Mystery At Barry’s Bend

Barry’s Bend – July 2013

We return nearly four years to one of the very first posts on this blog – to July 2013.

BARRY’S BEND on the Diamond Creek Trail was commemorated with a plaque dedicated to the, then, newly inaugurated OM:NI cyclist Basomni (2nd from the right) who on his first or second ride with the team had an unfortunate encounter, at speed, with the wire fence under the Etham railway trestle bridge – sadly the fence won the contest!

After stalwartly regaining the saddle and finishing off the ride he was, the next day, inopportunely found in the hospital with a punctured lung and various cracked ribs. This fateful incident was to see him off the bike for some six months but meanwhile his Omnicycle mates would ride past the spot almost weekly and recall the unfortunate incident. It was sometime on one of these ridebys that one Omnicycle ‘wit’ referred to the corner as ‘Barry’s Bend’ – and the name stuck!

Some months later, undaunted and recovered, Basomni declared his intention to return to the peloton but before his return ride a certain (ex master tradesman… hereby referred to as Kenomni) and member of the team handcrafted a sign which was suitably attached to the offending fence (see above photograph). The occasion, on a chilly winter morning, being duly recorded for the Omnicycle archives.

So, to continue the story…… The sign from then on became a bit of an icon and a conversation point but not quite a GPS locator (never actually made it onto Google Maps!) though It managed to stay in pristine condition until it came to the untoward attention of the local graffiti ‘vandals’ (we don’t ever  refer to them as ‘artists’ – that esteemed honorific can only be attached to a few people like Banksy – but we’ll not continue that discussion here).

Barry’s Bend – March 2017

After a couple of years the sign was ‘tagged’ … then ‘tagged’ again untill eventually it was totally obliterated with black paint. The Omnicycle riders would pass it in the last six months or so and occasionally thinking should they do something to restore it. So imagine their surprise a week ago when passing Basomni’s calamitous bend that the sign had received a surprising makeover –
..Aha! They said “that looks like the work of that master Omnicycle ‘tradie’ who originally made and erected the sign – well done!” But on being confronted with the information the said tradie, categorically denied having any part in the restoration of this DC Trail icon. Subsequently it is obvious that non of the Omnicycle riders are responsible for this refurbishment (or at least non that are owning up) …..so …..

………Who then is the mystery keeper of Barry’s Bend?

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My Trusted Travelling Companion

The response was not entirely unexpected.

‘You want what? Dad, have you heard of the 21st century? Nobody uses those old things any more.  They’re a waste of resources. Just download the Google Maps app to your phone.’

I gently reminded my daughter that for some arcane reason, neither I nor her mother owned a smart phone. Our portable communication devices are ancient 2G Nokia pieces, attractive in a retro way, but only capable of basic calls and texts, and only used to make a few calls while away from home, to reply to rarely received texts, to ring the RACV if broken down, and to find each other when separated at the footy, tennis , supermarket etc..

The occasion of this lively conversation was last December, when I idly mentioned to my daughter that the item I would like for Christmas was a hard copy 2017 Melways street directory, approximate cost $60, available from all good newsagents.

‘But if you don’t want to buy me that, and if you want me to reside in the current century, how about you shout me a new I Phone 7, approximate cost $990, available from all good Apple stores.’

‘Hmm, OK you’ve convinced me, I’ll buy you the Melways.’

Accordingly, two days before Christmas, a neatly wrapped parcel arrived at the front door, containing my eagerly anticipated present. Bought on line of course.

Why a Melways? I can’t really explain. Some items simply appeal to some people. All I know is that ever since my first car in 1968, I have always had a Melways in the seat pocket to navigate around Melbourne. I find the fine detail fascinating, I like the way different types of streets are marked in contrasting colours and line widths. Rather than staring at a small screen, I prefer scanning a double page spread, plotting out my journey in my own way. The touring maps are handy for day trips, and the freeway interchanges are clear. Best of all, Melways have always been the most accurate in setting out bike trails around the metropolitan area. You can buy expensive books showing Melbourne bike trails, but they are not nearly up to date as the ever reliable Melways, nor do they show fine detail. My first lookup when I buy a new one is to check for any new trails that the cycling group can try, and to check the progress of trails under construction. This is why my Melways is my favourite travelling companion.

