THE MISSING APOSTLES
[OH YEAH, THAT'S SOME OF THE ICONIC "12 APOSTLES" IN THE BACKGROUND...]
My chest is still rumbling with the unmistakable growl that can only come from a Harley.
My hands are cramping so much that my fingers hurt as I type.
My head is still ringing with the sound of wind in my ears.
My mouth is still twisted into an ear-splitting grin.
My buttocks are numb.
- 2 best mates
- 1200 ccs [mine...well, ok his wife let me borrow hers - thankyou Lisa!]
- 1690 ccs [his...dat buggah...]
- 11 hours on the road
- 500+ kilometers traveled
- 3 new muscles discovered
Last night I was so excited I could hardly sleep. After downsizing my car to a motorcycle during the last months I remained in Hawaii, I've not ridden for almost six weeks and withdrawals have been kicking in... gazing longingly at bikes parked on the sidewalks of Melbourne, snapping my neck to see the machine responsible for causing all that lovely ruckus as it whines or growls or putts its way down the street...
When I jump out of bed at 6:30 this morning, my feet barely touch the ground as I pull on two layers of thermals, two layers of socks, two layers of tshirts, and then put on my borrowed riding gear. We hit the road a little after 7am, and I am thankful for the neoprene ninja mask keeping my face warm that I bought this week. I am not to feel my toes, or fingers, for another two hours when we stop for breakfast and coffee in Lorne.
The Great Ocean Road winds its way down some of the most rugged, and beautiful coastline of Australia. Loking out at the massive seacliffs that stretch away, you can feel the slow march of the entire continent's landmass into the Southern Ocean. Two thin lanes of cars and motorcycles skirt these cliffs - many of them sheer drops into the surf below - whizzing only feet away from each other at 100 kilometers per hour [kmh], separated only by a white stripe on the pavement.
Then the road turns inland, and rolling hills emerge from native forests, and asphalt carves sweeping turns through the changing terrain. The twang of eucalyptus oil fills our noses as the bike engines roar and crackle through the bush.
At one point, we shoot out of the mottled eucalyptus canopy into a cloud of blue smoke drifting across the roadway. The trees have changed, there are now pine forests stretching away to the horizon, and on either side of us are clearings littered with stumps, bright yellow heavy machinery, and smoldering piles of brush... my first thought is that we are passing through the remnants of Black Saturday, until I realize that the fires did not pass this far south. Then the scene is gone like a bad dream, and we plunge back into the eucalyptus forest at 100 kmh, and the acrid smell of burning pine is replaced again with the smell of koalas' favorite food.
The weaves and twists and turns are hypnotic, and the hours and kilometers fly by as we hit our groove: lining up our entry points and lines, leaning into the turns, and accelerating out into the next curve. My mind, which had been fluttering from randomness to randomness, quiets itself, trancelike. Each moment flows into the next, one long, smooth, continuous motion with no end and no beginning, ebbing and flowing with the surge and retreat of the bike's power. Man, machine, and the open road become one.
Until the conscious mind pipes up again, saying, "Where was I? I suppose I had better ride this bike now... who was riding it all this time?" ...and the moment, the magnificent flowing moment with no end and no beginning, which could have lasted 5 minutes or 45 minutes in real time... that moment passed.
I understand a little more about the allure the motorcycle, a.k.a. the meditation machine, and the open road holds for certain souls...