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A Taste from 'Down Under'


DonSydney

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Hi Folks,

 

Just thought I would give you a rundown on a ride from last week here in Australia.....

 

Last week was the Ulysses Club AGM (National Rally) held in Coffs Harbour (northern NSW). For those that dont know of it, the Ulysses Club is a club for 'older' riders.... you have to be 40 to join, and even then you're a Junior member until you turn 50. It has 25,000 members across Australia, and just over 6,000 of them turned up at Coffs for the party. Now, to you people in the US of A who get hundreds of thousands to the likes of Daytona, Sturgis etc, 6,000 probably doesnt sound like much, but over here 6,000 is the largest single gathering of motorcyclists in the year.

 

Apart from the usual partying etc, all of the major manufacturers come out for the week and bring their entire demo fleets with them. All bikes are available for test rides. This year there was BMW, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, HD, Aprillia, Guzzi, Triumph, Ducati, etc etc.

 

Here are some pics of the week.... I had promised myself I was going to take more, but I was having too much fun !

 

This is some of the 4,500 bikes that lined up for a parade through the streets of Coffs Harbour......

 

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This is part of the inside of the main tent that was erected for the dinners...... it seats 4,300, and was FULL !!! The caterers managed to serve 4,300 people in the space of an hour........

 

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This guy rode his 650 Burgman, 2 up, with trailer, 2000km each way.....

 

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A mate of mine is into trikes.... this is one of the first Rocket III conversions done in Australia.....

 

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Here are some more trikes.... one of these will do me when I'm too old to ride on 2 wheels....

 

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Oh yeah........ we had a few drinks too.........

 

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If anyones interested, I'll post a few more pics later...

 

Cheers

 

Don

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Winter ? Winter here means the temp drops to 17C (66F)and you have to put your wets in the panniers......just in case. We ride 12 months of the year grin.gif

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Don,

Looks like everyone is milling around smartly. I'm curious, what do 6000 people do in the middle of a field, or

cant you post those pictures smirk.gif

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Francois_Dumas

Great pictures !!

 

Hmmm... I see quite a lot of the folks down there are 'balance impaired' ?? lmao.giflmao.gif

 

tongue.gif

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Hehehe...... the pics of all the bikes in the middle of the field are the gathering at the end of the 'Grand Parade' through the streets of Coffs Harbour.

 

The number of trikes in attendance (about 100) was brought about by the fact that the Trike Association had their AGM the previous week about 100km up the road, and many of them just went from there straight to the Ulysses AGM.

 

The main purpose of the rally is the AGM... election of office bearers etc, although this only takes 2 hours out of the whole week. The rest of the time is spent test riding bikes, going on rides through the local districts, visiting the many trade stalls set up for the week (112 in total.... everything from Autocom to moulded earplugs to wine wink.gif) or just catching up with friends that you only get to see once a year (or making new ones).

 

To sum it up, I asked a guy on the last day (who I had never met before) if he had had a good time. His reply was... "Where else can you go and have a party with 6000 of your mates ?"

 

Here's a few more pics.........

 

If I was ever going to have a Ducati.... nah, who am I kidding.......

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The new GTR 1400 made an appearance.. but we werent allowed to ride it. It wont be on sale here for another few months.

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Part of 'Test Ride Alley'

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Most people dressed up for the formal dinners.....

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But sometimes we just sat around and talked bikes......(thats me on the right of pic)

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There was a large Police prescence the entire week. Mostly they left us alone......

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I'm sure there was some logic behind this......

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The RT went like a dream, although a leaking oil pressure switch just as I arrived home brought me back to reality...

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For more information on the Ulysses Club... we even have a sister Club in Canada now !

http://www.ulyssesclub.org/default.asp

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Lets_Play_Two

I would really like to see your pics but I am showing broken links on all but the last two pictures.

Anyone else have this?

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Sorry guys..... some dumbass reorganised his Photobucket last night..... and broke all the links. Should be ok now...

