long at all, and we were turning off the highway and heading for Lismore. We stopped at one of the rest stops so the chimneys could produce some smoke I don’t sound like a reformed smoker now do I, all the while the smackers lit up, while I took advantage of the stop to clean the visor on my new open face helmet. I said to the boys that were riding in front of me, my screen is smeared with an oily like substance they replied, so were their screens and glasses. So, we worked it out all this come from a rather smoky old four-wheel drive and it was the culprit spewing out oil and diesel fuel to cover the unexpected victim. We were lucky Alby had some baby wipes and clean rags to clean the visors glad someone was thinking, so we cleaned up and moved on now with clear vision. Wasn’t long and we were slipping into Lismore, we rode our way through their quaint little town and out the other side, then back up to a good cruising speed. The road where some good bike roads those that ride don’t need me to describe what I’m saying we had a bit of everything. Only started a few rides back instead of ear plugs, play some music instead didn’t think it would appeal to my liking but with a good mix of exhaust note and some great riding tunes streaming through, you get the best of both worlds happening, so it seems. The new helmet I bought just before this ride is an RXT Metro open face with screen and it has shown to be a very comfortable helmet. It’s the first helmet with a screen that I have owned in years; the wind noise is significantly reduced in this helmet when comparing with my other older helmets. The screen will sit at any of the many positions it has without moving at all by itself. I’m very impressed, so all in all a good buy at under $100 bucks from the Australian Motorcycle Warehouse at Yatala. With all the years of travelling it doesn’t matter where you are going in this great country of ours, Australia is a huge place, and most people don’t see outside their tiny bit of this great land. Making road trips such as this allows you to see that bit more of the countryside and how in only a matter of every few kilometres how landscapes, the scenery, the bush and the lighting is continuously changing. You really can’t believe how many shades of colour and how many beautiful scenes that I see as a photographer but if I stopped to take a shot I would never get to where I’m going, so I think it’s time to start looking at getting some video shots while on the move.

Oh boy, before I knew it we were on the outskirts of a town called Casino which makes a claim and calls itself the “Beef Capital” lovely country town which is a hub like most country towns to the farms and land holders around it. So, we made our way to get some fuel once fuelled a few of the boys wanted to get a feed. It was decided to grab a burger, and we ended up at a smaller garage which had a hot box, full of what looked to be connoisseurs delights, Not. All I wanted was bottled water, on a side note a funny thing happened when trying to find this eatery, a local who was on a  crotch rocket was right up my rear carrying on yelling and screaming about what I do not actually know, but here is a good guess. It seems I wasn’t travelling the way he had decided I should be travelling. So he proceeded to start yelling and cursing which was heard over the revving of his bike and my music, wow, I was nearly right on the white centre line, and he could not seem to find any other room on the rest of the road to go past me. Surely he could see we were all turning into the garage. It seems the older I get, the more I don’t do idiot well. So, sign language of the one finger salute was produced as we all park up, just then a voice beside me was heard saying, see you're making friends Prickle, yeah Rocket idiots are attracted to me like a magnet was my reply, as we both laughed it off.

As I checked the horizon because rain had been predicted, we could see the cloud formation building. The famous last words were heard, we have 90 k’s to go, bet you the rain hits at 85k’s, well, let’s just say, I’m glad I didn’t put money on it. We were zipping along up the range and reached the top with a few spots of rain on the screen then somebody must have pulled the chain, and the heavens opened. We continued at a quick pace, but when you start to feel the water trickling into your boots you know, it is wet. We arrived at the Drake Hotel parked under cover, and you should have guessed the hot topic yep that right it was the inclement weather and how wet and where that wet was. We headed straight to the bar and paid for our beds $25 bucks a night, wow… you just can’t beat that. You also can’t beat a real fire that was roaring, we quickly made friends with the locals around the fire as we started our the drying process all the while having a few beverages. One of the locals piped up and said, oh you blokes are a bit wet hey… oh, by the way, it was minus 3 here last night, geez thanks for that bloke...

