Former cyclist Reg Golding remembers a different kind of cheating when he competed in cycling in the 1940s.By Monique Preston
While drug cheating in cycling has hit the news again with Lance Armstrong’s confession in an interview with US TV show host Oprah last week, a Moama resident remembers a different kind of cheating in the sport more than 60 years ago.
Reg Golding cycled competitively in the 1940s and can remember being pushed off his bike in one race.
‘‘They would have killed you in those days to beat you,’’ he said.
‘‘It wasn’t drugs in those days. They just tipped you off (your bike).’’
It was 1949 and the then 19-year-old was racing in the 60 mile (96km) Australian open championship around a Broadmeadows circuit.
‘‘On the last lap, I got tipped off my bike and down the side of the hill,’’ Mr Golding said.
‘‘I didn’t expect that. I was lucky I wasn’t killed. I went off the road and buckled my front wheel.’’
His dad came to his rescue with a new front wheel after he had climbed back on and Mr Golding took off after the competition.
‘‘I continued unpaced for 20 miles (32km) to come just a few metres behind,’’ he said.
‘‘Two of the officials came up and said ‘You are the best rider here, but you’re not in it’.’’
Mr Golding took up cycling in 1945 as a 15-year-old when his father entered him in a boy’s race at the Nathalia Show.
He won it and a men’s race.
‘‘I peddled both races with bare feet,’’ Mr Golding said.
Later he got a bigger bicycle and joined the Kyabram Cycling Club.
‘‘I had to ride my bike 16 miles from Kotupna to Kyabram to get there and then race with 15 other riders,’’ he said.
Mr Golding won a few races there, competing in club and interclub events.
His first trophy came in 1946 when he competed in the Rochester to Elmore 20 mile (32km) race in 1946.
Back in those days there was no big money in cycling.
Mr Golding’s first-prize money came in 1948 when he received £20 ($40) after winning a one-mile (1.6km) amateur wheel race at the New Year’s Eve carnival at Deakin Reserve in Shepparton.
‘‘I bought a radio with it,’’ he said.
Mr Golding can also remember competing in the Victorian Amateur Cycling Union’s 50 mile (80km) Country Road Championship at Broadmeadows.
‘‘My dad took me down the day before the race so I could go around the track,’’ he said.
‘‘I had a sore throat and wasn’t feeling well.
‘‘Dad said ‘You (had) better not race’. I said ‘I’ll try now I’m here’.
‘‘I came second and got a medal.’’
It was that race which saw him qualify for the Australian championships where he was pushed off his bike.
That, combined with what happened at his next race two weeks later, was what made Mr Golding give up the sport.
Riding in a race from Melbourne to Shepparton, Mr Golding found he had been put on a four-minute mark handicap.
He finished six minutes ahead of those who rode off scratch, which should have given him the win by two minutes.
While a Shepparton official said he had won the race, Mr Golding said a Melbourne official said ‘‘we don’t know when you got over the line. You have to put your hand up and call out your time’’.
‘‘That was a real disappointment,’’ Mr Golding said.
‘‘I hung up the bike when I was just starting to fly.’’
He believes cycling has ‘‘always been a dirty sport’’ in some ways.
‘‘(But) I never thought I’d get to the stage where they started tipping people off (their bikes) and drugging (themselves).
‘‘I definitely hate drugs. If they’ve got to take drugs.
‘‘They should be ambassadors for their country — not taking drugs and running it down.
‘‘I would never do that for any amount of money.’’
Mr Golding also believes more should be done to make the sport safer.
‘‘There should be one bike on each side of a circuit. None of this big bike racing out on the road where they can kill each other.’’
Now aged 82, Mr Golding still gets on his bike but nowadays, it is only while it is on rollers in his garage.
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