William Peden

William "Torchy" Peden (16 April 1906 – 26 January 1980) was a Canadian cyclist. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955[1] and the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1966.[2]

William Peden
Personal information
Born(1906-04-16)16 April 1906
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Died26 January 1980(1980-01-26) (aged 73)
Northbrook, Illinois, United States
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight220 lb (100 kg)
Team information
DisciplineSix-day racing
Professional team

As a youth, Peden was a natural athlete, participating in several sports, and was nationally ranked in swimming.[3] He took up bicycle racing in 1925 and trained intensively for the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.[1] He was selected for the Canadian team and competed in three Olympic events.[4] Afterward, he remained in Europe to join the cycling circuit. In 1929, he returned to Canada.[1] After winning five titles at the indoor Canadian championships in Montreal, he turned professional.[1]

He discovered and excelled at six-day racing. During the Great Depression, the sport was cheap for spectators and very popular. Beginning in 1929, he won 24 of 48 races over the next four years.[1][4] In 1932, he set a record that still stands: 10 victories.[3] At times, he teamed up with his younger brother Doug (the sport used two-man teams). Overall, he won 38 of 148, a record unbroken until 1965.[3] In 1931, he set a record; riding behind a car providing a shield against the wind, he achieved a speed of 73.5 miles per hour (118.3 km/h).[1] He also coached the 1932 national cycling team and the 1936 track team.[1]

He was a showman, popular with the fans. He would grab a scarf or hat from a spectator and ride around with it for a few laps before returning it to its owner. The redhead acquired the nickname "Torchy" when a journalist described him as a "flame-haired youth leading the pack like a torch".[2] He was rumoured to have earned $50,000 a year, an enormous sum at the time.[1] (For comparison, Babe Ruth made $80,000 in 1930.)

During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.[1] He participated in his last six-day race in 1942 and his last professional cycling race in 1948.[1]

He moved to the United States in the 1950s and opened a sporting goods store.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Honoured Member Stories". Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b "William "Torchy" Peden". BC Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "William J. Peden". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b "William Peden Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2014.