No, this is not about riding in your undies! As explained on the previous page, this section is for short notes about rides that people have sent in. Brief they may be, but I thought they were interesting and certainly worth putting on the site for others to read. So if you don't think you can write a story about a ride you've done, and just have a few quick words, then still send it in! It'll go here for everyone to enjoy.
AUSSIE'S RIDE IN THE HEAT
Aussie, who owns a 1981 Suzuki GS1000G (read the story of his bike here) wrote in response to the item on my Blog about riding in the heat. (Or my decision not to ride). He said, “You did the right thing turning back from the heat.” But not just out of personal comfort. Aussie has mentioned before that his bike was (I should say "allegedly!") damaged early in its life by the inadequate performance of a particular oil. The oil (yeah, let’s mention it!) he was using was Shell XMO. Now, from what I recall, this was not a specific motorcycle oil, although a search on the 'net reveals that it was used in bikes. Anyway, the damage to the bike occurred on a trip that was done in extreme heat. I’ll let Aussie tell you about it. “My wife and I rode back from Port Stevens NSW during the Ash Wednesday bushfire summer. We rode through searing 35 to 40 degree heat all the way to Orbost VIC. About 300km into the trip we crossed from the old Hume through Kangaroo Valley to the coast looking for a cooler route. Which it wasn't. Instead we had lengthened the journey and agony until we hit a cool change and heavenly rain at Orbost. I had to top the oil at virtually every fuel stop. “Knowing that the heat/oil combination was killing my two year old motorcycle broke my heart. But having to meet a back-to-work deadline, we had no choice but to push on, praying like the hell we were riding through that she wouldn't seize. “We were both quite ill on arriving home; bearing in mind we were much younger then! My wife was laid up in bed for several days with heat exhaustion. It was by far the most miserable ride I have ever done!” Sounds horrible, doesn’t it! And destroying his bike’s engine in the process only made it worse! Everyone – the bike included – recovered. Although the bike required some internal surgery to get it back to proper condition again. It was an experience he wasn’t keen to repeat. He says, “Two years ago I broke an old tradition and missed the Cranbourne to Williamstown Toy Run. It was 32 degrees that day and with banked up stop/start traffic toward the finish, I wouldn't put my motorcycle through it let alone myself.” I commented to him about the extremes of weather, and mentioned having just received Tim’s story of riding in snow. Aussie said, “I rode in some snow on my way to the Alpine Rally in 1985. Never again!!”
TIM'S RIDE IN THE COLD.
Tim wrote in to our Questions page asking about a rack and bag for his Suzuki GSX1400. Well, he ended up getting one, from a store in WA called Motorcycle Mart. He says, “They had an expandable RJays bag for $119 plus $9.95 postage. That was a bit cheaper than the one I’d looked at, plus it was way bigger – up to 82 litres. All up it cost me $350 brand new which I was reasonably happy with.” And he decided to try it our on a trip. Now, Tim lives in Tasmania, and even though it was only March, it can get a bit cold. And apparently it got very cold! And it gave the new bag a good test. Here’s what he said about the trip. “Me and the wife did a trip to Strahan on the west coast, which is about a 500 km trip return. It rained and snowed all the way back, so the bag’s built in rain cover got a good work out and kept everything nice and dry. Except us! I think I’ll be purchasing handlebar grip warmers before I do another trip.” Rain and snow; sounds great doesn’t it! Not! I’ve ridden in rain, of course, but never snow! I don’t think it’d be too enjoyable. Not only the cold, but the levels of grip wouldn’t be too flash either!
