Skidoo and Hagar had had their thinking caps on in February 2018 and posted up the suggestion of doing an IBA ride for the Centenary of Armistice and finishing up in Canberra on the 11/11/18 for the ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.
The seed had been planted back then to see how it grows.
We read upon the general rules, requirements and certification and decided that we’d put our name down to attend, after all it’s a once in our lifetime chance to honour those who fought for us, after all we won’t be around for the 200th anniversary ceremony.
We had planned out our ride ensuring that we spelt “POPPY” along the way and that we had ticked all the boxes that we required to be a finisher. Now all we need to do is ride the ride, we thought that this would be a straight forward SS1600 ride, well that soon changed.
A very close friend of ours, Rod, who had passed away had a wish for some of his ashes to be scattered on his favorite rally road, in Neerim South, VIC (Fatman use to rally cars for many years before getting into bikes and Rod use to navigate for him in the 80’s then serviced for him for many years, he was also Fatman’s groomsman on our wedding day) and we were asked if we would help organize this. Without any hesitation we said we would however it was to be on Saturday 10th November 2018 at midday, with that in mind we thought that we’d pull out of the Centenary of Armistice ride, but then upon discussing this with Rod’s partner Lyn, she told us that Rod would want us to complete the ride, you see he was a Naval Vietnam Veteran, it seemed fitting to do the ride. After this conversation we looked at the feasibility of doing both. We worked out a route that we could do to complete the Armistice ride as well as attend the gathering, but it did mean we rode north up the Hume Hwy then south then north again.
The alarm went off at 5.00am on Saturday 10th November and we got ready and headed off to the service station in Berwick, VIC where we obtained our start docket, 06.17am, ok we’re now in IBA mode off we go to Pakenham VIC 06.33am then a short distance to Officer VIC 06.39am and back to Pakenham VIC 06.46am to obtain receipts to start spelling POPPY. From here we were travelling east along the Princes Highway when we noticed a bike coming towards us, and then flash of the lights and a BIG wave, it was Hackle, we continued onto Stratford VIC where we obtained a turnaround docket at 08.43am and replaced the headlight globe that blew when we left home. From here we returned back over the same route that we had not long ridden but turning off to go to Neerim South VIC where we had arranged to meet 40 of our friends that had accepted the invitation to attend the scattering of Rod’s ashes. It was a great turn up as a lot of us hadn’t seen each other in many years. We arrived at Neerim South at 10.35am and we started to get ourselves sorted for our final farewell to Rod. I went to obtain a docket to show that we had taken this route, only thing was I was now out of IBA mode and my mind was elsewhere, upon returning to Fatman and he asked for the receipt, so he could complete the paperwork, guess who forgot to get a receipt! Buggar off I go again this time I ensured I obtained the receipt and we completed the paperwork just in time as Rod’s friends were all starting to arrive. One of our friends, Geoff who use to navigate for Fatman back in the day offered his Datsun 1600 to take Rod down the road for the last time. Rod’s brother Tony asked Fatman to drive the car whilst he scattered Rods ashes along the road, this was an honour for Fatman to do but not so easy in motorbike gear, but it all went to plan. Fatman did a sendoff speech for Rod and mentioned that a table had been booked at the Pub for lunch, so we can all reminisce of our days together, however we (Fatman & I) were unable to stay as we were in the midst of doing a ride to Canberra. Unsure why but this didn’t really surprise our friends and they agreed Rod would be proud of us doing the ride as they all were also, one of our friends made the comment ‘you still here, on ya bike’ which was one of Rod’s sayings, we had a giggle and a few tears. After we had said our goodbyes we geared up, jumped back on the bike now the challenge was going to be to get back into IBA mode, after 2hours 30mins off the bike and it was an emotional time. We rode through to our next stop via Yarra Junction, Yarra Glen, Yea, Seymour where we passed the Vietnam Veteran Commemorative Walk which lists the names of all Australian Defence personnel who served in Vietnam including Rod, then a short distance to Avenel VIC for fuel arriving at 3.34pm and stopping for a 20 minute break. We discussed how pleased we were on the turnout for Rod’s final goodbye and how we now needed to get back into IBA mode. We mounted the bike and headed north up the Hume Highway, our next stop was for fuel at Gundagai NSW were we arrived at 7.28pm. We decided to have a quick break and let the sun set, that seemed to go very quick and before long we were back on the road again. Now we’re both back into IBA mode and feeling good, as we departed Gundagai NSW, would you believe it we once again saw Hackle and again lights flashed, beep of the horn and waves to each other were had. This kept us laughing wondering f we were going to see him again on his return north trip , we couldn’t have planned it any better. Off we go in the darkness into the distance aiming for our next receipt at Pheasants Nest, NSW. We arrived here at 22.58pm and the day was starting to take a toll on us, Fatman mentioned a Motel would be good right now. With that I reminded him