“You’re loaded up!” I said, as I approached the guy standing beside a BMW that was almost buried beneath a tower of luggage. “This is my home.” he replied, in a strong accent. It sounded kind of American, but a lot more rounded, and with a more prominent enunciation of each syllable. I asked where he was from. “I’m from Vancouver.” Ah, yes, Canadian. It’s a unique and lovely accent! I met him at a classic bike show. The bike was parked near the display bikes and looked almost as if it was on display too, but in fact he had just been riding past, saw the collection of bikes and called in. He was around middle-age I’d guess, and a very friendly guy. We got chatting about the bike and he told me its story. Oh, and he referred to it as a "motorcycle,” not a “motorbike.” It was, he said, a bike that he had wanted for quite some time. Back home in Canada he found one advertised, but by the time he had a chance to go and look at it, the bike had been sold. When he came to Australia for a touring holiday he didn’t intend doing it by bike. And some touring in the west of the country was done by other means of transport. Then he arrived in Sydney. His plan was to travel to Tasmania and tour around our southern isle. He checked prices for car hire but that was way too expensive. So he turned to bikes. At a $100 a day, hiring a bike was going to be a costly exercise too! Then he spotted this BMW for sale. Well, actually, I don’t think it was for sale, but the owner worked on a ship and was absent for long periods, so decided to sell his bike. A price was agreed to, and Chris left to think it over. Some time later, he was back and decided to buy the bike. That was the easy part. He then spent four days getting the required money transferred from Canada, and a further two days getting it registered in his name. The process was, as you might imagine, complicated by him being from overseas; although he did have an address where he was staying at the time. A further complication was that the bike had a personalised number-plate, which the owner wanted to keep. Eventually though, the bike was his. It is a 2004 model, and had just 15,000km on it. It also came with a top-box and panniers (yes, they are under all the other luggage somewhere!); which would be very useful for him. There were a few scuff on the sides, but nothing major. As he said, “On this type of bike you’re going to get that, but it’s okay.” After buying the bike, the weather turned sour and it was constant rain in Sydney. Eventually he said, “I’m going, rain or not!” And so he headed south. The first day was just a short trip, to Wollongong, where he spent a couple of days sight-seeing. It was on the following day, at a small town in the Shoalhaven area that I met him. As he said, this type of bike is fairly top-heavy anyway, but was much more so with all his gear loaded. (Gear which included everything needed for an extended holiday – including a fishing-rod!). But with some re-arrangement, ensuring all the heavier items (like tools, a gas stove etc), were loaded down low, the handling improved. He said that, if the bike worked out well, he will freight it back to Canada. He’d found a company that shipped bikes at a reasonable cost, provided you didn’t need it done urgently. (Apparently they wait until they have enough bikes to make the trip, then deposit them at a common port). I asked him where he was headed that day. He said, “Just down the coast – as far as I get.” No rush, no plans! How many of us dream of doing something like that, but never do it? Chris is one person who is living his dream. Good luck to you Chris!
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