ADELAIDE'S HOSTING OF THE TOUR DOWN UNDER, part of the global cycling elite racing events, has been a rallying totem for the revived popularity of cycling in the city and state.
But popularity of cycling in 21st Century Adelaide is actually the recycling of an era that was almost wiped out in the car-crazy 1960s.
The arrival of the first bicycles in South Australia in the 1870s ignited great enthusiasm for everyday and organised cycling. Adelaide still has Australia’s old cycling club at Norwood.
The enthusiasm flowed into the 20th Century with, for example, cyclists given more access to city parklands in 1909 with bike tracks laid each side of Unley Road, along western half of Glen Osmond Road, north side of Wakefield Street, the south side of Bay Road (Anzac Highway) and along Port Road. These tracks were lost in the mania for cars starting in the 1950s and 1960s.
Competitive cycling in the suburbs eventually centred on velodromes such as Norwood’s Jubilee Cycling Arena (lost to housing in 1981). Hanson Reserve velodrome at Woodville Gardens became the focus of racing from 1932 with Stuart O'Grady, Brett Aitken, Mike Turtur and Jack Bobridge among stars to train there later.
In the 1970s, the 10-speed bicycle with drop handlebars was the focus of revibing cycling's popularity. Also in the 1970s, Hans Penning was the energetic leader of what became the Cyclists Protection Association, a group that started pushing for greater awareness of cycling in urban planning.
In the early 1980s, the state government established the State Bicycle Committee, superseded in 1999 by the State Bicycle Council, to further cycling interests.
With 10,000 bicycle trips through the City of Adelaide each weekday now, improving cycling infrastructure has the attention of the state government and councils. But Adelaide has yet to achieve a proper joined-up network of bikeways and paths that properly protects cyclists.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S FIRST EXPERIENCE OF CYCLING IN 1860s WITH 'BONESHAKERS'
Bicycles were so popular in Adelaide by 1874 that they were banned from footpaths. South Australia first experienced North American and European velocipedes or “boneshakers" in the 1860s. After penny farthings, the first safety bicycle arrived in the 1880s. After the penny farthings, the first safety bicycle – smaller wheels and pneumatic tyres – arrived in the 1880s. Penny-farthing riders formed racing and recreational clubs, with members wearing military-like uniforms. By 1888, Adelaide had four racing clubs, including the South Australia Bicycle Club and the Norwood Cycling Club. The cycling craze grew in the 1890s many clubs affiliated with South Australia League of Wheelmen, including Adelaide, Arid, Gawler, Norwood, Great Northern, Mount Gambier, Naracoorte, North Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Railway, Holdfast Bay, Northern Areas, Red Bird, Jamestown, South Australian, Mannum, Parkside, Southern Districts, Melrose and West Torrens. The League of Wheelmen’s magazine, the SA Cyclist, started in 1896, described social cycling events such as the Monster Cycle Parade to Henley Beach in May 1897 involved 11 clubs and visitors.Cyclists left in club order from North Terrace, Adelaide, at 2.45. Sports at the beach included tug of war. Tea at 5pm was a shilling a head. A hall was booked for an evening of music. North Adelaide club’s annual strawberry picnic involved a run from North Adelaide via Norwood to Glen Osmond and then to Smiths Garden. A paper chase in 1897 took in Gilberton, Medindie, Botanic Park, Norwood and Marryatville.
