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Is Ulysses Club still relevant?

ulysses club

Ulysses Club members are being harassed by Queensland Police for wearing “old man” patches that some police mistake for outlaw colours.
The Ulysses Club was one of several “recreational rider” groups invited to a meeting last month with Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and Police Minister Jack Dempsey. They have all been invited back for another meeting on December 3.
Ostensibly the meetings are designed to allay the fears of these groups that they would be harassed under the self-professed “world’s toughest anti-bikie laws” or so-called VLAD Act.
During the first meeting the Commissioner suggested the groups register their rides so police could leave them alone.
It is not disputed that none of the motorcycle group representatives objected during the meeting.
However, some have claimed since that it is a ludicrous situation where people riding a perfectly legal bike in a perfectly legal social ride should be obliged to register with the police and provide an enormous amount of private information.
I tried to get in touch with several Ulysses Club members and officials by phone and email to find out what their reaction was to the register and whether they had any advice for their members. The only response I got was a curt email from national purchasing officer Rob White.
“It has come to my attention that you have posted stories on your website, displaying our Club’s ‘Old Man’ logo,” the email says.
“This logo is a registered Australian trademark and according to Club records you have not been granted permission to use it. Kindly remove all examples of our logo from your website immediately.”
I “kindly” removed the logo.
That was the first part of the email, so clearly that was regarded as the most important message the club wanted to convey to me.
Business out of the way, the email then tackles what I believed the more serious issue at hand.
“Regarding the Outlaw Bikie Legislation issue; we are somewhat perplexed by the requests we have received for comment from our Club. We are a social club for people with an interest in motorcycling. This means that through age or disability, many of our members no longer even ride a motorcycle. The Club’s constitution and ethos dictates that we still recognise such people though, so the organisation works hard to ensure everyone’s enjoyment as we approach our twilight years.
“It denigrates our Club and its members when the incorrect assumption is made that we are somehow relevant to this new legislation. About the only impact it would have on us would be if we are pulled over for a licence/registration/decibel check, which is no different to how things have always been.”
“Incorrect assumption”? 
I have read and received several examples of Ulysses Club members who have been harassed and even asked to “kindly remove” their beloved “Old Man” patch under the new anti-bikie crackdown.
Paul KellyHow about Paul Kelly (left) who was pulled over five times on his trip from Capalaba to Boondall, the last two times just 3km apart?
Is that not “relevant to this new legislation”?
Allegedly the first police officer told him to get rid of his Ulysses vest, or they would target him.
Is the Ulysses Club still “perplexed by the requests” for comment? How do they feel about members being asked to remove their beloved “Old Man” patch?
I can understand their concerns about members pretending to look like “outlaws” after they were confronted by the Rebels Motorcycle Club at the 2005 Ulysses rally in Canberra for wearing “rockers”. The Ulysses Club has since banned the wearing of rockers.
Similarly, Ulysses Club officials corrected me for referring to one of their branches as a “chapter” which is a term more commonly used by HOG and bikie clubs.
The Ulysses email ends with: “If you are seeking further official comment from the Club I suggest you contact either our National President or National Secretary.”
I have and await a reply. I was a member of the club for 10 years. It is a massive organisation with many devoted members and it provides them with discounts, social events and a feeling of camaraderie. But is it still relevant to active riders?
While I hate to quote Wikipedia, it’s relevant to have a look at their plotted history of the Ulysses Club:
“The Ulysses Club was formed for motorcyclists aged 40 years and older at the instigation of Stephen Dearnley in Sydney, Australia in December 1983 in reply to a letter in the now defunct Bike Australia magazine, the editor being Peter ‘The Bear’ Thoeming. The name Ulysses Club was the idea of Rob Hall, while the club’s motto of ‘Grow Old Disgracefully’ was devised by his then-girlfriend Pat Lynch. Peter ‘The Bear’ Thoeming sketched the ‘old man’ logo that is still used by the club in its original hand-sketched form. The inaugural meeting of the club was held in Sydney on December 6, 1983, when the five people present approved a draft constitution and the Ulysses Club was duly formed. From this meeting a draft constitution was adopted, and the three basic principles or purposes of the club were formulated. These principles are:
* To provide ways in which older motorcyclists can get together for companionship and mutual support;
* To show by example that motor cycling can be an enjoyable and practical activity for riders of all ages;
* To draw the attention of public and private institutions to the needs and views of older riders.”
Note that last principle. To remain relevant to active riders, the Ulysses Club needs to use its vast numnbers to “draw the attention of public and private institutions to the needs and views of olders riders”.

