Its one of life's greatest pleasures is when a person can follow their passion in life and share that passion with others. When one is given the opportunity to follow their passion as part of their job, it no longer becomes work - it becomes rewarding to the point where if one was in it for the money, they wouldn't be doing it. Today as the owner of Melbourne's oldest Harley Rides business I could never have guessed years ago that I would one day actually make money out of what was once just a dream.
Motorcycles have been a part of my life since I was a teenager, where we rode old bikes around the pine plantation in Mt Pleasant in my home town of Ballarat. Today, that area is now occupied by the historical tourist village known as Sovereign Hill. But, for us, back in the early '70s it was a place where we could experience the joy of riding bikes with names like Royal Enfield and BSA.
As I neared the age when I could legally ride it came time to obtain my motorcycle learner permit and then progress to a full licence, I purchased my first motorcycle - a 175cc CB Honda Twin. I was convinced by a friend of my father's not to buy a bigger machine and that this was the perfect "entry machine". It was 1973 and I was at the end of my Secondary Schooling. The following year I entered the Army, as a cadet at the Royal Military College (RMC) Duntroon in Canberra. Fourth Class Cadets (the term given to first year juniors - we were fourth class in standard I guess) weren't allowed to have a car at the college in first term. My father arranged to have the bike delivered to Canberra and that was how I got out and about for the rest of that year.
As my time at Duntroon progressed, I continued to ride. During this time I changed machines, moving up to bigger and faster bikes, ones which I could ride back to Ballarat on in relative comfort as well as several dirt bikes. Needless to say I became the President on the RMC Motorcycle Club, such was my passion.
A love of riding was thus sown into my psyche. Cars were never something that particularly excited me (despite the fact that I did eventually come to own a car - out of necessity, they were a necessity if one had a girlfriend). Even today, I can't understand how someone could enjoy driving a car after they had experienced the freedom of riding a motorcycle.
After a succession of other motorcycles ranging from Honda, Yamaha and finally a BMW K100RS (a motorcycle that was technically 15 years ahead of the nearest competition) family life caught up with me and my riding days appeared to be at an end. The BMW got sold and all I had left was an old Ural Cossack 650 which I restored while posted to the Proof and Experimental Establishment at Graytown and attached a sidecar that I could take my then young son out on rides.
After 22 years in the Army, in what was then the Peacetime period between the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Middle Eastern conflicts Australia has been engaged in for the last 20 years, work became increasingly boring as I found myself stuck behind a desk. So I made the decision to leave the Army and venture out into the civilian world. Little did I realise that the opportunity I had spent my life preparing for was just around the corner.
After a slow start and some experiences that don't need repeating an opportunity presented itself in 1998. One must be ready for opportunity when it presents itself. It was a business opportunity, a proven business that had become well established and popular in Melbourne in the 1990's. It involved riding motorcycles. It involved sharing my riding passion with the public, many if not thousands are soon to become my customers. It involved riding Harley Davidsons (something which I had several years written as a goal on a piece of paper and read to myself thousands of times to cement that goal into my mind).
Leo, the one who had set up a company he called and registered as HD Chauffeur Ride Pty Ltd in 1993, wanted to sell his business. I had known Leo for several months and was trying to line myself up as one of his riders, when one day he said, "John, I'm selling my Harley Rides business" to which I replied, "I'm interested in buying your business". After crunching the numbers and negotiation two months later I became the proud owner of HD Chauffeur Ride Pty Ltd in July 1998.
Twenty years later, I still get a thrill out of not only riding my Harley Davidson and taking people out for Harley Rides as passengers on my bike. Its an intimate experience, where we interact on a one-to-one basis, as we talk about a myriad of things as well as pointing out the sights around the city. We are not your average Tour Guides.
As the oldest continually operating Harley Ride company in Melbourne we have been filmed and written about by many
television show and travel authors. These videos are a sample of the type of coverage we have attracted over the last 20 years:
Please share this article with a friend. We need more people to share a Harley Ride with. If you have been inspired by this article give John a call on +61 0419359628. Or Book a Ride online.