Lou Rush

'West Coast Flyer'

Biography

Lew Rush LA Olympics 1932

Lew Rush was born in Victoria, British Columbia and was one of several Canadian track cyclists that raced for Canada as an amateur and then graduated to the professional ranks as a Six-Day Racer. In 1928 the Canadian west coast racers William Peden and James Davis along with Louis Elder and A. Houting came in 7th place in the Men's Team Pursuit at the Amsterdam Olympics. Four years later at the Pasadena Rose Bowl the Games of the X Olympiad were held in Los Angeles. The cycling events took place August 1-4, 1932. On the first evening of the cycling events, the heats of the 4000m Team Pursuit Race were held. The following is a newspaper account of the race:

In the 4000m Pursuit Race, Italy defeated Canada in 4:52 setting a new Olympic Record. The 4000m pursuit race saw the Italian four-man team of Nino Orsari, Paulo Pedretti, Alberto Chilardi and Atillo Pavesi overwhelm the Canadian quartet of Francis Elliott, Glen Robbins, Lewis Rush and Russell Hunt. The race starts with the Italians on one side of the bowl and the Canadians on the other side, half a lap apart. The team members attempt to catch their opponents and when a man is caught and touched he is eliminated. The first Canadian was caught at the end of the seventh lap and the other three were caught by the end of the 11th lap. Before a crowd of over 8000 spectators, the blue shirted Italians had pedalled to victory and set a new Olympic Record.
(Winnipeg Free Press (Vol.58 No. 24) Tuesday August 2, 1932)

William 'Torchy' Peden was the cycling coach for team of Canadians at the LA Olympics. Amazingly, the team from the Dominion of Canada had done well against the European cycling powerhouses. Like Torchy Peden and Louis Elder before him, Lew Rush quickly made the move to ranks of professional six day racing. At that time Lew was twenty years old.

Several weeks after the Los Angeles Olympics finished, Lew Rush competed in his first six-day race at the Vancouver Six-day Bicycle Race September 5-10, 1932. Partnered with Torchy Peden, they were the team to beat but several incidents occurred that kept them off the podium. During the race, the team amassed a huge number of points and were in the lead the first 3 1/2 days of the six-day race but dropped to fifth because of fatigue and injury. The following is a description of a spectacular crash that involved Lew and Torchy:

'Torchy' Peden Vancouver's Cyclist Deluxe; Hurtles Over Top Railing Of Bowl Drops Twenty Feet But Returns To Track Only Bruised---Horror-Stricken Crowd Cheers Return As Red Head Climbs Dizzily Back Onto Machine
Before a crowd of thirty five hundred spectators at the arena bike show Peden went hurtling over the railing at the top of the north bank of the wooden saucer during the course of a two hour team race. Peden crashed more than twenty feet into a box below and then walked off. The crowd, horror stricken as Lew Rush, Peden's own Victoria partner accidently rode himhip high up the bank to send him flying into space, rose in crescendo of relieved cheering as the big-red-headed pedal twister climbed dizzily on his machine.
(The Lethebridge Herald Thursday September 15, 1932)

Over the next three months, October to December 1932, Lew worked further on his racing skills to become a professional six-day bike racer competing in four more six-day races in Toronto, Montreal, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

In 1933, Lew raced in 6 more six day races with his best placing being 4th place in Detroit, partnered with Godfrey "Polly" Parrott (Usa).

The year 1934 was a sentinel year for North American Six-Day Racing scene with a total of 25 six-day races being held across the continent, twenty (20) 6-day races in the USA and five (5) 6-day races in Canada. It was as well a momentous year for Lew Rush, as he won his first six-day bicycle race partnered with another 1932 Olympian, Eddie Testa (Usa), at the LA 6-day race in June.

