From the Mag: Roots - Martin Whiteley - Dirt

Mountain Biking Magazine



From the Mag: Roots – Martin Whiteley

FROM THE MAG: ROOTS – Martin whiteley

The fourth and final part in the series, when Mike the editor was investigating the roots of MTB, he ended up talking to Martin Whiteley (Trek World Racing manager) about his dad. Paternal chats with most people wouldn’t get published, but this one turned out to be particularly interesting…

Whilst researching for a feature on the history of mountain biking, Martin Whiteley (of 23 Degrees Sports Management, Team G-Cross Honda and much more) sent us this old photo of his father from the late 1940s. Below he tells us the story behind it, which yet again brings up the question of who really did invent mountain biking?

“From 1947 to 1950 my father, John Whiteley, organised weekly dirt track races during the summer months. He formed a club (a gang of mates really) in the northern suburbs of Sydney, and they encouraged other clubs to form, and have ‘meets’ as they called them. Mainly they were scratch races, speedway style (as they were all huge fans of international speedway much like our current downhillers follow SuperCross), and occasionally they did downhill time trials to determine start orders and rankings. This photo is from 1947 of my father on his trusty speedwell, sliding his way to the finish in a downhill time trial. My father kept score, wrote up the race reports, and calculated rankings and handicaps. He never went into serious cycling, this was just a teenager’s way of having fun with his single speed, back pedal brake, 26” bike in post war Australia. I never knew any of this until after he died of cancer in 1991. We were sorting out his belongings and found the negative of the photo and this old book. When we asked his old school mates, they told us all about his illustrious dirt racing past. It’s 60 years since this photo was taken, I’m pretty proud of the old boy”

Martin Whiteley


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