Have this mate up here, John, and he has one of those 2006 model Ducati retro Sport Classic thingumybobs. You know the ones, the assembly workers got pissed one Friday and built 'em with two pipes on one side and one shocky on the other? Then, to hide their mistake, they hid them in crates, but the factory shipped them out to dealers, and the rest is history. Anyways, I was talking to him last night and said I was thinking of doing a couple of laps of the Dorrigo Mountain Raceway next morning, then home for some tidying up in the back yard afterward. "Call in for a coffee on your way past", he said, "I might even join you". Cool, someone to ride with. Next morning, I'm just about out the door when wifey pipes up. "I can't get my farse-book page to work properly" That sorted.....and the pump on the fountain cleared, 'cause it was on the fritz, too. I'm SMSing John - "Running 30mins late, sorry" Not too late to inspect some of mick_r's handiwork at Glynis' place, however; the new back verandah. A damn fine structure it is, too. Then John suggests we might head to Armidale and catch up with the aforementioned mick_r, as he has some mighty fine home brew that needs sampling. What could I say? (I'm pretty sure it was "f**k the back yard", but don't tell the missus) Minutes later we're rumbling along the way of the waterfall and the humidity is becoming oppressive. We'd had the mother of all storms the night before, which dumped even more water on the already saturated coastal strip, and now the sun was trying to evaporate it....all at once. Hopefully it would be cooler once past Dorrigo, so children were considered through the roadworks, but left to fend for themselves everywhere else; it was the morning of the Lord's Day, they should have been in Sunday School. The climb up the mountain was uneventful, the surface being exceptionally clean and interacting with the rubber in the tyres in a most reassuring manner. They were even kind enough to permit the introduction of Ms Footpeg to Mr Tar, on occasion, but the encounters was fleeting, as long term relationships can become painful, and besides, we had business elsewhere. It was a glorious day on the plateau, with the ambient temperature in the early 20's and with about 5/8ths cloud cover, the conditions couldn't have been better. The run across to the tablelands proper seemed to take but a moment, with a brief sojourn at Ebor, for refreshments and conversation, before continuing to the City of Armidale. Well, it's more of a big(-ish) country town, but because it has two Cathedrals, one Protestant and one Catholic, it gets to be called a city; go figure. Arriving at Casa Mick, we found a black DS Multistroller (?) parked out the front; being a DUcati, I straightaway assumed it was broken down and, as it is bulky rubbish collection week in Armidale, had been left out for that purpose. Imagine my surprise then, when Anthony jumped on it some little while later and coaxed it into life. Our host was kind enough to offer us a chair on his front verandah, out of the, by now blazing, New England sunshine. He then produced some of his most excellent home made beer, assuring us all the while that it was a mid-strength brew - bullshit mick, it tasted more like 8 or 9%. Fuck it was nice but. Tom, son of mick, was home from uni and quickly agreed to accompany us on a pillaging run to the rural township of Ebor, where, we were assured, there was cold beer in abundance.....we'd had awesome bacon and egg rolls there for brekky. Who cares if it's in the middle of fucking nowhere and it's only other claim to fame is the vicious enforcement of the villages 50km/h speed limit. 12 houses, a pub, a tea shop and a servo do not constitute a vulnerable habitat....it's only 500 metres long, FFS. Still, you flout the law at your peril in that borough. Our route took us northwards, initially, to the township of Guyra and thence in an easterly direction, on a pock-ridden, potholed, strip of what passes fpr bitumen in this, the most populous state. Dunno where all the money's gone, 'cause it sure as shit ain't the roads. We managed to survive the trip, however, and the beer was indeed cold at the Ebor Falls Hotel-Motel. Still not quite sure how far it fell, or if it has a ways to go, but we were thankful to the two banjo-pluckers who advised us that PLOD had been discovered hiding near the turnoff, in the recently imposed 60 zone, a few kilometres further on. The information cost John a couple of cigarettes, but we thought it a fair exchange. That's them, behind the rail, near the Katoom....Austrians aren't popular with Eyetalians, it would seem. Los Trios Ringbarkus, Tom (teh apprentice) was away getting fuel... During our brief sojourn we discovered a few things: Tom thought we were all cunts, for accelerating to a speed higher than his SV650 could muster. We immediately responded that he would have done the same, had he known how, which sort of made him an apprentice. John decided to make it official, and inscribed the screen in appropriate manner. He must have been pleased, 'cause he took pics of it with his phone and they are probably trumpeting his awesomeness around the interwebz as you are reading this. Then it was time to venture back down the mountain, leaving mick_r, tom_r and wood_duck, to find their way back to Armidale, while John and I prepared to battle the humidity once more. The weather was looking decidedly threatening as we wound our way, through the wilds of Tyringham and Bostobrick, towards Dorrigo. Where we found a thick, swirling, mist, preparing to envelope the top of the escarpment, but it, like the traffic, evaporated as we descended and the humidity drenched us instead. What does all this have to do with pizza & beer? That's what my wife had waiting, when I walked through the door this evening, after a relaxing 446klms.