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


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

Exercise for a better brain

images333The good news is that exercise slows brain ageing and can even improve our brain function.

Not long ago, scientists believed that adults were not capable of making new brain cells. However, scientists are now finding that exercise has remarkable effects on the brain and can help protect both memory and thinking skills.

We should all be interested in protecting our memory and thinking skills because the hippocampus, one of the main parts of the brain responsible for memory, does typically shrink 1% per year after the age of 50.
When we exercise, we…

Improve our bodily functions: Exercise helps reduce high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes, which are all risk factors for dementia. One of the best ways to slow your brain ageing is to keep the rest of your body healthy. Many medical conditions — from heart disease to depression— can affect your memory.

Feed our brains: Exercise increases our heart rate, which pumps more oxygen and nutrients to the brain providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.

Protect our brain: Increasing evidence suggests that exercise ‘turns on’ genes that produce substances such as brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). This BNDF molecule stimulates the growth of new brain cells and protects brain cells from damage. The presence of this gene provides no benefits unless it is turned on. So next time you exercise, think of those genes being switched on to brain cell production mode!

Reduce the chance of chronic disease: Exercise also ‘turns off’ genes that produce inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Inflammation appears to be at the centre of most chronic diseases. Switching off inflammation is likely to protect us, we know that inflammation in the blood vessels may reduce the blood flow to the brain – not a good thing anyone’s opinion.

How much exercise do we have to do?grab1

The news is good, a good walk will help reverse the age related decline in brain volume. A recent study showed that older people who walked 40 minutes a day, 3 times a week, showed a 2% increase in the volume of the hippocampus.

According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, aerobic exercise performed for periods up to 60 min facilitate specific aspects of information processing; however, extended exercise that leads to dehydration compromises both information processing and memory functions. And a study from Stockholm showed that the antidepressant effect of exercise is associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus.

So, if you are a couch potato try to establish a new habit just to keep brain healthy. Once established, habits are easy to maintain. Start out with just a few minutes of gentle exercise each session and then build regularly over a month until exercise becomes a habit.
Resistance – we are designed for it!

sport-graphics-running-298165Resistance exercises are those that involve pushing, pulling or lifting. A review of numerous studies on the impact of resistance training suggests that regular resistance training twice per week improves cognitive performance.

According to Alzheimers’s Australia, dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older) and the third leading cause of disability burden overall. Three in ten people over the age of 85 and almost one in ten people over 65 have dementia. Each week, there are 1,700 new cases of dementia in Australia; approx. one person every 6 minutes. This is expected to grow to 7,400 new cases each week by 2050.

One study showed that, in older people with mild cognitive impairment, resistance exercise improved performance of complex cognitive skills such as planning and organisation.

Further evidence that exercise can have positive impacts on nerve cells is the work that shows that exercise is helpful in reducing the occurrence and/or impact of both Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, both are diseases that involve impaired nerve cell function.

   bike98   What are you waiting for?bike98

Elwood Gatorade Triathlon 2015

Turn the clock on a year, and I’m back at Elwood for another go at the Active Feet Triathlon. Last year it was cloudy skies, howling wind and driving rain. This year a near perfect Melbourne bayside morning with a gentle breeze, clear skies and a calm sea………..thank goodness.

The early start didn’t change, and we left home at 5am. Parking was difficult and Denni and I had a decent walk to the venue. At least we were familiar with the process, so “number painting” first, then security at the bike compound, find your numbered spot and hook up the bike and set up all the gear in the tiny allocated space below….helmet, glasses, riding cleats, running shoes, towel, and drink bottle.

An excellent innovation this year was to start some of the “slower group” in earlier waves, so I was off in a group of around 40 who were 40+ years old 9 mins after the first wave rather than 30 mins after the start last year.

The swim leg was a battle of flailing seals, so bodies everywhere being pushed, shoved and kicked, made worse by catching some of the preceding wave before leaving the water. That’s my excuse for looking somewhat pooped.

Pink caps of "50+" catching green caps of "family & friends"

Pink caps of “50+” catching green caps of “family & friends”



The run back to the bike compound was several hundred metres just to add to the test.

The run back from the swim

The run back from the swim

The bike leg was fantastic, with lots of fellow competitors all over the course. Thanks to my excellent training under the careful guidance of OMNIcyclists, I made steady progress through the field to dismount at an average speed a sniff below 30km/hr. The pic of me returning to the compound is purely an optical illusion that I appear to be holding up the field

Nearing the end of the ride.

