Chain of events recalled

Eddie Barkla | Bendigo Weekly | 06-Jan-2012

BDCC first life members: President Bill McLachlan presenting life membership medals to Jack Butcher, Len Martin, and Stewart Anderson
Bendigo and District Cycling Club will be holding a reunion in March after the Bendigo International Madison.
We hope to be able to bring you some of the history and character of one of Australia’s most successful country cycling clubs and feel sure that local cycling identities will be able to fill the gaps with colourful accounts at the reunion.
The Sandhurst Bicycle Club was formed in 1880 and the Sandhurst Invincible Bicycle Club formed in 1881. Eaglehawk, Elmore, Castlemaine and Maldon all had Bike clubs formed around this time.
In 1897 the League of Victorian Wheelmen was formed and in that same year the Victorian Amateur Cyclist Union was also established.
The professional riders and the amateur riders were to remain under the two different bodies until well into the second half of the 1900s before they combined.
The pros rode events like The Austral Wheel Race and The Melbourne to Warrnambool Road Race and the amateurs strove to make it to the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, although most did not succeed.
Bendigo cycling in the 1930s was raced around the roads in winter and started and finished in Pall Mall.
Later in the 1950s and 1960s they started every Saturday at Don Murray’s pub in Lockwood Road, Kangaroo Flat.
Track cycling was raced at what is now known as Weeroona Oval, this had a high wooden fence around it and was a very flat bitumen track.
Racing was also held at ‘The Showgrounds’ now the Tom Flood Sports Centre.
This was a cinder track until the 1950s when it was made into a bitumen track with very slight banking.
Gradually the track and banking was improved over time, especially after the great Russell Mockridge fell on the top bend when he was sweeping around the field in a wheelrace final.
Racing during the 1950s and 1960s was segregated to Pros and Lilywhites (amateurs) and the rules clearly stated that if an amateur received money, no matter how small, he was then declared a professional and could not compete in Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
Because of these antiquated laws the Bendigo Professional Cycling Club and the Bendigo Amateur Cycling Club remained as two separate bodies until finally they were able to become one body, the Bendigo and District Cycling Club.
It took until the mid- 1980s when the Bendigo City Council of the day agreed to let the club build clubrooms on Council land if they strictly adhered to their guidelines .
These clubrooms were built by voluntary labour from club members.
The club covered every trade and the job was supervised by Caps Vernon, the money was raised and the work done by everyone in the club helping in any way possible.
The clubrooms remained this way until the council, with Government funding, was able to upgrade them and the surrounding area to give an even better result for the club members, visiting cyclists and spectators alike.
The club still hosts cycling events of International, National and State level and has been a successful seed bed for many cycling stars over the years.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing.


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