200 Years on 2 Wheels – Celebrating the bicycle: Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Although it was also a joint ride day, Rod had been invited by Bicycle Network to run a Geelong event to celebrate 200 years since the invention of the bicycle.   The ride began in Eastern Park.  Thirteen cyclists braved the chilly morning. 

Rod explained that the first recorded 2-wheeled human powered vehicle was the running machine (laufmachine or Draisine) invented by Karl Von Drais in 1817.

Karl von Drais on his original Laufmaschine, the earliest two-wheeler, in 1819 By photo Lesseps artist unknown – Self-photographed, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10104646

This had no pedals – the rider scooted and rolled.  The machine was constructed of wood and iron, and the weight meant that only able-bodied men were likely to be users.  As the roads were too rutted by cartwheels for easy riding, Draisine riders took to the footpaths – leading to the first conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians.  Despite their weight, Velocipes (as they were soon named) were fast and efficient.  The reaction of governments was to ban their use in several countries including Great Britain, USA and Germany.

Today’s bicycles have firmly established the use of pedals for propulsion.  The oldest bicycle on the Cycling Geelong ride was a Gazelle, purchased some decades ago and ridden by Simon Watt.  This bike is steel, and sturdy – 22kg, with front and aft racks.  While in Amsterdam, adults are often be seen riding on the racks, Simon assured us that he uses his for transporting a crate of wine.

The group heard more of the history of bicycles, and their use in Australia and Geelong whilst waiting for a photographer from the Geelong Advertiser.

The group finally got underway along the new Eastern Beach bikeway to Point Henry.  In early years Point Henry was a popular tourist and recreation destination.   However, if one wished to ride through Eastern Park, it was necessary to dodge the many goats which grazed there.

Thanks to Rod for once again running a most successful history ride.

Read the article in this weeks Geelong Indy about the birthday of the bicycle http://geelongindy.com.au/indy/2017-06-08/birthday-bicycle-takes-a-ride-around-town/

Keep your eyes open for news of our Seniors Month rides, when Rod will again lead the popular “History around the Barwon River” ride.





“Le Ride” – a movie record of a historic Aussie team in the 1928 Tour de France

Le Ride is the story of the 1928 Tour de France team led by Sir Hubert Opperman who, with Percy Osborn, Ernest Bainbridge, and New Zealander Harry Watson took part in what is widely regarded as being the single most difficult race of its kind ever. Of the 161 cyclists who started the race in Paris, only 41 made it the whole way back. Over 22 grueling stages, covering 5,476km, crossing the Pyrenees and the Alps, the race itself was enough to put a fresh team, many considered a joke, off competing. But after 6 weeks at sea getting to the South of France, their troubles started as soon as they arrived in Paris.

Le Ride retraces the journey of the four Antipodeans, follows all the hardships they suffered, and puts into perspective how massive an achievement the gargantuan effort was. New Zealand TV personality and host of the American The Amazing Race, Philip Keoghan is a cycling enthusiast who retraced the steps of the 1928 Tour De France and documented the feat in this tremendously entertaining full length movie.

The venue is again the wonderful Pivotonian Cinema in South Geelong and tickets are $20 each plus a small booking fee. Any profits will go to SAS (Support After Suicide) a new organisation set up to help families and others affected by suicide. See http://www.supportaftersuicide.org.au/ for more info.

The first session is now sold out, but a second session at 6pm on Thursday March 2nd is now available.  To book go to https://www.trybooking.com/ORCU

150th Anniversary of the Bicycle! Celebration weekend


Sat Nov 19:

  • 1pm ride led by Cycling Geelong Life Member Rod Charles
    from Geelong West velodrome (cnr Church & Weddell st)
  • 6.30pm spit roast dinner & guest speakers (enter online)
    Geelong West velodrome (cnr Church & Weddell st)

Sun Nov 20: 

  • 9am  swap meet
  • 9am Show & Shine (enter online)pre 1900 bikes
    Vintage racing bikes up to 1960
    racing bikes 1985-2000
    Best Australian bike
    Best overseas bike
  • 1pm Victorian Penny Farthing Championship (enter online

Volunteers wanted


Vintage bike collectors Pat and Robin Evans who attends Rod Charles annual Heritage ride is organising the event. If you want to help on the day contact them by email.

Entry online: http://geelongcycling.com/#pennyfarthing

A Whirr of Many Wheels – Volume 3 now out

The final volume of Rod Charles’s definitive history of cycling in the Geelong region is finally available.

Volume 3 of

A Whirr of Many Wheels,

the history of cycling in Geelong, this time from 1945 to the 1980s the last of the trilogy Price $80 available from Barwon Booksellers (cash only) or from Rod Charles.

Congratulations, Rod for this achievement.

Rod’s history is far more than facts and figures about cycling.  It follows the history of Geelong and the impact of the bicycle on that history.  There are hundreds of historic photographs, documents and news reports to peruse.

On Ya Bike! Ride 1 – Rod’s History Ride, 5th October, 2016

Ride report from Rod Charles, ride leader and cycling historian.

For the first time in the history of Seniors rides we were unable to ride the river because of flooding.

So let’s attack the town from its cradle, where Foster Fyans camped in 1838 on the confluence of the two rivers the Barwon and the Moorabool. This must have been the site of rich aboriginal activity, both as a food bowl and as a meeting place. in times before European settlement.

We rode up the hill into Newtown passing sites of wool scouring and milling. The wool base to the town on show.

