Thanks to Club members Alan Smith and Paul Montesin for their early memories.
Sydney Cycling Club began in October 1978 when Don Beavis, President of Eastern Suburbs Amateur Cycling Club, grew concerned about the ‘hard core’ racing attitude of that club. Don envisaged a club which looked upon cycling as more than just racing. He resigned his position, invited a few of his riding mates around to his home for a BBQ, and formed a club with a more comprehensive view of cycling as sport and recreation.
Bruno Sibilia recalls the original members of this new cycling club: Don Beavis, President/Secretary; Tom Wilhelm, Treasurer; and Bruno Sibilia, Race Secretary. Some other early members were Jack Browne, Alain Agullo, Gilbert Droz, John Manini, John Lovell-Jones, Michael Goulay, George Chalvin, Dave Stakes and Paul Montesin (now Life Member)
Club Meetings were held at Sydney Bicycle & Motor Club, Wynyard Park. And so Sydney Cycling Club (SCC) was formed.
Don Beavis also designed the club’s first jersey which was 100% wool, and unfortunately when wet, would stretch out of shape and at times you would appear to be wearing a skirt. They would also shrink, unevenly of course, with the striped side shrinking more than the rest. Eventually, an acrylic type material with the Opera House logo was used.
The Bicycle & Motor Club was celebrating its centenary year, and SCC organised a criterium to coincide with the event. Race circuit was Hickson Road in The Rocks, and the race was called ‘Myer’s Cup Cycle Race’ with Kevin Nichols winning from Shane Sutton.
An early story featured Club member Alain Agullo who had two bike shops – one in Bondi Road run by his friend Gilbert Droz and the other in Sutherland. His shop at Sutherland was broken into on a couple of occasions, so to deter such incidents Alain slept there overnight with his shot gun. One night when young thieves were breaking into the shop Alain fired the shot gun into the roof – he never had trouble again.
Also in 1979, SCC’s first Time Trials were held at Heffron Park.
1980 – 1981
SCC struggled through 1980 and 1981 with only a handful of members. A meeting was held with the view of winding up the Club, and Don Beavis stated that his work commitments would not allow him enough time to preside over the Club, although he remained President until 1983.
Alan Smith (Life Member) recalls that he was riding in Centennial Park when a rider approached him, introduced himself as John Beauchamp and asked him if he would like to join the Club. Alan agreed and because he worked in a bank was made Treasurer – a position he held for eight years. Under John Beauchamp’s leadership membership began to increase. John also produced a monthly SCC newsletter, which he delivered by bike, of course! Club member numbers began to increase. Club Meetings transferred from John Beauchamp’s home to Woollahra Public School to accommodate more members.
Membership stood at 54. Members decided to restructure SCC into two distinct clubs: Sydney Cycling Club, and Sydney Cyclists’ Club. Sydney Cycling Club was affiliated with the NSW Amateur Cyclists Union and therefore catered for the racing membership of the Club, while Sydney Cyclists’ Club catered for all club members purely for touring and social events. Club monthly meetings were conducted at the Royal Hotel, Randwick (Don Beavis had just completed interior alterations to the pub).
The first SCC auction sale was held on 27 March 1983. Members brought along unwanted cycling paraphernalia to be sold at auction. The auction was held at Perc and Desma Carter’s place and the auctioneer was Alan Lumb (Life Member). The Club raised $282 from 10% commission on all transactions. Auction sales were a huge success and were held annually for a number of years.
Club receives its order of Skid Lid helmets from USA: Club Secretary, John Beauchamp, first brought a Skid Lid helmet back from America, having used one while participating in the Cycle Across America. The Skid Lid was the first of its kind in Australia; it was constructed from polymer plastic, and proved to be a huge success with Club members.
Ladies Time Trial, May 1983: The first annual Ladies 2 Lap Time Trial was held in Centennial Park with eight lady club members competing. Amusingly, prizes were: 1st – French Champagne, 2nd– Great Western Champagne, 3rd– Seaview Brut Champagne. Coffee and croissants were also served after the event.
