This is Our Family: Brook’s Story

There is something grandiose about riding alongside a 100-year-old Harley-Davidson.  Its simplistic construction and grand styling combined with its mechanical arrangement of exposed valves and the noises created from their operation stupefy one as it gently builds speed to a steady pace of 80 kilometres an hour. On its own this is a rare event, but put that bike on Kosciusko Road high in the Snowy Mountains and it’s a sight seldom seen and experienced by most motorcycle enthusiasts.

The same can be said for my 5500 kilometre round trip to get there.

Having a significant break from the ‘fly in fly out’ project life the opportunity presented itself to attend the “2015 Great Race – Harley versus Indian” in the Snowy Mountains over the Australia Day long weekend, with time on my side and 10 days of sunshine forecast my bike was serviced by the team at Morgan & Wacker Brisbane with a detachable cargo rack fitted to aid the carrying of a swag for the nights under the stars, already fitted were detachable saddle bags so I had enough ‘on bike’ storage to ride without a backpack, something I’d recommend to anyone embarking on a long distance trip.

First leg was to Tamworth, a lazy 600km arriving after dark, this tied in with the Country Music Festival, meeting up with a fellow rider who had travelled up from Melbourne on her hot rod Sportster, one night there and a hazy start to the next day had late start to the ride so only a few hundred kilometres inland to Gilgandra for the night.

For anyone heading to the National Harley Owners Group Rally from Brisbane, take the time to enjoy the ride, allow 8 to 10 hours and see the sights and visit the small often forgotten towns along the way.

Dawn the next day saw me on the road again, headed straight for Melbourne, 1000km for the last leg of the trip to my base camp for the next few days. Lines on a map showed a shortcut that was possible, the road was a poorly maintained country link which soon became a fine white gravel road, leading me the back way into Parkes, close enough to the telescope made famous by the Australian movie “The Dish”. A quick coffee break and back on the road, stopping only for fuel then to help an elderly couple with a blown tyre on their caravan, a quick tyre change became a two hour affair but happy to sacrifice my time to help people in need.

Eventually crossing into Victoria and high tailing it to Melbourne after dark, the big 7 inch LED headlamp from a Fat Boy burning the cool nights air for the final few hundred kilometres.

A few days in Melbourne allowed for some amazing experiences, I visited the private motorcycle collection of Dave Reid in Brunswick, the Kustom Kommune in Collingwood and finally the Great Ocean Road, which was a 700 kilometre loop of the greatest riding I have ever done – well at that point of my journey. They say a Melbourne summer day can have all four seasons in a day, and they don’t lie.

Leaving early in the morning it was blue skies and low thirties, heading south into blue skies and low temperatures in the teens, followed by grey clouds, thick fog and light rain on the return trip, looking at keeping time and avoiding the weather I headed inland, a shortcut looked like it was there heading inland through the Beech Forrest into Colac. Like most shortcuts in life it was a bad idea, again a nice road faded before 50 kilometres of a logging trail filled with logging trucks hardly interested in my journey, I was stopping often, cowering from the dust, stones and avoiding the bark that flies off the logs which becomes like a wall off darts striking you if you get too close or try to overtake. With the 3 seasons over I encountered the fourth returning to Melbourne along the Princes Highway, perfect cool breezes and temperatures in the mid 20’s. All good reminders to pack for the weather you don’t expect.

Northbound out of Melbourne bound for Jindabyne and the Great Race took me to Wodonga, then east along the Murray Valley Highway, bordering the southern side of Lake Hume, through Kosciusko National Park and into Jindabyne.

This was an amazing 250 kilometres of riding, travelling on well-kept roads through some of the most beautiful terrain in Australia, stopping often for a break with nature or a swim in a cold fresh water stream fed deep from the Snowy Mountains, certainly one of the most memorable parts of my expedition.

The next two days had me based out of Jindabyne as a spectator for the Great Race, watching over 130 vintage Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles battle the roads and the elements on open road time trials, closed road events and check points along the way where individual and team knowledge was tested on the history of the two makes.

Over the weekend the riders travelled in excess of 500 kilometres on some back roads testing every nut and bolt, followed by some amazing roads like Kosciusko Road heading to Charlottes Pass from Jindabyne.

Victory for 2015 went to Harley-Davidson after a long stay with Indian. It seems the Harley riders are more interested in a ride, beer and a catch up into the early hours of the morning, with the enemy, I mean the Indian riders, more focused on victory at all costs, even if that meant an early night and the occasional part of cheating.

It is not often to be in the presence of motorcycle greatness and accumulated history but the Great Race certainly has both, bikes ranged across the years and rarity from a 1915 F, 1929 FDH, 1935 VD, 1942 XA to a 1956 FL. An excellent weekend and something I will be entering in the coming years.

With the Great Race over and my return journey ahead I hit the road, riding straight into rain which never ended until just south of the border, a 1370 kilometre leg completed in the afternoon come evening, into a sunrise with clear skies in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, with sunshine on my back into Brisbane. With breaks for fuel and beers it was a 20 hour journey.

I travelled 5,500 kilometres in 9 days on my 2014 Dyna Street Bob. Its heart is a 120R Screamin’ Eagle motor, with a simple round air filter and standard exhaust headers with S&S Tapered Slip Ons. Good for 120 rear wheel horsepower and 120nM of Torque, it’s a real sleeper. It performed flawlessly over the trip, with the greatest fuel economy being 340 kilometres from 15 litres, being 4.41 L/100km, a better economy than a standard 103 cube inch motor which sits at 5.5 L/100km.

 

For me owning a Harley-Davidson isn’t about the image, it’s not about “café hopping”, it’s about a ride you remember, regardless of the bike. My little shed holds my 2014 Street Bob, 2010 Street Bob, an original ex-Australian Army 1942 WLA, a ‘bobber’ 1942 WLA and soon a Shovelhead which is making its way here from America.

Any one of my bikes is reliable enough to take on a long journey, each tank big enough to get between rural and regional towns, and more than capable of doing so carrying saddlebags, so what’s your excuse?

Fill the tank, pack the bags, charge the camera, turn off your phone and go see this great country of ours.