Valley of Doom
You might have already seen the YouTube video (see link below) titled Alex and the Valley of Doom. This historical document traces the path of five pioneering adventurers on motorcycles as they fight their way though the darkest depths of the Hunter Valley, a wine-growing region about two hours’ ride, or three hours’ drive, north of Sydney.
With so many wineries, the region is a dangerous place and many a pioneer has learnt a lesson the hard way by entering wild wilderness of The Hunter with insuffient supplies of Panadol Forte. Mock me if you will (it’s a big club), but I assure you that the struggle back to civilisation is a daunting one, particularly for the intrepid explorer who’s guzzled half a vineyard of fermented fruit. Of course, I’m referring to only those with whom I hang, not the rest of the our planet’s more evenly balanced souls.
I mention all this because 2017 is nearly done and I’ve been reflecting on the events of the last twelve months and the Valley of Doom expedition looms large in my mind. It was probably my toughest ride for the year, which isn’t saying much, but nonetheless, I found it hard going and there were moments when I thought I wouldn’t make it back to civilisation, let alone a cellar door with cases of the Hunter’s best at half the RRP.
Dave Darcy, the guy behind the camera, lead the ride, ably supported by Phillippe Wilmotte, the tall dude with the outrageous French accent that’s actually an outrageous Belgian accent. I hadn’t seen either of them for a while and it was good to catch up, or so I thought.
The other two intrepid souls on the odyssey were Simon Pitkin and Santiago Botero, who were meeting Dave and Phillippe for the first time.
With salutations dispensed, Dave explained that he would be taking us through the Valley of Doom. I thought he was just trying to put the wind up us with the “doom” bit. Silly me. Never seem to learn.
So, with Dave’s words menacingly echoing in my head, we headed off into territory David Attenborough has yet to brave.
It soon dawned on me that I really, really should have paid greater heed to Dave’s words, especially given the fact that Phillippe and he were on KTM 690s while Simon, Santiago, and I were on BMW R1200 behemoths which are just a tad heavier than their nimble steeds. As a result, in the process of gaining a comprehensive appreciation of doom filled valleys, we three struggled in the tougher sections while Dave and Phillippe blasted through the entire track with ease.
Dave and Phillippe are also very skilled riders, but, let’s not dwell on that point as it’s one of them alternative facts that tend to ruin a good story.
As I have alluded, the Hunter’s a wild and uncivilised place with vast areas that are not covered by the telcos or even Jim’s Mowing, and the deep crevasses of the VoD is one such stretch of land. Consequently, there were some desperate moments during the ride when I nearly broke down and sobbed at the thought of not being able to call upon the services of BMW roadside assistance!
But worse still, and to my dying shame, I had another thought (two in one day is about my limit): This is all Dave Darcy’s fault, I should lynch him! That’ll learn him not to lead poor innocent souls on big bore BMWs down the garden goat track of doom.
Of course, I’d never have acted on the thought because Dave’s a good guy and also he’d have beaten the crap out of me, ably assisted by Phillippe. Nonetheless, the idea has haunted me ever since and it has since morphed into a graphic and confronting recurring dream, one that unfailingly presents every bloody time I rest my head. And, I mean EVERY time; at night, mid-morning; it even appears in my afteroon nanna nap!
The odd thing is, its not a about lynching Dave, per se, it’s about the subsequent trial I face for my crime. The dream’s not what you’d call a nightmare as the verdict lands in my favour, but it does have its share of disturbing moments.
Try as I may, I am at my wits’ end to rid mysef of this illusory tale and as a last ditch effort, I am desperately hoping that sharing it with you, dear reader, will do the trick. For as it is said that a problem shared is a problem halved, although, I’m hoping that this missive of mine is read by more than one (caring) person. A bit of a stretch on both counts, i.e, sharing my dream will help me, and that this post will attract more than one reader, I know.
[Cut to a dream sequence, like in films and on telly]
My barrister stands, to present an outline of the basis for my defence, as we’ve already been through the preliminary formalities and all that shit.
After a dramatic pause, my barrister says, “Your Horror, as you are aware, my client, Sir Al, pleads guilty with extenuating circumstances.
“I know what you’re thinking, Your Hautiness, there is no such plea, in this and believe me, I have tried to explain to get it through the defendant’s exceptionally thick head that the charge is manslaughter and that there is no such thing as ‘guilty with extenuating circumstances’, but he wouldn’t listen. My client says he’s gotten off two parking fines and a charge of reckless driving not occasioning grievous body harm [it would appear that self-inflicted GBH doesn’t count], with the ‘extenuating circumstances’ line and he insists on sticking with what has worked in the past.”
The judge’s reaction is to roll his eyes so far back he can see his frontal lobe, but he says nothing and that’s the important thing.
