First, I wish to thank the outgoing committee members for the wonderful contributions they have made to continuing success of the Melbourne Branch of the Ulysses Club. None of the events we enjoy could occur without the efforts of the members who have volunteered over the years and actively participated in organising the wide variety of events many of us may take for granted. The events really are too numerous to mention here but include things such as AGM, High Country Odyssey, VSK Day, President’s BBQ ride and the annual Christmas function plus communication platforms such as the Spare Tyre and the webpage.
Thank you Hank Tigges (president for past 2 years), Jacinta Thomas (secretary for past 2 years and also treasurer for 3 years back at the turn of the century), Raymond Herd (Webmaster for an extensive period with only a short break in between), David and Mary Apps who were very active in the organisation of the High Country Odyssey at Mansfield, Calvin de Piazza who was involved in organising the VSK Day and Michael Stamos who had kept the rally & event pages up to date on our webpage.
Members of the new committee are Perry Stephens (secretary), Margaret Taylor (treasurer), Greg Rees (quartermaster) plus Lee Brookman, Holly Crowle, Andrew Kennedy, Gary Mutimer and John Taylor who were elected as general committee members. In addition Kate Clarke has taken on the role of website administrator and is in the process of transferring the site to a new host and designing a whole new webpage which amongst other things will make the loading of photos much easier. Alf Dennemoser has volunteered to take on the role of Spare Tyre editor to relieve Deb Jasper who kindly took on that role last year (as if 3 years as branch president was not enough of a contribution) but has now been inundated with an even busier work schedule.
I have retained the role of ride coordinator for this year. Whilst I am willing to serve the branch for several more years on the committee (if you will have me) I do want to see the positions of ride coordinator and president separated again next year.
It has certainly been eventful since the Branch AGM on the 7th February. Holly celebrated her election by leading her first branch ride to Redesdale on 14th February. Former branch president Ron Blomley hosted a weekend at Swanpool on the 20th – 21st February which was very well received and attended. Former ride coordinator Bob Harris then hosted a ride over the Labour Day weekend to Tallangatta and the Sunday was a relatively quiet and restful day after the weather interfered with his plans. The hailstorms of Saturday did not affect the ride group. New committee member (but regular ride leader anyway) Andrew Kennedy then led a ride to Seymour via Pyalong on the 14th March for those of us who could not make it to Albany for the national AGM. The weather was simply perfect for riding and enjoyed by 22 riders.
We also received the fantastic news that Perry Stephens was awarded the Dearnley medal in recognition of his many contributions to the Ulysses Club. Congratulations Perry.
I believe that one of the primary strengths of the Melbourne branch is the fact that we hold regular and very interesting rides from a variety of starting points and which are open to all Ulysses members irrespective of branch affiliation. In the past I had heard criticisms that we rode “too fast” but apart from the need to speak to the odd person on occasions for inappropriate (i.e. unsafe) overtaking practices I believe that the speed of rides is not an issue. Rides are generally led at the speed limit and participants are regularly reminded that there is no need to try to keep up or ride at a speed that the individual person is uncomfortable with. Tail riders will always remain behind and arriving 5 minutes after the ride leader is never an issue.
We can only continue to provide this interesting variety of rides if members who regularly participate in rides, volunteer to actually lead a ride from time to time. I am now looking for some volunteers to lead some rides over the winter months so that we can keep the calendar full and ensure the continued strength of the Melbourne Branch. I know that some cold and wet days may occur July through September but we also get some beautiful sunny days which can actually be perfect for riding. As this cannot be predicted months in advance I feel we need to schedule a ride every week and accept that on occasions if we get really bad weather, very few participants will attend and that would not be a reflection on the ride leader.
I will be leading the Ice Run on the 22nd to 23rd May. This ride started way back in 1998 and was instigated by Ivan Leishman (who now lives near Mt Beauty) and I believe our outgoing secretary Jacinta participated in the first Ice Run. It has run every year since and last year there were over 40 participants. Please do not be put off by the name “Ice Run”. The plan is actually to cross Mt Hotham before the snow season starts. The Saturday ride is 500+ kilometres and I allow for about 7 hours riding plus 2 hours of rest before arriving at Howmans Gap (near Falls Creek) where we have dormitory style accommodation with a 3 course dinner and full cooked breakfast included in the price of $64.00. It is a great event and night for “couples” and the ride up the Omeo Highway beside the Tambo River and over Mt Hotham really is worth the effort. The return trip also has some great roads. Having said all that, the ride is not for the inexperienced or easily fatigued. A lapse in concentration at the end of a long day could obviously be very dangerous particularly on winding roads. If you do intend to come please contact me as soon as possible so that I can give advance numbers to ensure the caterers can prepare properly.
The next committee meeting will address the organisation of the VSK Day and also the Mansfield Odyssey. Discussion occurred at the branch AGM over the respective merits of the Arlberg v the golf club as to the best venue for the odyssey dinner. I would particularly appreciate any comments or feedback from members who have attended the Mansfield weekends regarding the alternative venues so that the committee can make an appropriate decision regarding this year’s venue.
Having “banged” on about rides more than enough, I would also remind members and prospective members of our regular social events. We meet at the Tower Hotel in Hawthorn on the 3rd Friday of each month and at present are experimenting at Highway 31, licensed café at 743 Sydney Rd, Brunswick on the first Friday of each month. We also meet each Saturday morning at the Tall Ship café at 197 Bay St, Port Melbourne for breakfast / coffee.