23 April 2014

Embarking With A Koala

If you've been following this (or my other) blog for a while, you've probably noticed that I like to tell stories about myself.  You've also probably noticed that I like to tell stories about other people, and times and places other than my own, especially if those stories have been untold or forgotten.

That is one reason why I've written posts about (or in which I mention)  Beryl Berton, Nancy Burghart, Sue Novara, Rebecca Twigg, Jeannie Longo, Paola Pezzo and other prominent female cyclists.

And, yes, this post will be about another. But it will also touch upon a topic--a nation and culture, really--I've never mentioned:  Australia.  This omission does not come from any sort of bias; it has mainly to do with the fact that I've never been anywhere near the world's smallest continent or sixth-largest country, depending on how you look at it.

Nearly everything I know about it comes from reading and chance encounters with Australians in other parts of the world, including my own home town.  One of the few things I know is that the Aussie population--about a tenth of that of the US, even though the two countries are roughly the same size--includes a disproportionate number of long-distance cyclists.  That's not so surprising when you consider Australians' affinity for sports and outdoor activities and the fact that so much of the country is undeveloped.

One of those riders was someone named Billie Samuels.  I have been trying to find some information on her, to no avail. I guess I have to look in actual book (I think I can still do that) of Australian cycling history.

I learned of her only through stumbling over the photos I've included here.  Whoever she is, I want to know more because, hey, how could you not want to learn about someone who starts a ride from Sydney to Melbourne with a koala mascot on her handlebars?

(The photos in this post come from Vintage Everyday.

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