The League of Wheelmen’s magazine, the SA Cyclist, reflects the growing organised nature of Adelaide cycling in the late 1890s. The advent of the safety bicycle, with smaller wheels and pneumatic tyres, made cycling popular, and also feasible, for women. The magazine ran an editorial against a law for bicycle bells. It argued that cyclists were unlikely to run into pedestrians and ringing a bell increased the danger. The SA Cyclist noted the freedom that cycling offered women, who formed their own clubs. It advised on most graceful ways for women to get on and off a bicycle Five Easter cycling tours in 1897 ran from Thursday to Monday allowing “'time for devotions on the Sunday”. Routes included: Strathalbyn, Milang, steamer to Meningie and back, cycle to Goolwa then Victor Harbor and home via Willunga. The League of SA Wheelmen staged a grand summer carnival at Jubilee Exhibition Oval (on Frome Road between the Jubilee Exhibition building and the River Torrens). Also in 1897, South Australian Bicycle Club members held a moonlight run to Eagle on the Hill to see off J.E. Snell on his record-breaking ride to Melbourne. Snell left Adelaide at 10pm on January 19 and arrived at Melbourne GPO at noon January 22 – beating the record by eight and a half hours. He walked 14 miles because of bad roads on the South Australian side. He dieted on fruit, bread, soups and beef tea. Dunlop Tyre Company provided the bicycles.
ADELAIDE MAKES FAMOUS BICYCLE BRANDS IN TANDEM WITH EARLY 20th CENTURY CHAMPIONS
Bullock became one of Adelaide’s finest cycle makers. Adelaide-born cyclist John Bullock worked as a mechanic at one of Adelaide’s oldest and tricycle shops, owned by W. Tyler and P.J Williams in Pulteney Street, Adelaide, before opening his own business. Bullock cycles came to notice when he won Norwood Cycling Club’s 1898 race to Victor Harbor, and W.J. Dale of Norwood club rode a Bullock to a fastest-time victory in the 100-mile. As with another Adelaide cycle maker Vivian Lewis, Bullock won an agency to make early motor cars at his Pirie Street, Adelaide, works. By 1906, the Bullock range included its Royal Swift with two-speed gearing. South Australian Police Cycle Corps chose Bullock. Also importing Humber cycles, Bullock opened shops in Pirie and Rundle streets – the first Adelaide chain stores that extended to Port Adelaide, Gawler, Kadina and Port Pirie. With a BSA roadster and motorcycles (a Clyno with sidecar, Humber, Excelsior, Zenith) also offered by 1913, Bullock sponsored the South Australia League of Wheelmen 25-mile race. Bullock bikes were used by world champions Willie Spencer and Frank Corry; Arme Bate who defeated Hubert Operman in the five-mile pursuit at Payneham Oval; and state champion K.L. Osborne. Bullock’s Arrow, fitted with BSA parts, was used by record breakers. John Bullock died in 1931 but the company continued inprovements such as the Bullock Deluxe in 1939-40. It now also sold shearing merchandise, tractors, radios and wheelchairs. But the Bullock business didn’t survive beyond the 1950s.
Super Elliott bicycles brand has survived into the 21st Century, carrying the banner for Adelaide's strong tradition of cycle manufacturing started by Vivian Lewis in 1892 and taken up by John Bullock in the early 20th Century. Lewis was soon running one of Adelaide city's largest cycle suppliers in the 1890s and Bullock's venture into quality cycle making and retailing saw him create Adelaide's first chain of stores. Both Lewis and Bullock assembled the earliest motors cars in Adelaide and both sold motor cycles. The Elliott brothers, Bertrand and Laurie, founded what later became Super Elliott, as a shop in Payneham in 1902. They also added motor cycles to their range. When the original partnership broke up, Victor Elliot joined the company that started a factory in Gawler Place, Adelaide, in the 1920s. it was later in that decade that Bertrand Elliott decided to discard the petrol-driven side of the business and concentrate on bicycles. Two years after opening a shop in Rundle Street, Adelaide, the business became a limited company: changing from Elliott Bros to Super Elliott. The business was blessed with the technical and artistic talents of frame builders such as Claude Bushell, Len Edwards and Tom Robinson, painters Percy Kutcher, and frame enamellers Rex Hunter, Les Hall and Ray Greenslade. This personal attention to frame building almost ended in the 1960s but Super Elliott survived the flood of imports in in the 1970s/80s, even developing its own in-store brand Pursuit, built by Wayne Roberts. The Elliot brothers' belief in bicyles was vindicated with their 21st Century revival.
