I am a freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia. I write about cycling history and culture, and drugs, health and ethics in society and sport. I have a doctorate in public health and honours degree in psychology; and from 1996 to 2018 conducted funded research on drug use patterns, harms, and related policy and ethical issues.
My recent story about amateur team Stitch & Dart's Melbourne to Warrnambool performance against Australia's best NRS riders struck a nerve. To facilitate further discussion, I sat down with a couple of local cycling stalwarts including Stitch & Dart's Tommy Nankervis to find out what they believe needs changing in Australian cycling now and put their ideas to Cycling Australia.
Lots of little stories unfold in each edition of Australia's oldest one-day classic, the Melbourne to Warrnambool (M2W). Tales of personal triumphs after months of hard training, rides in memory of family, plus stories of heartache and disappointment from crashes, punctures and mechanicals, unplanned DNFs, or rides that simply didn't go to plan.
Tim Decker is well known to Australian cycling fans as the current Men's National Track Endurance Coach at Cycling Australia - a role in which he has enjoyed considerable success - notable recently with his Australian team pursuit squad breaking the world record with 3.49.804 at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (the first sub 3.50 ride in history).
BOOKS & CHAPTERS
Lindsay Fry died at home alone from a pulmonary embolism, just a few weeks after a diagnosis of cancer in his lung and spine. He was two weeks short of his 70th birthday. Lindsay loved the sport of cycling, but he wasn’t a famous ex-professional rider, or even a promising amateur cyclist in his youth. The author’s father barely rode bikes at all and, sadly, they cycled together only once. 'Ride: A Memoir to my Father' tells how cycling helped author Craig Fry deal with the shock and pain of...
Victoria has always led the way in Australian cycling. A number of Australia's cycling firsts took place in 19th century Victoria, not long after the first velocipedes ('bone shakers') arrived in Melbourne from Europe in 1868.
The 62nd Herald Sun Tour was held in February 2015. Originated in 1952 by The Sun News-Pictorial and the League of Victorian Wheelmen, it is Australia's oldest road cycling stage race.
Cycling fans around the world (and particularly in Australia) will be familiar with Rupert Guinness, a veteran sports journalist who's as famous for his Hawaiian shirts as he is for covering 30(!) Tours de France.
Australian cycling seems in great shape these days, with good crowd numbers at the elite races and championship events, and a new media broadcast deal by Cycling Australia set to boost coverage and public profile.
The Major Taylor story is such a fascinating chapter in the history of competitive cycling, and this account of Taylor’s time in this country is an important part of Australian cycling history.
Jim Fitzpatrick is widely regarded as one of Australia's foremost cycling historians and now the US-born writer has revealed his latest book, Wheeling Matilda: The Story of Australian Cycling. In this post Craig Fry reviews Wheeling Matilda and shares some of his favourite moments.
WORD SLIDES & PODCASTS
As the @100th_giroditalia approaches lets remember Australia’s first Giro rider, Garry Clively. He went to Italy as an 18-year-old amateur with 17-year-old David Allan – another local wunderkind. Clively quickly made his mark in Italy with the amateur team Siapa: winning 11 races, becoming Italy’s No. 1 amateur, and riding to 4th in the 1975 world amateur road race championship in Belgium – all by the age of 20. The contract offers came, and Clively turned professional with the Italian...
Paris-Roubaix 1914: Somewhere in there are the first Australian riders in that race - Queen of the classics. It was a group including Ivor “Snowy” Munro, Don Kirkham, Charlie Snell, George Bell and Charlie Piercey.
Australia's greatest ultra-endurance cyclist, Sir Hubert Opperman, would have rated the Indipac highly. His 1977 autobiography tells how he was inspired as a boy by Francis Birtles' Fremantle to Sydney ride in 1909. This pic shows 'Oppy' in the crowd at Melbourne during his own Fremantle-Sydney record ride in 1937.
The Indian Pacific Wheel Race is a gruelling 5,500 km coast-to-coast bicycle race across Australia. The race features the two leading long distance bike racers in the world as well as dozens of other cyclists determined to push themselves to the very limits of physical and mental endurance.
Even the pro riders sometimes had a crack at long distance riding in Australia. They were all about the distance and time records. In 1966, Barry Waddell set a solo record from Adelaide to Melbourne doing 465 miles (748.34km) in 22 hours 55 minutes.
Shortly after the first velocipedes arrived in Melbourne from Europe in 1868, the first long distance velocipede ride was on Monday 4 October, 1869, when the 24 year old civil engineer William Kernot rode from East Melbourne to Geelong in nine to ten hours.
Le Ride is a documentary about two riders who retraced the 1928 Tour de France in which Sir Hubert Opperman, two other Australians and one Kiwi cyclist teamed up to compete. More riders failed to finish the 1928 Tour than any other Tour in history: 168 riders began the 3,500-mile race; only 41 finished.