Melways was conceived by Merv Godfrey and Iven Mackay in the 1950s, the name a combination of “Mel” of Melbourne and “Way” from find your way. The first edition was released in 1966. The original 106 maps were hand drawn by Godfrey, while Mackay spent four years driving 274,000 kilometres in a second hand Morris Minor around every metropolitan street painstakingly checking street and landmark details. Godfrey’s wife got the books, selling for $2.50 onto the market by visiting a few newsagents each day touting the product, a process taking six months. All a far cry from today’s marketing methods.

The first Melways design was groundbreaking compared to the competitors. The concept was to produce a multi – coloured high quality directory printed on a good quality paper. By the 1980s Melways was the most popular street directory in Melbourne, holding 80 per cent of the market. The term “Melway” began to be used as a generic name for any street directory. Melway is still used today by Police and other Emergency Services as the most up to date mapping system.

Those early Melway users couldn’t have imagined that future generations would be using tiny mobile devices to get around. Nor would they have believed that we’d be trusting enough to let these satellite navigation systems send us on absurd detours or up one-way streets in the wrong direction. Or that we’d let ourselves be talked into driving into forests, creeks and onto train tracks. They also would not have anticipated the emergence of what physiotherapists call “Melways arm”, which according to urban myth is a strain developed by reaching over to the back of the car to get a Melways off the seat.

The Melways has been an ongoing insight into the growth of Melbourne’s suburbs. We read about the suburban population growth, but it is fascinating actually seeing this on a map. It’s possible to look online at Melway maps for various suburbs, comparing today with the layout thirty years ago. Then, in today’s newer suburbs, there were generally main and connecting roads with nothing in between. Now the maps are full of roads and suburban streets and courts. It’s startling to see the populous Eltham of today compared to the rural country area the potters and painters moved to.

Which brings me to my experience last week. Our cycling group sometimes ride along the trail from Williamstown to Altona. It’s a pleasant ride. The track follows the foreshore, with borders of native grasses, and sea views. We generally train to the city, ride through Williamstown and continue to Altona for lunch. The last stage is a ride further around the coast, finally reaching Laverton railway station for the train ride back to the city. It’s a smooth easy ride, all on good gravel and concrete surfaces.

This time was different. Nick had the bright idea of going even further around the coast, via the Point Cook wetlands, and making for the Werribee station. He produced a page from Google Maps showing a faint line which looked like it might be the trail to lead us to our destination. I had my doubts. Being used to detailed Melway maps, this faded A4 page in a large scale, only showing main roads, did not inspire my confidence.

Naturally we got lost. The map was not detailed enough to clearly show the new trail, and instead of cheerfully riding around the foreshore on a gravel track, we finished up dolefully pedalling along smooth bitumen through the densely populated streets of Point Cook and Santuary Lakes. Nick kept checking his map, to no avail; Steve tried to navigate with his phone GPS, but beautifully spoken “UK Carol” could only regularly proclaim that she was “recalculating” every two kilometres. Lou had Google Maps on his phone, but having forgotten his glasses, it was not much use.  Bill and Bruce just kept stoically pedalling, following the herd. I thought of King Richard’s saying of “a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.” I would have given my bike for a Melways.

Anyway, we finally made it to the Hoppers Crossing Station, hot and tired and appreciating the cool and comfortable train ride home to the suburbs of Eltham, Greensborough and Diamond Creek. We all agreed that these areas are not too bad a place to live. Out here we still have hills, trees and interesting houses, compared to the depressing uniformity of some new suburbs. I now understand the meaning of Pete Seeger’s song “Little Boxes.”

My first action upon arriving home was to eagerly open my Melways. Yes, as expected maps 207 and 208 showed exactly where we should have gone. Later I copied the pages of the area, and carefully aligning the overlapping margins, cleverly crafted a hard copy map of the area to be placed in my bike rack. The next time we decide to visit the West I can confidently take the lead, yelling “follow me boys, I’m the Melways man.”

Ken’s Pedal for Prostate – 2016

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It was the 4th year for Omnicycles supporting Ken and Norm with the Movember 2016 Pedal for Prostate ride. It was great morning start at Marngrook oval, Diamond Creek, 10*C cool, clear, and sunny with a promise of warmth to come.