ADELAIDE AGAIN PROVES CREDENTIALS AND ABILITY TO STAGE GLOBAL EVENTS
The Adelaide Super Drome at the State Sports Park, Main North Road, Gepps Cross, was designed by architect Carlo Gnezda and opened in 1993. From 1993, the venue was managed and promoted by 1984 Olympic pursuit gold medallist Mike Turtur, helped by the venue's track designer Ron Webb, in bringing out international competitors. The Super Drome is headquarters for the Australian Institute of Sports track cycling program, fully accredited international-standard training and competition arena. It has hosted international events and has been a training base for teams competing in the Tour Down Under since 1999. It also the site of the 2011 Oceania track titles. The indoor velodrome is a 250m international standard timber track made from specially specified Nordic pine with 43° banking in the turns, constructed under the supervision of British velodrome specialist Ron Webb. It can accommodate 3,000 spectators. In the centre of the cycling track is a multipurpose concrete floor used for various sports. It has had a swimming pool set up on the tracks infield as part of a triathlon a course. It is the location for the headquarters and office of Cycling South Australia. A women's cycling world record was broken at the Super-Drome during Tour Down Under week in 2016 after Victorian cyclist Bridie O'Donnell rode 46.882 kilometres in an hour. O'Donnell spent 10 months preparing for her 60-minute assault on the women's world record, which was previously held by American Molly Van Houweling, who had covered 46.273 kilometres.
A track on the Regency Park industrial estate hosted most criterium racing until a $650,000 (state government $500,000; South Australian Motor Sport Board $150,000) extension of the criterium track in Victoria Park was laid in 2013 to give it a new home. More than 630m of track was laid to shift the course east and allow viewing from the Victoria Park heritage horse-racing grandstand. The track is available for racing, pedal prix events and school and community use for all but a few weeks when the Clipsal 500 motor racing event is held. The South Australian Cycling Federation (Cycling SA) in 1995 became the controlling and sanctioning body for the disciplines of track and road racing in the state. Cycling SA and its affiliated clubs offer road and track race and training for all categories of membership, from Junior under-11 boys and girls to Masters ( men and women over 65). A full racing gold licence enables entry to all cycle races (in the appropriate category) run by Cycling SA or Cycling Australia auspices. In includes personal accident and third party insurance for training and racing. Non-competitive cyclists can have the ride silver licence categories. This provides recreational members with the same level of insurance and access to tracks as racing members. Cycling SA also offer coaching and commissaires (cycling officials), training and accreditation to all our members. Volunteers have the platinum licence category. Criterium racing – for individual or teams over 30-60 minutes – was introduced to South Australia by the Norwood Cycling Club in 1985.
Charlie Walsh was inducted into the inaugural Cycling Australia Hall of Fame in 2015, joining stars such as Hubert Opperman, Russell Mockridge, Edgar “Dunc” Gray, Sid Patterson, Phil Anderson, Kathy Watt, Anna Wilson, Robbie McEwen and Sara Carrigan. As a racing cyclist, Walsh won more than 1,000 events over 25 years at national and state level, including the Austral Wheel Race in 1969, on a 50-yard handicap, and the Melbourne Cup on Wheels. In South Australian state titles, he was placed first more than 70 times from sprints to 125-mile road events, and toppled or set 25 state records. From 1985, Walsh was cycling coach with Michael Turtur at the South Australian Sports Institute. He was the national coaching director for the Australian Cycling Federation from 1980, developing and lecturing at coaching courses throughout Australia and internationally. In 1990, Walsh was one of four persons appointed by the Federation of International Amateur Cycling for coaching development worldwide. Walsh was overall head coach of track and road cycling at the Australian Institute of Sport 1987-2001, overseeing Australia's rise in world track cycling to No.1 in 1993-94. He was Olympic cycling coach at six Games,15 world titles, five Commonwealth Games and two Goodwill Games. Under Walsh, Australia won two Olympic gold medals, nine silver, nine bronze and 10 world titles. He coached Michael Grenda, Michael Turtur, Dean Woods and Kevin Nichols to win the 4000 pursuit at the 1984 Olympics. Walsh received nine Australian Coach of Year awards for all sports.
