News

It was a gem of a race

By Tatura Guardian

To the average punter it looks like any other trophy presented at sporting events, but there is a fascinating history behind it.

The Road Race Cup was first introduced 109 years ago at the third annual cycle road race in Tatura.

R. Cox received the 40cm tall cup for cycling 18 miles (30km) in 51 minutes and 49 seconds — the fastest time in the field on Wednesday, April 20, 1910.

Engraved on the trophy are the race details for the Gem Road Race.

The race promoter was Albert Victoria Riddle, who owned a Gem cycle factory, sporting depot and phonograph supply store in Tatura, trading as A.V. Riddle & Co.

He used his Gem cycle brand to promote his home town's prestigious annual registered road race.

Mr Riddle donated the trophies and 50 pounds in prize money, roughly $7000 in today's money.

A professional rider could enter for two shillings and sixpence ($17.50) with acceptance at one shilling and sixpence ($10.50)

The Tatura Guardian and Euroa Advertiser was on hand to report the race.

Tatura Guardian reported:

Cycle Road Race: A Huge Field

The promoters of the annual cycle road race (“Gem” Cycle Factories, Tatura and Euroa), are again to be congratulated on the pronounced success of their annual fixture.

The event attracted many notable riders including several interstate competitors. A huge field of 60 started in the race.

The event was well contested, only a few feet separating the placed men in the big race. F. Burrows of Rutherglen annexed a handsome prize in the 18 mile contest (off 4 minutes), F. Ball of Timmering second (off 5½ minutes) and H. Sims another Rutherglen representative third (off 3½ minutes).

R. Cox of Glenrowan secured the prize for the fastest time, completing the course in 51 minutes and 49 seconds.

Mr. A. Phillips officiated as time keeper and Messrs. A.V. and N. Riddle supervised the details.

Euroa Advertiserreported:

The annual cycle road race at Tatura, promoted by Messrs. A.V. Riddle & Co., took place last Wednesday and provided a splendid finish.

The track was very dusty, making things unpleasant for the riders. Over 50 started including well known and prominent riders.

Owing to numerous falls, punctures and other accidents, the field dwindled to 10, the placed men being – C. Burrowes of Rutherglen First, A. Ball of Timmering East, Second and H. Simms of Rutherglen Third.

R. Cox of Glenrowan recorded the fastest time of 51 minutes 49 seconds.

So who was this illustrious winner?

The Benalla Standard newspaper reported that R. Cox was a well-known figure in cycle road-racing circles and that he resided at Taminick near Glenrowan.

Ironically, R. Cox rode a rival cycle brand, the “Hercules Special Road Racer” to record the fastest time in Tatura’s Gem cycle branded road race.

Back when cycling was an important means of transport, cycle racing was much more popular than football!

In 1910, track racing was at its peak, with crowds of 30 000 watching the Austral Wheelrace at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where huge sums of money changed hands.

The long forgotten history of Tatura’s cycling road race event of 1910 is a fascinating insight into one of the town’s annual sporting highlights in the early 20th century.

- with Michael W Quinn.