that the diggers didn’t have that choice so why should we, oh I know I’m so harsh when we do these rides, but he agreed and then suggested that we have a powernap for 30 minutes. So, we fueled up then found a metal picnic bench to lay upon, Fatman laid down and shut his eyes, I went to another bench and laid on the metal seat with the alarm set to go off in 30 minutes. I shut my eyes but was woken by headlights, car engine and people talking, when I looked up, I could see a couple hugging each other and getting friendly and steaming up their car windows. I pulled my beanie over my eyes and shut my eyes again but then a few more cars and noisy people arrived so I decided I’d get up, well I thought I would. I couldn’t get back up off the bench, I dropped my legs either side of the bench and dragged myself to the end of the bench where I locked my feet around the post and maneuvered myself up. By the time I wandered over to Fatman the alarm went off, ok time to go, we geared up and headed just up the road to the 24hr Shell servo at Wilton, NSW 23.57pm for a turnaround docket and then got back on the Hume Highway and headed back down south passing the north bound Hackle again with both of us flashing our LED’s at each other, soon we were at Gundagai NSW 02.51am for another docket and another shut of the eyes as we realised all we’d had since 5am when got up to start the ride was 30 minutes shut eye. I was in IBA mode which means no going to sleep as I need to keep myself alert for Fatman however, he did have a nap and surprisingly he felt pretty good after it. As we were getting ready to do our final stint, we laughed about seeing Hackle and jokingly said we might see him again, well buggar me would you believe it we did. We rode up to Yass NSW where we obtained our final receipt to spell out POPPY and saw Hackle again. Now from Yass we just had to go to Canberra, we had arranged that everyone meet up at the 24hr McDonalds in the suburb of Nicholls where we could all have a drink, bite to eat, get our finish receipts and get our witness forms signed off. When we arrived Hagar and Scott were already there, then Hackle rode straight past and kept going only to return 30 minutes or so later. Skidoo, Frans and Philmor arrived it was great to see everyone got there safe. After a while we started to get ready to head off to the Australian War Memorial to attend the service which was due to start at 10.30am, Frans headed home but the rest of us went to the service. We all had free tickets issued prior and Fatman had looked at road closures and planned a route to where we were parking the bikes. We all said goodbye to Frans and then headed off, this was fun as we followed the GPS directions all was going well until we came to a road that we needed to turn at but they had shut the road earlier than gazzetted, with a quick recalculate we continued on only to be taken down a road that had barriers at the end so we all had to do a U turn, we finally got to our destination for parking (thanks Russell for organizing this for us). We all packed up our bikes then walked the short distance to the Australian War Memorial where we waited to be given access to the seating area, upon entrance we actually ended up with front row seats. We were proud to be able to attend the ceremony and show our respects. After the ceremony we all wandered back to our bikes and geared up to head back the motel in Yass where we all were staying, there was 6 bikes. Hackle advised he knew the quick way through Canberra and he’d lead, well at the first set of lights he was gone now there were 5 bikes. Now we’re in heaps of traffic exactly where we didn’t want to be, and Fatman was trying to get the GPS to recalculate the route then Skidoo popped up beside us, so we told him to lead the way. Off we went but alas we lost Philmor, now there’s 4 bikes then we seemed to lose Hagar and Scott then there was just us and Skidoo. We pulled into the motel and yep Hackle was already there, then Hagar rode straight passed the motel with Scott in tow but returning not long after they did a lap of Yass, then Philmor arrived. Great everyone has arrived, we all booked in then went and had a snooze before heading into town for dinner, that Skidoo had booked for us. Skidoo advised us all that it was a short 1km walk, it seemed as though we walked passed every shop in town and we were walking to the next town for dinner. This became a running joke over dinner along with Hackles I know the quick way through Canberra and Fatman causing the riders to do U turns. A very nice dinner was had by all then came time to go back to the motel, Skidoo, Scott and I walked back up the hill whilst the others caught a taxi! Yes, you read that properly. Skidoo and I arrived back at the motel just as the taxi pulled into the driveway, we all stood around had a laugh or two then said our goodbyes. We planned to leave at 7am with Philmor and Hackle, this was fine until Hackle said I know a quick way through Canberra again, famous last words and you guessed it he was gone again leaving us to find our own way through, so Philmor and us just kept going only to find Hackle waiting on the south side of Canberra waiting for us. All back together and we travelled onto Polo Flats for breakfast then onto Bairnsdale and home.
This was one of the hardest but rewarding IBA rides we have completed as we stopped for a few hours into the ride to scatter our best friend “Rod Rodda’s” ashes, who was a Vietnam Veteran, before getting back on the bike and into IBA mode again.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
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