  1. This reinforces everything I have experienced with this bunch of wannabes. Cashed-up boomers masquerading as faux 1% ers before returning to their alter egos of mild-mannered accountants (apologies to non riding accountants). Their self-interested concern is only whether their ‘brand’ is besmirched. This motley mob have so many rules, no wonder they meekly fall into line and stand by silently and impotently while fellow riders are harassed. They are a complete irrelevancy and should be excluded from any formal meetings with the Newman regime.
    Uselesses, indeed.

    1. “bunch of wannabes”. “masquerading as faux 1% ers”.

      I totally agree, Paul, the photograph of Paul Kelly above certainly reinforces that observation.

  2. The Ulysses Club has proven, once again, it is not worthy of wearing a back patch any longer. The attitude displayed in the reply to your email is disgraceful and they need to make a decision to be with us. If they are not with us, they are against us. End of story.

    1. What makes one “Worthy of wearing a back patch” ? Who makes that rule? “If they are not with us, they are against us”. Who are you referring to as “US”?

  3. Like many organisations , the current people have actually forgotten why it was formed in the 1st place. It’s become more like a marketing brand than an organisation that serves maotorcyclists. Thanks for posting this as you have just convinced me never to join. I will stick with HOG.

  4. Interesting article Mark. Your attempt to discredit the relevance of the Ulysses Club (UC) so the views of other groups seem more relevant is transparent and complete nonsense. Riders in the UC are far more likely to be representative of the riding community as a whole than those who choose to be a part of, or associate with, OMCs.
    Attempting to denigrate a group of riders so as to make another group look better is pathetically poor journalism. Which rider group will be next on your hit list to denigrate until you have statistics to support your paradigm?
    No – I am not an UC member.

    1. I am not trying to “denigrate” the Ulysses Club of which I was a member for 10 years. But their silence on this issue doesn’t conform with one of their own three key founding principles.

      1. I am certainly interested to know why you bailed out of Ulysses after 10 years Mark. A bit of an axe to grind perhaps?

  5. Are we really surprised that the pictured Motorcyclist Paul Kelly was pulled over? A classic 1% impersonator, wannabee. Ulysses has always attracted a small percentage of dress up attention seeking clowns, he got the attention he was seeking and now he wants to whine about it. Dress like a Duck, Walk Like a Duck, ride a Duck motorcycle and then cry during hunting season, give me a break!

      1. So you want Police not to pull over a Motorcyclist who looks like a 1% Criminal Club Member, when they are instructed to target 1% Criminal Club Members? How are they to know ?

    1. 1% impersonator ? If you don’t have 3 rockers and a 1% badge then you are not trying to impersonate something you are not , as far as referring to Harleys as duck bikes , well , there are plenty of dayglo rice rockets getting pulled over also . Since when was is democratic to declare hunting season on people who have committed no crime but simply wear a vest with a few patches on it ? James , go back and bury your head in the sand .

  6. Hey Jude, ‘take a sad song and make it better!’ In your case an attack on Mark, for reporting his experience with Uselysses. Shoot the messenger. Not too bright. The Uselysses, have contradicted their raison d’être as by the statement reproduced in this article, is contrary to their existence. This is a political issue which requires a political solution and it’s time for rider apathy to dissipate and for all bikers to unite and mobilise politically. No time for complacency or meek compliance.

  7. @PaulK So on the one hand you make disparaging remarks about a legitimate rider group by calling them Uselysses (sic) but then turn around and expect riders to unite in the face of this name-calling and abuse? Not too bright.
    The UC has, in fact, already taken the opportunity to speak on the issue, in line with their stated objective “To draw the attention of public and private institutions to the needs and views of older riders”, by sending a representative to attend a meeting with the Minister and QPS along with other ride groups. The stance taken by the UC may not be what the OMC fanbois are hoping for but is their right to express the views of their members how they see fit.

  8. I am a Victorian Ulysses member and I along with a majority of my local group and many Victorian groups are riding to Melbourne for The Freedom Ride on Ist Dec. to support you QLDS in protest, After listening to your crap I might inform my mates and stay home and have a BBQ. You are doing just what your dick head government want starting rifts amongst the riding fraternity. Not all Ulyssians are apathetic. You are a fool Mark.

