Challenge 25

“In August 1987, Mick Wilkinson of Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers, writing in theVeteran Time Trial Association magazine, challenged any cycling club in Britain to take them on in a 25 miles time trial against the clock. Alan Osborne, our General Secretary, was persuaded by his wife to take up this “Challenge” – and he did. Redbridge CC was the only UK cycling club to respond”.

25 YEARS’ HISTORY OF THE UNIQUE “CHALLENGE 25″

Linking Redbridge C.C. of England and Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers of Australia through an Annual Inter-Club Veteran 25 miles Time Trial.

Co-ordinators: Alan Osborne (Redbridge) 1987-2011; Mick Wilkinson (Hamilton) 1987-2002, 2004-6, 2008 and 2011. In the years 2003 and 2007 James Eckersley officiated, assisted by Mick Wilkinson. A sub-committee officiated at the 2009 – 2010 Hamilton events.

The first events took place on the 3rd October, 1987 in Australia and the 11th October, 1987 in England. Whilst the Redbridge awoke to a quite amazingly dry, cloudless day, overnight rain had flooded two miles of the starting lane to a depth of about 18 in. It was necessary to re-design and measure a course before the event could commence.

The two Clubs raced in their own country, often on different weekends, using the VTTA Standard Table for 25 miles to calculate a result which was kept secret from each other until both races were completed. The last Club to ride then opened the now traditional Gold envelope and announced the opponents’ time.

Various Trophies were associated with the event. The Links was the main trophy and it moved between the two Clubs likeThe Ashes in cricket. In 2011 it was retained by Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers following their winning time of plus 70min. 06sec. in the 2011 Challenge. Pictured with the trophy in 1990 are Alan Osborne (left) and Mick Wilkinson, the original co-ordinators, both of them having ridden many Challenges. Each Club also has a Friendship Trophy that goes to the Best Individual on Standard. Both Clubs have a Shield that records the winning Club of each year. There are also Memorial Trophies.

Unfortunately for Redbridge, the Australians treated this event as they do all sports and “The Poms” had to be beaten. To their credit they won 19 of the 25 events.

Pictured alongside is “The Links”, the much-coveted Trophy which was kept for a year by the Club with the best five riders on VTTA Standard. The Trophy, crafted from Australian Walnut, was made and donated to the Challenge 25 by Vince Amos in 1990.

The Trophy folds and will be kept in the silk-lined base on which it normally stands. Vince, who was a regular competitor for the Hamilton, also made Classical Guitars as a hobby. Following the presentation of the Trophy to the Hamilton President, he used a Guitar that he had made to accompany himself whilst he sang a lament about the Trophy going to far-away shores.

It was Alan Osborne’s pleasure to receive the new Trophy on behalf of the victorious Redbridge Club during a visit to Australia in 1990 and bring it home. Redbridge C.C. won the Trophy in 1989, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2009. The Hamilton won it on all other occasions in the past 25 years.

There have been several individual winners of the respective events, Redbridge have had nine with Ed Pheby (5 times), Ron Hubbard (4), Les Howell and Steve Smith (3), Vin Denson, Roy Kemble, Alan Osborne, Ron Atherton and Eric Angell (twice each).

Roy Kemble (1989), Les Howell (2002, 2004 and 2005) Ron Atherton (2003) and Eric Angell (2009) achieved Overall First Place on Standard when they beat all other Hamilton and Redbridge riders.

The Hamilton have had ten winners. Les Holm, Roger Willoby, Peter Gumbley, Ron Brown, Ron Young and the late Bill Ryan, once each, Lindsay Green (3), Mick Wilkinson (3), Tony Bolter (4) and Brian Cook no fewer than eight, a record which is unlikely to be beaten. Brian Cook and Doug Whittington came out of Retirement to ride Private Time Trials in the 2011 Hamilton event, recording 1.07.24 and 1.15.30. Brian’s race time would have placed him 3rd in the event proper.


The race was instrumental in forging strong social links between the two Clubs. Regular correspondence took place between the Co-ordinators, using old-fashioned letters backed up by phone calls, faxes, e-mail and now a web site. In the early days audio tapes were also a popular feature and several videos of the race days were produced and exchanged.

On Race Days each Club put on a Social Event, where the race was discussed, speeches of thanks made and awards presented. Over the years several exchange visits were made. The Redbridge Co-ordinator visited the Hamilton eight times and participated in their Challenge Dinner each time. In 2008 he was asked to time the Hamilton event, but resisted the temptation to deduct from their plus times. He also competed in their Challenge Race on two occasions. In 2006 Brad Pearman and Lyndsey visited the Hamilton and Brad participated in a Circuit race. In 2007 Stewart Fung and his wife Marina met up with four members of the Hamilton whilst on an extended tour and dined with them in a restaurant at Woody Point on Moreton Bay. Redbridge were delighted to welcome Douglas and Jackie Hodson in 1988, Bill Davies in 1990 and James and Patricia Eckersley in 1998, 2001 and 2005. Bill, James and Patty presented awards to the Redbridge Club team members, and spoke at the Evening Functions.

