Ride with Dykes on Bikes Queensland at Mardi Gras
Ever fantasized about riding pillion on a bike in the Sydney Mardi Gras? Here’s your chance, reports Andrew Shaw.
Across the country it’s a tradition to have Dykes On Bikes lead pride events – the throb of the engines, the burnished chrome, those plush leather seats... Many women have dreamed of straddling one of those bikes in the Mardi Gras Parade, but don’t own a machine or know someone to hitch a ride with. But that will change for two lucky women in 2014.
Dykes On Bikes Queensland (DOB) are offering a chance in a lifetime to ride pillion (as a passenger) in the 2014 Mardi Gras Parade. DOB are holding a raffle to be drawn in February, the prize being a trip for two to Sydney with flights and accommodation included, plus seats on the back of a trike. The two ‘pillions’ become honorary members of DOB Queensland for the day, which means they get to hang out with the DOB women and another 300 lesbians and also get an invite to the private Dykes On Bikes after party.
The bad news for us boys is you must be female to participate, but that does mean we could hand the prize to a couple of female friends.
President of DOB Qld Julz says this is something never before offered and there are only 1,000 tickets on sale. “Someone once described riding with Dykes On Bikes in the Sydney Mardi Gras as ‘the best thing you can do with your clothes on’ and having experienced it many times I totally agree with that description!” Julz says.
“It’s our job to hype up the crowd of 300,000-plus and get them ready for the parade with shiny chrome, loud pipes and tattoos. It’s difficult to describe the experience. It's a mixture of shivers that go down your spine, deafening noises and millions of camera flashes and it is definitely something that stays with you forever.”
Julz owns two bikes, one a sports bike and one a cruiser. The sports bike is a Suzuki GSX-R600 and the other is a Harley Davidson Softail Rocker. “Both are very different types of bikes with very different engine configurations,” she explains. “The Suzuki technically has half the engine cc rating of the Harley, but is twice as fast. Both of them are great bikes, and in combination there’s over $50,000 of motorbikes sitting in my garage at any given time.
“The hobby of bikes doesn’t have to be that expensive, though – these are two very high-end bikes. You can pick up a perfect condition 250cc learner bike for about $2,000 with gear on top of that for an easy $500 as a starter kit.” Julz recommends joining a club for information and gear hand me downs – “everyone has a spare something and motorbikers are happy to help you get out on the road!”.
“I've always loved motorbikes,” she says. “I guess it’s something to do with the freedom and the rebel attitude that goes with it. To be able to control something which has the ability to accelerate so fast and to feel at peace with the dangers of that is an exciting experience, a rush, and only a few people ever want to do that on a regular basis. That’s why the people who do become such great friends.”
Julz says motorbikes are a culture more than a lifestyle, a culture of looking out for your fellow riders and sticking together. “We don't care what you do with your life or how you make a dollar, we care that you ride a bike. Friendships develop with like-minded people with shared hobbies. This is a great hobby and I have some great friends from it.”
Do people make assumptions about Julz and her friends because they ride? “I know my parents made lots of assumptions about my friends when I first started riding and going to motorbike rallies,” she says. “Then they met my friends and now they love my bikie culture lifestyle. I think there will always be assumptions made about people who dress predominately in black leather and ride big, loud machines for fun. The public are often scared when we go anywhere in a group, but when they meet us and come over to check out the bikes I think it is fair to say that the Queensland chapter of Dykes On Bikes is now an accepted and respected club within our GLBT community and as a result it is enjoyed by many.”
As a bike rider, Julz says Queensland’s anti-bikie laws, which restrict the employment and association of outlawed bike gang members, are justified. “Criminal gangs who engage in illegal activities need to be put behind bars and kept there,” she says. “If you’re selling drugs to kids, laundering money through dodgy businesses and shooting people because they owe you something, then I don't care if you drive a forklift... we need laws to stop you doing it.
“Unfortunately, these groups like to ride motorbikes and get tattoos. I had been hoping they would drive 4x4s so the police could pull over all the soccer mums and ask them to take their shirts off and photograph their tattoos! But, alas, they ride bikes, so as a small inconvenience to all riders we are impacted. For the record, none of our club members has been pulled up unnecessarily by law enforcement and our club has not been impacted directly with any of the new tougher ‘bikie laws’.”
[Image] DOB Qld president Julz.
For more information on the Ultimate Pillion Experience, and to buy raffle tickets, go to: dykesonbikesqld.org