History of Gold Coast Cycling Club Inc.
The Club was formed in November, 1992 as an amalgamation of three Gold Coast cycling clubs – the Nerang Cycling Club, Surfers Paradise Cycling Club and Twin Cities Cycling Club. Initially, the Club was known as Gold Coast Albert and Tweed Shire Cycling Club to reflect its origins but quickly became known as CATS from taking the initial letters of the key words in the title. It took some years for the Club to formalise the name “CATS” but this was finally done at the AGM of 2007. The Club’s logo, designed by Dick Ploog cleverly hides the initials GC CATS within the shape of the cyclist.
Not surprisingly, in such a significant reorganisation of Gold Coast Cycling there were some factional groups for whom past rivalries were too deep to ignore and they refused to accept the new amalgamation. As a consequence, a rival club was formed. The intention then of simplifying Gold Coast Cycling into one club was somewhat hijacked. The previous in-fighting and squabbling between the clubs, one of the reasons for the amalgamation, was due to continue for some years.
Sadly, the day of the formation of the Club, outstanding young cyclist and Olympian, Darren Smith was killed in an accident. In recognition of this tragedy, the Club created its annual Open event “The Darren Smith Cycling Classic” held as close as possible to the day of his death and, of course, the formation of the Club.
The Club’s first President was John Mildenhall (pictured centre podium) who ironically was pressured into resigning shortly after his inauguration because of a perceived conflict of interest as a part-owner of a bike shop. Dick Ploog replaced him as President.
The first Darren Smith Memorial Race was held on 20th March, 1994 starting from The Pines Shopping Centre, going over Tomewin, doing a loop of the Murwillumbah Circuit around Chillingham and Tyalgum before doing a circuit around Galleon Way, Guinness Creek Road, Tallebudgera to eventually finish the second time along Galleon Way, Elanora. Prize money was in excess of $4000 and the field included the AIS squad and national teams from Germany, The Czech Republic and Poland. The winner was Henk Vogel, pictured below crossing the finish line.
Criterium racing was held on a regular basis at this time at Coombabah on Saturday mornings, Taree St with around 100 riders on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings (with daylight saving) at Leda Park.
A building committee was formed and, in conjunction with the Council, set about recreating the clubhouse facility. Club member and architect Maurice Liussi donated his services to redesign this facility.CATS have had a significant involvement with the cycling complex at Nerang. The clubhouse, built in 1977 was burnt to the ground by vandals in 1995. This was a significant setback to local cycling as a number of people had worked tirelessly in creating a quality environment for administering the Club’s cycling program.
As such, the Club lost all its files and much of its equipment and, of course, a facility from which it could organise training, racing and storage of equipment. The cycling network was tapped into and members used their influence and connections to obtain the materials and tradesmen necessary for reconstruction. Racing on road and track continued during this period and the Club still organised the big New Year’s Carnival from containers it had acquired.
The next significant project the Club undertook was criterium circuit. The idea was mooted by Rick Ploog, eventually accepted by the Council and, with a State Government grant, work was commenced. The project was completed in 1998. Numerous club personnel worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition and the work of Chris Fenn who surveyed and designed the circuit is inestimable. Dick Ploog played a major role in overseeing the project. This criterium circuit is unique in its design and always provides for interesting racing and opportunities for breakaways.
Due to political manoeuvring from various sectors, control of the new clubhouse was taken from the Club and placed in the hands of the Council. A termination payment of $25,000 was reluctantly accepted by the Club from the Council. This was a bitter pill to swallow for the Club given the blood, sweat and tears that had flowed and the tireless commitment given in the creation and maintenance of the cycling centre. Despite this setback, Nerang will always be considered by CATS as their spiritual home and it is fitting that, in recent years, Nerang has been become the venue of the Darren Smith Cycling Classic.
