There was no made road across the Nullarbor and at one stage they spent two days wheeling their cycle through heavy sand. Another section was pitted with camel tracks; sometimes the country was overgrown with brush and near the Madura Pass the jagged edge of limestone had been exposed by strong winds.
The Inaugural Percy Armstrong Goldfields Ride, which traced the first delivery of the Coolgardie Cycle Express Co in 1894 by cycling Pioneer Percy Armstrong, was undoubtedly an overwhelming success. Six riders and one catering manager enjoyed a memorable 70km riding experience spread over two days. Someone has surely put together a cycling experiences bucket list, but I’m afraid it needs updating as the Percy Armstrong Goldfields Ride has to be added to the list.
Great Southern WAHCC members Glenn Huffer, Nick Raven and Murray Gomm were joined by Perth members Viv Cull and Robbie Harrold. Kalgoorlie vintage cycling enthusiast, and unofficial tour guide, Paul Day also completed the ride. Great Southern member Collyn Gawned, incapacitated by recent shoulder surgery, was the catering manager and against doctors’ orders, completed the final ride into Ora Banda.
Accommodation was either swag or tent and meals were around the campfire with Collyn’s lamb casserole followed by dumplings for dessert a clear favourite. Generous amounts of bacon and eggs and no shortage of porridge for breakfast ensured riders were well prepared for the day ahead. Collyn also bought along some homemade Percy Armstrong Ale, Murray shared his Coolgardie Cycle Express Co port and Viv’s whisky ensured riders all had a solid night’s sleep.
Unsurprisingly, it was cold overnight with zero degrees the norm. We fell on our feet with the daytime weather as the conditions were perfect for riding with blue skies, little to no breeze and not a single bushfly sighted over the entire trip. Thanks to generous rain in the region prior to our ride, the roads were in great condition to ride. They were firm and compacted, no mud was traversed. Taking in the scenery did have to be combined with eyes on the road to avoid corrugations and ruts however.
An unexpected bonus throughout the ride and around the campfire was the amount of local knowledge was Paul Day provided. Paul was a pedalling encyclopaedia on the history and flora and fauna of the region. The highlight of his wisdom was undoubtedly stopping at three abandoned bush velodromes that could still be seen.
The bikes that were ridden were sympathetic to the era with Nick riding a 1920’s Ren Star with Kelly bars, Glenn on a circa 1940’s Flying Arrow (previously owned by Phil Harris), Robbie on a Triumph with nickel plated handlebars so definitely some age there, Viv on an old safety inspectors bike, Murray on a 1936 Malvern Star and Paul on a bike modelled on an old Goldfields bike in a photo. He started with a BSA chain ring and then built the rest.
There were a number of keen fossickers that spent many a daylight hour looking for treasures along the way. Robbie set the standard five minutes into the ride by spotting an 1896 English threepence at the abandoned Coolgardie bush velodrome. After day one a number of old bicycle components were found and the challenge was laid down to find enough parts of old Goldfields bikes to make a complete bike to ride the Percy Armstrong Goldfield Ride in the future. Robbie was up to the challenge and got up at dawn the next day and scoured the Ora Banda tip with a fine tooth comb and came back with an armful of parts. Clearly we will need to complete the Ride again and fossick some more, but the challenge is looking definitely doable!
There were only a couple of minor breakdowns, Nick had a chain guard rattle loose and Murray lost both soles of his boots. Fortunately there was plenty of rusty fencing wire on hand to twitch up the latter.
Robbie Harrold took a number of photos and plans to show a video of the Ride at the next Perth meeting which will be an event not to be missed.
Event Coordinator Glenn Huffer and Catering Manager Collyn Gawned, who also drove the sag wagon, deserve special mention for all the hard work they put in that resulted in a Ride of great substance that was enjoyed by all.
Club member Peter Wells died at Fiona Stanley Hospital on Monday September 13th. He was 88.
Peter was a founding member of the club. He had been club president for many years, a role he only recently reired from.
Those who knew him will remember him not only for his his passion for WA made bikes, but for his passion for the club. His contribution to the club was immense; aside from his years on committee he was responsible for the newsletter and organised many of our rides and displays. His mechanical knowledge and generosity with expertise to club members was second to none.
