Looking for some lockdown reading?
Australian Cycling Champions: 130 years of bicycle racing covers the history of Aussie bicycle racing and the performances of Australia’s track and road champions from the 1890s to now.
Written by Blue Mountains journalist Warren Beaumont, the new book includes over 60 colour and black-and-white photographs.
It surveys the sport’s history from the 1800s “boneshaker” races in Redfern through to today’s world-beaters like Kaarle McCulloch and Caleb Ewan.
Beaumont’s book is stacked with major heavyweights from New South Wales’ cycling history.
For example, he looks back at the Sydney Thousand of 1903, a handicap track race at the Sydney Cricket Ground that awarded a world-record 750 pounds to the winner at a time when basic wages were scarcely over one pound.
He retells the careers of Dubbo’s Bob Spears – the 1920 world champion known to Americans as “the master of the delayed sprint” – and Murwillimbah’s Reg Arnold, blind in one eye, who conquered the European and American six-day races together with Alf Strom.
There’s also Reg McNamara, the “iron man” of six-day cycling who won a race in New York while carrying three broken ribs; tales of the Goulburn to Sydney one-day race; Phill Bates’ Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic; and, of course, our first Olympic gold medallist in Dunc Gray.
Beaumont dedicates a chapter to trailblazing women who defied their era and dared to pedal a bicycle, like the Beazley sisters from Sydney who rode 180 miles in one day to set a new Australian record in 1896 while wearing a style of dress that some considered scandalous.
While long-distance records may have fallen out of favour in recent times, Beaumont recalls the ground-breaking achievements of riders like Sarah Maddock, who was the first woman to ride from Sydney to Brisbane and Sydney to Melbourne.
Beaumont’s book contains dozens of biographies highlighting phenomenal Australian riders of recent decades, including names like Carrigan, Bates, Speight, Eadie, Sutton and McGee.
In addition, Beaumont covers the classic Australian races like the Melbourne to Warrnambool and iconic figures like Sir Hubert Opperman and Cadel Evans.
This book would interest anyone looking for a thorough overview of Australia’s rich cycling history.
Australian Cycling Champions: 130 years of bicycle racing by Warren Beaumont can be purchased from the Plateau Publishing website for $23.99 (including shipping) and in bookstores.