 

Don

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IMG_2560.jpg

 

I just found my next mod/project. I spy BMW Z4 side marker lights on that there RT.........That is an awesome idea. Time to start doing some shopping grin.gif

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Sorry guys..... some dumbass reorganised his Photobucket last night..... and broke all the links.

Bwaaahahahahahaaa!!!!

 

As you were shuffling pix around, you didn't notice the little advisory, didja? grin.gif

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Sorry guys..... some dumbass reorganised his Photobucket last night..... and broke all the links.

Bwaaahahahahahaaa!!!!

 

As you were shuffling pix around, you didn't notice the little advisory, didja? grin.gif

 

Of course I saw the little advisory... I just paid no attention to it ! dopeslap.gif

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A little more..... this article appeared in a paper last week...

 

______________________________________________________

New Zealand Herald article on the Coffs Coast AGM entitle 'Easy Chair Riders'.

 

Easy chair riders

 

By Greg Ansley, a relatively new member from Canberra who attended with his wife Suzy at their very first AGM in Coffs Harbour and was blown away.

 

Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

This article appeared in the New Zealand Herald on Saturday 2nd June 2007.

 

The baby boomer bikers have become welcome invaders in towns like Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.

 

It happens as Mayor Keith Rhodes winds up his welcoming speech. The walls of Coffs Harbour's elegant new art gallery shake to the sound of a black cruiser, parting the crowd as it thunders down polished hardwood floors to the speaker's dais.

 

The leather-clad rider steps off, removes her helmet, sits at a Yamaha grand piano - the same make as her motorcycle - and stuns the audience with Debussy's Claire de Lune.

The audience, also leather-vested bikers, stand and listen, sipping chardonnay, shiraz and champagne: hardly the sibilance of rebellion, and for good reason. These are the national organising committee for the annual meeting of the Ulysses Club, the over-40s motorcycle association that has brought over 6000 members and their machines to the booming north coast New South Wales city.

The pianist is local rider and international performer Renate Turrini, who produced a limited edition CD for the occasion, featuring such all-time biker hits as Scriabin's Etude Op 2 No 1, Liszt's Nocturne Op 9 No 2, and Debussy's Jardins sous la Pluie. They sell like hotcakes.

As Turrini's bike quietly cools, gallery director Leigh Summers is unfazed: "But then, you see, I know the motorcyclist."

 

Rhodes, in blue blazer and grey slacks, is like no mayor you have ever seen confronted by one of the world's largest mass biker invasions.

"What can you say except one three-letter word: wow!" he says. "You can't imagine how proud as a city we are to host you here.

"We'd like to see a lot of you move here and stay on a permanent basis."

Come again? What happened to the menace of Hollister, California, and the 1947 biker revelry that inspired Marlon Brando as Boozefighters' outlaw bike gang leader Johnny Stabler in the 1953 shocker The Wild One?

Much the same, really. The infamous Hollister "riot" was largely an invention of Life magazine's sensationalism and the site became home to an annual - overwhelmingly peaceful - July 4 gathering known as the Independence Motorcycle Rally. The Ulysses annual meeting is even more institutionalised as an annual event that cities are increasingly eager to host.

 

These are people who have time and money on their hands, part of a renaissance of motorcycling that has blossomed at both ends of the market: young riders, many more of them women, buying bikes and scooters for commuting, fun and excitement, and over-40s either returning to the fold after a break to raise kids and pay off the mortgage, or finally living the dreams of their youth.

"People here are at a stage of life where they really enjoy motorcycling" says Ducati's Australian general manager, Warren Leigh. "They're empty-nesters, gone through mortgages and children and are looking to enjoy life again."

Adds Mark Fattore, of Triumph Australia: "More people are coming back to motorcycles and staying until they meet their maker."

Stephen Dearnley, one of the founders of Ulysses in 1983, proves the point. Now 83, Dearnley hung up his boots after an accident six months ago, but remains an active member.

Fellow member Don,73, a tall, grey-bearded Ulyssian from Victoria, switched to one of the new breed of large scooters when he could no longer manage his huge Honda Gold Wing.

