Posted On 27 Mar 2024
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This entry is part 25 of 26 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#26


There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who divide people into two kinds, and the ones who don’t.

No, no. The ones who think they’re lucky, and the others who think they’re unlucky. Interestingly enough, exactly the same set of circumstances can confirm both kinds in their conviction.

How’s that? Well, take Mrs Bear’s and my seventy thousand kilometre trip around Europe, North Africa, Turkey and the then Communist Bloc.

The couple who were travelling with us had a Suzuki outfit, and just outside Marseilles the spokes in the rear wheel started breaking. Ping, ping, an innocuous noise that means big trouble.

Bad luck, eh?

Well we had heavy duty spokes with us because we had anticipated something like this, so we re-spoked the wheel , first by the side of the road, enough to get us to a campground, and then properly – or as properly as we could do it. Not much luck involved there, except that we were ready for trouble. A few hundred kilometres further on, the pinging started again. By this time we were coming into Biarritz, on a Saturday morning.

Bad luck again.

But someone pulled up to see what we were doing and gave my buddy Neil a lift to the nearest Suzuki shop – where they arrived minutes before closing time. The shop stayed open, the owner found a cast wheel that would fit straight onto our GS750 and sold it to Neil for a reasonable price.

Good luck, this time.

Total score? Some bad luck, some good luck and some preparation – and while we had to do some hard yakka by the side of the road, first re spoking and then changing the tyre, the result was pretty positive. Lucky.

Or how about this little bit of luck – bad luck, to start with – in Anamur in southern Turkey? We were travelling with another couple by this time, and


Michel parked his BMW R 100 at the top of a series of three- or four-foot high limestone steps above the markets. We were busily engaged in trying to talk the stallholders down to a reasonable price for some vegies when a gust of wind hit the market.

Both Michel and I looked up at a “clack” sound from the BMW. The wind had taken the weight off it and the self-retracting sidestand had… self-retracted. The bike was too far away for either of us to catch (even if we could have held it) , so we could only watch it topple over and fall down one step to land on its back.

Bad luck.

It took a while to lift the bike back up to the top, even with the enthusiastic help of everyone in the market. Those who couldn’t get a hand on the bike confined themselves to shouting helpful hints – or at least I thought they were. They were laughing pretty hard too.

When Michel tried to push the bike, he discovered that the subframe was bent and was causing the guard and probably some other stuff to rub on the rear tyre. Even badder luck. We bent things back up as much as we could, unpacked the bike and loaded its baggage onto my XS11, Mrs Bear and Cathy walked and we made our way down to the campground on the water.

The manager had it all sorted.

Tomorrow, a friend of his who was a beautiful mechanic – güzel mekanik – would come, and he had special tools for such eventualities.

Meanwhile, why didn’t we have a drink? We set up our tents and did just that.

I won’t go into the happenings of that night, that’s another story, but next morning our hangovers (raki gives you a vicious one) were interrupted by the arrival of the mekanik. He himself favoured the unshaven, oil-stained overalls and oversized boots without laces school of couture and wasn’t exactly my idea of güzel, but so what? He had the special tools.

These were truck tyre irons, about five feet long and as strong as a railway thing, er, rail. It was, indeed, a matter of only a few minutes – broken only by the consumption of some beers – to “fi x” the BMW.

Score? Some bad luck (potentially very bad), some good luck – and practically no input from us, except that we didn’t panic and just carried on.

Can’t claim much credit there, but to me it confirmed that I’m lucky, rather than the reverse.

Lucky I even remembered this, really…

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Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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