Note: this is being written in a David Attenborough nature documentary semi-whisper, so you need to read it the same way.
1914 Monarch - yes, it goes! Magnificent!
In the genus Motorcyclista there exists a somewhat peculiar species of enthusiast known as the motorcyclo aficionado superretro. Often (but not always) characterised by grey hair and an ingenious emergency toolkit, individuals of this species are solitary creatures, often spending months – even years - secreted in large backyard sheds and garages with their ancient machines, performing fascinating rituals with spanners and oxy-torches, paints and polishes, and pistons, plugs and points, or scouring eBay for spare parts.
Once a year, at the height of summer, the individuals heed a mysterious visceral Call to Assembly with others of the species, and Nature pulls them inexorably to a meeting place like the Carotel motel in Canberra. They come from all over, and in large numbers, in cars or vans, towing trailers loaded with precious cargo. A hardy few even risk riding their lovingly-restored motorcycles - if they don’t have to go too far.
Once there, they indulge in time-honoured rituals like beer-drinking and bike-judging, and they tell restoration sagas and breakdown stories in the lost and lyrical language of imperial measurement. Iconic names trip from their tongues - Rudge, BSA, Ariel, Indian, Vincent, AJS Matchless, Triumph, Harley Davidson, Ducati...
They go for short rides that culminate in magnificent morning teas. (A keen eye can identify their feeding places by the spots of engine oil that speckle the car parks where they have congregated).
They have a Presentation Dinner that honours the most perfect and noble among their number.
Individuals of the species trailerus breakdownii exist in happy symbiosis with the aficionado superretros, and can often be seen retrieving those unfortunate superretros whose ancient machines have broken down in ways that will not be remedied easily by the roadside. Nobody sneers or scoffs. Instead, they applaud the pluckiness of the individual and the bike, and thank the Powers That Be that it wasn't them.
On our journey this weekend, one fortunate BSA devotee had his sidestand returned to him from whence it had fallen off on the Cotter Road, but the owner of the lost Triumph footpeg cover remained elusive, as Triumph devotees often do.
1923 Rudge - the King of the Rally.
Yes, that is carpet on the footboards - carpet your great gran would be proud of!