Masonic Cyclists & Bike Riding (Hubert Opperman)
From Bro. Craig of Devotion
Whilst dragging my body and vintage Colnago roadbike over the Dandenongs recently, I had some energy to reflect on my two major passions in life (that is, besides my wife and family!) - they being Freemasonry and cycling (I won’t mention music for now).
Both topics seem poles apart in nearly all respects, so why am I talking about them at all?
Firstly, perhaps our most accomplished cyclist of all time just happened to be an Australian Freemason from Victoria, I’m talking about the late Brother Sir Hubert Opperman, OBE, Government Minister; High Commissioner to Malta, Stonnington Lodge, No 368.
Hubert Ferdinand Opperman held more than 100 distance cycling records, including the Australian Road Cycling titles in 1924, 1926, 1927 and 1929. “Oppy” as the crowds knew him, was voted Europe's most popular sportsman in 1928. More than 500,000 readers of the French sporting journal L'Auto had chosen the Australian ahead of their own national tennis champion, Henri Cochet. Unquestionably, he is one of the greatest cyclists the world has ever seen. Oppy's lifetime achievements spanned horizons far wider than his sporting fame.
Road racing is in fact a team sport, as the Tour de France amply demonstrates. We have a team leader who is supported by a number of lesser players known as “domestiques” There is a hierarchy within the team, although players are interchangeable in their roles. The most successful teams are those that have one star rider with well-integrated and harmonious backup from the domestiques.
The health benefits are obvious in an age when we are urged to take more care of our minds and bodies, as well as the fact that bikes are a really good transport option.
From a Freemasonry Victoria newsletter;
“Gippsland Freemason Chris Hunt has re-cycled himself: by returning with success to competitive bicycling after a gap of some 20 years. The former state champion and top Sun Tour place getter held the Australian and Australasian one-hour track records before retiring in 1985. After tipping the scales at 20 stone in 2001, he decided to start cycling again to help reduce his weight. Within twelve months he had lost six stone and has since won three Victorian titles, one Australian title, the Australian Masters’ Championship as well as being placed in the Victorian and Australian Championships. He will be travelling to Manchester in the UK to compete in the world track cycling titles in September. Chris is PM of Morwell Lodge, IPC of Gippsland Ark Mariners and the current Master of Gippsland Mark.
There are, of course, many other links between the craft and cycling elsewhere on the planet. There is, for example the Masonic Cycling Club which is open to all via Facebook, They are a crew of masons, based in New York State, engaged in cycling for fundraising efforts. The Masonic logo you see (right) is their design. The Club also has its own web site which can be found at http://www.freemasoncc.com/
Several lodges in the UK also have cycling groups, one of them, from Beaconsfield in Oxfordshire, being commended by the Duke of Kent recently for their efforts in raising $100,000 over one season.
Cycling is also a very social activity and is a great leveler in many respects. It takes a bit of discipline at times, but it can be very rewarding both physically and mentally.
Sir Hubert Opperman, (1904-1996) Initiated into Stonnington Lodge No 368 UGLV on 23 Dec 1925