Off-track but victorious

Dual state champs Ryan Koroknai, David Koroknai, Callum Porritt at the Victorian Club Teams Championships at Darebin International Sports Centre velodrome. Picture: MARK GEARY

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Against the odds, members from a cycling club without a home have emerged as dual state champions.

Noble Park Dandenong Cycling Club members Ryan Koroknai, David Koroknai and Callum Porritt won gold in the team sprint and team pursuit events at the Victorian Club Teams Championships on Sunday 28 March.

It was the first state titles competition for the trio as well as for their club since its rebirth in 2018.

David Koroknai, who is club vice-president, helped re-form the club during a passionate but doomed campaign to save Maurice Kirby Velodrome in Parkfield Reserve.

Without a cycling facility, the club holds weekly group rides on roads, either a 30-kilometre loop through Dandenong and Endeavour Hills or a 70-kilometre Beach Road ride.

Many local riders used cycling tracks in Edithvale, Carnegie and Blackburn.

After the Covid lockdown – and cycling boom – heavier traffic had returned.

“Many people do not feel safe riding with their children on the busy roads.

“This has increased the demand for a club facility which would provide safe, all-weather training opportunities as Winter fast approaches.”

Mr Koroknai said a local velodrome would provide a safe off-road training facility as well as opportunities for a junior cycling program with pathways to state and national level.

“It would also provide a safe environment to those who wish to gain cycling skills, improve fitness or enjoy riding their bike with friends.”

Any hopes for a regional velodrome in the South East were deflated in 2020 after Greater Dandenong Council failed to secure a State grant to create a Regional Cycling Strategy.

“As the grant for this funding was not successful, the joint Councils have not identified and progressed this strategy as a regional priority,” Greater Dandenong community services director Martin Fidler said.

He said the council’s Make Your Move physical activity strategy identified the need for “active transport” facilities including walking and cycling paths to work, public transport connections and schools.

“A mid-point review of the City of Greater Dandenong Cycling Strategy will occur later this year, taking into consideration the Make Your Move Strategy, and further updates will be provided at this stage.”