More Eldridge Memories

. Culture
www.adbmag.com/html/pages/culture/eldridge.html
Published on: 7/10/2004   Last Visited: 7/10/2004

Geoff Eldridge had many friends, many of which were - and still are - as passionate about dirt bikes as the man whose adventurous spirit and enthusiasm drove him to found ADB magazine and inspire generations of enthusiasts. Here, some of Geoff's best mates recount a memory of the man, in a bid to paint a picture of a bloke whose life and tragic death left an indelible legacy on the Australasian dirt bike industry.

The man responsible for the birth of ADB magazine was a character who, by all accounts, was larger than life. Geoff Eldridge had a zest for life and when he went about something, he did it with all his heart. He was adventurous, enterprising, ingenious and energetic. He was also stubborn, opinionated, outspoken and provocative. But, no matter which side of this enigmatic character you choose to focus on, he was always interesting and always passionate about what he did. Fun, friends and drama followed his every adventure through life, and his tragic death in the Nevada Desert Race eight years ago was a huge loss.
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3.) The old publishing house ad rep who could only say "dirt BIKE", no matter how many times Geoff shouted "DIRT bike! DIRT bike!" at him. 4.) Geoff refusing to run cigarette ads years before it was politically correct. He also slagged cigarette companies off in ADB, costing the publishing house a fortune after ads were pulled across all their other titles, too. 5.) Great writing. The joy of discovering that other magazines had writers who were even less betterer at English than me. The headline "HONDA MAKES ITS PRESENTS FELT" was a Trail and Track classic. 6.) Great photography. Geoff was pretty handy with a camera but his work never achieved anything like the critical acclaim bestowed on Colin, the ADB junior who tried out the new studio equipment by taking photos of his naked girlfriend. 7.) V8s. Geoff only ever had V8s. Every time we went to a race in the LTD, we'd end up looking for a jump start. It had so many courtesy lights you only had to leave the doors open for five minutes to flatten the battery. 8.) The Thunderbird. Everyone who drove it struggled to keep it in a straight line ... except Geoff. He'd just straddle the white line and let �er wander. 9.) Geoff's attitude. He once drove all night to an enduro in Queensland (12 hours at the helm of the T-Bird), decided he didn't feel like riding, and drove home.
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Every time Geoff looked out the office window he was reminded of this trend by all the windsurfers on Narrabeen Lake. 14.) Geoff's dog, Rex. He hated loud noise so much that he'd claw and chew his way right through the door of the office to get away from it. 15.) The ADB fridge. All Geoff ever had in it was cabanossi and beer. He also reckoned anyone who exercised was a wanker. 16.) Geoff's tolerance. Geoff could be as short-fused as hell, but he kept a few useless bastards on long after he should have fired them ... including me, now that I think about it. 17.) Test bikes.
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Geoff would have loved it.
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For years, when I was out riding with Geoff, I would carry a trash bag to wear on the way home if it was cold. It became a bit of a joke to deride me for having a "daggy" trash bag on. I hope he was watching when I arrived at his classy funeral with a trash bag over my suit. I walked into the hall, straight up to his casket and nailed my Silver Army Aviator Wings on it. I had two tours of Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. I kept only a few items from that period in my life - the wings were one of them. Geoff had always pestered me about �Nam. For years he had probed at bits, he had read a few books, seen all the movies. The whole thing fascinated him. About a year before Geoff was killed, I gave him a book called "Hunter-Killer". After reading it, he made some comments about the intensity of the war. I then mentioned something about flying Scouts, and Geoff stopped me: "You never told me you flew Scouts," he said.
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Geoff wasn't just a good friend - he was the first, and only, person to ever try to understand the story behind those wings. It seemed right he should have them.
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If ADB is 25 years old, then it was 1975 or a couple of years prior to that when I first became aware of Geoff Eldridge when in a race report he nicknamed me the "Hunchback of Amaroo Park". After that, he became my self appointed unofficial promotions manager. He always said, "Don't worry about anyone else or winning a race, you're getting all the attention by your big jumps and wheelies." There used to be a race meeting where there was a competition for the longest wheelstand or highest jump. The prize was a dozen bottles of champagne for each category. I used to win both. Geoff always assisted in saving half my liver by helping me to drink half the prize. These liver saving sessions always evolved into a discussion on how we could provide some radical shots for the magazine. Geoff would refer to me as the "Stunt Pilot". Some of the ideas, although radical, sounded good after a couple of bottles. Geoff was always there to snap the moment whether it succeeded or not. His confidence and enthusiasm always generated a belief that anything is possible. Geoff was very serious about not taking things too seriously, although he was not a person to suffer fools. His goal with ADB right from its infancy was to provide a high quality magazine. This was from the quality of paper it was printed on to the editorial content and photographs included. Just before his death, I made a comeback to motocross in the Thumper Nats series. I lined up against blokes like Geoff, Chris Cater and Laurie Alderton.
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I was filled in bigtime by Geoff - the self proclaimed media baron - in my first run back. I wish he had hung around long enough for me to get up to speed and bang bars with him. As with anyone's passing, you are left with a feeling of loss, but comfort in knowing he had it nailed to the end.
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My relationship first started with Geoff via Barry Taylor in Alice who asked GE to come and ride the "Radio Alice 12-Hour" at Mt Ebenezer.
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My first recollections of Geoff are of when I brought him to town for the Finke Desert Race. I got really concerned because I'd brought him as a journo and yet he never took a note about anything. "I never take notes, " he'd tell me. "I compete, have a good time, and then a week later, sit down in front of my keyboard to write something. If nothing happens, I'll just do a race report type article. But if the event did something to me, then I'll damn near write a novel on the thing," he explained. GE ended up doing lots of 10 to 12 page articles on desert races like the Finke, so I suspect that it did "do something" for him all those years. Geoff was highly respected around Alice and people would treat him with star status. But the thing was, GE thought he was the privileged one to keep being invited back. He became part of everyone's family in Alice as desert racing touches the whole community here. His passing was tragic and his life touched everyone in some way.
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Twenty five years of ADB - what would Geoff think of that? Funnily enough, I don't know. Being one of his riding buddies, we would usually ride to the "rock on top of the world" and solve the world's problems. We usually solved war, famine, poverty and such. We would discuss ADB's 200th issue, but 25 years never came up - maybe he knew something we didn't. The "rock" was at our favourite riding spot that he kept a closely-guarded secret from all except his closest mates. It was 10 minutes from ADB's "office by the sea" and even today, a little piece of Geoff is still there. Geoff had another rock, located in the centre of his house. On this rock, he kept his beloved XR500 - zero kilometres and the first model to boot. With a few Coopers under our belts, Geoff loved to prove that the Honda would start by hand. It was one of his best party tricks. Geoff's taste in bikes and cars was weird! Many times he and Vicki turned up at our place at all hours of the night to show me what he had just bought. He would arrive with old DT250s, PE400s, YZ125s and various other buckets of bolts, because he used to have one or wanted one when he was young. His answer was always: "Because I can!". GE arrived one night with the '73 Thunderbird, which he claimed once belonged to a pimp - yeah, right! But one night after the Supercross, we went for a cruise through Kings Cross on our way home. A few of the working girls recognised the T-Bird and Geoff couldn't get out of town fast enough! I try not to dwell on the loss to the world by Geoff's passing. I remember best the enthusiasm, innovation and excitement he brought us, and the way he enriched the lives of all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him. Geoff was proud of ADB and would be tickled by it making the 25 year milestone. Happy birthday A
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