Seven riders, Ken (sporting his half-grown mo for Movember), Bill, Steve, Joe (sporting a snazzy new helmet), Bruce (sporting sniffles and a dodgy throat), Leon & Nick were sent on their way at about 8.20am, by Norm (the official start umpire and photographer) assisted by Lyn.B, to the first stop at Eltham 20 mins later where Ken took off for administrative duties.

The peloton proceeded along the usual route at a leisurely pace heading for Melbourne city stopping for a brief stop at the Heidelberg junction to farewell Leon who had to leave the peloton there (thanks for participating Bro). It seemed like the local wildlife took much interest in this year’s ride as not only the usual magpies, cockatoos and blue wrens (a few rabbits as well) came out to cheer on the team but along the Heidelberg/Ivanhoe stretch Joe & Nick were accompanied by a large grey kangaroo who decided to pace them for about half a kilometer, crossing the trail in front of them a couple of times. A bit of a worry as, at that point of the trail, on one side was the river and bushland and on the right was a busy four lane highway – fortunately ‘Roo’ decided to leave them on the bush side.


10.45am and a welcome coffee stop and breather at the Fairfield Polytechnic campus Nursery cafe for coffee, conversation and a breather.

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11.20am – set off from Fairfield Campus running a bit behind schedule but no one was worried about it as it was only 14 km to go before lunch. The morning was beginning to warm up quickly now with a strengthening northerly breeze to take them down the Main Yarra/Capital City Trail through Abbotsford, Richmond & Burnley. index4It was somewhere half way along that a rather large tiger snake showed some incling to joining the peloton as it slithered up from the river bank and onto the trail. Joe and Nick, being ‘tete de la course’ at the time, quickly overtook it and must have put it off its stride for it thankfully decided to find somewhere else to go and was fortunately not encountered by the following peloton.

12.10pm – The team had a quick regroup before crossing the Morell Bridge together and turning right onto Alexandra Avenue where the backup team of Flo, Lynda, Daryl and Ken were busy setting up the BBQ lunch – many thanks for their support. Cool drinks and lots of fantastic Hurstbridge butcher’s sausages (even Rusty approved), onions, cole slaw, home-made tomato & plum sauces – what more could the hungry riders need – besides a well deserved sit down and convivial company.

Unfortunately at turnaround time the wind and temperature were making for a most unpleasant return so, sense prevailed and the Metro was engaged for the journey home – the team would do the next leg on some later, more conducive, occasion.

…thanks boys …. looking forward to next years challenge.

Happytash

Seniors Week Bike Ride 2015

Sunday 4th October was the launch of 2015 Victorian Seniors week and Melbourne turnedIMG_0604 on a glorious day – sunny, warm and blue skies, certainly up to the reputation of a ‘most livable city.’
For the third year running Life Activities Clubs of Victoria organised it’s 11km “Poker Bike Ride” on a circular course from Federation Square along the Yarra River and return. The objective, as well as taking a leisurely and companionable bicycle ride, is to pick up five playing cards at various check points and attempt to return with a winning poker hand. Omnicycle had a reputation to uphold as they took out both the first and second prizes in last years competition.

IMG_1740Although this year the numbers riding were significantly down but Omnicycle was suitably represented, sporting the new seasons 2015 T-shirt, in an attempt to live up to last year’s coup (luck!) – which, unfortunately was not to be.
The ride along the Yarra was leisurely, perfect conditions with the river almost sparkling (as much sparkle as can be attributed to our much-loved and maligned river that can be imagined) plenty of energetic activity along the banks as well as on the water. Runners, walkers, dog walkers, cyclists, leisure cruises, canoe paddlers, rowing teams and gaily painted Dragon Boats with their enthusiastic teams out practicing lustily for some future event.

Well, it seemed like Team Omnicycle could only make a pair of twos this year whereas Sandra -congratulations Sandra – took the day with a full house!

Janet from the COTA Silver Streaks team, Sandra the winner and Nick from Team Omnicyle

Janet from the COTA Silver Streaks team, Sandra the winner and Nick from Team Omnicyle

Many thanks to Lindsay and Heather from Life Activities Clubs Victoria for staging the Poker Bike Ride event – looking forward to next year’s.

Note – To find out more about Life Activities Clubs Victoria go to  http://life.org.au/  or click on the link on the blog home page.