My barrister continues, “The extenuating circumstances being that such was the wanton and reckless abandon of Mister Darcy’s actions in leading my client into the Valley of Doom, that the real victim is himself and that Mister Darcy’s demise was simply a case of unavoidable collateral damage.”
“That’s a rather incredible claim!”, the judge says, unsurprisingly surprised.
“I can understand your incredulousness, Your Heritage,” my barrister says, “but allow me to explain.”
By now, you may have noticed that my barrister is a little unsure as to how to address the judge. That’s possibly because she’s not really a barrister, but more a supermodel by the name of Megan Gale, eminently qualified in walking along cat-walks, but not so quite so well versed in criminal law. Perhaps I should have chosen someone more suitably qualified and with at least some experience in courts of law, but I thought, why not give the poor woman a go. A model’s career can be a short one and I’m happy to take her on as an intern; give her a leg-up and help her to establish a new career. It’s just my way of giving back, or as like to say, balancing the ledger on the Great Cosmic Equaliser.There was no need for her to thank me.
There’s an added bonus, too , as that the judge has taken quite a shine to Ms Gale, which is probably why he doesn’t correct her when she mistakenly addresses him as “Your Hideousness”, or some other highly inappropriate term.”
Ms Gale continues, “As you know, Your Heinousness, the accused and his two fellow BMW Buccaneers, emerged from the Hunter Valley’s jungle, bedraggled and delirious with nothing other than the Klim and BMW gear on their backs and the dregs of their last bottle of the Hunter’s finest.”
“Pardon me, Ms Gale,” the judge says, “By ‘delirious’, do you mean ‘drunk’?”
“Delirious due to excessive consumption of alcohol, or delirious due to exposure, thirst, and malnutrition?” Megababes asks, rhetorically, “The fact is that my client was in a state of delirium and he claims that his state of mind was the direct result of the cavalier and wantonly reckless actions of Mr Darcy.”
“Seems fair. ” says the judge, “Please continue.”
“Thank you, Your Honorits,” says Megasaurus. “On the fateful day in question, Messrs Darcy and Wilmotte were riding KTM 690s, while the accused rode a BMW R1200, as did Messrs Pitkin and Botero. Being on bigger, heavier bikes, the risk of injury was considerably higher than it was for Mr Darcy and Mr Wilmotte, and what’s more, Your Humibleness, the risk of damaging their beautiful Bavarian beasts was also considerably higher. In the case of the accused, the risk was extreme, due to an ongoing issue he has with gravity.”
“An ongoing issue with gravity, you say?” the judge asks, “Am I to believe that the defendatt is blaming gravity for some of the accidents he has?”
“Not some, Your Holllowness; all.”
“All!”, the judge says, now unsurprisingly astonished. “Does the defendant take any responsibility for his actions?”
“Seems fair. Please continue.”
“As you know, My Emerates,” says the Megatron, “With BMWs, the cost of repairs, spare parts, cleaning, and even inflating the tyres is considerably more than it is for KTMs.”
“Indeed!”, says the judge, “But one gets that for which one pays.”
“Too true, Your Magistrates,” says Meg-a-legs, “Too true! And, it has been well established that BMW is not a charity.”
“Indeed, it is not a charity. Only an idiot would think otherwise,” says the judge while stairring me straight in the eye, somewhat pointedly. “Remind me, Ms Gale; what is the weight difference between these two models of motorcycle?”
This judge knows his shit when it comes to motorcycles.
“Over eighty kilograms, My Holiness.”
“Eight kilograms! That’s barely a bee’s dick in the scheme of things!”
The Megster is quick to correct the judge, “No, Your Judginess, not eight, I said eighty kilograms, as in eight, zero.”
“Oh! Well, that makes all the difference; all the difference in the world, no less!,” the judge says, “However, these motorcycles of which you speak; you said they are BMWs, did you not?
“Yes, My Lorddickens, I did indeed.” The Megatron says.
“Would I be correct in assuming these motorcycles are GSs or GSAs?” The judge asks.
As I say, this judge really knows his shit!
“You are spot on, My Honorariness! Mr Pitkin and the accused were on GSs and Mr Botero rode a GSA.’
“I see,” the judge says, thoughtfully, “Water-cooled or air-cooled?”
[Is this judge a man of the world, or is he a man of the world?!!]
“The accused was on a water-cooled Rallye X; an almost brand new one, My Lordness, and Mr Botero has a 2015 water-cooled job,” The Megatron explains, “Mr Pitkin was on an older, air-cooled model. Apparently he’s hoping to upgrade in 2018, however my client and Mister Botero are both of the view that this is laughable, as he’s got Buckley’s of getting sign-off from the missus.”
“Ah, yes! Good luck with that, Mr Pitkin!” says the judge with a hearty laugh that even Santa would struggle to beat, not that he knows Simon from a bar of soap, but he can empathise, which bodes well for me, although “sympathise” would bode even better.
