Bruce Ryalls returned to Grafton to Inverell's finish line on Saturday, 50 years after winning the race himself, this time as a spectator.
Hailing from Brisbane, Ryalls was introduced to cycling at the age of 11 in Gladstone- the sport quickly becoming his passion.
The now 71-year-old rode his first Grafton to Inverell in 1968 placing second off a handicap mark and returned with a vengeance the following year.
"In 69' I was placed off scratch. I was 21 when I won and I remember there was a scratch bunch of 13 riders, all at an elite level- similar to what the A-grade riders are today.
"Des Thomson, who was Australian Champion that year, blew everyone away as we went up Gibraltar hill. Des suffered some minor mechanical issue as we neared the top, apparently as I'm told, I was the only one to catch him.
"The two of us then teamed together and rode through the whole field and Des finished up third which I was really pleased with."
Up against around 80 riders Ryalls crossed the line, situated in Otho Street, in first place. The Inverell Times reported a few thousand people lined the streets to cheer riders on in support that year.
"I can recall as we approached Inverell, people were parked in their cars probably from five kilometres out. It did have a big following back in the early years of the event."
The first to support Australia's toughest, one-day cycle event and secondly to donate his winning trophy and memorabilia to a new Grafton to Inverell museum.
"I've been in contact with the local bike club and suggested having a museum of memorabilia of the years gone by. They've agreed to do this, so I've bought down trophies to kick start the museum," he said.
Other winning riders and Grafton to Inverell memorabilia holders have been encourage to follow suit and donate items to populate the exhibit- proposed to be situated at the National Transport Museum.
Remembering his first experience with the race in 68', Ryalls said there was a scratch bunch of about 15 riders- many of whom were going to Mexico for the Olympics.
"They attacked at Wire Gully and left those who didn't have the stamina to stay with them. Fortunately I caught them again but Kevin Morgan was too good for me in the sprint."
Humbling thanking 'good fortune' for his win, Ryalls represented NSW in 69' whilst based in the air force. However, he also represented QLD cycling.
"It's probably a little unique, not many people get to represent two states as only the best four riders received the title back in those years- I'm pleased with that achievement," he said.
With his Grafton to Inverell memorabilia now in the hands of Inverell Cycle Club, Ryalls believed the tough race had potential to last another 100 years.
"The race has been and will continue to be Australia's toughest, long distance road race because it encompasses the Gibraltar Range, Waterloo Range and just to top it off Wire Gully to sort the men from the boys at the finish."
If you're interested in donating memorabilia, email email@example.com.