Remembering Russell Mockridge: Sunday16th September, 2018

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.

 

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Remembering Russell Mockridge: Saturday 15th September, 2018 – 2

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.

Saturday, September 15th, 2018, 6pm, Russell Mockridge Pavilion, Cycling Criterium Circuit, Belmont, Geelong

Remembering Russell Mockridge – Meet the Authors

Five authors who have written cycling history books were present to present a Q&A, with a focus on Russell Mockridge.

Over fifty people attended this most successful event. Most attending were from out of town, including several closely associated with Russell during his life.  The forum was planned and implemented by Tim Alexander.  The panel included authors Martin Curtis (Russell Mockridge: The Man in Front), Daniel Oakman  (Oppy: the Life of Sir Hubert Oppermann), Ben Schofield (Wheel Life: Cycling recollections of the 1950s and 60s), Marcus Arnold (Reginald Arnold: SixDayMan),and Rod Charles (A Whirr of Many Wheels – Cycling in Geelong: A chronicle).  The discussion was lead by Martin Curtis and the evening compered by  Doug Merritt.  The pavilion, home of the Geelong Cycling Club, was given free of charge.  Light refreshments were provided by Tim Alexander and the The Bicycle Baker of Albury, and Jason Hunt free of charge.  A sound system  was provided by Tim Alexander and costs recouped from attendees voluntary gifts and from the sale books of the writers sold on the evening.

Thanks to Ray Bowles (The Cycling Scrapbook) for the three photographs above.

Thanks to Rod Charles for this report.

Remembering Russell Mockridge: Saturday 15th September, 2018 – 1

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.

Saturday, 15th September, 9am, Balyang Sanctuary Car Park, Newtown, Geelong

Mockridge Tour – a cycle ride around points of significance in and around Geelong.

Doug Merritt, of Cycling Geelong, led about 20 riders from Balyang in terrible conditions – rain, cold and wind – for a tour of Geelong visiting places about the city which connected to the life of Russell.   The were participants from Cycling Geelong, Life Activities Geelong, Geelong Touring Cyclists, Geelong Cycling Club and visitors from out of town.   Also in attendance were Johne Hine, a local Olympian and Russell Mockridge’s nephew, Robert Mockridge.

From Balyang, the tour took the river path to the steep zig-zag to Pakington Street.  All but an agile and fit few, including GTC’s John Hagan, walked the zig-zag.

Thanks to Ray Bowles (The Cycling Scrapbook) for the two photographs above.

The first stopping place was The Geelong College, where participants were treated to a tour of the old school, including the hall of famous ex-students, where Russell’s photo features.  From there, a detour to near St Joseph’s showed participants the type of hills Russell could have used for training in Geelong.

Next the tour wended it’s way to Russell’s family home in Roebuck Street, before cycling part of the proposed east-west cycling corridor, along Villamanta Street, and to the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre over the cycle bridge over the railway line on Little Malop Street.

Outside the Mockridge family home in Newtown (Photo: Ray Bowles)

Thanks to Ray Bowles (The Cycling Scrapbook) for the photograph above.

Here, the participants had the opportunity to view a historic display about Russell at the Heritage Centre, and take a refreshment break at the newly opened Cafe Public.

The new bike racks at the library are finally full…

As the tour wound its way back to Geelong West, the clouds that had been hovering all morning, became black and angry.

Clouds gathering before the storm

The wind intensified as the group entered the Geelong West Football ground, to cycle the velodrome and hear more about Russell’s racing in and around Geelong.  The storm broke with a tree-bending south-westerly gale, and icy horizontal rain.  Shelter in the grandstand was more than welcome.

With these conditions, it was decided to ‘call it a day’.  The tour was truncated, with a plan to complete the ride in the next month or so.  (Keep an eye on the Cycling Geelong Ride Calendar to find out the date and time.)

Thanks to John Hagan for photographs.

Russell Mockridge with the winner’s trophy, Sun Tour, 1957

 

Russell Mockridge Memorial Weekend: September 15 & 16, 2018

Saturday, September 15th

  • Geelong Memories Ride – 9am, Balyang Sanctuary car park ( Map )- Local ride of places of significance in Russell’s growing up in Geelong.  Ride leader – Doug Merritt .
  • Memorial Gathering with Q&AAuthors’ talk with refreshments:  Russell Mockridge Pavilion, 1 Barwon Heads Rd Belmont ( Map) 6-7.30pm.  Speakers include Rod Charles, Dan Oakman, Marcus Arnold, Martin Curtis and Ben Schofield

Sunday, September 16th

  • Russell Mockridge Memorial Ride – Legends Plaza, Kardinia Park, South Geelong (Map)- Geelong to Drysdale – to mark the route of Russell Mockridge’s first cycle race.  (Alternative off-road route via Bellarine Rail Trail)  Ride leader:  Rod Charles
  • Rod Charles is the author of A Whirr of Many Wheels: Cycling in Geelong,  A Chronicle

Bookings via Trybooking Russell Mockridge Ride

NATIONAL TRUST HERITAGE FESTIVAL 2015: Rod’s Heritage Ride

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. 

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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.  150426 Rod's history ride_2354acr edit19web19

Rod wants a bike path over the walkway on the disused ovoid sewage aqueduct.

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.

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.