“But getting back to the matter at hand,” the judge says, scratching his chin and ruminating in a manner that one might expect from an all-knowing judge who’s lived a full and rich life that now sees him au fait with all aspects of motorcycling. “And did the accused suffer any dents or scratches on his brand new Rallye X rocket ship ?”
“No dents, Your Honorarian, but quite a few scratches were incurred.” The Megatron explains.
“Ooh, nasty!” The judge responds, visibly wincing. “Well that is definitely something to take into consideration.
“The motorcycles concerned are BMWs, though, and are by definition, very well engineered. One just has to watch the documentaries of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman, Long Way Round and Long Way Down, to see that.”
“Dog’s balls, Your Gracefulness,” says the Megatron, “The remarkable qualities of BMW motorcycles stand out like balls on a German Shepard”
“Indeed they do, Ms Gale.” The judge pauses for moment before asking, “But, does that not suggest that the motorcycles of which we continue to speak, heavy though they be, are capable of going places where no KTM has been and will ever do so?”
“You make a good point, Your Effervescance,” Megsy says assertively, “These bikes are well engineered, but, whilst it is quite remarkable where these motorcycles will go, they are not intended for goat tracks.”
The judge is suitably impressed with Megsy’s argument. “Good point, Ms Gale!” He says with a blow of his gavel!
Then, in a commanding voice, the good judge announces, “I’ve heard enough and I have come to a verdict without the aide of a jury, so they can be fucked off.”
The judge has a tendency to be rather off-hand at times due to a severe case ‘rhoid rage, particularly on the days when he’s neglected to bing his ring cushion to work. This was one of those day. It does not bode so well for me.
The judge speaks, “After due considertion, I find the defendant guilty of manslauter!”
Shocked and horrified, I shit myself, curl up into a tight ball, and commence to sob myself sick. The Megster is not impressed, which is a real shame because I’ve been doing my level best to, quite literally, impress the pants off her.
However, the judge is not finished, he has merely paused for dramatic effect, for as it turns out, the judge enjoys putting the wind up the cloaca of others just as much as Dave Darcy does, or did, as is the case in my dream.
The judge finally continues with his pronouncement:
“It is my considered opinion that the accused, Sir Al, has done the world a great big favour. Thanks to him, Mr Darcy will no longer be able to lead our nation’s brave hoons down treacherous tracks on not-for-purpose brand new BMWs. Therefore, rather than imposing the more usual sentence of incarceration for life, I direct that Sir Al should immediately undergo a ticker-tape parade down Sydney’s George Street of not less than one kilometre; preferably two.”
”Meanwhile, I have regained my composure and with my usual “CCC” (cool, calm, and collected) suave manner, I give ol’ Megsy as slap on the arse and say, “Thank you, Mega-honey, ya done good! We should celebrate my victory with a big slap-up dinner at Doyle’s.” (Doyle’s is a top class seafood restaurant and a bit of an icon in Sydney). “Who knows, Baby-doll,” I say, feeling pretty cocky after my successful trial, “If you play your cards right, I might even do you the great big favour.”
The next morning, I find myself in bed with a throbbing brain-ache and a nurse busily checking my vitals. She sees I’m back in the land of the living and exclaims, “You’re awake! The doctor wasn’t sure you’d make it. That Megan Gale can really pack a punch; you’re lucky you only suffered a concussion, three lost teeth, and a few cracked ribs.”
Of course, my “good mate” Joerg, the cyborg, is there as well, laughing himself sick (again) but somehow still manages to stoically consume all the chocolates left behind by patients who have friends who care. No challenge it too great for this jolly big German. he was at the trial and subsequently pays me a visit at the hospital.
“Well Buddy,” he says with tears funning down his face, “I thought I’d missed all the fun by not going on the ride, but I should have had more faith. Seeing Megan punch your lights out; who could ask for more!
“And, Sir Al, there’s no way you can put the blame on gravity for that one!”And so my dream, now a nightmare, ends with great peels of laughter echoing down the corridors of the RPA (Royal Prince Alfred hospital) as Joerg staggers towards the lifts.
Of course, I’m glad I didn’t lynch Dave, he’s a great bloke, as is Phillippe, and they’ve taken a number of us on some great rides. Besides, I wouldn’t want to end up in hospital with concussion and several broken bones, even if it’s at the hands of a legally unqualified supermodel. I suffer enough injuries battling gravity while following Dave and Phillippe, not to mention Joerg the Cyborg, up and down crevasses, over huge drop-offs, and through valleys that are filled to the brim with doom.
Anyway, I’ll stop there and let you get on with your respective lives. It IS the least I can do.
Cheers, Sir Al (self-anointed).