1981 Melbourne to Warrnambool finish - L to R: Peter Cox NZL 1st, Colin Hately CPD 3rd, Terry Schintler BGO 2nd. Colin Hately, finished the race 10 times during the 1980’s, with a 7th in 1985, and 6th in 1986 to add to this 3rd before retiring in 1988.
This week on the show, the Giro d'Italia takes a dramatic turn as Fabio Aru explodes on the road to Aprica, and Richie Porte pulls the pin, what to make of sport when the cheats always prosper, and we'll get dirty as we discuss the weekend's opening round MTB action at the Nove Mesto World Cup.
Val and Faith are joined in the studio today by Associate Professor, Craig Fry, of Victoria University. We share our bike moments before running through some news including; Yarra Council's decision on the Rushall Reserve shared path, the women's Olympic road race cycling crashes, the CX Grand Prix at Essendon Fields on the weekend and the upcoming census.
The Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic is one of Australia's oldest and, some would say, toughest races. Cyclist tracked down its oldest-ever finisher, 71-year-old Mick Patton, to find out what makes the Grafton so special... Mick Patton has just arrived home from one of his last training rides before the 57th (2017) Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic (2018 marks the 58th edition).
As Australia's oldest - and the world's second oldest - one-day road race, the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic has a long and rich history.
The Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic is one of Australia's oldest and. some would say, toughest races. Cyclist tracked down it's oldest-ever finisher, 71-year-old Mick Patton, to find out what makes the Grafton so special...
Expert Comment - When my father passed away suddenly in October 2015, the resulting grief floored me. Alongside the love and support from family and friends, I found my bike helped me most...
For cyclist Craig Fry, the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic runs in his blood. It would take that - along with the accompanying sweat and tears - to reach the finish line.
Imagine you’ve entered a 24-hour, five rider time trial on the open roads. You’re trying to beat the Australian record (770km), and the World record (778km) for this event set in the mid 1990s.
On Saturday 15 March, Craig Fry was part of a team that attempted to beat the Flèche Opperman 24 hour record of 770 km. His team's ride of 730 km won them the 2014 Oppy Shield and makes them the first group to pass 700 km in the l;sat 21 years of the event.
The Essendon doping saga came to a close of sorts this week, after nearly three years of toing and froing around the question of what happened back in 2012.
Last week we did indeed witness the blackest day in Australian sport. But the low point was the public reaction to this latest drugs-in-sport story, not the apparent truth of the matter.
The Essendon Football Club revoved the 'Whatever it Takes' banner at Windy Hill, following accusations of using banned substances. Photo: Penny Stephens The unceremonious pressure-cleaning of the ''Whatever it takes'' poster at the Essendon Football Club early this year is symbolic of the culture change that may be taking place to resolve the drugs and supplements debacle in sport.
Amid the mountains of words written in Australia about Lance Armstrong's recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, there has been surprisingly little serious discussion about what it means for how we should respond to drugs and doping in cycling.
Cyclists run the gauntlet of abuse everyday in our car obssessed culture. Photo: Pat Scala Melbourne can be a dangerous place to ride a bicycle. My son face-planted onto concrete at the weekend while riding his bike in our backyard. Skin off, split lip, bruised nose and many tears. Blood everywhere.
Cadel Evans's homecoming parade in Melbourne today is a fitting acknowledgment of his remarkable achievement a few weeks ago as the first Australian to win the Tour de France. Given that much recent attention on cycling in this city has taken a riders versus drivers focus, today's celebration sends a sorely needed positive message about cycling.
SBS CYCLING CENTRAL
"Oh, Henny Penny, the sky is falling and I am going to the lion to tell him about it." "How do you know it?" asks Henny Penny. "It hit me on the head, so I know it must be so," says Chicken Little.
What I'm more concerned about in this whole Froome saga is the weak culture of cycling on display. The Froome story isn't really about drugs and doping behaviour. Instead, it's about broader factors in and around the sport of cycling which influence the way we think about doping and how to respond.
Australia's history at the Tour de France began over 100 years ago. Craig Fry's pulled together 21 key facts on Australian Tour de France history to help you get in the mood for the 105th edition of the greatest bike race of all.
Chris Froome is in the news again, winning big but losing at the same time. Froome's career is far from over, and yet it seems he is destined to go down in history as one of the most successful and most controversial riders ever in professional cycling.
The 84th UCI Road World Championships (the 'road worlds') kicked off last Sunday 17 September in the picturesque Norwegian town of Bergen. Once again, Australia has sent a strong team with a number of genuine podium prospects - 24 riders spread across the elite, under 23, and under 19 categories.
The 72nd edition of the 21 stage Vuelta a España starts this Sunday morning AEST. It is the youngest of the three Grand Tours, having started in 1935 and only running on consecutive years since 1955. Much of the focus of Australian cycling fans in the Vuelta lead up has been on the popular Queenslander Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal).
