Beth’s 1st Big Ride A Report

by Gary Summers (aka Gazza)

Sunday 24th October 2004
The Pink Ribbon Ride

“Hey Honey there’s a ride for riders to raise funds for breast cancer on this weekend, can we go?” Beth
asked “You’ve never taken me on a group ride yet, can we go?”  “Sure” I said “I’ll clean the bike up.”

Been quite a long while between bike rides for me.  Sold my Suzuki Cavalcade cruiser a few years ago and
so haven’t been out riding for some time.  Any way, as they say, can’t keep an old rider down so last year I
lashed out and bought a new maxi scooter, the Suzuki Burgman 650.


Being an avid member of Ulysses for many years I decided we would ride with the Central Coast Branch here in NSW.  Spent  a few hours Saturday getting organized, found the old leather coats, cleaned ‘em up, gave the scooter a birthday and shined  it up, packed all our gear I thought we’d need and then went online to find out information about the ride. 


Saw the pictures from last year’s ride and people decorated their bikes, so we spent some time
making up some pink ribbon and plastered them on the bike.  Beth got quite excited and involved too
helping place the ribbons.  


Looked up the web for the local Ulysses Branch and rang Dave and got details about the meeting start time.  “Hey what do I do on these rides? What are these Ulyssian types like?” Beth asked .  “They’re great people, you’ll love ‘em” I replied.  “So what do I wear?” was her next question.  I dug out all the warm gear and my Ulysses gear and kitted Beth out.  


Sunday bloomed a bright blue sky and clear day at 5.30 a.m., so out for brisk walk and home for brekky and get all prepped up.  Gave Beth all the necessary instructions on how to work the new flip top helmet she had and we left with plenty of time for the start.  We’re due to meet the local Central Coast Branch members for an 8.00am departure to ride down to Sydney together.


So mosyin’ along on the way a car flashed its lights at me…I waved back thinking it was a warning about Police ahead.  Nope, not this time, came around a bend and there were cars stopped, a bus stopped in middle of road and then I saw every rider’s worst nightmare… a bike down in the middle of the road right behind the bus.  


A rider was sittin’ in the middle of the road as I rode up to him and I saw his Ulysses emblem on his gear.  “Are you OK, do you need any help?”  I asked.  “Nope,  I‘m fine, I’m OK.  I couldn’t move the big bike when the bus reversed back on me.” he said.  “Tell Dave I can’t make it on the run today, will ya? he asked me.  “Sure,” I said, “but are you OK, do you need anything?”   “Nah, I’ll be fine” he replied. “Oh who are you” I asked “I’m Agro, tell Dave Agro can’t make it,“ he said.  I felt like sayin’….yep I know how you feel, but what’s your name, but I knew he was one of the committee members.  I’d seen his name on the website last night. 


So I rode off towards the meetin’ point.  “Are these rides safe?” Beth asked me “We’re not gonna end up like that are we?”  “Sure hope not” was all I could say.  


So we arrived at West Gosford Maccas  and saw 2 bikes and 3 people there.  Wandered over and asked if any were Dave.  “Nope, not yet, he’ll be here later” we were told.  So we made some introductions and then a few more riders arrived and we introduced ourselves to them all as they rode in. 


Word soon passed around about Agro’s spill and so that was the main topic until someone said “Gosh, who’s gonna lead us down now.”  Within a few more minutes we had about 15 bikes arrived and the sky had changed from clear and blue to grey clouds all around and rain was a certainty. 


The girls were all gathered talking as the guys were decidin’ which way we would go to the Sydney starting
point for the big ride.  All opinions were heard and it seemed one of the guys knew where the start was so
we agreed he would lead and we would follow him to the Marconi Club. 


Suddenly discussion changed as someone said “Oh seems like we got two ride leaders now” as another guy knows a different way.  Not knowing the way myself, I shut up.  Democracy ruled really well and the leader was agreed and we agreed to follow the leader.

“Woweeee” Beth cried out as we traveled down the freeway, line astern, travelin’ at legal speeds and with a bunch of good, safe riders.  Not a revhead or maddie in the group.  Everyone very well behaved on the road.  Just how I enjoy my ridin’.

Our leader did a good job of travelin’ at speeds which kept all the bikes together.  Then we had one quick refill stop at Smithfield and regrouped headed off again.  “How much fuel?” Beth asked.  “Only $5, the scooter’s cheap as chips to run” I replied “It’ll cost us a lot less than some other riders here today” I told her.

