‘I have a crazy story for you…’ I told the young police constable behind the desk.
‘Oh goodie!’ he replies ‘I love crazy stories!’
And so it begins. The long and arduous task to try and locate the individual who, all those years ago, abandoned a 1996 BMW F650 at a motorbike workshop in Melbourne. It’s been standing there for years, they tell me. So long, in fact, that’s it’s been there longer than the longest employee has worked there.
‘About 10 years, I reckon’ I’d been told.
She looks good. Well, she actually doesn’t. She looks like she’s been sitting in the back of a workshop collecting dust for 10 years, but you know…she looks good. If the dash is right, she has only 27,000km on her clock. A ‘spring chicken’, one would say.
As far as crazy stories are concerned, this one takes the cake.
Our friends Jonas and Ellen are convinced that this is a case of fortuitous time travelling. Just as Pixie broke down near the port of Melbourne, I travelled back 10 years, and brought a beaten up old beemer to Melbourne, and abandoned it there for me to find later. How nice would that be?
This insane coincidence is only part of a bigger picture, one which actually played out a lot more painfully than I now remember. It takes time, they say, time to ascertain what on earth to do with an abandoned motorbike. Legalities must be considered and procedures must be followed. Someone tried to ‘rid’ the workshop of the bike a few years ago, but the whole procedure was chucked in the ‘too hard’ basket when it became obvious that ‘reasonable efforts to locate the owner’ would have meant visiting the local police station, the Victoria Roads and Traffic Authority, and on and on and on…
And the bike stayed put, right there. Just waiting.
‘So I’ve asked them if I could take on the job of locating the owner on their behalf’ I concluded to the young constable.
‘You’re right’ he said ‘It’s a frigging crazy story’
It takes weeks to go through the process. To cross every t and dot every i. This dude has got to be the most difficult to find person in the universe. Everything comes up blank.
By the last visit to the police station, the constable tells me the little information we have now gathered – that the bike was registered 10 years ago to a PO Box in a country Victorian town – points at the man either being a seasonal farm worker from god-knows-anywhere in Australia (or he could even be from overseas) or simply someone who doesn’t want to be found. The bike was last registered many years ago, has never been reported stolen and is under no dispute.
‘There are plenty of folks in the country who live off the grid and keep a low profile. I don’t think this guy’s gonna come looking for his bike. As far as we’re concerned we say the bike is free to go. You’ve done enough’
As nice as it was to hear those words from the police, I was crushed. I wish I could find the guy. I wish I knew who he was so I could contact him, offer him money for the wreck, and finish this once and for all. We’ve been stuck in Melbourne for 5 weeks now. There’s no suitable second-hand engine in Australia, and importing one from abroad is just not feasible. And all this wait, anyway, has been based on a hunch. A hunch that whatever problem spurred this guy to bring the bike to a workshop, it had nothing to do with the engine.
After all this hassle, we still don’t know if the engine even turns.
‘Look, we really have no idea. He could’ve brought it in for a broken headlight, for all we know. The only thing we know for sure is that he brought it here, and never picked it up’ the manager of the workshop said.
Ultimately though, it’s his decision to make. The bike was ‘abandoned’ on their property, not mine. They take their time and consider their option. Also their risks.
I offer to write a letter to the workshop, stating I’d take delivery of the bike and that the owner – whoever he may be – could simply contact me if he were to ever show up.
That seemed to work.
How I initially came across this bike is a crazy story in its own right but that’s a story for another time…
Let the transplant begin…
They say that every misfortune hides a silver lining – and although I must admit to feeling quite down in the dumps when Pixie broke down – it took merely a day to discover ours.
We’d met Colin and Kaye in Dali, China, nearly 3 years ago. We’d had a great time together back then, sharing wonderful conversations and bottles of red wine, and left with promises of a ‘cup of coffee together’ whenever we were to come through Melbourne.
Here we were in Dali, along with our friend, Michael.
‘That’s the longest cup of coffee I’ve ever had!’ says Colin cheekily as we knead and roll our fresh bread dough. It’s our thing now, cooking together. Well, me cooking, mostly, and Colin moseying around me expectantly. So what shall we have for tea then, dear? And off we’ll go raiding pantry and fridge and coming up with 101 menu variations before finally settling on one. Except for Friday nights. Friday night is junk food night. Friday night we have sausages and potatoes wedges.
