HISTORY OF CYCLE RACING IN CAIRNS
Organised cycle racing has been conducted since the late 1890s, beginning with the Cairns Cycle Club. With bicycles being a common form of transport in the early years of the sport in the region, many could relate to the sport, and this resulted in great appeal to spectators.
Early track racing was conducted at Munro Martin Park, and later a track was developed at Freshwater in the area of the current horse sports grounds. These early tracks had dirt or cinder surfaces.
Road racing was conducted throughout the far north including the Atherton Tablelands, where the cooler climate and hilly terrain made for ideal racing conditions.
Road racing around Cairns used a number of courses, including some that today are well within the bounds of the built up area. These included courses utilising Anderson St and Collins Avenue and Pease Street. Races from Babinda to Cairns, and from Cairns to Ellis Beach were also held.
SMITH PARK – A LONG TERM HOME FOR TRACK RACING
In the 1950s, the late Mr Smith willed a former dairy to the council on the proviso it be used to further the interests of cycle racing in the region. The facility became known as Smith Park, and has been the centre of track racing in Cairns ever since. The first track was constructed of clay, and was resurfaced with bitumen in the early 1960s.
Over the years Smith Park hosted numerous important events, including Australian professional championships and numerous state and local titles.
CAIRNS CLUBS THROUGH THE YEARS
A number of different clubs have existed in Cairns, and over considerable periods there has been more than one at a time. This was largely borne of the divide between amateur and professional cycling. At one point there were three clubs in Cairns, catering for amateurs, professionals, and a ladies club. Trinity Bay Wheelers and Trinity Bay Cycling are past clubs that existed in the area.
The removal of distinction between amateur and professional cycling allowed a single club for all riders, and resulted in the formation of the Cairns Cycling Club. The club continues to operate, promoting and conducting racing in the disciplines of road and track racing.
In the early 2000s a sub group of the club formed on the Atherton Tablelands. This group then evolved into a separate club in Tablelands Cycle Sports.
LONG TERM FAMILY INVOLVEMENTS
Over the years family involvements in the club have stretched over generations. Two of note are the Nash and McIntyre families who left their mark on the sport with three generations of riders and club administrators.
RIDERS OF NOTE
Cairns Cycling has produced many great athletes. Former riders Graham Dunstan and Kim Ryan both left their mark as Australian Champions. In more recent times Bernard Panton and Ashley Hutchinson both graced the middle of the national podium, as well as representing their country. Ashley went on to be a World Champion in the Team Pursuit.
Omega Pharma Lotto Team rider Adam Hansen started his road racing career with the Cairns Cycling Club. Cairns remains his home club, and he frequents club racing at times he is in Cairns.
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
Despite its remoteness from the state capital, Cairns Cycling Club continues to flourish as it seeks to promote and support the sport in far north Queensland into the future.
Photo: 1961 Cairns cycling team going to Maryborough for the State championships. Photo courtesy of Rhonda Wallace