21 July 2023

Action-packed Wollongong festival a celebration of all things cycling

| Jen White
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Mayor Gordon Bradbery and South 32's Antony Leone get a helping hand riding a tandem bike.

Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery discovers steering a tandem bike is very different to steering a city. Elite Energy Events CEO Mark Emerton helps with steering the ship while passenger Antony Leone from South32 hopes for the best. Photo: Jen White.

Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery is adept at steering the city but will be the first to admit he’s not nearly as talented at steering a tandem bike.

Always quick to spruik Wollongong’s ‘Bike City’ status, the Mayor was a bit slower to embrace the idea of jumping on a tandem bike for the cameras at the launch of the Ride Wollongong Festival of Cycling.

But he obliged for a short, wobbly trip down the cycleway near Lang Park, avoiding trees and bystanders, to arrive safely in one piece with his passenger, South 32’s Antony Leone.

However, the ride didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the two-day cycling festival in September which will feature free community rides, competitive road cycling races and festival activities to celebrate the successful 2022 UCI Road World Championships.

READ ALSO Wheely great results from UCI road race roll on with Illawarra expected to reap the benefits for years

Cr Bradbery said the annual community ride would create a legacy around the 2022 race and Wollongong’s UCI Bike City status.

“It was 12 months ago or so that we were getting ready for one of the biggest events that we’ve ever seen in Wollongong, the UCI Road World Cycling Championships and it was fantastic,” he said.

“Now, 12 months on, we’re looking forward to the Ride Wollongong Festival of Cycling to build on the momentum that we achieved 12 months ago and enjoy this beautiful space where it all happened.

“With the support of South32 IMC, we have been able to build on that initial plan to implement a fun-filled, action-packed weekend festival the city can be proud of.

“This city is a bike city recognised by the UCI and as such, we have to continue to progress the label and highlight the fact that we are people who not only enjoy cycling, but also apply cycling to our well-being and the happiness of the city.”

Gordon Bradbery and Antony Leone sitting on the tandem bike waving.

Councillor Bradbery and Antony at the launch of the Ride Wollongong Festival of Cycling. Photo: Jen White.

Wollongong City Council will also install a permanent reminder of the UCI event with a new public artwork, designed by award-winning artist Jane Cavanough. It will be installed along Marine Drive in Lang Park, which was the focus point of the championships, serving as the finish line and event village.

The new artwork, which will be installed from August, will acknowledge the significance of Lang Park and will link to the existing bike path. Other public art pieces will arrive over the next 12 months to recognise the race route.

Cr Bradbery said he was expecting a bumper crowd to turn out for the festival and up to 1500 participants to join the community ride which will be open to cyclists of all ages, disciplines and abilities.

READ ALSO Transformed: Cringila Hills Recreation Park bags top prize in state awards

The festival will be held from 23-24 September in Lang Park and along Marine Drive and Flagstaff Hill.

It will include a community expo, all-abilities exhibitors, local heroes, cycling-related workshops, food stalls and entertainment.

Artist's impression of new artwork to be installed in Lang Park.

An artist’s impression of the new artworks celebrating the UCI Championships, to be installed in Lang Park. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Events on Saturday 23 September will include criterium races for road, mountain, BMX and e-bikes, while the Sunday will feature kermesse racing with highlights including the 1.7 km community ride, a 1 km family ride and all-abilities ride, para-cycling race and a penny-farthing race.

For more information on the festival and to register for the races, visit Ride Wollongong.

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