New and Old: A Celebration of Cycling

2017 Ipswich Festival Criterium. Image courtesy of Bicycing Australia

Ipswich’s world-class bike racing facility will host the return of the Ipswich Festival Criterium.

2oo years ago, on 12 June 1817, the first bicycle was invented in Germany.

While the bikes you will see in action today at the Ipswich Cycle Park look a lot different and go much faster, you will also get a taste of yesteryear with the Queensland Penny Farthing and Historical Cycle Club peddling the new track for display rides throughout the day.

The 126-year-old Ipswich Cycling Club will celebrate the Ipswich Festival with some fast-paced bike racing action at Ipswich Cycle Park today, 21 April, from 7am until 3pm.

There will be a multi-event program featuring juniors, women and men with the region’s best racing cyclists contesting the main race at 1pm.

Ipswich Cycling Club president Geoff Stieler said the third annual criterium would be held at the new facility for the first time, making the move from the CBD.

“It causes a bit of disruption with road closures and disruption to businesses so we are looking forward to having the event at a purpose built track,” Mr Stieler said.

The public is invited to attend and bring a picnic blanket as there are plenty of spots to view the race and sit back and relax with a hamper from home. You can also take advantage of the catering on site.

Ipswich Grammar School will bring its human powered vehicle along and show off a unique three-wheeled design.

The Pedal Prix is a competition about the innovative design of recumbent bicycles and Ipswich Grammar take part in the competition each year.

If you want more bike riding action, you can catch the Ipswich BMX Competition and Recruitment 24/7 Ipswich100 Bike Ride on Sunday, 22 April.

These events are part of the Recruitment 24/7 Ride On – Celebration of Cycling Week to celebrate the 200th year of the invention of the bicycle. You can see more information about these events here.


The First Bicycle

Baron Karl von Drais lived in Mannheim in southwestern Germany, and his first public bike ride using his home-made ‘laufmaschine’ (running machine), later dubbed a ‘dandyhorse’ or ‘draisine’ after its inventor, took place on 12 June 1817.

It had two wheels, no pedals, weighed 50lb (about 22kg in today’s language) and was made from a cherry tree. To demonstrate how useful this great invention could be he set off on an eight mile trip and was back within an hour – a quarter of the time it normally took to complete the journey.

It is believed the idea came out of the political and environmental crises of the time. Europe suffered poor harvests after the war of 1812 to 1815. On 5 April 1815, Mount Tambora in South East Asia erupted. It was one of the largest ever recorded and sent a bloom of ash across europe. Temperatures cooled by an average of 3 per cent and in 1816 it became known as the year without a summer.

The rider ran his feet along the ground much like a modern balance bike. Saunders’ Newsletter, in its 25 September 1817 issue, provided a detailed description of the “new-invented travelling machine”, explaining: “The leading principle of the invention is taken from the art of skating, and consists of a simple idea, of impelling by the help of the feet a seat on wheels.”

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