Club History

History notes Whitehorse Cyclists Inc 1991 -2005

In the last quarter of 1991, it was probably in October, a joint determination between the Box Hill Council and Bicycle Victoria resulted in the formation of the Box Hill Bicycle
Users Group (Box Hill BUG). This was clearly the result of a lot of work done by various people in the months preceding the occasion. Mal Boyd and Robin Friday are frequently mentioned by early members of the club. Mal was an active member and was elected as the club’s first President in January of 1993. Robin Friday was a Box Hill Councillor with an active interest in cycling, who remained involved with bicycle strategy bodies on Box Hill’s behalf. The club’s initial objectives were:

  • Advocacy of the bicycle as a healthy form of transport and ensuring that local planners kept the interests of the cyclists in mind when considering planning activities.
  • Promotion of cycling through the organisation of group rides.

The club became affiliated with the leading cycling group, Bicycle Victoria. The group met monthly in a very informal way at a Community House in Bank Street, Box Hill. The activities and discussions centred on group rides and bicycle maintenance. Rides were held at the weekend, at a frequency of just one per fortnight with a membership around 12 in 1992.


1993

In January 1993 the Box Hill BUG was put on a more formal footing with the election of an executive; Mal Boyd as Chairman or President and Mike McNamara as Secretary. Mike had joined the club in March 1992 and was doubtless one of the enthusiasts who kept the small group interested. Meetings were moved to the 2nd Tuesday of the month and help and support came from Jenny McInnes who had been appointed to a part time position with Box Hill Council as cycling coordinator. Jenny attended some of the meetings and was in a position to state Club concerns to council effectively. Other names that surface at this time include Alex Tolley, Ron and Dawn Bean and Grace Giannini. Rides became a more regular event (always at the weekend) with a New Members ride (Sunday), designed to promote confidence in the new cyclists. There was a gradual growth in membership and the need for a new meeting venue became apparent. The club moved its meetings to Clota Cottage in Clota Ave. Box Hill in 1993.A significant event in this year was a meeting held in the Box Hill Town Hall, hosted by Box Hill BUG for all Eastern Region BUG’s. This occurred in August and marked an important start the club’s relationship with Bicycle Victoria and Box Hill Council. These two organizations had established Box Hill BUG and encouraged their activities; Box Hill BUG now repaid that with advice and first hand experience that was to assist in making the municipality a bicycle friendly environment. Mal Boyd attended bicycle committee meetings representing the club view and canvassing opinions on new plans.


1994

Our newsletter Whitehorse Wheels is born. In January of 1994, Ron Bean produced the first “Whitehorse Wheels”. It was a single double sided sheet and he introduced the now familiar newsletter Logo. The club also decided to change its name to Whitehorse BUG: this predated the municipality name change and was done to widen the appeal in the eastern suburbs. The Nunawading BUG was having a rather difficult time remaining viable and in 1994 disbanded with 4 of their members joining Whitehorse BUG. There is another interesting connection with Nunawading through a current Whitehorse Member George Cox who was the Liberal State member for Mitcham. As a keen cyclist, George established the Eastern Touring Cycle club in Nunawading in late 1977. What happened to that club is a bit of a mystery but it is likely that it became Nunawading BUG which was absorbed into Whitehorse BUG in 1994. Doug White is one of the members who joined in 1994 from the Nunawading BUG. There were some joint rides with Manningham BUG and the club collaborated with the Box Hill Historical Society to Run an 18 Km Box Hill Heritage ride.


1995

Tuesday rides begin. In 1995 the Whitehorse BUG ride calendar lists Tuesday rides which appear to be the first weekday regular rides and this is probably an indication that sufficient members of retiring age had joined the club to make such rides worthwhile. Multi-day rides are also a feature of the 1995 calendars with French Island (Tour de Ile Francais), Lake Eildon and Bendigo being featured that year. Another popular activity was maintenance and there are several references to meetings to cover puncture repair and chain maintenance; “Tech Tips” starts to make a regular appearance in the newsletter. The Box Hill Bicycle Strategy Committee was expanded to include the municipality of Nunawading – as the Whitehorse Bicycle Strategy Committee, now known as Council of Whitehorse Bicycle Advisory Committee (COWBAC). Members of Whitehorse BUG represented the club on this committee and WCI representatives continue to do so today.