In 2006 both Alan and Mick received Special Awards in recognition of their promotion of the 20th Challenge Events, and Redbridge presented the Hamilton Special Silver Medal to Margaret Mulliner in recognition of her having timed almost every Redbridge Challenge 25. James Eckersley received the Redbridge Special Silver Medal in recognition of him being the only competitor in either country to compete in all of the first 20 events from 1987 to 2006.

Once again the Redbridge watches were in the capable hands of Margaret Mulliner at the final event.

At the medal presentation of the Redbridge final event, Alan Osborne was awarded the Special Hamilton Medal in recognition of him having promoted every Redbridge Challenge 25.

Joan Osbourne

On the 21st November, 1993, Joan Osborne, aged 63, who had been instrumental in bringing about the Challenge 25 which later led to the Twinning of the Redbridge C.C. and the Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers, passed away suddenly after a heart attack.

Both Clubs immediately decided to have Memorial Trophies in her honour and it was decided that these would be allocated to a new Handicap Section in each Club’s event.

The two Clubs operated a slightly different approach to the workings of these Awards. The Redbridge maintained one Trophy showing all the winners’ names and times. Our Sister Club purchased a special new trophy each year, so that the winner has a permanent memento of his or her win. Either way, the result is the same, with every winner very pleased to take the respective Trophy.

The Redbridge always used the Challenge 25 organisation as their annual all-category Championship 25. Any Redbridge First Claim riders under 40 could also enter, but their times only counted for the Club Championship, Joan Osborne Memorial Trophy and World Masters Time Trial Challenge.

For many years Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers raced some weeks after the Redbridge, apart from 2006 and 2008, when their event was held within two weeks of the Redbridge, using their Laidley course again.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011, additional events in Queensland meant that it was necessary for the Hamilton to race later in September (which thrice turned out to be the same day as the Redbridge!). However, tradition was upheld and the Redbridge were not aware of the result until the Redbridge Challenge Social Function on the evening of Challenge Day.

The Hamilton Ladies, Jimmy’s Kitchen or Bob McIntyre (winner of the Special Redbridge Silver Medal in 2007 and 2008) usually put on a splendid Barbecue. Their Challenge Dinner has often taken place the same night and with some great co-operation from their trophy shop, all Gold and Silver team members have often received their engraved event medal that same night.

James Eckersley from Hamilton is the only rider to have competed in 21 Challenges. In 2005 Alan Osborne of Redbridge was indisposed and had to withdraw from the event and conceded to James, but he still claims to have ridden 20 Challenges as he had twice competed in the Australian event in Queensland as well. Alan has not ridden competitively since August 2005.

In the early days all the riders were “paired” with an Australian or British partner. The idea was that they would have a private contest within the event. This didn’t really catch on, apart from the two original Co-Ordinators known in this particular contest as The Old Codgers, and the results are as follows with that year’s winner in the left-hand column. Although Mick is listed as D.N.F. in 2001, this was due to him stopping to assist another rider. Unfortunately, with both Mick and Alan retiring from regular racing, the competition came to a premature halt after the 2001 event. However, Mick remained an active official and in 2006 made a welcome return to the event and secured 16th place. His plans to compete in 2007 were again thwarted by a period of poor health, but he was able to compete in the 2008 event and delighted to make their Silver Team! Unfortunately his health did not allow him to race in 2009. In 2010 and 2011 Mick was again very involved with the organisation of the event and he did not enter.

In September 2003 Redbridge C.C. (England) joined Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers (Australia), Edmonton Masters Cycling Club (Canada) and San Diego Cyclo Vets (U.S.A.) in a four-way competition known as the World Masters Time Trial Challenge. Unfortunately San Diego were unable to find a suitable course for their 2004 event and withdrew from the competition.

Six Clubs were listed for the 2010 Competition: Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers (Australia), Redbridge C.C., (England) and four from Canada: BC Masters C.A., Edmonton Masters C.C., Grand Forks C.C. and Horizon 100 (Saskatchewan).
All Clubs completed their 2010 events by September 12th. The overall result will appear on the World Masters website in mid-September.

For further in-depth news and views of the Hamilton visit their comprehensive web site at
www.hamiltonwheelers.com or Contact Trevor Benson