Our day braving the dirty wilds began with a dead pig 250m from our house.
“Turn around!” Lynette yelled, thumping me on the back.
“What?” I said, thinking after more than three decades of riding together she’s finally starting to forget things at home.
“It’s a dead pig,” she said as I U-turned the V-Strom.
And it was. A decent-sized, fuzzy-as porker, bloody snout down in the gutter in the middle of Singo suburbia.
“Poor thing,” my wife sighed, her love and sympathy for all living things evident in her tone.
“Want me to say a few respectful words?” I asked.
My wife made the sign of the cross and mumbled a silent prayer.
I love her so much. Feral pigs belting around my suburb? Not so much.
We headed for Goorangoola and Rouchel – the brief ride I did solo a few weeks back. I hoped the splashing of the water as I heroically forded inch-deep causeways, easy dirt, and the glory of the views further up the road would tick the adventure box a little.
Most of the causeways were dry, but I found one Lynette could take a photo of me crossing, to maybe stare at it longingly in the evenings.
We rode on, and crossing the next one, which had a bend coming in and going out, and maybe five centimetres of water, the V-Strom went sideways, kinda hard. It was going down, but a judiciously out-stretched man-leg stopped it totally collapsing in ignominy. It suddenly found traction and we sailed through out the other side – albeit a little not-on-the-road.
I stopped. “You OK?” I asked. She had not moved or squirmed when the bike lost grip on the slimy causeway. She’s good like that.
“I just clenched my arse and thought about my hip-replacement. Good save. You’re my hero.”
“Wanna roll around in the paddock a bit? Us heroes don’t mind gratitude after the heroics.”
“You’re lucky I’m not beating you with my boot while waiting for the rescue chopper. Ride on, fool.”
My right knee had copped a bit of a belt and a wrench, but I’d not felt or heard the terrible “P-TANG!”, so I rode on.
I stopped at Old Scrumlo shearing shed for a picture. Lynette was giggling.
“Old Scrumlo. I’m gonna call you that from now on. Why are you limping and making grunting noises?”
“My heroic knee was wounded in battle defending your hip,” I grimaced.
“Do I need to hitch home with a farmer, or can Old Scrumlo carry on?”
“I’m fine,” I lied. “Get on. As if a farmer would pick you up. You don’t look or smell like a sheep at all.”
I grunted my sore leg up and over the V-Strom, blessing its relatively low seat height.
“That’s the way,” Lynette smiled. “Remember those dancer’s legs.”
A few kays further up the track, I asked her how she was faring. There were a few corrugated corners and I had managed to plunge the V-Strom into the odd pothole.
“I’m good,” she chirped. “It feels a bit loose and skiddy in places, but I haven’t grabbed you around the neck yet. The suspension’s really nice.”
And it was. The V-Strom didn’t feel her weight (she’s barely over 50kg), and she is a brilliant pillion in terms of sitting still and letting me get on with the job of not dying us both. Our progress was smooth and soothing, and my knee ached a bit.
I normally ride dirt standing up, but I’m not sure how that’s meant to happen when you have a pillion. So I remained seated and in quite short order we were on the bitumen.
Twenty-odd kays later, I pulled up in front of the Commercial Hotel at Aberdeen for lunch. Lynette immediately texted our son.
“You were almost an orphan. Your father put us sideways through a causeway. So close to disaster. We would have needed a helicopter. We were so in the bush. But then he saved it.”
My son texted back.
“That’s fucked. I hope he takes you out somewhere nice for lunch.”
My wife responded:
“Yes, we are eating in Aberdeen, where Kath Knight killed, skinned, and cooked her husband. I love him so much.”
She put her phone away and looked at me.
“How’s your knee?”
“How’d you find all that dirt?” I asked.
“It was good. I love the Suzuki. It melts my lipstick in that big black oven-box on the back, but the rear pegs don’t scratch the heels on my good boots like the BMW.”
“Maybe it’s the way you’re sitting?” I ventured.
“Maybe it is. But that’s the way I sit.”
Our lunch then became a cheery social event. My old mate Paul Melehan, saw the V-Strom and pulled in astride his Boxer Cup Beemer. He was really nice to Lynette and castigated me over my untrimmed hedge.
“I’m growing it out,” I told him. “Then I’m going to sculpt it.”
Our lunch arrived, Paul left, and another old friend, Roc Palmer, suddenly pulled in with his lady. Roc had been reacquainting himself with Thunderbolts Way of late, and has been up there twice in the last three weeks. He was on his way home from Tamworth.
“Great road, huh?” I grinned.
“I love it up there,” he grinned back.
We shot the shit for an hour or so, then carefully made our way back down the New England.
Not a single cop car did we see. I wasn’t all that fussed, but Roc was in full colours and we all know how terribly exciting such things are for the Highway Patrol. We did make a most unlikely pair of bikes heading up the road, though.
Inside my garage, I levered myself gingerly off the V-Strom. My knee was aching, but it would bear weight and bend. I can ask no more of it. I’m nearly always in some kind of pain anyway.
“Thank you for not crashing, Old Scrumlo,” Lynette said, kissing me on the cheek.
I need no other reward in this life.
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