1996

Ken Rushford is the leader. Club meetings once again moved, this time to the Box Hill Community Centre in Station Street. Ken Rushford succeeded Mal Boyd as President and Kevin Hossack was elected as Secretary. Mal, who had led the club for over 3 years took the liaising position and represented the club in strategy forums of Council and Bicycle Victoria. Ken was concerned that membership renewals were difficult in the winter time and decided to find support for a change in the club financial year. His idea, which found good support, was to have the membership year start in February and end in January. This meant that renewals would fall when the riding season was in full swing and when no one would want to miss out. The May meeting approved a scheme whereby members could pay $10.00 and be financial till the end of January and then renew for the subsequent year at $20.00.Thursday rides make their first appearance in 1996 and this is hardly surprising in Ken’s Presidential reign. These rides have grown to such an extent that there has been some discussion on splitting them into more than one group, but more of that later. In August the Wheels newsletter publishes a delightful little article by Alec Dean:
Elsa’s Farewell
The day was cold and windy
And the ride was long and tough
But six brave souls undaunted
Found it still was not enough
……..The poem goes on to tell of the ride up Gellibrand Hill and on to Greenvale dam, this was Elsa Teal’s last ride before travelling to Europe and getting into her solo ride through Austria to Vienna. This ride was a feature of a club meeting and an account of that journey turns up in the October edition.The club becomes more than an association of cyclists, it starts developing into a community of individuals that care for each other. There are differences, but essentially Whitehorse BUG has developed at this stage into a vibrant group of people who care about their community, cycling, health and the environment. They get involved with the Whitehorse Family Fun Ride; they go out to Warburton for the official handover of the Yarra Trail to the community by Marie Tehan. If there are bicycles involved, they are there.

In November of 1996, Elaine Hopper and Grace Giannini unveiled the Club Website and we enter the internet age of communication. This was an important event in the communications and publicity of events and rides for people inside and out of the Whitehorse cycling family. While no figures are available, this step forward into the electronic age made a significant contribution to recruitment of members for the organization.


1997

Ken and Kevin keep on going, Ken and Kevin had such a good time in 1996 that they stood again for office in 1997; the members had no hesitation in electing them again. The first multi day Wangaratta ride is planned for March of 1997 and is billed as the “Great Grand Prix Escape”; legal considerations force the club executive to canvass the idea of incorporating the club, a “spa country” tour around Daylesford is planned along with a two day Point Nepean excursion: the Reservoir series of rides is introduced with rides to Sugarloaf, Silvan, Badger Weir, Yan Yean and Cardinia. The members are surveyed to agree on a new name for the BUG after incorporation. Whitehorse Cyclists Inc. is the club choice despite some concern that we may be referred to as the WC’s. The actual incorporation of the club occurs in July following the hard work of Simon Woodford who takes responsibility for following the exhaustive paper trail involved. Darby organises a trip to see the fabled ADA tree, a botanical feature that stands head and shoulders above its contempories. Ken decides its time to give BV some stick over the lack of action on the subject of personal insurance and writes a letter that would peel paint off BV HQ


1998

John Bennett is the President. John Bennett takes over from Ken Rushford as President with Ruth Williams as Secretary. John is embarking on a year that will affect the rest of his life. Mark Bean, son of Ron, proposes an alternative logo for Whitehorse Wheels. There are no records of debate, but the original logo remains to this day. The club made use of the opening of the Eastern Freeway to distribute brochures publicizing Whitehorse Cyclists. This was an enormous success in attracting new members. The Tasmanian Tourists departed in February to have a wonderful trip organised to the last detail by Keith Maytum. In March the Wangaratta BUG multi day ride led by Bob Winton features Milawa, the Warby ranges, Eldorado and Glenrowan. A Flinders Island ride is flagged for March 1999; Mike McNamara seeks expressions of interest in a 6 day excursion to this lovely part of the world. Keith sets up a ride for September in Canberra staying at the YHA Hostel in Conner.Mal Boyd incites members to write to council supporting a bike path link between Dorking Road and Middleborough Road. Some residents were agitating against the proposal.John Bennett and Sandra Hackett announce their intention to marry at the October Club night with the wedding planned for the following January. The club is delighted but hardly surprised. The euphoric groom to be gives his annual report in poetry, a sample being:

Day rides to ADA and Donna
Wangaratta the weekend through,
Check the Whitehorse Wheels calendar
There are many rides for you!

The whole report is expressed in verse. Mike McNamara’s 50th is celebrated with a winery tour of the Mornington Peninsula as a special way of ending 1998.


