Monday, November 23, 2009

SR500 Club Rally, Bethanga

Last weekend was the tenth annual rally for the club dedicated to the model of bike I own, Yamaha's SR500, the late '70s 500cc single.

I rode there with my friend James. We found Marlon (who appeared some months ago on this Blog) and Bize outside Wodonga, where we were all lost.

Marlon's bike, and Bize's super-cool white van


This was only Jame's second motorcycle ride since getting his license 18 months ago. His first ride was on his '73 Czech CZ175, which he rode to Cowra (NSW) and back. The bike then broke down, and James disassembled it and is fitting 12V electrics. He recently bought an old Yamaha SR250 and was determined to get to the Rally for his second ride on a motorcycle. The RWC and registration took place Friday afternoon before leaving.

We left 9.30am Saturday. An hour later Jame's front fender fell off and his indicators stopped working. Avoiding the Doom Highway (the Hume), we made for Yarra Glen to Yea, to Mansfield for lunch. The rain started.

The road to Witfield would be great in the dry, and we loved it even in the wet. The mist, the gentle rain, the mountain trees, the Kawasaki Z Club. And more and more mist which at it's height, which was the height too of the mountain and of the twisties, allowed only 6 foot of vision. James was a vague glow behind me, in front threatening shapes materialised like rocks to a sailor, and by an act of faith I kept the throttle open.

We took back roads all the way, met turtles, old train stations, and were soaked by the time we slid our bikes over the mud and into the Rally.

We went grass racing on Jame's SR. This inspired him, and so in a single movement he revved the bike, spun it out of control, flipped it, and broke his clutch lever.

We fitted another lever from a trailored SR and James did the same again, breaking an indicator and bending the gear shifter.

After a lot alcohol and laughter we went to bed, James and I in my one man tent. It was raining most of the time. I was so wet that I left my boots in the rain without caring - it was not possible to soak the more than they were. The next morning, naked, I would stand in the rain and dress - at a certain point you cease to care. In bed my feet and head touched the sides of the tent and water trickled in on me all night. Then the storm came with real water. We'd wake almost feverish to the burst of light and sound. Sometimes a damn broke above in the stitched plastic and water gushed onto me. Near dawn something slimy woke me -- a slug on my cheek! I cried and flicked it...onto James. I didn't want to leave it on him, but neither did I want to touch him, such that he'd wake in the dark to my hands caressing his warm body. At dawn a fellow revved his Triumph beside my head and then did the same with the exhaust in the door of our tent, and we began the day.

Our camp

Arriving the previous afternoon, to a footy club room of 150 men and two women, all of them incarnations of the Toecutter, with the odd NightRider and Bubber thrown in, not all of them clothed but all steaming, a fellow exclaimed: "Young Blokes!" We felt like cute girls. The next morning I went for my shower in my dress-like nightgown, eyed like I was tasty or eccentric by old men in muddy leather, cock eyes and mad hair. I found the shower: it stuck out of the wall at the entrance to the toilets. I would have to stand naked before a steady procession. I showered clothed, figuring it was impossible to become more wet.

Tired, sore, hungover, violated, James and I decided to ride the boring Hume home. A good idea given the relentless storms. At one point I think it was hailing but it was all so intense that I couldn't tell.

Jame's SR held up well. Then it became more powerful, and louder: his exhaust had broken in half.

It was good to experience my first rally. They were a fine bunch of people.

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