Published on December 11th, 2006 | by Boris
BLACK BEAST BOOGIE
MEN AND BEASTS – 2006 XMAS RIDE
Pics: Minoz, Mick, Klink
I was very concerned about my Annual Xmas Road Party. In fact, in the whole 25 years I’ve been having it, this, the 26th year, was the one I was most worried about.
I had good reason to be. I was about to ride some very demanding roads on a Suzuki Boulevarde M109R; bike so large and powerful it could swat me like a cockroach and leave me spritzing my life’s blood into some godforsaken table drain in a nanosecond of lost concentration.
And I’d been having a few of those nanoseconds lately, as you all probably know.
Then there was the motley assortment of riding companions. Everyone of whom I had never ridden any distance with before. Except Mick. I knew he could ride, but he’d never ridden the Oxley, which has this habit of surprising even the most devilishly skilled rider. He was also on a Goldwing and the only plus I could see there was that I could probably keep him in sight for most of the trip.
As for the rest of them – all unknown quantities. I didn’t know if they could ride, I had no idea if they turned into yodelling retards after one too many shandies, I didn’t know if they would cry if it got too hot/fast/crazy… it was all a series of great unknown factors.
Counterpointing my spasming sphincter was my sheer feral joy at getting away on a serious blast after such a long time off-line. So I was a bit fey and tetchy pulling into the abandoned servo I picked as the rendezvous point.
As departure time approached, I could tell this was gonna be an interesting ride.
Mick, as you know, was on the GoldWing. Our Director of Photography, the Son of Elvis, was on Mick’s hotted-up Gixxer Thou (he races mountain bikes downhill, so I knew he was a brave and crazy man), the rest were members off the website –and unknown factors, as I’ve said.
Minoz and Sandy – a delightful couple, riding a crippled Bandit 1200 and a stickered-up SV650 respectively.
Big TimM, on a clapped-out Kwaka 250 he’d borrowed ‘cos he so wanted to go for a ride.
Busababe and Logana – her on her strife-plagued Hayabusa and him on a multicoloured GSX bitsa he’d thrown together in his garage the night before.
Al – our sensationally devilish web grandmaster, astride Yamaha’s flagship touring beast, looking like an old school bikie complete with Brando jacket and Aviator shades. He needed Rossi touring boots with footy socks to tuck his jeans into to be in a complete time warp.
Spotted Quoll was meeting us in Walcha tomorrow and Madart was somewhere between somewhere and Tamworth. The immaculate Klink had yet to materialise on his gorgeously turned out Buell, but when I say I leave at 7am, I do.
So I did.
Mick and I quickly adopted the standard touring speed, and before three corners were done, our mirrors were empty. Until about 20km into the trip when Klink manifested in them. I waved and turned the throttle to the stop to see if the Boulevarde was all I really thought it may be.
It so bloody was. It not only left the big ‘Wing for dead out of corners, it left the poor Buell gasping to keep up on long straights and very fast sweepers. Anything that is signposted 55km/h and up is a delight of stability and overwhelming torque. I learned very quickly that like all long wheel-based shaft-drives, staying on the throttle is the secret to smooth lines. Back off too sharp and it will try and stand up on you. Lesson learned and hardwired, I carried on, and the further and harder I rode it, the more impressed I became.
Here is a bike that can take it to the only other two true power cruisers on earth. It’ll match the Rocket III with acceleration so eye-searingly brutal, you’ll have to catch your breath before you can say SHIT!” out loud. And it will crush a V-Rod with absolute contempt.
This crushing ability does come at a cost – the 19-litre fuel tank will provide close to 320 klicks if you toddle along like a civilised gentleman. Ride it in anger and you’ll be grateful to get 195 out of a tank.
Handling was surprisingly accurate, despite its massive rear tyre and long wheelbase, and I found the gearbox to be a bit clunky from first to second, no matter how many different approaches to clutch and throttle I tried. It clunks from first to second, so be it.
Engine braking is massive, but virtually unnecessary given its magical GSX-R braking heritage and upside-down front-end. The back brake was one of the best I have ever stomped on – especially on a feet-forward cruiser like this.
