Posted by: nativeiowan | April 2, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Thoughts for the week

It is friday morning here in the land of Oz. We have winter coming on. Its getting cooler and the rains appear to have settled in. I am watching a mix of newz programmes and find my self perplexed and even pissed off. I may have missed something here but as the various newz channels recap the week I feel as though I am the proverbial Stranger in a Strange Land…

1) In 1976 Iran became a terrorist state. They raided the US embassy and held a bunch of folks hostage for a long time. Since that time Iran has been a repressive, idealistic and aggressive state, funding terror activities world-wide. Now the US and “allies” are giving the Iranians political and global legitimacy. And a green light to go for the bomb. All I can say is – did I miss something here? And as this happens the Israeli State is getting abandoned. WTF????

2) One State in the Union passes laws which give businesses the freedom of choice in who they serve. I know, controversial since my youth when “no shirt no shoes no service” signs were everywhere. Not cool then but there is a discussion worth having as per who and what, I as a business/ service provider, can and cannot choose to do. But the idea of freedom of choice rubs some folks wrong. So much so many major corporations now choose to not do business with said state because of their choices… hmmm, I agree with W.E. here in that I fail to not see a double standard (EVEN HYPOCRISY) herein.

3) Mrs Clinton is in the newz a lot. First as a very viable (if not the only) Democrat candidate for 2016, and second for a number of rather questionable if not nefarious activities while in high public office. And she is still a viable candidate. Golly, again I go back in time for this but… what the fuck happened to the standards held when Gary Hart was blasted off the campaign trail? He got done for “womanizing”. Not lying or cheating or hiding/ destroying government info// documents…  All I can say here is WTF!

4) A white dude gets beat up by a couple black dudes on a train in St Louie. All on camera. I may be akin to Genghis Khan but it sure as hell would have been differnt if the white dude had a gun and used it. Golly, that would have been controversial newz! The world is sad but when a white cop defends himself he is a racist shit. When a couple young black dudes punch n kick a lone white guy they are “troubled” or “understandably frustrated”. WTF!!!!

5) A bus load of “educators” in Georgia got years in jail for fudging test results. All I can say is maybe my Niece, Tracey and her good-man, Joe, need to offer lessons in rasing kids. Grand-nephew, Jake, is graduating from high school, is an Eagle Scout, is a state-level musician, a debate/ speech award winner, an honour roll student, and has secured a scholarship for undergrad school. I know Tracey and Joe work hard for their kids but their success is evident, and I think they should start giving lessons on what hard work can result in. I think the general population may have forgotten what hard work is and what it can do for you.

So call me a grumpy ol fart who vicariously views the void called “our modern world” through a telescope. But, again, all I can say is WTF!

Posted by: nativeiowan | April 2, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… The Esk back way

Met up with one of my favourite fellow riders, Big G, yesterday. We met in a picturesque lil Queensland town, Esk, and rode some sweet roads together back to Palmwoods.

G, is a family member of my buddy, Adrian’s, and we have met rode together more than once. he’s a “stuck in his ways” long-rider, like me. Though we ride differently we both ride long, light n fast.

G and Adrian’s bro-inlaw, GN, are going to spend 3 weeks with me riding the US of A later in the year.

So, G likes his roads a bit twisty. He likes his bikes a bit quick. He likes loads to be nonexistent and he like the weather to be on the fast side.

I live in a bike-heaven land where weather n roads = bike very easily. I am lucky n happy and thank G for the company…

esk + copy

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 27, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Baxter Motorcycles of Marne, Iowa

Being a Native Iowan I am inordinately pleased that a small time Business like Baxter’s is so darn good.

I found Baxter’s in June/ July 2013. I was flying into Des Moines and wanted to ride a Thruxton back to California. I ride plenty of bikes and have decided my favourite, off-the-shelf ride is a Thruxton. I tout myself as a cafe-racer from the ol sckool… low n lean, light n quick. Pervious to that time, I had picked a new Thruxton up from a local dealer here on the east coast of Australia. I then had 2 BMWS… a F800R and a R1200RT, as my main riders. The 800 is a great bike but the “sport” ride is far from a cafe ride and I never liked the bulk n weight 1200. Nice, great bike, just way too big n heavy.

The Thruxton became my favourrritte ride.