“Wow, look at ‘em all.  Look at all the pink they have. ” Beth was really impressed as we rode into the car park at the Marconi Club to see about 500+ bikes already there and more arriving every minute.  “I’ll go and register us, you wait here” I said to Beth as I raced over to the Club to get the badge and the tee shirt.  I always remember what I was told back in 1965 by my old mate Bill Vickery, who taught me to ride when he said…”If you don’t get the badge or the tee shirt…then you weren’t there.”  “Gee they make our effort look a bit poor, don’t they?”  Beth said as she wandered around and looked at some of the bikes and how decorated they were.

Crowds gathered in the Marconi Club to register, buy tee shirts, have coffee, make donations and catch up with
old mates.  I ran into several mates from years back so it was really a good start for me.  “How much did it cost ya?” Beth asked when I got back.  “Not much, who cares” I said “Registration was $20, two tee shirts $45 and a donation of $20 for the breast cancer charity, but what the heck, it’s about havin’ a fun day ain’t it” I replied.  “Don’t spend too much, we got Lisa’s weddin’ in 6 weeks and that’s costin’ me a bomb” she said. 


After some awards were given and announcements made it was time to head off.  The bikes numbered somethin’ about 800-900 in my view as we queued up to roll out.  I read the instructions, had no idea where we goin’ so
I thought I’d just follow the guy in front.  So off we went.  I lost sight of the group of Ulyssians I rode down with but knew I’d catch them at one of the later stops. 


As luck would have it a slight drizzle started, but that didn’t deter the riders, nor the many people who stopped and came out to wave at us all as we rode past.  It was quite a sight to see all the bikes and the pink bits flowin’ in the wind.  All was going well as rode around through back of western suburbs and then we went out through Cobbity and I felt something was amiss with the scooter.  I stopped and checked both tyres thinking I had a flat, but when I kicked them both, they were solid and hard. I got back on and then the vibration and problem disappeared. “What’s the matter?” asked Beth.  “Nothin” I think it’s just the rough road surface makin’ the scooter wobble a bit”
I replied, a bit uncertain about that answer.


About 11.30 we rolled into The Oaks for a stop and fuel and then I saw the rear tyre was bulging with a lump bigger than a tennis ball. “Oh Bugger!!” was all I could say.  After talkin’ it through with Beth I decided it would be best to start headin’ for home so we left the group and headed for Camden.  


Along the way the wobble got worse and it was obvious we were not going to get back home on the bike so we stopped in Camden and had a cuppa to sort out choices.  A cuppla of people came over to admire the scooter and we were offered all sorts of advice about where we might get assistance from the local Police to the NRMA or go to the local newsagent and buy a bike book to find the closest bike shop which would be open.  My concern was two fold, not many bike shops open on Sundays anymore, which I simply don’t understand and secondly that not many cater to scooters, so my size tyre would not be an easy find. 


A group of other riders were hanging about so I asked them for advice and one of them gave me the number for Jeff the bike courier.  I had used Jeff before so I thought bewdy.  Rang him, he’d be there in an hour.  So we had lunch with the bikers as they arrived at the pub in Camden.

Jeff arrived about 2.30 and tied the bike securely into his van and gave Beth and I a lift to Campbelltown station.  $150 to get the bike taken all the way to Central Coast Motorcycles where I knew it would be fixed was fine by me.  We then paid $26 for two single tickets to Tuggerah, but were told that as there were no trains running on the Central Coast we would have to go to Central.  So a nice train ride to Central saw us arrive there at 4.00pm and we queued for a coach to get us to Tuggerah.  Leaving Central at 4.15, the coach ambled up the highway only stopping at Chatswood, Hornsby, Berowra and thence to Tuggerah.  


The weather, well it bucketed down.  There was one helluva thunderstorm and lightening all the way up the
highway.  Beth started laughin’ “ I’m sure glad we’re not ridin’ home in this weather” she said.  I had to agree.  So at 6.00pm we arrived safe, warm, dry and very relaxed at Tuggerah, picked up by a friend and home by 6.15pm.

As we arrived home Beth asked “Are all Ulyyses rides like this one?”
“Yep” I said. “Great fun aren’t they?”