Townsville Restored Motorcycle Club

Date 02.9.2015

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Townsville Restored Motorcycle Club

The Townsville Restored Motorcycle Club was established in 1977 by a small group of enthusiasts. Many of the original members have held positions on the committee over the years, giving the club great stability.

Membership stands at 96 and the monthly meetings, held at the Basque Club in Aitkenvale on the first Wednesday of the month, average 50 of the faithful.

The club has a few rules that work to ensure members are genuinely interested in old bikes. This includes attendance at three club meetings before the committee either accepts or rejects a membership application. It sounds a little severe but nobody who has met the first requirement has ever been rejected as a member.

Events are ‘members only’ as this avoids the risk of strangers coming along and behaving in a manner that may damage the club’s reputation. If a member wants to bring a friend on a ride, they need to ask a committee member. Like the application system, this regulation has served the club well and the TRMC has a very good reputation in the local community.

The club calendar is worked out for the year by the committee and it includes a variety of rides that range from the short to the epic. The longest club ride of the year is the trek to the Laidley Swap Meet (formally Gatton) with about 24 members riding to the event last year – a round trip of about 3000km. Club member John Weber has completed this ride several times on his BSA Gold Star.

Members also attend rallies that aren’t on the club calendar, including the Ariel rally, the Vincent owners’ rally and the SR500 Club rally at Bethanga. A large number also toured Tassie in 2013.

The bikes were trailered to Melbourne or went across Bass Strait on the back of a ute. This year, some members attended the Broadford Bike Bonanza. Long distances are part and parcel of living in North Queensland. This may explain the popularity of airhead BMWs as club bikes. There are some very well restored /5 and earlier BMs in the club.

SHOW AND GO

The members love to ride their bikes with very few being carted about in trailers just for display purposes. Club displays are well-organised, with all the necessary shade shelters and barriers set up showing the bikes in the best possible way. Each bike on display has a plaque that gives a brief description including country of origin, year of manufacture, horsepower and so on.

The club gets requests from different groups to put on static displays at fetes and heritage days and these are well supported by members. One of the benefits of these displays is the members of the public who offer information about the whereabouts of old bikes or parts that they have in the back of the shed. On one occasion, a member scored a container-load of Honda Four parts for free, many of which were new. I’m waiting for a similar stroke of luck with Bultaco parts, although I expect it could be a very long wait.

Each month there are at least two organised rides and between 20 and 30 members participate. Points are awarded for those who ride club eligible bikes to these events and an annual trophy is awarded based on participation in rides and other club events including meetings. Club photographer Arthur Gleeson gets a group photo at most of these events and has built up a good collection detailing the club’s activities.

Awards are also handed out in various categories such as ‘restorer of the year’. To win this award is a great honour and the restoration work performed by members is outstanding. Some members specialise in one make, like Ariel or Triumph, but Japanese classics are becoming increasingly popular as the membership evolves.

The combined knowledge of the membership is incredible and no motorcycle-related problem seems insurmountable.

FLYING THE FLAG

One of the activities recently taken up by some members is to act as flag marshals at the local road races. Members go through a training course organised by Motorcycling Australia and participate regularly at race meetings. A few of the club members also race bikes in the historic classes.

A bonus for the flaggies is the opportunity to do a few parade laps on some race days.

A highlight from last year was the Tablelands Tour. This involved using Atherton as a base for the week and then going to different destinations each day. This area is well known for its great riding roads like the Gillies Highway, Kuranda and Rex Ranges and many more. Destinations explored included Cairns, Mareeba, Chillagoe, Ravenshoe, Herberton, Irving Bank, Innot Springs and Mt Malloy. The distance covered during the week-long event was just over 2000 kilometres. The socialising at the end of each days ride was a highlight.

A popular annual event is the Jack Starmer Memorial Time Trial held over the June long weekend.

This event is a mystery ride and only the organiser knows the destination before the start.

Riders are asked to nominate an average speed and the rider who gets closest to their nominated speed wins. Watches are not allowed.

Last year we ended up in the historical gold mining town of Ravenswood. In 2013 it was Mount Surprise. This year who knows? We do know that a pub will be close by.

During the hotter months the rides are scheduled for earlier in the day and the distances are shorter. The destinations are usually air conditioned or on a shady beach front as the wet season can get very steamy up here. Winter is the season when riding is most enjoyable.

The temperature rarely gets below 7 degrees or above 25 and, being the dry season, it’s unlikely to rain.

There are still a small number of members who were in the club in its foundation year of 1977. Thirty-eight years is a long time for a club like this to have survived but it hasn’t just survived – it’s flourished.

The founding members clearly got it right.

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