First win for the Club, Nepean Open, May 1983: Headline, The Sydney Cyclist (Newsletter). Club member Mark Kitteridge (who had just finished his ride across Australia from Perth to Sydney) wins Senior Veteran, D Grade event. Eight other members also entered the event – J. Burraston, P. Carter, C. Kesting, P. Lafferty, P. Montesin, D. Stakes and J. Sunde.
Hunter Tour June, 1983: Club members stayed at the Neath Hotel. Unfortunately weather was poor with rain on Saturday and showers on Sunday which contributed to a number of punctures. Quote of the tour came from Perc Carter “I don’t know what’s worse – to ride in the rain and puncture two $30 singles, or to tour wineries and purchase $60 worth of plonk”.
The Sundowner – July 1983: Saturday, 9th July Coonabarabran to Gunnedah, 107 kms, Sunday, 10thJuly Gunnedah to Tamworth, 75 kms – Both events handicapped. Six SCC members – Alan Revell, Perc Carter, Alan Smith, Bruce Vote, John Burraston and Don Sigsby participated. The boys looked rather splendid in their red, white and blue jerseys. An interesting sideline to the two days of racing was a major mouse plague in the region. It was not pleasant riding over a large carpet of dead mice on several parts of the highway.
Kangaroo Valley Tour, 23 July 1983: Nine SCC riders set out from Centennial Park on a crisp Saturday morning to ride the 160 kms to Kangaroo Valley. Around Menangle John Burraston and Albert Guerreiro made a break from the bunch – don’t ask how you break away from a touring group! Needless to say, John and Albert lost their way and ended up covering a further distance of 60 kms before they finally arrived at Kangaroo Valley. The annual Kangaroo Valley ride continues to be a very popular event with members.
Carnivale ’83: Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is proposed as an alternative venue to The Rocks for the criterium. In April, the Premier’s Department announces it is not happy with the Mrs Macquarie’s Road Circuit and wants the Club to pursue the Hyde Park Circuit. The Club is assured that the Police Department will take full responsibility for traffic and crowd control. Final approval is received from the Urban Transit Authority and the Police to host the Carnivale race at the Opera House circuit with the main sponsor being Air New South Wales.
Opera House Criterium – 11 September 1983: SCC was represented in only one event. Mark Bonwick started in C Grade with a strong field of over 30 riders. Mark stayed at the front of the race and rode away from the field to win quite comfortably. Mark’s first love is caving and he travels the world pursuing his passion as both his recreation and work. The dedication of the members made this event a great success. Bruce Vote must be recognised as the backbone of the whole event, while Perc Carter was very helpful in dealing with the Police Department and the Urban Transit Authority.
AUDAX Ride – Paris / Brest / Paris (1200kms): Club member Frank (Strongman) Brandon completed the Paris-Brest-Paris AUDAX ride in the great time of 70 hours and 30 minutes.
New constitution: Discussions at the annual general meeting held in February 1984 led to the adoption of a new constitution, which included provision for awarding life memberships. Don Beavis was immediately nominated for this distinction and the nomination was unanimously accepted. Don advised those at the AGM that he and his wife Elanore had purchased a vineyard at McLaren Vale in South Australia and all members were very welcome to call in if they were in the area and improve their pedal power by stamping on the grapes. Sadly, Don passed away in 2008.
Sydney City Criterium 1985: After a great amount of anguish, the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust allowed the Club to use Mrs Macquaries Road Circuit for the morning of Sunday 30thJune. Over 130 riders were registered, including some of the State’s top riders, including Kevin Nichols, Graham Seers and Geoff Skaines.
AMG 5thNovember 1985 at Paddington Town Hall: It was noted that the City Criterium held at Mrs Macquaries Road Circuit was an outstanding success and a great tribute to the hard work of the many members of the Club who attended. A special thank you also to the ladies who attended to the food and drink stall, offering cakes and lamingtons to the very grateful athletes.
Also thanks to John Beauchamp, Bruno Sibilia, Perc Carter and Walter Rolli for their contributions.