This is another in-situated recollection of what I consider to have been a significant period in my life, when I was Age 14 to Age 16.
Looking for something (other than where I was..)
Looking for something (other than where I was)©David L Page 2016
The house was a lot quieter now, even if only due to a less number of people spending time there. My older sister and brother were both spreading their wings, spending little time at home, and preparing to leave on their own adventures – one overseas, and the other out into country Australia. Therefore it was essentially, me, my dog and my parents for much of this next stage.
I was going through the motions in both school and life. I spent a bit of time with my neighbours, but I recall I progressively spent most time with my dog. She would would wait for me at 3pm everyday by the front fence to come home from high school. It was always great to see her. As soon as she caught sight of me, she would run, tail wagging and whimper with excitement. If I was late coming home, then at about 3:10pm she would come up to school to look for me. On the rare occasions this would happen, she would sniff me out and find me where ever I happened to be.
The ritual for me during this era was very much,
I was spending more time immersed in radio and records, listening, listening, listening, listening…
Perhaps wandering what might have been…..
I recall receding back into my shell,
much like the Hermit Crabs I used to observe down on the beach.
I still played Saturday rugby,
but I wasn’t even minimally social – even at school…
One day I noticed a motorbike dumped on the street in our local area
It was an old beaten up …. something…. actually i had no idea what it was…… It was just sitting in the gutter of one of the side roads… like it had just been left there, unwanted…
A few days later my dad rang the Police for me….
“Take it home” they said..
“and if anyone reports it stolen, we will give you a ring..”
(Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 2016a)
I rolled it home, and let it sit for a few more weeks, waiting for a call…
I was hoping no one would….
and so in anticipation I started checking out,
to see what was state it was in.
There was no key for the key start ignition…
it looked like the steering lock had been broken….
The bike was a little rusted in some parts from where it has been
standing out in the weather, and idle for a number of weeks….
The brakes seemed to work, though were in need of some attention…
I looked up the telephone book to find out where some motorcycles shops were……
And then rode my bicycle down there to ask some questions,
and try to find out what was before us……..
With the motorbike shop’s technical department, we scrolled through so many motorbike manuals, until I came across one particular model – a Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 … there it was…… (see image below of what the bike would have originally looked like)
(Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 2016b)
Whilst it was old, parts were still accessible through the motorcycle shop ordering system. Now we had figured out what make and model the motorbike was, it was going to be a lot easier to work backwards, and decide what certain problems were with it, and how could I/we could fix it….
As it was old, the motorbike’s advice was to convert the bike into a on-road bike – an unregistered trail bike for me to use on the local fire trails. A bush basher..
I now had a new project…..
Using money from my mowing & pool cleaning business, the workshop at one of the local motorcycle shops, and occasionally at the workshop at the company where my dad worked, I rebuilt the bike over about an eighteen (18) month period. I tested the motorbike at every stage in our relatively large back garden. We had a very large willow tree in the back garden, which made a great backdrop for me to ride around. I rode in and around that tree, with its weeping willows falling to the ground. It made my connection to the motorbike experience, all that much more majestic.
As the project developed I test drove it on the network of new roads around our local area.
I then ventured down with my friend from primary school who had a mini-bike. We would go into the bush and ride on the fire trails for hours on end – until we were almost out of fuel (actually a couple of times were got caught out, and one of us would run out of fuel on the way home). I recall the sense of exploration, being outdoors in the bush, the fresh air, and in the quiet, listening to the whip birds, the galahs, the lorikeets, and the kookaburras. We would park the bikes down in the valley next to the creek, and swim in the water hole….
(Northern Sydney bushland 2016)
It was such an other world – all within about ten (10) kilometers of my home, where I felt such stress and control. Here – in every moment, I got to control what I did, how I did it, and who I did it with. I was out of earshot of my mother – away from her rules, and the feelings of something that made me uncomfortable…
I would come home after a long day riding, with a smile within, and no mater how much yelling was happening, it sort of no longer mattered to me as much. My dog Trixie was always happy to see me home, and she would bounce around with her slipper in her mouth, wagging her tail and telling me how much she was glad to see me and have me around.