The suspension struggled at times, but only over very uncertain or roughly corrugated surfaces. But then most things do. It didn’t do anything bizarre, it just struggled a touch at the pace we were doing. I can’t say I blame it, actually.
But the very best thing about the Boulevarde, and what sets it apart from all other cruisers is its ability to be punted at speed without the rider having to hang on for grim death against the wind blast. The sloped headlight cowl and tacho seem to be positioned perfectly to deflect the wind blast over your head, so even with your feet forward, arms-apart stance, there is actually very little wind pressure slamming you backwards. Great stuff, Suzuki. Somebody finally realised that not all cruiser riders toddle around like pooves on parade.
By the time we got to the Putty’s Halfway House, I was gurning and hooting like a mongoloid gibbon. But then I realised that only Mick, Klink and I were present.
“The others must be dead!” I said to myself. “I’m doomed. I took these bastards out for a ride and killed them!”
Then Al pulled in, followed in rapid succession by the rest.
“I can’t believe how fast you guys ride!” Logana puffed. He kept saying that all weekend, but each time Mick just looked blankly at him. I didn’t get it either. I thought everyone rode more or less like I did. Mick rides faster than anyone I know, but me? I doubt it.
And it also didn’t make a great deal of sense given I was on a cruiser (but what a bloody cruiser!), Mick was on the superb ‘Wing and Logana was on a GSX-R 750, but then I was just grateful the man was alive.
Coffee, fuel and back up the road we went. Another brief fuel stop at Muswellbrook as the temperature climbed into the 30s and then as fast a dash as we dared to the Willow Tree hotel for a bracing ice cold beer. Yes, of course I drink beer when I go away on rides. I have one every two hours or so. Why wouldn’t I?
Nundle was our lunch stop (and the usual place I eat when doing this loop for AMCN or my own amusement), but Klink almost made sure we all went to visit him in Tamworth Base Hospital.
Mick had spooked a mangy looking ‘roo out of the table drain 20 klicks outta Nundle and it ran straight at me. I kicked and pulled on every braking device the Boulevard had fitted, and was astounded at how fast it came down from 220. So was Klink, ‘cos he went sailing past me and straight at the bouncing rat, only to miss it by about half a metre.
Pants freshly filled with shit, we pulled up at Nundle and ate like shipwrecked sailors.
I then went to deal with my fuel issue. I’d last filled up at the Halfway House and the fuel light started blinking just outside Willow Tree. It stopped blinking and just glared at me from the Nundle turn-off. Like all people employed to write the odd yarn about bikes, I figured I’d see how far a tank took me. I discovered how far this was when I put 18.86 litres into the tank at Nundle.
“Is that a 24-litre tank?” Mick asked.
“Um, it looks like it,” I shrugged, utterly unaware at the time that it was in fact a 19-litre fuel tank.
After lunch, we camera-ed up Mick and Klink and I led them at a respectable pace to Tamworth, simultaneously obtaining some rather, um, exciting footage of the Boulevarde bringing on its beast boogie, and marvelling at just how fast and hard a GoldWing can go when one knows what one’s doing on it.
I was also relieved to see that Klink has some rather zesty bike-riding kung-fu at his disposal as well. He certainly isn’t scared to let the Buell have a gallop and looks very measured and calm in my rear view mirrors.
I told him so as we floated in the Powerhouse’s marvellous pool. I think he must have been flattered cos he went to get beer for me.
The others had also arrived safely, and were in the pool fighting off the 40-degree heat and drinking beer. Is there a better way to finish off a long, hard ride? Perhaps. But I’ll be buggered if I’ve ever been able to get the right assortment of Thai prostitutes delivered on time into small country towns.
Dinner, as is usual at the Powerhouse, was an orgy of great service and sensational tucker. It ain’t cheap, but then what price can a man put on his enjoyment?
There was some cheesecloth-wearing bird banging away on a guitar, but after I spoke to her about playing any more Cranberry covers, she must have turned it down a touch and left us to our drinking.
I even managed to go swimming at about 10pm. It helped sober me up a touch, but then we started arguing religion and politics over a bottle of average Scotch, so I didn’t stay that way for very long.