So after looking around I found only 1 dealer in Iowa stocking the Thruxton.

I picked my Thruxton up in Marne and did the Iowa to central Cal ride through, Salt Lake, and Lake Taho.

I was soo, soo impressed. The flat lands, the mountains n long highways, rain,a great ride.

I am not a young-dude but I stay fit and the low, naked ride is what I prefer, and the Thruxton did not miss a beat.

I purchased that bike over the phone and email and the whole scene was a breeze. Baxter’s made the whole long distance gig way too easy.

check out…

At the end of that ride I gave that Thruxton to my nephew in Cal. He is the only member of my family who digs the cafe style of riding. Everyone else rides heavy and is perplexed by my choice of bikes. but not this guy, he knew immediately and for his smarts got a bike with only 4000 miles on it.

I am a great uncle to have.

As I spend most of my time here in Australia my shed/ warehouse/ museum is here. I must confess – bless me father for I have sinned – I am an unrepentant Britt-Bike guy. Though I still have the F800R, I traded the 1200 for a BMW R9T which i have customised and beaten almost into shape as a cafe-machine.

Theres a 52 Tbird, a 52/ 57 Triton, a 57 Indian, a 58/59 BSA, a 63 T120R, a 69 Norton Atlas, a 72 X75 Hurricane. As well as the Thruxton, the 800 and the R9T.

Excessive, i know but I dig the old bikes, the ol Britt-Bikes.

Last year, I bought another Thruxton in LA and rode to Iowa. Got it serviced at Baxter’s and, on my mother’s instructions, bought a very pretty Bonneville for my elder brother’s birthday.

When Randy Baxter delivered the bike last year I chatted with him about my vintage bikes and bringing them back to show room condition. Randy is a well recognised authority and restorer. In fact a friend of mine in Rockhampton, Australia owns a Baxter bike (a 59 Bonneville) be bought from a museum on the east coast USA.

This year I have managed to get the ol BSA on the table. The BSA is about the flassshhy-est bike from the 50s. It was certainly fast for the times and it looked it too…  BSA  copy It was sold under names like “Super Rocket” and “Road Rocket”. So futuristic for the times.

So, after breaking the machine down and deciding what we needed (yep, some dumb shits tried to replace the pistons decades ago and fudged it all up so new barrel, pistons, main bearing, seals, gaskets, cables… not surprising really, but I think the fact that it has not ben operable for years has saved the bike. it is all there, all original, it just needs some TLC.

I placed my order with Baxter’s this morn. I sent them a tentative list and they did the work, gave me advice and led me down the vintage bike rebuild road. It’ll be a few weeks but when the parts come we’ll soon get this puppy back on the road, well, not on the road. Into my museum.

So my hat goes off to the Baxter gang. Job very well done, again.

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 26, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… BSA coming back to life

Been a while since I have worked on this but it’s back and it’s happening quickly…


We are back wrenching on the BSA. I thought it was a ’57. I find it is a ’58 – ’59.

So we’re doing the take apart n see whatz wrong dance. And there is plenty wrong, but it’s still a sweet, sweet machine…

IMG_2061 IMG_2063 IMG_2064 IMG_2065 IMG_2067 IMG_2068

Ordering parts now so will continue and maybe in a couple of months we’ll be back and compressing…

Good fun

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 15, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Sunday morn in Pasadena

Sunday morn here in Pasadena. Cup of coffee beside me, son, Don, in the reading room. The morning is gentle, cool and quiet.

Pasadena does not rise early. It’s a 10am wake-up kinda town. And on Sundays its more of a 12noon wake-up sorta town.

Heading south, back to Brisbane today/ tonight, rather. Midnight flight outta here so have some time, yet.

This has been Don’s first trip into Pasadena and his first visit to the USA in 7 years. The cross-country driving was fun with him. He’s a good driver and with his help we drove a couple very long days, covering some serious miles. For me, long-hauling is an art form. On bike or in car, one must maintain a high level of control and vigilance for long hours. A bike is much more intense but you get frequent stops. A car offers less “weather and wear” from the elements, but you do longer hours in a single session.

