The All-Weather Cyclist
Today was the day when cyclists show their true colours! It was cold, it was wet! Undaunted, Rod’s smiling face met the dozen or so cyclists and a few extra hangers on who arrived for the annual celebration of historic cycling.
Here’s a report on the ride from leader Rod Charles…
During the National Trust Heritage Festival of April May 2015 Cycling Geelong promoted a History bicycle ride from Corio Bay to the Barwon River, along Boundary road to the east of the city which delineated the early city. We noted how the city expanded during and after the two world wars and we picked up on features of town planning which changed during this time. We also noted aspects of the story of cycling as its worked itself onto the landscape from the times of the first velocipedes racing in the Eastern Park to the birth of the racing career of Russell Mockridge an Olympian from the district in 1952.
and a few more details and photos…
The usual contingent of riders from Melbourne decided that their delicate aging iron horses should stay unsullied. They were sorely missed. Rod had planned a short, sharp hill especially for the high wheelers.
As usual, Rod punctuated the ride with short expositions on cycling and local history. We learned that long before the advent of the penny farthing Corio Oval (in Eastern Park, near the East Geelong Golf Club) was the place of Geelong’s first track cycling race.
We viewed historic housing throughout east and south Geelong – and had a distant glimpse of famous St Albans Park homestead. The original owners, as well as owning thoroughbred race horses, were also avid wheelmen. We detoured to glimpse the beautiful and historic ovoid sewage aqueduct over the Barwon near Breakwater.
Rod wants a bike path over the walkway on the disused ovoid sewage aqueduct.
Finally we rode from the Breakwater around the Barwon Path to Little Creatures for a coffee break, to be met by the warm and friendly hangers on who’d been enjoying a late breakfast.
Not you with that camera again!
Technology with no wheels
After refreshments, the Swanston Street bikeway was negotiated to Maude Street, before a detour to view the original Geelong Grammar School building.
The final stop (though not for refreshments) was at the Elephant and Castle Hotel, where Rod recounted the tale of a young bespectacled cyclist who turned up for a bike race. Taking pity on this apparent greenhorn, the club sent him off on the 45 mile race down the Bellarine ahead of the main pack. That was the last the race organisers or contestants saw of him. On his return to the start there was no-one around so he headed off home. A year or two later, the young man was winning races in Europe, cycling for Australia two Olympics with two gold medals in Helsinki in 1952! His name – Russell Mockridge. *
Thanks to Rod for a most enjoyable and informative bike ride.
*To hear the full (and ultimately tragic) story of Russell Mockridge you’ll have to wait for Volume 3 of A Whirr of Many Wheels
(1940s-1980s). Volume 2 has just been published and will be launched in early June.