'Intercolonial Amateur Bicycle Meeting' - Sep. 1884.

Cycling was beginning to gain popularity throughout the Colony after the introduction of bicycles in the 1860s. Moore Park Cricket Ground in Sydney, was the venue for the first ‘intercolonial, Amateur Bicycle Champion Meeting in 1884. It was reported that the Sydney Bicycle Club had organised cycling races that were ‘unequalled in the annals of colonial cycling’. This event was incredibly popular, attracting a crowd of 15,000 spectators, who displayed ‘enormous enthusiasm’ along with a sense of great excitement at the finish line. The races were categorised into distances of one mile and ten miles. The winner of the one-mile race, C.W. Bennett was described as a ‘grass demon’ owing to his ‘superiority’ of riding on the grass! English born Bennett had an impressive track record for winning races prior to his arrival in Australia and there was an expectation he would continue to be successful. Bennett competed in the ten-mile race however he was beaten by his rival, F.H. Shackleton. The crowd was thrilled to see the native Victorian win the race. Shackleton had been rising through the ranks of amateur cycling due to an ‘indomitable amount of perseverance and pluck.’ Looking at the illustration of the winners and their bikes it is hard to imagine riding such a contraption, let alone racing one!

Illustrated Australian News, Wednesday 3 September 1884, page 138.

Illustrated Australian News, Wednesday 3 September 1884, page 138.