Mount Skene is between Jamieson and Licola. We had a holiday house about 2 kms out of town on the road to Licola and Heyfield. That was back in the 60s to the mid 70s. In latter years, Phil Anderson had a property there when he met Simon Gerrans.
In those years we lived in the northern suburbs of Preston and later Keon Park. I may be wrong but possibly Easter 1965 my friend and competitor, John Rush and I rode from Melbourne to Jamieson - and yes, we rode back home again. I must have been 15 at the time because I was on a straight gear from memory.
A few times when we had the house at Jamieson, we tackled the dirt road leading to Mount Skene. It was nothing more than a graded track with the greatest views of the Victorian Alpine country. In 1973, the League of Victorian Wheelmen ran a stage of the Sun Tour from Jamieson to the top of Mount Skene, a mere 20 miles in the old currency. Now that seems like a rather short stage but the conditions were horrendous. Remember that the roads were rough and graded gravel. The rains came and as the riders climbed to an altitude of 1517 metres temperatures would have dropped below freezing. Although only 20 miles in distance, the rain, fog and snow would have made it one of the hardest stages in the history of the multi-stage race.
|Paul Ciuro climbs to the top of Mount Skene in the snow and slush.|
Paul's gear ratios for the technically minded were;
He finished up with 3 Sun Tour wins; 1971, 1973 and 1974. The National road championship came his way in 1970 and 1971. I did some research to see where Graham McVilly is these days and discovered that he'd taken up cross country horse riding. In 2002 he had a fatal accident while riding his horse, BWS Felix at Huntingfield Tasmania. He was only 53.
Paul Ciuro remembers some of the riders that year - although he did tell me his brain and body were so numb, he could not remember much of the day.
Graham McVilly, winner
Ken Evans - 1972 Winner
|Both Bylsma and Clarke suffered the torment of Mount Skene - Here they are in the 12 Hour Tarax Madison Brunswick Velodrome.|
|Keith Oliver could possibly be the longest competitive cyclist in Australia.|
Starting as a teenage his competitive racing career concluded recently with World Masters Track Titles to his credit.
His palmares are too long to list here.
Hilton Clarke also remembers it as on of the most gruelling experiences of his cycling career.
Maybe we'll ask some of the riders of their experiences of the stage for a future post.
The Stages of the 1973 Sun Tour
Stage 1 ITT Melbourne CBD washed out
Stage 2 Penhurst to Casterton 70 miles
Stage 3 Casterton to Edenhope 50 miles
Stage 4 Edenhope to Horsham 74 miles
Stage 5 Horsham to Nhil 58 miles
Stage 6 Nhil to Charlton 64 miles
Stage 7 Charlton to Bendigo 75 miles
Stage 8 Bendigo to Cohuna 85 miles
Stage 9 ITT Cohuna to Leitchville 9 miles
Stage 10 Leitchville to Echuca 34 miles
Stage 11 Echuca to Yarrawonga 62 miles
Stage 12 Yarrawonga to Lavington 70 miles
Stage 13 77 laps of Lavington bike track
Stage 14 Lavington to Bright 81 miles
Stage 15 Bright to Beechworth 59 miles
Stage 16 Beechworth to Bonnie Doon 106 miles
Stage 17 Bonnie Doon to Eildon 47 miles
Stage 18 Jamieson to Mt Skene (20 miles)
Stage 19 Glenmaggie to Sale (record of distance)
Stage 20 Sale to Yallourn
Stage 21 Yallourn to Warragul showgrounds.
|An original copy of the founding of the Sun Tour and the first event in 1952 won by Keith Rowley which finished at the Brenock Park cycle track in Ferntree Gully.|