Monday, March 24, 2008

Bathurst and Back on a Bike, Episode III

There really is nothing like coming down the road towards Mt Panorama. It is an awesome vista as you come over the small rise on the main road to the track. As you get to the top of the hill, you look up and see the huge letters proclaiming that it is "Mount Panorama". As soon as you see that, your heart begins to beat a little faster as you know you are within moments of riding over the hallowed ground of some of Australia's greatest moments in motorsports. As you cruise past the pits, which is an impressive building these days in its own right, you really can imagine the noise and the crowd and the cars that make that once a year pilgrimage that is known on sporting calendars as "Bathurst".

However, this time, I was headed towards the motor museum that had been built on the entrance to the main straight and to spend a few hours poking about the exhibits. There are just as many bikes on display here as there are cars. And if you're really lucky, you might even be able to have a chance to own some motorsport history as several cars on display are up for sale! It is interesting to read about all of Australia's racetracks, including the ones that don't exist anymore. There is quite an extensive model collection of race cars and then there is the Peter Brock wing with a small area that holds a few of his race cars. After spending a couple of hours here, I then rode back to my accomodation to get ready for the Saturday evening dinner with the Ducati rally.

Dinner was a lot of fun, with me sitting with some more people that I had got talking to about Ducati's, of course! Some more folk from Sydney, again several of the women were pillions. One of whom was in the process of getting her licence to ride as well. After 20 years of being the pillion! Couldn't believe that she had taken that long to want to get up front herself! Along with the entertainment of those who had dressed in the theme of the evening...being GOLD, they also gave away a couple of awards and fined some folk for some very funny things that had happened during the day. The fines were all given in a great spirit as the NSW Ducati club gives the money to the Spinal Unit in RNS. I think by the end of the fines, people were just throwing money into the bucket regardless of the fine! An auction of a Troy Bayliss signed helmet and shirt followed, along with a couple of autographed books on motorcycle racing. A good evening, shared with great people and lots of fun.

Sunday morning, I gave the bike one more once over, as best could be done with half of Mudgee's road works on it and headed on up to the concourse that was being held. I arrived unsure of where to go and pulled up near Desmo, who rode a Ducati Monster. She called out "What are you doing up here? You should be down there at the concourse!" A friendly greeting for a Sunday morning which made me feel pretty welcome. Starting the bike back up, I made my way cautiously back down to the concourse, as everywhere was gravel!

After parking the bike in the appropriate section for its age, I went and chatted to a few new friends who were also admiring the bikes both old and new. Of course, the years from 2000 on was the section that had the most bikes in it, with the others only having a handful each. Even the nineties did not have many bikes, which surprised me a little.

It was decided that the judging would take place and that they'd do it by the most fairest way possible. By getting everyone to put up their hands for their favourite bike for the decade that was being judged! This was a fun way to vote as we all had a chance to have a laugh and vote for our friends bikes. When they got to mine, I stood at the back of the crowd calling out "Vote Yellow! You know you want to!" Of course, the bike that beat mine was a beautiful and rare SS FE. The FE being the Final Edition of the carby bikes. This one was bike number 444 and only had 22 thousand kilometres on the clock. I think that it was trailered to the rally but it sure was a pleasure to see one of these special bikes on display. And especially as it was along side my bike which in contrast was the first edition of the 900ss with fuel injection. I was proud to get the 2nd place trophy next to such distinguished company!

After the concourse, it was time for everyone to get moving and head home. Most were heading back to Sydney and some that were travelling further had already gone. I had decided to only go as far as Dubbo as I wanted to catch up with a friend who had recently moved there. I also wanted to break the trip up and not have to travel in the heat of the day like I had on the Friday to get there. But before I left...I just had to ride that track once more.

Well, maybe just a couple more times...

In the end, I really had to stop myself from going round Mt Panorama again! I had to get going before it got too hot!

All in all, it was a terrific weekend for me. It was a wonderful way to get out on the bike and build my skills on it. At no point over the weekend did I think..."Oh no. I have to get on the bike again!" Rather, I couldn't wait to get back on the bike again! I had a fantastic time meeting new people and I sincerely hope that they enjoyed meeting me! (Even if I do ride a yellow Ducati! But that's okay, there were quite a few others who do as well! Red isn't everything!) Next year they're talking Queensland and I'm already thinking ahead to that trip!

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