Wending our way past the site of Russell Mockridge’s first race outing in 1946 to Eastern Park where Jas Carpenter raced  in the 1890s we viewed the You Yangs over Corio Bay. This is a ride full to the brim of cycling history and the history of the colony of Victoria which we must do again- or if anybody is interested I’d be happy to lead any one again.

Rod Charles

Editor’s note.

Choice Magazine would say that the goods provided ‘did not fit the advertised description’ and that consumers are entitled to ‘full refund’.  However, as there was no fee to be on the ride, and, because the scheduled ride would have required snorkels and wet-suits, rather than pedals and helmets, no penalty was paid.  No one even asked for a refund.


At Balyang Sanctuary.

Despite the Barwon flood, sixteen cyclist rode the Barwon on today’s On Ya Bike! ride – billed as History around the River.  Rod was well prepared and had worked out a course through the streets of Newtown, and South Geelong to Eastern Park, with several history stops on the way.  Settlements depend on transport.  Geelong’s history is bound up with the history of cycling, from workers in the riverside woollen mills commuting by bicycle, to cycle racing and back to our modern return to cycling, with increasing numbers of cyclists requiring specific cycling infrastructure in our fast expanding city.

Most of the roads traversed have bike lanes.  The group also rode the new commuter path through Eastern Park, and the cycle way along Swanston Street.  Coffee was at  Little Creatures Brewery, once a carpet factory.  Bicycles may be borrowed by cafe patrons for a leisurely ride around the river (when it’s not in flood).

Several riders were anxious about riding on roads, rather than the advertised path.  All succeeded admirably.  Well done to all participants, and thanks to Rod for planning and leading the ride.

Thanks also to our On Ya Bike! official photographer, John Hagan and to Tseviet whose passion for cycle safety saw him giving out free cycle mirrors to several lucky participants.

Ted Wilson Trail memorial ride: Sunday 3rd July, 2016

Once a year, Maree runs a ride in memory of Ted Wilson, an extraordinary man and one of instigators of the Geelong Bike Plan in the 1970s.  Before Ted died some years ago, his huge contribution was honoured by in the naming of the Ring Road shared path.  This was exactly the sort of safe, separated infrastructure that Ted had advocated over many years.

Seventeen riders, including leader Maree, honoured Ted on this morning’s ride.  It was good to see a few regular Saturday riders among them – some completing a Sunday ride for the first time.  Riders were Maree and Bill, Kevin, Dianne and Paul, Rosemary, Stella, Tricia and Shane, Kelly, Allan, Ric, Rod, Neville, Roger, Helen and Karen (who joined the ride at Broderick Road).  Before the ride, Maree continued the tradition of giving riders a sprig of rosemary for remembrance of Ted.

Conditions were cool, traffic light, and the north westerly led to a comfortable ride along the trail from Broderick Road to Church Street, before a detour to Soft Cafe  in Minerva Road for refreshments.  The riders then cycled the old Cement Works Railway path to the Cement Works before a swift descent to the river, completing a circuit back to Rippleside along Swanston Street and the waterfront.

160703 Ted Wilson Trail 013

At the Church Street end of the trail, Rod reminded the group of Ted Wilson’s accomplishments.

A Whirr of Many Wheels: Rod’s in the news again

Our resident cycling historian, Rod Charles, featured in The Weekly Review Geelong this week, in an excellent article by Noel Murphy.  The headline ‘BIG WHEELS KEEP ON TURNING’ was most appropriate with the main photograph showing Rod with his Dursley-Pedersen (hammock) bike.  

Volume 3 of A Whirr of Many Wheels is now at the final pre-publication stage.  We look forward to attending the launch.  https://whirrofmanywheels.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/24/

Noel Murphy, The Weekly Review, 30th June, 2016, page 15

Noel Murphy, The Weekly Review, 30th June, 2016, page 15 https://issuu.com/theweeklyreview.com.au/docs/gee-greatergeelong-20160630-iss

Heritage Ride to Lara: Sunday, April 17th, 2016

The National Trust Heritage Festival was born in Geelong some years ago from the work of Jennifer Bantow and she was present at the start of this ride to Lara.  Osborne House in North Geelong was our point of  departure.  A good group of 16 souls including one high bicycle rider (to add real period colour all along the way) headed down the Hovell’s Creek trail past the Grammar School.  Noted features on the ride were Osborne House, the former International Harvester site and the school.  An accident mid way, a fall, a chance meeting with a friend to convey the rider to the hospital and a friendly couple to transport bikes back to base highlighted the good samaritans who tell us there is much goodness in people.

A lovely letter from a visitor tells of the spirit of the ride and the people who made it that way.


At Osborne House

At Moorpanyul Park, North Shore

Limeburners Lagoon

At Millars for coffee

Downhill glide, Corio

Editor’s Note:  Thanks Rod for, once again, leading this ride, and allowing Cycling Geelong to take part in the National Trust Heritage Festival.

Faye, our injured rider, had her badly broken finger reset last night, and is home and ‘ironing with one hand’.  We look forward to seeing Faye and husband Ken on their bikes again soon.

Addition – Excerpt from a letter to Rod from Murray (our penny-farthing rider):

Greetings Rod,

Just a note of thanks for leading a great ride.
I really enjoyed the day, the company, and particularly you sharing your wealth of knowledge regards cycling and history of Geelong and surrounds.
I regarded it a privilege as a non-member to be included, with such a wonderful group of velocipede (fast feet) enthusiasts.

I  trust that the lady who came to grief is now well on her way to recovery?
I would like to remain in touch, and as my daughter lives in Geelong, I would have more than one reason to visit your interesting City!