Engines still running strong
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