bikes, cars, planes & trains: an Oppy homage

Stepping off the plane in Melburn, I was thinking one word and that word was Sir Hubert Ferdinand Opperman. In our first formal training ride in Melburn the xmasepic was determined to pay homage. The team bus preceded us to our salubrious accommodation in the heart of the Dandenongs but we were aghast to realise that the new team Oppys had been delivered with epic pie plates on them.


Due to the extreme concentration of roadies in the Dandenong/Sassenfras area, the taunts and ridicule did not bear thinking about. Watch Malcolm demonstrate how to remove the offending item armed only with a pair of scissors, a carving knife and a leatherman tool.


A task made even more difficult by being unable to touch bare skin to metal due to the sub-zero temperatures.

The job is done.

When you are on top of the Dandenongs no ride seems epic enough as it is everwhere downhill. We decide to go to the very font of epicness and to return the pie-plate to Malvern Star. Where do we go Mr Google? We need read no further than the first paragraph in the Malvern Star Wikipedia entry: “In 1902 Tom Sullivan opened Malvern Star Cycles in 58 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern.”

Thus our journey quickly takes the form of an epic quest. Dressing for the occasion…

… we leave Bleak House and immediately stamp our authority on the hill, passing other roadies at speed on the descent from Sassenfras:

.. and start the quest from the carpark in the Kingdom of Boronia.

It immediately becomes apparent that the legacy of Oppy has left a myriad of bike trails called variously “bol d’or”, “landsend”, etc, and the myriad quickly becomes a maze:

We finally manage to orient ourselves by using the massive urban scuptures so favoured by Melburn, and we are soon on our way to the Realm of Malvernia.

Past natives with their peculiar games and customs.
Past a blatant display of bike-doping in an appalling motorised show.
Past the “fly-swat”…
…the green bridge…
…deadend streets…
…and Melburn pavé.

Exhausted we arrive at the original Malvern Star shop,* now apparently “Lisa Costan Unisex Hairdresser”. Lisa (definitely female) rushes out to greet us. Not as pilgrims, but as potential ASIO agents.

Malcolm calms the agitated lady with a magazine carrying a picture of Alberto Contador.

A new Malvern Star Oppy in its inaugural ride, in front of the original Malvern Star bike shop. What could possible be done to commemorate such an auspicious alignment?

Lisa suggests a haircut, and we thumb through the bike magazine to find an appropriate bike cut.

Meanwhile, Malcolm spins elaborate lies about plans to distribute postcards of Lisa’s shop to attract bicyclist pilgrims. Lisa becomes effusive but things threaten to take a bad turn as as she takes an entire eye-brow into the scissors’ maw, but quick reflexes divert a disaster.

The end result:

We call it a “Robbie McEwan” and Lisa can see a bright future beckoning.*

The quest fulfilled, like hobbits returning to the shire, the narrative quickly jumps to the end over more epic hardships and travail that leaves us exhausted, yet still short of our goal. We implement Plan B. Open the “suitcase of pain”? No, not today. We complete the journey courtesy of VicRail.

Where train travel allows us to observe both startled and comatose youths.

To have your hair cut in the shop where the original Malvern Stars were made, riding there on Malvern Star Oppy. Malvern Star, the bike that Opperman used to ride. Well, it’s drawing a long bow, but I just don’t think it gets better than this. However, it does get worse…..

Basking in the glory we read the 2nd paragraph of the Malvern Star wiki entry. “Finnigan retired and on 1 June, 1920, the business was bought by 24-year-old Bruce Small. His brothers, Frank and Ralph, joined in the business, enlarging the shop (despite a number change, still the same shop – now 158 Glenferrie Rd ).”

*Yes Lisa, your shop was not the original Malvern Star bike shop, you will not be famous. I am left with just an ordinary haircut. And Malcolm is left with an unfinish task.

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2 Responses to bikes, cars, planes & trains: an Oppy homage

  1. Malcolm says:

    158 Glenferrie Rd is a Westpac Bank branch – a more substantial building, modernised in 1986. The Malvish all seem to have a relationship with one or more financial institutions.

    Bleak House has had a wood burning heater added. Imported from Norway, there seems little reason to leave the house. The furniture and assorted papers and boxes are expected to last many winters. Many other people don’t plan ahead.

  2. Leah says:

    What is truly strange about this is that 158 Glenferrie Rd is also now a hairdressing salon. This either says something about Malvernians’ impeccable attitudes to their personal presentation in general, and their coiffures in particular, or that there is some kind of weird bike/hair synergy thing that I can’t quite grasp.

    Love the McEwan. Good thing you saved the eyebrows. I suspect they are integral to your aerodynamic stability.

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