Thursday on the Velodrome!

merri3 A frosty start that turned in to a beautiful sunny winter morning for a small peloton of four Omnicycles, Bruce, Lou, Ken & Nick who caught the 8.25am train from Dimo, destination Clifton Hill. On disembarkation they headed back up Heidelberg road to join the Merri Creek trail from the Hall Reserve. The boys were in no mood to hurry and set a leisurely pace on this glorious morning making the plan was to head up to Broadhurst Avenue, cut across to the Darebin Creek trail returning to catch the train at Aphington, with a promise from past experiences not to lose the trail!. First stop was for coffee at the CERES Community Environmental Park at the cafe by the organic shop – good coffee (and probably organic too!). Turned out to be quite a fascinating area with an eclectic assortment of architectures and activities – plenty of bike parts on hand (just in case your machine was in dire need!) – certainly worth another visit. Riding on past the unique and picturesque Russian Orthodox church with its shining golden onion domes the boys came upon the Harrison Street Velodrome. Having passed it on previous occasions and, ticking it as a ‘bucket list’ item, they though it time to test their speed cycling prowess. So, having in mind the currently running ‘Tour de France’, it was over the fence, heads down, up the wall and round the track a few revolutions! Lots of fun and all were winners! (we think).          Talk about “Boys on Bikes!” The ride progressed with lots of stops, discovery of some dodgy spokes, many stories, an overlooked sign post (no, no one got lost!), local wildlife and lovely wattle trees proudly showing off their yellow winter blossoms. A memorable ride.

Fifth Annual Warburton Rail Trail Ride 9/4/2015

omnicycle - Copy

Mild weather….. and didn’t we burn up the trail! Nick, Barry, Bill, Lindz, Bruce, Ken and Lou had a great day. Nearly lost Bruce who headed off to Warburton East and was lucky to get something to eat from the bakery. Ken nearly missed the bus at Sour Dough –all packed up and ready to push off home! Lindz asked the question, “why do we do this just once a year?”
Aah, the infallible rule of what we did last time Lindz. Over to you Lindz.
                                              

 

A Vintage Day Out

“Few articles ever used by man have created so great a revolution in social conditions as the bicycle”
US Census Report 1900

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Omnicycle  circa.1884

Omnicycle circa.1885

Tuesday 31st of March, with no meeting scheduled for that day, men of the Diamond Creek OM:NI joined with a few from the Eltham group to take a very personal and privileged tour of the Farren Vintage Bicycle collection.

Take a no.78 or 79 tram along Church Street in Richmond, alight at Cotter Street and take a short 5 minute walk down the back streets on the Eastern side and you will come to a very unpretentious red brick building with a cream painted front facade.

Paul and Charlie Farren were welcoming and passionate in the sharing of their incredible knowlede

Paul and Charlie Farren were welcoming and passionate in the sharing of their outstanding knowledge of bicycle history.

Enter the alleyway at the rear and see a plain white door, there no signs and no numbers in evidence – nothing to indicate that it is no more than an ordinary building. Suddenly, on gaining entrance, you are immediately transported back one and a half centuries to a time of discovery and engineering marvels in the form of a unique collection of antique bicycles.

This incredible collection of antique bicycles and memorabilia is due to the dedication of Paul Farren and his wife Charlie who have been at the forefront of collecting veteran bicycles in Australia since the late 1970’s. He now has more than 200 bicycles in his personal collection in the museum which is renowned to be one of the finest in the world. It is a wonderful insight into the design developments of an era towards the end of the 19th century when there was an absolute explosion of ideas applied to a machine that we now call “the bicycle”.


We were taken through the history of the machine from the Hobby Horse to the Boneshaker, the rise of the famous Penny Farthing, the development of gears, chain drives, diamond frames, the pneumatic tyre and more. There were two wheeled machines, three wheel machines, two seat and four seat models, pedals that went round and those that were pumped, delivery bikes, bamboo bikes and to the delight of the cycling blokes – in pristine condition, a unique and original Omnicycle.
The visit was not complete without the tryout of a Penny Farthing, which, although proving quite a challenge to mount, was eventually achieved by three of the group – with just a little assistance.

“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it – if you live!”
Taming the Bicycle, Mark Twain.

On Safety:-
“The mechanic said he couldn’t fix the brakes but has given me a much louder bell”
Steven Wright

On Utility:-
“The bicycle is the most civilised conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”
Iris Murdoch