Have a few errands to do this morn: Drop the rental back. Put the Thruxton away. Clean the apartment and prepare it for a long emptiness. I must comment how happy, pleased, impressed I am with the ladies that run this apartment complex. During my last absence the drains blocked up and the bathroom area flooded. A fair amount of damage occurred before the folks in the unit below me saw the water dripping down. So the place has been torn apart; walls, floors repaired and repainted. The vanity was lost and a new one still on order. So things not 100% in the apartment but all is about 120% with the gals who run the place.

So we’re about 30 hours and counting before landing in Brisbane. Oh, yea, lets see… about 30 hours minus a day. We depart on Sunday 1130pm and arrive, after 14 hours of flying, at 630am on Tuesday…

Yea, for me, more time traveling…

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 12, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… 4 wheel’n through the USA

Just back from a cross-country run into Iowa:

usa 0315

Son, Don, with me. Was a very good run through great terrain and climes. All good fun…


Back in Pasadena now. All is very, very good…

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 7, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… More Horse Power

Is all the world needs…

@Spaceport America… IMG_1979-Panorama

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 1, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… gotta luv a parade

New Year’s eve in Pasadena. Rose Bowl Parade tomorrow morn. Colorado Blvd is cranking. One big relaxed street party where:

It is chic to be homeless for a night here… IMG_1913

You get to go and be intimate with the parade as they set up…IMG_1917

It is wild, relaxed and makes me smile…

Looks like Grace wants to cry. note it is 32f/ 0c… so quite cool… IMG_1924

Uncrowded viewing of the floats as they set up …IMG_1927

Big, big smiles

Posted by: nativeiowan | December 25, 2014

Mike”s Bikes… ol fart reminis

I can hardly see out of my glasses. So dirty n streaked n fogged. I reflect that it has been a long day. December 25th is usually a bizzy, frenetic annual event. Especially if you have lil kids around. And I have a bunch of ’em here…

We have: Angelopolous, Mendozza, Angelina, Anna, Jimmy, Mack, Dylan, Max and the ridgeback-pack of Bean, Iowa, Lauru, Rhett n Scarlett.

Inlaws n Outlaws: Connie, Annie, Terry, Paul, Tony, Betsy, Joanne, Val, Bridget n Oz make as much noise as the kids.

Grace is in there too, holding her own with the decibel production.

We have been at it now for 5 hours or more. Mendozza and Dylan were here last night so got the first raid on the Santa-gear this morn. They were in the pool real early. Angelo, Angelina, Anna n Max showed up about10, Jimmy n Mack about noon.

I am sitting on the upper deck, listening to the cacophony of confusion which is the pool… What I hear:

Paul – I’ll throw you in

Grace –  Paul! No! Baby blo him, ia

Betsy – Careful, Paul

Bridget – Jimmy hem sick

Besty – Stop it, Paul please

Paul – You know you want to

Mendozza – Yeee hawww

Angelo – I’m too big, ahhhhhh

Besty – Paul Paul!, stop!

Gracie – PAULLLL!!!

Jimmy – Me more

Paul – One more time

Angelina – haw, haw, haw, haw

Paul – One more time, let me see if I can throw you…. oh, shit, any blood..

Grace – where is Max… oh no… oh, good, he’s ok…


A classic Hemmer-tribe dooo is taking place. Darwinism at it’s best. The weak do not survive…

What is takeing place is this: Paul is taking the more intrepid of the granpups, twirling them a couple of times and launching them into the pool. Now Paul is a monster-of-a-man, big n strong and his twirl is impressive and his launch is frightening. All the women are squawking n making noise and thinking it is dangerous. The kids are clamouring for more and us blokes are taking pictures.  IMG_1792

So far no major injuries. Poor Anna has had a couple of slip n slide encounters with the timber decking. A body-slam while aiming for the pool n falling short, a whole body length, was tearful, As was a slip that bounced chin off of timber. But no breakages or blood.

Things have calmed down a bit. The women had enough and took the food inside. It’s no fun to rile everything up without an audience, so it’s almost sedate right now. Almost safe.

I started this as a reminiscence of Christmases past…

I used to have a great memory. Recent years have found me looking more forward than backward so my record of the past is not as well used so I oft time struggle to find the right memory when required.

I do remember some very young christmas times when the entire spectacle of Cmas was overbearing. Very powerful. I was always a bit confused by it all (and such I remain) because I was sure what was what. Everything so bright n shiny and pretty. I have young memories when I discovered that all that glitters is not food.

Also I recall the elation and disappointment of presenting.

