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Not the Race

(by Guy 'Guido' Allen, October 2023, Travels with Guido series #371)

honda Valkyrie interstate

The answer to a question no-one asked

For those among you who want to cut to the chase, I'll reveal the results: Spannerman came second – twice.

Right, now we've got that out of the way, I'll give you a little background. Spanner was hosting a Lemmings MC (motto: Death before courtesy) barbecue and, since we had a quorum, he politely asked guest of honour Bill McKinnon his thoughts on the riding abilities of assembled dingbats. McK enjoys poking a sharp blade into the balloon of life and scored the Lemmings from top to bottom.

I came second and Mr S came equal fifth.You'd think fifth was alright, until you realise the Lemmings only has four members.

Spannerman was outraged and of course the rest of us teased him mercilessly for a year over that one. I'm deeply grateful to McK for the very large bucket of bait he left us with (which has lasted well), just before jumping back on a bomber to Lower Byabarra.

The depth of Spanner's anger didn't register on the Guido emotional radar until lunch at Minh Minh – the official club noodle palace – many months later, when, while eyeing me over an unspeakably cheap glass of red (must get the recipe as I have some wallpaper to strip), he opined, "That piece of shit Valkyrie won't see which way my GS went." Foolishly, I rose to his bait (this is starting to sound like a fishing column), and suggested he was in for a surprise and, by the way, he was full of it and most of his family deserved to wear silly hats.

Of course Mr S wanted satisfaction, in the duelling sense, and decided he had to take on all the Lemmings (possibly including himself) – one by one. He failed to slap yours truly across the chops with a gauntlet, throw it to the ground, and spit on it (which is in the club constitution, and richly deserved), but did reckon on some salvation of his riding reputation via a challenge. Or fake race.

A week later we were in Tintaldra, the official club resort. We navigated to a suitably quiet place and upped the ante on a bit of tar which would fit in well (for NSW readers) with the Putty Road. He was up my tailpipes on the early tight stuff but, once the road opened up a tad, dropped out of reach. It took about 20 kays, but Mac & Co hosed him.


This seems as good a time as any to introduce the motorcycles: I was on Mac the 2001 Valkyrie Interstate full-dress tourer, and he on a 1981 Suzuki GS1000G, aka the Lemmings-approved thinking man's sport bike. Talk about a mismatched set...

The sad part was I couldn't get any decent music on the Valk's radio. Triple J was out of range, so I was forced to listen to the weekly sheep-crutching reports on Local Yokel FM.

We had lunch at the King River pub and he grumbled about the extraordinary horsepower advantage enjoyed by the Valk. I'll get to that a little later. So after a couple of Shirley Temples, and a mixed grill, we headed off up the mountain. Since I started the first session in front it seemed right invite him to take the lead this time – but he refused. A shame, as it's much easier to chase than lead.

Off up the mountain and I had the radio on again. He was in the mirrors most of the time, and was right up my date when the advisory corner posts wound down to 20km/h (like the really tricky corners on the lower reaches of Mt Tambourine for Qld readers).

We hit the top of the mountain and I, hearing the "This is the Goon Show!" call sign trumpeting though the helmet speakers (Radio National had finally kicked in), decided to back off and enjoy. I can recommend listening to the professional goons rather than watch the amateur version in your mirrors.

Of course we've heard the excuses. Such as Mac had an unfair horsepower advantage. Okay, here it comes: a Valk Inter runs 100 horses while a 1981 GS has 80 (I own two GSs, have owned a third, and know the series), so there's a small power-to-weight advantage. An Interstate weighs 100 kilos more than a GS, has half the cornering clearance, much slower steering and a far longer wheelbase.

Oh, I forgot excuse number three, which was, "I couldn't pass because that thing's so effing big." Crap. If he were any good, he should have nailed me by the second corner and have had time to knit a jumper by the top of the mountain.

Now here comes the worst part. We're both terrified of the prospect that we ever meet on equal machinery – like our GS Suzis. It would be a ride to the death, with no financial reward, but plenty of bandages. And he just might get me.

The fact is we're too tall, fat, slow, scared and the other to be offered a professional race ride. Which is fine – it would answer a question I never want asked.

(First published in Motorcycle Trader magazine circa 2002)

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