Have you ever given up on something? As in say “WTF”? I must admit, I have. Sort of half way into the motorcycle safari at one of these ‘driver reviver’ stops, cold waters of despair washed over me. The busy serving people, from the local Lions Club, are concerned about budget cuts she said, and she made a cup of coffee with half a spoon of International Roast. I was shocked, no I was devastated, half a spoon? To really appreciate the roast, the deep hidden flavours of the coffee bean hidden in a cup of International Roast, you need at least two spoons, heaped ones that is. I always make a $2 donation; those poor people work in their free time, all for a good cause; I was sadden when the elderly gentleman, in quite a stern voice, clearly disapproving of my request for a ‘strong’ cuppa said “Budget cuts mate, we get only half the coffee we used to get.” Good heavens, I thought as I tried to appreciate the half spoon roasted coffee with fat free milk (if it is fat free, why is it more expensive than full cream? Eish man) it seems the Global Financial Crisis finally hit Australia as well, in driver reviver coffees.
As I got back on the motorcycle I decided to adjust my approach to seeking the best International Roast in this glorious land. Budget cuts and all, the ‘driver reviver’ people are always very busy; showing lost grey nomads where north is on the map, the cleanest toilets in Scotland and other important stuff; they never have a moment free to chat. Not unfriendly, it is just the nature of their job, busy busy. The next best thing would be to seek a Coke Zero* in the local water hole, hopefully a small dark pub in an old dilapidated Royal / Imperial / King’s Hotel. I started to fantasise about the bar lady, with one fluid swoop ripping a frosty glass out of the fridge, scoop a few blocks of ice into it, and then take a piece of lemon, squeeze the juices with her nicotine stained fingers into the glass, before pouring the Coke Zero into it. You would taste the local air, water, and her nicotine fingers in the ice-cold cool drink. Yes, that will be my new approach!
The twisty roads motorcyclist love, and their insurance companies hate, are well represented in the Central Highlands of NSW. The riding there is fantastic; Bylong Valley Way (According to the bar lady, the sealing of the route was commenced in 1950 and completed in April 2009, quite quick for any government job she thought) is magnificent for motorcycles, the cornering tight, and the kangaroos suicidal. Normal winter weather would make this heaven on earth, but this was mid summer, and the ambient temperature would make sinners reconsider. I needed a glass of Coke Zero, a twist of lemon and a bathroom to wash the bugs out of my eyes. The beautiful village, it is quite breathtaking, of Rylstone had several options for such pleasures. I normally ride through a town, looking around, weighing my options, rather than parking right at the first waterhole. The tree lines streets offer oasis in the summer heat. Locals nodded their heads in greeting as I rode through the streets. Finally I parked opposite the Rylstone Hotel, an outdoor sign promising cold beers.
A greying bar lady with beared stark blue eyes behind her rimmed glasses, stared at me as I walked in; another bloody biker she must have thought. I asked for a Coke Zero, she looked at me coldly and said “Diet Coke will do!” “OK, no problem!” A clear winner in the Russian Police friendliness contest, that is for sure. Horse-racing was the feature on local TV, and the sole customer was an elderly gentleman, sporting a tweed jacket and an Akubra hat, looking a bit under the weather; lost a bit on horses the bar lady said, and is now afraid to go home. I tried to strike up conversation with her, but it never got on the way. Finally the horse-racing man looked up from his much loved beer. “I am a local businessman here, I know the area, watch out for them bloody kangaroos, they are everywhere. Are you German?” Quite surprised by the statement and assumption I said; “No, no I am from Rockhampton, Central Queensland.” “They sure speak funny there…” The bar lady, clearly not in the mood for horsing around, asked where I was from originally, and surprise surprise; their local (visiting) vet is a South African. She don’t like him much, thinks he is a smart Alec.
The man, fumbling his pockets, I presumed for a smoke or some money to buy another beer looked at the bar lady. “Did you take it?” She stared at him, spin his car keys around her finger, “Yes I did”. “I am a local businessman here, and she takes my keys. God forbid. I know this area. Bloody kangaroos.” She rolled her eyes, filling my glass with the rest of the Diet Coke. I turned to the guy and ask how long will it take me to reach Bathurst, where I want to spend the night. Haven’t been there for years he said, don’t like it much. The road is full of them bloody kangaroos; I need to be very careful on a motorcycle he said. I paid up, took my gear, and greeted them; the gentleman looked at me over the rim of his beer glass, then tipped his Akubra hat and said “I am a local businessman, I know this area, beware of them bloody kangaroos, they are everywhere mate!”
*I have long ago given up on asking for coffee in a pub/bar. People think you are an escapee from the asylum. Coke Zero is quite an acceptable drink in the days of RBT’s.
6 January 2013