Nearing the end of the ride.

Lucky I was able to sprint past slower riders returning to the change-over compound?????!!!!!!

Lucky I was able to sprint past slower riders returning to the change-over compound?????!!!!!!

Returning to the compound after the ride

Returning to the compound after the ride

Now where is my tiny spot????? so I can change into my runners for the last leg.

Now where is my tiny spot????? so I can change into my runners for the last leg.

The run leg (jog leg for me), saw many of the younger participants in waves starting after mine surging past, but I did my best.

finishing line getting close......thank goodness.

finishing line getting close……thank goodness.

Gee that was hard work for a lot of fun and satisfaction actually. Please get the timing band off, I can't keep my leg up much longer!!!

Gee that was hard work for a lot of fun and satisfaction actually. Please get the timing band off, I can’t keep my leg up much longer!!!

The finish was welcome and my overall time of 53.32 creditable. For the record, that placed me 404 out of 580 starters overall. Last year my timing device only worked for the swim leg, so I have no real comparison. The split times reveal a very competitive ride time, a surprising and satisfactory run time, and a reasonable swim split hampered by the mass of flailing seals, ie the traffic in the water.

Relaxing with a Gatorade waiting for the bike compound to open for gear recovery

Relaxing with a Gatorade waiting for the bike compound to open for gear recovery

Leaving for home and feeling good

Leaving for home and feeling good

Denise and I both had a good, if tiring morning, but shouted ourselves “brunch” of the breakfast feast “stack” and a mug of cap. At Nillumbik Cellars on our return home, vowing to do it all again next year.




Ken’s ‘Pedal for Prostate’ 2014

7.00am,Sunday 23rd Movember 2014 - kilometer zero.

7.00am,Sunday 23rd Movember 2014 – kilometer zero.

 The weather turned totally around for this year’s challenge as Ken (Rampo), Bill (Mulga), Barry (Baz) and Nick assembled at Marngrook Oval for the start of this 100km ride in support of Ken & Norm’s efforts in raising funds for “Movember – Men’s health” research. It was good to see Norm there again, official start photographer (think you now have the annual job Norm!) and Lyn (Bill’s wife) sending the team off with cheery farewells. The morning proved clear and cool with a promise of warmer conditions later and a gentle Southerly breeze for the return trip – ideal cycling conditions.
7.25am – a stop and a chat at Eltham adding Lindsay and Bruce, picking up John (now an honorary OM:NI bloke) a half kilometer further the peloton were now on their way to be joined by Bernie on the trail at Ivanhoe, making up eight. A leisurely pace was the order of the day travelling along the Eastern Freeway, over the Chandler Highway and stopping for IMG_1050 - Copythe panoramic view of Melbourne at the top of the Yarra Boulevard hill. Here the group was apprehended by the local constabulary who were not only determined to take photographic evidence of the ride but also to offer encouragement and take on the bragging rights for the bigger moustache! – it wasn’t grey either!
After the brush with the law ( or should we say ‘the law with a brush!) came a refreshment stop at the NMIT (now called, we understand, Melbourne Polytechnic) Nursery Cafe for a welcome coffee break, before heading on along the Yarra City trail through Collingwood, Richmond and Burnley, along the north bank arriving at Princes Bridge around 11.30am. From here it was one of those unexpectedly expected “Rampo’s Magical Mystery Tours” which took the boys over to the Hamer Hall balcony on the South Side for a scenic appreciation of this great city of ours – thanks for the experience Ken, and John for the photo.
JB2 - Copy
The next move was up to Alexandra Avenue and well-earned BBQ on the banks of the Yarra …… it was now kilometer 50.03.
Bruce unfortunately had to leave the peloton here to return by train (thanks for the support mate) but the remaining seven started on the trek back at 12.45pm on a clear and sunny afternoon. So, along the South Bank across MacRobertson Bridge onto the Yarra Trail, a pleasant and uneventful section back to the Nursery Cafe for a refreshment stop after which Bernie left six riders to forge on.

Kilometer 100

Kilometer 100

The afternoon was warming up but remained pleasant with a gentle, and at times cooling,following breeze. Somehow the group got split up somewhere around Heidelberg but fortunately regrouped before the finishing post. A record freewheel down the Westerfolds hill was duly achieved (probably just to show off for John – but maybe more so due to hard tyres and a following wind!) – John and Lindz were farewelled at Eltham leaving Ken, Bill, Barry and Nick to (tired but happily) complete the 100km at Marngrook and a welcome committee of Lyn, Lynda and Bonnie (the dog).

