Twas a dark and stormy night except it wasn’t. The 2019 1,200km south west tour begins on a cool and clear Friday morning at the intersection of the Albany and south west highways, Western Australia. About 20 scooters are riding - 75% lambretta (GP, Li S2 and S3, LIS and SX) and 25% Vespa (rally, PX and super sprint). Mood is upbeat as is the case when you’re not working. Gary arrives with the backup van and everyone dumps anything they possibly can off the scoots. First casualty of the day is Rocket (SX) with a heat seizure but luckily no back-wheel lock. Ask Ron over a beer for the story why. Back on the road we’re riding through old country towns, farm pastures and rolling hills. Roads are quiet, we’re on holiday, weather is kind, how good is this? Simon (GP) punctures a tyre and his Lambretta goes on the trailer of shame. Lunch at the Moody Cow brewery involves some weird beers. Avocado belongs in a salad not a pint. After lunch we’re off via more winding country roads, through bush land and past Wellington dam where we’re treated to a wall of gushing water through the spill way. All eventually arrive ok in Dunsborough in the late afternoon. As usual those who arrive trouble free grab some beers, offer unhelpful advice and generally don’t lift a spanner to those feverishly fixing their scooters before everyone sods off to the pub for the night. Day 1 MacGyver award goes to Sid (GP) whose clubman, looking like it had hit a land mine, clamps a Guinness can over the u-bend, whacks on a heat bandage and off he goes for the next three days. Night time fun involves Thai for dinner, more beers and bars, and for those with a cast iron liver and a dispensation for late nights, rum.
Day 2 - Dunsborough to Northcliffe
Following the standard morning request of 20 English breakfasts, make the bacon crispy, eggs runny, and are you going to eat those beans, off we go. Roads again very scenic and more importantly in good condition. Karri forest is magnificent, but you can’t appreciate the giant trees too much for fear of hugging one. Lawman (GP) deters anyone from riding behind by shedding side panels and then later in the day decides to recreate the May 1943 dam buster raid by jettisoning a 5-litre jerry can. Thankfully it fails to explode after bouncing down the road and thus avoids transforming the scooters riding behind into instant patina.
Some decent stretch of roads open up and off go the tuned scoots with two fingers on the clutch and a yeeha. Not long after Ken (SX) goes blah, with a burnt clutch, and says hello to Brian in the back up van. All arrive OK in Northcliffe, a small country timber town with one main street and a pub. We’re warmly received by the landlord who makes us line up out front for a snap, and as the sun goes down, lights a large open fire in the courtyard, which we promptly ignore and go back to the car park, to drink cheap off licence beer whilst the lads pull apart their scoots in attempt to ride the next day. Andy (PX) impressively does a full engine strip, and in doing so wins environmentalist of the year by tipping a full tank of two stroke down the car park drain we’re all stood around. He then wins the safety award by stopping anyone throwing fag ends down said drain and blowing us all to bits. Lawman (GP) wins MacGyver award on day 2 for gaffer taping his side panels to his frame. The night is spent attempting to teach French tourists to dance to northern soul and play pool. Wayne (Rally) entertains us as only he can with his brogue, storytelling and jokes. Brian (back up van) sets us up wanting to play darts, and we all lose miserably. Late in the night someone shouts who fancies a short and we sleep really, really, well.
Day 3 – Northcliffe to Greenbushes
The lovely hosts at the Northcliffe pub put on a hearty breakfast (after what was put behind the bar the previous night we expected truffles and caviar), which sets us nicely for the day ahead. Off riding we go for two hours with no noticeable incidents, other than Rob (Li) getting close to being rogered by a very large red kangaroo, who was obviously not fussy as well as being stone deaf to his expansion pipe. We stop at midday for a very scooter boy lunch of, err, scones and jam at Donnelly River. As we walk out the door we bump into a large group of wild emus. They eye us curiously as we start up and we eye them tastily thinking they’d be good in a curry. We ride Donnelly River to Bridgetown through scenic hilly countryside, in and out of gears, power bands, and shifting weight left to right, the riding is fun. Next stop is Bridgetown cemetery, to visit PLSC Tom and lay a wreath that Micky’s (super sprint) wife did a brilliant job making. We ride through the cemetery en-masse making enough noise to wake the, err, never mind. We park, open a beer and collectively celebrate Tom’s memory. We say thank you to those including the LCoA who donated to Tom’s headstone. It looks good.
We then ride to the night’s destination, Greenbushes. Nice ride but some gravel. We follow the back wheel in front in low gear ghosting their line. Rob and I arrive first at a T-junction in a town with two streets and, yep, we go the wrong way. As we turn around we arrive at the junction that’s probably not seen traffic for a 100 years, just as a dozen scooters wiz by and make us stop. We all arrive okay. The landlady remembers us from last year and it feels like we’ve been welcomed by family. The pub is over 100 years old, and is of the vintage where they have a massive balcony, 16 feet above ground. We have a cleansing ale or two overlooking a very quiet Sunday main street, talking shite and laughing a lot. We head downstairs for dinner, which is superb. We forget about the previous night’s dart comp and have another only to lose miserably again to Tolley (someone take him out next year, or at least his right arm). The place is rocking and the landlady brings out the first of many shots on the house (some looking surprisingly like green fully synth), to the rapturous applause of the SW riders. The lovely landlady offers us her iPad after Micky’s iPhone dies and I (modestly) play a blinding set of glam, punk and indi that sets the dance floor bouncing, admittedly due to scooterists falling over drunk. My DJ stardom is short lived, when I’m forced to surrender the iPad after playing Bananarama. We go to bed somewhere between 2 and 3 am.
Day 4 – Greenbushes to Perth
Overall we’re quiet on the 250km ride home as we turn our minds to normality and work after 4 days of freedom and great riding. Spud (PX) somehow manages to fall off waving us goodbye, as he peels off towards Bunbury. Oxo’s TS1 packs in about 180km from Perth and the Guinness can on Sid’s GP finally gives up the ghost, so both end up on the back up trailers. Most say goodbye at Pinjarra, 70km from Perth, to find their own way home, ears ringing, wallets empty, smelling of two stroke, but with a smile on their faces.
Massive thanks to Micky for once again arranging the best Lambretta distance ride in WA, and to the backup drivers Brian and Gary.
See you next year.