Monday, June 25, 2018

Ride Report - Taralga, 24 June 2018

It is a well-known fact that it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind. Most of us are old enough to recall our Fathers and Grandfathers mentioning that on numerous occasions as their wives juggled with a choice of dress, necklace, shoes or handbag.  It was clear that our stoic Ride Leader had also struggled with his feminine side in choosing our destination.  The pre-programmed and long advertised first choice was Temora, but we were now heading to Taralga.  The towns of Tarago, Tumut, Tumbarumba and Talbingo were also named by the gathered throng, but Taralga it was.  The equaliser was of course, that both Temora and Taralga started with a 'T' and had an 'R' and 'A' thrown in for good measure.  The similarities end there.

It was also noted that Mother Andrew had exercised his Ride Leader prerogative and had changed his mind a few days before the ride.  The original target destination along straight flat roads through crisp brown countryside dotted with tan-coloured sheep and fat black cows was gone.  Temorians would neither hear the rumble of motorcycle engines nor see the hordes of black-clad ruffians today.  Unfortunately for them, it would be the Taralgans who would have to cover their eyes from the blinding glare of polished metal and protect their ears from the clatter of cam-chains and belt-buckles.

We gathered at the Nicholls Servo and Mother Andrew flitted about amongst the riders.  It was cold, damp and foggy.  Each was greeted with warm scones and hot tea.  It's what Mothers do, you know.  Some said that Mother Andrew was merely justifying the change in destination and ensuring that no one had missed the change, but all accepted that it was ok to go north-east to Taralga instead of north-west to Temora.  The ride briefing was brief, the brevity reinforcing the rules that this was a simple 'follow me' affair and not terribly complicated.  Housework done, Mother Andrew tucked his apron into his jacket for extra warmth and mumbled something about looking forward to the Ride Report.

We left fashionably late.  It was only 5 minutes, but Mother Andrew had clearly forgotten to check the iron was off and the beds were made.  The cool air and frosty paddocks made me thankful that Mother Andrew had reminded us to dress warmly if we were going to play outside today.  Most of the kiddies had donned extra clothing before departure, but a few had possibly underestimated the effects of hypothermia and slowly froze on their seats, ceasing all movement until the sun strengthened and frozen extremities thawed.  It was cold.  It was mid-morning and it was damned cold all the way to Boorowa.  Even the sheep appeared to be stuck to the frozen grass in the paddocks and barely moved as we breezed past with toes tucked under our engines to get some warmth from hot exhausts.

I had noted at the start that Chris had calculated on a much stronger global warming event during the night and had worn his DriRider airflow pants. These provide excellent ventilation, but not for minus temperatures.  I could say how silly that was, but I was also wearing my BMW airflow pants to break them in for a pending ride north into warmer climes.  Mine have wonderful upper thigh ventilation panels.  My upper thighs were frozen by Murrumbateman.

We all made it to Boorowa for a warming brew.  The pressing need and highest priority was the toilet as our now-frozen bladders thawed and the busting desire to pee became as important as further thawing of our insides with hot tea or coffee.  A few indulged in hot food well, so the interlude was welcomed even though it was only a short distance from the start point.  Mother Andrew swept the crumbs from the table and tidied up, reminding everyone to do up all their buttons and zippers as Taralga would be colder than Boorowa and he was low in tissues for runny noses.  We shivered as we walked outside, but the residual engine warmth made us feel a little better.

Mother Andrew led us on a merry dance along back-roads and by-roads until we reached the frozen wasteland around Taralga.  The ride there was at a steady pace, but not fast.  The roads were damp in places and the wind-driven wind-chill factor was too cold for some and they slowed down to enjoy the view through foggy visors and blurry windscreens.  Mike and his Triumph left us at Crookwell, the Rugby rough bits apparently causing some minor havoc with the body parts that keep your head a long way from your arse.   

Surprisingly, Taralga was pleasantly warm.  The Tangled Vine is a good cafe, but can be busy on weekends because it draws multiple groups of motorcyclists as they travel through the area from all points of the compass riding road bikes and dirt bikes of all sizes and descriptions.  We were fashionably late for lunch, so the rush had subsided and we only had a short wait for our tucker.  My omelette was excellent.  I would have photographed it, but wasn't aware that I was doing the Ride Report until after it was eaten.

