MONDAY MAY 16 / 2016 / by Andrew Talati

The Kingsmen Australian countrysidePhoto courtesy of Nathan Chan "The Flash"

In the beginning 

The King and his disciplesPhoto courtesy of Michelle Pasmanik

The original six riders doing laps around Albert Park Lake included the self-appointed ‘King’ Stu Verrier. Moving to Beach Road there were no formalities that now define the group and can be attributed to both their success and their popularity. 

The group name and structure

The Kingsmen TKM Daisy Ride - 2014

Popping into St Kilda one ride, Stu crossed the brown sign first and declared ‘I’m the f%$#@# King’. That drew laughter but then he backed it up on the next ride, again declaring himself the King. From here two very important things happened in the evolution of the Kingsmen.

Firstly, he began to give other rider names such as Jester for the one who kept him the most entertained during the ride. Others began to ask for their own names; now all members are given a special name in line with the premise of being a band of merry men. Secondly, some people complained that while Stu crossed the brown sign first they had, in fact, done much more work during the ride.

This led to their infamous scoring system to determine rankings and includes both sprints and work during the ride. The ranking system now involves 165 separate, constituted rules. It’s essentially ‘Dungeons & Dragons on Wheels’. 

 

Growing to 60 members

The Kingsmen Group togetherPhoto courtesy of Nathan Chan "The Flash"

From the original six riders, the membership is now capped at sixty members. This capped number ensures that the Kingsmen can stick to their group intent in a manageable way. It can be difficult to control and many want to join but 60 is the optimum number to manage. Safety is paramount and they maintain extremely strict rules on how to ride within the ride.

All riders, including those that seem to tag along on the rides, need to stick to the rules. Anyone riding outside the rules and the group’s peer pressure will ensure they cop an earful. It’s these rules and the adherence of them that sets the Kingsmen apart from the 33 other bunches that ride Beach Ride. 

The scoring system, the sense of tradition is inherently all Kingsmen. Milestones and achievements are celebrated, privileges are granted and a strong culture is maintained. The sense of competition is addictive; no one wants to miss a ride and an opportunity to accumulate points. 
 

What makes the Kingsmen so special

The Kingsmen Camaraderie SupportPhoto courtesy of Michelle Pasmanik

But the thing that makes the Kingsmen truly special goes much deeper than the rides three times a week. 

As the Kingsmen diversified into functions and events, as social media and public relations become more time consuming, the King needed to delegate. Most ongoing responsibilities are handling by guys who understand the culture as well as the King, younger, more eager members are often called upon to organise events. Just don’t forget that it’s still a bit of a dictatorship with the King maintaining final say.

Sub-committees are formed as required but it’s very much a culture of ‘all hands on deck’. And for those that don’t pull their weight or contribute? Well that’s where a bit more peer pressure comes into play. Members can be named and shamed if they don’t contribute both on and off the road. That said, the Kingsmen culture is such that 99 out of 100 do gladly contribute. And there’s also a bit of a Buffalo theory at work; the weakest link gets cut. 

 

Hard riding

The Kingsmen Road ChampsThe Kingsmen poweringPhoto courtesy of Zac Ryan "The Crack" 

Physically these guys are extremely fast on the road so those unable to keep up often fall by the way-side. While never needing to formally cut a member they have a group of deactivated members that have got a bit older, have moved away or are unable to commit to the group but most continue to stay in touch. 

 

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