Sidney Philip Patterson “Patto” was 15 August 1927 in Melbourne (VIC) Australia, his competitive career started at the age of 13 when two of his friends who were scratch markers asked him to race with them in a race, he agreed and mounted on an old cycle which was much heavier than those in use by others, it was from that race that he hooked onto cycling. His determination proved successful winning the 25-mile road race a year later and also had track success at the open handicap.
As a teenager he won every Victorian and Australian title from 1000 metres and 10-miles in distance and by 1947 Patterson held the national 1-mile and 5-mile championship.
In 1948, Patterson and Charlie Bazzano (N.S.W) were nominated by the Australian Amateur cycling Union for the London Olympic Games team, other nominated members were R. Mockridge (VIC), J. Hoobin (VIC), J. Nestor (SA), K. Cave (QLD), T. Williams (N.S.W), L. Cook (N.S.W). Patterson was selected as a sprint reserve and to ride the time trial along with the 4000m team pursuit, though winning some heats Patterson finished sixth in the 1000m time trial of 1min. 15.7secs.
After the Olympics, Patterson raced in the world Championships in Amsterdam, Patterson won the first heat of the sprints championship recording the fastest heat time with the last 200m being covered in 11.9secs however was eliminated by Alan Banister in the eight-finals of the sprint and went to J.Dupont who was the French Olympic kilometre champion. Patterson also made it to the quarter finals of the amateur pursuits but was ultimately defeated.Soon after after Amsterdam, Patterson returned to England to continue racing alongside with Australian champion Russell Mockridge.
Physically Patterson was built for track racing, he had an amazing reserve of speed, through his heavy sprinting he became very popular and in one race he won every sprint with no one able to match his speed.
Patterson toured New Zealand and proved outstanding winning all six events in which he competed.
In March 1949 Patterson took aim at his favorite event, the 1-mile held at Henson Park (NSW), his burst of power was perfectly timed and defeated his closest competitor by one and a quarter length, having held the title in 1946 and 1947 he was anxious to regain the title back, with other wins behind him he became the second cyclist in 66 years to take four senior Australian titles at one carnival.
Patterson’s form was perfect, he went on to say “I have my heart set on winning the 1000 metres sprint title, I was fourth in the title last year and I think I have improved since”.
In August Patterson won that event he dreamed of beating Jacques Bellenger of France in two series. Paterson’s times for the last 200m were: first series 12.2secs; second series 11.8secs. Patterson went on to say that “I don’t think they will be able to sleep for a week at my home in Melbourne” as he was awarded the laurel wreath.
By September Patterson had to his credit 27 national and state titles.
Patterson was sent abroad on money raised by public subscription, the committee consisting of Leo Keating, Nick Grey and Hubert Opperman. They would hold events at the Melbourne Board track for the purposes of travel. In September Patterson had a brilliant treble win with the 7500 yards open sprint, the 750 yards international sprint and the 10-miles scratch race.
Patterson was awarded no.1 Australian athlete of the year (1949). His training was solely based on his racing throughout the year, with the different world time zones, with travel he was able to race continuously in different countries allowing him to be in top form.
Patterson liked to drink a little but did not smoke.
Following on from his wins Patterson returned back to Melbourne to race at the North Essendon board track, he was cheered by a large crowd however following a pile-up in the last lap he was suspended for 30 days. Officials found him guilty of bearing down too sharply causing F.Conway and G. Illman to fall, Patterson lodged an appeal and days later was fined £5 for “careless riding” with the suspension lifted.
Patterson had told the referee and stewards that he did not know why he had been called before them; Patterson was now eligible to compete in other events and charity engagements.
In February 1950 the British Empire Games were held in Auckland (NZ) and featured the best cyclists at competition, Patterson won silver medals for the 1000m sprint and the 1000m time trial events with Russell Mockridge taking gold in both events.
By May Patterson had returned to London for more competitions, at Herne Hill (UK) he was successful winning the 1000 metre international amateur cycling sprint and won a special international 5-mile scratch race at Coventry (UK).
Back home in Australia the National Cyclists Union of England queried the amateur status of Patterson, Keith Reynolds and Jack Hoobin that Patterson’s trip had been subsidized by the Australian public but Reynolds and Hoobin were being assisted by their own families, the outcome was found that this was allowable and did not endanger the amateur status of the athletes.
In August while competing in Amsterdam Patterson won all heats to take victory against the Dutch, and in Liege (Belgium) however was beaten by inches in the quarter final for the world amateur sprint title with Frenchman Pierre Even victorious with a burst in the last straight. Patterson was still in contention for the world amateur pursuit championship and in a thrilling final against the Italian Aldo Gandini who lead 20 yards in the first eight laps Patterson gradually made up the distance and on the final lap passed him, an exhausted Patterson adorned the world champion Guernsey.
In 1951 Patterson became a professional cyclist and the first half of the year Patterson was filled with more success with the 5km point-to-point race and 1000m flying start time trial at Paris (France), the Grand Prix Du Roi at Brussels (Belgium) beating Reg Harris and the Festival of Britain at Newcastle (UK).
