Motorcycle enthusiasts reject the criminal fringes of their hobby

Riders in Leeton on a charity run to increase awareness of mental health.
Riders in Leeton on a charity run to increase awareness of mental health.

FOLLOWING “anti-bikie” drug busts across the Riverina, one Leeton club has hit back saying not all motorcycle clubs act in that manner. 

It comes a week after police dismantled a major drug syndicate during one of the largest anti-bikie busts in Wagga’s history.

Detectives raided 15 properties, arrested 13 people and discovered high-calibre firearms, bullet proof vests, methamphetamine, cannabis and various drug paraphernalia allegedly belonging to the Finks Motorcycle Club.

Leeton Calo’s Riders Club president Pat Tripodi said there was a “lot of difference between criminal bikies and everyday jokers like us who like to ride bikes”.

Mr Tripodi said the lawless minority of the motorcycle community hampered efforts to raise money for charity.

The Calo Riders have produced a DVD titled Our Stories of Depression to highlight the prevalence of mental illness in the Riverina and how to combat it.

“Even schools don’t want us to come and present because they think we’re involved with the criminal fringes,” Mr Tripodi said.

“Thankfully people are slowly finding out we’re a charity group.” It is a similar situation in Wagga, with the president of that city’s branch of the Ulysses Club Pat Combs of the opinion motorbike enthusiasts were unfairly tarred by outlaw motorcycle gangs. 

“The general public see someone on a motorbike and automatically assume the worst, that he must be a bad bugger,” Mr Combs said.

“There’s always been a rebel element of motorbike riders, some of whom gravitate toward outlaw motorcycle clubs; it’s a cult thing.

“The bikie gangs make a lot of money out of drugs, loaded up with guns and meth labs. They definitely give the rest of us a bad name.” The Calo’s and the Leeton Motorcycle Club also hold regular charity events. 

In the past they have assisted causes such as cystic fibrosis, toy runs for children and helping grieving families. They also participate in community events such as the Leeton SunRice Festival.