The evening rolled on as the rain continued to fall, the worms were starting to bite, so we made our way around to the dining room, after a quick look at the menu, orders were placed, and the story telling had begun. Our meals arrived promptly, and the meals were fantastic steaks schnitzels and bangers, and mash could be seen as well as pizza and some huge burgers, and I witness some devouring two of those burgers wow they must not have eaten for a week good to see some healthy appetites. As the evening rolled on we all had full bellies, the drinks were going down, so so well, the laughter could be heard ringing out throughout the pub. I sat quietly for a moment listening to all the noises, and at that moment some self-talk my thoughts happy as they were turned to all my mates that had passed away came flooding in.  How we had all enjoyed nights just like this one,  it brought some real joy to me. I was humbled as I was lucky enough to be still living it. Their lives should be celebrated,  don’t be sad that they are gone, be happy because as while their names are still spoken they live on with all those that hear their names.

My clothes were drying out nicely, but it was near midnight, time for this little black duck to hit the sack, so I said my goodnights and sauntered over to where we were bedding down for the night. While getting myself there, I looked up to see a beautiful moon peeping through the shallow thin clouds, and I hoped tomorrow would be a dry day. It was for me a 3-blanket night, and that was only after I went and warmed my cold, wet feet under the hot water of the shower.  Must have slept like a log as the morning came as quick as the night went. The mumbles of the morning ablutions rang out and the calls from some, what’s for breakfast, they had appetites like they had just run a marathon and not like those that had been tucked up in bed for a few hours.

We strolled over to the dining area to order breakfast, coffees were the order of the day.  Toasted chicken tomato and cheese sandwiches were good enough for me, most of the other blokes had everything from mixed grills down to toasted sandwiches. After that, we made moves to pack up the bikes, warmed the engines, said our thanks and goodbyes to the hosts of the Lunatic Bar and to the lovely lady and her offsiders that kept us all fed and watered, then we were on our way. Roads were wet but it wasn’t cold enough to worry about black ice, thick gloves were welcomed as was being dry. We cut a great pace to get through to Tenterfield past through there to see quite a few other riders looking at spending a day on the road. We passed straight through and back up to speed that we all enjoyed and made our way to the next town. As we travelled through some great country side, just at that moment in time, you couldn’t have planned this if you tried. We were ascending on one of the overtaking lanes, the mist lifting from the road, the pale blue colour of the sky, the sunlight reflecting on the wet road and a song come on called “When I Go”.  It was then right at that exact moment, I was able to say my goodbyes to a couple of great mates Greg Hirst and Wayne Baffsky that had passed unexpectedly in the last month. Now if I may tell you all a bit about these two great blokes. Well, Greg was what I would call a true gentle man softly spoken, he actively worked hard for motorcycle rights and advocating anything biker related. He had his own weekly radio show and even started a production company and made a show called Temporary Australians, which was enjoyed by many riders and non-riders. Now to Wayne had a life around the bike clubs of his time, he also was a Barrister he fought long and hard for us all. Many people did not know how hard this bloke worked behind the scenes and was a softly spoken gentle man as well, the both of these men could be contacted at any time and they always had time to listen and to help in any way they could. So, there you have it, just a little bit about these two great gentlemen, taken too soon, until we meet again on the forever road and where the parties never end, “Rest in Peace” gentlemen.

After that particular moment had finished, it was like a load was lifted, and the ride was what was needed to accomplish that, as that moment was absorbed we were reaching Stanthorpe, where we took the opportunity stop at the pub to stretch our legs. Some of the blokes had a warm beverage and took advantage of the fire heated room while some, I included, hit that bakery for a sausage roll and coffee to go.  That hit the spot and got some warmth back in the body before we left the town we filled our tanks for the last leg. Out of Stanthorpe, we did ride, a farming area which is just so full of grapevines, wineries, stone fruit, it sure is the granite belt when you see all the boulders of granite around the place. Didn’t take long and we were back to the highway and up to speed rumbling along, breathing in the free air,  absorbing the incredible scenery. The feel of the road under your backside, we were alive, open to the elements as we proceeded forward through time, all the cobwebs and life’s loads were gone, I felt as light as a feather, and once again I was free. Through to Warwick and down the Gap range and onto Aratula where we stopped for a coffee and said our goodbyes. I took this opportunity to thank these fellas which are from the Celtic Warlocks which is a motorcycle club and a great group of guys to boot, thanks for allowing me to spend some time with you all.  I had a great time and hope we can do it again as there is no place like an open road with a group of mates, the sound of pipes and music and the breeze washing what’s ailing you away. You all should try it sometime, you will never look back.

So, until we meet again, may the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, ride well and watch out for those damn cars.

Write-up & Photos by Steve Prickle.

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