ONCE AGAIN, the overwrought hysterics who make up our State Government sent the SA Police out in numbers to, errr, ummm… I’m not really sure what they were meant to be doing, but whatever it was, there were a lot of them doing it. Disrupting traffic, perhaps? In an afternoon’s ride of about 220 km, they pulled us all over about half a dozen times, followed us, preceded us, breath-tested us, and defected a few of us. Probably took a few photos too. But somehow their hearts weren’t in it, and although some were getting a bit bored and restless as there weren’t enough bikies to go around (an astute observation from Stewie). Overall, it was as though they’d taken a look at some of their expensively gathered intelligence and realised ‘this is just a bunch of blokes out for a ride’.
Most of us aren’t too concerned if they target those people living the good life in a sea-front palazzo (with half a dozen bikes, a restored Mustang and a Ferrari out back) while on disability pensions. Could be that some of them have a little explaining to do, but they aren’t generally the ones on a poker run.
It was a strange sort of day, with fluoro vests as common as leather ones, the police chopper hovering over the appointed stops like a bloated locust just to make sure we all knew where to go next, and the poker run participants accepting that this is one of those things you have to do.
Still, as we’ve come to expect, the weather was as close to perfect as you could hope for, and the roads were well chosen. The route took us through the Fleurieu Peninsula, down to Victor Harbor where all the tourists suddenly found themselves with a bewilderingly novel and unexpected photo opportunity. Bikies and police! In the same carpark! Aware of each other, but not really paying that much attention to each other.
One of the younger cops asked me what I was taking photos of. A little wary, and thinking it was fairly obvious, I just told him ‘Anything that looks interesting’, to which he good-naturedly replied ‘Don’t take any of our bikes then, mate, they’re all shit.’ And off he went, smiling broadly.
From there, it was an easy 70 km to Yankalilla, past the Delamere windfarm, and on to Aldinga. The briefest of stops there, and back to Adelaide for drinks and prizes in the usual post poker run contentment.
There’s nothing quite like sitting back in the vibrant and buzzing bar, pictures of Hells Angels from around the world on the walls, trophies and memorial plaques competing for space, and conversation flowing.
You talk to Tim who’s come over from Melbourne with his mate Darren, riding his new 1125R Buell with the six-speed box and Rotax engine, capable of 265 km/h.
And HA Josh, a long term Adelaide member, who rode his ’77 rough-on-the-kidneys Shovel on the day. It’s a genuine old school chopper from the days when anyone wanting such a bike pretty much built it himself. The coffin tank, lightened flywheels, hand-built frame and pushbike bell were all okay with the Police, but the oil leak and shortened rear guard proved to be a bit much and the bike was duly and heartlessly defected. Josh used to regularly ride it to Sydney and Melbourne so you can’t imagine this bike just being parked somewhere quiet and forgotten.
Looking at the participants on a day like this, you can’t see people bowing down easily at the spectre of the SA Government’s Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Bill, the one generally known as the Anti Bikie Bill. It’s a threat to all of us, particularly in the way it threatens to limit each citizen’s right to freely choose their own friends and social life. But the Hells Angels MC Adelaide King of Clubs Poker Run continues to be well supported by riders and friends; the club isn’t going away, and the Poker Run isn’t either.
At times like this, we all need to show where our loyalties lie, and support the people who do so much for our chosen lifestyle. There must be a pretty meagre return to the SA Police for all the resources they dedicate to an event like this, resources that could well be directed elsewhere. It can’t be that long before an Oversight Board or Accountability Branch or something similar is going to demand to see proof that this is an effective way of spending tax-payers’ money. Somehow, I don’t think it is.
Words & pics by Chris Randells