Saturday, July 20, 2013


Its been a week since my last post on "The Cycling Scrapbook". Work, home and the Tour de France have got in the way. And what an interesting week its been over this last week of the Tour. Among my 1930s cycling magazines, there's a report of when Hubert Opperman, Ossie Nicholson, Fatty Lamb and Frank Thomas went to France to ride Le Tour. Its not mentioned in modern times but Oppy actually finished as high 12th. one year. We hear of Phil Anderson being our Australian crusader of the event but Oppy was up there as well. We might do a post in the future on his achievement.

Bicycle companies used successful cyclists to promote their brand - I remember seeing a bike ad on TV, maybe in the 70s possibly Malvern Star, I'm not sure but they used a top cricketer (Thomo?)  for the ad. At the time we had both Gordon Johnson and John Nicholson as past World Track Champions.

Back in the 30s, our cyclists were household names. Hubert Opperman ranked with Don Bradman. Almost everyone rode a bike, especially the man in the street during those tough times. People bought their bikes on lay-by or on credit with the bike shop proprietor. I've seen small payment books that the purchaser would be given by the bike shop owner.

The Barb Bike was sold by the Finlay Brothers with Bob Finlay being the supreme Motor Pacer to the stars of the day at the Motordrome. His Star rider was R.W. (Fatty) Lamb and a real opponent to Oppy at the Drome, and yet he was Oppy's main Pacer.

All the top cyclists just had to have a pair of Sweeney Cycling Shoes and what better way to have the general public want a pair by having a champion wear them - nothing has changed today.
It was a big statement to offer a 25 year guarantee on a bike - it wouldn't happen today when people change their bike almost every season.
Ernie Milliken and Tiny Nichols rode the Preston Star brand. During the late 60s I had a Preston Star track tandem.
I wonder where it might be today. Being a pre-war model its probably land fill today.

During the 30s there were a few local manufacturers of singles. I remember before I started racing, stored up in the rafters of our garage were my father's old wood rim track wheels. The singles, still shellacked to the rims were Freebairn, made in NSW.
I know there's a few of you retired riders out there that probably rode the Tassie carnivals during the 60/70/80s.
Hope your prize money was as good as in the 30s. Good money back then when 235 pound wouldn't be to far off a years wages - if you actually had a job!
In 1932 there was no shortage of a track carnival to enter. On this one page, Talbot just out of Maryborough, Echuca and Longwarry all ran their Carnivals on December 26. These combined cycling, footraces, wood chopping and even a quoits event at Talbot. The Echuca carnival was one that was a favourite of mine from the the time I had a car to get there to the time I retired in the mid 80s
I particularly like the advertisement for the Ferntree Gully 2nd Annual Sports Meeting held on January 2, 1933. They even had mixed tandem races.
The Club later had their own track at Brenock Park. I was too young to ever ride there but I did get to see it - admittedly in a sad state in the late 60s. The Sun Tour finished there certainly on one occasion. That would have been in the 50s with a hard fought race between Russell Mockridge and George Goodwin.
There maybe inconsistencies, untruths and downright mistakes that come from this blog, but lets treat it as a Forum. I'm happy to be proven wrong and welcome comments - that way we document true cycling history.


Nico said...

Great post Leaping..

Can still remember riding the New Years Day Highland festival at Maryborough on the grass footy oval.

I need a pair of old style cycling shoes so will pop down to Sweeneys at 246 little Bourke St tomorrow.. Nico

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Nico - I think Sweeney may have moved to Bikie heaven by now.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Some great history here. I have had my bike for ever, or it seems like it possibly coming up to 18 years!! My tourer is a bit newer as I bought that in the UK 10 years ago!! Have a great week Diane

Leon and Sue Sims said...

You have a classic.

Anonymous said...


The Sun Tours finished there (Brenock
Park) 1952-59. Bet you can't find where the track was!

Jim Swainston