Friday, December 26, 2014

The WHEEL LIFE by Ben Scofield

I'm in this room and listening to a whole bunch of old bikies reminiscing, not so much about themselves - yes they are BUT, also about their mates and what it was like to be a bike rider in the 50/60s era.

These old bikies may not have been champions in their own period, or maybe they were but what brings charm to this book by Ben Schofield is that they talk about the champions, Patto, Mocka and others.
They lived the period, they rode with or against them - they knew them. They talk about the imports from Italy, Germany and Switzerland and the man that brought them here, Promoter Bill Long.

The cover shows the North Essendon Velodrome where much of the action of Victorian track racing took part in the 50s.
Ben Schofield with those he interviewed for WHEEL LIFE.
Memories of North Essendon and the Melbourne Velodrome are brought to life through their words. Words mostly unedited by Ben Schofield. He has left them as they were recorded in the many interviews. On occasion I found this a little difficult to follow but it is their words.
But then when I read the words of Ron Neiwand, Alfie Walker, Brian Dew, Jim Taylor, Ian Browne and John Grima amongst others, I hear their voices. The not so perfect grammar is theirs.

Ben asks the questions such as;
Where were they born, how they came to this sport of cycling, most memorable races, their heroes and experiences. That's what makes this publication unique. It's not a mass of results or details. It's just about a whole lot of old bikies chin-wagging to Ben and his tape recorder.

Ian Browne relives his 1956 Olympic gold medal tandem ride with Tony Marchant and his relationship with Billy Guyatt who was instrumental in their win.
There's a whole chapter where the main characters in the book reflect on their memories of Sid Patterson, the bike rider and the man. Here he is seen with the man he took the world pursuit crown from - Fausto Coppi.
They also give an insight of the short lived career of Russell Mockridge.
Jim Taylor who was riding in the scratch bunch with Mocka in the Tour of Gippsland relives that tradgic day when Russell lost his life.
My father Jack is 93 and I'm sending a copy to him because I know that he'll enjoy reading about some blokes that he mixed with over the years. So if its for someone of the era or for someone that wants to have an insight to the 1950/1960 period of cycling in Victoria, then do yourself a favor and whack a copy in your library.

You can purchase your copy of WHEEL LIFE by Ben Scofield by emailing him first on 
and then depositing an amount of $29.99 plus $7.00 postage:
BSB 814 282 
Acc 1050 9261

Many of the photos come from the rider's own personal scrapbooks - these two photos show Australian Team members for the 1952 and 1955 world championship.