The Inspirational Ernie Old

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The Inspirational Ernie Old

Postby Vintagetourer » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:39 pm

Last weekend we came across a small but interesting display in the National Museum of Australia featuring a 1956 Malvern Star bike, maps and information panels.

The exhibition is about a remarkable cyclist called Ernie Old. In his 70's he set out to cycle to every state capital from Melbourne.
He accomplished this and much more...

Photos, more info and links at:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/11946

Regards Graham Smith
Canberra
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by BNA » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:27 pm

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Re: The Inspirational Ernie Old

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:27 pm

Ah, yes the tales of Ernie Old. He has had a great place in cycling in Australia - almost up there with Francis Birtles.

I also wonder whether there has ever been any documenting of the many remote outback rides of Sydney-sider Larry Nolan. Never heard anything more in recent years, but in the early 90s Larry got about on a MTB tourer and travelled many really remote routes (Birdsville Track, outback Qld, Plenty Hwy, Gunbarrel Hwy, Warburton Road, Gibb River Rd etc). Other cycle tourists would often bump into him in the most out-of-the-way places. Several of his tours were written up by him in Australian Cyclist - of which I have the back issues filed somewhere. It would be really valuable to get his story written up and kept for posterity. If he is still alive he'd be into his 90s by now I reckon.
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Re: The Inspirational Ernie Old

Postby GregLR » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:34 pm

A few months ago I read Ernie Old's autobiography "By Bread Alone", published in 1949 when he was 75. Before returning the book to a friend, I scanned some of it including the photo & text on the dust jacket. Here's the text, followed by the cover photo:

"BY BREAD ALONE is the story of a man who is young at 75. It is not only a grand story of amazing cycling exploits, but an absorbing tale of pioneer farming in Victoria's wheat country, a young man's account of his experiences in the South African War, and a family man's story of his war experiences in 1914-18 in Egypt, Gallipoli, and France. Incidentally, in the part dealing with Egypt, his description of the Pyramids is the first we have read which gives a perfectly clear picture of these examples of ancient building.

In the field of cycling, in which Ernie Old is best known, the author has performed some of the most remarkable feats of endurance for a man of his age or, indeed, of any age. Among these achievements the following will be of interest:

1945 (At 71 years of age) Melbourne - Sydney - Melbourne, 1136 miles, 9 days,
1946 Melbourne - Adelaide - Melbourne, 1138 miles, 8 days,
1946 24 hours non-stop, 256 miles,
1947 Melbourne - Brisbane - Sydney. 2500 miles, 23 days.
1948 (At 74 years of age) Melbourne - Adelaide - Darwin - Brisbane - Melbourne, 6000 miles, 56 days.
1948 Melbourne-Perth and return, 4500 miles, 62 days,
1949 Melbourne - Brisbane - Melbourne.

The extraordinary level of physical fitness which Ernie Old maintains is due to temperate living and regular exercise. The portrait on the jacket and the frontispiece to this book show Ernie Old on his 75th birthday, July 13, 1949, a fine figure of a man in perfect health at 75, able to cycle an average of 100 miles a day with the greatest ease."

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Re: The Inspirational Ernie Old

Postby il padrone » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:25 pm

Crikey!! :shock:

At age 72 - Melb - Adelaide - Melb. in 8 days! At the same age, one day's ride of 256 miles ie. 412kms :shock: :shock: :!:


He sure puts a lot of us younger riders to shame :?
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Re: The Inspirational Ernie Old

Postby GregLR » Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:37 pm

IP

What is also interesting, and makes Ernie Old's long distance cycling achievements even more notable, is that the rides that he wrote about in his autobiography were completed carrying a backpack - not panniers. See the photos scanned from the book that I have posted here:
http://gregcycling.blogspot.com.au/

These images suggest that the caption to the first photo on this page http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/inde ... 11946&v=1W showing Ernie carrying panniers, supposedly in 1947, is in error. This page from the National Archives site http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/family ... index.aspx says that that photo is in fact of Ernie at the age of 84 in 1961, returning from a long distance ride. So he must have taken to using panniers after he wrote his autobiography

One of the many interesting things I noticed when reading the autobiography is that Ernie met up with Wendy Law & Shirley Duncan in Charters Towers during their ride around Australia (see this thread: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=56905&hilit=wendy+law ). Fortunately I scanned the relevant pages from the book - here's what Ernie said in his chapter on his ride from Darwin to Mt Isa and Charters Towers:

“...Arrived at Charters Towers late at night, camped in the bush nearby, and came in for breakfast as soon as cafes open. The weather was quite cold, and I had to light a fire before daylight. I called at the Malvern Star Depot, where I heard that the two Melbourne girl cyclists, Wendy Law and Shirley Duncan, were in the town and wished to see me. I had read all about these two brave girls starting on their two years' tour of Australia. They undertook this great enterprise for the purpose of seeing Australia thoroughly. I was able to help them with advice and maps, as I had just come over the part they had still to do.

Later I had the pleasure of meeting and escorting them on the last 20 miles of their long journey around Australia. This was in January, 1949. I found them looking perfectly fit, well and happy after their wonderful experience. I was invited to ride on to Townsville, 92 miles east of Charters Towers. I did so, thus completing a crossing of central Queensland from west to east. I dipped my wheels in the Pacific Ocean here, so as to make a complete crossing of the State. I arrived here in the late afternoon, was found accommodation in a good hotel, and met the usual kind friends...

About 3 p.m. I set out on my 90 odd mile ride back to Charters Towers, as the best road down to Brisbane was the one from there. ...”

Here's the photo of Ernie with Wendy Law & Shirley Duncan:

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Re: The Inspirational Ernie Old

Postby il padrone » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:17 pm

Touring such huge distances with a backpack - wow, hard man indeed.

Wendy Law and Shirley Duncan published a book of their travels around Australia "With Swags and Bags" a few years ago. Wendy Law also sadly passed away just last year.
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