    1. Kent, very few Queensland Motorcyclists are concerned about these laws, in reality it is not affecting the vast majority of your average motorcyclist, if you are a member of a Criminal Motorcycle Gang you are targeted, if you look like one you will be inconvenienced. If you happen to be stopped for a licence check (something that has been happening in all states for many years) being polite and cooperative is always your best option (as it has always been) I ride everyday haven’t been stopped for years, nothing has changed. Protest rides? Save your fuel, a waste of time providing succour to the Criminal Gangs, if the laws are unconstitutional I am sure the High Priced Lawyers who are so offended on our behalf will sort it out in the High Court (and charge $600 an hour to do so), the Criminal Gangs have boasted publicly that they have millions of dollars to fight these laws, so let them go for it.

      1. 2 Things worry me James , firstly , these gangs have been decreed as criminal organisations by regulation , not in a court or by a royal commission etc , secondly , riders in Qld are being pulled over ( inconvenienced , as you say ) as part of a criminal investigation , which means that the normal scenario does not apply , rather , searches , personal questions , photos etc etc & the cops don’t have to give their name or anything , just state that there is reasonable suspicion . I am not a sympathiser for the 1% clubs , some ( but NOT all ) have no one to blame but themselves , but the bypassing of the normal due process is a concern for anyone with half a brain .

  9. Touched a nerve Kent? To many of us non- Ulysses members, you and your fellow members look ridiculous. Portraying an outlaw image but in my experience being a bunch of ultra conservatives. I have attended a couple of your rides and meetings and I have to say that Ulysses didn’t present as particularly pro- active in regards to riders’ rights. It’s not a question of fighting amongst ourselves, this is commentary on the hypocrisy and priorities of your club. I have no time for criminal gangs no matter what they ride or drive, but I would like to think that given your advanced years, you could be more mature in your response to criticism.

  10. Regardless of who you ride with , people seem to be losing the point here. Qld Govt “say” they are targeting organised crime ie Outlaw Motorcycle Groups (OMG). However the legislation (of what I had read) doesn’t really mention motorcycles per se it only alludes to motorcycles. Most organised crime doesn’t get about on a motorcycle. So with this very broadly written legislation it can be interpreted as to however they would like to enforce it. Being a m/cycle rider from NSW, my concern is if you are willing to accept it, it will stay. My second concern is that if this law becomes so established in one state it will follow onto the other states and territorys. As has been pointed out, we pay high registrations for the privilige of riding on the road, so why should it be necessary for a group to register (again) to do so. And as for having to register a tattoo, this is ludicrous. I will be traveling to Cairns in 2014 and will definitely NOT be registering a ride itinerary. United we stand – divided we fall.

    1. The only groups who the voluntary registration applies to is large groups of recreational riders, like a large toy run etc. Individual riders were never envisaged to be a part of the voluntary ride registration process. The media is trying to blow this situation out of proportion for their own ends (as usual). United we stand? Really, united with who the 1% Criminal Clubs? No thanks.

  11. Paul K,yes you did touch a nerve as all the other comments I do not dress like an outlaw biker and have no time for them, although I do were a leather jacket,no badges or patches not even the old man logo. I haven’t met many in this organisation that think they are 1%s or even pretend ones. Yes some are ultra conservative. Don’t call us ridiculous based on the few you have met, there are over 30,000 of us.Most of the above comments were negative about the Ulysses club as a generalization, there are many really great people in this club. Your right Mark the Ulysses Club doesn’t get involved as an organization in political matters which does frustrate many, but as individuals we do. As for my advanced years I can respond in any way I like to ridiculous comments….James I take your advice you are probably right ,I have spoken to pollies in the past and been in many protests and YEP nothing changed.

  12. Point taken Kent. Not sure if I agree about protests not making a difference. Remember Vietnam, Solidarity, Civil Rights in the US? Problem being if Bruce and Joan Public aren’t on board, we will just be portrayed as an annoying minority as their lives (they think) won’t be affected by these laws. The bottom line is we are doing nothing illegal and the Government is happy to take our rego fees. As Robyn correctly stated, nowhere in the legislation is there any mention of OMG’s or motorcycles. This is the worst kind of repressive authoritarianism found previously in dictatorships and is the thin end of the wedge.

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.

