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Bathurst Cycling Club

The Bathurst Cycling Club is one of the oldest sports clubs in Australia, founded in 1884. It's members boast an impressive record on the worlds most elite stage, with a proud list of achievements at Olympics, Paralympics, World and National Championships and on the Professional scene.

The Club is built on a proud tradition of local club racing where a social team atmosphere is complimented by a motivating, challenging environment.

Club History

Bathurst Bicycle Club - Established 1884

By Mark Windsor – Chair CNSW Heritage Commission

Acknowledgement - Heather McFarlane, Jack McKay and Theo Barker

 

Bathurst cycling has a rich and long history that dates back to the birth of the sport in Australia. In fact, the city boasts some residents who were real pioneers of cycling.

 

The Bathurst Bicycle Club was founded in 1884 by some high-profile racing identities, including the world-famous cyclist Dr H R Cortis, who joined-up with the local Bathurst Football Club to form the first Cycling Club. The Football Club, along with other local organisations were running sports days, which included Bicycle events on the Bathurst Sportsground to raise funds. The presence of Dr H R Cortis in Bathurst was almost enough to start a club, as he had briefly stopped in Melbourne and Sydney on his way to Bathurst, where he advised cyclists to formally structure their racing around the British Amateur Principles. Soon after, in 1883, the NSW Cyclist Union was established using those British Racing Principles, so the creation of a Bicycle Club in Bathurst seemed a logical progression once Dr H R Cortis arrived in town.

 

However, it was Dr H R Cortis' brother, Dr. W. R. Cortis who was voted president of the first Bathurst Cycling Club in 1884.

 

Dr. William Richard Cortis was a Politician and Surgeon, who was well known in the thoroughbred industry in the early days of the Colony. Working with his world-famous brother Dr H R Cortis, (who was considered the world’s best cyclist), the pair established the framework for the cycling club after the local Football Club stated their intentions to formalise the sport of cycling in Bathurst.  After initial discussions, Dr. W. R. Cortis was voted the Bicycle Club first president and the Mayor Dr. Spencer, the vice-president, prior to the Football Club’s Sports Carnival on the Sportsground in September 1884.

 

This event was by no means the first Bicycle Race in Bathurst as there are reports of cycling events in Bathurst as far back as the 1860s. Given the first reported Cycle Race in the World is regarded as held in France in 1868, cycling in Bathurst stretches back to the birth of the sport internationally. Respected Cycling Source “The Australian Cyclist” reported the first bicycle in Australia was ridden at Bathurst. The Velocipede Bicycle that the Australian Cyclist talked-off, was one that Bathurst Photographer Mr. William Rufus George had built by Levi White Medaris at his premises in Machattie's Lane, (near the RSL club these days).

 

The significance of cycling in 1884 in Bathurst is due to the formal structure and activities of this first Cycling Club. A framework for running cycling competitions in the colony has been made possible by the establishment of the NSW Cyclist Union. While it is difficult to say if the inaugural Bathurst Bicycle Club was fully affiliated with the NSWCU body, reports in the Sydney Press point to a number of races on the Bathurst Sportsground being sanctioned by the sport’s new controlling body and run under NSWCU rules. It is also assumed that members of the inaugural 1884 Bathurst Bicycle Club were affiliated with the newly formed NSWCU, in fact Dr H L Cortis was a vice president of the NSWCU in its first year of operation (1883/84).

 

With some very influential members the 1884 Bathurst Bicycle Club was a very significant part of cycling history. Besides Dr Cortis and Mayor Spencer, other members included Mr. G. H. MacDougall (vice-president) and Mr. Barnet, who was son of the Colonial Architect and was captain of the first Bathurst Bicycle Club in 1884.

 

However, things were not plain sailing for the NSW Amateur Cyclist union and the inaugural Bathurst Bicycle Club, as both Pro and Amateur classified cyclists existed in Bathurst in those early days. Around a decade before a second Cycling Management Body for Professional Cyclists would be formed, (called the league of Wheelman), some of Bathurst Cyclists could join the Inaugural 1884 Bicycle Club given they had a history of racing for cash. (The Professionals riders would have to wait till the 1890s to have a club or management body to join in Australia)

 

This meant for around 100years, two management bodies would run cycling in Australia, the Union and the League, before eventually the League integrated into the Union and the sport became unified. As a consequence, Bathurst would have both Union and League affiliated bodies for almost 100years, before the local League affiliated Club joined the Bathurst “Union” Amateur club in 1985 to form the new amalgamated era of the cycling club in Bathurst.

(Should be Noted - while the Bathurst League Affiliated Cycling club continued to function during the World Wars, the local Union clubs would go into recess during both world wars).

 

So, while the history of cycling in Australia can be a bit tricky to explain, it is clear that the long Heritage of cycling in Bathurst is something to celebrate. Just Briefly, following on from Dr. W. R. Cortis’s Bathurst Bicycling Club of 1884, the club rebranded itself the following year as the Club of the West by calling itself the Occidental Cycling Club and formally affiliating with the NSWCU. This 1885 club updated its “Regs and Bylaws” and held its annual Club race meeting at the Sportsground strictly under the rules of the NSW Cyclist Union. It was reported in the National press as one of the most important cycling events in the Colony outside Sydney, with two district Championships conducted at the meeting.  The following year the Union would sanction a Western NSW Cycling Championship and that would be followed by State Cycling Championships in Bathurst at the Sportsground. Regional, State and National Level cycling would be held on the Bathurst Sportsground for around 130years till the club moved to its new location at the Bathurst Bicycle Park in 2015, which coincided with the city's 200year birthday celebrations. 

 

December (2023-24 season), the Bathurst Cycling Club held the AusCycling NSW Country and Metropolitan Cycling Championships and Country Track Carnival Series at the new Bathurst Velodrome. It is wonderful to think after 140years that Bathurst is still being awarded these championship events.

David Hyland

President

Tracey Robinson

Secretary

Cathy Adams

Committee Member (Road)

Toireasa Gallagher

Committee Member (Juniors)

David Reece

Vice President

Nathan Pearce

Treasurer

Marian Renshaw

Committee Member (Track)

2023/24 Committee

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