Way back in the early 1961 when I first learned how to ride a motor bike, wearing of helmets was not compulsory and many riders took to the roads wearing leather caps or ex WWII pilots’ leather head gear.
As time passed, more and more motorcyclists began to wear a helmet of some description and eventually, helmet wearing became compulsory.
Full face helmets were recommended by the authorities on the basis of the extra protection they supposedly provided and became the predominant choice of the ‘fast set’ sports bike riders.
However, the cruiser brigade, dominated then by Harley Davidson riders opted generally for the open face style helmet.
Now wearing an open face helmet has significant advantages over the full face as they don’t fog up, are cooler in hot weather, provide greater peripheral vision and the rush of fresh air helps keep the rider alert.
Disadvantages do exist of course, full face is better in wet weather, keeps the bugs off the face and with a tinted screen reduces the effect of sunburn.
To combat the disadvantages, Harley Davidson riders in particular, often wear a bandanna to cover the face below the rim of their sun glasses, a most effective way of deflecting bugs, particularly beetles and bees.
A bandanna also adds to the macho image that many bikers like to promote.
Now as an open face helmet and regular bandanna wearer I’ve accumulated quite a range of colourful bandannas. It’s from my collection that the message,’ On a motorcycle, always expect the unexpected,’ was reinforced in a most unexpected way.
I was returning to my home in Sydney after a ride to Cairns in Tropical north Queensland, a 5,700 klms return ride( if you stick to the shortest direct route) when just out of Townsville in north Queensland my Harley suffered a rear wheel puncture. Fortunately there is an Harley Davidson dealer in Townsville and it wasn’t long before the bike and I had been collected and transported to the dealership for the necessary puncture repair to be carried out.
That day I was wearing my favourite bandanna and still had it on arriving at the dealership. This is an image of my bandanna.
Now here in the Land Down Under, members of Rebels Motorcycle Chapters proudly wore the 1%er badge and were recognised by Police as outlaws. Red and black are acknowledged as the Rebels’ colours.
I was aware that Townsville had two outlaw bikie chapters but I didn’t know that the Rebels were trying, by force, to patch over the other club. In fact there had been a gun battle between the two groups not long before I arrived in town. Nor did I expect to have a confrontation with members of the local Rebels Chapter.
On arrival at the dealership, as I was unloading the bike from their ute, I saw three members of the Rebels standing in the workshop watching me and looking quite menacing. I noticed that they weren’t fully patched up and I wasn’t really worried by them.
That’s when the fun started.
Of course they took immediate offence at my red and black bandanna, compounded by the words,’Rebels Beware,’ and the image of the cop on the Harley Davidson.
One bloke poked me in the chest so I poked him back. He gave me a shove and I shoved back. The other two were standing by to help him out if needs be and the language from the three of them would have made a wharfie blush.
Fortunately for me, before things got out of hand, the workshop boss sprang into action, brandishing a whopping great spanner and ordered them from the workshop with instructions to come back the next day to collect their bikes. After a lot of shuffling about and more colourful language directed at me, they slowly walked away towards town.
I thanked the workshop boss and he simply said,” It’s your f’ing fault for wearing that f’ing bandanna.”
With a new inner tube in the rear tyre, I left the dealership, minus the bandanna which I’d stowed in the saddle bag. Overall, it was a lesson well learned. I’ve retired that bandanna and it only gets an airing when I’m riding in company with ‘Boss Man’ and a few good mates.
Anyway, after all the fuss I thought it prudent to take a route out of Townsville other than the main highway to Brisbane, Queensland’s Capital city. That meant I had to take the Flinders Highway and travel west to Charters Towers, about 144 klms before turning south on the Gregory Highway towards New South Wales and home.
I stayed overnight in Charters Towers and SWMBO was quite amused when I phoned and told her of my adventure.
There were a couple of ‘Old Rebels’ in the mob I normally rode with and they thought it was hilarious when I related my tale. They reckoned that the blokes I struck in Townsville must have been ‘Nommies’, that is Nominees for membership, who were looking for every opportunity to prove their worth to the Rebels Chapter.
I’ve retired my matt black open face helmet too and brought a more modern, slightly colourful open face so that when I’m out on my own I look more like a woos than a threat. I reckon the colour scheme is a ripper.
Hoo roo for now.