20 Sep 2016 10:00AM Sacred Heart Catholic ChurchDiscovery Drive Thornlie
20 Sep 2016 1:15PM Fremantle Cemetery
It is my sincere hope that as many club members as possible attend to pay tribute to a man who gave so much to his fellow members.
On a personal note it was Peter who introduced me to the club just 5 years ago, an introduction that I’ll always be grateful for.
Robert Frith, club president
Club members just enjoyed the best Arthur Grady Day we've done yet! Seven members rocked up with over twenty bikes between them. Alan Hind's trio of Flying Scots attracted a lot of interest, as did Robert Hunt's Raleigh town bike. The Bell's penny farthing, kindly brought along by Andrew Blackmore, fascinates the great unwashed no end.
Heavy overnight showers cleared and presented us with a beautiful cool, sunny day.
It was awesome to see so many members at the Perth May Meeting. Not just members but bikes! ... count them;
1. Merv Thompson raised eyebrows aplenty with a recent acquisition - a penny farthing racing model with it's original seat, though not original paint. Manufacturer unknown, however a patent plaque on the wheel suggests it was made post 1888.
2. Peter Wells showed off a beautiful pre WW1 BSA racer he's been working on for a few years. He'd originally spotted it "holding up a clothesline" in a backyard full of bikes and it took him some years to persuade the owner to part with it. Everything on the bike, bottles and bottle cages included is original (though replated or repainted) with the exception of the saddle and toolbag.
3. Peter also had a Swansea child's bike he's recently restored in brilliant red and white.
4. Another child's bike, this one from Phil Harris. Spotted in an op-shop, Phil found it impossible to resist the charm of this micro bike with Giro d'Italia livery. It also sports the original shop price tag - €180!
5. Visitor Tom Favazzo brought in a Swansea 2 Swan that's been in the family it's whole life; his grandfather bought it in 1939(?) and rode it regularly to Fremantle Port where he worked as a crane driver. Tom generally rides a modern bike however having rescued the Swansea from being thrown out he's been riding it regularly. It was his transport to the meeting.
6. Rob Frith had his 1955 Rotrax onboard ready for a ride in the wheatbelt the next day. A mid-range offerening from Southampton's finest replete with Cyclo Benelux derailleurs and Cyclo Oppy pedals.
7. Rick Verschuren brought along a 2 Swan frame (no frame number visible) which he is donating to the auction next month.
8. Not a bike! - Adrian Emilsen brought along his immense collection of freewheel removal tools as well as an intriguing freewheel vise.
Do not worry about the size of your chainwheels. The actual gear is the most important. If you have 8 gears, you should have from 68 up to 96” with the vari- ations from one to the other as regular as possible.
The WAHCC has been awarded Department of Transport funding to assist us in mounting a month long exhibition of bicycles in the city.
This panoramic photo was taken outside the then South Fremantle Post Office on Hampton St (the building is still there and still in use). The angle of the sun puts the time around mid afternoon, so perhaps these are the finishers gathered for a group photo.
I recently had to find someone capable of doing some pretty serious repairs to a hundred year old racing frame. It seems that only two people are in business in Perth doing that sort of thing.
I contacted Quantum Bicycles in North Perth and they agreed to at least look at what was needed. I was taken there by one of my lovely daughters.
At first I only saw the tiny entrance to the workshop and wondered if the firm could do the job. Then I was taken to another couple of rooms that were full of shelves and racks of bike parts and tools. Everything was spotless, it was a pleasure to see such a great setup.
I’m happy to recommend Quantum’s services to anyone who has frame or paint problems. Aldo will be pleased to show you some of his work; his paint finish is top class.
Quantum Cycles, 64 Farmer St, North Perth, WA 6006. Phone 08 94433407. Email email@example.com
Percy accepted the offer and the Sydney-Melbourne record was his first solo record attempt. He was able to break the record on September 30, 1893 by 26 hours. Completing the 930km in the remarkable time 4 days, 3 hours and 45 minutes.