IVOR'S EMBARRASING RIDE
Ivor tells of a ride that caused some embarrassment. He writes, "I used to have an old bike - I won't tell you the brand because it isn't typical - that leaked oil. (No, it wasn't a British bike!). Mostly this didn't cause major dramas, just a case of 'marking its spot' where you parked it. Oh, and especially on a fast ride, it used to blow oil spots back over my jeans! But it did cause problems if the bike was going relatively slowly, and or working hard. Then the engine got hot enough to burn the oil that lay around its surface. And where there's burning oil, there's smoke! "Anyhow, I went for a ride with a mate one day. The ride proceeded up and down a mountain. On the way up I must've been pushing her along a bit - although I'm not a fast rider, and wasn't then either - and so the engine got hot. When we reached the top of the mountain, we pulled over for a bit of a break, or talk about how brave we'd been or something. And of course the oil lying on the motor began to burn. So there we were, parked by the road with a significant cloud of smoke wafting up from my bike. We got some looks from passing motorists! One bloke on a bike pulled in to see if I was okay. 'Yeah, just a bit of oil on the exhausts' I told him. "The smoke soon died down of course, and we proceeded on our way. But it was embarrassing! This next bit came to mind when I read the article about your Charity Ride where you talked about overtaking, and the following rider not knowing what you were going to do. I had a similar experience to what you mention. I was in the lead, with my mate following. We caught up to a big truck just as the 2-lane section we were on reduced to one lane and the road went all curvy. There was enough room for me to pass, but I wasn't sure about my mate. Not wanting to put the truck between us, I braked. And my mate almost ran into the back of me! He'd assumed I'd go, so he nailed the throttle - just as I braked! I apologised after, and he was okay about it. Again though, embarrassment! Which would've been eliminated if he had done the indicator thing you mentioned the rider behind you doing. That was a few years ago now, and thankfully my current bike doesn't smoke!" I can relate to all that, Ivor! My first Yamaha XJ600 (which I described in the "Worst Bike" article) had a small oil leak and used to do exactly the same thing. I remember on one Toy Run we were crawling along towards the end of the ride and the leaking oil started to smoke. So there I was surrounded by bikes, with this thin cloud of smoke drifting up from the bike. I got some funny looks, I can tell you! And, as I mentioned in the Charity Ride article, I have had a following rider almost run into me when I backed off and he assumed I was going to pass; which was why I appreciated the following rider's thoughtfulness in the instance I described.
Click here to return to the front page. Click your BACK button to return to previous page.
Steve tells a story about a ride with a friend of his, Peter, who rides a KTM. And Steve reckons there’s a lesson in this for all of us. (Well, depending on the bike I suppose). I met some others about 10kms from home a ride. When we left from the meeting place Peter’s KTM would only run at about a third of its available revs and couldn't get over about 45kph. From home to the meeting place it had run perfectly and it had run perfectly on a 200km ride we had done the day before. As the others had disappeared I followed him back to the KTM shop so that if it stopped completely I could come home and get the car and trailer to tow it there. The bike staggered all the way to the KTM dealer (about 10 or 12kms) under its own power. When we got there, they put it straight into the workshop and connected it to their diagnostic computer. The computer didn’t diagnose the problem, but on further investigation the cause of the KTM’s sluggishness was revealed. The poor thing couldn’t breathe because Peter had put his wet-weather pants, in a plastic bag, under the seat, and it blocked the air-intake! Gave the KTM guys, and me, a good laugh and embarrassed him big time. Mind you he only put the stuff under the seat the night before, after our previous day’s ride. But we all want to know how it travelled the first 10 or 12kms without drama? Ah yes, the silly things we do! Reminds me of some trouble I had one day, a long time ago. Took off from home and the bike was running fine, but it soon started running a bit rough. The further I went the worse it got. It lacked power and was running very rough. After about 10km or so I pulled over to investigate; and it promptly stalled. With a bit of encouragement I got it going again and decided that the best plan at that stage would be to get it back home where some further diagnosis could take place. It was even less happy on the journey home, being very sluggish and coughing and spluttering at low revs. But eventually I made it home; down the driveway and it stalled. It was obviously a fuel-related problem, so I started looking at the carbies to see if there was anything obvious. There was. The choke was still pulled out! Push the choke back in, fire it up, and strangely enough, it ran fine!
