people who believe that gravity doesn't suck," said Karl as
he took another slug of coffee and rolled the dice. "It's not that people
are being sucked into the middle of the world. They're being pushed, you
see, by an external force. Gravity pushes." He rolled a useless throw.
This indeed was chewing
gum for thought. I'd always imagined the atmosphere
held to Earth by gravity, people leaping from roofs splatting on the
ground. The fact that they were being pushed there from outside, from
above, hadn't really occurred to me.
I rolled a double
six and a double five as Karl sat on the bar. One more
tournament and I'd have that bottle of rum won.
I thought about Karl's
gravity pushing the next morning while my front tyre
slithered and the bike lost grip. Five Frats had met at my place for a ride
of the little back roads in the Adelaide Hills. It was raining. and Bryan
said I should change out of my leathers and put the waterproofs on. I
thought it would fine up but I was wrong, but not so wrong because I took
As we left my place
we could see the clouds drape themselves over the Hills
like sheets on furniture. The fog was ahead and above us. We were going up
On the Eagle on the
Hill road, a road designed by a V50, the mist closed
in. There was no problem with visibility - the visibility was white.
Corners I normally take at 100 were death-defying at 40. Guideposts would
emerge from the mist one at a time, a bikelength in front of the Guzz. My
front tyre is bald and I wasn't risking high lean angles. I didn't want to
get pushed by the anti-gravity, which is very strong in these parts.
We took the Crafers
turnoff. It was still white. We rowed in the rain for
half an hour on single-lane roads, winding up and down Hills, over little
wooden bridges where water gurgled, dodging leaves, bark, twigs, and
branches, and the scenery was constant.
It was white.
I'd spent a lot of
time planning this route, and everyone had a three-part
map, and some of us carried thermos coffee and mugs for what was planned to
be a pleasant coffee break on a lovely road overlooking three conjoining
valleys. When we got there we could see three fingers of white.
So we rowed on through the rain.
After a while Bryan said, "I'm cold." But I knew he was kidding.
We went along a little
track, through a part of the Hills that few people
see. We didn't see it either.
"I'm wet," said Bryan. But I knew he was merely excited.
We've been putting
up with this rain thing long enough," I thought as the
five bikes ticked over and we descended another Hill. My visor had misted
on the inside and when I lifted the visor to wipe it, rain got on my
glasses which immediately fogged up on the inside next to my eyes. Now the
white scenery had big out-of-focus blobs.
Rain should come
up, not down. The stuff falls through a mile of sky where
it doesn't do anyone any good. Birds don't even like it. Rain should come
up, out of the ground, and we should do away with the falling business. We
wouldn't need gutters, windscreen washers, or raincoats. We could still
have floods - when the rain kept coming and coming out of the ground - and
there'd still be creeks and dams and rivers and fish and things, but just
no water falling through the sky.
But of course, it's
getting pushed down. Water coming up would require
Near Cherry Gardens
Bob wasn't behind us, so we turned around and watched
him do some routine maintenance on his Moto Morini. This involved stopping
the spark going between an external electrical wire and the petrol tank,
and putting it back in the cylinder where sparks rightly belong. Bryan said
he was wet and cold, but he was just trying to cheer us up. Elaine pulled
out a thermos filled with sweet white tea while we were stopped. "It's got
cardamom pods in it," Elaine said. I told here that on a Frat ride she
should have put bikeamon pods in it, but it tasted good nevertheless. Bryan
looked at his black-stained hands holding the ceramic mug and said, "Do you
know, the dye is almost out of the inside of those gloves." Chris, whose
first Frat ride this was, said as a newcomer he felt obliged to ride this
day no matter what the weather. I said the bloody weather mattered to me.
Bryan said it may
be an idea to look up Mary-Lou, who lived, as he said and
pointed to a driveway disappearing into the mist, "Just there! She might
even have the fire lit."
But we were going on a Little Roads Run.
Which we did. And
it was pretty, and it was wet, and five motorcycles going
slowly, in sight of each other. A line of ten cylinders went down S bends
and up N bends. It was almost fun.
There were also five empty pillion seats.
I thought of that
later, at the Uraidla pub, where we did find a warm fire,
just as planned, and had hot roast, spring rolls, and bacon sandwiches. And
a stubby of Stout. I thought of the five empty pillion seats, and the five
of us gathered around the bar, and...what would have made it more fun?
Somebody who loved
us being pushed onto the pillion seat, to share the
white, the rain, the water, and the anti-gravity.