Tom Robinson was one of the seven cycling brothers from Cooma, who along with the Larcombe Family had the predominant role in Australian road cycling in the early 1900’s. By 1908 the Robinson and Larcombe families had either won, or gained fastest times in most of the major races in New South Wales and Victoria.
These included the two biggest events the “Goulburn” and the “Warrnambool”. In his first ride in the world-renowned Goulburn to Sydney race in 1903, Tom won the trophy for being the fastest country rider.
In 1904 Tom again entered the “Goulburn” and this time he won by six minutes from the crack New Zealand rider, Jack Arnst. It was a lonely ride for the country based cyclist as he had to make his own way for the entire journey, apart from a few miles at the start.
Interviewed after the race, he said, “The road was in dreadful condition and I had to dismount three times rather than risk a fall, I consider that I was lucky to escape puncturing”.
It is difficult for us today to visualise what the riders of yesteryear had to contend with. At the turn of the century there was very little motorised transport and the horse drawn vehicle was the main means of transport. The wheels of the coaches and carts were shod with large iron rims that left sunken edges in the mud and gravel, which cyclist had to avoid if he was to remain upright. The hills were much steeper as the roads were built with gangs using only picks and shovels. Another pitfall was the absence of bridges over creeks and streams leaving only stony culverts to be negotiated.
In the 1905 “Goulburn”, Tom and his brother Mark fought out the finish with Mark winning, while Tom, who had a mishap near the finish, had to be content with walking his bicycle across the line in eighth place.