Monday, November 18, 2013

Connections through Communication

What does that mean?
Connections through Communication!

Its amazing when you are researching a subject or persons and paths cross. One such subject was Paddy Hehir. Who was Paddy Hehir you may well ask?
Paddy's name came up when I was researching the origins of my motor pace bike or stayer as they were known in Europe. Stayer bikes with cyclists on huge gears pedalling furiously behind the big motors travelling at 60 mph on large oval tracks - here in Australia it was at the motordrome in the 30s.

Anyway my stayer frame had a large "i" bronzed to the head. I thought it was an Ideal but later I was told it may have been an Ixion so I researched Ixion bikes. From there I found that Ixion bikes were connected to a racing cyclist in those early years by the name of Paddy Hehir. Paddy wasn't too shabby as a racing cyclist in fact he rode against, and with the best of his era.
The only known photo of Paddy Hehir I could find in my research.
Patrick O'Sullivan Hehir was an Australian cycling champion. He participated in the 1912 UCI Track Cycling World Championships at the Newark Velodrome. He won the American Derby event in 1912.[1] In 1910 Frank L. Kramer beat Hehir in the one-mile open professional event.[2] (Wikipedia)

Paddy made his career by riding the sixes in Australia and the USA and from 19 of the gruelling events he participated in from 1909 to 1915 he actually had 7 wins and 5 seconds - not a bad effort. So why don't we know much about Paddy O'Sullivan Hehir?

Two wins were with Alf Goulet in 1911 but that was after the pair teamed up at Madison Square Garden in 1910 for a fourth place.Three of those victories were in the USA with Peter Drobach at Buffalo, Newark and Indianapolis. After returning to Australia in 1911, Paddy and Alf teamed up for two Six wins. One in Melbourne, the other in Sydney.

Newark Velodrome

Poor old Paddy suffered from Cadel Evan's misfortunes of breaking collar bones and in one season he had a trifector.
The Referee journal of 1913 and 1914 published his letters about his six day races in the USA. In the April 1913 edition he stated that his win at the Buffalo Six Day was a fairly easy victory. He was invited to team with Goulet in Paris but found the financial rewards more enticing on the American circuit and had an easier time earning it.

Goulet and Hehir win the Six in Sydney - 1912

His January 1914 contribution to the "Referee" under the title of "Paddy Hehir Returns - Fortunes and Misfortunes of an American Racing Season" he tells of his three broken collar bones in one season.
He talks of Reggie McNamara, Spears, and Alf Grenda - all Australians making their name on the American Circuit.
Another article in the New York Times echoed the headline "Kramer's Sprint Wins" with the sub-title "Champion defeats Hehir on the Newark Velodrome". Kramer, a world sprint champion may have had Paddy's measure in the sprint match but our Irish/Australian beat Kramer in the 1/2 mile handicap on the same night, but had to take second again to Kramer in the one mile handicap.
The Ixion Track Bike

Paddy returned home and founded Ixion Bicycles with his partner a chap by the name of Blair at St Kilda in Melbourne. It was back then that a young Rupe Bates (Bates Cycles) learnt his trade working at Ixion. This is where the Connections through Communications comes about. Only last weekend I was talking to Leo Bates who bought a bike shop from another bike shop owner, Pop Storran in Thornbury. Pop's brand was Ideal, the name on my stayer frame. I asked Leo Bates about the bike, Pop and conversation got around to my earlier thoughts that the bike was an Ixion and the fact that it may have been connected to Paddy O'Sullivan Hehir.

It was then that Leo exclaimed, "I remember Paddy, he worked with us down at Clifton Hill at Rupe's bike building factory". Could Rupe have repaid the favour to Paddy in later years for giving him his introduction the the bike business. This is all conjecture on my part and the truth is most probably lost in time now that so many years have passed.

Maybe someone out there may know more about Paddy - certainly Leo Bates knew very little of his amazing racing career in the world of Madison and Six Day racing in that magical era in the early part of the 1900s.

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