Tag Archives: cycling

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

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

 

On Yer Bike, Mummy!

It’s a conspiracy! As much as I have endeavored to avoid exercise, it still finds me. Despite my very best avoidance techniques, it still haunts me like an obsessive, deranged stalker. There is no escape!

Why? Why does it still bother? Why doesn’t it just give me up as a lost cause?

I don’t know because I’ve seriously played hard to get. I’ve prayed for rain so I wouldn’t have to go swimming. Back at school, I was permanently excused from PE after having an asthma attack during the cross country. I was sent off to sick bay where sister gave me cough mixture and then sent me back to class. I was away from school for a few days after that and my parents wrote a stern note. Forget being stoic. This had been some kind of near-death experience and needed to be taken seriously. I wasn’t allowed to do cross-country ever again!!  I have to confess that I also felt like I was going to drown in the school pool. That was when we were doing our Bronze Medallions in lifesaving and I had to swim lap after gruelling lap fully clothed to pass. It was torture! I was excused for awhile after that too.

I was pretty sure that  I’d done enough exercise back at school…especially after completing the cross-country asthma attack and all. Apparently, I was mistaken. You see, exercise isn’t like fat, which you just keep storing up. Exercise runs out. In fact, it runs out pretty quickly because you need to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week for the term of your natural life. On the other hand, when it comes to fat, that one chocolate bar you ate ten years ago is still hanging round your hips and waving at you every time you look sideways in the mirror. It’s not going anywhere.

I also have another more personal gripe with exercise these days. Quite frankly, you’d think having a muscle-wasting disease would let me off the hook? That I’d never have to do exercise ever, ever again!! That I could just curl up in my arm chair and go to sleep? Let someone else do all the exercise on my behalf?

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But even as a “sick” person, I still have to exercise. That was what the lung specialist prescribed to help improve my lungs… rotten exercise. Of course, he didn’t prescribe some luscious chocolate pill to get me better. Oh no! He had to prescribe exercise!

I also have to admit that as much as I protest, my muscles work better with a bit of exercise…use it or quite literally in my case, lose it!

Moreover, I hate to admit it but what they say about exercising improving your mood is true…especially when it also involves conquering personal hurdles. I felt great afterwards, even if my legs were a bit sore and my ankles are a bit stiff and sorry tonight.

I am yet to find out if I sleep any better. For that, I actually have to go to bed!!

However, as much as I need to exercise for my health, that wasn’t why I went bike riding this afternoon.

It was a small, soft voice inviting me for a bike ride: “Mummy, I want to go bike riding with you!” Miss looked at me with those huge, grey-blue eyes which don’t always understand that I can’t do everything that other mothers can do. She is just a little seven year old girl who wants to go bike riding with her mum.  That’s all. So how could I resist?

I could do it!!

It’s been at least 8 years since I last rode my bike. I was a bit apprehensive but I couldn’t really see any reason why I couldn’t do it. I just wouldn’t be able to ride very far.

Mummy riding her bike.

Mummy riding her bike.

Mummy getting on her bike was a photo opportunity or at least it was for me. It was a gold medal moment.

The kids, on the other hand, just took my bike ride for granted. Of course, Mummy can ride a bike. That’s normal.  What they’d expect. I don’t remember hearing “well done,Mummy!” afterwards  but they did enjoy bike riding together. That was special. For us, doing things like bike riding together are special and not something we can take for granted.

Bike riding with the kids

Bike riding with the kids

Actually, going for a bike rise together was quite a big deal for us even though it was only in the cul-de-sac down the street. Miss only learned to ride her bike two weeks ago and Mister finally got there last weekend after quite a few stop starts. That was quite a relief. We have been trying to teach them to ride their bikes without training wheels. Miss finally had a proper go and picked it up pretty quickly whereas Mister was vowing never to get back on his bike ever again after he had a bit of a crash at my parents’ place. He had sounded pretty determined but there’s something about your little sister learning to do something before you  that can be pretty motivating…in a nice way of course. Miss loves riding her bike and has been riding almost every day and she has a kind of infectious enthusiasm that drags you along with her, even though she can also be a pretty shy kid at times.

It’s also been hard to teach them how to ride a bike when I haven’t been well and we’ve had hospital visits for my treatments every third Sunday. I was starting to think I was going to have to add teaching the kids to ride a bike to my bucket list…not that I have one. I’m going to be immortal. I’m never going to die. Well, not yet anyhow!!

I am quite stoked that the bike riding went well. As much as I joke about avoiding exercise, I’ve had some serious attempts because my life may literally depend on it and I’d be a fool not to do it.  I quite like walking but have had some serious falls due to cracked footpaths, weak ankles and no doubt the muscle disease. I am hoping that riding my bike might be a much safer option. I have been swimming for a few months but it’s starting to get cold now and I might have a break for a few months. So the bike riding has come at a good time. It got my lungs working and it’s a form of exercise I can do with the kids.

As much as part of me wouldn’t mind being a one-ride wonder, the bike riding isn’t going to end there. There are now plans to ride the bikes to school. Miss also thinks I should go bike riding to get fit.

“On yer bike, Mummy!”

In the meantime, I’ll be off to watch Mister and possibly the pair of them play Australian Rules Football in the morning. I had been hoping the game had been washed out but I’m out of luck. The exercise conspiracy continues.

xx Rowena

PS I was just uploading the photos for my post and I was struck by the ordinariness of these photos. We live metres away from a beautiful, stunning beach which would make such a stunning backdrop to our bike riding photos but we weren’t ready to venture that far afield today and so our photos celebrate the everyday, the ordinary without dressing it all up and turning it into some fancy moment. It was just great to just be!