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We were on our way to Bathurst, NSW, when we stopped for a feed at Pie in the Sky at Bilpin, on Bell’s Line of Road in the Blue Mountains. We had a good yarn over the counter with the maker of the pies (what a righteous thing to be!), followed by an excellent chicken-and-corn pie washed down with an ice-cream soda, before we thought it only appropriate to pick up a donut – purely for research, of course.

As we waddled away from our decadent mountain luncheon, we spotted a bloke chillin’ in the car park and, judging by his air of contentment, we guessed he contained the remains of a glorious package of pastry and meat. A biker with gravy and coffee is a biker indeed. I imagine after his lounge-assisted digestion retreat he will be smiling while finding his right-wristed flow as he bounces between the mountain road’s many apexes, all the while giggling at his pie-farts in his leathers.

It got me to thinking about how much joy a quick ride up the mountains can bring. And also just how much sorrow one human can be burdened with when things turn to mechanical shit when one’s out and alone on the open road.

For it is only the person whom has spent their coins, blood, sweat and their beer money twirling spanners, fettling engines or who has tried to jigsaw together the internals of a motorcycle engine who can truly understand the joyous feeling a pair of gauges with their needles dancing in a northerly direction
can bring.

It’s only a rider whom parks their machine, its cool-down ticking contractions signaling the dancing-gauges gods didn’t send their wrath or plague against his or hers golden two-wheel lamb, who can now sleep like a thousand-dollar-a-day junkie on holidays in India.

The temperature gauge is the kindest friend and the fiercest foe of many an engine fiddler. After a day or two of open-heart surgery in the shed, the engine has had its vitals yanked out and re-shaped and put back it. The only anesthetic in sight was most likely self-administered to our heroic surgeon. Once the delicate and life-giving operation is complete, the engine sounding better than it did days (but more often weeks) earlier, the test-ride begins. Slowly at first, listening intently and with one eye on the temperature gauge. Faster now, still listening and still watching. And as the revs increase, so too does the fickle temperature gauge’s needle… rising above the ‘Argh-f***-this-shit!’ level which has our surgeon romping back to inside his surgery shed to apply more brown glass bottles of anesthetic in preparation to endure the forthcoming wallet-raping event.

During my apprenticeship, particularly on the days too far away from meagre-ration day (or payday, as some people prefer to call it), I often used to ride nervously to work, watching my anorexic fuel-gauge friend declining in health before my eyes. I’d coast down the hills with the clutch pulled in and show monk-like patience when overtaking.

On the one day a week when my captor would graciously sprinkle some porridge in my bowl, I would rush my little gauge mate off to the pump and charge him back to a better state of health.

Oh, how fine he’d look with his healthy white arm stretched out pointing proudly towards the ‘F’, taunting and encouraging me into the overtaking lane so he could show off his new-found strength, willing me to strong-arm the rear tyre into forced labour.

Two gauges, two needles, two wildly different outcomes and emotions.

I want to patent what I call a happiness harness. A small electrical patch which has the ability to harness both the fuel and the temperature gauge’s inputs and swap them around before they get to the needle. This way, the two things which make me awfully unhappy, can be switched; my fuel gauge is three-quarters full and my temperature gauge is a happiness-inducing quarter of the way up the dial.

If the Gods of motorcycles ever felt like bestowing upon the faithful followers a true blessing, I’m sure they would pass down the following: “May every worshiper of the petrol gods be forever blessed with full tanks and cool engines”.

By Remond