A huge thanks boys for your support, your legs, humour and camaraderie,  making it a memorable day in the saddle for the benefit of Mens Health.

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Tour de Cafe.

The “Tour de Bay” ride inevitably ends up at the ‘Tour de Cafe’ at Mordialloc & these guys made it (again) – this time a free do-it-yourself tyre inflation service was available with lunch.
Early drizzle, not much sign of the sun (until the return train journey), warm’ish’ conditions, a southerly breeze most of the way back – all in all a good riding day.

Up the Creek – Down the Creek.

The OM:NIcycle boys certainly were “up the creek” last Thursday ride – in more ways than one!
Being Seniors Week it was decided to take advantage of the free transport and catch the train to Clifton Hill for a ride, much talked about, but never yet attempted by the group.
merri2 So a lovely but cool morning start saw Bill, Bruce, Lou, Lindsay & Nick head out from Clifton Hill Station towards the Merri Creek Trail which would take them north through Fitzroy Nth., Northcote, Coburg and eventually to the Metropolitan ring road at Campbelfield. After a bit of a confused start and a small diversion to Lindsay’s old stamping ground, the boys hit the first detour in the form of some guys having shut off an on ramp to the trail to carry out questionable alterations to the environment. merri7The trail could be clearly seen from above but it took some time to explore a possible way onto it – after that it was plain sailing (or more correctly riding), the day was improving and the scenery quite picturesque, showing lots of spring greenery. Plenty of interest on the way including the Northcote velodrome (no – the boys didn’t try it out), Russian Orthodox churches, a market garden or two with much envied soil (nothing like it in the Nillumbik Shire) and Coburg lake. It was quite amazing to see so much open country in the area and also so many tracks and trails, finished and unfinished – not too well signed resulting in many stops and discussions as to the best route to take. Needless to say everyone had an opinion, but eventually after about 20km they made it to tha ring road.

Next problem – to go back the same way or to ride up the ring road and down the Darebin Creek Trail – Darebin Creek won out with a promise of coffee at Bundoora Golf Club. 3 km along the MRR on the north side, and where is that turnoff for Darebin Creek trail??? OK, so a bit lost again – didn’t faze the boys as they were enjoying the day’s challenge – took to the main roads at High Street Thomastown and braving the Thursday roundabout traffic (thankfully with great success) turned on to Settlement road and finally discovered the “Lunch Box” for a well-earned coffee break – not bad coffee either.
Getting on to the Darebin Creek trail was still proving to be elusive but the way took them over some (surprisingly) open (and steep) parklands ending in a gentle downhill cruise through Bundoora Park and eventually finding the trail somewhere at the southern end of it. Great riding from here onwards, but of course a few more route decisions had to be thrashed out and Bruce just had to get lost one more time (we think just to prove he was better at it than the rest of the peloton!). It was actually a great ride, around 40km on a perfect cycling day, interesting and surprisingly scenic, considering the middle of a large city, and terminating at Alphington Station just in time to catch a Hustbridge train home.
Rated – four stars ****

Seniors Week Bike Ride 2014

Sunday 5th October saw the launch of 2014 Seniors Week at Federation Square – and the OM:NIcyclists put in another appearance this year sporting some new livery (see Tshirts).
IMG_0601 Bill, Ken and Nick caught the 8.59am train from Dimo and were joined at Eltham by Lindsay and Leon, disembarking at Jollimont on cool and clear morning to ride through the MCG grounds and Birrarung Marr to the Life Activities Clubs pavilion at Fed Sq. The Poker Bike Ride started here, along with free health checks, and the riders were given two playing cards to start. Along the 8km ride three other cards were picked up at various points, and the person with highest hand at the end was (obviously) the winner.
IMG_0610Well – it turned out that the guy who knew the least about the game of poker actually collected a “full house” of three kings and two threes which, to his great surprise, was Nick. Not only that – Lindsay followed up second with a flush (I think) – so the OM:NI boys took great delight in making a clean sweep for the day (is that a poker hand??) and received a couple of bike computers for their efforts.
It seems that the OM:NIcycle boys were well-remembered from last year for winning a $50 prize and for their participation in the event – so here’s to 2015 let’s see what we can turn up then!