..or more accurately, The 2009 AMCN Island Classic.

Each Australia Day long weekend sees the Classic being run at the Phillip Island GP track.
A tri-nations cup held over the 3 days between England, Australia & New Zealand.

I'm sure all that is important to the blokes involved. But not to me. I just get to hear and see some of the most cherished bikes come out to do what they were built for.

Friday night had the house in it's usual turmoil of bag packing and fussing about.
Tents, lilo's, sleeping bags, clothes.

I'd even gone out and bought a new 74 litre Esky to compliment the older, smaller one. Unbeknownst to me, Sandy had the same idea and we had missed each other in K Mart by minutes.
Two new big Esky's. Brilliant.

I also bought a 4 X 3.something metre tarp and a couple of 2 metre poles. I had a plan.
The weather had promised to be a scorcher for the weekend and a tarp rigged off the side of the battle truck would prove itself worthwhile. But more of that later.

We got away just before lunch and headed South. Mick rang as we were halfway, complaining that nobody was at his place and he was so bored that he had to drink alone. I assured him we were on the way and I would be able to assist in his boredom.

The boys were pretty keen to get there too. They love the old bikes as much as I do.
Well, they tell me that.
Mick & Mel have 3 dirt bikes. This may be an influence on their enthusiasm.

We got to Mick & Mel's place and started unloading.
This is a feat in itself, there's 6 of us.

The deal was that the gear had to be set up before they could even think about having a ride.
Cans were opened, tents were pitched (in record time by some)and a loose plan for the weekend was formed.

Having a couple of kids appear at your side in body armour, boots, helmet & gloves is a hint that even I can pick up on so we made our way down the road to the park.

Sam & Bill took the 50 & 70 and I rode Mel's CRF230.
The usual reminders of behaviour and safety were dished out before they could take off.
Maybe I should have listened too..

Yup, that's my leg and someone else's bike.

Showboating. It'll get you every time.
I had come over towards our "pits" and was going to hand the bike on to Jess for a blat.
Deciding a big tail slide would look cool, I promptly gave the Honda a bootful of rear brake and slid in nicely until a quick grab of traction had me flat on my back.

"Now, Son, I hope you spotted my deliberate mistake there?"

All good. The boys took off for a few laps.
It's an ideal park to tootle the bikes around in; big, clear and a couple of bumps.

Sam & Bill being well behaved and safety conscious

Jess had never ridden a clutched bike before but took to it with ease. He has a relaxed style and looks quite loose on board.


Well, it didn't take long before Mick had to jump on. His words obviously ringing in his own ears "Don't tear up the park, take it easy, it's not a race, wear the correct safety gear"
Public Liability? What's that?

As happens when boys get together for a ride, no matter where it is, the pace picked up a little more, and a little more.

Sam wonders why he and the bike are no longer together

Shortly after, the girls came down to see how we were going.
A couple more laps and we decided to pull the pin and go fire up the barbecue.
Lucky really as the ranger had been called along with the cops.
The bikes were put away, apologies and promises to be good were made.

Jonesy & Sab arrived, Cricky followed shortly after. From there on people seemed to suddenly appear.
It might have just been me not paying attention though.
Marty & Suzii dropped in after a day of pitting for the Poms and brought Chuck & Max with them.
Much bench racing, bullshit & booze flowed on late into the night.
The stereo copped a decent workout as did the Esky's, the pool table and the livers of those in attendance.

I have no idea what time we wound up but everything was warm & fuzzy by that time.

Sunday arrived like it was late for an appointment. Hot & bothered and in a hurry.
We got to the track to find Uncle, Swifty & Jamie already propped at the fence on Turn 1.
Now, this is where my genius shines through.

1. Unfold the tarp.
2. String a length of the ubiquitous Telecom rope from the back of the Battle Truck through the eyelets and tie it off to the bull bar.
3. Stand 2 poles in outside corners and rope them to the ground.

Hmm.. no rope, no pegs, no hammer. They were still back at the house.
Sandy made a quick call to Mick had the said items on their way. Lucky.

Running jokes about the Ducati Courtesy Tent did the rounds only to be confirmed by Jamie returning from the pits.


Rookie, Dettie & the kids arrived, Gromit & Chris turned up too.
Not a bad showing. 22 of us all up.

That's the great thing about this meet. The ease of it all.
Parking is all over the outfield, the kids can run amok, you can find fence space wherever you want it.

If you take away the camo pant brigade, there isn't much left

The pits are open and you can go and have a poke around. The competitors are open and friendly, willing to chat about their bikes at the drop of a hat.

Racing. It's what we came for so we better pay a bit of attention to it.



