En­gines still run­ning strong

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News -

Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group launches the new monthly fea­ture Your Gen­er­a­tion in to­day's edi­tion. The sec­tion will cater to read­ers in the prime of their life and cover a range of top­ics from health and re­la­tion­ships to travel and style. Read be­low as writer Sara Fitz­patrick delves into the grip­ping world of mo­tor­cy­cling and learns you are never too old to revel in the rush. See page 23 for more.

A GROUP of 40-plus-year-olds is hit­ting the open road in a mis­sion to prove that age is no bar­rier when it comes to rel­ish­ing the thrill of mo­tor­cy­cling.

“We’re get­ting out there and show­ing the world that we still have what it takes to en­joy the ex­cite­ment that awaits ev­ery skilled and would-be rider,” Bill Wester­huis from Ulysses Club Perth said.

The club orig­i­nally launched in Syd­ney in 1983 and has about 80,000 mem­bers across Aus­tralia.

The Perth branch, which opened in 1988, has about 100 mem­bers, both male and fe­male from trades­peo­ple to doc­tors, with the old­est in his 70s.

Aptly, the or­gan­i­sa­tion takes its name from the Al­fred, Lord Ten­nyson poem, Ulysses.

“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,” Bill ex­plained.

“It de­scribes very well the sort of per­son who still has enough spark to go rid­ing into mid­dle and later years.”

Bill is a proud owner of three 1200cc mo­tor­cy­cles and started rid­ing at 15, en­cour­aged by his fa­ther’s love for the pas­time.

“Over the past 38 years I have owned sev­eral mo­tor­bikes, rang­ing from 500cc to 1300cc,” he said.

“I got into it be­cause it was cheap trans­port at the time. Mo­tor­cy­cling grows on you.

“I have four sons, each of whom rides a mo­tor­cy­cle. Last year they rode with me to Phillip Is­land (Vic­to­ria) and back to watch the Mo­toGP rac­ing.”

He said the thrill of mo­tor­cy­cling was hard to de­fine – one re­ally needed to take a ride to un­der­stand.

“Some say it is a sense of free­dom, oth­ers feel ‘at one’ with a piece of highly en­gi­neered ma­chin­ery and oth­ers like the scenery as it passes them by,” the ad­ven­tur­ist said.

“Yet oth­ers again like the raw power avail­able at their fin­ger­tips.”

Wester­huis be­lieves mo­tor­cy­clists of­ten get a bad rap.

“There is a lack of un­der­stand­ing and re­spect from a mi­nor­ity sec­tion of the car-driv­ing public,” he said.

“Mo­tor­cy­clists are like any other sec­tion of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. Most are well ad­justed, obey road rules and don’t go over­board in traf­fic.

“There are the odd ones who make id­iots of them­selves and this tends to give mo­tor­cy­clists a bad name.”

Wester­huis joined the club in 2005, en­joy­ing a so­cial out­let that jour­neyed of­froad to in­clude cof­fee catch-ups and out­ings to restau­rants and bowl­ing al­leys.

Mem­ber­ship is open to any man or woman aged 40-plus with a cur­rent mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense.

Visit www.ulysses-wa.org for de­tails.

From left: John Mor­ri­son, David Gresser and Kurt Mueller, John Glid­don, Bill Wester­huis and Dean El­lis, all from the Ulysses Club Perth, a mo­tor­cy­cle group for the over 40s

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