Riding 'in the blood' of close-knit bikers

19:19, Jul 18 2012
The Knitters
READY TO RUMBLE: ‘‘Old school’’ motorcycle ‘‘gang’’ The Knitters, of the Ulysses Club, get ready for their regular Wednesday ride.

You're never too old to get your leg over. At least that's the motto for Christchurch's oldest and greyest motorcycle "gang" - The Knitters.

The group of mainly retired men hits the highway every Wednesday and they say they will continue to burn rubber "until we can't get our legs over any more".

Club organiser Bob Tanner, who called himself "ancient", said The Knitters were "just a harmless bunch of old buggers who love to ride".

Ulysses Club
PATCH: Ulysses Club.

"We do lose a few on the road. They forget where we are going and forget how to get home," one member laughed before the gang hit the road yesterday.

Some are balding, one is a great-granddad, two are women and others have been riding for more than half a century, but they have one thing in common - riding is in their blood.

The gang is a branch of the Ulysses Club of New Zealand, a social group of motorcycle enthusiasts aged 40-plus that was founded on the theme "grow old disgracefully".


More than 200 bikers have joined the Canterbury club, which usually rides together on a Sunday, but those "retired folk lucky enough not to have to work" pull out the leathers every Wednesday to ride up to 200 kilometres to South Island destinations.

Members would like to be as intimidating and threatening as other bikie gangs, but "none of us have the energy for the pillage thing", Tanner joked.

The 69-year-old hoped to be riding for another 20 years.

Tanner, who got his licence in 1962, said the "old school gang" continued to ride together because it was a "nostalgia thing".

Member David Davies, 73, started riding when he was 14 and said it was "in my blood".

He recalled "riding to pick up the bird" as a teenager in North Wales and said he would not give up his passion until "my leg won't get over the seat".

Another member, 74-year-old Bill Thompson, said he bought his first motorbike home in a wheelbarrow at the age of 12.

He recently had to exchange his motorcycle for an "upmarket, customised 650cc scooter" because "as you get older your legs get shorter and when I was on the big bikes I was looking for the bloody earth when I stopped".

Thompson continued to ride with the group for the "comradeship".

The Press