RON and Mono rang to see if I was going to cover the Tramps Bike Show this year. Apparently he’d had an enquiry from elsewhere. Must have been my write-up of last year’s excellent extravaganza and now everyone wants in—you get that!
It was the start of Autumn and hopefully we were through those stinking hot days with no rain. I fired up the Softail for the ride to Wangaratta. It was a clear morning, the air was crisp and the bike responded to the extra moisture in the air; I could feel it was keen—like a draught-horse plowing its first furrow for the day. I tried to check my speedo at the speed check south of Wodonga and found that I was invisible to the radar. I chuckled to myself , “If only that worked with the cops.”
Arriving just after midday, the bikes where queuing to get in and it was evident that the club had been busy since last year with green grass established around the clubhouse and a new toilet block that would have pleased the Shah of Iran.
I parked the bike and headed off to the clubhouse for a hello to the guys and a roast lamb roll together with an ice cold can of Bundy. “Yep, it’s gunna be a good day!”
The tattoo judging attracted large fields in their respective categories with a lot of artwork being innovative and well executed. From what I saw, colour seems to be making a comeback.
Cathy from Wangaratta won the trophy for Best Coloured. She was absolutely stoked that her old school arm tattoo had won against strong opposition. Together with the EK Holden ute that she arrived in with her partner she made a matching period setting. Cathy’s inkwork had been created by Jai from Shepparton and was very effective with 3D rendering.
The car display area of the show had been expanded with reason. A choice collection of rods, street machines and exotics were well worth spending time to check out—I made sure I had a fresh can of Bundy before I started though. The gold Chevy was eye catching, the blue Ford rod very tidy, and my favourite, the red Shelby Cobra replica open-top sports car was a classy bit of kit and just proves that good design doesn’t age.
The many bikes that entered in the bike show were all of high standard. A lovely green FLH Shovel caught my eye. Another creation that arrived on a trailer just in time for the judging was the standout custom… but you wonder how much it would have cost and would you be game enough to take it on a trip?
A late model Triumph custom took out Best British and the trophy was presented in the presence of Keith’s parents; they have been loyal supporters of the club since Keith’s untimely demise.
Whippet was awarded Best Engineered for his V-Rod and you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Or maybe that should have been ‘most time and effort’ as the bike had been extensively modified in the engine department. The heads had been CNC ported in the USA and a billet crank had also been installed that increased the stroke by ¼” as well as having the bore enlarged by ¼”, not to mention the work done on the throttle bodies and cams. Total volume was now 1435 cc and the motor was producing 181 rear wheel horsepower uncorrected.
The local Indian owners had made a ride of it and four examples had ridden to the show. A couple looked like they’d never been off the road since manufacture and had the timeless patina of road use and sun that can’t be copied. There was also a beautiful blue fully restored example.
There were many daily rider bikes in the carpark that were worthy of a look and a red flame job took out Best of the Carpark.
The fireworks spectacular exploded about 8 pm with a display of colour and noise that surely would have woken up half of the town. I heard one person comment that it was bigger and better than what they had seen at the local Wangaratta Show.
The fireworks display was followed by the announcement that it was now time for all the kids to go home, and we all know that is code for, “Let’s bring on the adult entertainment.”
The crowd was not disappointed as the stunning Courtney took to the stage. She’d come up from Melbourne for the evening and had the local lads entranced. A classy performance involving a couple of willing volunteers selected from the fast gathering crowd of appreciative voyeurs. A good looking blonde with butterfly tattoos and long legs—how good does that get? Combine that with some interesting tools of trade that she had prepared earlier and there would have been a few restless sleeps amongst the gathered throng that night.
It was good to catch up with mates only seen occasionally at these sort of events. There was a lot of nostalgia floating around aided by some good music from the local band Outlawed, and Wolf from Canberra, together with liberal doses of medicine in your choice of poison.
Sharpie, Mel and others in their group were there and had been riding together for 30 years; mellowed a bit now from what they used to get up to, but enjoying their bikes and each other’s company none-the-less. Old mates and acquaintances reminisced about when they used to ride their British bikes to the rallies at Dunkeld and Empire Fights Back.
Wangaratta Special School once again benefited from the warm hearts of the patrons with their raffle and the generosity of the Tramps, raising more than $1000 for a well deserved cause.
I caught a taxi back to a welcome bed at Mick the Butchers and the taxi radio was ablaze with requests for taxis to and from the Tramps clubhouse. There was a crowd of nearly 1500 through the gate, the weather helping to attract the biggest gathering for a number of years. As we headed for home Mick and the taxi driver talked about the driver’s new bike and when he was coming on a ride.
The next day, northward bound, I diverted from the Hume Highway to head home via Beechworth and Yackandanda—a lovely detour that made me smile as I powered around the swervery. “I wonder what the straights did this weekend?”
words & pics by Stewie from Albury