The Club seemed to suffer from the turn of the century from a lack of direction and willingness from members to assume positions of responsibility. The decline was slow but noticeable and resulted in a meeting of members who passed a motion to discuss the possibility of amalgamation with other Gold Coast Clubs. The amalgamation did not eventuate and since that moment of desperation a group of dedicated members has set about rebuilding “The CATS”. In 2011, the club had adequate State Level Commissaires to run two events per month (Nerang and Runaway Bay) and a healthy number of Level 1 Commissaires in training. Membership exceeds 200.
CATS has been fortunate to have benefited from the services of Robert Craig who has made a valuable contribution since joining the Club in 2007. He has made a fine contribution as Secretary and Vice-President as well as developing the Club’s web site. He has also attained accreditation as a National Level Commissaire and as the Club’s Commissaire is in charge of most of the Club’s events.
An important development in 2009 was the creation of a Junior Squad directed by Aidan Grimes and Kris Mackay. From modest beginnings, the group has expanded to over 40 members at the start of 2012, a number of whom have developed into highly competitive cyclists. Olympic gold medallist, Sara Carrigan is often of assistance at these sessions. Training techniques are adapted to each cyclist’s level of development and there is noticeable enthusiasm at each training session on Wednesdays and Friday afternoons at Nerang.
CATS have produced numerous outstanding cyclists many of whom are listed in our “Honour Roll” on our web site.
In this section, it is fitting to mention to mention Robbie McEwen and Sara Carrigan who, as former CATS juniors, have attained international acclaim. Robbie’s three green jerseys in the Tour de France place him amongst the greats in this event whilst Sara’s gold medal in the road race of the 2004 Athens Olympics is the stuff of which dreams are made. All readers of this section are encouraged to refer to our “Honour Roll” for more information on these current members as well as note the achievements of other CATS members who have achieved success at a national or international level.
One of the great personalities of the Club is Ken Mitchell, a former Champion of Great Britain and Tour de France rider. Ken has been with CATS since its inauguration in 1992 and in 2011 remains a strong supporter of the Club, a Committee member as well as an active volunteer. At 80 years of age, Ken is a Level 2 Commissaire and often takes registrations before races. He was honoured in 2010 by Cycling Queensland for his “significant contribution to Queensland cycling” with the CEO’s Award at CQ’s annual presentation evening. If the strength of a club is measured by the strength of its supporters, Ken’s contribution has helped make “The CATS” a great club.
2012 was a significant year for the CATS Club. At the Cycling Queensland annual dinner in November, the Club was announced as the “Club of the Year”. Given its precarious position only a few years previously this was a major achievement and a credit to the band of workers who had set about to resurrect the CATS to a position of dominance in Gold Coast cycling. The club had around 250 members, a new kit which had been enthusiastically accepted by its members and was managing an active racing program on the Coast. Steve Davies in his fourth year as President was leading a hard-working committee where Secretary, Kris Mackay, played a major role in coordinating activities and personnel as well as managing an excellent web site.
The Darren Smith Classic was run at Emerald Lakes Village as part of Robbie McEwen’s Festival of Cycling and won by Luke Durbridge from the GreenEdge team. In September, CATS had run a highly successful event in collaboration with the Stout family to honour the memory of Mike Stout who had passed away earlier in the year. The Mike Stout Memorial Race is now the CATS’ second Open event of the Cycling Queensland calendar. CATS managed the local Teams’ Series events as well as the Gold Coast Track Series. Organised track training took place twice a week under the guidance of Peter Spencer.
CATS’ junior cyclists under the tutelage of Aidan Grimes achieved significant success in 2012 with some fine results. Sean Grimes representing QLD at Junior Track Nationals and Josh Watson, Riley Maule and Shannon McQuaid representing QLD at Junior Road Nationals. Emily Roper was our most successful female rider with a Gold Medal at the Junior World Track Championships and representing Australia at the Junior World Road Championships. She was also recognised by Cycling QLD as U19 Women's Road Cyclist of the Year.
Writing history is very much a selection and interpretation of diverse events and an attempt to achieve some meaning to the present from reviewing the past. The Club welcomes any comment on this document and is always happy to amend or add to the document to clarify the events mentioned above.