The night before a mechanic who had seen the Enfield suggested that if I needed parts he had a great machinist/engineer who not only loved old bikes but could perform miracles at his workshop. I find the guy. Say what you will about the issues of mining in towns but this small little shop had clearly benefited. The guy in no time had tapped a few nuts for me so I no longer had to use zip ties in my gearbox.
The bike was running like a dream. I pushed it. 4 hours later as I was blasting towards Tamworth when the bike seized. It was too hot, the climbs too steep and the weight too much. I had no movement in the piston at all. In Brisbane, less than 24 hours away was my Grandfathers 80th birthday. It was usually about a 7 hour ride from Tamworth. If the bike was running fine I would have been able to make it with no issues at all. However… the bike wasn’t and I needed to make it there. I could wait around in town, work on the side of the road, wait for parts. Or I could try and hitch my way to Brisbane - get some transport/parts and work my way back. It was unfortunate but I had a deadline and that forced my hand. A local bike store took my bike in and I waited at a roadside diner/fuel stop cafe.
I knew that in 6 hours’ time a greyhound bus would be running through and I could jump on that if I couldn’t get a ride. It was a Friday night and traffic on the highway was light. There were no late night runners doing the New England BNE-SYD run, just a few truckies not stopping and some families that would never stop to pick me up.
I made a Facebook post of my gear, helmet and sign - posted it on the page and started trying to write this very post.
An old friend commented on the photo and mentioned she was in Tamworth. I feel I should say that this old friend was from my days in Brisbane, several years before when I was working as an urban designer for a consultancy. The last time I had seen this girl was when she was heading off to start up another China office. How strange it was to be broken down in Tamworth, waiting at a truck stop and have someone say “Hey, I live several blocks away. Beer?” After having such a long 3 days it goes without saying that the answer was clear.
I packed up my sign, resigned to catch the bus and headed to the pub. We talked about old times, how we both ended up in a pub in Tamworth, gossiped about old staff and what they were doing now. It was fun and surreal.
When it came time to get the bus I waved her goodbye. Far from completely sober, unwashed, poor facial hair and a leather jacket displaying an array of dead/splattered bugs I jumped onto the bus. I realised that between my smell and my looks, I am the reason people avoid public transport.