The Ulysses Club Manning Valley

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The Ulysses Club Manning Valley is a social club for motorcycle enthusiasts over the age of 40 years … and they are the largest organisation of this kind in Australia. We got the inside story about the club, its origins and local activities from current President, Mike Holmes.

Can you give our readers a bit of background about the Ulysses Club?

Ulysses started in the early ’80s, when six men sitting in a pub came up with the idea to start a social club for over 50s riders. Of those six men, only one is still with us, Bill Vann, and he is a proud member of the Manning Valley Branch. One of these gentlemen drew up the “Old Man” image, and together they came up with the “Growing Old Disgracefully” logo. We still wear both, but I must say, there isn’t anything disgraceful about the men and women who ride with Ulysses. Some time ago the minimum joining age was dropped to 40 years young. 

You’re the President of the Manning Valley branch, so can you share with our readers how you first became involved and what led to you becoming President?

After 32 years off a motor bike, I met a riding member of Ulysses when I started as a volunteer driver with Community Transport at Forster. Also working here, I met one of the members of “Southern Cross Cruisers”, and we immediately became friends. To this day, the Cruisers have always been our right arm when it comes to charity rides. 

I started with Ulysses at the beginning of 2015, and in early 2017 I felt I could help our branch by standing for President. I have been blessed to have a wonderful committee to work with and feel we have made some valuable changes where needed, but also valuing the hard work of past members when considering our future directions.

What different bikes have you owned over the years, what bike do you own now, and what do you love particularly about motorcycles?

When I was a teenager, I owned a 1945 Indian Chief 1200 for a short while. It was found in a hole in the ground on a farm covered with corrugated iron, along with a 1945 WLA. It went through a few hands before it got to me, and by then it had some chrome bits, but still didn’t have a fan belt for the generator. I charged the battery and took it for a ride on the road, but after about 2 km it stopped … it took a long time to push it back home.

I needed a registered bike to get to work, so I swapped it for a Yamaha 650 Chopper. I ended up with a Honda 750 four and eventually a Kawasaki Z1R 2, which I sold for a deposit on a house.

In 2015 I took a bike for a test ride and within 100 metres, I remembered what I loved about riding bikes. “That” feeling had returned, and I had to get one. I bought a Vulcan 900, 2010 model with only 4,000 km on it. I figured this should do me for a couple of years, and the members told me to aim for a Honda Goldwing – best touring bike in the world. At the end of March, we were at the Wodonga Ulysses National AGM, where I was able to buy Black Knight, which I still ride now.

The Ulysses Club Manning Valley actively supports charities – can you tell me which charities they are, and how much you’ve raised/what support you’ve given in the past?

After consultation with the members, we recently chose Taree Women’s Refuge as recipient for our “Dice Run” and “Bikes through the Bar” Charity Rides. We feel strongly about supporting this charity; as soon as it was mentioned at our Social Meeting, the vote was unanimous to support them. At the end of the year we have our Manning Valley Salvo’s Toy Run to support the Hannam Vale Salvation Army.

I would like to mention the Southern Cross Cruisers, as this group is not only full of mates, but is always ready to help at all our charity days, both with man power when needed and financially. We have raised in excess of $6,000 this past year for the charities. We also make ourselves available where needed to put smiles on faces at aged care facilities, children/adults with special needs, and recently provided an escort for a funeral for a Taree resident’s son who passed away.

What activities does the club have planned this year so far?

By the time this story goes to print, several members will be heading south to Mornington Peninsula for the Ulysses AGM. On April 7 we have our “Dice Run”, raising money for Taree Women’s Refuge, followed on 12th, 13th and 14th April by our three day Branch Ride. On 8th September we have our Memorial Day for all bikers to attend to remember and celebrate the lives of those we have lost. This is followed by “Bikes through the Bar” on 14th September. On Sunday 1st December we have Manning Valley Salvo’s Toy Run.

How do people go about joining the club, and what’s involved?  

Any licensed rider over 40 can join Ulysses online, or ring Ray on 0418 963 171 for details. All the details about our meeting dates (regular weekly rides and coffee mornings) are shown on our website:

Thanks Mike.

Interview: Ingrid Bayer.

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