The 100th edition of the 21 stage Giro d'Italia starts this Friday 5th of May. As SBS no longer has broadcast rights to the 'Corsa Rosa', Australian cycling fans will have to watch through pay-TV, or available free online sources of which there are a few.
First raced in 1892, La Doyenne (or "the Old Lady of the Classics") as the race is affectionately known is the oldest one-day classic, starting just three years before the first run of Australia's own famous Melbourne to Warrnabool classic in 1895. The Australian connection to Liège-Bastogne-Liège (LBL) goes back a long way.
I first saw the iconic images of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic long before I turned a road bike pedal in anger. It was the early 1990s, and a friend had shown me some cycling magazine pictures of dust and mud covered riders after their battle on the cobbles in one of the races of that era.
“What happened?” my nine-year-old daughter asked me. I was sitting at our kitchen table staring into my laptop at the news reports, and outpourings on social media and the comments pages.
Come 6:00am AWST this Saturday in the Western Australian port city of Fremantle, 70 or so cyclists will begin a race across Australia that has been described as "a life shaper" by Phil Liggett, and "the toughest cycle race ever staged in Australia" by SBS cycling expert Mike Tomalaris.
The use of banned drugs and substances and other prohibited practices - doping - has been a problem at the elite levels of cycling for a very long time. There is evidence now that doping happens in amateur levels of cycling too.
There has been a huge amount of academic, policy, and public debate over the years about doping in sport (i.e. the use of banned performance enhancing substances or drugs and other prohibited practices), and significant resources devoted to addressing it.
ABC's Media Watch program on Monday asked the important question: Is bicycle bashing in the media putting cyclists at risk? As far as I know, so far there has been no published research that has looked at this question. But I suspect if you asked, most regular riders would tell you negative media about cyclists can indeed influence driver behaviour.
The annual Giro d'Italia bike race starting tomorrow signifies a peak time on the world professional cycling calendar, with the European Spring Classic races just finished, and the rest of the Grand Tours (including the Tour de France and Vuelta a España) all scheduled over the next few months.
This week the New South Wales Baird government, as part of its "Go Together" road safety campaign, launched a series of new rules and increased fines for cyclists for some on road offences.
Sick of the Chris Froome saga? Tired of the negativity surrounding pro cycling and the Tour de France? In the following article Craig Fry takes us on a positive trip down memory lane, answering the question: who is Australia's greatest ever Tour de France rider?
Everyone knows the Indian Pacific Wheel Race (IPWR) story by now. The brainchild of Jesse Carlsson, the 'IndiPac' was designed to reanimate the Australian
This week, Cycling Australia announced the outcomes of its long anticipated review of the National Road Series (NRS). The new plans include a major revamp
This Saturday nearly 200 cyclists will gather in Werribee for the start of the 102nd edition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool. 'The Warrny', as it’s affectionately known, is Australia’s oldest road race, and the second oldest road race in the world, behind Liege-Bastogne-Liege. For much of its history, the Warrny was a handicap race but nowadays it’s a mass-start scratch race. Indeed, all riders in all grades start together, from men’s National Road Series riders all the way down to D-grade...
The fifth edition of the Transcontinental ultra-endurance bike race across Europe was rocked over the weekend by the tragic death of Dutch rider Frank Simons. Simons' death is the third such incident in an ultra-endurance race in 2017, following the passing of Mike Hall in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race in March, and Eric Fishbein at the Trans Am in June.
In light of my recent article on Lance Armstrong's 'Stages' podcast and the discussion that ensued, there were many interesting and valid points raised. As always, Armstrong continues to polarise people in ways like nobody else. Craig Fry is a longtime contributor who I respect and value his opinion.
When the clock strikes 6:00am in Fremantle, Western Australia this Saturday morning, around 70 cyclists will start a race across Australia that will take the best of them nearly two weeks to finish. The Indian Pacific Wheel Race (or 'Indy Pac' for short) has no prize money, no trophies, and no massive crowds - just the road, and the unpredictable Australian elements.
The famous Melbourne to Warrnambool cycling classic is the second oldest one-day cycling race in the world and the longest in the Southern hemisphere. It is a monument of Australian cycling and has a rich history.
At 8:00am this Saturday riders across Australia will start the Audax “Oppy” 24-hour team time trial, aiming to get to designated finish towns by 8:00am Sunday. Team Brevet is again attempting the current Australian record with a goal of 776km. Craig Fry, a member of the team that won the event in 2014, previews the ‘Oppy24’ and Team Brevet’s chances.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Being a cycling fan and hoping for a Tour de France free of controversy is a little like that.
