The Cycling Capital of New Zealand
Christchurch has always been the cycling capital of New Zealand. The first record of a ‘velocipede’ was recorded in 1869, and by the late 1870’s the Pioneer and Pickwick Bicycle Clubs were established. Once Lancaster Park was opened in 1880 the clubs saw an opportunity to hold cycling meetings and earn admission charges. The cinder track around the Park hosted many events during the 1880’s, attracting international cyclists and drawing crowds of up to 8,000 (as recorded in 1889). In 1892, as ‘low bikes’ replaced penny-farthing bikes, the Atlanta Cycling Club was formed in the city, claiming to be the first women’s cycling club in the world. In 1897 Lancaster Park added gas lighting and a new asphalt track with banked corners and the Pioneer and Christchurch Cycling Clubs held regular night meetings, including major Boxing Day events. Interest waned following the death of a cyclist in 1908 and concerns about the fairness of handicapping rules. By 1910 the asphalt track and gas lighting was removed from the Park. Those 30 years played a large part in creating Christchurch's cycling reputation.