Turn 1 is Nirvana for watching the old girls hammer passed.
The 4 strokes come through, cranked over hard to the right, stand it up, throw it back a cog and roll over into the start of the left hander.
The crackle and rumble on the overrun is both malevolent and glorious.

The 2 strokes, on the other hand, are electric. They don't back off until they switch sides for the loop. There is no snap, crackle or pop.
They just shut off. Complete silence until halfway into the loop and then they are switched back on.
No half measures, it's either on or off.

Either way, it pulls the calcium out of your spine and leaves you a little wobbly on the feet.

Robbie Phillis. He hunted hard, lap after lap.




I had taken the little old Kodak compact with us and let the kids run around with it. It often leads to some surprising candid photos.
Bill told me later in the day that he had taken some photos of the bikes. I said it wasn't much point as the camera wasn't really up to the task.
I was wrong.
I think this was the best shot of the day. It sums up the day beautifully

Once again, the 888 Vincent was my bike of choice. It is a thing of wonder.

The pit lane was another area that could have held my attention all day.
What other meet has free access to all areas?

Tucked away in the garages was some truly wonderful machinery. Old warriors from days gone by that have been lovingly maintained in battle trim.



Words cannot describe how pretty this Matchy was..

A look at both worlds. The Suzuki and Dominator in the one shed.

I don't even know what this is. That's not important. It is quite beautiful in it's simplicity.

Then there was this. Just sitting alone at the back of one of the pit garages.

With the day over, it was back to Mick & Mel's for a barbie and some bench racing, or bench spectatoring as the case may be.
A somewhat quieter night prevailed due to the sun, heat and general knackeredness of all involved.

Monday crawled in less enthusiastically than Sunday had.
We set about cleaning and packing up.
The boys wanted one last run on the bikes so a quick jaunt around the vacant block next door got it out of their systems. Yeah, right. I believe the addiction has taken hold.

Sandy had gone to look at a couple of real estate agents and the locals had a cricket match/babrie day planned at the park.
We were on our way to join them when Sandy & Lorna returned.

We spent an hour playing a bit of cricket with the kids and then had to be on our way.

A sleepy run home, a scrap tea ("feed yourselves, kids") and a preliminary write up of the day was followed by a good night's sleep.
Good racing, good weather and good mates. I wonder what the poor people are doing?

You know, I can still taste the racing fuels as I type this.



So here I am. Bikeless. Sans motorcycle. Without wheels.
That's not good.
It's funny how the bike could sit in the carport for a week without me needing to get out on it.
Now that there isn't one there, I crave a ride every day.

Pronunciation: \ə-ˈdik-shən, a-\
Function: noun

1: the quality or state of being addicted.

2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterised by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.

Bikepoint, Bikesales, eBay and Trading Post have all taken large chunks of my bandwidth over the last week in the name of feeding the habit.

This search, or quest if you will, has proven a couple of points;
1. There nothing in this world that isn't for sale at any given time.
2. People leave their rose coloured glasses on whilst estimating the worth of their bike.
3. Morons are everywhere.

There is no shortage of machines for sale out there, from the latest slingshots with a few hundred k's on them to ancient units that have wound the clock over several times.

I managed to whittle the Want List down to what I thought was a reasonable 300 odd bikes.
That's hard work, you know?
But in practical terms the list was, obviously, much shorter.

The payout from QBE was not going to let me waltz in to a dealer and point happily at anything with a "New For '09" tag on it.
So other avenues were explored, well, more like dingy alleyways than avenues.

I mentioned my dilemma to Bruce, a long time mate, and he casually mentioned that he was selling the ZX9.
"Really?", said I, "How much?"
A special mates rates price was thrown up and I blurted my agreement like the seasoned negotiator that I am.
"You should probably take it for a run first" Bruce suggested.

Saturday morning came around and Sandy & I rode into Bruce's place to find 3 blokes in riding gear looking at the bike. No other bikes though, just a small car. Odd.

My heart sank a little at first. But the bloke looking at the bike wasn't making the right signs or sounds. I leant over to Sandy and told her he wouldn't buy it, it's not his thing, he's after an R1.

Sure enough, he backed away saying it wasn't what he was looking for.
"No go?", I asked of Bruce
"Nah, he's off to Seaford to look at an R1"
I can pick 'em.

After a quick rundown on any quirks the bike might have we set off for the Mornington Peninsula.

I was sold within the first five minutes onboard.
The ergonomics are good, no weight on the wrists, the pegs are low enough to avoid the racerboy crouch and my legs tucked into the cutouts on the tank perfectly.

