Charles David Alan Coin was born in Adelaide on the 31st of March, 1949. He attended Adelaide University where he majored in geology. In statistics lectures, he met up with Sue Murray and they married in 1971. The pair studied together, and Charles graduated with a well-earned doctorate on rock petrology in 1975. Together with Sue, he moved to Newcastle in 1977 to join the scientific staff of the BHP Central Research Laboratory and made a name for himself in coal-coking technology. His increasingly high international standing saw him travel as a troubleshooter to Germany, Romania, Brazil, India and China. He published more than eighty research papers.
Charles had for many years been a keen cyclist – an Iron Man in fact – and at the CRL found himself in the company of several like-minded staff who banded together for rides. Soon they felt the need to develop a formal cycling body in the region and in 1977 they founded the Newcastle Cycleways Lobby. It was not long before it was renamed the Newcastle Cycleways Movement (NCM), attracting hundreds of members and rapidly became a nationally respected organisation. Besides community rides, the NCM conducted bicycle clinics under the expert guidance of Charles, who knew more about bicycles, in theory and practice, than anyone else in the country.
At a glance, Charles’ eagle eye could spot an incipient fault in a bicycle and with his hands demonstrate the problem. Charles was a pioneering advocate of bicycle safety through the use of hard-shell helmets and conspicuous clothing. Dissatisfied with the unavailability of helmets in Australia, he set up BikeTech, a modest operation importing American MSR helmets and other accessories of the highest quality for bicycles.
Charles left Newcastle for Brisbane in 1990, as he had accepted a position with the Australian Coal Industry Research Laboratory as head of its new Coking Research Centre. He continued the activities of Biketech and went on to join UQ Cycle Club. BikeTech also imported Vitus frames, Pedro’s oils and DT Swiss spokes, amongst other things. One of his selfless contributions was that if a club member had a problem with a wheel he’d pull it apart, relace and true it and have you smoothly on your way all for the price of a coffee.
Charles took offence at the design of cheap children’s bikes sold at retail stores as they were typically poorly designed and often the steering became unstable at low speeds. Of course, his cause made him slightly unpopular in some arenas, but safety was his prime concern. Charlie was a regular sponsor of the UQCC road race in its early days and always came out to help with recording on the day. He had an ability to take on a huge number of tasks and juggle them all fairly well. His unquestioning support of the University of Queensland Cycle Club is why we proudly named our premier men’s cycling race after him.