by Hendrik Gout
Tuesday night, 11.00 pm. Temperature 18 degrees C (about 70 F). A full
moon. It's one of those autumn nights where the air is sharp. I'm about to
hit the hay when a mate rings and says he's hanging around like a chimp in
the bananas. Would I like to go for a ride?
The plan HAD been to take Wednesday off, shoot through the Adelaide Hills
to the town of Wellington on the banks of the Mighty Murray, and sit of the
grass drinking Cooper's Stout watching the pelicans and the ferry.
But when a mate rings and wants to go for a ride... well, a man's gotta do
what a man's gotta do. Even if it's 12 hours earlier than the plan, it's
almost midnight, and my nightcap is poured but still untouched.
So I pick up my mate from a suburb in Adelaide's north-west, scratch around
collecting some change to fill up the V50's tank... and we're off!
We ride slowly up the escarpment which leads to Norton Summit. Here is the
Scenic Hotel, built last century of locally-quarried bluestone, with big
wide verandahs and always a few bikes parked outside, even at 11.30 pm on a
weeknight. We have a beer and a yarn sitting on the verandah. It's warm,
the moon now high and so bright. We talk bikes with strangers, argue
whether the V50 is big enough to go touring two-up, because in May I'm
planning to ride to the Moto Guzzi Club of Queensland's Ruptured Budgie
rally. This is held near the border of Queensland and New South Wales, 4800
km round-trip from Adelaide. Three of us are going from South Australia. It
will take us six days there and back, including two days at the rally.
At midnight the pub closes. We're still on the upstairs verandah
overlooking the city lights, talking bikes, weather, tyres, and speed
cameras. The publican locks up telling us to look after the place. He knows
we've got a few cans in the tank-bag and that we'll stay until they're
Two more bikes go past. They're like us; just out for a moonlight ride.
They see our bikes and stop. It's now almost one o'clock in the morning.
We climb back on the bikes. Two big Ducks, a BMW, two Guzzis, and a touring
Honda. The Adelaide Hills roads are generally really tight stuff. It's as
if they were designed specifically for the V50. I know the roads, and
there's a temptation for fang and leave the big, long-legged bikes behind.
But we stick together, really slow. The moon is so bright that we can see
the vineyards, and the stone houses, and the steep valleys.
After an hour's ride we stop by the side of the road. We're on the eastern
side of the Hills, and Adelaide is behind us. We haven't seen another
vehicle at all. Somebody pulls out a hip flask, we sip whisky, and no-body
talks. A huge owl swoops over us and gives us a startle. We have another
sip of whisky!
We split up then, each finding their own road home. The moonlight was so
bright it is possible to ride without lights. Slowly.
Home with two mates, coffee, and music. At 4.00 am I kick the last one out.
We've just done 200 or so kms. while the rest of the world was asleep. In a
month's time it will be winter here, wet, windy, and miserable in the
hills, so we know there won't be too many nights like this for a while.
So now it's Thursday morning, and I'm in my inner-city office, with a view
of the Adelaide Hills 10 kms to the east. Clouds are rolling in. Not nice
weather for a ride. But Jim Eccles (BMW R11RS) has just rung. Would I like
to have a quick pint at the Scenic Hotel after work, he wants to know. It's
just a short ride...
Yes Jim. I'll see you there.