Sunday, November 20, 2011


As most of the readers out there, you would be aware my passion is the two wheeled man powered beast, the bicycle. Sometimes its a beast (on the good days) and at other times a lamb. It takes you places with the wind in your hair (if you have any) down hill - up hill and along the flat with friends that you enjoy a coffee or cold drink afterwards.
The bicycle has rewarded me with many wonderful experiences and gained me many friends, both locally and overseas. It's a bit like being in the Freemasons or Rotary in a way.

As I grow older, I tend to appreciate what is old rather than new. The new technology leaves me a little cold when compared to the bicycles of the past. The photograph below is a frame I've rediscovered after it went missing 40 years ago. A friend returned it to me after remembering it belonged to me only this year.

The basis of a restoration of cycle racing history.
Researching this frame's origin is all part of joy. To date I know it is an Australian built frame and did compete at the famous saucer Melbourne Motordrome track.
Most probably built by Paddy Hehir of Ixion Cycleworks, a Melbourne frame builder with an illustrious racing history in his own right, but more on that in another post.
The Motordrome was bulldozed to make way for more modern facilities for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

The bike was one that was used to pace behind the big motorbikes on the huge banked velodromes between the two world wars. This discipline of the sport was very popular all over Europe, the USA and Australia as was 6 Day bike racing.
Cyclists would reach 60 MPH tucked in behind the motor bike with the smaller diameter front wheel glued against the spinning roller at the back of the Pacer Bike.
The frame is actually in rather good condition and is currently with the enameller for a new paint job - most of the components are sitting in boxes in my garage awaiting refurbishment. The bike will be rebuild with wooden rims as they were of the era.

This is what I expect my finished bike will look like complete with wooden rims.

Looking down on the Melbourne Motordrome which was about 1/4 mile in distance.

This photo shows how steep the huge track was - the Pacer would scream around the banking with the cyclist tucked in its slipstream at speeds up to 60 mph.

I found some posters and photographs from the era - These riders were Gladiators on wheels, and so fearless.

A French postcard - note no helmets.

Our very own Hubert Opperman was a popular rider of the Melbourne Motordrome during the 1930s. He later rode the Tour de France among many other prestigious events in France.


  1. No I did not miss this one but I could not leave a comment earlier. Computer is playing up and I will have to put it back to factory settings! It will take me several days to get everything back on it again so if I do go missing....

    This is a really interesting post and I will show it to Nigel. Looking forward to seeing the restored bike. That will keep you quiet for a while :) Take care Diane

  2. Diane,
    You and I seem to be similar in that computers just don't seem to like us......
    Tell Nigel to say hello himself and be a commentor as well.
    As for keeping me quiet for awhile - no such luck. Never happy unless I'm busy.


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