Tag Archives: bicycle

Retracing the Footsteps of Our Cycling Champion.

On Thursday, I caught the train to Marrickville in Sydney’s Inner West to retrace the footsteps (or should I say wheels tracks) of world cycling champion Cecil Walker, who was my grandfather-in-law’s first cousin. Although I’ve read countless newspaper articles about his career, I also wanted to walk the streets where he walked and cycled to get a sense of the man in his own environment when he was still a fish in his own pond before he leaped into the  big pond of American cycling at the Newark Velodrome.

While reading about his wins was exciting, I’m much more interested in finding out about his early, formative years and what it took to reach the top. How did he do it? Was it just hard work or was he superhuman in some way? I was curious, and this is the sort of insight which could be very helpful to our kids. After all, it’s one thing for a random stranger to be your hero. It’s quite another when someone inspirational shares at least some of your DNA. I thought it could be a mighty encouragement.

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Herbert William Brooker, Geoff’s Grandfather with his bike in Tasmania. He seems to look quite a lot like like his cousin, Cecil Walker. 

This is the Cecil Walker I particularly wanted to share with my teenage kids, so they understand that success doesn’t arrive on a silver platter. That it takes hours and hours of grueling hard work, talent, strategy, a solid dose of rat cunning and the X factor to boot whatever that might be. That’s not to overwhelm and discourage them, but its easy for kids to look at adults and not realize what it took to get there. They might not become world champion cyclists but hopefully they won’t end up face down in the mud unable to face another defeat either (Me too!!).

William Joseph Cecil Walker was born in 1898 in Marrickville to parents Catherine O’Maley and Joseph Elezer Walker. His father had a grocery store on the corner of Victoria and Sydenham Roads, Marrickville. Cecil was working in his father’s store and went from making deliveries on his bike to joining the the Marrickville Cycling Club. After a shaky start, success followed success and while he was expected to compete in the 1920 Paris Olympics, he turned professional and left for USA in 1920.

Cecil Walker Maddison Square Gardens

In an interview in 1939, he reflected:

“WHILE I was as keen as a new razor to get a break in the bike racing game in America, I must confess that the main reason for my deciding on a trip to the land of skyscrapers was to escape becoming a “hand” in my dad’s grocery store at Marrickville, Sydney. It was a big gamble. With such mighty Aussies as Alf Goullet, Reg McNamara, Alf Grenda and Frank Corry already holding high places in America, and a brilliant collection of home and European anklers on hand to meet the demands of the cycling fans there, the market of peddling wares seemed very much glutted. However, I figured that if I was eventually to go back to go back to weighing up sugar and butter I would have the satisfaction of knowing that at least I made a valiant attempt to escape such a fate.1.”

Marrickville Station

By the time the train pulled into Marrickville Station, it was early afternoon. As you may be aware, I love going on random walking tours with my camera where I aim for a general direction and follow the lens where it leads. Today, I was aiming to find the location of the grocery store, even though it’s been knocked down. However, I wanted to walk around the block and when I checked out the map, I noticed there was a park across the road. I also wanted to walk along the Cook’s River. Lastly, I’d left a message for a school friend hoping we could shift our friendship out of Facebook and back into the real world. So, even though my trip was rather unstructured, surely something would pan out!!

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More wisdom on the walls of Marrickville than from the mouths of our politicians.

However, as I exited Marrickville Station, the street didn’t look right. I’ve driven through Marrickville before and I’d expected a busy road with loads of multicultural eateries. This wasn’t it. I figured that if I went left I’d end up at the river and if I went right, I’d find the grocery store. However, I didn’t factor in my inimitable capacity for getting lost. Well, not exactly being lost, but not being where I intended to be either. Indeed, I’d got right off the grid.

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These gorgeous pooches from Australia Street Stained Glass eventually posed for the camera.

So, as much as walking around on foot is the best way to explore a place, I was mighty grateful when my friend responded and rescued me from my misguided wanderings in her 4WD. Then, as we’re heading for a cafe, I finally see a familiar site. It’s spot where the grocery store once stood. I recognized it from Google Earth. 

Above: The Henson, Marrickville.

After we stopped off at a cafe for a late lunch, we picked up my friend’s dog and headed off to Beaman Park, which runs alongside the Cook’s River and is actually in the adjacent suburb of Earlwood.

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By this stage, I had no idea where I was. You know how it is when you’re sitting in the passenger seat nodding your head. However, my friend was doing a superb job of taking care of Paddington Bear and showing me around pointing out how these seemingly disparate bits of Marrickville fitted together.

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That was how I found myself deposited at Sydenham Station to make my way home. By this stage it was dark and a large, all but full moon was rising above the tracks and into the night sky.

It had been a wonderful day, even if it went to prove one of my favourite quotes:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” 

John Lennon & Allen Saunders 

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sources

  1. Sporting Globe (Melbourne, Vic. : 1922 – 1954), Saturday 21 January 1939, page 8

No Regrets…Friday Fictioneers.

Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll were a different story as a kid.  Bouncing in between Mum and Dad with a revolving circus of “aunts” and “uncles”, I was safer riding my bike unsupervised on the road, than being at home. Yet, I was only knee high to a grasshopper, and still had my training wheels on.

No food, but always money for smokes and booze.

Then, the car pulled up. The minute I looked into her eyes, I knew she was going to be my new Mum, and climbed in.