DAVE’S QUEENSLAND RIDE
Dave wrote in with a story of a ride - or rather anincident - that he had many years ago. Picture the scene he describes and have a laugh - very funny! When I was a young bloke (oh! so long ago) I had a habit of riding my BMW R-100RS from Melbourne (where I lived) to Hervey Bay (where my girlfriend – later wife – lived). Work would give us 6 days off after a night-shift. So, being young, stupid and completely invulnerable I'd hop on the bike and ride straight through, to ....."visit!" Have "happy happy" for a couple of days, then ride home. What could possibly go wrong? It was usually around 24 hours riding and I didn’t like (was too stingy) stopping for expensive motels. Just keep going. So, you hit the odd kangaroo around St George. Plenty more where they came from. Fortunately, the BM was a good bike to hit a 'roo on, because the cylinder head worked as an early crash-bar. The point of this story though, is that on one trip I met up with a mate in Hervey Bay who was desperate for a lift to Benalla in Victoria. He suggested he could hop on the back of my bike and come with me. I suggested he was out of his mind! But, as usual in these cases, insanity prevailed and off we went. The first 8 or so hours went by ok. Sort of. He was a smoker but I kindly refused to stop for such frivolous activities. Resulting, of course, in a quick fag by the fuel pumps at the petrol stops. (It was the 70's – they didn’t used to shoot at you for such offences in those days!). Back on the bike for the next 4 hour stint found him dozing off. Not the best thing to do on a bike, so we got some occy straps and stuck them in my jacket pocket, around his back, and into my other pocket. This would keep him attached just long enough to completely shit himself just at that point when he was leaving the back of the bike. (And stay awake, in terror, for another hour or so). Ploughing on we somehow, miraculously crossed the Victorian border, in the dark, not long after a recent storm. Water in the gutters on each side of the road and a dozy rider kind of mesmerised by the long, straight stretch of road. I guess we were travelling at around 140kmh. I suddenly realised that I'd been focusing on an obstruction in the road, but had failed to act (read, brake dummy!!!) Sadly, it was a tree which had fallen in the storm and completely blocked the road. By this time it was way too late to stop and I frantically scanned the tree to see which side it would be better to hit. Had it fallen from the left (trunk side)? Yes! Now, just keep braking (no ABS back then) and hopefully crash through the branches on the right. Got down to around 80 kmh and at the last second, I ducked down behind the fairing. Ok, now picture this – my mate woke up to find me disappeared and he was upright on the bike crashing through undergrowth at 80ks. Wing mirrors smashed and flying glass everywhere. We crashed through and wobbled about in the muddy verge while I found a gear and got going again. Well, I couldn’t move a big tree and anyway, a person has a schedule to stick to! But, no. Much tapping on the shoulder from the smoking section on the back. "Dave, Dave, please! Just one quick fag! Have mercy!" So, in my infinite good grace we stopped and I watched a pair a very unstable hands try to light a smoke in the Victorian bush at 4am. So that’s my story. The moral, of course, is ....... don’t bloody smoke! It must've been a terrifying experience for the poor pillion! Waking up to be in the middle of that! Another moral of the story is probably, "Don't go to sleep on a bike!" Thanks, Dave, great story!
STEVE'S RIDE IN SNOW
Steve had an interesting ride recently when he and a mate went on an over-nighter to the Barrington Tops region north-west of Newcastle. For him it was a new experience; which is saying something for this well-travelled bloke! Here is his brief description of the main event! “I tried something new yesterday; I rode a motor cycle in snow! A mate and I headed out for an over-nighter and went over Barrington Tops. It was cold. Actually it was very cold. In fact it was so cold it sleeted, and then it snowed! “The co-efficient of friction between snow and a Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyre is 2 thirds of 3 fifths of the square root of begger all so, naturally, I fell off. Fortunately only once. No damage to me but the bike now sports a scratch on the tank, a bent gear lever end, bent left engine protection bar and a broken front left blinker. All up we did about 680kms in the 2 days and probably 200 of that was on wet, slippery dirt. Bugger!” I’m glad you weren’t hurt, Steve, but sad to see the new V-Strom sustaining some battle-scars. Hopefully you’ll be able to get them sorted out with little permanent damage.
