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Triumph T160

Sod Skippy

(Travels with Guido series #282, by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, December 2020)


On kangaroos, Darwin and the meaning of crashes


Charles Darwin got it wrong. In his book Origin of the Species, he postulated the idea of natural selection, where the individuals of any species most suited to their environment survive and therefore influence its future shape. The weak, and their poor genetic baggage, die out. Codswallop.

Take kangaroos. Arguably the most stupid creature ever to wear a fur coat, they still don’t ‘get’ traffic, particularly at night. What happens is they see a headlight coming, accompanied by a very loud and probably unpleasant noise. That would be enough to have most other animals scurrying in the opposite direction.

Not roos. Nope, they bound out to greet you and do their best to throw themselves under your wheels. Given we’ve been running into and over them for over 100 years, you’d think we might have (if Darwin is right) weeded out the worst of them by now.

Apparently not. In fact, now we’re even hitting them in towns and not just out on darkened country roads. I had proof a few years ago in the form of a somewhat battered Triumph T160 and a similarly bruised person.

You see I was at the excellent All British Rally, run by the local BSA coven, and had met up with Brit bike expert and Union Jack Motorcycles owner Phil Pilgrim for a bit of a wander around the site. We were staying in Maldon that night, about 15km distant, and got away a little later than we should have. Right on dusk.

Well aware of the roo-smacking dangers that lurked ahead, we took it pretty easy. As we rolled into town unscathed, and slowed down, I relaxed – we’d made it. Clearly some fence-hopping marsupial sod had other ideas. It magically appeared smack in front of me and it, me, and the T160 I was riding, went down in a screaming heap.

The roo exited stage right, never to be seen again, and I would be a little surprised if it didn’t succumb to its injuries.

Pilgrim had more time to watch the disaster unfold from his front-row seat and I suspect was more shocked than me. He had the misfortune of actually seeing what happened. All I saw was roo, ground, sky.

Actually, you have to admire the way your mind speeds up with that first shot of adrenaline when disaster strikes. In the brief period we slid down the road, I had time to get annoyed, then be grateful that it was a relatively slow lowside and we’d all be okay.

One of the advantages of travelling with your Triumph mechanic is you get an instant roadside repair and onsite damage assessment. It was a lucky break to have him there.

The T160 was ride-able, but there was the usual litany of damage: tank, tacho, controls, lights etcetera mostly on the left side. All of it could be fixed and I was lucky that it turned out to be a relatively light battering.

Which brings me back to Skippy the TV series. It featured a pet kangaroo that was smart enough to catch the odd thief, tell its owners that little Johnny was stuck down a mine, that sort of thing. It was more or less the equivalent of a Hollywood dog in terms of character and intelligence which is, as anyone who’s met a roo will know, is at the far outer reaches of fiction.

Frankly they’re too dumb to get out of their own way. Unfortunately that rotten TV series, though it hasn’t aired for decades, still has cultural traction and has left this legacy image of kangaroos being cute and quite smart. Balderdash. All remaining copies of the series need to be found and burned.

As for the critters themselves, the sooner that Darwin effect kicks in, the happier I’ll be.

(Pic: Rob Blackbourn and Phil Pilgrim assess the damage.)

More Travels with Guido here



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