WE MIGHT have some of the best motorcycling roads up here in the tropics but holding a poker run at the start of the rainy season can be a real gamble. We’d had our fair share of rain and thunderstorms the week before, but come the day, the weather gods were definitely on our side. The day turned out to be a bloody cracker. It must have been touching 40 degrees.
I arrived at the clubhouse half an hour before the run was due to start and was surprised to see so many bikes lined up out front.
I registered for the poker hand and brought a handful of raffle tickets. The raffle prizes were bloody awesome as always thanks to all the local businesses that get right behind this run year after year.
I weaved my way through to the bar to grab a coldy and proceeded to catch up with as many old faces as I could. It was great to see so many of the local clubs represented with a good turnout from BUACA, HOG, Ulysses, and our good friends the Vietnam Vets MC.
Next thing Gallopher’s on the microphone telling us it’s time to saddle up for the start of the run. There were around 150 bikes starting engines and moving in close formation. The sound of all those bikes was unreal and you could see the excitement on everyone’s faces as we pulled out.
The Kuranda Range is approximately 20 km of very tight winding corners. Very interesting in a pack of 150 bikes. You’re riding two abreast, the adrenaline is pumping, your eyes are glued to the bike in front, and you’re making sure you keep your line because there’s someone right beside you. This is the time you realise why you look forward to these runs. It’s a great feeling and something you don’t get to do often enough.
After an 80 km trip from Cairns we arrived at our first stop for a well-earned drink and the next card. This was at the Mareeba Workers Club. These guys are a motorcycle based social club with a very well set up clubhouse. They also host an annual motorcycle show and party that’s not to be missed. The drinks were ice cold and the food was great. After a good old chinwag and great hospitality from the locals, it was time to head off all too soon.
The next stop was a real treat. We ended up at the Jullaten Fish Farm to a well set up drinks tent and a shitload of fishing rods lined up ready for us to try our hand at catching the big one. Saf from BUACA was the first to land one very tasty looking Barramundi. It wasn’t too long before I managed to hook up and land one myself. That was my next dilemma. How do I go home smelling of fish after the missus knows I’m on a poker run? Like she’ll believe me!
Grabbed my next card and a small element of hope started to kick in. I was looking at a straight if I could only keep it together.
Next it was off through the Rex Range towards the coast road. The Rex Range is one of my favourite rides up this way. It’s very tight with several 30 km corners. Once you hit the coast road you’re spoilt with some of the best views of the Coral Sea.
Before long we arrived at a favourite watering hole of many a biker. The Ellis Beach Bar & Grill is owned and operated by Serge and his wife. Serge is a biker and collector himself. It’s a great spot with views over the beach, plenty of motorcycle parking and a real biker type atmosphere. We drew our fourth card here and this is when I realised my chance at a poker hand prize was over. Well as they say, shit happens. The day was too bloody great to even think about being disappointed.
The last part of the run is what most regulars consider to be the highlight. Time to get back into town for the prize giving and party.
The ride down the main street was, as always, plenty of fun. Dodging around cars and roaring off at the lights in such a large pack of bikes definitely gets the blood pumping.
The band was setting up for a long haul through the night for those who stayed on to enjoy the great hospitality on offer. The BBQ was ready for all to enjoy and the bar was flat out serving all the thirsty bikers some ice cold beverages.
The final card was drawn and it was time for prize giving.
Next up it was time to draw the many raffle prizes on offer. Some lucky bugger won the hand crafted axe. I keep telling myself I’m going to win one of those soon. There were all sorts of prizes given out including vouchers from the local bike shops, tattoo vouchers from Cairns Tattoo Emporium, booze vouchers from the Cape York Hotel, and even some hair product packs from Pete at Prohair.
After all the formalities it was time for the band to kick in. They strummed up some great foot-stomping tunes too. I don’t now what time it finished up as I had to sneak away while I was still in a state to get home. From previous experiences I imagine they went on to the small hours though.
words by Trumpy; pics by Shorty, Kerry & Trumpy