I recall a very young aged present that was soooo coool… it was a kids size military mess kit. The type that has a plate, cup, handle, pan, opener, et al in a systemized, fit on the belt unit. I was so pleased and thankful for that way cool tool.

I recall wanting one thing and not getting it and being cheesed off with Jolly ol Nick for ages. I think I wanted a “Thing Maker” and got under wear.

Reminds me when my niece, Robin, was about 6/7. She got Wonder Woman underwear plus some school things and her younger siblings got some cool, cool toys. Robin was unhappy and wanted to play but her sister declared “what can I play with of yours?”, and the answer was “wonder woman underwear”… families are soo cruel and memories are harsh. I recall that lil Robin went onto the cold porch n stared forlornly into the living room window. Which provoked more mirth. Poor, Robin. I fear she was traumatized, just like I, over “underwear”.

Growing up is never easy and in our clan it may even be difficult. There is not much that’s too warm n fuzzy in our family. not unless it’s Uncle Paul…

The kids now have “Uncle Paul” in the pool:

Angelo – Uncle Paul, look at this

Mack – Me next

Angelina – Please, Uncle Paul

Paul – who’s next

Gracie – (from the upstairs window) Paul, be easy. EASYYY!!!!

I remember singing Cmas carols and handing out popcorn on Taro Island with KenH. I remember Father Meese leaving me paralytic drunk after a Cmas lunch in Susuka. HE HAD ARRIVED WITH A BOTTLE OF SCOTCH – AND ICE… we had lunch, drank the bottle of booze n he sailed off to his next parish mass. I was sick for days.

I remember traveling back in 1983 for Cmas. Iowa was Iowa, meaning dern cold, and the day before Cmas I took off with DonV for a night of fun. Then the blizzard hit. We got snowed in at Ames for a couple of days. Don was (and still remains) a Grinch, so we drank booze n watched the Playboy channel for a day or two until the roads were clear. Missed Cmas with the family all together.

Cmas needs lil kids to work. That childish magic (and, yes, greed) makes it all something special.

So, what do I hear…

Paul —-

OK, outta the pool…

what happened, no blood?

Mothers, come get your kids.

Time to chill out…

I think Paul is tired. And my inspiration gone. Its nap time, I think. 223pm. So probably best to follow the lead n do the ho, ho, ho thing…

more later

Posted by: nativeiowan | December 24, 2014

A Tropical Cmas Tale

1pm on 24 December 2014. Christmas and The New Year upon us.

I sit by the pool at our compound at Tasahe. 9 yr old Mendozza is controlling 5yr old Dylan. They are both good pups. Wild enough to be fun and wise enough to not provoke the ol’hound too much.

IMG_1773   IMG_1776

We should be in Gizo now but plans n the isles n solair n family n expectations simply did not meet up. So we shall spend the next week here in town. Our Gizo family, Don n Pepe, with Oz n Bridgette n Mack, n Jimmy, with Paul are flying into town tomorrow. I think Santa has been informed and will be stopping in here rather than Gizo.

Which is OK. Honiara is far more boring and much less “easy” than Gizo. The pups by default spend their days here in the compound rather than raising hell in Gizo town. But that’s OK too. We like the weather n it is a relaxed environment and the pool and a multi-hour drive through stand still traffic into town usually fills a day.

Been a rather uneventful year. Other than my father, Don, passing away at age 88; the year held little to report, note, brag of or complain about. The Solos even had a national election without any real drama. No burning or looting or general public fun. What is the world coming to?

Well, the world, indeed; what is it coming to? What with the global warming burning everything and causing world-wide drought, and the axis shift which is causing world-wide flooding, and the political winter which is causing another cold-war, and the shit-for-brains world-wide electorate that continues to put shittier-for-brains leaders in control of their futures.

Many people think I am a rabid liberal. Others peg me as a crusty republican. All are wrong! I have said it before: I do not trust politicians, elected or appointed officials, CEOs, lobbyists, political advisors, Investment Banks, gov’t appt’d committies, consultants, insurance adjusters, chairmen or chairladies of any BOD… there’s so much I don’t trust.