Soon after the Los Angeles Six-Day Race the production for the movie Six-Day Bike Rider commenced. Lew Rush was one of the bicycle racers that provided the racing action scenes. During the filming of the movie there was a freak and spectacular bike crash. The following is news story that was described in a local LA newspaper:

"The strange accident occurred while twenty-five bicycle riders travelling at a rapid pace were going about the track in two lanes. Between the two lanes and travelling in the opposite direction, Dave Landry drove his motorcycle with the cameraman mounted on a back platform with his camera. The purpose of this arrangement was to obtain a close-up view of the bike riders in action. On the second lap about the course the front wheel of the bicycle ridden by Lew Rush collapsed, throwing the rider under the speeding wheels of the motorcycle. Elmer W. Dwyer, the cameraman, was catapulted into the air, his hurling body throwing several of the bicycle riders off balance. In the general collision that followed 16 bicycles and their riders tangled about the roaring motorcycle that squirmed and twisted about the wooden speedway. Lou Rush, 22, champion bicycle racer and former partner of Louie Testa, one-time national champion was taken to hospital with a possible skull fracture, and painful cuts and bruises on the face. Dave Landry the motorcycle driver suffered a basal skull fracture, a broken collarbone, and internal injuries, according to Police Surgeon William R. Molony of the Hollywood Receiving Hospital, little hope was held out for his recovery."

Newspaper clippings from the Freddie Schultz collection courtesy of Marilyn Schultz.

Lew Rush had more than 30 stitches in his face alone and was slow to recover from these horrific injures, but after much rehabilitation and training Lew did return to the wooden saucer. In the spring of 1935 Lew Rush came back with a vengeance. It was a major comeback as over a 12 week period between March and early June 1935 Lew raced in 6 six-day races: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Francisco again and then Oakland.

The Oakland race in early June was typical of the power and bike racing skill of Lew Rush. In Oakland, the team to beat was Jules Audy (Can) from Montreal and his Toronto partner Reggie Fielding (Can). The Canadian duo led after three days with Lew Rush (Can) and his San Jose partner Bobby Echeverria (Usa) in second several laps behind the leaders. After four and a half days of racing Lew Rush and his partner were in 8th place and six laps behind the leaders. On day five Rush/Echeverria put the pedal down and moved into second place behind Audy/Fielding. Alan Ward a sports reporter for the Oakland Tribune describes the final day action:

"Sportsdom's maddest, fastest, most sustained and hysterical hour will occur between 11 o'clock and midnight tonight when Oakland's first international six-day bicycle race rolls toward its finale. The description is not of our own making. It is conceded by followers of affairs athletic no one hour in sports contains more of a dynamic, fierce endeavour than the last 60 minutes of the tourney of cycling when every team remaining in the field rides forth to pick off those coveted laps which means higher money.
Just One Long Jam
There are no rests no breathing spells in that zero hour. Only the fittest will have survived the preceding hours. Weaklings can have no place in that final roll call. If the pace earlier in the evening is blistering, it will be searing when the goal is actually in sight and the boys have been conserving a final bit of strength for the dash lean forward over handlebars and supply the pressure (June 11, 1935).....That final hour saw Audy spilled suddenly and Echeverria and Rush put on a great sprint that could of carried them into the lead if the final pistol shot hadn't sounded at an inopportune moment. It was Rush who opened the almost successful jam and Bobby was right there to pick up him, and those two strong legged, stout hearted lads were sailing around the track steadily gaining their objective when the gun cracked.
Get Half Lap Ahead
Even speedy, tricky little Jules Audy, who kept a close watch on last night's competition, and was right on the heels of those trying to sneak a lap, was being left behind in that wild dash Echeverria and Rush. Half of the lap had been gained and the fans were shrieking their encouragement when the end signalized."

(Oakland Tribune June 10th & 11th, 1935)

After the second place finish in June 1935, Lew took a break from professional racing but seven months later he was again in the thick of things taking second place with partner Tony Schaller (Usa) at the January 1936 San Francisco Six-Day Bicycle Race at the Dreamland Auditorium. Several weeks later the Oakland Six-day Bicycle Race was held February 2-7, 1936. Lew was partnered with George Dempsey (Usa) and both were in good form and Lew was seeking revenge for being denied a win in Oakland the previous year. Alan Ward, the Sports Editor of the Oakland Tribune again describes the action:

Oakland is sold on six-day bicycle racing. Followers of the pine board gondoliers, who rolled up an attendance total of 30,000 for the week, hinted at their preference early last week, affirmed their decision in the succeeding days, and hysterically emphasized it at the Auditorium Saturday night when the team of George Dempsey (Aus) and Lew Rush (Can) rolled across the finish line winner. Winner by a fistful of points only, Dempsey and Rush can pride themselves they were the principals in perhaps the most closely contested six-day event ever run in the country. They had but 55 digits, representative of little more than one sprint, over the second place team, Henry 'Cocky' O'Brien and Bobby Echeverria.... Trailing O'Brien and Echeverria on points and with two other teams snapping at the rear tires of their bikes, Dempsey and Rush called all their speed and experience into play to assemble those scant tallies which proved the difference the difference between victory and defeat.
(Oakland Tribune, February 10, 1936).

