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How a passion for dirt roads started

Mark Taylor passion

Readers are invited to tell us about their passion for motorbikes, their collection or their custom project. Today reader Mark Taylor tells us how his two-wheel passion started:

Mark Taylor passion1969 seems a long time ago, but the magic of a late autumn day in that year is still so very clear in my mind.

Australia was a different place then with half the population we have now, a lot less traffic on the roads and lots of Japanese motorcycles appearing on the streets.

And this soon-to-be 16-year-old just loved those Japanese bikes. And boy did I want to ride one!

My mate Wayne who lived around the corner had just turned 17 and bought himself a Honda CL90. Man what a machine.

Upturned exhaust (it was a scrambler) all blue in colour with lots of chrome and an exhaust note I just couldn’t get enough of!

The very next day Wayne and I and another guy took this little beauty to Kalinga Park so I could teach myself to ride. Try doing that today on the oval and see how far you get.

I will never forget that first experience piloting a motorcycle. The noise, the feel of the grips and suspension.

A few months later I had a ride around East Brisbane piloting a rocket ship Suzuki Hustler two-stroke 250. No licence, no helmet and no brains! But I survived the experience and my love affair with two wheels was well and truly born. 

Now the “other guy” at the park on that day was a first year medical student who suddenly saw the potential of exploring the roads less travelled in the bush by motorbike.

Soon after a false start on a Suzuki Honcho 80, he had a Yamaha DT2 and our time together exploring the great south east had begun.

Mark on his DT100A at Laceys Ck in 1975 passion
Mark on his DT100A at Laceys Ck in 1975

We particularly loved the area between Fernvale and Mt Glorious. It was illegal to ride there then so for us that was good because we had the area to ourselves.

Of course now it is all National Park, so no doubt it you were caught there now they would crush your bike with you on it perhaps!

But what a magic place it was. Pools with platypus in them and all sorts of wild life. Used to have hot coffee from my Hunter stove by the “platypus pool” as we called it and a sandwich from home too!

We also used to explore around Mt Coot-tha which was mostly bush in 1972. Often we would do this late at night after a party.Mark Taylor in 1973 passion

One night we had an interesting experience with a police officer. He asked us if trail riding at 2 in the morning was a bit unusual. My friend answered that it must be as we hadn’t passed another rider all night. He told us both to go home and didn’t ask to see our licence which was just as well as I hadn’t bothered to get one at that stage.

I was in the last year of my apprenticeship as an auto electrician when I decided to buy a trail bike of my own.  We both went through a few bikes. I had a Yamaha DT100, TY250, DT250C, Suzuki RV125, Yamaha XT250G etc right up until my early 30s on an XL250 Honda, the first with a Pro Link rear end. We did get out and about a lot until sadly my friend’s health failed and he had to give up his by-then new XR200 and his medical practice.

Mark Taylor's 1982 XL250R passion
Mark’s 1982 XL250R

In the early days we would trailer the bikes to Dayboro and head off from there. I was now sales and marketing manager of an instrument company and all of my company cars had to have tow bars which was great for the bike trailer! We never really thought about riding from home on those smaller 250cc bikes.

I said goodbye to motorcycles in my early 30s, as I had to sell mine to help buy a house after a divorce and sadly my friend died in his late 30s so I had no riding mates.

In my 50s, I got back into it again after meeting some good mates online. I started getting out into the country again and it brought back all of those great feelings from my youth. 

I’m now working as a commercial photographer and my current bike is a Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere which was a 60th birthday present from my lovely wife.

Mark with his Super Tenere and his riding companion passion
Mark with his Super Tenere and his riding companion

Funny how some guys say that they would love a bike like mine but their wives won’t let them buy one. They nearly fall over when I tell them that my wife bought mine for me.

I really enjoy the big Yamaha as it just eats up the miles but I also use it to ride to photo assignments in the city. My standard kit camera bag just fits into one of the panniers and I can park cheaply at King George Square Car Park.

Back when I rode with my mate he always made us see what was around the next corner before we headed for home. It made for a lot of long days!

In light of that, I love the roads less travelled. Trips have taken me to Birdsville, Winton and a lot of time around the South Burnett and northern NSW.

And I always need to see what is around the next corner.Mark Taylor Birdsville passion

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