As he left Melbourne he was knocked down in a tunnel by a car: he dusted himself off, checked the bike was still working, and completed the 1400km ride to Coffs.

 

On the waterfront, Barry Cooper, 67, and partner Carla Hart, 55, are taking a break after a gruelling 4000km, 10-day ride from Bunbury, south of Perth in Western Australia.

Hart rides a Suzuki 1200 Bandit, Cooper a Honda ST 1300.

"When the kids are growing up you barely use your bike," Cooper says. "But once the kids are grown up ... "

It is a phenomenon that has turned statistics on their head. For the first time in three decades, motorcycle sales topped 100,000 in 2005, driven by a booming market for scooters - now including large, fast machines comfortable for ageing hips - affluence in the suburbs and baby boomers.

For the grey riders, the big sellers are cruisers - the big-engined, low-slung beasts sparkling with chrome and extended forks - fast, comfortable tourers, and large adventure bikes.

 

Harley-Davidsons continue to thrive among 35 to 55-year-olds, who grew up on the imagery of the 1960s cult movie Easy Rider and the rebel aura of the big American hogs. Challenging them are Japanese cruisers, a new boom in "retro" British and European models styled after famous 1960s marques but incorporating cutting-edge technology, and luxury tourers such as the big Honda Gold Wing, with lounge-style seats, heaters, multi-stack sound systems and intercom.

 

Trailers are becoming big sellers, and powerful off-roaders like BMW's 1200cc GS range are making big inroads into sales figures.

Manufacturers are thick on the ground at the Ulysses annual meeting, offering test rides that see a constant stream of convoys heading in and out of the showgrounds at the northern end of Coffs' CBD where as many as 4000 Ulyssians are camping.

At the Suzuki stand, the two big 1800cc VZR cruisers are the biggest drawcard.

 

"There has certainly been a big, big resurgence of interest in motorcycling among older riders who are now starting to get back into it after a number of years away," says Suzuki Australia's Gus Schroeder. "Cruisers are certainly the biggest market among older riders."

Britain's resurgent Triumph, a marque rapidly growing after decimation by the Japanese in the 1960s and 1970s, has parallel ranges of very fast, high-performance machines and retro models styled after the Bonnevilles of its heyday.

Triumph's Fattore says the average age of his buyers is 45 years, although decreasing as the model range expands and young riders turn to high performance road machines.

But among the boomers, his big sellers are the 60s-style Speedmaster and America cruisers and the huge, 2300cc, Rocket III.

Ducati also has a new retro range and tourers appealing to Ulyssians, But Leigh says most interest is focusing on the Multistrada, its big adventure tourer.

 

But with the boom in greying bikers come new warnings.

Most gained their licences when there was no two-wheel training at all, and have returned to the road with massive machines, slower reflexes, performance anxiety and a reluctance to admit failings that deters them from riding courses.

"What stops them is pride, ego you know, 'I've been doing it this way for years'," says Warwick Schuberg, head of the Stay Upright rider training company.

"If anyone's watching them or they can't do something they should be able to, they don't want to be shown up."

The statistics make grim reading. An Australian Transport Safety Bureau study says the improvement in motorcycle safety has been lagging behind that of other road users, with fatalities falling by only 6 per cent in the decade to 2001, compared to 18 per cent for the overall road toll.

Worse for born-again baby boomer bikers, fatalities among riders 40 years and over as a proportion of all rider deaths doubled to 27 per cent over the decade, pushed by the over-40s renaissance. Most will die or be injured in crashes on the open highway or rural roads.

Schuberg cites fatigue, deteriorating hearing and sight, slower reflexes - "no one wants to admit that" - and more time on the road, especially with groups that may push riders beyond their capabilities.

"Also frame of mind," he says. "Maybe they're just divorced, having an affair, things like that. Their frame of mind is absolutely stuffed and that's a major, major point. Sometimes it's the sense of freedom, the sense that on the road you've left that all behind."

