HERITAGE MINUTES#PARTOF OUR HERITAGE

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Torchy Peden

HERITAGE MINUTES

#PARTOFOURHERITAGE

Peden was a crowd favourite during the heyday of Six-Day bicycle racing.

In pro sports in the 1930s, only Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig made more money than British Columbia’s most famous redhead – cyclist William “Torchy” Peden.

After representing Canada at the 1928 Olympics, Peden turned pro. In 1929, just before the market crashed, he set a world speed record. It stood for 12 years. That speed, and Peden’s legendary stamina, made him a natural for seated cycling marathons.

He was the king of the Six-Day race, a sport that was popular in the years before World War II and which has now largely faded from memory. Usually beginning on a Sunday night and concluding at midnight the following Saturday, the races were comprised of two-man teams zipping around a course at 80 kilometres per hour. Peden completed 148 of these grinding events, winning 38. His record stood until 1965.

After World War II, he passed on his knowledge through his role as an Olympic coach.

William “Torchy” Peden of Victoria. A Footprint in the velodrome of Canadian sport.