Ballarat-Sebastopol Cycling Club came into being as Ballarat Sebastopol Amateur Cycling Club in 1974, following the disbanding of two independent cycling clubs, Ballarat Amateur Cycling Club and Sebastopol Amateur Cycling club.
Back in the day, summer track racing was held by each club on a ‘home’ track. Ballarat raced in Victoria Park on a sealed track with raised banks (its remains are still there), while Sebastopol used a sealed track in what is now the Marty Busch Sports Complex, amid the mullock left over from the mines just west of where the concrete velodrome is today.
What eventually brought the two clubs together was Victorian government policy. Both clubs had shown interest in constructing new tracks. Ballarat was seeking assistance to build a 400 meter track in Victoria Park, while Sebastopol was looking for help to build a new track in Sebastopol.
Not unlike current-day government policy, the emphasis at the time was for a joined-up approach to funding, so to attract the necessary government investment for a velodrome in Ballarat, the clubs were told to form a single entity capable of managing cycling and conducting open-level races in Ballarat.
From this the Ballarat Sebastopol Amateur Cycling Club emerged.
The new club took on the responsibility for two major road racing carnivals, the Melbourne to Ballarat road race, and the Les Brookman Open Road Race. The former is now a major annual "open" event, conducted by Cycling Victoria, typically attracting over 200 competitors. The latter is now run by BSCC in honour of the man who died from injuries sustained in 1968 during his national service duties.
An annual tradition for the club, first reported in the Ballarat Courier on December 25, 1898, is a Christmas morning road race. It's now held late in December rather than on Christmas day. The first race was from Sebastopol Borough Town Hall to Walsh’s Hotel at Sago Hill and return, commencing at “half-past nine.” It was for local riders: “Competitors must be residents of the Borough”. On 30th August 1969, The Courier published an article explaining that Ballarat Amateur Cycling Club was celebrating its 90th birthday, having started in 1879 at Craig’s Hotel as the Ballarat Bicycle and Tricycle Club.
Several other major races have been introduced and promoted by Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club since its formation. They are the John Collier Handicap, held in Kingston, and named for and sponsored by a BSCC life member, former Sebastopol amateur, and winner of the1952 Christmas Morning race; and, the Joe Merrylees Schools Teams Time Trial, an event for local district secondary colleges and schools which grew out of an after-school cycling program that commenced at Ballarat Grammar School in 1987. Joe Merrylees, a member of that inaugural squad, was tragically killed in 1988 when his utility collided with a heavy truck. In 1990 the first “Merrylees” was held.
Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club has a long and proud tradition of providing year-round cycling events for its members in the Ballarat district. Like most clubs, it has experienced its highs and lows, but in recent years there has been a huge increase in rider participation, Club membership has swelled, and the club, and cycling in general, have attracted additional investment and media attention. We hope to secure the club’s future to ensure many more exciting chapters are added to this colourful cycling history.