History of DHBC 1908-2015

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Postby marc2131 » 22 Oct 2014, 10:03

Wrote this early this year and thought some people in the club may find it interesting.


1908 - Formation of the DHBC:

The Dulwich Hill Bicycle Club is one of the oldest continuously operating bicycle clubs in Australia. Existing club minute books begin from 1914.

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DHBC committee, 3rd of April 1908

The DHBC was formed in 1908 after some members from the then Marrickville Bicycle Club (now defunct) broke away. Its inaugural meeting was held on the 8th April 1908 at the Dulwich Hill Masonic Hall with a subscription of five shillings from each of the approximately 20 foundation members (S Heathcote, 1988, p5). After the meeting the group held their first ride, a very social all day ride to Gymea Bay (Sunday Times, 22.3.1908, p10).

The competitive spirit – racing:
The new club was not content to identify itself as a solely social club with wheels. As the newly formed DHBC they challenged and beat the ‘Campsie Club’ in a football match by a convincing 20 points and on the 13th of June 1908 organised it’s first road race starting from Ashfield at the corner of Parramatta and Liverpool Roads which ran for 5 miles (8 km) (SMH, 25.5.1908, p10).

DHBC road races commonly ran to the Homebush, Enfield, Bunnerong, Earlwood and Chullora areas. Most races were short by today’s standards being usually 5 miles (8 km) to a maximum of 40 miles (64 km) in length. These early racers were limited to a single gear with freewheels disallowed from sanctioned events (S Heathcote, 1988, p6).

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1910 DHBC race team

This racing tradition continued through the decades with the formation of various race teams and participation in major race events like the Goulburn-Sydney race.

DHBC Road Juvenile Premiership Team 1952.jpeg
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1950s DHBC Junior Premiership Team

In 2012, the DHBC Racing National Road Series Team was formed to compete at the top level of cycle racing in Australia.
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DHBC Track racing:
Early track racing was held on a variety of surfaces, usually dirt, ash or timber boards. Access to various tracks at Ashfield’s Pratten Park (ash) and Canterbury’s Canterbury Velodrome (board) were used through the 1920s and early 1930s, but the club had no permanent track. In 1933 Marrickville Council opened a banked, 470 metre bicycle race track at Henson Park which was used for the 1938 Empire Games (S Heathcote, 1988, p25).

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DHBC at Henson Park, 1936.

6 day race program cover.jpeg
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By the late 1960s, as a result of pressure from the Newtown Rugby League Football Club, Marrickville Council removed the track from Henson Park. However key members negotiated a lease on O’Dea Reserve, Camperdown in 1969. Constructed largely by club members, a 250 metre Olympic standard velodrome was completed in 1971. (S Heathcote, 1988, p30) Camperdown Velodrome was used until about 1992 but was demolished in 2000 due to concerns over toxic landfill on the site.

Camperdown Velodrome

With the demise of the Camperdown Velodrome, the DHBC attained use of the new Canterbury Velodrome (Tempe) built several years earlier in 1982. The DHBC still reside there.

Canterbury Velodrome at Tempe

Women and the DHBC:
Cycling has traditionally been a contentious activity for women. Male opposition to new freedoms provided by the bicycle ran contrary to the traditional roles imposed on women - staying put within house and home. This developed an environment, which often discouraged women from taking up cycling seriously. Many early female club members played a pivotal role in its social events, particularly organising picnics, balls and cabarets. Some took official roles as time keepers, administrators or providing support.

However the DHBC has a long history of including and encouraging women within it's ranks. In 1947, club member Fred Kaltenbach, encouraged the DHBC to support Madelaine Bollard and Sonia Witchard (later Heathcote) to become affiliated members of the NSW Amateur Cycling Union. Possibly the first women admitted as full members, but they were still disallowed from racing! (S Heathcote, 1988, p14-15)

Twenty years later, DHBC member Margaret McLachlan showed herself to be a highly competitive racer often beating her male counterparts. Margaret joined the DHBC as a 15 year old and by the time she was in her late teens was beating boys in races. Unfortunately for Margaret the NSW Amateur Cycling Union decided to cancel her racing license in 1966. Margaret and the DHBC were furious, protesting this outrage but to no avail.

Undeterred by the sexist bans, Margaret set her sights on breaking ultra marathon records. In 1967 she set a women’s record for the Sydney-Melbourne route breaking it by 4 hours (36 hours and 33 minutes.) This record stood for 3 decades. In 1968 she rode from Sydney to Newcastle in a record time of 6 hours 14.5 minutes. Margaret retired soon after having 2 children and running a bicycle shop with her husband John, first at Stanmore and then in Newcastle.

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Margaret McLachlan in 1967

Today the DHBC actively encourages women within it's ranks. In recent years the female membership has grown both in numbers and as a proportion of the total membership.