In December Patterson travelled to Tasmania (TAS) and won three races and defeated cycling champion Mac Sloane at Devonport, with a crowd of 9000 people watching Patterson showed brilliant form.
A flying start to 1952 with double wins the world derby and the Aces Scratch race at the North Essendon board tracks (VIC) thus creating an Australian record of 13 victories from scratch in handicap races in one season.
In February Patterson won eight of nine events which he entered at the North Essendon Board track (VIC) and registered the fastest time by a rider on the track and in March set a new state quarter-mile (flying start) record at Devonport (TAS) covering the distance in 25 secs. Traveling also to Broken Hill (VIC) he won the 10-miles professional cycling championship, the time registered faster than the Australian record but could not be recognized because a motor cycle paced the riders.
Always on the move Patterson was back in Paris (France) and won the Auteil Grand Prix, Patterson was a late entrant but having beaten Reg Harris in the semi-final he went on to beat Maurice Verdeun (France) and Emile Goslein (Belgium), in London Patterson broke two british professional records, the mile record where he clocked 1min. 57.6secs. from a flying start with his first attempt puncturing and then the half-mile unpaced flying start record by four-fifths of a second with a time of 52.8secs which was previously held by Reg Harris and in Milan (Italy) he participated and won the professional sprint event.
In August Patterson became the world professional pursuit champion defeating Antonio Bevilacqa (Italy) in Paris (France) at the Parc Des Princes Velodrome.
Winning his heats he rode finely to a crowd of 10,000 who cheered upon his win.
Nearing the end of the year Patterson set a speed record at the Vigorelli Velodrome Milan (Italy) shaving off three-fifths of a second off a 14 year old flying start world record for the
1 km event, Patterson averaged 35.1 miles an hour with his time of 1min 4 secs.
More wins at Launceston (TAS) with the Tasmanian unpaced quarter-mile event, 10-mile A grade scratch race held at the Latrobe 2 day carnival followed with wins at the Essendon Board track in Melbourne (VIC).
In May 1953 Patterson joined the Raleigh Industries team of professional riders which also included Reg Harris and Cyril Bardsley. In Paris (France) while on a training ride at the Parc De Princes Velodrome he fell and cracked his right shoulder blade, Patterson was sent to hospital but was soon back racing as he quickly recovered and in July won three of four cycling races against a strong field from Italy, Germany and Belgium at Berlin (Germany).
From October Patterson joined other world ranking cyclists Enzo Sacchi (Italy) and Reg Harris (England) to race at meets, they would be based at Melbourne racing at the Essendon Board Track and travel to Norwood (SA), New South Wales and Tasmania. Promoter Ted Waterford saw this as a wonderful opportunity to have the best racing in Australia, showcasing the best cyclists came at a price of around £17,000 to bring them to Australia.
During one of the racing events at the North Essendon Board track, light rain had started to set and following a continental custom Paterson, Harris and Sacchi withdrew leaving rider Jim Cooper riding, Cooper knowing that nobody except the referee can stop the race continued and was declared winner. The penalty for withdrawing cost each rider a fine of £3. During the 1953-54 season, Melbourne introduced for the first time the camera finish system, it was to be used at the North Essendon board track.
In March 1954 Patterson received the Diploma of honour, an award offered each year by Alban Collignon who was the honorary president of the International Cyclists Union, the award was presented in Paris (France). In the same month Patterson smashed the national record of the Australian 1000m sprint, previous fastest time was set by Reg Harris of 1min. 12.2secs and Patterson rode superbly at 1min. 9.25secs.
Patterson also won the Graham Newitt memorial handicap and in the following year in April Patterson married in London.
In January 1956, Patterson was involved in a bad smash at the North Essendon board track, thirty cyclists and their bikes flew in all directions, it was the worst smash in the tracks history. Patterson was taken to the royal Melbourne Hospital for a badly bruised thigh and treatment for lacerations. The injury affected his competitions and later said “Ill have to stop racing for a while if my back injury does not improve soon”. More bad luck followed in Hobart (TAS) when his inside pedal grazed the track as he swung into the straight, falling off and sliding 75ft he broke his collarbone and deeply gashed his head, he receiving eight stitches in the head Patterson remained in hospital for several days.
Two months later Patterson resumed and won the professional sprint at the North Essendon board’s tracks.
A year later Patterson was at his best taking a clean sweep in three events to win all five points at the North Essendon Boards track, competing against Russell Mockridge Patterson said ” I never thought I would win every sprint against Mockridge”.
Patterson had definitely stamped himself as Australia’s top professional track cyclist.
Patterson continued cycling in the 1960s with other wins including the Victorian professional title in 1964 for the seventh time, the Australian title in 1967 for the twelfth time, and the 6-day event in Launceston.
Paterson was associated with Malvern Star throughout the years and the Malvern Star 4 star became known as the “Sid Paterson” special in the 1960’s.
Patterson retired from competitive cycling in 1968, and at age 72 Patterson died of liver cancer, a winner of 332 cycling races including, 4 World Championships, 2 Austral Wheel Races, 3 Melbourne Cups on Wheels, 15 six-day races.
The Sid Patterson Grand Prix is held in Melbourne annually in his honour.