I remember the excitement the day our two bikes arrived; Chris’s two-wheeler and my four-wheeler (Quad). We wheeled them off the trailer and started them up. I figured it was just what you needed to do at 50 – learn a new skill like riding a farm bike.
After Chris took me through the basics we set out on our first run up Spring Creek Road to our other property, Cambren. We rode abreast and talked a bit as we putted along. We picked up speed as I grew a bit more confident. I remember Chris yelling to me laughing, “Where are the kids? Oh that’s right. They’re not around anymore. Ha!” We had to hold on to our hats as we zoomed along.
It was like we were teenagers again on a new adventure. We felt a new found freedom and tearing along on our new bikes was liberating.
At first I just wanted to ride on the road but gradually I ventured onto the tracks. We have tracks all over our 10,000 acres. They range from being suitable for a two-wheel drive vehicle in places to being almost indistinguishable amongst the re-growth and washed out gullies.
Creek crossings are the scariest, probably mostly because I stacked the two-wheeler early on trying to cross a shallow stream. I was going too fast and once out of control it climbed up the bank and into a tree. I sustained only minor cuts and bruises thank goodness. I remember Chris being really cross because I broke the headlight. But you should see his bike now – there isn’t much left of the original paraphernalia. Chris has stacked it too many times to count.
Sometimes I might be on the bike pretty much all day when we are mustering. We have such large paddocks and once you start a muster you can’t really stop until you have secured the stock. It can be a long way to the yards even up to 8 – 10ks.
You would laugh if you saw me get off the bike after being on it all day. I can hardly walk. It looks like I’ve just got off a horse, which I guess in a way, I have.
Though I mightn’t be able to do fish tails like Neal or burnouts like Michelle, I’m pretty confident on it now and can go pretty much anywhere. Though I’m at my bravest when a recalcitrant cow or calf takes off in the wrong direction. I become fearless, tearing across the paddock to halt its escape.
But mostly when you are mustering, you are putting along in 1st or 2nd gear. We use it to run water checks, stock checks, put on pumps, get the mail and of course it provides endless entertainment for some of our guests.
It does a lot of work my Quad but for me it will always somehow be a symbol of the new found freedom I have with my life on the land. I love it.