A mutual passion for the humble Harley has taken mates Steve Gower and Wayne Amor on many a shared adventures, but none more meaningful than their upcoming mission, the Black Dog Ride.
I got a Harley-Davidson for my 40th birthday and I had to get my licence before I picked the bike up, or take a trailer. I’ve been married for 20-odd years and been nagging for a Harley for 15 years (laughs).
Riding a Harley certainly changes the way you think of things. When you’re on the bike, it just takes your cares away.
It’s the right time of life, when the kids have started to grow up and it seemed like a good idea, both with family and financially. I got involved with HOG, the Harley Owners Group, there are heaps of guys around Dubbo and we go on rides with them and it’s just great.
Riding a Harley is a bit different than a regular bike, but you pick it up – you’re always learning. I have developed a great social network – there are hundreds of guys in town that have bikes. I’m a senior resource supervisor with Essential Energy and quite a few guys at work have Harleys. My wife and I did the Great Ocean Road last year; it was a really good way to see the countryside.
Steve and I have known each other for 20 years and we met again recently when he got his bike. We’ve done a lot of miles together, had a lot of good weekends away, had a lot of late night cans of rum (laughs).
He’s a very like-minded guy, very family-oriented and loves a good time. He’s loyal and big on family.
When you’re going on a ride, it’s about the journey, not the destination. People say it’s a mid-life crisis but I own the Harley not just the t-shirt.
The way we both got involved in this ride was that we’d seen a ride to Alice Springs which we were planning to do last year but that didn’t work out.
There’s been a one day Black Dog Ride in Australia for a few years and there are 31 rides taking place on the same day this year. It’s more than doubled from 15 rides last year and there are about 5000 participants.
I have not known it personally (depression) but I have known people who have been affected. The statistics are quite frightening.
I had my motorbike licence before my car licence. As an apprentice, I’d ride to work. My interest came from riding dirt bikes as a young guy which progressed to motorcycles. Then I sold it, went overseas, came back and got married and had kids. Motorbikes weren’t a priority for a little while. A couple of years ago, I got a new Harley-Davidson and my son and I would go riding together. He’s 14 and we have done some big trips.
Wayne’s been along on those rides. The best thing about riding motorbikes is that everybody looks after each other. It’s brought my son and me closer together. We do a lot of things which is important to our relationship.
In relation to the Black Dog Ride, I’ve known people who’ve suffered and suffered from depression and it was something we wanted to go on.
This is a perfect opportunity to raise a few funds and awareness of mental illness, suicide and depression. The incidence we see in the rural sector, it really has far-reaching effects. Since we live in a rural community, I think it’s important that we can highlight it.
Steve Andrews originally started this in 2009, it was his mission to raise awareness. Angry Anderson is one of the patrons and they also created a mascot called Winston, because the idea of the Black Dog came from Winston Churchill – he diarised the “black dog” of depression.
The national ride around Australia is a massive ride, but you can do certain legs. We’ve already had donations but it’s about raising awareness as much as the cash to put into research. The thing people don’t understand is that there is a suicide every 10 minutes; 80 per cent are men and it’s highest in rural areas. Unfortunately there are people out there taking their own life and their friends didn’t see the signs. That’s the sad side of it.
But Wayne is a friend that I’d always like to have. If something happens to somebody, he is there.
We like the same things, we like riding motorbikes and we are not mates who live in each other’s pocket but we get together three or four times a year.
With Wayne, nothing is a problem. If you need a hand to do something, he is always the first to put his hand up. Wayne’s three girls are also everything to him.
I love riding because no matter what you do, you’ve got to have an outlet. A lot of guys get to the end of their working lives and don’t know what to do, but I think it’s important to have a hobby – like being a modeller or collecting things.
When you’re out riding, you can’t answer the phone; it’s all about you and your surroundings. And the friendships are there, if something happens to somebody’s bike, no-one ever leaves them on the side of the road. If they have an accident, everybody stops. That’s part of being a motorcyclist.
>> Check-in for the Black Dog Ride - proudly supporting Lifeline - is at Short St Store from 8am on Sunday, March 23
- As told to Natalie Holmes