A cool sea breeze provided some respite from the rising heat for cyclists racing at HMAS Stirling when the base hosted the seventh event of the Summer Criterium Series on February 20.
More than 130 cyclists, in various age groups, competed in the races that followed routes around the base command buildings and wharfs.
Members of the Peel District Cycle Club and the ADF Cycling Club were delighted when the course on the naval base was confirmed, as there can be challenges securing permits and road closures for races outside the base.
Vice-President of the Peel District Cycle Club, Peter Dawson – a four-time world cycling champion and Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist – said the event on Garden Island was second to none.
“This opportunity has been fantastic. It’s something new for us as a club, and for the riders, to have the chance to race on the island with the ships and the ocean in the background,” Mr Dawson said.
“We had an option for two different courses, and we’ve been able to utilise both during the three races.
“This brings a new dimension to cycle racing in WA.”
The two courses at Stirling are very different: one is free-flowing and the other more technical.
The courses provide a safe location, and that enabled many young riders to come out and compete.
“We feel safe with the kids on the course who don’t have the experience of racing on the roads in amongst the cars,” Mr Dawson said.
“So to be able to do that here on Garden Island is great for the club.”
Officer in Command of Underwater Damage and Repair at Australian Clearance Diving Team 4, Chief Petty Officer Cameron Schmid, is a keen cyclist and represents Defence in a number of cycling disciplines.
He currently holds the title of National Masters Mountain Bike Champion for marathon mountain biking.
Chief Petty Officer Schmid competed in the A-grade men’s race in the Criterium and finished in seventh place.
He said it was fantastic to be able to secure the support of HMAS Stirling command to hold the three races on the base.
The Garden Island event is one of nine events in this year’s Summer Criterium Series.
“It has been great to see the relationship strengthen with the cycling clubs and local community and, as the series has progressed, the interest from cyclists wanting to join in has increased,” Chief Petty Officer Schmid said.
“We have had to manage the developing situation with COVID-19 and take the state guidelines into consideration as they have fluctuated over the last few months, but the support from the base has been unwavering.
“Everyone has come together over their love for cycling and the base has certainly provided us a safe environment to run the events, with a backdrop of some fantastic scenery.
“There has been a fantastic response to the summer series and we are in discussions to have more events, and possibly even a final, here on the island next summer."