Good Times Down Under
The Americans Do Sydney
The 12-hour flight overseas had us rested up with a slight buzz upon arrival to Sydney. The lovely flight attendants were happy to see us get off the plane but for the life of us we couldn’t think of why. After sorting out our rental car and hotel for the night we wandered around the city and it wasn’t long until Darling Harbour caught our eyes. We spent the day doing as tourists do and naturally ended up taking a taxi ride in the harbour to check out the infamous Opera house. A steak dinner capped off our day before another early morning flight to Brisbane was in our sights. The 2-hour flight was a breeze and we were stoked to meet up with our mate Rhys Eaton who happily greeted us with some ice cold frothys.
Long Way Through Boonah
After picking up our motorhomes from an Aussie Native and his pet parrot Pica we were bound for Queensland moto park; right after one last pit stop for some party supplies and meat pies. The brisk thirty-minute drive turned into an all-out brawl with the GPS and a few illegal u-turns. We eventually made it to Queensland Moto Park and even got to see our first roo of the trip who had an unfortunate get off with the front end of a vehicle on the highway. We paid our respects and dumped one out for the mate. A few remaining sprinkles from an earlier shower fell as we set up camp and it appeared that we were going to have solid conditions for the weekend down under. The following day we got to gear up and spin some laps on the track freshly prepped by the crew and Mother Nature. The beginning laps were a little sketchy but the track and our smiles kept getting better and bigger with each session throughout the day. Every turn greeted you with multiple lines as you wound in and out of the gumtrees of Boonah. A few sessions of practice later Max and I found ourselves on the line for the first team race of the weekend. After finishing off the Friday night kick off team race in one-piece, Double D and ourselves were eager to properly hydrate and fire up the night with some old fashioned drag racing with the Young Henry’s crew.
Aussies go mad for drags
It’s been a week and I can still hear the sounds of the Young Henry’s drag racing on Friday night. The energy was surreal; a single rev at the beginning of the line-up would ensue a mating call down the entire line up as others joined in on stretching the throttle cables on their bike for 30 seconds at time. There had to be some spark plug tips melting in some cylinders at some point that night. It was controlled chaos with an emphasis on the latter. Sport bikes, scooters, open face beer helmets, chicks in sports bras and daisy dukes, costumes; the young Henry’s drags had it all. It was one of those times that I’ll personally look back at and laugh about. After the storm rolled through the drags the party continued by the stage where some interviews and bowl cuts went down. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to bring the clippers out for the show but I back it. I got set up with a bowl cut that was far from even on both sides. Quite honestly I was just stoked that I still had two eyebrows after it was all said and done. Max dodged a bullet with the clippers as they died just before his turn was up. To all Aussie DITD goers reading this; I’m putting up a reward for anyone that gets Max Mandell with the clippers next year.
We ride for Luka
I can easily say the most humbling experience of day in the dirt down under and while I’m at it, of my existence, was getting the privilege to meet Luka Monroe. Luka is a 5-year old boy living in Byron Bay Australia who was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of this year. Luka crashed while racing and started experiencing pain in his abdomen shortly after. His parents took him to the hospital and they learned that the pain Luka was experiencing was from a tumor they had not been aware of in his kidney had ruptured. Luka started riding last year and like the rest of us has become addicted to two wheels. His favorite bike is his KTM50SX, and in Luka’s words “the KTM has a maximum speed horsepower engine.” His favorite rider is his dad and he loves two strokes more than 4 strokes. Luka was feeling well enough to come out to the track and hang out with us for a while and watch some racing. Luka is the toughest 5-year old I know and the sound of the two stroke and his loving family keeps a smile on his face.
Dust Hustle and Acca Dacca
After a solid second day of racing it was time for another event to kickstart the evening. On Saturday night it was the dust hustle on the TT track that did just that. Or was it that triple pour of Jameson Darryn set us up with? Grab your bike, let some air out of your tires and get sketchy. The Dust Hustle provided just as much excitement and laughs as the young Henry’s drags with a little extra carnage for good measure. I never thought I’d see the underside of a one off CBR1000 yard-sailing on a dirt track. Each class brought an entirely different motorcycle to the line than the class prior and yet still delivered great racing and good fun. When the dust finally settled, smoke began to rise as multiple burnouts began to take place on the pavement. We followed the smoke over to the stage where we rocked to the classic songs of AC/DC performed by the cover band Acca Dacca.
Did my race just start?
Sunday morning; the last day of racing. Max geared up, slowly I might add, in preparation for his race. The mate made us proud and came back with a top 10 finish in his race. Darryn and I geared up for the moto-a-go-go team race that ensued after Max’s. The first few laps were a little hazy and we eventually found our groove out on the track. I pulled off the track and gassed up the bike from my previous moto. While cleaning my goggles in preparation for my final race of the weekend which followed immediately after, I heard my line take off in the pro-am and I couldn’t help but laugh. I geared up and made my way to the line only for the field to be on the entire opposite side of the track. I rode the moto out solo and was stoked to come across the checkered flag and wrap up an epic weekend in Australia.
At some point in the weekend, and I can’t say definitively when, I began to think about all the differences we experienced while down under. We drove on the opposite side of the road, and car for that matter. This carried over into everything; we stood out like a sore thumb when we walked on the wrong side of the sidewalk. We began adapting to kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour. We set the thermostat in our motorhome to the wrong temperature. Used a different form of currency. We began using new words and expressions we hadn’t heard before in the US. Despite all of these differences this event felt just like the one back home in the states where it all began. In our differences we find similarities; the love for racing motorcycles with good friends can be found anywhere in the world.
Words by RD
Photos by Meat Pie Max