Monday, August 21, 2006

The guy sitting on the bike in this photo is a big TV Star in Malaysia

Possibly one of the best things about introducing someone to the joy of riding as a pillion on the back of a Harley Davidson is the people you meet. Most are quite often amazed to find out how easy it is to talk with each other as we cruise around Melbourne.
I have met some very interesting people over the years. Its fascinating to get to know people and find out about what they do for a living and a little about where they live. If you are a "people
person" then, as the rider/chauffeur, taking someone for a Harley Ride becomes a very rewarding experience - and it adds to the level of enjoyment gained by one's passenger.
Occassionally a booking may lead to something quite unexpected. This was what happened to me only a week or so ago. A family visiting from Northern Ireland booked me to take their oldest son out for a one hour tour. It turnes out that Drew, who made the booking, shares my love of photography. After the ride we talked at length, and have since been exchanged many photograhy tips.
I have lost count of the number of celebrities I have had on the back of my bike. Many have been from overseas, organized by Tourism Victoria for whom I do a considerable amount of Familiarizion Rides, and sometimes I am quite oblivious to their fame "back home" until after I have asked a few subtle questions.
Possibly, one of the most interesting jobs I do each year is for a local television network at their annual Family Christmas Day. Its here that one sees television personalities in a different light. One well known celebrity, who shall remain nameless, runs around with a video camera. Last year I asked is he ever watch the footage he was taking. He replied, "Not really, but it will be good for a laugh at his 21st." All are very approachable and very friendly - certainly not anything like they appear in the press.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Too Cold to go for a Ride? You must be joking!
For some bizarre reason, winter is the time when things go quiet and I start to question my sanity as to why I operate a Harley Rides business. But, then along comes someone who isn't afraid of the cold, someone who wants to have an experience. That one person and I ventured down the Great Ocean Road together last Wednesday.
When I arrived to pick up Michele at 8.30am, the clouds to the west of Melbourne were looking pretty black. I quickly thought to myself, make sure she will be warm and keep her dry. I suggested she wear an extra jumper, pulled out the waterproof/windproof jacket and made sure she put on the pair of waterproof trousers I carry - just for such an occasion.
And I was right. No sooner had we set off than down came the rain. Not too much to be painful, but certainly enough to get one wet if they weren't properly dressed.
Fortunately, by the time we got out of Melbourne and were half way down the freeway to Geelong, the rain had stopped. The sun came out and reminded us that the experience was going to be worth the effort.
After we stopped for coffee and a relaxing leg stretch in Torquay, the Great Ocean Road demonstrated its splendor. We cruised past a crowd of tourists climbing out of a cramped bus at the Archway that marks the official start of the Great Ocean Road. I turned to Michele and remarked, "That's the boring way to see the Great Ocean Road." She responded in enthusiastic agreement. Those poor people were just missing out on seeing so much. From our vantage point on the bike, we didn't need to stop and look. Our view wasn't cramped by windows like in their bus. We could take it all in just by looking around. Needless to say, I was concentrating on where the bike was going.
The road on the other side of Lorne is my favorite part of the Great Ocean Road. Midweek, in the winter there are few cars to hold us up. No sooner have I set the bike up for one corner than the engine screams out loud as I accelerate out, ready to get set for the next. It goes on like this for the next 45mins, change down, set the speed as we go in, lean, roll through the corner, then as soon as I see a clear line out of the corner roll on the throttle, accelerate up through the gears and seconds later repeat the whole sequence over again. I am in heaven - this is why I ride.
There is a spot called "Shrapnel Gully" about half way from Lorne to Apollo Bay. There is a colony of Koalas here. We stop for a minute or two and I show Michele some Koalas in their natural habitat.
About 20 minutes later, we roll into Apollo Bay. The pub is surprisingly busy as we walk in. A guy walking down the street greets us and engages us in enthusiastic/envious conversation about what it was like to be out on the Harley that day.
Over a relaxing luck, Michele enthuses as to how lucky she has been to be able to come down the Great Oocean Road on the Harley. "I'm going to tell all my friends about this when I get back to the UK," she exclaims.
I quietly sit back and have an internal laugh. Even I enjoyed the ride. The best reward was to see the excitement in my passengers eyes.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

SEEing Life Differently

Our customers are a pretty diverse bunch. Whenever I tell people about what we do, they immediately assume that only motorcycle enthusiasts would want to go for a Harley Ride. The truth is - anyone who has a motorcycle licence isn't actually in our "target market".

Take a look at this accompanying photo. Notice the number of people wearing "suits"? Would you believe that most of the people in this photo (not the tough looking ones in leather) have actually never even thought about riding or even owning a motorcycle before this photo was taken.

What we did here was to take these people outside their comfort zone. We showed them that everything they thought they knew about motorcycles up until now was wrong.

The company for who we did this job (actually for who we do many jobs) is called SEE Life Differently .

I'm constantly amazed by what People say before we take them out on one of our Harley Rides. Here are just a few classic lines (guaranteed to offend guys who have more kms and experience that you can imagine):

  1. "Do I need to hang on? I think I'm going to fall off. I'm scared." Lesson one - it is impossible to fall off a motorcycle when it is in motion. The bike leans over to counteract the effect of gravity and centrifugal force.
  2. "Are you going to kill me?" Somehow people have a strong association between motorcycles and imminent death. My answer is that I care more about scratching my bike and I don't plan to do anything that will bring me anywhere near such an experience.
  3. "How fast have you ridden this?" Actually, Harleys are designed to be ridden at legal speeds. Riding too fast means you get less attention. Personally, speed isn't something that interest me, but I can make them think I am going fast by accelerationg hard at the lights and then when I reach 60 kph I turn to them and say is that fast enough. They usually get the point by then. I really don't know how fast my bike can go - because I have never tried to push it outside what I consider to be the safe limit.
  4. "Cars must be a real problem." Well, no really. the cars are a threat that I can see - beacuase I don't have any "blindspots". I can see more than them - so I can see the danger long before its going to cause me a problem.
  5. Friends of people about to go for a ride often tell me "I know someone who died/was injured in a bike accident. I would never get on a bike." I ask them if they know someone who has had a serious car accident and ask them if they apply the same rule to car driving.

Yes, we try our hardest to make people See their lives differently. They certainly understand the significance of going for a Harley Ride, by the time we have finished with them.

You can go for a tour in a car or a bus. But you have to get out of the car or bus to see the sights. But, on a Harley Ride you don't need to stop - you can see everything. Think about it!