The passion for cycling has a long and strong history in the Hunter going back 116 years.
On February 18 1907, a large and enthusiastic group of cyclists met for the first time in the Aberdare Hotel, now Peden's Hotel, in Vincent Street, Cessnock.
They were keen to create a local cycling organisation and that night formed the Cessnock District Bicycle Club.
They appointed a committee and wanting to present a smart image adopted official club colours of red, white and blue.
At this first meeting the President of Cessnock Shire Council, George Brown, came on board as club Patron.
Their first road race was held shortly afterwards with an ambitious route from Cessnock to Branxton, then Greta and home, via Allandale.
The Cessnock Express newspaper reports humorously on the event:
The journey home was full of fun and adventure while the hungry wheelmen were generously treated to large quantities of luscious fruit on the way home. A cyclist or two may [be] court-martialled if they persist in stopping too long in the vicinity of dairying places - drinking milk and delaying the run by asking pretty dairymaids "faris it to Cessnock!"
By all evidence the club went from strength to strength, campaigning for the establishment of a local banked cycle track, running regular races and by June 1907 holding its first sports meeting. It was a great success.
The day was blessed by beautiful weather, a large crowd attended and it began in grand style with a parade down Vincent Street to the sports ground on Wollombi Road.
The Cessnock and District Band led the procession from the old (then new) Cessnock Railway Station, followed by the cyclists who had decorated their bikes making the street, according to a contemporary witness, 'a very pretty sight'.
At the sports ground there was an award for the best decorated bike, as well as a prize for the runner up.
In other news:
This first cycling sports carnival had attracted the attention of nearby towns, with attendance and competitors from the Branxton Bicycle Club and the Wollombi cycling organisation, the funkily-named Flying Fox Club.
The crowd was wowed by the races, with an enthusiastic local report describing that the competition illustrated 'the speed of the machines [bicycles] - at some places the race was over 50 miles an hour'.
Today's Hunter Valley cyclists can be proud that they are carrying on a long local tradition of bicycle touring, racing and adventure.
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