There's something irresistible about a motorcycle club for middle-aged bikies whose motto is ''Grow Old Disgracefully''.

So do people who join the Tauranga Ulysses Club misbehave and enjoy the rebel image of motorcyclists?

Listening to the club's secretary/treasurer Marius (Swanie) Swanepoel talk about the club, you would have to say there is a little bit of truth in the motto.

''We are not innocents or fuddy-duddies that ride slowly.''


But on the other hand members were disciplined riders, most had taken part in advanced motorcycle riding courses and several had first aid qualifications.

''We don't want to be seen as hooligans,'' he said.

They had plenty of fun in their frequent rides, rallies and get-togethers, but when it came to the motto, perhaps the closest members came to that was when someone took off on their own for a ''blat'' on Sunday rides to a lunch destination.

Swanepoel said the club was for riders aged 40 and over who enjoyed each other's company and liked raising money for good causes.

The Tauranga club with its 120 members was one of four Ulysses clubs in the Bay of Plenty. It formed about 40 years ago, with members who were too old to ride still able to get together with active bikies at the Tauranga Citizens Club on the third Tuesday of every month.

Fundraising for the Trustpower Rescue Helicopter and St John Ambulance was a core part of Ulysses. The famous 25km toy and Easter egg run from Papamoa Plaza to the hospital and rescue helicopter base attracted hundreds of riders who always dug deep to enjoy the privilege of participating.

''It is a huge day.''

And the money raised from transporting marshals during the cycling leg of triathlons went into the kitty to help the two charities. Each rider got $100 and there could be 10 bikes needed for big races.


Ulysses also took residents of Tauranga old age homes on a trip down memory lane twice a year. Members showed off their immaculate bikes and took adventurous oldies for a spin around the block.

Their bikes and trikes usually started at 650cc and were any make and model, with most favouring 1000cc to 1200cc machines.

And if you have ever wondered why the jackets of long-serving Ulysses members were laden with badges, the reason was that clubs and the national body issued badges for all major events and rallies. Fundraising was an important spin-off of the badges.

Swanepoel said about half the club's membership was active, with a nucleus of 35 that rode all the time. Of these, 10 to 15 were women.

He said it was a very social club, with some joining just to socialise - they might not own a bike any more but had a common interest in motorcycling.

Each club ran one weekend rally a year, with the Tauranga rally attracting a lot of out-of-town riders.

''They are light-hearted and entertaining. It is a weekend away chatting and talking nonsense.''

Asked whether Tauranga Ulysses had suffered any tragedies on its club rides, he said there were none that he was aware of, just the occasional spill.