Just a guess, but I’d reckon we’d have a few Ulysses Club members amongst our regular readers. Actually, I know we do! The clubs vary quite a lot in their level of activity, and, well, other aspects too I suppose. Where I live there actually isn’t a local branch, although nearby branches do have some contact with the region. I’ve become somewhat acquainted with a couple of branches in other areas though. One is the Redcliffe branch. to the north of Brisbane. One of our readers, Lindsay, is the editor of the club’s newsletter, and publishes one of my articles from this web-site in the newsletter each month. So I get to read about what’s going on in that area.
The other one is the Port Stephens branch, just north of Newcastle. Another regular reader, my mate Steve (who has related the stories of his trips around Australia and Tasmania and Borneo on the site here), is a member of that branch. The branch have weekly rides each Thursday, and Steve writes a regular report of these rides on the club web-site. You can read his reports (and others) at the appropriate section of their web-site. Click here to go straight to the section. (I’m writing this in late 2009, so if you’re reading this in a later year and want to catch up, presumably you’d just have to replace the “2009” bit in the link with the appropriate year).
I should explain a couple of things at this point. Firstly, Steve goes under the nick-name of “Rolf”; so that’s the name you’ll see at the bottom of these reports. He gained this nick-name in his much younger years when he had a big crop of curly black hair, and thick-rimmed black spectacles. This resulted in a remarkable resemblance to Rolf Harris; he of wobble-board and tying kangaroos down fame. Steve perpetuates this nick-name by having “Rolf” painted on the front of his bike.
The other thing I should explain is that he has a great sense of humour. And he enjoys taking the pi… err, I mean having a light-hearted dig, at other people. So his reports of the club’s rides are heavily laced with what might seem to be derogatory remarks about other bikes and other members. However, in the spirit of good fun and friendship for which the club is known, not only do the other members accept this bagging-out in good humour, they actually enjoy it!
I’ve selected a couple of typical examples to reproduce here. Now, of course I don’t know the other members, and neither I assume, will you. So the “in-jokes”  about these people might miss the mark with us, although you only have to read a couple of the reports to start getting some sort of acquaintance with these people and begin to appreciate the barbs being sent in their direction. Anyway, enough preamble, here are a couple of reports. The first one tells of a vist to the Empire Hotel in Kurri Kurri. Take it away Steve … err, Rolf!

Swine Flu quarantine over? Check. Sunny Day? Check. Favourable conditions saw a large group of Fossils meet at Paul's Corner this week. Jack Johnstone arrived with Eve, took one look at the assembled miscreants, (look it up in your Funk and Wagnell, but don't bother contacting me to complain). Errrr, now where was I? Ah yes, Jack. Having cast a discerning eye over this week’s ride participants he decided he couldn't expose Eve to this lot for a whole day and disappeared in the opposite direction. He had been informed that we were going to Cooranbong for morning tea and remarked that there is no interesting way to get there from Paul's Corner. Oh Yeah?? Surely we've all ridden with JB often enough to know that there's always an interesting way to go anywhere.
The other bit of good news was that Brian Crookes was there (no that's not the good news) and he had actually remembered his teeth, so we didn't have to ring The Empire Hotel at Kurri and get them to puree his lunch. Bonus. This was looking like a great day already.
All set to leave and JB is on the phone. Turns out, having noted the absence of Jet Lag Jill, he phoned to find out why she hadn't yet joined us. Still in flamin' bed, that's why! Good Grief. 9.30am and still in bed.
We then travelled by a very interesting and circuitous route (eat your heart out Jack) before arriving at The 'Bong where the Cafe has now been taken over by the Son in law and daughter of some friends of mine. Yes surprise, surprise, I do have some friends. Well only 2 actually. Trevor obviously misses his big Suzuki 'cos he promptly stole my Suzuki Cap.
We were finishing our morning tea and almost ready to depart when Jet Lag finally arrived. In a vain attempt to garner some sympathy from the Fossils she firstly complained that her Bavarian Money Waster was misbehaving and then that she was exhausted due to a lack of sleep caused by severe toothache and recent dental surgery. Poor thing. Her description of the surgery almost caused my morning tea to reappear so let's move on. And that's exactly what we did but in two entirely different directions. How unusual! I had a few of them worried when I said we were going to Kurri via The Watagans. Surely your Big Budgie could handle a bit of dirt Brian?
Most of the group headed off with JB but 3 of us were a bit tardy leaving and Richard, our tail-end-Charlie, foolishly asked me which way I thought they had gone. Naturally I selected the wrong direction. Well? I'm not a bleedin' compass am I?
Our next mistake was to promote Pat to Ride Leader of our mini group where upon she led us on Pat's Magical Mystery Tour. Due more to good luck than good management (sorry Pat) we eventually arrived at Kurri and before the main group even. Only beat them by about 30 seconds though.
We ordered our lunch and then JB noticed Michael was missing. Poor Michael, kindly soul that he is, had waited for me and the other missing 2, at a corner and the miserable beggars rode off and left him to his own devices. You know who your real friends are now Michael. He had travelled quite an extra distance to get to Kurri and achieved some quite respectable speeds as well from what he said.
Disturbing stories arose after lunch and in particular one concerning a naked Ulyssian frightening the life out of a 2 year old suspected motorcycle thief. Really JB, do you think that poor little Asian kid could have escaped with your bike? His parents were so traumatised they wouldn't leave their room till JB had departed. So much for improving race relations. Paranoid Triumph owners! I then discovered that Jet Lag is not quite as young as I thought. Turns out she had mis-spent her youth with many of the dodgy and undesirable characters I had frittered my time away with when my hair was still black, back when Dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Michael and I then rode back toward Newcastle with Jet Lag to ensure her not so trusty Beemer made it to Sportcycles for a medical check-up.
Another well organised(?) ride with a great bunch of Ulyssians. I must be easily pleased.


