Bill Moritz

“Bill” Moritz was born 29th March, 1916 in West Adelaide, South Australia.
Moritz began cycling just before his fifteen birthday and was a member of Payneham Cycling club and while riding he impressed Count Stratford, then one of South Australia’s outstanding cyclists, so much so that Strafford took him in hand and by March 1934 Moritz won the second class scratch race and by August Moritz was crowned SA state road champion.
Moritz was very consistent and determined and in the following year in November Moritz claimed the Olympic Cycling derby victory at Olympic Park, Melbourne. Moritz fell in the last lap of 200 yards from the finish however carried his cycle to the finish line. With 40 competitors Moritz proved too good and received a total of £30 which included his sprints winnings. The distance was 31-1/4 miles which comprised of 108 laps. Moritz was holder of the Australasian 5-mile championship and the State 25 and 1-mile title.
Moritz was sponsored by Healing cycles and advertising of Moritz promoting his Healing cycles was common in the paper.
In December 1936, Moritz was winner of the centenary cycling derby at Wayville (S.A); he competed against the finest of cyclists including Dean Toseland and Nino Borsari who was contracted to race in Australia. With a crowd of 18,000 spectators Moritz showed class early claiming the first, second and third sprints. Len Rogers was second on points score. After winning the Derby at Wayville, Moritz had two hours sleep and then caught the mail plane to Victoria where he competed in the 5-mile scratch race in which he rode to Third position.
Moritz claimed the title of No.1 rider in South Australia in 1936 with an impressive victory at Geelong in January and also in Tasmania, where he won the Latrobe £100 wheel race, a win which resulted in being handicapped to 20 yards behind scratch and while racing in Victoria a matchup against Victoria in tandem was held in Melbourne. Moritz pairing with Keith Thurgood went on to win the 1-lap tandem race.
By January 1937 Moritz continued his victorious path by winning several events in Tasmania and was now considered to be one of the very best Australian champions; he was on the list to compete in the USA and Europe 6 day races. It was planned Moritz would ride the 6 day races in Europe and compete in the worldís finest race the Tour de France.
Moritzís consistent racing had earned him £1500 in prize money competing in states of Australia and New Zealand in the last 6 months.
September 1937 Moritz scored a notable double victory when he won the 100-mile road championships of Australia and the Healing Midlands Tour of 110-miles which were run in conjunction in Melbourne. He smashed the title record and also broke by more than nine minutes the tour record put up in 1935 by N Lloyd, who was second in both events. Moritz started from scratch.
In November Moritz rode brilliantly at the opening of the Melbourne Exhibition Board track winning the heat of the Melbourne Cup on wheels in front of 10,000 onlookers. Moritz set a new track record.
Moritz was known as the “Tiger of the Road” and trained very hard and rode roughly 100 miles a week alone, Moritz never smoked and never kept to a diet, believing that good wholesome food kept him fitter than fancy dishes. Moritz believed that it took 10 or 15 years for a cyclist to reach his peak and he was always improving his riding. He never used a roadster cycle saying that “Going from a racing frame to a roadster feels like driving a lorry after a light car, after a couple of miles, a racing cyclist would be tired out”
August 1938 Moritz capped a brilliant performance in retaining his title of Australian 100 mile road championships; he win was more special due to having injuries to his knee and foot. He broke his course record for the race with 5 hrs. 7 mins. 24 seconds. Moritz finished third in the Healing Tour.
In September bad luck came Moritzís way when the three scratch men straightening out for the sprint home became entangled, Moritz was then making a break and he crashed. His machine flew feet in the air, and he landed on the bitumen on his face and left shoulder Moritz was treated for severe abrasions to his face, arms, knees and left shoulder in the 150-mile Adelaide-Port Pirie Classic.
By December Moritz was back on the saddle and won the 2-miles Australasian track championship and was receiving praise in South Australia everywhere he raced with ovations. More titles to his credit with the 5-mile international (SA), 40-miles race at Millsbrook (SA) and the 5-mile Ulverstone Wheel race (TAS).
With the break out of War Moritz joined the Air force and for more than a year he had been engaged on anti-submarine patrol work. He had operated from Gibraltar, Malta and England. Moritz was in a plane which failed to come back from an anti-submarine and was reported missing.
Flight-Sergeant Moritz was killed in action over the English Channel in November 1943.
From 1946 the 150-mile Adelaide-Port Pirie race was revived as a memorial to Moritz.