One of my readers, Ry, sent a note in which he wondered whether whips were just an Australian phenomena as he had never come across such a thing in the United States.
From my reading and following various Harley Davidson sites in the States I share Ry’s position about whips and bikers in the States.
Many, many books have been written about so called ‘Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs,’ not only in America but also here in Australia.
The two volumes I refer to mostly when it comes to the ‘Outlaws,’ are:
There is not a single mention of whips in either of the two volumes and personally I’ve never come across another group of motor cyclists, either here or in The States where carrying a whip was a part of the code.
Accordingly, I’m sure that our little group was/is the only group where whips were part of the scene.
If you have seen the photos of my two tiny whips, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are indicative of the general size handled by our group.
You would be right in part but the ‘Boss Man’ carried a real whip. Here he is wielding a genuine stock whip, one of a number specially made for him.
To preserve the ‘Boss Man’s’ anonymity I’ve hidden his face.
Hearing a stock whip crack out in the bush has a mystical sounds about it. It takes you back in time and space to when stockmen and drovers rode proud in the saddle, delivering cattle on the hoof to all parts of Australia.
These days, articulated monsters transport the stock and the days of the outback drover are, unfortunately coming to an end.
Back in the dream time I used to ride with a very interesting mix of motorcyclists, many of whom had a background of being 1%ers .
‘Retired’ Hells Angels, Mob Shitters, Bankstown Boys, Rebels and Black Ulans made up the hard core of our group. Next came the retired motor cycle racers and the rest of us were just ordinary blokes who loved riding our bikes.
Over many thousands of kilometres, I never observed any anti social or criminal behaviour being committed by any of our group , if you discount speeds well above the limit, as falling within those two categories.
However I did make an interesting observation. Many of the hard core group had a shortened cat o’ nine tails whip attached to the left wrist.
Because I wanted to keep my riding license points free I was always relegated to the back of the group with other ‘slow pokes’, well back from the lead riders. Suited me down to the ground. Riding with the bunch alone was excitement enough without trying to break my neck. But it meant that I was never close enough to observe their riding behaviour.
Now asking questions about anything at all, except,’ where are we going this weekend,’ was an absolute no no and therefore the use of the cats remained a mystery until one day for some unknown reason, I was in the lead bunch, as we shot up the highway, two abreast in typical bikie fashion, passing everything in sight.
As we overtook a very nice Mercedes Benz I saw the rider in front of me give the headlight of the Merc a quick flick with his cat. My long pondered question had been answered.
Over the years I got to know most of the riders pretty well although to the 1%ers I was still an outsider and not to be trusted. Eventually I thought the time was right to ask about the cats.
I was politely informed that granting permission to wear and use the cat was a special privilege reserved for real riders and it didn’t matter how many arses I licked, I’d never get a cat.
It was the sort of response I’d expected but it fitted the occasion that I should look bitterly disappointed and I managed to do so.
Imagine my great surprise when a couple of years later, on a weekend away ride the mob made a surprise stop out in the middle of nowhere. We all gathered around the ‘Boss Man,’ who came over and shook my hand. He told me the mob had decided that as I’d been riding with them for ten years it had been decided to present me with my whip.
I had mixed feelings about what he said. Did it mean that I was going to be initiated? I was ready to bung on an enormous blue if it came to that but I needn’t have worried.
From behind his back he produced a beautifully crafted miniature whip which he handed to me with words to the effect,’ Mate, you’ll see its not a cat, its a miniature stock whip. In another ten you may just earn a cat’.
I wasn’t too effusive when I thanked him and the mob, it wasn’t the thing to do and I’ve cherished that whip ever since. Never flogged a car with it either, just hung it next to my bike and took it on rides just to show the flag as it were. I really was privileged because it was the first time this had happened and cat presentation had ceased years before.
In the seventeen since then, the numbers of our mob have dwindled away and only a couple of ‘real bikers’ remain active.
The ‘Boss Man’ and I have become firm friends and we have ridden together on more times and to more destinations that I can remember, many of the rides taking a couple of weeks to complete.
Two weeks ago today, I got a call from the ‘Boss Man,’ and we met up at a local cafe where he proudly introduced me to his brand new high performance Ducati. It’s all black, of course. Totally different from the Harley he used to ride.
From a bag he had strapped to the pillion perch he produced a small paper bag and we headed into the cafe, ordered coffee etc and sat down.
The’Boss Man’ has always been direct and concise in his conversational style and that day was no different.
After we sat down he handed me the paper bag and said,’ Mate this is for you.’
I opened the bag and therein was a magnificent small whip, reminiscent of the cats of yesteryear.
This time around I thanked the ‘Boss Man,’profusely and he told me that as there was now only a handful of the ‘old gang’ left, six of these whips had been made and he was personally delivering them to the six of us. He said it was as close to a cat as the leather worker was prepared to craft.
Tongue in cheek, Boss Man told me that it was a perfect tool for swatting flies.
A memorial ride is in the pipeline, travel by tin top is permissible and I guess early nights can be assured. Whips are compulsory..
I’m really looking forward to catching up with whoever is left standing. Strange too, only the Boss Man knows the family names of the other riders and apparently, I’m the only one left standing who knows his. We sure have lived in funny times.