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Ride Report - 02 Jan '22

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

A new year has dawned and with it a break in the wet weather that has plagued us from the end of winter and through all of spring, summer has finally arrived and with it excellent riding weather and the promise of seeing the Hard Men of the Highlands Classic and Enthusiasts Motorcycle Club in action.

I walk outside and blink at the impossibly blue sky and impossibly bright sun, the heat of an summers day already starting to bear down. A repressive state government has yet again imposed double demerits for traffic offences and a cancelling of leave for the jackbooted gentlemen of the Highway Patrol giving the double whammy of increasing their presence and worsening their mood as they resent having to work when everyone else is at leisure. Accordingly this should be a gentle cruise rather than the usual desperate cut throat race to oblivion, and so I decide to give Helga the elderly unfaired 1974 BMW R90/6 a run. She starts readily and settles into a gentle thrum as I cruise down to the rallying point, and there they stand, the hard men. Again I have underestimated them, thinking they would be home nursing hangovers there is instead an excellent turn out. President Colin is there, Pipes Diaz, Bad Influence Dennis and Rocket Man Neil, Pointless Dave is back with a newly restored licence, Naked Duncan has equipped his Naked Bike with a new fairing, Dapper Rod is as resplendent as always, Paul “The Rock” Roodneys has bough his sensible Hardly Driveable and finally there is Revvin’ Kevin on his venerable Lead Wing, but the Wing is making a rattle and may pull out early. A discussion ensues about the consequences of traffic offences and we set off on a stately procession towards the Highlands Way. By the time we get to Sutton Forest Bad Influence Dennis and Revvin’ Kevin have dropped out but we continue on paying close attention to the speed limit. And just as well for hidden under the trees at Exeter train station is a Highway Patrol car, it’s muscular haunches adorned with the day glo livery of that department, it’s disgruntled occupant glaring at us and grinding his teeth in frustration at our law abiding behaviour. We continue through the villages heading south and get to Wingello, I am in the first four with Dapper Rod in the lead but we are baulked by a group of lady cyclists. Dapper Rod seems reluctant to pass them despite seemingly ample opportunity but he is of course mindful of their safety, and keeps a close watch on their shapely lycra clad figures. For safety reasons. When he finally passes, I see his head twist to the left as he continues to check out, I mean watch out for, the lady cyclists and in a blink we are past. The hard men stop to regroup in Marulan and to my surprise Revvin’ Kevin reappears, I’m so surprised I’m last to set off and enjoy a cruise to the Grand Prix memorial in Goulburn where I am even more surprised to see Bad Influence Dennis who was delayed picking up parts falling off old bikes. A quick petrol stop and we are off to Crookwell. I’m last off again and I settle into a legal cruise, Helga’s boxer twin beating at a relaxed drone along the open road, the hard men slowly pull away but I don’t mind, the sun and the surrounds and lack of wind protection make dawdling along a most pleasant experience, and on the longer straights I can see the ride spread out over a kilometre or so, each rider kicking back and cruising in turn. The road starts to twist as it climbs into Crookwell but I am distracted by the wind turbines, on the left are the original turbines that I saw commissioned nearly thirty years ago, at the time I marveled at their size and majesty, but on the right are the current model, they are easily twice the size, and their immense blades turn at a slower but relentless pace, and I can only wonder about the torque produced in their turbines. At Crookwell we turn to Laggan with the intention of lunching there but alas the inn is closed. Bad Influence Dennis cries ”Taralga”, and sets off in the lead. Obviously the inevitable happens and Dennis exerts his Bad Influence over us all and the pace is upped, I am struggling to keep up, Helga's frame is flexing through the bends, her heart is thrumming wildly and triple digits are seen frequently on her mph speedo. In my mirrors Pointless Dave is right behind, he and his Blackbird are finally showing their true colours after so many months of good behaviour. In record time we reach the outskirts of Taralga, we slow and I can ease the death grip I have on the bars as the wind pressure comes off my chest. At the Taralga Hotel the hard men are all grins and flushed with the exertion of the ride, their eyes aglow with the joy of two wheels and the open road. We enjoy a leisurely lunch that will be followed by the cruise home and the traditional disintegration of the ride, but sitting there on the bench outside the old pub, enjoying a cool drink and the warmth of the weather and basking in the reflected glow of the hard men I can think of no better way to start the year. Here's to many more rides in 2022.

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