To Hell and back

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN -

It was with great in­ter­est and sen­ti­ment that I read of Rob and Ross’s “The Trip” in OBA 53. (The Walla way to Europe). It must have been some­thing in the air in the mid ‘70s, as I too pur­chased a 42 WLA (civil­ian) and set about a trip, granted not of the mag­ni­tude un­der­taken by these two gents, but maybe I got some­where they didn’t (and likely didn’t want to!). My plan was to ride from Ni­a­gara Falls New York (home) to Cal­i­for­nia, (a bit like Syd­ney to Perth) and pos­si­bly on to OZ? While a BMW never en­tered my mind I did turn down two brand new WW2 RCAF Tri­umphs, still crated, for a ne­glected 1942 WLA, of which we had to dig out from un­der 3 other mo­tor­cy­cles (from Wal­ter Kohl’s, Lockport, N.Y. – you may have heard of him). My Fa­ther and I re­built the mo­tor­cy­cle in his fur­ni­ture restora­tion shop (one of the rare times he stopped his trade) and I then set off with a $300 bankroll. All went rel­a­tively well un­til I hit 3 days of tor­ren­tial down­pours in Michigan, ev­ery­thing I owned was drenched and I was the prover­bial sod­den mess. How­ever, when the weather cleared, I did man­age to go to Hell (please see photo), Michigan. So when­ever I am told to go there, I can hon­estly say, I’ve al­ready been there and its a not a bad place, over­all. While skirt­ing Chicago (home of the toll ev­ery 5 miles) the bike and I were suf­fer­ing in the heat and a 45 mph cruis­ing speed does not friends make with com­muters. Af­ter some dis­tance, a car oc­cu­pied by 4 young fel­lows, hav­ing a good time, pulled along­side me as if to pass, but they didn’t, they kept pace with me, swerv­ing into my lane, back into their lane, re­peat­edly. Suf­fice to say by then I was sweat­ing upon sweat at the prospect of some­thing omi­nous hap­pen­ing (I’d seen Easy Rider and I didn’t like the out­come!). This game of dodge-em reached its fever pitch when I had nowhere to go and the car came way too close for my com­fort al­most touch­ing my crash bars, with my hands clenched to the han­dle bars await­ing im­pact, ex­pect­ing the worst, won­der­ing what my obit­u­ary would say…and then, sud­denly, the car’s pas­sen­ger side win­dow rolled down, an arm reached out the win­dow and there, in a clutched fist, was an ice cold beer-be­ing passed over to me! I can hon­estly say, some 40 years later, that was still, by far, The Best Beer I’ve ever had! (yes, I pulled over to drink it). My WLA is still with me and although I now own sev­eral BMWs, were I to con­sider a trip of any mag­ni­tude, the WLA would still be my first choice. Although my WLA and I had to cut our trip short, we did fi­nally make it to OZ, some 35 years later. Thank you so much for a con­tin­ued ex­cel­lent mag­a­zine and I tip my hat to, Rob and Ross and their Trip. I think I can safely say, “I get it”. Bryan Fowler Oak­dale, NSW

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