Mike Turtur was the spearhead for Adelaide getting to host the international Tour Down Under from 1999 and will have been its director for 22 years when he bows out in 2020. The event became the first non-European race to be bestowed UCI WorldTour (then known as the ProTour) status. A member of the Cycling Australia Hall of Fame, Turtur represented Australia at Olympic and Commonwealth games. He won gold in the 4000m team pursuit at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles with team members Dean Woods, Kevin Nichols and Michael Grenda, coached by Charlie Walsh. At the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, he won gold medals in the men’s 4000m teams and individual pursuits, and a bronze medal in the 10-mile scratch race. He was the flag bearer for Australia at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, and won a gold medal in the men’s 4000m team pursuit. Turtur later became the South Australian Instititute of Sport cycling coach for five years. and, from 1993, he was the manager and promoter of the Adelaide Super Drome, at State Sports Park, headquarters for the highly successful Australian Institute of Sport’s women’s and men’s track cycling. Turtur was section manager of Australia’s teams for the 1994 Victoria, Canada, Commonwealth Games Cycling Team, 1995 world championships, and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. While creating and guiding the Tour Down Under, Turtur has been on the boards of the Australian Sports Commission and management committee of the International Cycliste Union.
The Women’s Tour in 2015 joined the Festival of Cycling around the Tour Down Under. The women’s tour had been granted international status by the world’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, as part of its Oceania calendar of events. The event also remains part of Cycling Australia’s Subaru National Road Series meaning that teams are racing for points but against an even more competitive international field.
AUSTRALIA-WIDE CAMPAIGN FOR CYCLISTS' SAFETY STARTS IN ADELAIDE
Hans Penning led what became in 1976 the Cyclist Protection Association, pushing for awareness of cycling in urban planning. After rallies of hundreds of cyclists, the association became involved in city planning related to cycling. These included 40 km/h urban speed limits, the linear park, Tea Tree Gully bikeway and Emerson Crossing. Association president Darrell Penhale in 1979 initiated the Bicycle Federation of Australia, the peak lobby body for more than 20,000 cyclists nationally.
FOOTPATH CYCLING AND OVERTAKING DISTANCE LIMIT INTRODUCED IN 2015
Adelaide metropolitan area has some long bike paths free of motor traffic. The Torrens Linear Park cycle path is shared with walkers who can use a trail that runs the 30 km lengthof the River Torrens from Gorge Road, Athelstone, in the north-eastern suburbs, through the northern parklands of the City of Adelaide, to the river mouth at Henley Beach in the west. The linear park was completed in 1997 as the first of its kind in Australia. The state government has worked with six suburban councils on a Coast Park – a 70km walking and cycling path along the metropolitan coastline from North Haven to Sellicks Beach. The Mike Turtur Bikeway is the busiest cycling commuter route in Adelaide. In runs from South Terrace in the city and follows the tramline route to Glenelg. The Southern Veloway runs from the intersection of Marion and South roads in the Adelaide suburb of Darlington out to Old Reynella, where it joins onto the Marino-Willunga Rail Trail. Beyond the metropolitan area are off-road trails such as the 54km Riesling and Rattler running through the award-winning Clare Valley wine region. The Amy Gillett rail trail follows the former Mount Pleasant railway line from Oakbank and Woodside in the Adelaide Hills through to the Barossa Valley.
MULTI DIMENSIONS TO SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CYCLING
The state government will spend $1.5 million to make Mount Lofty Ranges an international mountain biking destination and boost tourism by 50% by 2020. The ranges already have an 200km extensive network of trails across national parks, forest reserves and other public land. The government had also spent $150,000 on a mountain bike and bushwalking trail at Cleland Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills that links the Crafers interchange with Mount Lofty Summit.