On the weekend of 15th and 16th September, 2018, three events were held, to mark the anniversary of the death of Russell Mockridge, who was killed while competing in the Tour of Gippsland, on 13th September, 1958.
Legends Plaza, Kardinia Park, Geelong, 9am
Drysdale Ride: Reenactment of Russell Mockridge’s first bike race*
Before the Sunday ride from Legends Plaza Kardinia Park, David Kelly, from the Legends Plaza Trust, addressed the group about the plaza, and Russell Mockridge’s place within it. Only those who grew up in Geelong, and were at the forefront of their sport, both in Australia and internationally, are honoured.
The ride, lead by Doug Merritt and Rod Charles, went first to the former Geelong Amateur Cycling Club rooms in East Geelong, then along the rail trail to Drysdale. After a brunch stop Cafe Zoo, and more discussion about Russell Mockridge, the group returned via the road route. Two Olympians, John Hine and Don Allen were among the 27 cyclists. The weather very cold and blustery but no rain.
Thanks to Ray Bowles (The Cycling Scrapbook) for the two photographs above.
*Russell Mockridge turned up for a ride with Geelong Amateur Cycling Club one morning in 1946. He’d never raced before, and was unknown to any of the other riders. Bespectacled, and dressed in shorts, jumper and white shirt, and normal work shoes (but with leather thongs to bind his shoes to the pedals) he paid his entry fee and lined up with the rest of the field. It was a handicap race, and as a new rider, Russell was sent off at the front of the field. After a while, he asked if those with him would mind if he went on ahead. They were happy to let him do so, expecting this raw amateur on a ‘normal everyday bike’ would soon run out of puff and they’d pass him again. This didn’t happen! He was seen by some of the faster riders on the return journey as the were still on their way to Drysdale, by which time he was 7 miles ahead. Hearing this, the club handicapper checked with the drinkers at the Drysdale pub whether Russell had ‘gone around the tree’ – which was near the current roundabout outside the hotel, and the turning point in the race. “He’s been and gone,” they replied. Before the handicapper had time to return in his car, Russell was back at the start/finish of the race. No one was there. Soon a few early spectators arrived, to enjoy the park and cheer the cyclists as they finished, only to find Russell already finished. When the handicapper arrived, it’s reported that Russell was sitting in the gutter. He had finished seven and a half minutes ahead of the front of the field. A new chapter of cycling history was about to begin…
This information about Russell Mockridge’s first race is from Rod, Charles book, A Whirr of Many Wheels, Volume 3.
The cyclists leave Legends Plaza to reenact Russell Mockridge’s first race with ride to Drysdale…
About the Remembering Russell Mockridge weekend
The weekend was initiated by Tim Alexander from Albury who made a preliminary visit to Geelong to ride with Rod Charles and Coralie Jenkin to Drysdale and plan the event.
Rod Charles invited Doug Merritt to MC the weekend. Doug’s planning for the rides was meticulous, including rest stops, and contingency plans for inclement weather.
Jason Hunt, a non-Cycling Geelong member, came out of the blue to initiate a social media campaign which proved very effective in finding outsiders who may be interested in joining locals. From his contacts, Melbourne based Ray Bowles, a cycling photographer from the 1980s attended the days and recorded the events.
To gauge numbers, a Trybooking site was established by Tim Alexander, who also organised the Saturday evening Q&A.
Our special thanks to Rod Charles, Doug Merritt and Tim Alexander. Thanks also to cycling photographer Ray Bowles, authors Martin Curtis, Daniel Oakman, Ben Schofield, Marcus Arnold and Rod Charles, John Hine, Don Allen and other cyclist friends of Russell Mockidge, the Mockridge family and all who attended the events on the this most successful weekend. Thanks to John Hagan for photos of the Geelong ride on 15th September.