    — C. S. Lewis

  13. A lot of feeling out there.
    It just shows that bikers come from all works of society and everyone’s interpretation is individual.
    Maybe this is why we have never united before.
    Maybe we finally have something that will unite motorcyclists and let us take our rightful place in society
    The thing that unites us is the motorcycle. And it’s showing us that we like it so much that previously politically lethargic nobodies are prepared to risk everything to save it.
    Can motorcycling be a religion?
    What’s not to like?

  14. Paul K it’s strange but I do agree with your last response, I was involved in the Moritorium marches ,the Spring bok demonstrations July 4th etc.and I could go on ,I have quoted the C S Lewis quote myself. I am doing the ride for two purposes the first to support the QLDs and also to put our Vic pollies on notice.

  15. Thought it rather obtuse of the guy you e-mailed to request you remove the logo from your website….how petty!…..kind of smacks of the very same small mindedness we are currently protesting with the Qld Government & Politzia.
    Give Mark a break Ulysses and spare him the same courtesy,respect and undying support he has given all bikers in this state.

  16. Mark, you can use a trademarked logo for editorial purposes in reporting the news without infringing copyright. Tell em to go piss up a rope.
    As far as riding round on a Harley wearing a vest and backpatch: Play outlaw games, win outlaw prizes.

  17. Hopper says it in a nutshell ‘Play outlaw games, win outlaw prizes’. For years now Ulysses members have attempted to ‘outlaw up’ by stealth, gradually applying rockers to their patches. The 1% clubs pull them into line, the Ulysses executive issue yet another ‘don’t do it’ edict and the disgruntled skulk off to form their own little club. I think these stories of people being pulled over multiple times (especially if they are sports bike riders) are a bit Walter Mitty. The coppers may not be the most intelligent people around, but they all know the difference between the outlaws and social riders – even if those social riders are wearing a vest with faux outlaw patches. If you get pulled over then it’s likely you’ve come to their attention because you were doing something wrong. I do not ride a Harley, but I do wear similar gear to outlaw clubs and I have yet to be pulled over and checked. And I feel it’s because the coppers know I am not an outlaw (I am a known associate though). Social riders who claim to have been pulled over continuously are just big noting themselves.

  18. Was a member for over 10 years too. Woke up to the fact that they had diverged from the original constitution into a business entity that cared only for Brand Ulysses. A large number have resigned because of this and naturally the refuse to accept reality. No… No longer relevant at all.

    1. Stephen Dearnley et al who founded the Ulysses Club would truly not recognise the debacle it has become. please do not get me wrong, I have many many friends both in Australia and worldwide who have been and in some cases still are Members of this once highly respected Club, now it all about personalities at the top and ordering the “minions” about their daily business. Such a shame. Personally I find it shamefulthat they throw their hat in the ring as “representatives” of 22,000Australian Members and yet they have not tried to discuss this issue correctly.

  19. Showing your age there Kent! I was at school when the Boks came to Queensland and they used our school oval for practise sessions. I was also here during the SEQEB demos and Vietnam. But I have to say that Nooman has surpassed Joh in his trashing of common law and civil liberties. We need to fight this with every fibre of our being as we are not just bikers, we are Queenslanders. As a side note, it is interesting that I have yet to come across one person who admits to voting for this martinet. Funny that!

  20. My god, what a load of arguing. I wear a jacket for protection and the elements, and I choose to not have anything on it. Some people even put patches of the places they have been, but I choose not to. My choice. But I won’t let someone to tell me what I can wear or make me register to go for a ride. The reason I took up riding is for the feeling of freedom. Freedom is what this is about, not what you wear.

  21. The strategic methods of divide and conquer will only benefit those we are opposed to. It is an old technique (Napoleon favoured the method) and will only work if we start picking off subgroups as not worthy. This type of behaviour will give a small ‘buzz’ to the people standing on the shoulders of the Ulysses members as they try to gain favour with the opposition, but not do much else except alienate people on the front line.

  22. Like a lot of other people I am not renewing my Ulysses membership because the club has long since stopped representing the needs of older riders and has instead become a vehicle for the advancement of some individuals’ egos and not much more.
    It is no longer a fun social group of older riders and certainly has no interest in protecting the rights of older riders. The brand has become all important at the expense of being a fun club to be a member of.
    A friend of ours (also a soon to be non-member) recently started a riding group not associated with Ulysses and has been threatened with all sorts of action to close the group down by both the local branches and the National Committee. Once again brand protection and ego are seen as more important than encouraging older riders.