After this victory, Lew Rush semi-retired from professional six-day bicycle racing and returned to Victoria B. C. where he took on a job with an oil company. There was talk of going to Japan in 1937 with a troupe of riders to put on a six-day exhibition with promoter Eddie Saunders. No record information was found if that trip took place. Lew did not race the six-day circus in 1937 but in February 1938 he did return to the Bay area to race at the San Francisco Six-day Bicycle Race partnered with his 1932 LA Olympics friend Eddie Testa (Usa). Lew had to abandon because of fatigue and injury. This was Lew Rush's last six-day race.

Whether it had been a conscious decision or not Lew Rush had become one of a small group of competent west coast six-day racers who were well received by the sporting public. As was noted by author and six-day racer, Ted Harper in Six Days of Madness (1993) Lew, "was a good-looking, flashy rider...who was one of the smoothest riders in the cycling game." While Lew did race in the major six-day races in the Eastern Canada (Toronto, Montreal) and a smattering of USA eastern cities, his main focus was riding on the west coast. Over his seven years as a professional six day racer Lew rode nine (9) six-day races on the west coast of the continent: Four times in San Francisco, twice each in Los Angeles and Oakland and once in Vancouver.

Over his career Lew raced in 23 six-day races making the podium 6 times with two victories (Los Angeles and Oakland) two 2nd place finishes (San Francisco and Oakland) and two 3rd place finishes (both in San Francisco).

In 2007 Lew Rush, along with Glen Robbins and Stan Jackson, from the Canadian 1932 cycling team were inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.

Arnold Devlin

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Palmares

  1. Vancouver Six-Day Bicycle Race, September 5-10, 1932, partnered with William 'Torchy' Peden (Can), 5th place
  2. Toronto Six-Day Bicycle Race, October 3-8, 1932, partnered with Freddy Zach (Sui), 7th place
  3. Montreal Six-Day Bicycle Race, October 17-23, 1932, partnered with Godfrey 'Polly' Parrott (Usa), DNF
  4. Minneapolis Six-Day Bicycle Race, November16-21, 1932, partnered with Tom Saetta (Usa), DNF
  5. Milwaukee Six-Day Bicycle Race, December 11-17, 1932, partnered with Reginald Fielding (Can), DNF
  6. Saint Louis Six-Day Bicycle Race, February 8-14, 1933, partnered with Godfrey 'Polly' Parrott (Usa), 7th place
  7. Montreal Six-Day Bicycle Race, April 16-22, 1933, partnered with Godfrey 'Polly' Parrott (Usa), 5th place
  8. Toronto Six-Day Bicycle Race, April 26-May1, 1933, partnered with Robert 'Bobby' Thomas (Usa), 6th place
  9. Detroit Six-Day Bicycle Race, September 1933, partnered with Godfrey 'Polly' Parrott (Usa), 4th place
  10. Toronto Six-Day Bicycle Race, October 23-29, 1933, partnered with Tony Beckman (Usa), DNF
  11. Minneapolis Six-Day Bicycle Race, November 6-12, 1933, partnered with Roy MacDonald (Can), 5th place
  12. Cleveland Six-Day Bicycle Race, April 6-12, 1934, partnered with Frank Keating (Usa), DNF
  13. Toronto Six-Day Bicycle Race, May 6-11, 1934, partnered with Reginald McNamara (Aus), 5th place
  14. Los Angeles Six-Day Bicycle Race, June 23-28,1934, partnered with Eddie Testa (Usa), 1st place
  15. San Francisco Six-Day Bicycle Race, March 11-16,1935, partnered with Jack McCoy (Usa), 3rd place
  16. Los Angeles Six-Day Bicycle Race, March 1935, partnered with James Corcoran (Usa), 6th place
  17. Pittsburgh Six-Day Bicycle Race, April 7-13, 1935, Triple, partnered with Anthony 'Tony' Beckman (Usa) and Syd Cozens (Gbr), 5th place
  18. Toronto Six-Day Bicycle Race, May 7-13, 1935, partnered with Godfrey 'Polly' Parrott (Usa), DNF
  19. San Francisco Six-Day Bicycle Race, May 24-30, 1935, partnered with Bobby Echeverria (Usa), 3rd place
  20. Oakland Six-Day Bicycle Race, June 7-13, 1935, partnered with Bobby Echeverria (Usa), 2nd place
  21. San Francisco Six-Day Bicycle Race, January 9-14, 1936, partnered with Tony Schaller (Usa), 2nd place
  22. Oakland Six-Day Bicycle Race, February2-7, 1936, partnered with George Dempsey (Usa), 1st place
  23. San Francisco Six-Day Bicycle Race, February 7-12, 1938, partnered with Eddie Testa (Usa), DNF
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Partners