1999

Simon Woodford at the helm

Simon Woodford took over the reins from John Bennett who probably didn’t notice as he was busy getting married. The February edition of Whitehorse Wheels gives an account of the happy occasion penned by Ken Rushford. Simon’s first concern is a suitable meeting venue as our booking at Box Hill community centre is somehow scrambled and the 2nd Tuesday is no longer available to WCI. There are discussions of changing the night for meetings, but this was rejected in favour of meeting in the Scout Hall on the corner of Alexander St and Surrey Drive. This was a facility with plenty of room (bikes could be ridden indoors), however, the cold of winter was harsh, despite the fact that often a thoughtful member would come early and light the fire to give the room more welcoming warmth. Meetings were held in this spacious venue for the remainder of 1999. The Flinders Island tour goes as planned and Marion gives us an account in the April Issue. 14 riders fly from Moorabbin to stay at the Flinders Interstate Hotel and to spend 6 days exploring the varying textures of road surface and the interesting folk tales and customs of a local population that regard Tasmania as the “mainland”. Marion pointed out that Mike made for a benevolent Captain Bligh, the careful attention to detail by Keith Maytum was also much appreciated by the participants. The Club voted for Public Liability Insurance at $370/pa. This was seen as a substantial cost per member and comparisons with the experience of other sporting clubs and associations were used to justify the expenditure. In June the members were polled through the Newsletter to gauge interest in a multi day ride in either the North or South Island of New Zealand and the East or West coasts of Tasmania. The poll favours a tour of the NZ North Island and an Auckland to Wellington trip is organised for March 2000. Bob and Marion Winton organise an Around the Bay training squad with up to 14 members training for the big October day. Rides such as the Westernport Whirl around Westernport Bay is used to condition the participants for the 210 Km ride. Club shirts are introduced by Bob Winton & John Bennett to distinguish the team from WCI. The Ride goes well, despite a nasty head wind on the Geelong Road, there are no untoward punctures or incidents marring the determination of the participants to be exhausted. A support group from the club is on hand to give comfort and positive reinforcement to the riders who survive heroically to later speak with pride of their individual achievements.

The Annual Dinner of 1999 was held at the Orient Expresso. The account of the evening oozes fun and fellowship. Marion and Elaine present awards for the years riding. Mike McNamara is MC and keeps the assembly entertained with a repartee of jokes and anecdotes. Max Greenall is awarded the Burke and Wills award for boldly going against all the advice of his betters in things practical, Elsa receives the Green Post award for writing to the council concerned and asking that they remove a post on a bike path as it was a hazard to cyclists. The post concerned was duly removed.


2000

Sandra Bennett is President …Sandra Bennett takes over as President and Sylvia Stevenson stays on as Secretary. The club is able to move back to its preferred venue for the monthly meetings, the Box Hill Community Centre is Station Street from February of 2000.
Engagements for Nuptials are announced in January for Ruth and Rob, and in February Bridget and Peter. Both Couples are married in April.
18 members take off for the land of the Long White Cloud and a great experience. The trip through the North Island provides a wide variety of weather conditions and brilliant scenic views with Ruapehu, Taupo and the hot springs area providing them with more variety than Heinz ever dreamed of.
While the NZ tourists are away, Kevin Hossack describes an ingenious construction of a homemade cycle lamp housed in a tow ball cover; for the handyman cyclist who does not want to pay the outlandish prices demanded in cycle shops. The circumnavigation of Westernport is repeated after the first attempt finds that the ferry from Stony Point to Cowes is not running, but the ADA tree ride was cancelled due to adverse road conditions. The 2000 year ends with a ride from the Woodend Bakery to Hanging Rock and the now customary Ivanhoe Boulevard Xmas Lights ride.