Colin and Kaye and their small tribe of furry babies have been our saving grace. They’ve not only extended their ‘coffee invitation’ without batting an eyelid, but they’ve been our emotional saviours too. They’ve nurtured us and kept our spirits up, they’ve embraced us into their family and never once made us feel that we were intruding in their wonderfully private lives, although I’m sure we have. We have so much in common with these two crazy kids, that I know how they’d feel having their togetherness disturbed. Yet they lovingly put up with our crazy antics. Our shared love of all thngs furry made life together easy and fun.
We celebrated Chris’ birthday at home, with Colin’s daughter and son-in-law, and a fantastic array of thoughtful presents which beautifully captured just how well we’d gotten to know each other. It’s quite surreal arriving at someone’s house as ‘travel acquaintances’ and leaving their home as really, really good friends. We just love these guys to bits.
Along with Chris and Kaye, we’ve adopted their extended family and it’s with Colin’s son, Ben, that Chris gets to working on the Pixie heart transplant.
All the while Ben’s partner Julie, and I, supervised proceedings. And sipped vino. As you do.
Somehow, the fact that the bike started on first go didn’t seem to surprise anyone. After all the waiting, and working, and struggling, and swapping, it just seemed preposterous that the engine would turn out to be a dud. Murphy’s an asshole sometimes, we all know that, but I couldn’t possibly be the only one who thinks Pixie’s earned her stripes…and a well-deserved stint of seriously good luck.
Taking the old engine apart we unveiled the truth about the work that was done on the bike back in Java, Indonesia. You’ll remember that Pixie’s engine seized near Surakarta, and that in a desperate attempt to reach Bali, we put the bike in the hands of a mechanic neither one of us really liked. Roby, the guy who owns Superbiker Moto Indonesia in Surakarta came across as an absolutely arrogant idiot when we first met him, and 9 months later it turns out to also be a cheat. Although he kept us in Surakarta for a week, raving on and on about all the ‘kung-fu mechanic work’ he had to do to fix the bike – which involved a new piston, new valves and new rings, according to him – it turns out the only thing he did (and which the bike needed) was to change the rings. But of course, he charged us for the lot. That’s what you get as a farang aka: a walking ATM. First chance they get, they’ll take you – and your bike – for a ride. Oh well, various reviews and warnings have been posted online now, so anyone who searches for his shop will be fairly warned. But I have more important things to worry about than some random and unimportant idiot. Besides…if this story isn’t a beautiful example of karma, I don’t know what is.
We’re on the road again!!
We’ve been on the road now for almost 6 weeks. We’ve followed the southern coastline from Melbourne to Adelaide, and we’ve enjoyed a visual feast that you wouldn’t believe. All without any mechanical issues. The first couple of weeks I rode on eggshells, expecting a breakdown any minute. I simply don’t remember the last time we rode without repairs for this long. But the feeling is slowly dissipating and we’re enjoying being back in the saddle, and nature, immensely.
These landscapes are sensational.
Now we’re getting ready to cross the Nullarbor Plain, the largest karst limestone tableau in the world (because in this country, they don’t do anything small). Just on 1,200km separate Ceduna in South Australia and Norseman, in Western Australia, 147km of which hold the record for being the ‘longest stretch of straight road in the world’. It’s not a particularly hard crossing, I’m told. The road is tarred all the way, and there’s a refuelling roadhouse every 300kms or so. The biggest dangers, apparently, are road trains and boredom whilst riding!
The importance of this crossing is more emotional than physical, for us. So far, we’ve ridden almost 5,000km in this country, yet when I take a look at the map and see what we’ve ridden to get from Sydney to Ceduna, it just seems like a dot on the page. It will be absolutely amazing to finally be on the opposite side of the country! Australia is a colossally huge island, everyone knows that, but it’s only once you attempt to actually cross it that you fully realise what that means. You just ride, and ride, and then ride some more, and never flamin’ get anywhere!
So yes, we may be getting nowhere terribly fast in this monster of a country…but we’re finally having some real fun out there.
Stay tuned folks…next stop, Western Australia!