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A Harley rider who loves tea and apple pie

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Australian correspondence is the weekly newsletter from our Australian bureau. This week’s issue is written by Northern Territory journalist Julia Bergin.

Ron Noll is famous for riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycles in flip-flops (or flip flops as they are called here), preferring to wear them carefree in the desert heat of central Australia The shoes are ventilated and comfortable.

But on Sunday morning he walked into a petrol station in Alice Springs wearing heavy-duty boots. Mr Noll reluctantly admitted to a circle of amused riders that he had made “necessary changes” for safety reasons.

The four riders – Mr. Noll, Richard Blom, Daniel Bowman and Marcia Fells – are members of a local Harley owners group that has a total membership of about 25 people. They all wore denim, leather and, of course, boots. The loose-fitting uniform is completed with an outer leather vest emblazoned with Harley eagle and wheel badges.

Their costumes may hint at the sinister biker gang stereotype. But their preference for tea and apple pie shows the club has no intention of flouting the law.

Two patches on the back of the Harley vest confirm this. One more patch would indicate they were members of an outlaw gang, such as the Hells Angels, Bandidos or Comancheros. In Australia these clubs are called MC, or Motorcycle Clubs. Mr. Noll and his fellow riders belong to a separate category: the SMC, or Social Motorcycle Club. In short, they are just motorcycle enthusiasts.

After traveling approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) in one hour, the Alice Springs HOG stopped at the Kata Anga teahouse in the Ntaria Aboriginal community (also known as Hermannsburg), southwest of Alice Springs. There, over tea, they talked about the dangers faced by social clubs that don’t stay in their lane and respect the unspoken rules of local cycling culture.

The best way to avoid trouble, Noel wryly says, is to “do as little as possible.”

Although there is no illegal MC central australiathey can still exert influence in the region.

Another social club recently tried to enter South Australia but ended up invading the territory of a well-known MC, according to Alice Springs riders. The result, they say, was that it was forced shut, or “patched” in biker slang.

“If you’re on their property, what they’ll do is come up, go to your clubhouse, and they’ll say, ‘Give us your keys. You have a choice, you walk out the door and leave the bike here. , we take over from you,” Mr. Blom said as he ate an apple pie.

Former Darwin Rebels leader Shannon Althouse, who served seven years in jail for attempted murder, said it was an example of a social club wanting to “try gangsterism”. (Mr. Althouse was not in the teahouse at the time and is now the teahouse’s youth coach. Arendt Community Boxing Academy In Alice Springs. )

Blom said too many riders are influenced by movies that encourage violence, hierarchy and general gang culture, as well as bad riding habits.

“You see these biker movies, even in Hogs, they have four bikes riding two by two,” he said. “You should never ride horizontally like that because you’re going to react when a crow, hawk or bird hits you in the face.” He said it could lead to carnage – turns, collisions, people being swept away Out of the way.

Mr. Bowman agreed. “It was dangerous, but they did it,” he said. “The MC group that passed Alice the year before last – the Mongols – all rode side by side.”

Alice Springs HOG rides in staggered formation. The person in front, the “road captain” – chosen solely based on the fact that their bike has cruise control – is on the right side of the road, the person some distance behind is on the left, and so on. This gives everyone an unobstructed view and room to react quickly if necessary.

The organization has a rule against “suspicious behavior” on the roads, and Mr Blom said they took penalties very seriously, fining anyone who dared to overtake a road captain A$5 (about $3.25).

“Ron always puts down $100 at the beginning of the year,” Mr. Blom, the ride’s road captain, said of Mr. Knoll, a rider who prefers to wear flip-flops.

Mr. Noll had his reasons. “There’s no way I’m waiting for you at the end of the ride,” he said softly.

Now here’s our story for the week.


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