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Moto Guzzi is a marque that attracts fierce loyalty. And lots of giggles from non-Guzzi owners. The usual criticism is that the Italian electricals on Guzzis (particularly older ones) were always, um.... what's the Italian word for 'iffy'? Hmmm, apparently there isn't one (how convenient!)
This isn't about Moto Guzzis though – well, only tangentially... Mark the Miffy Friend is also Mark the Guzzi Man, and he rather fancied heading up to Gloucester on the weekend for the Moto Guzzi Owners' Ragged Fringe Rally. I agreed to it in a moment of weakness.
What was I thinking? It's about 600kms from Canberra – and on a weekend during term time as well!
We got away from Canberra a skerrick before 7am on Saturday. Cars in my street had a healthy layer of frost on them when we left. Erk.
Because we had to be there and back in a weekend, we took the boring short route up the highway – look, after being so bike-deprived all term in this wet winter, I didn't even feel bad about it – it was lovely to carve up the miles under a sunny sky – even if it was bloody cold!
The traffic in Sydney was bumper-to-bumper but the temperature wasn't too bad. I got us lost once after we got off the expressway, but we made it to the Bucketts Way and headed towards Stroud - such a picturesque town – far prettier than the occasionally abysmal surface of the Bucketts Way, I have to say. We made Gloucester by mid afternoon and found some other rally people there, then headed to Thunderbolt's Way (one of the Top 100 rides in Peter Thoeming's Australian Motorcycle Atlas).
Mark was a little way ahead of me, and by the time I realised he'd turned off to the campsite at Bretti Reserve it was too late for me to turn off because there was a silver van fair up my clacker – so I overshot the turnoff. The bastard in the silver van STAYED fair up my clacker, no matter how much I slowed down to find a place to turn around. Eventually, about 5kms later, I gave him a very – ahem – strong signal to overtake me and he got the hint. I was so rattled by that stage – I was starting to think I would have to ride all the way to bloody Walcha!
One of the best, and most important things for me about riding, is that it puts me IN CONTROL – and I was feeling very out of control at that point.
Mark had seen what was going on and had followed us. At the beautiful Pawlonia Grove - an uplifting sight at any time of year, but stunning in all its blossomy spring glory - he drew my attention to a possible turning point just a little way ahead, and we headed back to Bretti Reserve.
This pic doesn't give a true idea of just how steep the track down to the campsite is.
The gravel verge at the top of the huge hill down to the rally site almost became the repository for yet another lever bobble. I know when I'm a danger to myself, so that was it for me. 600kms from home, the last thing I needed was another broken foot or snapped ligament (not to mention clutch/gear/brake levers) – I was off the bike, leg shaking and feeling like the World's Biggest Loser. Ah, my knight in shining armour! Mark did this wonderful bike-shuffle routine - rode his Guzzi to the camp, dumped his stuff, rode back, dinked me to the camp, walked back up the HUGE hill, collected my bike, brought it to the camp (and on Sunday did the whole thing in reverse). Mark, you're a star!
The Bomber intact on the gravel verge
Nice people, those Guzzi folk. I got to meet the famous Peter Roper; saw some lovely Guzzis and quite a lot of Triumphs, BMWs and Nortons as well; the campfire gathering was friendly, and the music was the good stuff from my youth :-) The sausage sandwiches were well cooked, the tent was dry and the sleeping bags were warm – what more can you ask for?
Home sweet home - inside the tent
Sunday morning. Mark's Guzzi had been misbehaving terribly since Gloucester the day before, so he did some fiddling with it at the campsite. You know, just your basic 'off with the fuel tank, fiddle with the stuff underneath' stuff... and we were away by 9.15.
The road home seemed somehow shorter than the road there. An overcast sky meant there was no sun in our eyes, yay, and we made really good time. Home to sunny Canberra in a mere 7 hours!
We got home stiff and sore, but safe and sound – and that's the main thing. BUT – I lost count of the examples of stupid, rude, or just downright dangerous driving behaviour we saw on Sunday.
Of particular note was the idiotic pair of middle-aged women in the little red car coming out of Pheasants Nest servo. The driver was determined not to give way to me, even though she should have. She cut across the front of me – and wouldn't you know it, Instant Karma – her little car went down a 30cm pothole on the servo driveway and made a very satisfying crunching noise... heh heh. When I overtook her a kilometre or two down the road, I refrained from making rude signs, coz I'm just too nice for that sort of shit...
As for the P-plated ute-load of youngsters who were chucking stuff - bottles and so on - out of the window as we came into Canberra.... oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...
Overall though – great weekend! By the time I got off my bike in the driveway at home, I almost couldn't get off my bike. I was so stiff, and had a badly cramping shoulder. Thank goodness for Nurofen, hot baths and red wine (not all at once!). 1205kms altogether, and the tiredness factor meant I missed seeing Casey Stoner get his first win of the season in motoGP!