 

That feeling is what grabs most riders. Kim Kennerson, 54, the Ulysses national president, has been riding since he got his licence on a Honda 175cc 34 years ago. He now has a 1520cc, six-cylinder Honda Valkyrie, an 1800cc Gold Wing and an undiminished passion for the road.

"Only a motorcyclist can describe this, but it's a feeling of freedom," he says. "You know, you're out there and the wind's blowing in your face, you're going down a country road and you can smell the eucalyptus trees - it's just a magical feeling. The bike feels like an extension of your body."

Kennerson's passion is replicated thousands of times over at Coffs.

The Ulysses Club was founded by a meeting of five men 27 years ago, and named after the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson that has the ageing Greek hero straining at the bit.

With "juniors" admitted at 40 and full membership at 50, it now has more than 120 branches across Australia, with others in New Zealand, Britain, Canada, Norway and South Africa.

American greybeards are also interested.

 

At Coffs, organisers have been working on the AGM for more than three years, pulling in local councils, police, emergency services, tourism bodies and the like. The logistics are fearsome, but managed.

Direct economic benefit is estimated conservatively at A$8 million ($9 million), but probably rising to more than A$10 million.

Some people are wary of an invasion of 6000 bikers. Emissaries sent to outlying districts met nervous community and business groups to convince them that this will be good for everyone.

At the hippie haven of Bellingen, initial fears gave way to enthusiasm that saw welcome signs explode around town and a Harley-Davidson appear in the display window of the 107-year-old Commercial Emporium.

About 1000 bikes a day pass through, on their way up the famed and very twisty Waterfall Way highway.

In Coffs, shops display welcome posters and embrace the Ulyssians with enthusiasm.

 

One woman biker, filling her tank at a local station, has her petrol paid for by a local. Thousands line the route of the traditional parade, waving and cheering as an endless convoy winds its way through town.

 

There is no trouble, except for the theft of five Harley-Davidsons, one of which is found burned at a local beach.

Coffs property developer Anthony Cougle is outraged at the stain on his town. He donates a A$26,000 Harley to be raffled between the five victims: it is won by the rider whose bike was torched.

At the showgrounds, food tents, bars operate around the clock, with live music pumping. The vast marquee for formal dinners seats more than 4000 around a dance floor packed with thumping, jumping and twisting limbs defying the accepted norms of post-50s endurance.

Huge clusters of balloons soar to the top of the marquee, carrying icons and mascots with them: one is a kiwi. A New Zealand group is there, somewhere: a Kiwi Elvis impersonator brought the house down at one of the early live sessions.

 

As the night pumps on, condensation starts falling from the canvas roof like light rain.

Outside, more than 150 traders, sell everything from clothing, tattoos and massages to accessories to massive machines available for test rides. The growl of powerful motorcycle engines a constant background.

And Coffs loves it. Says local Scott Phemister: "Awesome. It's the best thing that's happened to Coffs Harbour."

Adds Julianne Ward: "Fabulous. Its been great for the community."

 

Eat your heart out Easy Rider.

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What I think is great is how the bike makers manage to make the right-hand drive bikes look just like the left-hand ones! grin.gif

 

Oh, and "we had a few drinks?" Noooooo! Can't imagine!! lmao.gif

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What I think is great is how the bike makers manage to make the right-hand drive bikes look just like the left-hand ones!

lmao.gif

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The pianist is local rider and international performer Renate Turrini, who produced a limited edition CD for the occasion, featuring such all-time biker hits as Scriabin's Etude Op 2 No 1, Liszt's Nocturne Op 9 No 2, an d Debussy's Jardins sous la Pluie.

That's awesome! That would go great with my 1970 Coq du Rod Laver I've been saving up, or a nice Cuivre Reserve Château Bottled Nuit San Wogga Wogga! grin.gif

 

Are you sure they let cruiser riders in though? It sounds more like a Beemer-Fest! Oh yeah, it's Down Under--I forgot--back in my hole! dopeslap.giflmao.gif

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The pianist is local rider and international performer Renate Turrini, who produced a limited edition CD for the occasion, featuring such all-time biker hits as Scriabin's Etude Op 2 No 1, Liszt's Nocturne Op 9 No 2, an d Debussy's Jardins sous la Pluie.