2001

Kevin Hossack takes the reins

Kevin Hossack succeeds Sandra Bennett as President; Kevin had been Secretary to the club for two years under Ken Rushford’s Presidency, Simon Woodford steps up to the plate again as Secretary. The club exudes confidence and ideas through its Newsletter which becomes a more professional looking document. A trip to Vietnam is planned, a “Night Moves” ride to cruise the city and sample the delights of Brunswick Street is forecast, Simon suggests a ride along the outer circle and Capital City Trail, Darby has a dash through the hills to Belgrave, to Menzies Creek and Aura Vale. There is clearly no lack of ideas for rides that vary in length and difficulty and all members abilities are catered for. With a strong ride calendar Kevin opens the year with an appeal for new blood in the ride leader group, he calls on all to consider planning and leading a ride stressing that mentors are available to assist. There is also lively debate and opinion sharing through the Whitehorse Wheels, Lesley Macdonald provided the membership with a slow rider’s eye view of what it is like to be regarded as an impediment to the rest of the bunch. Lesley writes an article around a chance remark made on a ride; “…if you can’t keep up, you shouldn’t come”. The options available to the rider thus addressed are canvassed in the article and include; leaving the club, ignoring the faster rider’s frustration and organizing a ride that will suit her needs. Lively discussion must have followed and the full details of such discussion would be very healthy for the club. Lesley is still very active in all the aspects of the club. The opening of the Bushy Creek trail occurred in February while the Vietnam tourists were enjoying the “Velo” tour. Bob Millist has a crash north of Nha Trang and breaks a leg. He has a horrific ride on a mattress to seek medical attention, and has the bone moved back into place without anaesthetic, before being flown to Hanoi where he had to await clearance from his insurers to finally fly home. In June he attends the monthly meeting with a video of the Vietnam trip which keeps his audience enthralled. Despite issues that involve archaic plumbing, traffic that can’t be believed, mozzies the size of helicopters and challenging boat lunches, it is a great cycling experience that is the subject of many a tale.
May sees 21 people on the winery tour to Springhurst, Rutherglen, Wahgunyah and Chiltern. A van follows the intrepid cyclists to collect the purchases and riders who have tasted too enthusiastically. The weather is a touch cold with some wet periods but all agree the trip worthwhile. Pat Dixon, a club stalwart who worked with Ken Rushford to introduce mid week rides passes away in June after a protracted illness. In August, the club lost another member with the passing of Bill Morgan who had been a member since the beginning. Bill was a long standing member of the Box Hill Bicycle Strategy committee and was a source of good advice when the club was incorporating.
5 WCI members participate in the Around the Bay with 12 members acting as the all important volunteers.
Max celebrates his birthday by missing the train taking him to the Monbulk Ride because he is too absorbed by the pretty young thing on Laburnum Station. At Belgrave Station on his way home the ticket machine swallows his money without providing the ticket, Max gives the station staff a piece of his mind and forgets that the train now leaving the station, has his bike on it. Undeterred our member sprints to the front of the train threatens the driver till he stops the train. You would think that there are not very many of us that would “celebrate” a birthday that way.


2002

Alec and Barbara Dean at the helm.
Alec and Barbara Dean take over the leadership role in 2002 as the first husband and wife team to hold the positions of President and Secretary. Alec opens his batting with the “Sermon on the Dismount” which gives a powerful argument for crossing driveway edges at an angle of 450 or more. The Labour Day Weekend sees Karen and Lesley lead a ride in the Echuca area while the passport brigade of 15 head for New Zealand. This time it is the South Island and the riders have a lot of fun getting used to the pronunciations that are a little strange to their ears. Torrential rain on the Haas pass tested the metal of these keen riders and a poem to rain was published without acknowledgement of the author, though Keith Maytum is the chief suspect.

ODE TO THE WEST COAST

It rained and rained and rained
The average fall was well maintained
And when the tracks were simply bogs
It started raining cats and dogs
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower
And then the most curious thing of all
A gentle rain began to fall
Next day was also fairly dry
Save for a deluge from the sky
This wetted the party to the skin
And after that the rain set in.

In the process of an application to council for a subsidy for room rental at the community centre, the executive of the club put together a Mission Statement for the group:

  • To organise and participate in bike rides
  • To provide a forum for friendly discussion of bicycle matters
  • To work with authorities to improve safe cycling
  • To co-operate with like minded bodies to further the interests of cycling
  • To encourage members of the community to undertake cycling for exercise, recreation and transportation

An Around the Bay in Two Days is organised by Simon for the end of June as an “end of financial year special” In July a flyer is released canvassing interest in an AUSTRIAN ADVENTURE for August or September 2003. This is promoted by Kevin Hossack and includes the famous Salzkammergut of Sound of Music fame.

Ken Rushford plans a Murray to Mountains Rail trail ride for December, Darby organises a Festive Season Tag-a-long tour over four days and that along with the Christmas Lights ride ends the year’s group rides.


2003

It seems that the husband wife thing is catching on as Ian and Val Hawkins succeed Alec and Barbara Dean as President and Secretary for 2003.Ian decides to tackle the problem of Public Liability Insurance (PLI). The previous insurer of the club refused to continue beyond the end of 2002. Ian provides a report on PLI that suggests that we keep our powder dry until BV has come up with a recommendation. BV drag its collective feet but Box Hill council offer PLI for the meeting venue. A proposal that lists competitive as well as recreational riding is put together to attract better and more affordable premiums for PLI. The lack of progress in getting appropriate PLI was clearly an issue for the committee and members. BV pushes for the use of a particular broker but the fact remains that no PLI for riding activity is current and only financial members are able to ride on WCI rides. In June, Ian is finally able to announce that PLI has been obtained for up to $5 million dollars with professional indemnity of up to $1 million. Unfortunately personal accident cover is compulsorily included, but the main objective is achieved after a lot of hard work and frustration for the committee and members.The club collectively and individually grieves at the news that Bob Winton passed away in early March. It is obviously a great blow to Marion and family. The club benefited in many ways from Bob’s encouragement of riders to extend themselves. He took his own advice and had been riding with the club up until the previous November. Bob and Marion working in tandem and were a very effective team in putting together constructive ideas for the club. The club made a presentation of a plant to Marion to commemorate Bob, and the family planned a special spot in their garden for it. The Austrian Expedition is a great success with the riders having a fabulous tour of that famously beautiful part of the world. The year has, as always been very busy for the committee and the PLI question was a difficult issue through the first half of the year.