  1. Godfrey 'Polly' Parrott (Usa), five six-day races
  2. Anthony 'Tony' Beckman (Usa), two six-day races (1 triple )
  3. Bobby Echeverria (Usa), two six-day races
  4. Eddie Testa (Usa), two six-day races
  5. James Corcoran (Usa), one six-day race
  6. Syd Cozens (Gbr), one six-day race (triple)
  7. George Dempsey (Usa), one six-day race
  8. Reginald Fielding (Can), one six-day race
  9. Frank Keating (Usa), one six-day race
  10. Jack McCoy (Usa), one six-day race
  11. Roy MacDonald (Can), one six-day race
  12. Reginald McNamara (Aus), one six-day race
  13. William 'Torchy' Peden (Can), one six-day race
  14. Robert 'Bobby' Thomas (Usa,) one six-day race
  15. Tom Saetta (Usa), one six-day race
  16. Freddy Zach (Swi), one six-day race
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Most Cities Raced In

  1. Toronto: 5 six-day bicycle races
  2. San Francisco: 4 six-day bicycle races
  3. Los Angeles: 2 six-day bicycle races
  4. Oakland: 2 six-day bicycle races
  5. Montreal: 2 six-day bicycle races
  6. Minneapolis: 2 six-day bicycle races
  7. Vancouver: 1 six-day bicycle race
  8. Pittsburgh: 1 six-day bicycle race
  9. Milwaukee: 1 six-day bicycle race
  10. Saint Louis: 1 six-day bicycle race
  11. Detroit: 1 six-day bicycle race
  12. Cleveland: 1 six-day bicycle race
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1932 Olympic Cyclists Induction Statement

Back in the early 1920's Charlie Staples and Tom Peden were the fellows responsible for starting, what in its time, was probably the city's premier sport, bike racing. It was a young man's sport and Tom's nephew, Torchy Peden, was always pursuing them. Torchy became the top rider and went on to the 1928 Olympics. After turning pro, three young newcomers vied for the local leading roll.

Those three Victoria racers and Torchy, the team's coach, formed half of Canada's 8- man cycling team at the 1932 Olympics.

After bettering the Games qualifying times Lew Rush, Glen Robbins and Stan Jackson were issued uniforms, then made and paid their own ways to Los Angeles to be awed by the facilities, crowds and their European competition.

Lew Rush's love of cycling began when he purchased a fixed wheel racer and entered a meet in Royal Athletic Park. Yes the grandstand was once at the Central Park corner! The affair lasted eight years. He was good enough to win local major races and the 25-mile Pacific Coast Championship.

At the 1932 Olympic trials, Lew shattered the qualifying times over one kilometer from a standing start. Olympic cycling was staged at the Pasadena Rose Bowl where the Canadian pursuit team, that included Rush and Robbins, registered the 6th best time to qualify. Then they finished 4th in their heat and failed to make the finals. Upon returning home, Lew found that a six-day event was being promoted in Vancouver and he tried his legs in the big cities pro circuit from 1932 to 1936.

While the bike racers were in Los Angeles, actor Joe E. Brown, was producing a Six Day Rider movie and Lew obtained a part in the filming. But an unfortunate collision with a motorbike ended his acting and bike racing days.

Lew later returned to Victoria, renewed old friendships and memories when he owned and operated the Mortimer's Monumental Works.

He and his wife Doris married in 1940. Both were avid lacrosse fans and traveled to Los Angeles to see the 1984 Olympics.

