Brenton called by yesterday and told me that a ride was on the next morning. Early start at 0800. The plan was to head to Albany and have a swim. I was up before six, had a light breakfast and was all packed and ready by 8. I took the White Lady, because the Silver Lady is still waiting for a new front tyre. Pep has been on holiday and has only just returned. I think he went on a Caribbean cruise or something, paid for largely by servicing my two bikes.
Be that as it may, the 650 is a sweet enough ride, although today’s trip was a little longer than I really want to take her on. There and back was just a bit much. I don’t know how Dave managed to stay comfortable on the Great Karijini Ride. The Silver Lady is much better for a longer day in the saddle. Today was made worse by being scorching hot. Even with the wind flowing through the summer jacket there was no cooling effect. The wind was Hot. It felt as if we rode through a forest fire. The one good effect of the heat was that the warm air carried a pleasant perfume from the foliage of the trees. A herbal, spicy eucalypt combination that I enjoy every time I ride south. Today it was very powerful.
We rode first to Kojonup, then headed south. We took turns to lead, and I pulled second shift. On the road between Koji and the Cranbrook turnoff, I got a little ahead of the other two. It happens now and then, Something catches your attention and you dawdle a bit until you realise you need to catch up. As a good leader should, I pulled off to let the other two catch up. While stopped, I pulled out my Aperture Laboratories Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Unit that was a Christmas gift from Michelle. As I drank the icy water, Andrew and Brenton cruised by, totally ignoring me as they passed, despite me shouting and waving madly.
In the time it took me to finish my drink, put the water bottle away, replace my helmet and gloves, and get on the road, they were well out of sight down the road. Even though I raced (just a little) over the limit to catch up I saw no sign of them. Embarrassing, because Andrew rides a 250 Hyosung. Someone in a ute flashed their lights at me which I took to mean “Cops Ahead” and I slowed to a legal 109 kph. That put paid to any plans to catch up the other two, unless they stopped and waited for me. This was not likely, for as far as I was aware, they thought I was still ahead of them and so they were probably going faster trying to catch me. Little did I realise that for some reason even yet unfathomed, they thought I may have turned off to Cranbrook, so they did. While they made that little side trip, I unknowingly passed them, carrying on to Mt Barker, and cursing somewhat profanely when I did not find them waiting there. It was at this point that I should have deduced what I later learned. I had passed them. I suspected the possibility but could not see how, unless they had deliberately pulled off the road and hidden in the bushes. I was confident I would not have missed them had they been in plain sight as I had been when they passed me. The thought of a side trip to Cranbrook never occurred to me. So I carried on. Plan B: If all else fails, and your regular code of practice lets you down, head for the known destination. (Hint: KNOW the destination!) I knew that Andrew had to go to Bunnings for something, so I headed there.
As I rode, of course I pondered what went wrong. Maybe I should write down the rules for group riding.
I have been through this before. It was one of the problems we encountered on the great ride from Sidney to Perth. That is why I have in conversation many times with Brenton stated what I believe are some sensible rules for those riding in a group. The first one is that if you are leading, and lose sight of your followers, you stop and wait for them. That is what I did, that is what they should have known I would do. My mistake was to actually do so by pulling off the road. I thought it would be safer that way. Honestly, what real biker rides past a parked bike on the side of the road without taking at least a quick glance at it? Had they done so surely they would recognise it. It was only 5 metres off the road in the open on a gravel lay-by with me standing beside it WAVING! How many white V-Star cruisers ridden by waving tubby chaps are there in the Great Southern?
And why on earth would I turn off at an intersection without waiting for them to catch up?
At Bunnings, no sign of them. I waited. No show. I thought maybe I should head back to look for them. Heaven forfend that they are both lying in a ditch somewhere simultaneously blown away by a road train. I start back up the road, and call in to refuel at a service station. As I fill up they ride past, heading for Bunnings. I wave, I shout. Oblivious, they pass by. Again.
Once the fuel is paid for, I follow. I find their bikes in the Bunnings’ Carpark.
I wait in the carpark by the bikes until they come out of the shop. “We thought you’d gone home in a huff”, they said.
Face palm. Explanations, forgiveness. Sorted. Not without a few digs about powers of observation and reasoning skills. Ah well. Everyone knows the rules now.
Next to Middleton Beach for a swim. It was great, though not without a few digs about beached whales. We swam for around an hour and took a bit of sun as well. We may pay for it tomorrow. A cool drink and a pie on the way home and a steady ride home up the highway, staying in sight of each other all they way. I waved farewell to the others as we turned off to our respective homes. I was home just after 6. Straight into a cold shower.
I am glowing in the dark here.