It was Friday the 13th, except Friday
the 13th fell on a 29th this month.
Good Friday. Full moon. And Griffo rings at midnight and says, "I want to
go for a ride."
I was lounging in front of a good
book, slippers on and Mahler moving the
speakers, so I said, "No."
But Griffo said,
"Ohcom'monHendrikwecanjustgoupMtGloriouusanditwon'ttakelong," and he was
very plaintive. So I allowed myself to be convinced, even though (as
everyone knows) I normally don't climb onto a Moto Guzzi and go riding for
But a mate is a mate is a mate, and poor Griffo was lonely.
We met at a service station at Toowong.
It was the kind of night when the
air is soft.
Through the outer western suburbs,
the V50 leading Griffo's borrowed Cali
(nice machine!), and the road climbed. Past the sign which said we were
entering Brisbane forest park, past the sign which said we could do more
than 80, and past the sign which said we really shouldn't do more than 40
because of the curvatures.
We weren't pushing it, either. On
the previous ride around Mt Tambourine and
Advancetown, Griffo and I had shown each other that we could handle our
machinery. This wasn't that kind of ride. It was moonish, it was mellow,
and we were cruising.
My head hit the ground with a loud
smack. This was the first indication I
had that things weren't going normally, and then there was the sort of
scraping noise which indicates an accident in progress. I can remember the
shock of surprise. There was no warning - I hadn't lost control, the bike
had been going fine, it didn't slip - I was just on the ground, bang!
It was the kind of night when the bitumen is hard.
Griffo was standing there saying
"Are you alright?" I said I thought so.
The bike was lifted off me and I sat up. Griffo again asked me if I was
alright and I said, "Shit!"
He said, "You're not supposed to fall off, Hendrik."
I said, "Shit!"
"I'll get the bikes off the road. Stay there," he said.
I said, "I'm not moving."
Griffo collected some tools which
had fallen out. He found the left
handgrip lying on the road. It was undamaged and so were the 'bars. I think
the grip had come off in my hand as we were riding, and that the pressure
of my right hand would have pushed the 'bars to the left. Incidents like
that can happen. Allegedly, to anyone...
We sat on the roadside. I said, "Look
at the moon." It was such a bright
night. Down in Adelaide, the Frats had had a Full Moon ride the previous
night, but theirs had been obscured by cloud. Tonight was crystal.
Griffo looked at the moon, but he seemed distracted.
I felt my shoulder. There was a lump
of bone which hadn't been there
before. "I'm not riding anywhere," I told Griffo. "I've got a broken
This time Griffo said, "Shit!"
There was a bit more bike moving
- Griffo wheeled the V50 into the bush,
out of sight - and I hopped behind him on the Cali and closed my eyes.
There was the sensation of movement, and when I next opened my eyes - it
seemed just a minute later - were at the Normandy Fiveways and almost in
the city. I closed my eyes again. My next memory is the exterior of the
Royal Brisbane Hospital. I felt my legs walk and we went inside, and it was
very bright, and everyone talked with an echo. Somebody who looked nursish
said, "What happened to you?"
"I fell down the stairs,"
I said. She looked at my left boot, red with
road gravel, at the large hole the left leg of my leathers, at my scuffed
jacket, and the sorry looking state of the helmet, and I don't think she
"It hurts," I said.
They gave me an injection of morphine
and my head danced the slow waltz. I
could barely stand for the X-rays, and I was lead away to a bed. The echoes
faded, and I slept.
Next morning Griffo came around.
We drove up to the scene of the Alleged
Incident and examined the road. There was a long smudge of blue which
matched the colour of my helmet, and some lines of polish asphalt gets from
the application of metal.
Griffo rode my bike home. I'd broken
off an air horn, cracked an indicator,
bent a footpeg, and dinged the headlight surround. A week later I rode it
to Tom Newell's where it was all fixed with a hammer, plastic glue, and
heat. No problems. Tom even sprayed some stuff on the inside of handgrip to
stop it sliding off ever again.
As for me, it's a broken collarbone
and three cracked ribs. Which can
happen to anyone, even falling down the stairs. And falling down the stairs
is as easy as...
I was back on the bike in 10 days.
I've just bought a new Shoei (fuck
they're expensive!) and new gloves, and I've priced new leather trousers.
My shoulder still hurts but not so much.
I'm glad Griffo was there and thankful
for his help. He says gravity isn't
just a good idea - it's a law. I gave him a Frat patch - the only person
who hasn't ridden with the Frats in SA to receive such an honour.
I flew back to Adelaide yesterday,
and before I'd even unpacked my suitcase
I put the key in the Monza ignition and pushed the button. Bingo! It's nice
to be here. So last night I was in my slippers trying to finish a book I'd
started three weeks ago, and Mahler was moving the speakers. When a mate