Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Growing old disgracefully.

Photo coutesy of the BMW R90S Site

I was getting my mail from the post-office today when I spotted a lovely 1970's BMW-R-90-S, similar to the one pictured above but in brown and white instead of orange. It as we say downunder "stood out like dog's balls" in the car park. Absolutely gorgeous, I love exotic preserved machinery and this was indeed a rare sighting. I prefer Ducati's but still appreciate a bit of German two wheeled engineering.

Looking at the mailboxes I saw the owner, a greying auto-electrician who lives just around the corner sporting his waxed moustache, dirty white overalls and a bike helmet. I took a quick look at the machine and noticed the Ulysses club number plate. "Aha", I thought, "Another one."

Probably the best way to describe the Ulysses club is a group of older people who go on rides after getting tired of being treated as "mobile chicanes" by younger riders. (I read that in a founder's interview in the Sydney Morning Herald a few years back) Strength in numbers!.

They were formed in 1983 and have adopted the motto "Grow old disgracefully". In a few days I'll be able to join as a "junior" member at age 40, full members aren't accepted until age 50. The local auto-elctrican would fit that bill easily.

Their club page has a better synopsis.

About The Club

How it all began

The Ulysses Club for older motorcyclists, the largest organization of it's kind in Australia, is now a familiar part of this country's riding scene. The original suggestion for a club for over 50's motorcyclists was put forward in a letter by Stephen Dearnley published in the August 1983 issue of Bike Australia. This drew two significant responses: one from Rob Hall, a reader at Albion Park NSW, who suggested the present name and motto for the club: the other from Peter Thoeming, then the editor of Bike Australia who sketched the logo and offered support from his magazine if Stephen could get the club off the ground. This was done at an inaugural meeting in Sydney on 6th December, 1983 when the five people present approved a basic constitution and the Ulysses Club was duly formed.

From that tenuous beginning it has never looked back and the club now boasts a large and extensive network of members throughout Australia.

Why Ulysses

The name comes from a poem of the same title by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It tells how the great Greek hero Ulysses, now middle-aged and securely in charge of his kingdom of Ithaca, is getting bored with things around him and longs to go adventuring again with his shipmates of old. It describes very well indeed the sort of person who still has enough spark to go on riding into middle and later years. Too long to quote here, you will find it in any good poetry anthology such as the Albatross Book of Verse.

You often spot their bikes parked in a row outside pubs located on winding twisty roads on weekends. Kangaroo Valley, The Putty Road and Bells Line of Road seem popular. Lot's of interesting twisty bits, long sweepers to accelerate through and some straights for some flat-chat fun. A good pub with cold beer and fine staeak also seems to be a must! And bikes of all sorts are featured, usually Japanese tourers and sometimes older pieces of exotica as the one above. BSA's, Nortons, Harleys of all ilks, Ducatis and Moto Guzzis.

Some of the bikes I would say have been dusted off after years of dis-use in the shed, others are bikes one wanted to have when they were younger and now they can buy them.

Never know, soon I might one day go and buy a Ducati Pantah (my dream bike) one day and join them they seem like a likeable bunch of blokes.


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