The next morning the Ox was waiting just up the road – and all my feelings of trepidation and worry started surfacing again. The Putty didn’t kill them, but the Ox probably would. It was longer, faster and far more technically demanding than the Putty. Constant concentration was a must.
I was feeling much better about my own riding, but I was concerned that everyone else was concerned about how fast Mick, Klink and I were allegedly travelling.
“Please pay attention to the road,” I burped at them all as we suited up. “The Ox is not a friendly bit of bitumen and if you get it wrong, it could get very, very ugly. Ride at your own pace or I will kick your steaming remains all through the forest if I find them.” Then I realised I sounded like a twat and shut up.
If they died, they died.
We picked up Spotted Quoll in Walcha. He was riding a veritable history lesson of a BMW and looking like one would imagine an old school, life-long rider would look. I loved him instantly. I was soon in awe of his bike riding skills.
Mick and I led the way up until it became very tight, when we waved Madart and Klink on, before setting off in hot pursuit… or at least Mick did. I was wallowing around on the seat so much, trying to heave the Boulevarde from 45km/h corner to 45km/h corner, that the sheepskin cover bunched up under my arse and left me sitting on a wadded up lump of lamb hide and unable to ride. So I stopped, waved Mick on and struggled to fix it.
A savage buzzing noise filled my helmet and Quoll went hurtling by, probably wondering why I was sitting in the middle of the road playing with my groin.
I set off in pursuit, but it was pointless. Not all the power in the world makes any difference if there is not enough ground clearance. Still, I wasn’t all that far behind – maybe three corners – but when I got to Ginger’s Creek, there was no Mick.
“Where’s Mick?” I asked.
“He went past here like he was on a mission,” Madart shrugged. “I think he’s chasing us.”
“Oh God,” I said. “He’ll stop when he runs you down, but since you’re here, he’ll stop when he hits the Pacific Ocean.”
The rest arrived unscathed and buzzing like a swarm of bees. The Ox has that effect. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you the happiest person on earth.
We decided against lunch, having eaten a monstrous breakfast and opted for cold beer at Long Flat instead. And after entertaining Madart and Quoll with my cornering antics aboard the Boulevard, we finally came off the range and I gave the big Zook its head. Nothing came close. 85 and 95 kay sweepers were devoured at speeds so obscenely vile I was ashamed of myself. Rock solid stability was my reward and a grin the size of the Great Australian Bight.
Long Flat beer welcomed me with icy kisses of happiness and I rode into Port Macquarie a happy and contented man.
We ensconced ourselves at The Pier cos it had Hoegaarden on tap, and apart from a brief trip to our motel to dump our bikes and get a lift back in the courtesy bus, we didn’t much move all night.
But we did go to one other place after the couples went home to have grunty hog sex with each other, leaving me, Mick, Quoll, Tim and Madart to stare at the never-ending parade of delightful young babes out on a hot Saturday night. Then The Pier closed and Monique, the barmaid who’d been Quoll’s special love-interest all evening said we should go to the Beach House up on the water. They had good beer there and lots of things to look at, she said.
So we went.
Interestingly, even though most of us were old enough to have fathered the perfumed hordes who were in there, none of us had. So it was quite moral and proper and right that we admired them for the stunning examples of barely-dressed babe that they were.
The bouncers were friendly, and smaller than us. And every young male in the joint quickly realised that old leathery buffaloes like us were not to be trifled with. I even heard one bouncer (who had been working at the other place we were drinking in) nervously whispering to another one: “They’ve been sucking booze since 2pm but they don’t even look pissed!”
We were, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. Old leathery buffaloes have to keep some things secret from the young ‘uns.
The next morning, we set off for home. No-one was in any shape to ride back up the Ox and do Thunderbolt’s Way. We all just wanted to go home. It was hot, we were tired and we drifted home at our own pace. Except for Mick, who saw a police car coming the other way, went down two gears and disappeared into the distance.
I would like to thank my companions for their company over the weekend and for making my 26th Annual Xmas Road Party a wild and worthy weekend to remember.
Now, how many of you have ever been on a real Mystery Run?