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A few words from Peter “The Bear” Thoeming, #675 and Editor Emeritus of Australian MOTORCYCLIST Magazine.

Have you heard this one? In the Northern Territory, a local and a visitor are discussing their hobbies. The local says, “In my spare time, I hunt salties with a club.” – “Isn’t that dangerous?” says the visitor. “Not really,” says the other bloke. “There’s twenty of us in the club and we all have big guns.”

Clubs can make a hell of a difference. In the case of the Ulysses Club, both Australia’s motorcycling community and the industry have benefited enormously. So, come to think of it, has the tourist industry.

Caption: A pair of News Bears. I’m the one with the sunnies.

Before the Ulysses Club became established, it was not common but also not unknown for riders to be turned away from pubs or campgrounds, even if they were tidily dressed and of, er, mature age. The club changed that, and often now you’ll find that the publican or campground owner is actually a member. Not long after I joined, I was pulled up by the Highway Patrol. “I see you’re a Ulyssian,” said the cop. “I am too. You take it easy, all right?” Instead of booking me, he let me go – on the strength of the badge.

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A woman rider I met on my way to the Narrandera AGM told me that her family had been in her hair for years about her motorcycling, calling her a “silly old bugger”. “Now,” she said to me, smiling broadly, “I can tell them – there’s thousands of us silly old buggers out there!”

The club has made life a lot easier for nearly all motorcyclists, not just members, and often acts as a counterweight to the Bad Bikies, whom the papers and TV love so much. Have you ever noticed that the assets of the bad blokes almost always include “a Harley-Davidson motorcycle” or two? It was a bit of a relief to see that the son of a woman who had been ripping off the social services in Sydney apparently bought a Moto Guzzi with his mother’s spoils!

Sad to say, the Ulysses Club is not always a positive influence. There are members who let the supposed power provided by the size of the club go to their heads. Unfortunately, I have heard of several incidents where Ulyssians have expected even more special treatment than we seem to get automatically anyway. They’ve made themselves pests, and have done significant damage to the club.

Stop it, you silly old buggers. Remember that we’re all ambassadors for riders old and young, and for the club. And just think how wonderful it is that you can do a good deed just by going for a ride!

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