Suitcase, leather / metal / cotton, maker unknown, used by Ron Cazey, Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia, 1930s
This suitcase was used by Ron Cazey, a professional cyclist and owner of a rare 'Blackbird' racing bicycle. Cazey was a member of the Ashfield and District bicycle club. He raced in the prestigious Goulburn to Sydney road race several times in the 1930s as well as participating in track events. It was said that he missed out on a position with the 1938 Australian Empire Games cycling team by 'half a wheel' in a 117 mile road race.
The 'Blackbird' is a unique example of a 'named' racing bicycle. It was usual for cycling 'stars' to have their name painted on the frame and Ron Cazey's 'Blackbird' is one such example. Named racing bicycles, like this, are now highly sort after by collectors.
The 'Blackbird' bicycle was manufactured by Ashfield bicycle shop owner Don Blackman, a champion bicycle rider in his own right and now considered one of the 'elite' cycle racers of New South Wales. Cazey has not, so far, been classified as an 'elite' rider as the voluntary work of collecting data on the participants in bicycle racing over the past century is ongoing. Further research will provide data to place Ron Cazey in his position as an 'elite' rider.
Bicycle racing in the 1930s in Australia was more popular and newsworthy than today. Long distance events and track racing were more commonplace and publicly supported. The sports-minded public was eager to read of the exploits of the bicycle racers and thus, articles on the races appeared in the front section of some newspapers.
The maker of the suitcase is unknown.
Ronald (Ron) Leo Cazey was born at Lidcombe, NSW in 1917 and as a young man was a keen cyclist competing in both road and track events with considerable success. He won a number of awards in the late 1930s, during the halcyon days of cycle racing, and apparently missed out on selection in the 1938 Empire Games team by half a bike wheel length after a 117 mile road race. He was also a regular competitor in the famous gruelling Goulburn to Sydney road race along the old Hume Highway. Cazey was a tall man, and a strong and aggressive rider.
Cazey worked in the bush during the pre-War years then joined the 1st Cavalry Division Remount Depot at Holsworthy when the War commenced. He later returned to his trade as a builder and always owned a series of utes. At Thomas Street, Ashfield, he owned and operated a hardware and timber company called N & R Hardware, (the initials of Ron and Noreen his wife whom he had married in 1958). During the early 1960s Cazey was State President of the Master Builders Association and helped establish a chair of Building Science at the University of New South Wales. He was also an active Rotarian and successfully stood for the position of Alderman on Ashfield Council. Also about this time he bought a property in the Megalong Valley and became a 'Pitt Street farmer'.
During the drought of 1969 he adjusted stock on Araluen, near Mullion Creek, Orange, and subsequently sold the Megalong Valley property and moved his family from Sydney to Mullion Creek. He enjoyed farming sheep and immersed himself in the local community holding some authority in the local rural fire brigade. He stayed on the land until his 80s when ill health forced him into a house at Orange in 1999. He died in 2006.