AS LEADEN skies dribbled their last spring moisture over the pack, we all knew inside that summer had finally arrived. Somehow or other over the years of the poker run, the following week has always been fine, clear, and warm; and the next week and the one after that. Dunno how it works, but it does, like clockwork.
On this occasion we all met up in a big carpark across the road from the Hells Angels Adelaide HQ. It’s a convenient spot to meet, with plenty of room for the bikes and the cars that accompany them — an Impala Lowrider, a ’55 Chev, and a T-bucket being some of the most eye catching ones this time around. A pub over the road and a coffee stall in the carpark didn’t hurt either.
The first leg took us briefly through some of Adelaide’s major arterial roads and up onto the freeway. Going through Hahndorf and a few of the other picturesque little hills towns, we headed to Callington, 60 km away through the winding and heavily treed roads.
The Channel 7 chopper was lazily floating over Callington, no doubt getting some spectacular footage for the nightly news. Probably nothing newsworthy, but at least they’d have something fresh to use next time there’s a ‘bikie gang’ story running.
Keeping Channel 7 company was a police chopper ensuring our safety at whatever exorbitant cost it is to keep one of those things aloft. At least they didn’t hang around for long, but it is something of a surprise to pull into a relatively isolated pub like Callington’s where the publican’s so pleased to see you he’s put on free cheese, chips, crackers and nuts, then find the cops squinting at you from a few hundred feet above. Still, they took off for greener pastures after a short time, and provided a bit of a conversational ice breaker for those who didn’t know each other.
Leaving Strathalbyn, we took the scenic route to Willunga. Scenic but unforgiving roads with tight demanding bends alternating with stretches designed to encourage grinningly powerful bursts of acceleration. They’re roads that must have been designed by people with spirit, people who understand the fierce exultation of the wind, the fresh air, and powerful motors.
Willunga was where I met Charlie whose photo appeared in Ozbike for last year’s poker run. Despite being on the alert for interesting looking people, I hadn’t noticed the cheerful one-legged bloke making the most of the day — despite wearing shorts that displayed his nifty new leg — as he just blended in with everyone else. Seems he’d lost half a leg in an accident not long ago, but decided there was still 95 percent of him left to carry on as usual. What a great attitude, and his daughter and mates showed a justifiable pride in being there with him.
Back at the final stop, there was time for a browse through the T-shirts, DVDs, calendars and so on before the prizes were called out.
Sometimes things work out just right, and on this occasion there was a huge and heartfelt roar of approval when Charlie stepped up to claim first prize for the best poker hand. Three Kings and something I didn’t catch were good enough to net him a generous $1000 plus other goodies. Prizes were awarded for other hands and different bike categories, but Charlie’s win is going to be the one that people remember.
It was 6 o’clock and the morning’s leaden skies had long gone, replaced by bright tumbling clouds on a vivid blue sky. Yup, summer’s here.
words & pics by Chris Randells