13 year-old Glen Robbins first bike was a rusty old "bone shaker" that he raced at the Keating Fairgrounds where he finished second best to a well known racer. Bike racing was a big sporting event and at 16, Glen was the owner a new racer and the B.C. Junior Road-racing champion.

The Colonist Cup road race and Beacon Hill Park Moody, Penwill and Pendray Cup meet drew large crowds.

Competition was keen and no one rider dominated for long. Glen Robbins won the Colonist, 8-mile road race twice and was unbeatable in the mile sprint with three successive victories to gained permanent possession of the Pendray Cup.

In 1932 he raced the clock for 60 miles in 2 hours and 38 minutes to qualify for the Olympic road race. He and Lew started a campaign to secure funds for their trip to LA. By the SS ALEXANDER departure time they had collected $105 of the $500 return fare costs. A loan covered the remainder.

Three Canadian bikers including Glen Robbins and Stanley Jackson took part in the 62 1/2 mile road race and Glen was the third North American and first Canadian to cross the finish line but finished 18th overall.

He came home, continued to race locally and won the1933 Penwill race. Luckily a young lad from Vancouver blew a tire on the closing lap allowing Glen to coast to the finish line.

But it was the same sign as those great riders Glen had challenged as a teen --- Bike racing was a young man's sport so he switched to soccer and lacrosse.

Local soccer followers knew of the seven Robbins brothers and their dad who had coached Glen, Will and Cliff on this 1933 championship Royal Oaks junior team.

Glen, a master of the centre-back position, later played for Victoria's rep teams and was on the Victoria United roster when they entered the Coast Soccer League in 1939. He was picked as their outstanding player when United met the visiting Scottish Selects.

Through the war years he saw action with Esquimalt and the VMD squads then wound up his football career in 1947 playing with two brothers on the Legion side.

His first fulltime job was a short stint with the BC Provincial Police Department, before joining the Saanich Fire department in the early 1940's. Glen Robbins became a deputy chief in 1949 and the Fire Chief for the Municipality of Saanich in 1971.

We have not been able to trace Stanley Jackson, however the bike racing results of the early 1930's, regularly listed his name finishing in 2nd or 3rd place behind Robbins or Rush. It seems the lanky, likable, fun loving guy was named as an alternate on the bicycle racing team.

The story is that some of the B.C. Olympians traveled south in Torchy Peden's 1928 Ford touring car with their bikes and gear stacked on top. Each morning they would bike or run some distance while Stan, who was just going along for the ride, got to drive.

Upon reaching Los Angeles, they registered at the newly built Olympic Village where four shared the two-bedroom, one bathroom tidy little cottages. For $2.00 a day the male athletes got their bed, three meals and a daily bus pass. While the women athletes stayed in upscale hotels.

The Victoria boys agreed that their biggest thrill of the Games took place at the Opening Ceremonies when the Canadian contingent marched into the Los Angeles Coliseum to be greeted by 105,000 cheering spectators. And the most enjoyable was the warm California sunshine and social life between their workouts and competitions.

To his surprise, Stan gained a spot on Canada's 100 K road race team. And guess what!! Once again Stan was the third racer to cross the finish line ---- 2 minutes and 25 seconds after Glen Robbins.

Although all three of Victoria's best young cyclists came away empty handed, YMCA athletic director, Archie McKinnon, who was at the Games as a volunteer Canadian diving coach, consoled them. "For strictly amateur young athletes, a trip to another country, as representatives of Canada, is an ample reward."

After the Olympics, Stan partnered with Torchy as a pro on the six-day circuit but we have been unable to find any further information.

The boys had one final story to tell of their Olympic adventure. It seems that Torchy's car was packed to the limit for the drive home. With bikes and baggage tied to the roof and running low on money, they took turns driving non-stop. Reaching the outskirts of Seattle, with little time to spare before the night boat departed, they were a little heavy footed on the gas pedal. A motorcycle cop pulled them over and after their appeals of no funds, being Olympic athletes and just having to catch that boat to Victoria, found no sympathy the policeman demanded "Who is the car owner?" The boys replied Torchy Peden "That guy sleeping in the back." "Torchy Peden" the cop responded, "You mean the six-day racer... follow me I'll get you to the boat in time"

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A RUSH TO THE OLYMPICS - an article by Lynette Stofer, 1980

The Islander

Lew Rush's love affair with a bicycle began in 1929, when like most youngsters of that time, his principal means of transportation was his bicycle. The thought occurred to him that a racing type, weighing perhaps half the weight of his present bike, would be much easier to peddle.