GRANT AND THE BEATEN BEEMER
Grant wrote in with a story from his past. It’s an interesting one because we normally consider that bikes are quicker than cars. But it all depends…. When I was a younger rider, I had a few different bikes in a reasonably short space of time as it seems to me now, all of which had been chosen out of financial necessity and not real choice. All except one, my 1964 A65 BSA Thunderbolt. If I could have the bike I really coveted though, it would have been a BMW, a boxer to be precise because by then the K series was also on the market. Eventually I was able to get myself a 4 year old R100RT with low kilometres. I thought I was the bee’s knees getting around on this high status bike, all that great, well-thought-out German engineering packaged into one vehicle. To say that I was conflicted about the bike being as good as I hoped it would be by the time we parted company, is an understatement. Yes it lopped along with “long legs” in top gear on the open road and had loads of storage space in the panniers and the fairing, but on balance I found it an extremely frustrating bike. Even though there are many instances when frustration was not an adequate adjective to describe my mood about the Beemer, I will recount one incident which exemplified my exasperation (and disbelief) in it. I was never a boy racer as such, whereas my brother was, but I wasn’t a slouch either. We had gone out for a night cruise to the foothills around Ferntree Gully in Victoria, and on the way back we pulled up at a set of lights where a Mazda RX5 was already waiting. My Brother was riding his Moto-Guzzi LeMans with his girl friend as pillion. The Mazda was full of people, far too many for such a small car. They were hanging out the windows in a very jovial state of mind (read "pissed as maggots"!) and egging us on for a drag. Now, in the years before BMW ownership, I had a GS 750 Suzuki and to use the old parlance, it went “like shit from a shang-eye”. The GS made me think that in a straight-out drag with a car, there would be no contest. I knew about the reputation of the rotary for blistering speed but thought the Boxer would easily be up to the task of humiliating the Mazda driver. The lights went green and we were off, me giving the Beemer a fistful in every gear to redline. My brother obviously doing something similar, pulled steadily away from me into the darkness and the Mazda which got the jump on me at the lights did the same flames pouring out the exhaust with an ungodly sound, until the car, the flames, and my brother disappeared into the night, with the occupants of the car still hanging out the windows in delight. Thinking about it later, those drunken hooligans probably were so jovial because they knew what I would be up against dragging the Mazda, having already vanquished other unsuspecting motorists and bikers earlier in the night. Defeated and demoralised, I caught up with my brother and his girlfriend at an intersection ahead. I coyly asked about whether the RX5 had caught him and he said no, he’d left it for dead. “How about you” he asked. “I got dusted” I replied sheepishly. He, looked at me in disbelief and I was still unable to believe it either. Was I that crappy a rider that I couldn’t get the best out of the Beemer? Was it the Beemer and not me? I hoped of course it was just the bike, but then that would add to the weight of evidence that the Beemer was not such a great bike after all. In the following years many other exasperating things occurred relating to the Beemer’s inadequate performance, that ultimately made me decide to sell it and not ride bikes anymore. The moral of the story could be, use a boxer for what is meant to be used for, or never drag an RX Mazda unless you are riding something pretty quick! As it turns out, 25 years after that decision I bought another boxer. I’m a glutton for punishment you might say, and perhaps it’s true, but I haven’t had it long enough to find out. Ah the travails of bike ownership! Thanks Grant. Hmm, yes, how embarrassing! Those rotary Mazdas were pretty quick, but yes, you’d expect the bike to win, wouldn’t you! Oh well, a story to tell in the pub (and on motorcycling web-sites!), although the fact that you have bought another one might be a bit of a worry! Of course the modern boxers are quite a lot faster than they used to be, so maybe those pesky Mazdas might be on the menu for a good dust-up now!