The next one sees the intrepid group heading off for lunch at the Hunter River Hotel in Maitland. Over to you again, Rolf.

11 Old Fossils and 2 pillions (well actually 10 Old Fossils, 2 pillions and me) met at Paul's Corner having decided to risk the threat of afternoon showers and storms for the Thursday Ride. My daughter occasionally reads my reports and wonders out loud why these Ulyssians still allow me to ride with them in view of the hard time I give them. I must bring her to Paul's Corner so she can see for herself what a hard time they give me! The engine hardly stops and I don't even get my helmet off and they've already started bagging me unmercifully! Nothing changed this morning.
Today there was another tow truck at the Servo but I can't be sure he was waiting to follow us. (A previous ride had seen a tow-truck present, and Rolf made some comments about it being there to follow the “Hardly Rideables” in case they broke down. Elwyn).
Brian Crooks was there this week. I presume he forgot it was Thursday last week and failed to turn up. More proof of memories becoming less reliable with age. Someone must have reminded him last night. We'll have to organise a roster of people to ring and remind him each Wednesday evening.
Brian Mac also joined us so obviously Jackie was tired of him getting under foot at home and sent him out on The Yamaha.
So, "where to?” you might well ask. Booral for morning tea and East Maitland for lunch. That's where.
The trip to Booral included the eternal road-works before Bulahdelah. There was the new section open this week (14 kms at 110 kph) but, as they were doing the landscaping we were accompanied by our favourite springtime smell. Dynamic bleedin' lifter! As if it isn't bad enough crawling along for the later section at 60kph!
Things improved when we turned off the highway and headed for Booral. Some people complained about the bumpy road. What bumpy road? It was fine on the DR. Things got a bit hectic around Girvan though. A large group of cyclists loomed in front and the council workmen were filling pot holes. We don't mind 'em filling the pot holes but the loose gravel they spread everywhere made life a bit, errrrr, interesting.
I had been through Booral yesterday morning, on my way to Barrington Tops, and managed to run over a live snake about a metre long. Understandably he wasn't too happy about this treatment so I was hoping he wouldn't be waiting by the roadside to exact his revenge. Fortunately there were no sightings.
I got there first, for once, (Rolf is renowned for sticking exactly to the speed-limit, so being regarded as “slow” by others. Elwyn) and had a bit of look around Booral (took about a minute) then finally saw the rest arriving at the Cafe. The food and coffee were great and the lovely ladies did a good job of serving us all. Some of our members were rather taken by the young English Teacher who was helping out. She was a very friendly and happy young lass, not to mention rather pretty, and I don't think she would have been refused a pillion seat on a couple of the bikes.
Some discussion took place about Trev being Neutralised or Naturalised but I have my own theory. Perhaps he's going to be Neutered. I did hear Sue has recently acquired a pair of blunt fibro cutters. Anyway, it's only my theory.
I have bought a new horn for the DR. The original one sounds like a lovesick mouse with laryngitis and can't be heard above about 60kph. Hopefully the new one will be an improvement. The Child Bride keeps saying it's not the only defective horn around our place but I can't figure out what she's talking about. The car's horn is fine.
I decided to take the opportunity to visit the Family Plot at Clarencetown so detached myself from the group and took the short detour to the Cemetery to spend a few quiet minutes with the family members who rest there. I then returned to the main road and rode towards East Maitland. No real dramas finding my way there except for being harassed by a bikie at Woodville. Can someone tell me why they think it's a good idea to overtake on the left. Forget about it being illegal it's just plain dangerous.
I survived this encounter and eventually located the pub where the group were having lunch. I almost missed it but I didn't miss the cheer that emanated from the veranda as I approached. But I couldn't find Michael, Young Al or Trev.
The Pom and Scotsman were once again socialising by themselves in the Dining Room and it transpired that Trev had become lost when he waited at a corner for some tail enders who never materialised. Not knowing where they were having lunch, he had no option but to return home by himself.
The Hunter River Hotel had an excellent menu including a choice of 10 lunchtime specials, each available for $9.90. Difficult choice but we all managed. Eventually Michael and Young Al were shamed into joining us on the veranda and a most enjoyable time was had by all.
As we finished our meals we noticed something we hadn't seen for a long time. Threatening clouds. It was unanimously decided we should scarper immediately to ensure the best chance of beating the rain. I managed to get home only minutes before it rained and hopefully everyone else did too.
Young Al and I even stopped for a Soft Serve Cone at Thornton Maccas before going our separate ways. Hang on! Soft Serve? Soft? Ah, maybe I've figured out what The Child Bride is talking about.
I'll leave our Ride Leader/Photographer JB to do dodgy and undesirable things in that Digital Darkroom of his and attach some pictorial evidence of today’s escapades.

Stay safe and I'll see you all next week,

Thanks to Steve (and the Port Stephens club) for allowing me to use these reports on the site. As I’ve said to Steve, it all seems like so much fun I wish I lived there and could go along myself! Now that’d give him even more fodder for a bit of friendly bagging-out!
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