50 odd more ponies and 60 less kilos than the GSXF was instantly apparent. I mean instantly.

We spent the afternoon chasing each other through Main Ridge, Flinders, Rosebud, Dromana and along the coast before taking the bike back.

The deal was done. Bruce will hold the bike until QBE cough up.

This is only making the withdrawals worse. Having a bike but not being able to get to it is worse than no bike at all.




Well, last Wednesday, 7th Jan, had gone ok as days go.
Work was a breeze, the weather was good, everything was in it's place.

I had a smoke as I strapped the bag onto the back of the bike and chatted to one of the other blokes who rides a schmick XJR1300.
"What pipe have you got on this? It sounds meaty"
I explained that it was the stock GSX-F pipe but had been gutted.
"Nice" he nodded slowly.

I grinned, fired up the bike and left the car park noisier than was necessary. Just because.

3.40 in the afternoon and Stud Road was just starting to thicken up.
This is the stuff I love.
Cars crawling along mindlessly 30k's below the limit and spaced perfectly to squeeze a bike through.

I'd be home in 20 minutes if this keeps up.

On the run down to the Wellington Road lights I was in the right lane behind a brake jockey. On, off, on, off, on, off. Fachrissakes!! Make up your bloody mind!

I got a gap to the left and switched to the middle lane right at the intersection. This is not a move I would normally make as cars get a little skittery when they don't have lots of white lines to steer them straight.

It was all good.
Green light, 4WD ahead of me right on the line.

I don't know why I did it, I really don't.
I shot a glance to the twonk that had been doing the brake light disco. Stupid move.
I looked forward again and the 4WD had stopped dead on the amber light.

Aaah fuck! I hit everything I had that would slow me down and started to lean away in an attempt to steer past her and split the lane.

This had an interesting effect.
The front scrubbed and the back slid and came around.
I remember thinking "I'm not going to make this" and bracing.

After that, several weird things happened.
Firstly was me thinking just how gently I seemed to be rolling off the side of the bike and into the car.
Secondly was me thinking "I'll be able to get a new bike"

Then I was on the ground, rolling, wondering where the bike was, and wincing at the forthcoming crunch as my head was about to hit the deck.
The impact on the lid was so gentle that it shocked me.
"This is all good", I thought, "Wait. No it's not. I'm laying down on the fucking road"

I jumped to my feet, held my gloves out and waited for the ref to hold up his fingers for me to count. No ref, no ring. I did have gloves though.

I did a quick check to see where the pain was coming from. All sections reported clear and operational.

That's when I saw the bike.
Nothing looks more wrong than a bike on it's side with a small trickle of it's life blood snaking out from underneath.
Ever hit a dog and looked at it laying there quivering in pain? That feeling hit my gut like a hammer blow.

The girl from the 4WD was suddenly beside me asking if I was ok and a bloke in socks (no, I don't know why) appeared as well. We lifted the bike and got it onto the median strip. It didn't look too bad.

The girl drove around the corner and into the pub car park, appropriate, no?
I took the easy way and went across the pedestrian crossing.

As soon as I grabbed the clutch, Left Hand Operations sent me a Damage Report marked "Urgent". Jeeeeez!! That hurt.
OK, so something may be rotten in the State of Leigh. We'll check that later.

By the time I had peeled off the gear, the girl had written out her details.
I got her to write mine too because if I tried it would have looked like a 4yo with St. Vitus' Dance had tried with his wrong hand.
Curiousity #5 : Her shirt had "Impact" embroidered on it.

Turns out she is a rider as well and had seen me a few hundred metres back.
Now for the "what if" section of tonight's program.

She said that she had one of those will I? won't I? moments as the lights changed.
That intersection is infamous for it's red light camera.
So she hit the picks. Hard. Without looking in the mirrors. I can recommend the brakes on a Honda CRV. They be good.

So, because of her fear of a red light fine, she has gone against the basic Amber Light Rule : Stop, if it safe to do so.
It wasn't really. The rest of the traffic was coming along as well as me.

If the camera wasn't there she would have run the amber and all would have continued on their merry way.

The other option is that I could have been in the company vehicle. 42,000 kilos of semi is going to make a different bang than 300 kilos of bike and me.

But I digress. That is all theoretical jiggery-boo.
The facts are that I broke my focus and I hit her.
Simple really.Stupid and simple.

So as we stand, the bike is at OCD Racing for it's assessment, the hand is not broken but has a lot of tendon and soft tissue damage and I am bikeless and shitty.

Still, I walked away with no more than a sore hand.
The helmet is unmarked.
The jacket I bought from Frog did it's job, it's a little scuffed but the armour worked a treat. All the stitching has held.

