the 1940s and 1950s Max Rowley was a household name when he and his older
brother Keith dominated the Australian cycle racing scene. Max
proved a champion over sprints, short races, long races and staged long-distance
won virtually every professional event in Australia, often with Keith taking
the back seat to let Max cross the line half a wheel length in front.
1939, when 16, Max sprang to prominence by winning the Sheffield Wheel Race
and scratch event in Tasmania after having been a top Gippsland rider for
1940, he became the youngest rider ever to win the coveted LaTrobe
Wheel Race in Tasmania. A year later he was Victorian five-mile track champion.
war years intervened but when professional cycling got under way again,
Mr Rowley quickly showed that the promise shown as a teenager was only
a glimpse of what he could achieve.
1946 he won the Australian long-distance professional road cycling championship
raced over 301 miles (480km) from Melbourne to Horsham. He won the Melbourne
to Wangaratta and picked up a second Latrobe Wheel Race.
then on the victories kept piling up and Mr Rowley was soon seen in newspapers
throughout Australia promoting Hartley bicycles and MacRoberson chocolate
Hartley manufactured "Max Rowley" special bicycles, Max received two
pound 15 shillings for each one sold.
1948 Mr Rowley was named Australian road rider of the year and was third
in the Australian sportsman of the year title.
1949 the Rowleys were almost unbeatable with Max winning the Australian
long-distance championship from second placed Keith before 50,000 spectators.
more was still to come. One of Mr Rowley's most successful years was 1950
when he won the gruelling 510 mile (816km) "Tour of the West" in NSW and then
only a week later won the prestigious "Melbourne to Warrnambool", taking
both the line honors and fastest time from scratch.
Max was second to Keith in the 1952 Sun Tour after leading going into
the final day. On this occasion he could not keep up the cracking pace
set by his brother who won and immediately announced his retirement.
Max continued racing with success until 1954 when he too retired to
work his farm at Upper Maffra West.
He still took his "Max Rowley" Sun Tour bike on regular
outings around the district.
Rowley served 15 years as a Maffra Shire councillor and was Shire President twice.
He served on many community and school groups over the years and all who
met him were always impressed by his quiet nature.
died in August 1987 just before his book “The Max Rowley Story: my golden
years of cycling” was published.