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Ride Report - 20 Dec '20

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

The Day I Realised I'd Never Be a Hard Man

A light rain is falling as the Hurricane and I make our way down the slick wet roads of Moss Vale to the meeting spot for the ever popular Modern Bike Ride. The riders are already assembled, they stand around casually, coolly. They pay scant attention to the light drizzle that would deter lesser motorcyclists on such a day, for these are the diamond hard men, the type of men that call the SAS pussies, the Laverda shunning hard men of the Highlands Classic and Enthusiasts Motorcycle Club. I feel cowed and humbled to be in the presence of these men, President Colin, Pipes Diaz, Revvin' Kevin, Rockin' Roland, Duncan on his mighty Suzuki, and James the GS man, a man so mighty he can right a fallen BMW GS all by himself. And the machines-GS man has his boxer twin, Colin has his BMW box of pistons, Revvin Kevin has his GS light, Duncan is on an unfeasibly big Suzuki GSX1400, Pipes has sensibly opted for his mighty Yamaha FJR1300 and Rockin' Roland has his Hardly Driveably FXBBC Shadow Night Black Glide. I am a little embarrassed that I have bought along Reuben the CBR1000 Hurricane for the sole reason that he is easy to wash. The hard men nod at each other and mount up, an unspoken communication that the road awaits. I am caught unaware, missing the subtle nuances of their silent missives and hop around getting ready. "So we'll regroup at Marulan?" I ask, but even as the words leave my lips I realise I sound ineffectual, soft. Colin and Pipes nod in indulgent agreement as I suit up and climb aboard the Hurricane. We tip toe out of town, Pipes leading the ride, gingerly feeling his way, probing at the limits of traction as the road opens up. Exeter, Bundanoon, Penrose disappear in a gentle cruise, the weather improving as we go, patches of dry road becoming more frequent. Just out of Wingello the road is dry and there is enough light for Pipes to cast a shadow. The Hurricane leaps ahead almost unbidden, releasing a tornado of power, the revs climb at a dizzying rate as the brutal acceleration tries to pluck me off the back of the bike, a long straight disappears in the blink of an eye and in my mirrors only Rockin' Roland is still with me, the twin headlights of his surprisingly fast Hardly Driveably shining like the eyes of a predator chasing down the Hurricane. We are far ahead of the pack and pull into the service centre at Marulan to await the hard men. After a while Roland suggests there has been a mechanical failure. I ring Colin on the presidential helmet phone to tell him we are awaiting the group. "Bleedin' heck Michael, we're miles past there" he exclaims. " I'll catch you at the Nerriga Hotel" I snivel. "Right then" says Colin as he buttons off, no doubt busy bending time and space with the power and velocity of his mighty BMW. We leave to catch up as the drizzle starts again and turn off the freeway towards Bungonia, I round a corner and I'm suddenly enveloped in a patch of sunshine, it heats the wet road and a mist rises knee high off the tarmac like soft whipped cream spread upon a Christmas pavlova. I plough through the fog and look into the mirrors to see that my passing has set up a vortex that swirls in small circles like the dust inside a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Roland bursts through the middle of the cloud like the hero in a bad 80's video clip. I turn my attention to the road but a part of me is quietly humming Meatloaf's bat out of hell. The road is a series of open bends and short straights, a road made for riding motorcycles on a mild summer's day. The weather continues to improve, the sun is playing hide and seek with light clouds, the rain is gone. Summer blossoms fill the paddocks around the road, the air is clean and moist. At one point the air above the road is awash with butterflies, they flit apparently at random around the Hurricane but not one is hit, just as well as while they float as butterflies, the Reuben the Hurricane, like Ali, stings like a bee. We put the wild rush down to Oallen Ford behind us and with a slight thrill top the rise to the Nerriga Hotel. The car park is empty. The hard men are gone. Roland pulls up along side me and observes that the hard men have ditched us. The road is empty, the air is still, only the murmur of our idling machines breaks the silence. The void left by the hard men is palpable, noticeable, real. There is not even a last lingering echo of their passing. I nod slowly and at that moment it dawns on me that I will never truly be a hard man, only hubris has kept the hope alive till now. I turn to Roland and say "I'll follow you". And I do, the road dips then rises up following the old wool road, bends tighten and open up and spit us out on a sun drenched ridge where you can see for miles. The open road is empty, the sun is warm and the Hurricane's engine beats like the heart of a living thing. Roland sets a cracking pace and right then I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be. As I ride I realise that I don't really care that I'll never be one of the cool kids, we will catch up with the hard men eventually, but for now the ride is enough...

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