by Christian D Smith

Strutharama! (as another Smith is wont to say) - a bloke gets one extra woman and all hell breaks loose! The fact that she's a hot, horny Italian and that (so I'm told!) I gave her more terms of endearment in two days that I've given the other in fifteen months, really is immaterial. To steal a line from my Guzzi-riding mate in Eagleby (and he stole it, I think, from a Dirty Harry movie), "I owe it to myself to live a little!"

So what is it all about, you may well ask? I lashed out a while ago and bought an '83 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Mk III from a guy at Zilzie, which, we now know, is part of Emu Park near Yeppoon (even the RACQ couldn't find it!)

Making the most of several days off, my partner and I drove to Rockhampton and stayed with a mate I hadn't seen for a little while (ten years, to be precise - that was some wedding!). He has done the family bit, mortgage etc., but is still showing a streak of independence by owning a 60's vintage Ducati 350 Mk IIID which he restored at some considerable expense (a subject of some debate within the matrimonial chamber, apparently!)

On the Sunday morning we headed out to Zilzie and after a decent test ride (the owner suggested the best roads/bends in the district and gave me instructions not to spare the horses) I decided that yes, this was for me. Up to that point I had never ridden an 850 Le Mans, only admired from afar. Negotiations were then successfully concluded as to a sale price and arrangements made to collect the bike on the Monday once my bank loan was disbursed.

That was the easy part! The loan was transferred in less than five minutes, but when I tried to contact REVS to verify that the bike was unencumbered I was informed that their computer network had gone down in Queensland, NSW and Victoria! Brilliant!!

We drove out to Zilzie again and tried unsuccessfully to contact REVS from the owner's house. Eventually, going on "gut-feeling" and various other pointers I decided to take the bike and run the risk of getting "caught", so the money and receipts changed hands and off we went - almost mid-day and needing to be back in Townsville that night!

Not having a good jacket or boots at that stage, I'd elected to trailer the bike home. Finding tie-down points on the 850 was an exercise in itself and no more than 8kms out of Zilzie the throttle grip decided to let go - probably not the best place for a strap!! A bit of judicious re-arranging saw everything lashed into place but for the next eleven hours I worried my neck silly checking that the bike was still there!

We did eventually get back without any major dramas or damage. I'm now learning to "ride Italian" and Cheryl is coming to grips with the term "l'altra" (the other)!

I've also joined the Moto Guzzi Club of Queensland and had the pleasure of meeting several other local Guzzi owners since. My next door neighbour is a bloke named Brian Gunder (he of the Sport 1100 and Le Mans Mk5) and I already knew of "Hagar" (Jens Didriksen) through my association with the Townsville and Districts MRA, so a foray into Guzzi ownership was no doubt inevitable sooner or later, given that I've also wanted one ever since I saw my first 850 Le Mans Mk1! Talk about stacked odds!

Christian Smith (Townsville)
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