  23. Your question…’.is the Ulysses Club still relevant’ is a good question! I fear that ‘God’ ‘Ole number 1’ would be turning in his grave. Bless Him. I have been a member since 1995 and loved this club. Being a woman who rode since the age of 16 in a country town and gave it up while her babies grew up. …I was seen as a misfit. In 1995 I resat my license and rejoined the motorcycle world. I joined the Adelaide club and found kindred spirits. I subsequently went to AGM’s and travelled many roads on my bike with the club. However over recent years I have had many ‘issues’ with the egos of people in the ‘hierarchy’. It is no longer the simple ‘social Club for older people to enjoy riding’ but has now become a club of ‘who’s ego is bigger’. For the first time in many years I will NOT renew my membership when it comes due soon. I just want to enjoy my bike and the people I meet along the way. …not put up with the crap that comes with the ego and the ‘ my dick is bigger than yours’ attitude that is at the heart of most of the ‘ top’ people in that club now. Sorry Stephen…..the club has imploded. RIP..Dear man!!

  24. Can’t remember exactly when I joined the Ulysses Club – but it was over 20 years ago and my membership number was under 6,000. I went to a meeting, liked the attitude, the camaraderie, and especially the three basic principles of their constitution – so I joined.
    I then enjoyed my membership and involvement for many years. As the club begin to change, I became less and less involved with the running of the branch I belonged to because I personally had no interest in petty politics or hidden agendas, however, I did still enjoy the group rides, camp-overs and AGMs.
    Now, though I still find great enjoyment in riding my bike, I did not renew my membership when it last came due. I find that the reason I joined – The attitude and camaraderie on rides and at the monthly meetings has changed, and for me become less appealing. Most importantly, the current constitution, although still paying lip service, does little toward achieving those three basic principles upon which the Ulysses Club was founded.
    I will continue to ride and wherever I can find like-minded people to ride with. I will enjoy their company and if possible, ride with them. In my own small way I will also endeavor to preach, by example those three basic principles. R.I.P. Stephen Dearnley and those first four like minded souls.

  25. Ulysses Paul Kelly Photo Observations
    1. The Australian Flag should never have another flag above be it even Aboriginal.
    2. The “Fuck You Patch” top LHS categorizes the wearer immediately
    3. The “Stupid Should Hurt” patch categorizes the wearer immediately
    4. The “Smile if your Horny” patch categorizes the wearer immediately
    5. The German Iron Cross chain categorizes the wearer immediately
    6. The Teenage eye brow Ring LMFAO indicates I.Q. Under 100
    7. The Bandanna, Long Beard and Harley Davidson combined together are all hallmarks of Outlaw Bikie
    8. Last but not least the Ulysses patch added to match the rest of the patches… lol
    >>>Just about says it all.
    Why on earth would you want to be in the Ulysses Club if this is the standard format of dress code.

    1. To the above, yes the wearing of the vest and the attempt to look like a ‘bikie’ without being a ‘bikie’ to me is humourous. This is not the standard format of dress for the club, but I guess some people like to imitate, just like non members of clubs like to imitate the rough, free, ‘bikie’ look, Even if it is poorly done, and shows disrespect.

      I personally object to the VLAD laws in place and do actively promote that it is relevant to all motorcyclists to fight against them. The size of the Ulysses Club also means that like society – the’re members who agree and members who disagree. We as individuals still have the right to fight for our beliefs.

      The biggest challenge with the club is that we are damned if we do, damned if we don’t. The club is actively involved in lots of stuff from getting Green Slips that are fairer for all motorcyclists and cheaper insurance to stopping other ridiculous laws being past like mandatory wearing of Hi-Vis clothing. The next biggest challenge is each branch of the club has a different culture so some will be very proactive while other branches will not see the impact so greatly effects them. We don’t all agree with NATCOM and I am sure that some die hard members would say that Stephen himself would not agree.

      Finally while I personally have nothing against 1% groups and don’t buy into the whole OMG crap that is sprouted on the news and politicians, I am not a 1%er and align myself with the Ulysses Club because my personal view is that members of Ulysses are not for the majority trying to be a 1% motorcycle club.

  26. once the coppers get used to who is who, there will be no further ” harrassment

  27. I was in the Ulyses club many years ago.
    Most of what they spouted in the reply mail was tripe and hot air.
    Supposedly give support to older riders.
    Mainly they care that fees are paid on time.

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