DHBC women racers

DHBC - A very social club:
Races and competitions were not the only matters on the minds of many an early DHBC member. Long distanced social or touring rides were often organised. In fact the first social ride was held on the same day of the club’s formation (8th April 1908) when the new committee and members jaunted off to Gymea Bay. In the years that followed, touring rides to places like Windsor, Dolls Point, East Hills, Wallacia, Botany, and San Souci were held on a regular basis (S Heathcote, 1988, p6).

1956 Marrickville Jubilee Parade. Bill Connolly of Alcon Cycles (left), Claude Heathcote (right), Olaf (driving the Alcon cart) and Young Annakin (the Great Dane)

To this day the club maintains its ongoing tradition of social, touring and ‘adventure’ rides.

Appreciating our bicycle history - The DHBC Valley Wheelers:
The Valley Wheelers was formed in the late 2000s by a group of members with a penchant for history, vintage bicycles, paraphernalia and a good beer. The group grew steadily and by 2012 formed a formidable section of the weekly DHBC ‘Saturday Slowies’ ride to Centennial Park. They also began organising touring rides to places like Wiseman’s Ferry, Picton, Mudgee, Coolah and Bowral on a regular basis. They also do a yearly pilgrimage to Evansdale, Tasmania to compete in Penny Farthing races.

Promo pic for the inaugural 2013 Sydney Classic Bicycle Show, taken at Centennial Park by Bill Kokas.

Group members began accumulating personal bounties of vintage and historically significant bicycles, from rare Italian racing steads to restoring forgotten Sydney made bicycles by old masters like Bill Connelly of Alcon Cycles (Marrickville), Jim Bundy (Granville and Riverwood), Bol’ Dor (Campsie), Speedwell (Sydney), DMI (Ryde), Clem Eagles (Enfield), Blackbird (Ashfield) and Clamont (Sydney).
By 2013, the Valley Wheelers initiated and organised the very successful ‘Sydney Classic Bicycle Show’. Held at Canterbury Velodrome at Tempe on the 23rd of March 2013, making it NSW’s first major vintage bicycle event. This has since become an annual event.

DHBC highlights:

1967- The DHBC 6-seater tandem ‘going all the way’ with LBJ
This bicycle was used in the Waratah parade to welcome US president Lyndon B. Johnson during his visit to Sydney in 1966. During the parade, the growing opposition to the Vietnam War and Australia’s part in it became apparent when anti-war protesters made their views known. Mike Mazza, one of the 6 riders on the tandem claims the police told them to ride over the protesters lying on the road. The 6-person team declined the offer. A few minutes later, the front fork of the tandem snapped ending their contribution in the LBJ cavalcade. The US abandoned their ambitions in South Vietnam soon after.

1966 LBJ tandem welcome in Sydney.jpg
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The notorious DHBC 6-seater tandem

1952 - Lionel Cox and Olympic gold
Lionel Cox, a long time member of the DHBC won Olympic Gold and Silver medals in the 1952 Helsinki games. Originally a member of the Marrickville club, he went on to become a life member of DHBC. The photo shows Lionel with Russell Mockridge after their gold medal win in the tandem track event at the 1952 Olympics. Lionel died in 2011.

Russell Mockridge and Lionel Cox after winning Olympic gold

Author: Marc Rerceretnam, 2014.
DHBC Road Juvenile Premiership Team 1952.jpeg
DHBC Road Juvenile Premiership Team 1952.jpeg (1.44 MiB) Viewed 907 times
2012 DHBC road team.png
2012 DHBC road team.png (623.47 KiB) Viewed 907 times
1966 Margaret McL article.png
1966 Margaret McL article.png (695.27 KiB) Viewed 907 times
6 day race program cover.jpeg
6 day race program cover.jpeg (1.97 MiB) Viewed 907 times
1966 LBJ tandem welcome in Sydney.jpg
1966 LBJ tandem welcome in Sydney.jpg (813.5 KiB) Viewed 906 times
Last edited by marc2131 on 16 Oct 2017, 09:30, edited 4 times in total.

Anthony K
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Postby Anthony K » 22 Oct 2014, 12:43

Mark, this is excellent. A great look at the history of our club and of our community. Thanks.

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Postby Stuart » 22 Oct 2014, 17:18

I was supposed to put this on the website wasn't I? *fail* It will go up on the new website which is only weeks away (I hope)

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Postby jcaley » 22 May 2016, 19:57

Frank who sets up the traffic cone snake at Waratah Park most Sundays to train the juniors has told me a couple of times he was a member of DHBC from the 60s. I think he would be keen to have a long chat and pass on his memories if someone wanted to listen. Maybe set up a tape recorder. Is that something you would be interested in marc?

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Postby Dave_Ranx » 25 May 2016, 16:52

nice reading thanks marc.

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Postby Eleri » 25 May 2016, 21:52

published in Australian Geographic this week.

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