For this month's edition of the 'Johnny Reb Herald', it was a pleasure to interview Dave Clark, an everyday Aussie rider who has a genuine love for riding & for his country. Not only a great bloke, a natural story-teller. Have a read of Dave's story below.
Tell us a bit about yourself. I’m an Australian and I like to think of myself as a humble person who has worked hard, just like my parents did and just like their parents before. We have lived in Melbourne for generations.
I hold high respect for people who live a virtuous life. I love Australia and the roots of our multicultural hard working people, who have built a truly remarkable country that I am proud of. A country that is the envy of the world and we need to protect it for the future generations.
I’ve been self employed running a business for nearly 30 years. A successful business because of the talented staff I have employed over the years. I still believe Australia is the lucky country and still has so many opportunities, let’s keep it that way.
Basically, I love to ride. I love to ride all year, all seasons and all the time. Riding out and about in our rural countryside, leaving me free to roam and explore the back roads of Victoria. I enjoy stopping by at the country pubs with all their character and charm. Boasting fine hospitality that never fails to deliver plenty of joy and good cheer.
I feel blessed to have met a network of so many fellow riders that have become good friends. Friends for lasting good times and friends who share my passion to ride.
When I have a full tank of fuel, the road ahead, friends by my side, the senses are all alive, I bring on the throttle to become free, let’s ride! (continued below)
When did you start riding motorcycles and what made you start riding? I started my love of motorcycles at around the age of 10. I can remember holidaying down at Jan Juc. At my Grandparents holiday house.
Across the road from the Jan Juc golf course there was a dirt track circuit set up, with a temporary business that was offering small mini bike hire, by the half hour. Well that was it, I just couldn’t get enough of it. Pestering my parents for some money daily. I would venture down to ride these bikes.
Since this time, I grew up loving the motor-cross bikes and I had several bikes over the years. I use to ride in a club down at the Burwood tip on Burwood Highway. I believe it’s still going. I would also ride in the open areas of Ringwood where the Eastlink is now today. Plenty of weekends away with the boys, I would go camping up at Mathoura. Having some awesome opportunities to do big dirt rides and shooting.
At the age of 17, I got my bike learners and finally my motorcycle license. Even well before of my car license. I have always loved the freedom of riding motorcycles. It gives you a sense of excitement that I really need in my life. Only those who ride will understand, it’s a feeling that lifts your spirit to escape the problems that life can throw your way.
What bike do you ride now? I love bikes and I respect everyone’s choice in what ever type they prefer to ride. I do respect and admire seeing riders who get behind a particular make and devote a passion for their ride.
Since I was a kid I have always had a soft spot for Harley Davidsons. I see them as some kind of an agricultural two wheel vehicle. For me, Harleys have so much appeal and character. I especially love the loads of torque from their big v twins. I enjoy the challenges of throwing them around on the corners, the new frames and suspension on the recent M8 model change has given these bikes exceptional improvement to their handling. Although there have been some issues with the new M8 engine, I have to say I love this motor and personally in the last 12 months I’ve done 24,000 perfect kms on my new Heritage.
I have two Harley’s. One is a 2019 - 114 Heritage Special this is my regular work horse ride and the other is a 2009 - CVO Springer - the last era of the springer front end model. This bike is not as agile as the heritage but riding this “work-of-art” gives me an unbelievable feeling of Harley nostalgia, it is a beautiful bike and in perfect condition.
What was your first bike? My very first bike was a Honda DAX. I bought it second hand myself, when I sold newspapers after school as a kid on the corner of Mitcham Road and Maroondah Hwy, Mitcham.
For the road. I got my motorcycle license and I bought a brand new XL250. I just couldn’t make the leap from dirt bikes to a road bike straight away and this Honda was a great in between bike. It was actually a very good bike and it rode beautifully on the roads. I commuted to work on it every day for three years. Riding from Mitcham to Abbotsford. It was a great bike and the first of many more to come.
Where is your favourite place to ride? I usually shuffle my work around so that I can get out on the bike midweek. Less cars out and fewer people at the destination. Being able to choose the best weather even adds to the perfect ride experience.
I avoid short rides within the Melbourne metro area, it’s just not my thing. I prefer to head out of Melbourne for the day and do a ride of at least 400 km. We have some amazingly and great riding destinations in Victoria.
The north east and south east is easily accessible for me with minimal traffic. I avoid hwys and freeways at all cost. The out-of-the-way back roads and scenic roads are heaven on a bike. Twisty, winding roads are my favourite.
Some of my preferred ride areas are The Alpine Region, Gippsland and the North East of Melbourne. Destinations like Flowerdale, Yark, Marysville, Noojee, Dargo, Licola, Mirboo North, Fish Creek, Tallarook, Tooborac, Merrijig, Marysville, Tidal River, Walhalla, just to name a few, are all top spots.
Supporting the rural towns and communities is important to me. They welcome the business, especially bush fire stricken towns that are trying to rebuild. I encourage riders to get out and support them. You can see the way they welcome your support and make you feel more than welcome to stop by for a visit.
If I was to say a favourite "close by" road I would have to say the Reefton Spur or the Grand Ridge Road, for experience riders only.
Tell us your favorite riding story or fondest riding memory? In October 2018 I lead a ride to “the blessing of the bikes”. An annual bike event at San Remo, Phillip Island. An event that I have supported for a few years now.
On the day of the event it turned out to be one of the wettest days to lead a ride. I organised the ride, so I was committed to do the ride.
We headed off down the South Gippsland Highway in the pouring rain, I was leading the group of about 30 bikes. Further along we passed another group of riders who fell in behind our group, so suddenly our group doubled in size. Then again further down the highway more groups merged onto the highway to fall in behind. It was all quite amazing how our group just kept growing in numbers to what would of been hundreds of bikes.