I felt like I was either tweaking the bike, planning changes to it, or out riding. I enjoyed going to my job to earn the money to fund my next part of my plan: new tyres, new handlebars, and levers, modify the exhaust system, the carburettor, make a new seat, and design a new paint job. It was a project that occupied my time – something I could do for my self. And whilst working in the garage at night, my old gramophone would be on, and Trixie and I would listen to as much music as we could.
(Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 2016c)
By this stage I was immersed in off-ride bike magazines. I took the posters from these magazines of the European Champions of the day and stuck them on my walls, next to the posters of my Go-Set magazine musicians. I was now interested in the next level of off-road riding, motocross. I would go and hang out at the local bike shop and try out all of these motorbikes – sitting on them, and imagining I was riding on the side of hills in Europe just like the many photos in the off-ride bike magazines in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.
(Motocross Action magazine 2016)
I scoured these magazines for all of the motocross bike comparison tests, riding tips, and advertisements of new bikes. By now I was starting to outgrow my rebuilt Kawasaki. It has been great, but i realised that now amount of work and money spent on it would not achieve the technological advancements the new bikes were coming out with. Japan had now entered the competitive motocross bike market with manufacturers such as Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda all producing bikes not only factory bikes for the World Motocross Championships, but also replicas for the local market. After twelves months I had saved up for one of the bikes – a Japanese Honda CR125 M1 – and bought one around my fifteenth (15) birthday. Ahhhhh…..this was a different beast. These bikes had lots of torque to accelerate off the mark really quickly; they could turn on a five (5) cent piece, and as they ran on methane jet fuel, their exhaust pipes were straight through without any muffler. Yes they were loud, proud and certainly not suitable for our local fire trails.
(Honda CR125 M1 2016)
The local motor bike shops referred me to certain larger trails and riding parks where I could go to ride my new beast. I however would need a car and trailer to get there. As I still about two years too young to have a car driver’s licence, I quietly badgered my dad to get a tow-bar for his company car, and I bought a motorbike trailer. Soon, we were heading across to the other side of Sydney in pursuit of these larger more open trails and off-road parks. However, some of the trails were still illegal, and police were known to come and fine the many number of off-ride bike enthusiasts for riding their unregistered motorcycles on this government land. Because of this inconvenience, other options of places to ride were motocross parks, but to do this you needed to produce a racing licence to prove your were capable and responsible for your own safety. Yes, I felt I was in a corner with only one way out: to get my licence and start frequenting purpose built motocross tracks to practice. In order to get a on-road racing motorcycle license, you had to be affiliated with a motorcycle club. I was still a few months too young to get an open license, and so I decided to wait for my sixteenth (16) birthday. It so happened that the local motorcycle club – Willoughby District Motorcycle Club – held monthly meetings, and by coincidence the next meeting was to fall on the actual evening of my birthday. When I was asked how I wanted to spend my birthday evening, the answer was obvious to me. I wanted my dad to take me to the club meeting to join the club, and become eligible to get my motocross motorcycle racing license. Three (3) – four (4) weeks later I was racing at my first dirt track racing event – a club day.
It was a TT event – a flat oval track with about fifteen (15) to twenty (20) bikes competing for the best position around the very tight track. The bike I was riding was capable of about 60+ mile per hour – just under 100 kilometres an hour – down the straights. In order to had to maintain momentum and speed around the corners, the rider would lean him self and the bike into the turn, but turn the front wheel in the opposite direction (facing away from the corner). This would force the back wheel to slide out to balance the bike and maintain forward momentum of the bike around the corner. This was a new experience – one which initially both terrified me, but also filled my body with so much adrenalin and joy. I can still feel the bike vibrating through my body – the seat, and up though my arms as I man handled the beast around the graded and oiled dirt track road. I can still hear the noise of both the two stroke and four (4) strokes motorcycles; I can still smell the methane jet fuel these bikes expelled whilst racing; I can still feel the adrenalin of gripping the handle bars and racing down the slick oiled dirt track straight, getting to the first corner, and learning within the afternoon to flick the back wheel out and slide through the corner trying to keep as much of the accelerator throttle on as much as you dared. I still recall the almost simultaneous rush of the fear as I entered the corner, and then the exhilaration in my chest, my throat, my mouth and my cheeks as I manipulated the bike through the corner, doing as it was told.
