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Brunswick Velodrome

Brunswick Velodrome is a sacred place - rich in history and a place for all.  Located on the Merri Creek bike path, it is easily accessed and on any given day full of people just having fun riding their bikes.

 

The Velodrome, on Harrison Street, is the home of the Brunswick Cycling Club.

The Velodrome is evolving constantly and the club works closely with the City of Moreland in looking at new ways to make the venue even more engaging for all those who love riding bikes.

The Brunswick clubrooms and velodrome are located in Roberts Reserve,Brunswick East.

Enter via Donald St., Harrison street is blocked to cars between Albion and Donald St.

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History

In 1956, five years after it was first planned, the Brunswick Cycling Club moved from Allard Park to Harrison Street. Fluorescent lights were installed from the beginning and the lighting was only on the track. It’s worth noting that our club legend, the late Alf Walker, installed the lights at no charge. The track opened officially on 17 November 1956. The original track was wider than the later concrete one. At times, riders up to 12 wide would be sprinting to the finish.

 

In 1960 night racing began at Harrison Street. The initiative came about through the work of Henry Hill and George Nelson. Night racing was made possible with the installation of an elaborate lighting system of 180 fluorescent tubes replacing the previous globes making Brunswick the only lit track in Melbourne other than Olympic Park.

Vision

The first open race to be held under the lights was a carnival to raise funds to support the wife and family of the late Dick Carson. The generous gesture was an idea of Henry Hill’s and you can see that culture of generosity resonating through the club today through club stalwarts like Cam Mcfarlane and Dave Morgan. Speaking of Cam, we all know about the famous Thursday night motor pace training, well this was the year it all started at Harrison Street.

 

The much anticipated Friday night racing began at Brunswick on 28 October 1960. To commemorate the event, the lighting was “turned on” officially by the Mayor of Brunswick.

 

Racing continued throughout the 60’s and by the start of 1970, Harrison Street was the major venue for track racing in Melbourne with the major open races and promotions transferred from Olympic Park to Brunswick.  At the time, it was the only suitable “true” velodrome, also with lighting, so it was used because it allowed a continuance of Saturday night cycling promotions. Later that decade both the Northcote and Coburg velodromes gained traction and major events began migrating to to those venues.

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The first open race to be held under the lights was a carnival to raise funds to support the wife and family of the late Dick Carson. The generous gesture was an idea of Henry Hill’s and you can see that culture of generosity resonating through the club today through club stalwarts like Cam Mcfarlane and Dave Morgan. Speaking of Cam, we all know about the famous Thursday night motor pace training, well this was the year it all started at Harrison Street.

 

The much anticipated Friday night racing began at Brunswick on 28 October 1960. To commemorate the event, the lighting was “turned on” officially by the Mayor of Brunswick.

 

Racing continued throughout the 60’s and by the start of 1970, Harrison Street was the major venue for track racing in Melbourne with the major open races and promotions transferred from Olympic Park to Brunswick.  At the time, it was the only suitable “true” velodrome, also with lighting, so it was used because it allowed a continuance of Saturday night cycling promotions. Later that decade both the Northcote and Coburg velodromes gained traction and major events began migrating to to those venues.

 

Some of the world’s best track cyclists raced at Harrison Street in the 70’s. Riders like Giordano Turrini from Itay – 5 times a placegetter in the World Sprint Championships, Hugh Porter from Great Britain – 4 times World Pursuit Champion, Ezio Cardi from Italy – Italian Sprint Champion and 3rd in the World Sprint Championships, Leijin Loevesijn form the Netherlands – World Professional Sprint Champion and Niels Fredborg from Denmark – 4 time World Time Trial Champion

 

In the 80’s track racing took place at Harrison Street on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons over summer. A few opens were still held at Harrison Street but most were now held at Northcote. The tradition was to race at Harrison Street in the afternoon and then race again on the Saturday night at Northcote.  Cam remembers that there was about a 2 hour “window” between events, so riders would grab a pizza or pasta in between races.

 

There was also racing on Monday nights but this morphed into training sessions run by Ray Bowles and Alf Walker. Many retired riders would attend the training sessions to pass on their knowledge and tips.

 

The Monday sessions are carried on today in the warmer months and have the same mix of old and new with everyone there because they love the sport and club.

 

Wednesday night racing started to incorporate the practice of matching up seniors and juniors for a minute Madison. Saturday’s would build up to a 1 hour club Madison late in the season. The "buddying" up of seniors and juniors meant that youngsters learnt not only the tactics, but also the “etiquette” of bike racing.  

 

In the 90’s, racing continued on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. The summer track season involved racing at 2.00pm. Racing varied with Italian Pursuits, Points Races, Scratch and Motorpace the regulars.  Attracting riders to Harrison Street was a greater challenge than ever with Northcote the new “big time” venue. A successful Keirin series was run, which attracted top riders, such as Australian representative David Dew. For a few years the State Senior and Junior Pointscores were run at Harrison Street. The track welcomed stars such as Stephen Pate, Baden Cooke, Dylan Boone, Leigh de Luca and Shane Collins for these championship races. The track metropolitan titles were also held during hot summers over consecutive days.  

 

With the birth of DISC in the 2000’s the number of races at Harrison Street diminished but by then we had established a reputation as the place to train with the best and learn about real, grassroots cycling. Saturday racing continued and we began club racing on Tuesday nights at DISC.

 

Cam revived the Thursday Motorpace and introduced the 3 sessions we now have – juniors at 35km/hr, session two at 40km/hr and the “hour of power” at 45km/hr. Where else can you ride over 100km midweek in 3 hours!

 

All throughout the life of the track at Harrison Street, the Junior Clinic has been a mainstay. The Brunswick Cycling Club Novice Junior Clinic was established by the late Henry Hill around 1948 and its aim was to provide cyclists under the age of 16 the coaching and environment to learn the art of track racing. The reason for this was that cyclists under the age of 16 were unable to compete due to the rules at that time.

 

The Clinic program aims to make learning to ride on a velodrome fun, safe and enjoyable for girls and boys. Through weekly sessions over summer, and monthly during winter, participants will learn bike skills in an exciting, supportive and social environment. It is suitable for children aged 4-16.

 

The major aim of Clinic is for children to learn fundamental motor skills vital for future physical activity and sport participation, with an emphasis on enjoyment and personal improvement. The program also provides a great opportunity for kids and parents to interact, make new friends and spend quality time together.

 

The greatest names on and off the track have been associated with the clinic and it embodies the essence of the club - We’re a free spirited and proudly inclusive club.

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