The Goulburn to Sydney Cycling Classic, one of Australia’s oldest road races, was supposed to be running this weekend but has been cancelled due to safety concerns. Today Craig Fry takes a look at the history of this great race and ponders the question: have we seen the last of the Goulburn to Sydney?
As you prepare to cheer on the Australian cyclists in the 100th edition of the Tour de France, spare a thought for the pioneers who went before them, including John Beasley. John is Australia's oldest living Tour de France rider and this is his story.
The 53rd Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic will run this Saturday October 26 as the final race in the men's National Road Series. This 228km ‘Mountain Classic’ held in northern New South Wales is considered one of the toughest races on the Australian road race calendar.
In the early hours of Saturday December 7 2013, 12 riders set out from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to re-trace the original Broadmeadows course of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics road race. Organised by Brad Priest and Paul Munro of the Road Race Project, the ride marked the 57th anniversary of the Olympic race. Craig Fry and CyclingTips editor Matt de Neef joined the ride and prepared this piece on the history of the 1956 race and the Road Race Project.
With the 2014 edition of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour now underway, CyclingTips' resident historian Craig Fry takes a look back at Australia’s oldest stage race, speaking with two Sun Tour legends – Barry Waddell (five-time winner) and John Trevorrow (three-time winner and current race director) – to get their expert views and memories about this great race.
The 98th edition of the famous Melbourne to Warrnambool one-day classic will be held this Saturday, October 12. It is Australia’s oldest road race still in existence, and the second oldest in the world behind Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
This Saturday, March 1, the Darebin International Sports Centre in Melbourne will play host to the 116th edition of the Austral Wheel Race. It is regarded by many as Australia’s greatest track cycling event, and is the world’s oldest track race. To get you ready for the 2014 Austral, Craig Fry delves into the archives to uncover some of the fascinating (and sometimes sordid) history of this important bike race.
Earlier this year we took a look at Miles Smith’s attempt at the year cycling distance record. Unfortunately Miles experienced some major health issues and faced other hurdles during his record bid, all of which eventually ended his campaign. In this follow-up piece Craig Fry catches up with Miles to hear what happened.
Sport and politics don't mix, as the saying goes. But like many of those sayings that work in theory, in reality, it's untrue. Take Australian cycling, for instance. Politics has been a part of the sport ever since the arrival of money and trophies.
It's a big day in Australia for cycling fans. The 115th edition of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic starts from Compiègne just after 11.00am local French time today (around 7:15pm AEST). Paris-Roubaix is one of the most popular races on the world professional cycling calendar for Australian fans.
Two weeks ago today, Arzu Baglar died while cycling in Melbourne's inner west. She was hit by a truck turning the corner of Somerville road and Whitehall street in Yarraville. Arzu was just 36, and a married mother of two young children.
My father Lindsay Fry passed away suddenly eight months ago. He had end stage cancer, which was found well advanced on his lung and spine. Sadly, my father died just seven weeks after his diagnosis. He was two weeks short of his 70th birthday.
Lance Armstrong is in the news again during the Tour de France. He has tweeted about the speculation around current Tour leader Chris Froome, and has been riding along some of the 2015 Tour de France stage routes on a charity ride.
It has already been an eventful Tour de France this year. To stage seven there have been 12 rider abandons due mostly to crashes, and many other riders are nursing significant injuries.
As an academic researcher, I have studied drugs in society for the last 20 years. In my current job, I also study cycling history and culture, and the place of drugs and doping in this sport.
Last week in this Column I asked the question: Should past cycling dopers continue to benefit from the sport they cheated? It was prompted by hearing that Stuart O’Grady, one of Australia’s best-loved and most successful cyclists and a confessed doper, was to be a co-host in the new SBS Bike Lane program which started last Sunday.
Barely two years after admitting use of erythropoietin (EPO) in his professional cycling career, Stuart O’Grady is back in favour again. He has a co-hosting gig with the new SBS Bike Lane show, which starts this Sunday 24th of May.
“Integrity” is currently the buzzword around Australian sport policy-making. An integrity in sport forum, co-convened by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SOHAF) and Victoria University in Melbourne this week, gathered Australia’s sporting leaders from all levels and codes to (in the words of SAHOF chairman John Bertrand) “face the issues, understand the threats and provide guidance and a roadmap".
I have always found it funny how some of the Tour de France riders get so annoyed when someone transgresses on race etiquette around seemingly minor issues. The latest example of this grumbling was from Chris Froome on stage 19 yesterday - Vincenzo Nibali apparently attacked when he shouldn’t have.
It’s that time of year again. The 101st Tour de France begins this Saturday July 5 in the Yorkshire city of Leeds, and three days later it returns to French home soil for Stage 4 (Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille).
Riders in the Tour de France are engaging in a battle of wits as they follow two sets of rules – the official rules and the other set of “unofficial” rules that come with any competitive sporting challenge.
1996 - 2019