A Different Route each weekend for 36 years!!

Sydney Spokes started in 1986 after Allan Hildon placed an advertisement to locate cycling buddies. Four people went on the first ride (Allan Hildon, Peter Wilson, Les Clements and Andrew L). This ride started from Centennial Park’s Paddington Five-Ways gates. Allan, Peter and Les volunteered for the first Spokes committee,  but the initial mover and shaker was Allan Hildon.

The name “Sydney Spokes” was Allan Hildon’s idea. The inspiration came from reading an article (in the New York Native in the early 1980s) about a community cycling group called “Different Spokes”. For a couple of years Allan dreamed of cycling with kindred spirits. So eventually he bit the bullet and placed an advertisement in the community notices section of Campaign magazine. Allan comments about the response to his ad: “I was quite surprised that anyone actually turned up. I was even more surprised that they kept coming”.

Peter Wilson, Allan Hildon and Les Clements (L to R).
Taken on the night of the 1987 Mardi Gras Parade.
Riding with the Fitness Exchange Float

The first order of business for the new committee was to create a program of rides for each Sunday for one to two months. From the very early days, the meeting place for many rides was Centennial Park’s Paddington Five-Way gates – it was thought that this was a landmark that most queens and dykes could find. Eventually Spokes started using trains to access a greater variety of cycling routes. During the first few years there were usually eight to 12 people on the rides including one or two women. The better attended rides had about 22 cyclists.


 Sydney Spokes (Photo taken on a very early ride, probably in 1986).

The first committee created, and conscientiously maintained, a mail list of interested cyclists. The programme of rides was regularly printed and mailed to the Spokes mail list. In the pre-internet era this meant photocopying the program, inserting it in envelopes, then sticking address labels and stamps on envelopes.

Allan recalls: “… it makes me laugh to think how primitive the distribution system was – stamps and envelopes no less! I used to surreptitiously type the programme during the lunch break on the only available typewriter in the office where I worked. Les, being Les, owned a primitive computer, and maintained the database (so I suppose you could say he was the Secretary), and I sort of assumed the role of President/Treasurer for about three years I think, mostly because no-one else wanted the role”.

Frank Howarth joined Sydney Spokes around 1986/87. Brett H joined around 1988/89 and with Frank took the club to a new level of prominence in the Sydney community.

Another early feature of the club were the weekend away rides, where about 10-12 Spokesters would invade a regional caravan park and have a grand day out in the countryside. On one occasion about 12 shrieking queens, in cycling drag, invaded a tearoom somewhere near Bowral. Apparently this was quite a shock to some of the old dears feasting on their Devonshire Teas until someone authoratively pointed out “it’s alright dear, they’re cyclists”!


Weekend sojourn in 1989 - Riding Canberra to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

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© 2011 Sydney Spokes