DOUBLING FOR BILLY CONNOLLY
During an exchange of emails about down-sizing (there is an article coming as I write this), Wolf (John) mentioned he had ridden as a body-double for Billy Connolly. “You’ve got to tell me about that!” I replied! And he has; briefly anyway. (More details to come, hopefully!). Wolf tells us a bit about his past bikes here too. Before I get onto the Billy Connelly tour, I shall give you a little about my introduction to motor cycling. My father, being a school teacher, moved the family to a dairy farming area on the north coast of NSW and the next door neighbours had 8 boys of whom 4 were into motorcycles; and as a wide eyed and impressionable 10 year old boy I saw motorcycling as the best thing even before sliced bread, and something that I had to get involved in. The first motorcycle that I ever rode was a back yard engineered push bike with a Villiers 2 stroke motor grafted into it. I then progressed to a Vespa motor scooter, a 200 Yamaha electric 2-stroke, a 250 Ducati Desmo and a GT 550 Suzuki RAM Air. That was when I decided it was time to buy my first motorcycle which was a TS400 Suzuki Apache and then progressed to a 500 Suzuki Titan. The number of bikes I have owned since then is too many to mention in this but I will list them at a later date if you wish to know. Now to the Billy Connelly Tour. I was doing Harley Davidson joy-rides and tours for a friend of mine in a company called “American Eagle Harley Davidson Joy Rides” and at around the time of the Billy Connelly tour we had a 1942 Harley WLA Servi-Car that no-one wanted to ride. So I took it upon myself to work it and the film company that was doing the tour wanted to find someone who could ride a trike to body double for Billy and my friend put me up for it and I got the gig. I was working for IPEC Transport at the time so I took 4 weeks annual leave and did the tour from Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle legs but then had to return to work as they would not let me have leave without pay. I will explain the tour in more detail at a later date if you wish to know more details. Thanks for the story, John, and yes, we would love to hear more about this one!
CHRIS MAKES IT TO THE ISLAND
Attending a MotoGP race meeting is one of those things that most riders have on their “bucket-list”. Chris had been wanting to go to the Phillip Island round for a long time, and recently he got to do the trip, along with a few mates. He tells us about the trip: Finally got around to attending the MotoGP at Phillip Island a couple of weeks ago. Rode down on the old ‘92 Electraglide with a couple of mates on their Triumph 955i Sprint and a 94 BMW R100 LT. We went down via the Southern Highlands, Goulburn, Braidwood and Bateman’s Bay before overnighting at Orbost, completing the trip next day via Lakes Entrance before reaching our destination and accommodation at a caravan park cabin in Cowes. I’ve never been to the circuit before although watched many a race on TV and the pictures simply don’t do the place justice. A wonderful track with so many vantage points to choose from. We walked around the place on Saturday and for race-day elected a spot about 3/4 down the main straight where we could look across to the other side as well as get up close to the bikes as they hurtled past at well over 340 kph. I’ve been to a number of F1 races both here and in the UK, but have to say the sight and sound of these missiles makes your hair stand on end, and these are guys scraping their knees and, in some cases, elbows (read Marquez) as they tip into corners at light speed and sliding their rear wheels to boot. Phenomenal stuff! Weather was perfect for weekend, but advisable to take warm kit too as I’m told the Island can literally provide four seasons in one day. We came home pretty much the same way and it was this on leg of the trip that I decided if I go again it will be by plane or train. Much as I love road riding, it seems this particular trip is way too risky having to share the bitumen with the weekend warriors who come away from the race trying to emulate their heroes. I spent more time watching my mirrors than the road ahead. A couple of lights would appear from behind and in a nanosecond they’d howl by, over double lines and off into the distance. And it wasn’t only sportsbikes, who are usually blamed for this kind of behaviour. On a couple of occasions it was Harleys, and they seem to think it’s cool to ride side by side as they thunder by. Of course the police are out in force, but I suspect most riders understand the survival instinct of riding in packs: the predators are far less likely to have success targeting the herd or flock – the lone rider is far more susceptible to attack... But overall it was a great trip and I’m pleased to have done it and another tick off the bucket list. So now for the IOM TT! Thanks for the story, Chris. I've never been to The Island, although, like you, have been watching races there for more years than I care to remember! What you say about it makes me want to go there even more! By the way, this is Chris' 1992 Harley Electraglide. It's a beautifully maintained bike, a real pleasure to see!