There was a sporting goods dealer, Jim Bryant, whose store was located in the 1400 block on Douglas Street, and it was from this shop that Lew purchased his racing bike. At the suggestion of Frank Rose, the salesman, Lew entered in a cycle meet held at the Royal Athletic Park, where there was a quarter-mile cinder track.

In Lew's words, "From that event onwards my cycling career never looked back. It would seem that I had a natural ability to excel in this type of sport and it enabled me to win most of the events I entered. These sprint races were held periodically and here I must acknowledge the tireless efforts of Bob Peden and George Robinson who gave so freely of their time to organize these and other bicycle races in Victoria."

During the next couple of years Lew also took part in a number of road races. Every spring and fall there was a 15-mile event staged around Beacon Hill Park where many riders from Victoria and Vancouver vied for the Penwell and Moody trophies. Much larger events were staged annually by the Province newspaper in Vancouver and the Colonist in Victoria. Lew was fortunate to win each of these events at least once. Other trophies in his possession are for a 25-mile Pacific Coast Championship and a race from Seattle to Vancouver which he completed in a little over seven hours.

Headlines to back up these statements leap from the yellowed pages of Lew Rush's scrapbook. "Lew Rush Uncorks Blinding Speed to Win Province Race - Lew Rush in Fine Performance to Win Province Race - Rush Wins Race From Seattle - Rush Wins Moody Cup Bike Event - Rush Captures Colonist Cup."

In May of 1932 Lew really hit the big time. The headline in the Victoria Daily Times read: "Rush Shatters Olympic Time in Winning Bicycle Trial. Local Star Clips over a Minute from One Kilometre Run. Wins Olympic Games Test from Standing Start in 1 minute and 12 4-5 seconds during trials held on Shelbourne Street yesterday evening and bettering the winning mark at Amsterdam in 1928 by 1.3-5 seconds. Glen Robbins was second, and Stan Jackson third."

Lew modestly states that a wind may have been in his favor that night. In any case, following headlines in July painted a rosy picture: "Figure Victorians Good Candidates for Olympic Bike Squad" and then confirmation- "Lew Rush and Glen Robbins selected to represent Canada."

Unfortunately this fame did not last too long. The Victoria bike squad found their European competitors superior in every event. The cycling events for the 1932 Olympics took place at the Pasadena Rose Bowl where a board track had been constructed. It was regulation Olympic size, the circuit appearing to be about a quarter-mile in length. The Canadian team consisted of five from B.C. (Victoria and Vancouver) and two from Ontario. It was the first time that any of our boys had seen a board track. The road racing events took place on a section of highway along the coast.

Lew says: "The biggest thrill of the games for me took place at the opening ceremonies when the Canadian representatives marched into the Los Angeles Coliseum and I suddenly saw and heard more than 105-thousand cheering spectators. What a spine-tingling experience."

Upon his return to Victoria, Lew found that there was a Six Day Bicycle Race about to be promoted in Vancouver. This offered him the opportunity to enter the professional field.

His partner in this venture was none other than the great "Torchy" Peden. At this point in our interview Lew took a deep breath and launched into an impressive story: "Because of lack of experience in this type of racing, one night I was in a collision with" Torchy" Peden which could have easily ended his career. I tangled with him on one of the steeply banked turns and forced him to the top of the track where he sailed over the railing, bike and all, and fell more than 20 feet to the floor below. Fortunately I was able to hang onto the railing. It seemed like a miracle that he escaped from that terrible fall with just bad bruises. In the years to follow I witnessed others making that same trip with disastrous results."

The Six Day Bicycle Race, as the name implied, actually went on for six consecutive days with one or the other partner of each team of two on the track during that period. At certain times of the day, mealtime and between the hours of 5 a.m. and 1 p.m., when the participants obtained a few hours sleep, it was understood between management and the riders that they would just barely keep moving so that the 'race' could be called continuous. The races catered to the paying public with the afternoon and evening performances. There was plenty of action and the fans loved it. The races at Madison Square Garden were probably the best patronized. This was partly due to the fact that many of the riders were Europeans - some brought over for the event - which appealed to the cosmopolitan crowd.

