WHEN it comes to old bikes, Creswick‘s Brackenbury Classic has come full cycle.
Before the 10-speed racer, before even the penny farthing, there was the velocipede – a real pushbike where the rider pushes themselves along using their feet.
Eight wooden velocipedes – literally “fast foot” – have been constructed to take part in the first Velocipede Stampede, a bit of an exhibition race at the series of running and cycling events collectively known as the Brackenbury Classic on October 19-20.
“We had penny farthings involved last year and as part of that we had some antique velocipedes on display,” Committee for Creswick president Mike McCaw said yesterday.
“They were too valuable to use but it gave us an idea. We thought we could make a fun event.
“The blokes from the Creswick Men’s Shed built a prototype and eventually made eight of them.
“We will use these bikes for the Velocipede Stampede as plain wooden bikes and then hand them over to some Australian artists who will turn each into a work of art.
“It is then intended to auction them off to help fund the Brackenbury itself and also fund a community art prize.”
The designer was Committee for Creswick secretary Ray Martin, who used photographs from museums of velocipedes from the 1820s through to the 1850s for his designs.
“I used computer-aided design for them and structural plywood so they have plenty of strength,” Mr Martin said.
The velocipedes will join the half marathon, 10km and 5km running events at the Brackenbury Classic, along with the mountain bike challenge, Great Southern Penny Farthing Tournament, a penny farthing-mountain bike duathlon and criterium road race.
“The brakes and the wheels are a modern allowance for safety reasons.”
The prototype took 20 hours to build, the rest about 10 hours each.
Those interested in competing in the Velocipede Stampede may enter on the day.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
As the Country Cars reporter, I felt it my duty to “test drive” this contraption on behalf of the paper.
The velocipede cuts an elegant form when on the move and, at least going downhill, is an efficient form of transport compared with the standard “pede” (foot).
We boldly tackled a slalom course and found that traction and steering were adequate.
However ride, handling and vibration are a fraction crude. The suspension is largely limited to the rider’s rump which means potholes are best avoided.
Standard safety equipment consists of a single v brake, and that’s about it really. Perhaps a helmet too.
In short, the velocipede is no-fuss transportation for anyone who is in no particular hurry and has at least some padding on the posterior.