Just a quick sidenote : Those who know about this have given me some stick about joining Netriders and learning how to crash in good company.
When the bloke came to pick up the bike he gave me his card.
It's a Netriders card.
On it is a little line that says "Looking for people to ride with?"
Odd thing to give a bloke as he watches his beloved get carted off.
So I guess, no, I'm not actually looking for someone to ride with.
Thank you, twonks.

UPDATE : The repair quote came in at $5500. A case of the parts being greater than the sum.
So by the time you read this, the bike is sitting at Fowle's Auctions and I am starting to haggle with QBE Insurance about what market value actually means.



Sandy & I were going on a Saturday morning for a run down through the Gippsland.

The morning had yet to make up it's mind as to what it was going to do for the rest of the day. Bright warming sun was changing slightly to a cooling breeze and a few clouds. Not that it mattered; we were bloody well going, no matter what the indecisive day was up to.

We had a mission.

The bikes were primed and so was I. A few stressed weeks of unemployment and heavy decisionising had taken their toll. I needed cleansing. I was positively bouncing, my mind already halfway around the imagined course, plotting straights, bends. Motorcycles, they be good for what ails ya.

The day got its shit together, the breeze and clouds fucked off to somewhere else and so did we.

The first bit was a rather uninspiring trawl down the South Gippsland Highway towards Phillip Island. The highlight was a little silver car with the plate OLCOW that toddled on by us.

We switched off at the Korumburra turnoff. This is a fabulous bit of fairly lonely, curvy highway.

Step 1 of the cleansing was about to begin.


45k's to Korumburra. I suddenly needed to be there right now!! So, off I went attempting that very feat.

Wide, see-through corners that tempt those of low moral fibre such as me. I didn't see any children though, so it's all ok.

Way back there in the mirrors is a tiny speck of light that might be a Hayabusa headlight. Odd, thought I, what is she doing?

I lost sight of said speck and continued on my merry way out of the sweepy stuff and into the tighter bits where you can't see the next corner.

I got stuck behind a van for half a minute, checked the mirrors, nothing.

The road cleared, I moved up, ready. Check the mirror again and it's full of Hayabusa. You do get used to that happening. Eventually.

We were near the turnoff for Loch, a pissant little village with more antique shops than residents. Sandy motioned for a drink so we turned off and pulled up.

There is one saving grace to Loch, it has a road that leads to Wonthaggi that is really worth a punt when you get down this way.


But, I digress. We had stopped in Loch for a drink. Sandy emerges from the little general store with 2 cans of Coke.

I thought she had developed massive hands until I realised she had discovered a shop that sells "throwdowns" the little 250ml cans that used to be around.

Hardly manly but it would do. My buzzing testosterone levels would not be challenged by little girly cans. Ha ha, I chortled with Flynn-like bravado.

Sandy kindly rose to that challenge (Strange, I don't remember issuing one though) and brought forth Turkish bread rolls, hommis and a selection of fruits.

I was still maintaining my levels until the wee chopping board came out to dice the mango.


"Where's the little fold out table?" I quipped.

"I couldn't fit it on the bike. If we were in the car, I would have brought it" came the straight faced reply slicing neatly through the last vestiges of swashbuckling derring-do I was trying to project.

Fine. I chewed my strawberries and mango in a manly fashion.

We saddled up and set off again to have a look at a block of land for sale in Korumburra.

We found the notice board but not the entrance or the road that it was supposedly on. We asked a couple of locals if they had heard of Government Road.

"Nope. Lived here all my life. No Government Road here." was the answer.

We scooted back into town to the Real Estate Agency. They were closed (Oh, if only we hadn't stopped for a picnic)

Bugger. Oh well, out with the Google printouts and search the Nokia GPS thingy for a clue. As we are doing that a bloke emerges from the agency shop so we cornered him about this block.

"No. Government Road doesn't exist. The purchaser would have to put the road in themselves". Well, that explains the low price.


But keep the Korumburra-Wonthaggi Road in mind too..


On through Leongatha (nothing to see here, Citizen, move along) and out to Mirboo North

So onward, ever onward we trekked. Well, to Mirboo North anyway.


A quiet little town with a bank, pub & bakery or two, a real estate agent and the obligatory antiques shops.


Mirboo North is on the Strzelecki Highway. Obviously Count Pawel Strzelecki had no immediate sense of straight lines if the road that bears his name is any indication.

Have a bit of a read about this bloke. He didn't mind getting out and about. He's like Thommo & Davo, but with a horse and a Polish accent.

