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The Butterfly Effect on Motorcycle Riding

Home > Mittagong > Adventure | Day Trips | Escape the City | Outdoor | Travel
Published August 16th 2019
Polish cafe
Nasz Stolik


The Butterfly Effect is an interesting concept which basically states that "the flap of a butterfly's wings in Texas could cause a tornado in Brazil".

Polish cafe
Polish cafe


A "Twist of Fate" implies that something happens by chance and it can change the outcome of a project for good or bad, or can steer you in a certain path or destiny that you were not expecting.

Letter Boxes
Letter Boxes


From a motorcyclist's perspective, both these theories have had a profound effect on the modern world. For example, In 1952, riding their Norton, "The Mighty One" from Brazil to Peru, Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Grando took time off from their medical school to embark on an adventure they hoped would enlighten their perspective of the world, see places they had only read about in books – or to get away from Uni for a holiday and pick up some women along the way. In very simplistic terms, what they saw and experienced on their journey, the social injustices of the native Indians and miners, exploitation and forced poverty by corrupt forces lead Ernesto to become a Marxist revolutionary instrumental in the Cuban Revolution. Today he is known worldwide as Che, a symbol of the idealist. His face planted on posters and t-shirts is a picture of anti-establishment, a logo for human rights and individual liberation.

Happy Cows
Happy Cows


Years later, in 1967, while riding his '64 Triumph T100 along a back road in Woodstock, New York state, Bob Dylan lost control of his bike and crashed. Shrouded in mystery, with no hospital admissions, ambulance call-outs or incident report, some said Dylan died, some said he suffered brain damage while others scrutinised it was a setup so he could to kick a drug habit and he retreated from the spotlight for a while. The closest explanation for his absence was given in the autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan wrote, "I had been in a motorcycle accident and I'd been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race. Having children changed my life and segregated me from just about everybody and everything that was going on. Outside of my family, nothing held any real interest for me and I was seeing everything through different glasses."

Happy Cows
Happy Cows


Regardless of what the truth is, without the motorcycle crash in '67, Dylan may never have retreated to the "Big Pink" (a communal band house) with the Band and recorded the "Basement Tapes" nor would we have the albums "John Wesley Harding" or "Blood on the Tracks" to listen to while working on our bikes in our sheds.

Burrawang Hotel
Burrawang Hotel


In 1968, Robert Pirsig rode his Honda CB77 Super hawk with his son and two friends on an eight week trip between Minnesota to California. It became the back drop for one of the most important books of the late twentieth century – "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance". It's an examination of values, quality and how to live better, while bonding with his son and struggling with his demons. Riders still retrace Pirsig's route to get an insight into his writing and thoughts.

In 1978 while competing in the Abidjan to Nice Rally, Thierry Sabine lost himself riding in the Tenere Desert. While fighting through the sand dunes, he had decided that this would be a fantastic place to hold a regular amateur rally. Thus, the Paris to Dakar was born and has since become the worlds' toughest motor race. Continuing with fate, on the 14th January 1986 he was killed when a sudden sandstorm forced his helicopter into a sand dune in Mali, during the Dakar race. All on board perished.

The glass is always half full
The glass is always half full


A simple Twist of Fate or the Butterfly Effect? Maybe a combination of both. All happened while riding a motorcycle, all changed the world for their rider's and were instrumental in changing the world.

Every time you embark on a ride regardless of the duration, every turn into a lane, a track or run along a highway is a voyage of discovery that opens your eyes to something new, sometimes it changes you, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, it takes a while for you to comprehend what you experienced.

A rest stop in the park
A rest stop in the park


Coming into Mittagong, sleeping trees line the highway, branches reach to the sky catching the sun's rays. Their golden leaves, long ago fallen, swept by icy winds and freezing rain lay on the footpaths and gutters. Winter isn't coming, it is already here. Turning left into a side street to park the bike looking for somewhere to warm the bones, a coffee and something hot to eat, an odd sign hanging from an awning draws me to the brick building. Nasz Stolik – translated to "Our table".

It must have been a twist of fate to turn down Station Street. The café sells an assortment of Polish food from cakes and pastries to cold meats and pickled herrings. The store owner tells me a variety of people come from faraway places just to enjoy the dishes. Makes you wonder, if General Kosciuszko was still alive, he would probably be riding here on a Norton Commando before heading out to put another mark upon the world.

Cawdor sunset
Cawdor sunset

Heading to the coast from Bowral, a road sign at Glenquarry showing "Tourist Drive" points to Kangaloon. These roads are worth exploring; sometimes they are hidden hamlets, sometimes just localities. Nothing is learnt unless they are travelled. The road runs past Wingecarribee Reservoir through Kangaloon and East Kangaloon into Robertson. Robert Pirsig wrote that he took up motorcycle riding because he was unable to fly. "Motorcycle riding was the closest thing to flying ….and you saw more on a bike".

The bike glides along the bitumen rising and falling with the contours of the hills, rolling into the bends. With the cool air in my face; I smile, I can understand exactly where he was coming from. Rows of letterboxes on a lane mark the existence of people and stone fences keep cattle in their paddocks. Stone fences evoke images of Scotland with men in kilts tending their livestock. The fences must have taken great skill in building them. Pulling over for a photo op, a herd of cows come running up to us as soon as they see the camera. Kangaloon must have the world's friendliest cattle.

Coming to a stop at Robertson, every man and his dingo has been to the Robbo Pie shop, so Rod and I turned right heading to Moss Vale. McGraths Road branches left from the Illawarra Highway with a sign displaying "Burrawang". We ride through a tunnel of trees and emerge on a well-groomed English street, the Burrawang Pub sits opposite the English Scottish & Australian Bank of 1882-gives an indication of the history of the area and the original settlers. The warm smell of a fire draws Rod and me to the door of the pub. A long bar and fireplace are at the front room of the pub, while at the back, a fire warms a marque that looks over the beer garden and valley. Definitely. a place to bring my wife and friends back to for lunch or dinner. If stopping for lunch, it's an idea to book if you want a table inside as it can get very busy.

There is nothing like riding in winter and sitting by a fire, having a beer while steam comes out of your mouth during a conversation. It must be cold, one of the patrons commented on our sanity for riding here in this temperature... Rod's reply was simply "Layers"…They just nodded.

Heading back to Sydney via Hill Top, we take a detour to look for some dirt and stumble across the Southern Highlands Shooting Complex – an interesting place to visit if you are a former or current shooter. They cater for rim fire as well as centre fire with distances from 25m to 800m.

The motorcycle has been an important part in changing the world, be it a symbol of rebellion, a symbol of independence, a catalyst for changing your outlook on life or simply a machine some people dream of owning.

With the last leg home, the sun sinks closer to horizon. Near Cawdor, sheep graze in the fields and the shadow of the bike grows longer in the field beside me. I contemplate the days ride. Was it a twist of fate to find a Polish café down a side street or a great country pub by detouring off the highway following a sign pointing to Burrawang? Would disturbing a butterfly sunning itself in Burrawang cause someone in Nebraska to hop on a motorcycle or jump in a car and explore the plains? Will the act of discovering unknown places prompt a move for a better quality of life? Only time will tell.
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Your Comment
Very interesting Bob. My dad rode a trumpy in the outback when he was young.
by May Cross (score: 3|6058) 215 days ago
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