Thursday, March 28, 2013

They being dead yet speak

I use those words for the title because today, after hours winding through cold wind-swept roads, paving a way through nature's attempts to take back the tar, when I looked over a grey expanse of water I heard this music.

Marlon and I rode today.  It rained so heavily at times that we hid under trees, soaking, while Marlon rolled wet cigarettes.

After the Reefton Spur we stopped at Warburton to warm up.

We were to ride new roads.  Greasy clay tracks amid giant ferns.  And to return to Melbourne at the day's end.

At one point early in the day, after rolling through the Black Spur at a delayed pace, we pulled up together and all I could say was, "What fun motorcycling is!  It simply is damn fun!"  Motorcycling gives me a simple, profound joy.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Caveat-Ruffy Road and a good soaking

It had been so hot last week, and in my bare brick 19th century house the air has hung thick and sticky.  Most nights I could not sleep until 5 or 6 in the morning.  So when the overcast sky and the rain came today I was not daunted, I would ride anyway and let myself soak in some cold.  And a cold soak it was!  But that was later.  Earlier, patches of blue broke up the sky and this song played in my head as I rode to Yea, then north.

Beyond Caveat I took a new dirt track: Caveat-Ruffy Road.  Only 8km long, it offered a rich and varied scene of farms, creeks and ponds.

I rode on to Longwood and Euroa.  The country up there is the scene of some of my best rides and I'm at a point now, years on, when I have a soft sentimental feeling for the feeling of riding there that I experienced in earlier years.  In a sense I've put roots down there, without ever living in the place.

It was interesting to dwell in the remembered feelings of riding that were normal at that earlier time but not now.  Riding is a very emotional activity, incorporating perspectives on the world, life and death.  I feel that my riding is not as emotionally rich these days, even though I think I am emotionally wiser and emotionally more skillful.  I have less sentimentality and sadness in me.  Perhaps that skillfulness is a kind of enlightenment which, like the Western Enlightenment of the late 18th century onwards, involves a certain disenchantment in exchange for its clarity?  Or perhaps, more banally, it is a consequence of the loss of novelty that comes with familiarity in a place?  Either way I feel the loss.  I need to find my way back there without giving myself over to pathos, and so to re-enchant the experience regardless of the cause of the loss.

From Euroa I rode up the wonderful mountain to Strathbogie and stopped for coffee.  The alpine town seemed to be hosting some small yoga festival.  So I tarried for a while under the impromptu, bright monotone flags.  Then I made down the mountain and, as I did, the rain came.

Then it stopped:

And then it came back.

With a vengeance.

Dense, thick rain, but warm at first.  It waited for later to turn cold, when my gloves and boots were full and running with water, my clothes soaked through under my plastic outer layer, and the fog so thick that I feared I would run off the road as I crawled into King Lake.

There was no change for the rest of the home-making: the rain was permanent, dense, and cold.  At one point I thought it was hailing.  Even on the freeway at the end it was hard to see the lanes.  I rode with my visor up, squinting to see ahead.  And took a secret pleasure in tearing along at 100kph while everybody else in their cars slowed to 70.  A dare devil bike boy of the 1960s.  A viking, laughing from deep within his fearless gut.  A creature of the storm, possessed by his animal spirit.

This post is dedicated to Mav. Aged 30 and with a baby due in a few weeks, he died a few days ago aboard his motorcycle.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

More photos from my Tasmanian trip

Here are some more photos from the final days of my trip to Tasmania.

The trip was two weeks long.  I spent most of it in the Huonville area, with a short trip to Port Arthur and another to the Gordon Dam, but otherwise I did none of the intense west and east coast rides that I had planned.  The reason for that is because I spent my teen years in Nicholls Rivullet, outside of Cygnet, and while I visit every two or three years this is the first time I have had my own wheels and the opportunity to 'just be' in the place, like a local, exploring all the nooks and crannies of its beauty.

This is an island that I would ride past every few days.  You can see the quality of the water.  It was a fantastic area to meander through.

Here is a view from Cygnet Coast Road.  I loved this road, which curved along with the water's edge, a constant right-left-right on my bike, with my vision repeatedly flooded by the golden light that broke through the overhanging trees or glittered on the water.

These photos are from the day before I left.  This is Bicheno:


And here are some photos from the Bicheno Motorcycle Museum.


Here is the typical view on the east coast.  While it is the more celebrated area, in my opinion the water in the south is superior.

And here, onboard The Spirit of Tasmania on the way home, dolphins attended us.