2004

With Mike McNamara taking over as President and Anna Vandenberg as Secretary, the club goes forward again with renewed vigour. A strange phenomenon makes itself known, while the renewal rate is high and the total membership is at an all time high, participation in weekend rides is falling off. The February meeting is dedicated to a “brainstorming” session to see what can be done to address the situation. 46 ideas are distilled to the TOP 20. Lee-Anne as Rides Coordinator is soon looking for volunteers to help with:

  • Invite a friend ride
  • Euro/ France Tour
  • Buddy System Ride
  • Country Rides
  • Rides with other Clubs
  • Progressive Lunch Ride

At the end of February Elsa and Keith led two successive group tours over to Tasmania. Again a successful set of tours marred only by a fall which meant that Val had to come home early. Salamanca Place let the 2nd party down by providing a downpour when they were there. Jacques provided a workshop on chain care in his garage and Robin Reid led a ride down to Westernport to explore the fabulous boardwalk through the tidal wetlands around Hastings.

The May meeting canvassed the idea of another WCI ride shirt with Lee-Anne getting information on the subject, she presents the draft drawings and seeks input at the July meeting and the design is posted to the website. The shirts are provided to 26 happy recipients at the September meeting who proudly have a collective photo taken.

With Thursday rides becoming well attended and faster, the first Tuesday Easy rides are introduced to help new and returning riders to participate in a week day ride at a slower pace, for about 30 Km.

The club accepts a Ride Guide which is available to all members and is mailed to all new members.

The Annual Dinner is held at the Mitcham Hotel accompanied by incriminating photos of members in the 2004 rides. Bruce Easton leads a 4 day visit to the Bendigo area in October and the now regular Round the Bay in Two days in November.

Again the club concludes another year stronger than it was the previous year. It has a full schedule of some 9 rides every month with a healthy sprinkling of multi-day rides in interesting locations. In addition 2 groups went to Tasmania and another NZ tour is on the drawing boards for 2005.


2005

Bruce Easton becomes President, Marion Winton Secretary and the committee immediately revisits the “brainstorming” ideas  of the previous year and generally looks to ways in which the club can go forward through the New Year. The Tuesday Easy rides (30-40Km) prove to be very popular so that Ken Rushford and Len Ford plan 2 per month, on the first and third Tuesday’s of each month. This ride is so popular that a 5th Tuesday ride is inserted when Tuesday came up an extra time (August). The Great Tasmanian ride attracts 5 members for this picturesque trip around the apple isle. It is a bit of a shock for some that Lake Barrington is at the base of a very steep hill, lovely camp site, but in the morning – just one way out, which is very up! The NZ riders leave in February for an appointment with the Midges of the South Island. The Bennett’s bravely take the twins along and a good 2 weeks of riding and driving was enjoyed by the participants. Darby led a Nagambie ramble and the regular Anzac dawn service ride is on the schedule.Ride behaviour becomes an important topic at meetings. The club sees itself as an advocate for safety and an example of an organization that adheres to the rules of the road. Mike McNamara re-introduces the Whitehorse Wonehundred Challenge in September. 11 members completed the course with just 2 punctures, one broken spoke and 2 members doing an extra 8km detour.A sub-committee of the WCI committee is formed to bring up to date the Statement of Purpose. Lesley Macdonald, Marion Winton, Jacques Fievez and Bruce Easton burn many gallons of midnight oil to get the wording correct and reflective of the WCI is actually about.

150 rides for the year, a NZ tour and 5 multi day rides, Whitehorse Cyclists again set standards that few recreational cycling clubs can match. The number of members who are involved in leading and organizing rides is high.


Acknowledgements

Mike McKay has been using the past editions of Whitehorse Wheels and information available from members such as Ken Rushford, Mike McNamara, Alec Dean and Elaine Hopper, to assemble an account of the history of our Cycling club. These notes were originally published monthly in the club newsletters edited by Mike in 2007