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Epic Bike Ride – Melbourne Sydney Melbourne

July 19, 2011

This weekend, my daughter Lisa is setting off on an epic bike ride across the Nullabor, from Perth to Adelaide.  Typically for Lisa, she will be doing the ride alone and with no support crew.

Of course, I’m worried and concerned about her, but thinking about Lisa’s adventurous ride has reminded me of another epic bike ride which was done decades ago by my two uncles, Frank and Bill (Tich) Jones.  I first heard about their ride from my dear cousin Myrna McBain, when she gave me this photo. Myrna is my Uncle Frank’s daughter.

The following notes were written by Myrna a few years ago. I’m forever thankful for her for the help she has given me in my research. My family history information would be much less complete without her.

Frank’s involvement with Richmond Amateur Cycling Club started about 1946 when he started riding with them.  As his young daughter at the time I was very proud of my Dad for starting to race at his age, there was no veteran movement them so he raced in ‘open company’ with much more experienced and younger riders.  My mother, Elsie, kept cuttings from the paper of Dad’s rides and also some photographs and even one with Frank and his daughters, the bike and the cup he won.  Frank borrowed a road jumper and knicks (wool in those days) and fell while wearing them, the result was that Elsie had to mend them. 

  Frank also rode to Sydney with his brother Tich (Bill) to visit another brother, Neil, who lived there.  They were quite an oddity on the road as not many people were doing that sort of thing then and they had quite a few stimulating conversations in the pubs along the way.  Tich gave the ride away on the way back and hopped on the back of a truck but Frank continued all the way on the bike.  Frank didn’t keep racing for long but became involved in the official side of the club and spent a number of years as club secretary.  At this time R.A.C.C. conducted their road races mostly at Templestowe or Doncaster and their track season was spent at their track between the Boulevard and the Yarra River, in the shadow of Mac Robertson Bridge, with Survey Park across the road (the track’s life finished when the freeway was built and there is now a golf course of Survey Park).  The club trained on the track on Saturday afternoons and then held their races on Sundays with the inclusion of the Richmond Professional Club they had quite a carnival atmosphere with big crowds.  In those times the riders didn’t have cars and rode to the races with their spare tyres around their shoulders and their racing knicks under their shorts.  No such thing as tracksuits either so it was not unusual on cold days to see the riders sitting around in the centre of the track in their plaid woollen dressing gowns.  -notes by Myrna McBain. Published here with her permission.

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