Lew mentioned an interesting sidelight. "There was a fire regulation that made it mandatory for all public buildings to have refuse cleared out every 24 hours. So, during the week, every morning at 5 a.m. the patrons would be asked to leave the arena in order for this task to be accomplished."

There were usually 10 or 12 teams taking part in these six day marathons, all under contract with the management. However, there was no prize money. The compensation varied greatly between those who had achieved fame in the business and those who were struggling for recognition. During those periods in the afternoon or evening when most of the action took place, it simply was not possible for the competitors to carry on at high speed for hours on end. Consequently the pace would slacken at times. It was then that some of the patrons, wanting more action, would offer cash for a 10-lap sprint. The amount offered in most cases would probably average between $10 and $50. However, there was one exception. During a never-to-be-forgotten race in New York, a well known night club entertainer of that era by the name of Texas Guinan, put up $5,000 for two 10 lap sprints ($2,500 each). This sort of bait naturally caused fierce competition between riders.

Lew continued to reminisce. "This sporting event seemed to come to an end in North America around 1939 with the advent of the Second World War. I've never heard the reason for its demise in this part of the world and can only assume that there was a breakdown at the management level or with availability of good riders and equipment. In any event, the sport lost its place in the arenas of the big cities which are usually-booked solid for years in advance. A couple of attempts were made in the 1940s to revive it, but for some reason it never regained its past popularity."

From 1932 to 1936 Lew made a living by participating in bicycling events which took place annually in such cities as Toronto, Montreal, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"By 1936 I realized that even if I had the ability to get to the top and received the best compensation that was available in the business, and if I stayed there for 10 to 12 years, providing I didn't have a serious accident, I would still have to seek employment in order to provide a proper livelihood. So when the opportunity came along to join a major oil company, I accepted it, and thus ended my career in bike racing. Later on I had my own business, Mortimer's Monumental Works."

I mentioned to Lew that I had heard via the grapevine that he had more than a nodding acquaintance with well known old time movie comedian Joe E. Brown. Brown was known for his expansive grin and zany skits. While the boys from Victoria were in Los Angeles on one of their stints they were noticed by Joe E. Brown, who in turn thought up the idea of producing a movie, in which he would star, called the Six Day Bike Rider. As a result, quite a number of the lads obtained a contract to take part in the picture and a story was contrived for the film. Most of the scenes were taken at a local arena where a track was constructed. Joe was portrayed as being very short sighted, so when he lost his glasses in a spill, his poor eyesight caused him to start off again in the wrong direction. A portion of the process of filming this sequence involved the use of a motorcycle and rider with a cameraman and camera mounted daringly on the rear. This motorcycle traveled around the track in one direction while about a dozen guys rode their bicycles in the opposite direction. All was going reasonably well when Lew had the misfortune to collide with the motorbike. The result was not at all funny as Lew received a fractured skull plus nasty cuts and bruises. Full of consternation, the film company notified his mother and brought her to his bedside. It never occurred to young Lew that he could have sued for damages.

Lew Rush was born in Stewart, B.C., but came to Victoria as an infant. He attended Boys' Central and Victoria High schools. His wife Doris was born in Saskatchewan and used to work for B.C. Telephone in Victoria. One evening they happened to be at the same party and were introduced to each other by "Torchy" Peden. Reverend Whitehouse married them in Metropolitan Church in 1940. Their home for the last 24 years has been on Crescent Road about as close to the water as one could be. It was a delightful bungalow with a magnificent view. Sea lions and even the odd killer while grace their landscape and the sunsets they witness are breathtaking. Soft spoken, gentle Lew potters around the place gathering seaweed and firewood, he also enjoys playing the piano, classical music being his favorite. Both he and Doris were avid lacrosse fans.

He missed his old pal "Torchy" Peden and the telephone conversations they had every so often that began each time with: "Is that the famous "Torchy" Peden? Well, this is the famous Lew Rush."

I asked him whether he was going to attend the Olympics this year which once again will take place in Los Angeles. He had not made up his mind yet but his wife popped her head around the corner of the kitchen and said: "We wouldn't miss it for anything."

I for one, hope they do go but I am pretty certain the experience couldn't possibly reach the heights of the spine-tingling thrill that Lew felt 52 years ago.

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