Published on August 19th, 2014 | by Boris
A MAN WITHOUT REDEMPTION
I have to tell you what an irredeemable piece of motorcycling shit I am. It is truly disgraceful how easily and eagerly I debase myself at the rubbery feet of a motorcycle at every opportunity.
I’ve always known it. Even from the start.
But it really became obvious a few years ago on the side of an empty country road in the middle of a warm summer night – which is where all the very best revelations always come to a man.
That afternoon, I was down in my work car-park with my jaw on the floor. I was actively considering sending my pants down there to join it, and immediately then proceeding upon some indescribable act of metal-on-flesh carnality and the security cameras be damned.
The late Ken Wootton, the then editor of Australian Motorcycle News, had got his hands on a MV Agusta Senna and had parked it, like a rabid cockteasing whore, right where I would see it when I came down to get my bike and go home.
Back then, and for a brief and incandescent moment in the arc of motorcycling awesomeness, the matte black MV Agusta Senna, was the fastest 750cc bike on the planet. But it was also the most divinely beautiful bike I had ever seen – and pretty much still is. I hope Massimo Tamburini is being fellated like a Turkish sultan in whatever part of Motorcycle Heaven he now resides in for creating such a masterpiece.
(QUICK FACT: The F4 750 Senna was released in 2002. Built to raise money for the Instituto Ayrton Senna, a charity founded by Ayrton Senna to aid the children and young people of Brazil, the Senna was a limited production run of 300 bikes. The Senna shared the 101 kW engine of the Evo 02 but with a higher redline of 13900rpm, and top-speed of 282 km/h . The Senna also had upgraded suspension and some carbon-fibre bodywork.)
So I gawped at this dark Italian vision like a retard. I stroked its velvet-black paint with adoration and I must have looked at it from a thousand different angles – each one more visually striking to me than the one before.
“Fuck me…fuck me…” I kept muttering to myself as I inched around it. Not because I wanted it to fuck me, but because that was the appropriate thing to say at that point in time.
Then I went back upstairs and fronted Ken.
“Give me the keys to that Senna or I will kill you like a dog,” I said.
Ken grinned. He was as irredeemable a piece of motorcycling shit as I was. And he knew what was going on.
“You can only have it for tonight. It’s the only one in the country, and I have to shoot it tomorrow and then get it back to Feeney.” (Paul Feeney was the importer of MV Agusta back then.)
“You’re wasting time talking when you could be handing over the keys.”
He handed me the keys and I didn’t even bother taking the lift. I flew down the fire stairs, jammed the key into the ignition and hit the starter button.
It cranked for a second then fired and filled the garage with a rasping, muted proto-howl. It sounded like barely sealed damnation demanding release, and it was completely unlike any idle I had ever heard this side of a racetrack.
I blinked at it. Then I saw the Arrows logo on the pipes peering out from under the rear cowl.
“It’s got an Arrows race system on it,” said Ken’s voice behind my shoulder. He had caught the lift and had joined me in the garage.
“Shut up,” I hissed. “I’m listening to God.”
Then I road home through Peak Hour traffic while Tamburini’s midnight masterwork hunted and growled and rasped and burned my leg and cramped my back like a demon’s claw.
I rang Brother Silverback.
“I’ll meet you at the bridge at 11pm,” I said.
“What do I need to bring?”
“Nothing. I have everything we need.”
Dinner was a rushed affair that evening. I had chores that needed doing, but I really couldn’t focus on anything but the slice of utter dark waiting for me in the garage. My wife was well aware of my irredeemable shittery.
“I have to go out for a bit,” I told her at 10pm.
“I know,” she said.
I grabbed three fat joints, a hip-flask of good whiskey and was on my way to the Colo River Bridge on the Putty Road before her kiss had dried on my cheek.
Brother Silverback was waiting.
“Fuck me…” he said when I turned the ignition off. And no, it was not an invitation. It’s just what one irredeemable piece of motorcycling shit says to another piece of irredeemable motorcycling shit when beholding something divine.
So we then stood around it. And we walked around it. And we squatted on our haunches like cavemen contemplating a hunt and looked at it. We smoked a joint. We drank some whiskey. We swore a bit. We pointed at things on the Senna we were seeing for the first time or admiring for the thousandth time.
Then we took turns riding it.
The night was warm, the moon was waxing and the sips of whiskey and puffs of hooch had combined their benisons in a most appropriate way.
That hour or so Brother Silverback and I shared with the Senna are branded into my soul. I would sit on the Armco as he came down the hill through the gears, listening to the other-worldly yowl being spat out the Arrows system, echoing through the perfect sandstone amphitheater surrounding us and bouncing off the surface of the river, the volume increasing as he came past me hard through the gears and along the straight, then fading as he climbed out of the river valley off to my left.
Then it would be my turn. I’d fire it back up the hill and through the sharp right-hand hairpin, forcing the redline in second and snicking into third just as I tipped into the left-hander at the top, then I’d pin it in third, get halfway through fourth, then button off, do a U-turn and descend back into the cliff-ringed river valley like the wrath of some screaming stone-age god. I’d lean down behind the fairing on the straight and red-line the bike through third past Brother Silverback and once again as far as I dared into fourth as the road started to wind up out of the valley and through some of the smoothest and most delightful ascending corners ever laid upon this earth.
We saw no cars. We had no bad moments. We just rode and listened to the howl of the Senna and smoked and sipped and rode again. And we smiled and back-slapped each other like teenage hooligans after a shop-lifting spree each time we swapped over.
Because we too had stolen something.
And it was very precious.