But I have a very ol, hippy/ druid-style, TRUST in small children, almost all dogs, some cats, most old folks, all motorcycles built before 1965 ( to start n take me at least 10 miles without fail), outboard engines I have serviced, most policemen (thinking of my bro Smitty here), some tattoo artists (yo, Tu), most geeks n freaks and climatologists (WWEII), most musicians good or bad (I think of Mark B who entertained us soo, soo well), A limited number of Lawyers (hey to NM n CK n PH n AR), and, indeed yes, I have TRUST in and do BELIEVE in Human Nature.

Deep down, in all of us there remains and thrives a spark of human-ness. No matter what you do or who you screw or who you shoot or who you con… that spark THE SPARK is there.

I mentioned the passing of my father, Don, above. I can’t move on without a bit of sentiment there. I guess I see this in two ways: 1) Golly, what a good ride the ol’hound got, and golly, how lucky his tribe is. He was tangible and pertinent in all the lives he touched and that covers into and through many generations including my grand-pups. His offspring number more than 100. He was prolific. Many of the members of the “universal family” (which originates in the Solomons) knew Don well. The ol’hound was a master at mentally sparring and the likes of Ian n Willis n RG n Sirell n others got to taste the pointy end of his wit more than once. 2) Loss is always hard and missing someone is painful. Period.

So I guess a balance of the two points suits my philosophical bent adequately.

Spent a couple of hours today traveling only 10ks… maybe 6 miles this morn. Honiara is a rather unpleasant place right now. My few, recent trips back have enforced rather than dispelled this concept noting the number of vehicles on this island increases each month, as the road decrease at a similar rate.

We have been joined at the pool by Queen of the house, Gracie. and daughter-in-law, Betsy (Paul’s wife). She is carrying grand-pup #13. Lucky 13. I have named #13, Phoenix Rose. I think her parents will give her a “normal” name but I really like Phoenix Rose. IMG_1777

Just had a run-in (another run-in) with one of our new puppies… Anyone who has visited knowns I am into ridgebacks. Have had an unbroken line of the big-reds from Rhodesia for a couple of decades. In 2013 two of our older hounds passed, Chewie n Jelly, so they were replaced this year by Rhett n Scarlet. My daughter, Connie, decided they were “her hounds” and now I find I am fighting a losing canine battle. They don’t think they have to listen to me. They run and hide behind Connie. They cause her unending grief. They are worse than most ill-behaved grankid… they lie, chew, steal, leave messes all over, just like any undisciplined lil-shit…

This is Scarlet,  IMG_1781 a true bitch, but a very pretty bitch. After “hounding” her and making her listen and chasing her out of the kitchen n being bossy she, yesterday, picked up one of my shoes and came and handed it to me. I think it was a warning. Her telling me to either keep my shoes inside or accept the consequences. She has attitude and I can see she will be the alpha here in a few years.

There is something about the ridgebacks that I like. A solid hound mentality which combines faithfulness with a fuck-you attitude. A good size (weighing in at around 80lbs/ 40kgs) they are big enough to be intimidating but I can lift n carry them (as I proved last week when it was bath time). Gotta love all pups… 4 n 2 legged…



The afternoon rains have settled in.The boys had one of my ol rassling mats out and were doing some UFC in the rain. The sky is heavy n dark but the rain is slight, almost friendly.Temps just dropped 10degrees. The seas are calm.

Very nice.

The pups, 4 n 2 legged, have all gone inside to get outta the rain. I’m sitting under the leafhouse, a dry area 3×3 meters/ 10’x10′ is my “zone”. If the wind blows I’m gonna have to move.

So, in ending… A tropical cmas tail, indeed…  As I drink a shitty light beer with a mix of sprite, IMG_1784 It is in a cool glass and is a cool n refreshing drink but it’s old beer that has been around too long. The caps are rusty. Probably not good for me… but its beer n I am an ol beer drinker n my favourite Dr, The Fegan, tells me (as we drink a beer) we should not be drinking at our age. So not sure what the answer is…

I find the Solbrew to be too strong for me. It used to be a great beer. Was a great beer. But I can’t drink it is any longer. Not as good as it was and is simply too, too strong for me. They advertise the % by volume at 5% but I talked to a “brew master” a while back (he was all of about 28 yrs old) who reckoned it was much higher. Intentionally higher to suit the local market.

No one, but fat ol dudes like m,e drink light beer here.


Ho, Ho, Ho… big smiles n a lotta fun to come…

More later

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