That's awesome! That would go great with my 1970 Coq du Rod Laver I've been saving up, or a nice Cuivre Reserve Château Bottled Nuit San Wogga Wogga! grin.gif

 

Are you sure they let cruiser riders in though? It sounds more like a Beemer-Fest! Oh yeah, it's Down Under--I forgot--back in my hole! dopeslap.giflmao.gif

 

Yes, back in your hole...... at least until you learn how to spell WAGGA WAGGA ! wink.gif

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Yes, back in your hole...... at least until you learn how to spell WAGGA WAGGA ! wink.gif
Sorry, Bruce! dopeslap.gif

 

I have to admit that was a cut/paste error, since I stole that quote off the internet somewhere and didn't properly proof it. grin.gif

 

But I do have an interesting (and somewhat related to the article) experience to relate while we're on the subject of "culture". Last weekend I hosted a "Mini" Tech Daze at the house (I call them that so no one gets their hopes up! wink.gif ), but unfortunately it coincided with the weekend of Leslie's performance of Handels "Messiah!" and she missed most of the "fun" due to rehearsals. We had Tom "azkaisr" over the night before as well as a newer member and his wife "bobanddianne" and Leslie had to pick up a "hired gun" trumpet player from San Jose at the airport. We all had dinner together Friday night before they had to go to rehearsal and the topic came up of "Oh, you're not here for the motorcycle wrenching?" "No, I'm a trumpet player. I'm just here for the concert on Sunday."

 

Well in typical BMWST.com style, it turns out that Bob is also "a trumpet player", held numerous degrees and was principal trumpet for years with big named symphonies back east! eek.gif

 

Needless to say, the conversation took a hard tangent and the two talked animatedly for a bit about the repertoire, musical styles/genres, various teachers they had studied with, differences in modern and various period instruments . . . . I was not totally unversed in the context as my older sister was also a professional trumpet player for a time and I grew up listening to scales and going to her concerts--but every once in awhile I have to admit I felt like the guys at the Fire House do when I start using multi-syllabic words. Tom eventually turns to me with a grin and makes a comment about how this was a totally different evening than he expected! grin.gif

 

I should also mention that she was perfectly charming, and had a lilting Aussie accent prompting the inevitable friendly: "So, where're you from originally? Besides, San Jose, I mean." grin.gif

 

Turns out she was from Perth and met her current husband in the States. I tried to resist, but I admit that I did drag out my home-made ABS digeridoo (sp? grin.gif ) to show off--which elicited a kind, yet somewhat patronizing response. "No, I don't know how to play it." dopeslap.gif

 

But when it came time to offer wine to our guests, I could find almost nothing but Australian wine in the cooler! She opted for a blush "White Shiraz" but now I'm kicking myself for really missing my chance to hand it to her and tell her it was "Perth Pink!" lmao.gif

 

. . . but as my luck was going, I'm sure she had also never heard of Monty Python, either! dopeslap.giflmao.gif

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[quote . . . but as my luck was going, I'm sure she had also never heard of Monty Python, either! dopeslap.giflmao.gif

 

So as it turns out, you're not the Messiah ! You're just a very naughty boy ! lmao.gif

 

btw..... who da **** is Bruce ??? cool.gif

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Yeah, the whole one-shoe thing was a terrible mis-understanding . . . or was it a sandal! confused.gifgrin.gif

 

btw..... who da **** is Bruce ??? cool.gif

Ooooh, don't MAKE me post it! You KNOW I'll post it! Ahhhhhhhhhrrrrrgh!! The restraint . . . !! dopeslap.gif

 

( . . . and besides, I think I've already used up my June quota for posting Monty Python skits and I've got to wait until July for my next allotment. crazy.giflmao.gif )

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Turns out she was from Perth and...

Ummm, her name wasn't Jane, was it?? hmm.gif

Actually, I think she is more commonly referred to as Incontinentia......... grin.gif
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