By JB Phillps
Whanganui has lost one of its most versatile and successful former champion cyclists with the death of 75-year-old Graeme Adrian (Bingo) Bing who collected victories in both track and road championships.
In the mid 1950's and during the 1960's he was a class rider who helped Whanganui feature as one of the top cycling cities in New Zealand with a maze of national hard-track, grass-track and road titles.
Bing, who represented New Zealand against Australia in a trans-Tasman hard-track test at Palmerston North in 1965 and against Germany in 1967 (with John Dean), was the first cyclist to be named as Whanganui Sportsman of the Year, winning the Whanganui Herald-instigated award in 1965.
It was the third year of the award which has blossomed out over the years and revamped as the Whanganui Sportsperson of the Year contest.
The first two winners of the award were rugby goal-kicker Colin Pierce (1963), who twice came close to winning the Ranfurly Shield off Taranaki, and four-times NZ amateur golf champion Bryan Silk (1964).
National hard-track cycling sprint and tandem champion Norm Joyce, one of Bing's main rivals around Cooks Gardens, won the Sportsman title in 1965 and since then the sport has provided NZ titleholders Gary Anderson (three times), Catherine Sell (twice), Leslie Dove and Anthony Peden as winners of the award.
Graeme Bing, educated at Queen's Park, Whanganui Intermediate and Wanganui Technical College, was a highly talented multi-distance rider whether in sprint races or distance events on hard or grass tracks, or racing for six days on the old Dulux Six Day road races from Auckland to Wellington.
Although up against strong local opposition, which included NZ titleholders such as Norm Joyce, Dave Stowell (1965 NZ pursuit champion), Charlie Appleby (1965 NZ 10-mile hard-track and 1966 one-mile grass-track winner) and Laurie Chrystall (1960 10-mile champion), Bing won his share of WCNI centre and club track titles.
He also raced with distinction in national track championships, winning a number of medals.
On the road he collected various stage victories and wore the yellow tour jersey on occasions including into Whanganui one year during the annual Dulux Six-Day tours, which operated between 1960 and 1985, when competing against the likes of champions Laurie Byers, Neil Robinson, Tino Tabak, Bruce Biddle, Dick Johnstone and Warwick Dalton.
Bing was probably the most successful of Whanganui six-day tour riders since Geoff Lankow who won the 1955 and 1957 Wisemans-sponsored tours and the 1956 NZ road title. Bing won the last Palmerston North to Whanganui road race in 1964 and was on the short list of road riders for the 1966 Jamaican Commonwealth Games.
During his working life Bing was employed as a builder of office shop fittings with Dicksons, was employed at Wanganui Steelboats before moving to Auckland in the same line of work, worked on the Chatham Islands for two years, and was a farmer around the North Island including at Matawai (Poverty Bay) and later at Oeo Oeo (near Taumarunui — by the Whanganui River) before moving in recent years to Waverley. He had special skills while working on boats including becoming a designer.
There was a large attendance of former riders and cycling officials, including fellow NZ rep John Dean who was back in the country from overseas, and ex-work-mates and friends at Bing's funeral in Waverley on Tuesday.