It was raining so heavily, all the way down to the island. Strange as it may sound, but it felt like there was a silently strong comrade connecting with all the riders in our massive group. With the precarious road conditions, we all rode as one, through the downpour to our destination.
The highlight was at the final stage of the ride when the rain started to ease. We went over a hill and were now travelling down a very long straight into San Remo. As I looked back in my mirrors, I could see a line of bikes that stretched out forever! It was a truly an amazing sight to see the mass of bikes following behind me and only a clear road ahead.
The organisers of the event were extremely worried that the event wouldn’t go ahead, due to the bad weather. As we entered through the blessing archway. We were all blessed with holly water, for the opening of the riding season. It was apparent that there were very few bikes parked at the event until our massive group turned up. You could see the delight on the faces of the organisers as we were all given a heartfelt welcome into the event.
It truly was a great experience for me to be up front, leading so many bikes. I will never forget that day. (continued below)
Who do you enjoy riding with? I like to head out of Melbourne with a small group of riders. Experienced riders that know how to ride well. Riders who like the corners and ride with respect of others. Knowing the way your individual group ride is important and reassuringly safer, no question!
I enjoy meeting people who ride motorcycles (all makes and models) they have a personal quality that I connect with and a quality that comes from only those on two wheels.
The best rides are those with my closest few. Hooking up and heading out regularly and effortlessly is the way to go. Being close with your group is important. It makes for the best riding experience. - Keep your group small.
Years ago, I use to think it was a bit strange, but not these days. I also enjoy riding alone. Having time to think and unwind on your own is priceless. The feeling of having no obligation, no planned destination and no planned route. Being able to just ride wherever the road may take you. Just stop whenever you like and go at your own pace, depending on your mood. The only thing you have to be aware of is the isolation problem. Just in case something goes wrong.
Recently my father passed away. So to take some rides by myself helped me a lot through this tough time. It gave me the time to release my grief and reflect on my memories of my Dad. (continued below)
Name one dream place you’d love to ride that you haven’t been? For myself and most of my friends who have work commitments and family, it’s often hard to get away. Finding the time to venture off to far distant destinations on the bike is difficult. Instead we tend to ride to destinations within a day’s reach.
I can think of plenty of destinations around the world that I really would love to ride. However, I would be more than happy to spend my days traveling and exploring our beautiful country. We have so many great places at our door step, without the need to head off overseas. So my personal, ultimate ride would be to venture off around Australia, taking the bare minimum of gear. Leaving all the burden of your belongings at home. Simply pack up the essentials and hit the road. Heading off to venture around our beautiful country, exploring places, towns and meeting people. How good it will be, finding the freedom in the roads ahead, that only riding a motorcycle can give.
Why do you ride motorcycles? Most motorcyclists will give you their own perspective on why they ride. But most will say that there is nothing like the feeling of heading out on the open road with all your bodies senses thrown into overdrive.
Every rider’s reason for their love of riding is as unique as the rider themselves. There are riders who simply appreciate the quality and styling of a beautifully crafted machine. Whether it be the latest model with all the modern appointments or the classic, nostalgia of a vintage motorcycle.
Then there are the riders who can’t get enough of the freedom that riding a motorcycle can give you. Some riders will say that they find riding peaceful and relaxing. In contrast, there are those riders who live on the thrill and excitement of crafting their riding skills. Improving their talent in the corners to bring rider and bike into a cohesively skilled riding form.
I know many others who enjoy the biker community and the people they meet. Riding bikes can build some of the most amazing friendships. Bringing people together from all walks of life.
I would have to say I love my riding for all of these reasons.
What do you wear when riding? When did you first hear of Johnny Reb? I have known about Johnny Reb, based in Melbourne for many years and their place in the Market fits my appeal and budget for lasting quality and easily accessible from my favourite bike stores and online.
The basic ride clothing I use varies, depending on the length of the ride and time of the year I ride. I wear thick creative denim pants with Kevlar lining that contain knee and hip pads. On top I wear a Leather jacket and a vest depending on the weather conditions. Underneath I throw on a Hoodie and because of Melbourne’s cool weather, I often find I’m wearing some good thermals. On extremely cold days I sometime throw on two pair.
Boots are important and being mindful of protection and weather proofing. The boots have to have a good grip on the soles. This is extremely important. I’ve seen many, drop their bikes from a loose footing when parking their bikes. Neck warmers and face covers are essential for warmth, bugs and sun protection.
I have quite a few open and full face helmets in my cupboard at home. I’ve spent quite a lot of money on them over the years. Full face helmets are a wise choice but for me I just love wearing an open face helmet and always have done. My recent Johnny helmet gives me the best legal low profile look which I’m after and is surprisingly extremely comfortable and was a fraction of the cost of my Leading brand helmets. I do like this helmet.
During the summer days, I find riding in the hot sun in thick leathers to be extremely uncomfortable. We all like to strip off on these kind of days but we do need some protection. During these hot rides I like to wear my Johnny shirt that comes with a Kevlar lining, has elbow, shoulder and back pockets for pads. Some guys I know ride in T-shirts and that’s ok but for me I find the long sleeve shirt to be very cool when riding and gives me protection from hours of riding under the hot sun. (continued below)
(Dave wears the Burke Helmet in Gloss Black & Lightning Ridge Suede Vest)
If you could go on a road trip with any 3 people in the world, who would they be and why?
Peter Fonda - if he was still with us
I believe all these blokes share a love for my kind of a ride.
If you'd like to share your riding stories with us & have a chance to be featured on our blog, contact us at email@example.com and use the subject line 'Johnny Reb Herald'.
Great read love hearing stories from other riders, their adventures and rides.
Awesome read !! The bit about leading all those bikes and all being as one have me goosebumps 😃 Thank you