The Austral Wheel Race: The oldest (still existing) track cycling event in the world. That is pretty damn awesome. We were lucky enough to attend this year at the Hisense arena in Melbourne. The Austral is one race out of many with the National Madison Championships also occurring on the night’s line-up.
The race is a 2000 metre handicap race, meaning the better you are the further back you start, with a winner takes all result from the super fast final race. Imagine: 1887: Melbourne Cricket Ground: the first ever edition of this race. Imagine if anyone thought it would still be going 120 years later?
Cyclingtips wrote a few years back: “The Austral Wheel Race was a tremendously popular and successful cycling race at its peak. Records from the early years of the race confirm crowds in the tens of thousands, and the race reports from those times evidence the excitement around this race and its status.” In their full accounting, history and analysis of the race, an article definitely worth the read.
The night concluded with the national madison champs, one of the more exciting track races to watch if you have any clue what is going on! Pairs, arm slings, laps, primes, there isn’t a lull for the duration of the hour. And it could be seen with the amazing turnout of friends, family, pros, industry and spectators who fought their way through the adjoining football match traffic to partake in one more, annual, Austral Wheel Race.