Which Ulyssian rode the tiny BMX bike all the way to Taralga?
The day was full of surprises with Mike already there on his Harley.  He missed the start and went direct, apparently enjoying new roads (for him) getting there via Goulburn.  Lose one Mike and gain another.  It must have been Michael day because Mick and Tracey Winters were also at the Vine, both with two wheels each.  It's called a car, but since they were returning from a family visit we forgave them.  It was observed that one of the Winter's incontinence pads had failed, evidenced by the wet bum.  Tracey said it was a wet chair. The boys all nodded politely and agreed not to put that in the Ride Report. Oops.

Was the destination as good as Temora might have been?  We will never know. Lunch done, Mother Andrew suggested the direct route to Goulburn, fuel and home.  That suited all of us, so we tailed Mother Andrew all the way to fuel and then slowly parted ways on the ride down the Highway before the brass monkeys froze in the afternoon chill.  The closer to Canberra the lower the temperature, but it felt warm compared to the morning run in the fog and mist.

Strangely, a Ride Report doesn't seem like much of a Ride Report if there's little excitement within the ride part to write about.  Wouldn't you agree?  I'll assume you all nodded in agreement.  I swear I heard the glasses rattle in the kitchen cupboard.  Unfortunately for you, the reader, there was little to get excited about during the ride bit.  Fortunately for us, the motorcycle pilots, there was also little to get excited about during the ride bit due to the wonderful Mothering by Mother Andrew.

I've always wondered why Europeans call motorcycle riders pilots.  Speaking of which, I recall a story about a WW2 Spitfire pilot who used to ride a Vincent motorcycle in-between missions when he was on stand-down leave.  He survived his wartime motorcycle riding with two crashes and the war itself with three aircraft crashes after being shot-down twice and having a catastrophic Merlin engine failure on the third occasion.  He kept riding his motorcycle after the war and was still on it well into his eighties.

There are no Spitfires in Taralga apparently
The story goes that the old pilot rode his bike to a local school just after he turned 70.  The class had been studying the effects of Allied bombing on the industrial cities of Germany during the closing stages of WW2.  He had been invited by the teacher to give a first-hand account of that aspect of the war, and the class of senior students was very attentive as the old pilot began reminiscing about his days in the Royal Air Force.  "In 1944," he says, "the situation was really tough.  The Germans still had a very strong air force and some very good pilots.  I remember", he continues, "one particular day when my mission was to protect an Allied bomber fleet.  Suddenly, out of the clouds, a handful of those German fokkers appeared."  At this point, several of the students began to giggle and had to be quietened by the teacher.  "I looked up, and right above me was one of them.  I zoomed up in my Spitfire, aimed at him, and shot him down.  It was goodbye to one more fokker, but they were still swarming everywhere.  Suddenly, I realized that there was a pair of the fokkers behind me."  This time, the girls in the class giggled loudly and the boys started to laugh.  The teacher stands up and says, "I think I should point out that 'Fokker' was the name of the German-Dutch aircraft company that produced the Focke-Wulf 190 fighter used extensively against the Allied bomber fleets."  "That's true," says the old pilot, politely interjecting, "but these damned fokkers were flying Messerschmitt 109s!"

I know - it's an old joke.  Back to the bikes.  It was a great day out with sensible riding and good company.  We were ably led by Mother Andrew who showed us the love and care that only a Mother could.  Well done Andrew, who also provided the photos for the Ride Report.

Participants were, in no particular order of Motherly favouritism:

Mother Andrew Campbell on the FJR 1300,
Chris Dietzel on the GTR1400,
Neil McRitchie on the GTR1400,
David Dawson on the R1200GS,
Mike Kelly on the Triumph 1600,
Butch Willson on the K1100LT,
Mike Carmody on the Harley,
Mick Beltrame (Scribe) on the R1200GSLC, and
Mick and Tracey Winters in the Unmentionable.