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Weak Tea
by Hendrik Gout


My mate Al came from Tasmania via Maleny, carrying a bottle of Glenfiddich and a vague memory of South Australia from half a life-time past. We met at the airport, and when we got to my place we pulled out maps and had a glass or two of... weak tea. Then we collected Elaine's motorcycle (she's in Rome) from its Adelaide Hills stable, loaded my V50 with weak tea bottled in Scotland, sleeping bag, and tent, and loaded Elaine's V50 with warm weather gear, and Jim loaded the R1100 RS with his missus, and on Monday morning we all headed off into the overcast. I rode Elaine's bike, and Al was aboard my V50.

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We got as far as Norwood before we made the first stop. This was five kilometers. Elaine's V50 was making grinding noises from the region of the big silver thing. We limped home.

I rang Phil Owens (he of the Bonza Monza), and suggested we hire his bike for the price of one rear tire (his hoops were shot). He agreed and then we unloaded the warm weather gear from Elaine's bike and strapped it to Phil's bike while we had new tyres and tubes fitted both ends, and then we gathered Jim and his missus and set off on Monday afternoon.

This time, we got as far as my front gate before the first stop, but we almost didn't stop because the brakes on Phil's bike did not work. Not at all.

We had a glass of weak tea made of mashed barley steeped in clear water. We set to work inspecting and replacing pads and bleeding the system, and then we unloaded Phil's bike and rang Bike World waving the white flag of surrender and saying: "Help".

Bike World put a new kit in the master cylinder and replaced a blocked brake line and then we loaded Phil's bike with warm weather gear and rang Jim to tell him to fetch his missus, but she'd left in a car and taken him with her.

We had a tumbler of weak tea on the rocks.

Al and I then set off - I rode Phil's bike, and Al was aboard my V50.

We got as far as the Griffin's Head public house before our first stop. This is ten minutes from home. We bought postcards of Adelaide and sent them to our friends in the suburbs, met Phil and gave him the bill for the brake job; he saw the price and had a very big glass of weak tea.

stone.jpg 25kb We continued out journey, Phil waving us off with what looked like a bill. This time we made it to Stonefield, north of the Barossa Valley. We found a house without lights or power where lives a member of the Moto Guzzi Fraternity of South Australia, and we watched the sun go down and the cold envelop us.

So we had some weak tea.

The next day was warm and sunny. But not where we were. We were where it was cool and cloudy.

menglers.jpg 47kb We rode around the Barossa Valley, lunched at Saltram's winery on tentacled sea creatures, and then followed (or rather, led) small roads to a peak called Mengler's Hill. Giant sculptures carved from stone perch on the hillside, with wineries and small villages below. We opened a weak tea flask and took a meditative sip.


Next was a little village called Bethany, which was settled by German Lutherans immigrants in the 1830's. Here we had a slow race. Ever had a slow race? The bikes line up, and at the word "go", you go, and the last across the line wins. Touch the ground with your feet and you lose. I usually win slow races. The only time I've ever been beaten was at the Ragged Fringe Rally a few years ago, by a Triumph. We all thought this was a bit unfair because the Triumph was going flat out at the time.

Anyway, in this case, my bike won again. Al reckoned he'd won, but it was really just my bike.

Seppeltsfield was next, a winery built last century and still looking much the same except the prices are a bit higher. We were back at Stonfield by dark, where we had some wine and dinner and a weak tea nightcap.

Thursday was going to be a long ride - through the Clare Valley, up north, and the little townships of Laura, Willmington, and Quorn. There was a little delay as we were setting off while the intricacies of the kill switch were explained to Al, and some jumper leads brought over to encourage the engagement of the starter motor. There was a little more delay while we drank some weak tea. We then burbled out over the gravel roads, up the crest of the eastern ridge of the Barossa, and finally into the southern Flinders Ranges.


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Here the mountains are blue and purple, gold and red. The sunset painted the red bikes a burnt orange, and the air stood still as wedge-tailed eagles swooped on mice. Things that are normally seen far away happened to us in foreground. The Flinders Ranges are as old as time, and we were just passing through.

Well, just time to make it to the next friend's house for the night. Stay up late. Talk. Sleep. Wake. Ride. Stop. Ride some more. Stop some more. Through gorges, over shockingly bumpy roads and down easy sweepers, up ranges and across plains. The sun was out, which is to say it wasn't in, the breeze was nil, and both bikes rolled on sweetly.

We made it back to Adelaide two hours after dark, a pie floater in our bellies. We sat in front of the fire and played backgammon. We had a glass or two of weak tea, which was tasting suspiciously peaty, and wished we were still on the track.

wide.jpg 44kb Motorcycling? Yeah, that's what I do part-time. The rest of the time I just wish I was.




Hendrik Gout V50 - no need to exaggerate  


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