By UTE SCHULENBERG
FOUR years ago, three blokes in black leather jackets walked unannounced through Rob Cleary's office door.
It was an unusual moment and Mr Cleary remembers thinking: "Hmmm, I wonder what this is about?"
The three men were from the Coffs Harbour Ulysses Club and what they wanted was help from Coffs Coast Marketing to put together a bid to bring the club's 24th AGM to Coffs Harbour.
The bid was successful and now with only 12 days to go until the official start, some of the 6000 expected bikers are already rolling in for what may be the biggest gathering ever.
"We have a number of things in our favour," the manager of Coffs Coast Marketing said.
"First, our central geographic location means we are conveniently located for the bulk of members.
"And second, it's just such a brilliant time of year to be here."
As part of the organising committee, Rob has been working hard to get the message out that this is going to be big ... very big.
"We've been talking to businesses and trying to reinforce this message," he said.
"Basically, we've been saying: Imagine if 5000 people want a cuppa, that's $15,000 for one cup of coffee!"
To help spread the visitors around, the committee have come up with a list of 20 rides around the Coffs Coast.
"On any one day there could be hundreds of bikes heading south or up the Dorrigo Mountain."
Rob said the value of the event to the Coffs Coast should not be underestimated.
"Not only is this providing cashflow for local businesses at a traditionally quieter time of year, but collectively we gain 6000 goodwill ambassadors for the region if we do this right."
He said while the Ulysses motto was 'Grow Old Disgracefully', the cross-section of members was anything but disgraceful.
"Doctors, dentists, politicians, plumbers and everything in between," he said.
"Ulysses is a social group of mature citizens, who enjoy bikes and the sheer pleasure of being together.
"A lot of the members are husband-and-wife teams."
He said for those businesses willing to put in longer hours, there would certainly be benefits.
"We estimate between $10 million and $12 million will flow into the region in that week alone."