Velo Aficionado Contributors

 

Robert Cobcroft

Robert raced bikes for a couple of decades, in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Racing for Australia in International road races and World Championship events. Robert also raced on Italian and Swiss Elite teams including Bianchi Piaggio. In 1995 Robert set the Australian Elite men’s outdoor hour record, 46.822 km at Chandler velodrome.

Forty years of cycling, details the beginnings of the Armidale Cycling Club, where Robert first began racing.

While racing bikes in Switzerland Robert began photographing the landscapes and people of north east Switzerland. Swapping bike racing for photography Cobcroft studied photography at Griffith University in Brisbane Australia. Working as a professional photographer since the early 1990’s, Cobcroft’s work has been published internationally and exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions.

Australian Elite men’s outdoor hour record, 46.822 km at Chandler velodrome 12 March 1995. Image credit Gary Crannitch

Australian Elite men’s outdoor hour record, 46.822 km at Chandler velodrome 12 March 1995. Image credit Gary Crannitch

Racing track and road, Robert's first coach was Jock Bullen so track had to be part of the programme. Hanson Reserve Adelaide, Australian track championships. In the days when Australian track championships were held on outdoor tracks. March 1978. Image credit Ray Bowles.

Racing track and road, Robert's first coach was Jock Bullen so track had to be part of the programme. Hanson Reserve Adelaide, Australian track championships. In the days when Australian track championships were held on outdoor tracks. March 1978. Image credit Ray Bowles.

Grafton to Inverell 1984, Kerry Carmichael Queensland, left and Keith Davis Western Australia centre, Robert Cobcroft New South Wales on the right. Image credit Dennis Lane.

Grafton to Inverell 1984, Kerry Carmichael Queensland, left and Keith Davis Western Australia centre, Robert Cobcroft New South Wales on the right. Image credit Dennis Lane.


John Caskey creator of The Crank

John Caskey started racing bikes in the early 1970’s. Anyone who’s been around the bike scene that long will have met and interacted with many “Crank” like characters. Mulling over in his head for decades, the idea of The Crank came to John slowly. For a long time I knew about John’s “Crank”, John often spoke about this mean spirited complex old racing man.  John had woven The Crank into many fanciful stories about how The Crank blundered his way through life as a club cyclist. When John found out that I was going to write about bike racing and publish the stories here at Velo Aficionado, John saw an opportunity to finally release his “Crank” to the world.

The Crank knows “everything” about cycling, his vast encyclopaedic knowledge dates from a forgotten era, a time when distance was measured in miles, wheels were made of wood, bikes were forged of solid steel in a blacksmith's shop, cleats were cut from blocks of leather and cycling Fashionista’s wore wool and plus two’s.

The Crank is here to remind us of what cycling was like in the halcyon days, days when men who rode bikes, trained all night, sometimes returning home after twenty four hours of riding.

The Crank may seem familiar, there’s a Crank lurking at every race and coffee shop, bristling with ill founded advice, false opinions and really has no idea of how it was in any era.

Here are two real life stories that informed John Caskey about The Crank.

Kevin Thompson used to meet his mates on a Friday afternoon and ride all night, back into Sydney on Saturday morning. One Saturday as the sun was rising and on the verge of hunger flat Kevin had to find food fast. He found a paddock near Camden and ate raw cabbages like a giant starving wool clad rabbit, afterwards drinking the farmer's milk at the roadside, providing just enough sustenance for the last hundred MILES home.

One hot summer in Brisbane, a veteran cyclist found a couple of cases of warm beer, tallies, left by the roadside without explanation. After polishing off a couple of dozen bottles of warm beer, while sitting in the hot sun, he then rode the last hundred MILES home.
 
Robert

John Caskey at Chandler Velodrome in the 1980's. Image from the John Whip archive, photographer unknown.

John Caskey at Chandler Velodrome in the 1980's. Image from the John Whip archive, photographer unknown.