Clearly, I’d be better off with this stranger, than the devils I knew.

….

104 words.

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. Every week she posts a photo and we write 100 words to the prompt. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior. I’d encourage you to have a go. I find writing to someone else’s prompt really extends the scope of my writing and gets me thinking outside my usual four walls.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I considered adding some kind of explanation to the story last night, and could well turn this into a longer short story. I have seen a young boy riding his bike outside my house a few times without anyone in sight, which is extremely unusual for a young kid these days. I spoke to him once because he was riding near my driveway and I was about to reverse and let’s just say that going backwards isn’t my thing. I haven’t said anymore to him or know anything about him. He probably lives a few doors away. However, I’ve been taught and my kids have been taught not to talk to strangers  so I haven’t crossed the line, even though as a Mum with kids and reasonably well known in the area, I’d probably fall into a blurry area.

That’s when I started thinking about reversing all that ingrained education about stranger danger. What if the stranger was actually the salvation?

The way I pictured this was possibly in a court room where the once child is now an adult and is testifying to support his purported kidnapper. He went freely and he was better off. He was safe. I had a few gems which I sadly had to delete along the way. I had him trying to find somewhere to rest his pillow in between the holes in the wall. I also had Mum pregnant with another baby, and the kid’s determined not to let another kid follow in his footsteps, but I wasn’t sure about a likely course of action there. I also reversed the common comment you hear about there’s no manual to raise a kid and had him saying there was no manual for a kid trying to raise their parents. Such great ideas, and too few words. I rarely write short stories but this one is luring me in.

The Rise & Fall of Reverend Bert – Friday Fictioneers.

“Persistence might be a virtue, Reverend,” the doctor pontificated. “But NOT when you’re riding that contraption around town saving souls with a crook appendix! The great unsaved can wait!”

“We’re getting you walking today. The nurses will assist.”

“I can walk on my own two feet, thank you,” the Reverend replied, jumping out of bed and crashing to the floor, unsupported by his jelly legs.

“Let me help you up, Father” she beamed.

It was the first time he’d seen the pretty nurse.

“Oh no! I’m not a priest,” he replied, smitten. “It’s okay.  We’re allowed to get married.”

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This PHOTO PROMPT © Jellico’s Stationhouse

 

Rainbow Bike & the Bookshop…Weekly Smile

Last Thursday, while I was being led astray by detour after detour after detour, I felt a strong twitch which turned into something of a magnetic pull and before I knew it, I was inside yet another bookshop.

Yikes! There’s something about bookshops for me, which is like the call of the wild and I am absolutely powerless to stay away. Like the children being lured away by the Pied Piper of Hameln, I am always lured in,. Moreover, shame upon shame upon shame, I almost never leave empty handed. Resistance is futile. It’s beyond my control.

Anyway, last Thursday I went on a bit of an “excursion”. To be exact, it started the moment I left the doctor’s surgery in St Leonards when instead of catching the train North towards home, I jumped platforms and was soon click clacketting my way across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through the city and alighting at Kings Cross Station. From there, I explored the Anne & Otto Frank Exhibition at the Sydney Jewish Museum and then took a right and stumbled across Darlinghurst Gaol, which is now the National Art School. Struck by it’s imposing sandstone architecture, I HAD to explore it further especially as I had my camera with me. Before long, I was in Surry Hills, my usual stomping ground.

That’s where I stumbled across The Oscar & Friends Bookshop.

Well, in terms of budget control and not spending any money, I kept stumbling over.

Or, you could look at it on the bright side and say I only bought two books. One is a gift for my brother so I won’t give it away but the book, which I bought for myself, was very pertinent:

Tim Harwood’s Messy: How to Be Creative & Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World.

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‘Utterly fascinating. Tim Harford shows that if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world. It’s a masterful case for the life-changing magic of cluttering up’ – Adam Grant

Ranging expertly across business, politics and the arts, Tim Harford makes a compelling case for the creative benefits of disorganisation, improvisation and confusion. His liberating message: you’ll be more successful if you stop struggling so hard to plan or control your success. Messy is a deeply researched, endlessly eye-opening adventure’ – Oliver Burkeman

Now, I know that when you’re a bit quirky and spend your life swimming against the flow, you can get rather excited when you finally find someone who agrees with your point of view…AT LAST!! Indeed, given the thrill of finding a so-called published expert supporting your long held philosophical stance when you’ve been as a lone ranger on a tiny Pacific atoll,  is such a relief that you don’t even question whether the author’s legit. Indeed, here’s finally the proof you’ve always been looking for that messy desks beat tidy desks. Yippee!

Anyway, as you might gather finding Tim Harford’s book is a good enough reason to smile.

However, as I’m leaving the bookshop, I spotted a bicycle, which had been painted in luscious rainbow colours and I was in heaven.

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Indeed, I thought about riding that rainbow bike right up into the sky and into the heavens. That was, until I spotted the very secure bike chain.

While everyone has their own perspective of what rainbows mean to them, I love all the bright colours and how rainbows are formed by that mingling of sun and rain which must be viewed from the correct angle in what must be a fusion of magic and science.

Rainbows make me smile.

Hmm…and now thanks to Tim Harford I can ignore all the crap on my desk until my keyboard gets buried again and a rescue mission is required.

What has made you smile this week?

This has been part of The Weekly Smile hosted by Trent’s World. You can click on the linky here to check it out.

xx Rowena