Right. Enough of the history lesson. We were there for other things.

We haunted the Real Estate Agency there and picked out a few likely spots.

One in particular got our attention.

It's just out of town on the highway.



A lovely block of land. One acre, sheltered from the road by 2 stands of gums. We have already plotted the house in the back right corner. A "4 car" shed in the left (of the photo). I say "4 car" obviously meaning 2 road bikes, 2 track bikes, 2 chookies. If there is a car by then it can fucking well sit outside like a neglected, mongrel dog.

Yes, a bit of time was spent wandering about this one.

Right then, what's next? 7.4 acres near Boolarra? Why not?

This is the point I must raise with the slicked up agent when next we meet. A mud map in pink highlighter pen on a Google map printout doesn't show what two innocent wanderers might encounter.


Yes, I realise now that there are a couple of more direct routes to take. But we were out of familiar territory without a compass or a clue.

Half of the mud map track we followed was sandy gravel, the other half was split between bitumen and what resembled a thin linear quarry.

We found it, looked, took note and left.


A couple of more k's of dodging "gravel" the size of half bricks and burning loo rolls and we popped out on the Strzelecki again. To our relief. Me, because I fucking hate fucking dirt fucken. Sandy, because the 'Abusa was starting to get a bit flustered at having to dawdle.


When I sighted the turnoff for the oh-so-fucking-glorious Mirboo North-Trafalgar Road I knew Step 2 was about to begin.

This is why..


This road is hilarious.

Opening with a set-your-own-speed combination of climbing bends that have velodrome-like camber it levels off and rewards you with a view that is nothing short of breathtaking.

Verdant hills that roll over the top of each other and tumble down to deep valleys. Lush grassland and deep forest that you really have to stop and take in to full appreciate.

Our rate of travel sort of excluded any nature breaks.

Once you hit the top of the climb you wind gently down into Thorpdale.

Not much happens in Thorpdale.

I could tell that by the fading ad for McWilliams Sparkling Bodega garishly splashed across the wall of the pub.

It does have a nice little war memorial. I would have stopped for a photo but I couldn't get Sandy's attention.

Obviously the flash of light from my high beam wasn't fast enough to catch up with her.

Out of Thorpdale and things change dramatically.

The ground drops away and the corners tighten up into the realm of Twisties.

Normally a sensational run down into Trafalgar. Unless of course you happen to encounter a 4WD owner that has decided to move house on a Saturday afternoon. Arseclown!

A quick fuel stop at Trafalgar and Sandy asked if I wanted a drink.

"Yep. Yarragon Pub?" I asked.

"Sounds good to me". Settled then.

The plan was to hit the pub, ring Cricky and drag him over.

We hit Yarragon and I called out to see if Sandy wanted to go to the pub or just go and bug Cricky.

She pointed in the general direction of Chez Crick. I love it when decisions come easy.

We pulled up and I wondered if he might be home. the bikes were shut off and as I took off the helmet I heard the dulcet tones of Metallica's new album wafting delicately on the breeze at Force 7. Yup, he's home.

What followed was a quiet hour of retelling the day over a beer or two.

When I told of leaving Sandy behind on the Korumburra stretch and wondering what she was up to Cricky helpfully provided "Bolstering your ego, brother"

I know it's true, I just didn't need to hear it, not after the whole mango & chopping board episode.

We also got to meet the delightful Cricky's Mum. This amazing woman produced the Brothers Crick, and is still paying the price for it.

I think the highlight of the visit was Cricky leaping excitedly to his feet to proudly show his Mum that his lilly's had come out. Probably not a side of him many get to see. Poove.

Well, time had not so much marched as stomped off in a huff and we had to make a move.

A quick toddle down the freeway, a couple of turns and we were home.

Boots off, feet up and a bit of bench racing was done over a snack tea.

Apparently it was all a little too overwhelming for some of us.


All in all, just on 300k’s for the day. A lazy run with a couple of stops for lunch, dreams and beer with a mate.

It’s days like these that make the grindstone bearable. As I took the above photo I was grinning over nothing in particular and feeling very much at ease.

I know it’s the bike that’s responsible for this. Is there nothing a day in the saddle cannot remedy?

I reckon many of you who may read this will nod sagely when I admit that I can’t pin down why.

Is it the freedom thing? The power, the speed?
Having your shit all come together in a neatly stacked pile as you do battle with the Laws Of Centrifugal Force through that perfectly cambered right hander?
Seeing the speedo needle point at some very naughty numbers on that long straight that bursts out of the trees like an arrow at the sun?

I don’t know why. All I do know is that when all the pieces fit then nothing else matters.


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