5.4 May 23 Bleat

Post date: May 23, 2016 12:59:52 PM

Alex O'Shea Funeral

Around 50 to 60 members attended Alex's funeral last Friday, with around 40 on bikes who were able to form a guard of honour out of the church and escort the hearse into the cemetery. To honour Alex's love of Colnago and steel bikes members participated on a range of machines that Alex would have approved of.

Alex's family and friends thanked us for helping to give him a proper send off. It was a wonderful service full of anecdotes about Alex's many passions. At the wake, we heard about what is was like to have Alex as a dare devil brother. There were some amazing stories.

I didn't think I'd be writing these words about another Curtin cycling legend so soon after the loss of Peter McLennan. To Gina, Tim, Alice and Eloise we offer our sincere condolences. Alex was a commuter, racer, tourer, bike collector, gourmet, historian, coffee aficionado and grinder collector, family man, historian and avid traveller. I can't remember when we first met but we spent many hours together in bunch rides, in races and in lifts to races over the past 15 years.

As a cyclist, he had one speed, and that was often too fast for training and not fast enough for races, and it earned him the reputation of one of the club's greatest half wheelers! His toughness showed on long rides and races when with little training in his legs he'd gut it out and finish no matter what. He had little time get fit for a France trip of 2013, and even without much training, he tackled the many mountains in the Pyrenees over a two-week period always finishing near the front or middle of the group. Then we moved on to Provence and he showed Allan Bontjer and me around Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, Lourmarin, Bonnieux and many other wonderful towns of the region. On occasions when viewing the horizon to the north in Provence, Mt Ventoux could be seen on the horizon. Our plan for the three of us to climb it was scuttled by a collective tummy bug. After Allan and I left Provence, however, Alex, riding a mountain bike with slick tyres, stormed solo up Mt Ventoux in two hours and came back down in 21 minutes. He carried this form into the long Yass race in mid-October finishing mid-pack in B grade, while Allan and I were left floundering.

Somehow he could get fit from slow riding, a long lunch and more slow riding. This style of training obviously suited his constitution and he could also stop along the way on a long ride have a few beers and suffer no ill effects.

Hospital food certainly was not to his liking so when he was couped up in Canberra Hospital with a broken elbow prior to the France trip he asked me to 'bust him out' and bring my car around to the casualty entrance so that I could drive him home to enjoy some spatchcock he had cooked prior to his crash. At the time of his crash Alex diagnosed his broken elbow as a dislocation and encouraged a doctor in the C grade bunch to try to pop back into place. The doctor was reluctant to do it without a better diagnosis, but gave it not one, but two tugs, thanks to Alex's encouragement. Most riders would have been screaming in agony but according to Alex, until you've dislocated your knee, you haven't felt pain.

Alex had a number of wins in C and D grades over the years. Probably the most notable was the one he described in his tribute to Peter:

"Finally, my lasting memory of Peter will be the race this year in early July at the Uriarra course when we both made a very early break-away with Rick Fitch. Fitchy didn't last too long and despite my strong protestations, Peter encouraged me to keep the pressure on and we were still away at the second turn. I realised further complaining was not going to work so we knuckled down to a 40 kilometers breakaway duo. At 150 metres from the finish line, I told Peter he better let me have the victory as it was my birthday that week. He obliged and let me take the lead 70 metres out, but then I heard that 'puffing billy' train blowing stream off my right shoulder. Pete was sprinting, making me earn my birthday victory. I won by a quarter wheel, but nearly threw up just over the line! Sadly, I have not had, nor will I get the opportunity to return the favour." This was a bizarre race and I was in the following pack doing my best to disrupt the rhythm of the chasers but also marvelling at their stamina.

Alex wrote passionately in the Bleat about Matt Hayman's Paris-Roubaix win.

Alex also mentioned recently that back in the day when a young Matt Hayman turned up to the morning Bike Shed ride in his full Rabobank kit, Alex quipped something about a ponce dressed up as a professional. Alex was quickly put in his place by someone in the know.

I'm sure everyone has many Alex stories that detail his irreverence, toughness, stamina and standing up for his or others' rights. The fact that we can have tandems in our races is because Alex's direct approach, as at one AVCC annual meeting it was proposed that tandems be banned. Alex's mention of the Disability Discrimination Act soon had the proposal shot down.

Among the sadness of Alex's passing, something that brings a smile is the thought of Alex and Peter riding together but never actually pedalling side by side as Peter would be dive bombing down the hills and then Alex would catch up and half wheel until the next descent. There are so many memories to treasure. Farewell Alex.

Robert and Mayumi Langridge

A sparkler in our firmament heedlessly extinguished …

(A tribute to Alex O’Shea)

Approaching Alex O’Shea’s funeral I thought of writing a kind of meditation on his life as I knew it, but of course I knew too little and such a composition risked self indulgence.

Suffice it to say that I knew a man of extraordinary courage and commitment, fine qualities in an athlete that suited him to leadership but also fashioned a dependable comrade.

