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A Fair Cop?

I’m riding through the streets of Shoalhaven Heads, the roads are deserted, there are no people walking the streets, the only movement I can see is the occasional twitch of a curtain on a covered window. Ahead is a small boy is waving at the nice man on a motorbike, I raise my hand to wave back as his mother rushes into the yard, snatches up her infant son and runs back inside, slamming the front door behind her. What has caused this? Has the zombie apocalypse come about without me knowing? What has the residents of this sleepy hamlet so spooked?

I round the bend and the Shoalhaven Hotel comes into sight and the reason becomes clear. In the middle of the alfresco dining area is a table ringed by the Hard Men of the Highlands Classic and Enthusiasts Motorcycle Club, resplendent in their leisure, confident in their hardness. The rest of the patrons of the establishment are cowering in the furthest corner of the yard, awed and intimidated by these hard men. But I know they have nothing to fear, for the just will have no trouble from the Hard Men, a group of men with hearts inspired by liberty, equality and brotherhood.

I park up and join the hard men for lunch and banter, like the last Sunday ride there is a good turn-up, Tony hasn’t made it but there are a dozen or so that have. I have a congenial chat with a fellow next to me but later learn he is in the Laverda Club. He seemed so normal, quiet, kept to himself, a good neighbour, who would think he was capable of such things? But the road is calling its siren song so there is no postprandial lounging, we are up, helmets donned and on our steeds for the trip home.

We trundle out of town and along the road to Gerringong where we join the Princes Highway and the ever entertaining Kiama bends, a run that combines the best of rollerball and road racing. We turn off towards Jamberoo and after passing a couple of errant motorists the road ahead is clear. Hans the German, my trusty old BMW R100RS, knows this road intimately from when we used to commute from Gerroa to Bowral at the end of the twentieth century and I let him find his own way through the bends, we slow at the end of the best twisty bits and Bad Influence Dennis blasts past, apparently confused by our easing back, Dapper Rod follows suit but Hans and I dribble into town, and pull over for the rest of the ride to regroup.

I am at the back of the pack as we leave Jamberoo and head up the mountain to Robertson. At the bottom of the pass I stop and allow the road ahead to clear so I can run up the hill at my own pace. Halfway up I pass a guilty looking Dad Joke Richard standing on the side of the road, he later claims to have had a cramp. Hmmm. As I catch the rest of the pack I have a glimpse of international orange through the trees: Highway Patrol! No wonder I have caught the Hard Men so easily. At the top of the hill the fine officer pulls over and we quietly ease past him, I think he will turn and patrol the pass downhill but no, he falls in behind Richard and appears to be maximising his fuel efficiency by tucking in as close to Richard as he can, I can only hope Richard doesn’t miss a gear or he will become a bonnet decoration for the Chrysler.

The vanguard of the Hard Men have pulled over at the end of Jamberoo Mountain Road to wait for us, and we ease over to join them. The policeman passes Richard and I and then puts on his lights and siren and stops safely just over a crest in the middle of the road. He springs out of his patrol car and demands Pointless Dave’s licence, his car’s technology having failed to read Dave's government issue number plate on his standard ADR compliant bike. The orificer of the law studies Dave’s licence front and back for several minutes, then, apparently satisfied that no drugs were concealed on it hands it back and inspects the set of Dave’s number plate. Dave makes the right placating sounds and the brave peace officer seems satisfied, he steps back to his car and when within a step of the safely of it’s confines puffs out his chest and fingers the gun strapped to his thigh like a bad ass gunslinger. “Just so you know” he starts like the adolescent he was just a few short months ago “we’re targeting bikes”. There is a muttered chorus of “what’s new?” from the hard men as as he continues his lecture, “we’re here every weekend, you know these things are dangerous?” Ducati Rob patiently explains that we are familiar with the roads and always ride safely, the fact that all of the hard men have been riding since before this young upstart was born remains unsaid and appears to be lost on the cunstable. I sense a movement to my left and my worst fears are confirmed: Dapper Rod is shuffling forward on his zimmer frame with a steak knife in his hand. Luckily the hard men hold him back before the patrolman sees the threat and can draw his Tazer. Instead with one final caress of his gun the boy in blue jumps back into his car and roars off.

We saddle up and start the last leg home, the Hardest stop at Roberson pub for a beverage but I have tasks at home and follow Richard out of town and drone home, the farce of the lecture from the young policeman forgotten in the sheer joy of the road and the renaissance of the ever popular third Sunday of the month Modern Bike Ride, may there be many many more...

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