From the Blog

“You’re not very good, are you?”

You don’t have to hang around motorcyclists very long before you start picking up a lot of crazy stories. Such is the case with my blog today. It consists of a story told to me by a good friend during a very long and tedious road trip some years ago. Telling stories and swapping yarns always makes a trip go quicker so we tried to relieve the boredom of the road trip by doing so.

My good friend, lets’s call him “John” had had a long and colourful involvement with motorcycling and nowhere was this better illustrated than in some of the yarns he told during this trip. They are all funny but this one really tickled my funny bone.

John had been racing sidecar motocross as a rider. Now anyone who knows anything about sidecars knows that it is a team sport, requiring intimate trust and coordination between the rider and the monkey. Well, sadly, John was finding that this partnership was starting to break down so he started looking for another field in which he could indulge his passion for motorcycle competition. I don’t know how old he was when this took place; he speaks of it as if it were in the last century. Anyway, injuries and the demands of the sport were taking its toll as well so John decided that he might like to try post classic sidecar racing on the tar instead. Quite how he thought that it would be easier is beyond me, but young people do funny things.

Then, as now, the club which was most actively involved in sidecar racing was Annandale Leichhardt Motorcycle Club. Long a bastion of three wheel competition, the club used to hold regular “come and try” days at both Amaroo Park and Oran Park (these days they are held at Eastern Creek). These days gave people who wanted to try sidecar competition on tar an opportunity to test it out in a non-competitive atmosphere. It was, and still is, only for passengers, of course; riders and owners of the outfits are not likely to entrust their outfits to a novice rider no matter how experienced he or she may claim to be.

Anyway, when one of these days was on, John went out to Oran Park and had a look around. He liked what he saw but he especially liked a sidecar outfit that had a “For Sale” sign on it. Now this posed a dilemma because, like most young motorcyclists, he had refined penury to an art form. However, a long conversation with the owner got him thinking more and more about how great it WOULD be to go road racing. John had brought his passenger along and he took him aside and asked him if he’d swing for him is he could arrange a test ride of the outfit. “NO!” was the immediate and definite reply.

Nevertheless, John persevered and managed to convince the owner that he was a genuine prospective buyer. However, the matter of a test ride would still have to be arranged. The owner, anxious for a sale, collared a young lady who was just passing by and pressed her into service so John could take the bike out onto the track. It transpired that she was an experienced passenger who was already dressed in her racing suit so that certainly helped to sway his decision. So John and Miss X sashayed out onto the track in a borrowed outfit that he had no idea of how to ride, no chance of paying for if he really DID want to buy it and no chance of paying for damages to it should he “bin” it.

John felt that they were quickly up to pace and he thoroughly enjoyed the four or five laps of the “test ride” before they were flagged off. He returned to the pits and parked the bike at the pit bay. Miss X climbed out of the chair and started walking away. Before disappearing completely from sight she stopped, turned around and said to John “You’re not very good, are you?” after which she turned away and walked off.

John took the owner’s number but, unsurprisingly, the “sale” proceeded no further, nor did John’s aspirations of a road racing sidecar career. Had it done so I am sure that there would have been plenty more stories but, for me, this one suffices. I still have a quiet giggle every time I remember it.