In Friday’s congregation I shared in a splendid send off given by family and friends deeply traumatised but solid and resilient in their grieving, and yet able to revel in the light he had cast.

I there realised how vast was Alex’s audience, how pervasive his influence, and how much he was loved and admired within and beyond our community of cyclists - and, how little was left to be said.

He should have died hereafter … granted time enough to forget his wounds and enjoy a rich retirement.

I suspect those celestial vandals were leagued with Erebus; no human would stoop to it.

Richard Gorrell

I am tremendously saddened by the passing of Alex this week. He was in every sense the Patron of the club. He had an infectious enthusiasm for racing and ensuring that the ACTVCC provided racing for all, regardless of ability. He was a vocal supporter for riders with a disability to be included to the same extent as any other member of the club. The vision impaired riders who need to ride tandems are particular beneficiaries of his representations to the AVCC on their behalf. I hope that his legacy will continue to include VI riders on tandems as a natural part of racing with the ACTVCC. One of the particular strengths of this club has been its ability to accommodate riders of all levels, be they G grade or A grade. Alex’s commitment to the club was so strong that he elected to remain President even after he stopped riding, I hope that his example continues to inspire members to contribute more than simply pinning a number on to race. Alex had a remarkable talent of ensuring that the point of view he was expressing was both forceful, yet did not offend those who disagreed. The loss to the cycling community is hard to express. I cannot begin to imagine the loss to his family. We can only ensure that his legacy is to ensure a cycle racing community that is even stronger, and more inclusive than it already is.

Cameron Ermert

I didn't know Alex very well but it was an absolute privilege to have known him since having renewed my ACTVCC membership earlier this year. I can't believe that he's gone, since, as so many of us had, I had been talking to him as recently as the Gunning two day race. Alex was an enormously positively influential member of the cycling community in general, and the ACTVCC in particular. My most sincere condolences to his friends and family.

David Mcguinness

'It's been a few days now since I heard the sad news about Alex. I still cannot believe it is real. I am in France and am unable to attend the funeral and wake, but at an opportune time please pass on my regards and best wishes to Gina and family. I hope and trust the funeral and guard of honour all go smoothly.

Alex was an incredibly enthusiastic person, always interested in participating and helping out. He had a great sense of humour and seemed to enjoy life and everything he did. I was privileged to get to know him when we first met up in France and watched the Tour on the Port de Lers climb and the Tourmalet in the year that Cadel won. We then discussed this possibility of putting together a trip for the Vets and it was his enthusiasm that brought people on board in the club. This enthusiasm was brought to everything he did and I am fortunate to have spent this time with him.

Please give my regards to everyone on Friday, I will be thinking of you all.

Peter Southgate

In other news;

  • Race Committee needs your help

  • Racing this Week

  • Race Reports

Please send me your contributions at: TheBleat@actvets.cc

Ian Morton

Race Committee needs your help

With the passing of Alex O’Shea, the Race Committee is seeking any members who may be interested in joining the Race Committee. Alex played an important role in the running of events every weekend and without his involvement anymore, there are tasks that need doing. It is not a big commitment usually in the range of 1-2 hours a week.

If you are interested in giving back to the club, we’d love to hear from you. Email race.committee@actvets.cc.


Saturday, 28th May: Stromlo Forest Park Criterium - Points Race

Where: Stromlo Forest Park Criterium Track

When: 1:30 pm.

Sign on: 15 mins before scheduled start time wearing your registered number.

Race Description: Criterium Points Race

- 13:30 EFG 30min + 2

- 14:10 CD 40 mins + 2

- 15:00 AB 50 mins + 2

Note: Riders should ride in their criterium grade, not road grades.

Race Director: Alain Arbaut

Contact: Email arbaut@grapevine.net.au Ph 0400 493 148

Nominated marshals;

• Nick Boylan


Mt Tennant Terror – 14th May

More than 50 riders turned out in perfect race conditions for the graded scratch event on Saturday.

The Mankewich-Carruthers tandem made life interesting in the small but select group of A-graders, proving difficult to hold on the big downhill. But Paul Connor managed to have the last laugh at the finish line, sprinting away for the win. Rohan Verco rounded out the placegetters.

Aaron Sedgemen put in a superfast time to gap the field in B grade, leaving Michael Foulds and Reinhard Mauch to fight out the minor placings.

A big field in C grade saw the pressure put on from the start but Mark Stephenson rode strongly for a comfortable win. Anthony Beasley and Terry Moore filled out the podium.

Brian Chugg led the way in D grade, followed by John Ignatius and Des Brown. In E grade David Gunther had a good win followed in by Kathryn Passalis and Jannette Koehler. F grade was taken out by Graham Wilson with Mary Lovett and Mijo Spoljaric taking out second and third placings. And in G grade, Lindsay Graham narrowly outsprinted Tony Weir for the win, with Heather Sommariva rounding out the placings.

Thanks very much to an able team of marshals in Mark Gillett, Bill Frost, Peter Laffery, Robert Kent, and Graham Hendrie.

Mick Donaldson