Solitary free wheelin’ or touring en-masse -- open road motorcycle cruising is one of life’s purest pleasures.
If you live in any country town or somewhere near the coast, you have probably heard and seen them, typically around mid-morning. The motorcycles often arrive in groups of 20 or more and the proprietor of the local coffee shop will be a major beneficiary with lattes, long blacks and hot chocolates consumed in large quantities. That is probably the standard way of motorcycle cruising. It is a highly sociable activity which showcases the two-wheelers to their stylish max. Motorcycle cruisers, sports tourers and full-on sports bikes often get mixed in together in these groups while sometimes you’ll just see Harley Davidson’s or perhaps Ducatis.
Others might prefer a more solitary form of motorcycle cruising. The motorcycle can be used equally well for getting away from society as for joining it.
Many bikers rely on their machine as mainstream transport and thus cannot afford to be too fussy about the weather conditions. Knowing you have to ride the motorcycle regardless of conditions can be a worry, especially on a wet Friday night in midwinter, the roads streaming slippery black and every painted line a potential hazard. While there are plenty of car drivers unaware of the reduced traction available on paint, every experienced motorcyclist knows all about it, many from the hard experience of taking a tumble.
Fully immersing motorcycle cruising
Imagine this: you’ve got the luxury of a few days off work. The weather is fine and looks set to stay that way long enough for you to cover 2,000 kilometres in two days (if you are heading north out of Melbourne, it’s remarkable how often you clear bad weather as you cross the Great Dividing Range). You can spend a couple of nights in Queensland, away from Melbourne or Adelaide. Somewhere in the garage in reasonable proximity to your leisure machine is a lightweight tent and sleeping bag, or maybe a swag. Locate octopus straps, apply this gear to the back of the bike and you are almost ready. If you have leathers, wear them, and be damned what anyone thinks. In the event of a tumble you will fare much better than those uninformed bikers who reckon shorts, a t-shirt and thongs are the right gear on a warm day. If you haven’t yet bought an outfit, choose separate pants and jacket that can be zipped together.
On a motorcycle, you are more aware of the sights, sounds and scents of the world than you ever are in a car, even a convertible. It somehow seems more natural – less of a chore – to erect a tent at the end of a day’s ride than it does after 1000 km in your car. On a bike, you feel close to the ‘bare forked animal’, which was Shakespeare’s three-word summary of the human condition. Cruising on a motorcycle is a seriously primal activity. At the end of a long day’s ride, it doesn’t seem too hard to pitch your tent and enjoy a couple of cold cans or some wine before settling down for the night. A few zillion stars in the middle of nowhere will be welcome. You only have to venture a few km from any major highway to find somewhere secluded and quiet. If you don’t wish to experiment, simply choose a caravan park. Obviously, if the weather has turned, you’ll choose a van instead of your tent. Or you might even check into a motel – the ones located far from major towns will be about half the price, sometimes less than $50. Sleep comes easily.
I like an early start, just before dawn. After two or three hours, by which time you’ve already packed away another 200-plus kilometres, stop for breakfast. It’s true that 1,000 km on a bike feels like a good day’s work, but when you do it by choice, it is not difficult to traverse 2,000 in two days, especially with a holiday destination at the end of the trip.
By John Wright