(Motocycling Online.com 2016)
Yes, I felt like Might Mouse. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I was well and truly addicted to this sport….
(Terry-Toons Comics 1945-1951)
Of course, on that first day, I doubt got anywhere close to that top speed, but for me I found my aliveness. I can still remember the more experienced racers passing around my outside on both the straight away and the corners, as though I was standing stlll. Hey I may have even been lapped that day. But I would never look back again from that day. I now knew what it was like to be alive, and to feel the adrenalin, tight muscles from wrestling the bike around in quite unnatural circumstances, that sense of exhilaration, with a smile that I recall I could not wipe off my face for days – or was it weeks?
I went through and circled all the up coming state motocross events that I was eligible to enter, and began working on my bike. In meeting more people, in talking more to them about bikes, in experiencing this event, and in reading more magazines, I realised I needed to customise my bike – to set it up ready for competition – to set it up for my body weight and height and riding style – to compete against the other guys and gals on their bikes. Back to the shops I would go many times for ideas and advice, and then back into our garage workshop to tinker at night… with my old gramophone on. Trixie and I would listen to as much music as we could while I customised my bike to become a better ride.
I practiced and practiced, and entered into as many club days as I could.
Other events were soon to follow, including competing in my first NSW state championship event against some of the current reigning Australian and NSW state champions.
Yes, I was well and truly addicted to this sport – my new direction. Yes, I was looking for something, and here it was….
“Looking for something (other than where I was)”©David L Page 2016. This audio event represents a developed sense of my recollection of this significant event.
The next blog in this Project 1 series is Memory – Age 16 Part 1.
DLP 2016a image courtesy of: David L Page Accessed 28th August, 2016
DLP 2016b images courtesy of: David L Page Accessed 28th August, 2016
DLP 2016c images courtesy of: David L Page Accessed 28th August, 2016
DLP 2016d images courtesy of: David L Page Accessed 28th August, 2016
Hermit Crab image courtesy of: Hermit Crab Accessed 26th August, 2016
Honda CR125 M1 2016 images courtesy of: Honda Motorcycles Accessed 27th August, 2016
Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 2016a processed image courtesy of: Rod Carlile Accessed 26th August, 2016
Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 2016b actual image courtesy of: Rod Carlile Accessed 27th August, 2016
Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 2016b mage courtesy of: Rod Carlile Accessed 26th August, 2016
Kawasaki GA-3TR 90 2016c mage courtesy of: David L Page Accessed 26th August, 2016
Looking for something (other than where I was) ……. audio link courtesy of: David L Page Accessed 2nd October, 2016
Motocross Bike magazine 2016 image courtesy of: Jim Jeffries Accessed 27th August, 2016
Motorcycling Online.com 2016 image courtesy of: Motorcycling Online.com Accessed 27th August, 2016
Northern Sydney bushland 2016 image courtesy of: Visit Sydney Accessed 27th August, 2016
Page, David L. 2016. “Looking for something (other than where I was)” ©David L Page 2016
Plan image courtesy of: Plan Accessed 14th October 2010
Shining Sun image courtesy of: Living from the Well Accessed 26th August, 2016
Terry-Toons Comics. 1945-1951. Mighty Mouse in Mighty Mouse #38-85 Accessed 8th March, 2014.
Trixie 2016 image courtesy of: David L Page Accessed 27th August, 2016
– ©David L Page 17/09/1991
– updated ©David L Page 28/08/2016
– updated ©David L Page 02/10/2016
– updated ©David L Page 11/01/2017
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