WHEN YOU ride a bike, let’s face it, you are basically on show to the whole world. Of course, the way we present ourselves usually reflects on the type of machine we ride. Be it the T-shirt, jeans, leather vest and open face helmet brigade of Harley riders to the full racing leathers, brightly coloured boots and full face helmeted Jap jockeys and anything in between. Not that I’m saying that we, as bikers, should be pigeon holed to conform to any set rules. For as we know, when it comes to motorcyclists, the personalities, walks-of-life and riding styles are as diverse as the types of bikes that grace the roads.
To put this into perspective, say if I were to roll up to a servo on a Sunday morning to go for a ride with a few mates. I switch off my dirty old Sporty and spring from the saddle wearing a $700 full face helmet with mirror tinted visor, a Casey Stoner replica full leather racing suit, and a dinky little back pack with (and this is the bit that shits me to absolute fuckin’ tears!) an even dinkier little water bottle built into it with a plastic hose hanging out the side so as I could wet my delicate little whistle while I happily fang around the country side (Get fucked! If you’re thirsty, stop at a fuckin’ pub). It would be like a poodle being thrown into a yard full of angry pit-bulls and I’m sure that the dinky little water bottle would have to be surgically removed from my rectum.
No matter what make of bike you ride, there is always the ‘cool’ factor that goes with it. You didn’t walk into the showroom and lay down your hard-earned cash to buy a bike or slave away till the wee hours in your shed to build something that looked ‘un-cool’, did you? Of course not! For the serious biker, whether it be a full dresser, chopper, bobber, Tupperware torpedo, stocker or even a BM bloody W, you didn’t buy your machine for its performance, price, reliability or re-sale value. Deep in the back of your mind you thought to yourself, “Hey, that’s pretty fuckin’ cool!” And I dare anyone who is reading this to deny, that at some time or another, they have caught sight of their reflection in a shop-front window and thought, “How cool do I look riding this here motorcycle?” Yeah! I thought so! Read on.
So here we all are, Ozbikers, we’re riding our bikes, we are feeling good, we are looking cool, and all of a sudden winter hits and BANG—it’s time to rug up. Now I don’t wanna sound as if I’m a whinging cunt but as I get older, wiser and grumpier, riding in the cold seems to be getting more and more of a chore. I won’t even start ranting about riding in the rain; that’s a whole new ball game and one which I will try to avoid at any cost, unless I absolutely have to.
I was born and bred in Queensland so I reckon I feel the cold a lot more than my fellow riders from down south. I enjoy the other three seasons as far as riding goes, but winter gives me the shits. It’s fuckin’ miserable. Every second bastard has a cold or flu and will sit down and explain the symptoms to you in great detail (just in passing conversation), at the same time they are breathing their germ-ridden shit all over you in the hope that you too will be infected with their viruses and will hopefully feel as shitty as they do. That’s my philosophy anyway.
So to avoid getting sick and feeling like shit, I always make sure I’m well protected when it comes to riding in the cold months. My ride home from work is only 40 minutes but it is either 10 at night or 2 in the morning. I cannot wear a full face helmet, end of story! In the past I have tried, but since my mid-20s, every time I’ve donned one of these fully enclosed brain-buckets, it has felt like I am being smothered.
On one particularly cold evening I had a very memorable experience. It was around the end of July a few years ago and the temp had dropped to well below average. My riding gear consisted of open face helmet, balaclava, goggles, thermo singlet, work shirt, pullover, leather jacket, thermo pants over me Reg Grundies, and jeans over these, two pairs of socks, boots and a pair of heavy leather gloves. Well after piling all this gear on I was now starting to resemble a cross between Darth Vader and the Michelin Man. Even with all this armour I was still fuckin’ cold.
About 10 minutes before knock-off I had a brain wave. A few of the boys around the plant were feeling the cold as well and had scored themselves a couple of sets of those disposable overalls, the ones that some spray painters use to cover up their clothes, with a hood and a zip up the front. These overalls proved to be quite warm by all reports so I thought to myself, “Hmmm, what if I were to throw a pair of them on under all my other gear?” Surely it had to keep me warmer. So I stripped down to my jocks, put on a set of these overalls and quickly threw on the rest of my above mentioned riding gear. Warm as toast!
I jumped on my bike and headed for home, happy with my new found warmth. The ride home was uneventful, my nose started to run, my fingers froze and I started to lose feeling in them, just the normal shit, but other than that I was much warmer. I got home and shut the bike down as soon as I got into the front yard so as not to piss off the neighbours.
Winter also plays havoc with my bladder and no sooner had I dismounted the bike and I was hit with the overwhelming urge to have a slash. Here’s where the trouble starts! I pulled off the gloves and made a bee-line for the nearest garden bed (the world is my urinal), but as I reached down to fumble with my fly, I found that this in itself was going to be a huge effort, due to lack of feeling I had in my frost-bitten fingers. I was just about ready to piss myself when I finally got my fly undone, reached into the flap in the thermo pants so I could hook my jocks down and free Willy. To my horror, I realised the overalls had a fly which started up around my neck and under three layers of clothes and my jacket. FAAARK! Now I found that the chin strap on my helmet was also starting to feel tight around my throat and the smothering sensation started to creep in as well.
Time to panic! I was doing that dance that kids do when they are really hanging out to do a piss. I was frantically trying to undo the strap on my helmet. I was starting to dry reach when I finally got the helmet, balaclava and goggles off my head and flung them across the front lawn. The feeling was starting to come back into my frozen digits as I swiftly un-zipped my jacket before reaching up under the other garments to find the zipper for the overalls.
All of a sudden, I felt a sharp pain shoot down right side of my rib cage. It was a severe cramp. One of those cramps you get when you’re on a long ride, you’ve been in the saddle for a while and you reach around to see if all your gear is still attached to your bike and it feels like someone’s stuck a knife in your side. The only way I could relieve the pain was to arch my upper torso backwards and reach skywards with my right arm to try and stretch out.
With my left hand I finally managed to un-zip the overalls but only as far as the belt on my jeans. SHIT! Awkwardly I unfastened my belt, ripped the zipper and my jocks down and with a cry of pain and relief, proceeded to irrigate the entire front yard.
Our little dog is a 13-year-old cross Dachshund/Silky terrier and with all the commotion, the fact that she was partially blind and could not identify the strange figure flaying around madly in the front yard, she automatically went into one of her usual barking frenzies and ran around in circles trying to bite at my legs.
So, there I was, almost 3 am, the yap-yap dog from hell doing 360’s around a half naked, leather clad, dry reaching version of the Elephant man, contorted grotesquely from the pain of the cramp and stumbling around the front yard while urinating furiously all over the place. Very UN-COOL indeed!
The lights started to go on around the neighborhood, more dogs started to bark, but the cramp subsided and I very gingerly pushed my bike into the shed, retrieved my helmet, etc, and skulked under the house to the safety of my bar and a glass or two of port to warm myself up.
There you have it. When it comes to winter, there is no better season to bring you undone and to wipe out your cool image. Thank fuck I don’t live in Tassie! Roll on summer.
By Chuck U Farley