CYCLE AWAY!

Written by support. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on April 06, 2015 with No Comments

On two wheels, a Victorian countryside and a canvas community.

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Words CHUA SIEW CHING
Images LAW SOO PHYE

Nine days of cycling. Over 550 kilometres in routes around the countryside of the state of Victoria, Australia. Cool mornings, hot afternoons and yes, even the unpredictable rain showers and hail storms that Victoria is known for. Four thousand riders of all ages riding alongside you, enjoying every single moment of it with last year’s oldest rider being an 84-year-old man!

Fully supported by state policemen, experienced riders and volunteers to make sure that every day goes by smoothly, this may sound like a holiday of a lifetime. In fact, you could say that the Great Victorian Bike Ride, more popularly known as The Great Vic, is just that. What first started as a one-off event to encourage cycling among Australians, The Great Vic has now become an annual event taking place during summer, drawing several thousand participants each year, namely Australians and a few gung-ho riders from other parts of the world.

And we are not joking about the huge amount of cyclists who join this riding event. In 2004, a record of 8,000-over riders took part, making The Great Vic one of the world’s largest supported bike rides that bike enthusiasts must experience at least once in their lifetime. Now already in its 31st year (and counting), the event draws not only first-timers, but also regulars who sign up without fail as The Great Vic takes you on a different picturesque cycling route each year. Among the routes include riding down The Great Ocean Road, Bright and The High Country, along lakes, rivers and rangers, the Goldfields, Phillip Island and more.

Taking place late November and early December, the ride is divided into three ride options – you can opt to join the three-day ride (which is the easier option), the five-day ride and the ultimate nine-day ride. There will be two days of non-riding – the first when you arrive at the campsite and mid-way so that you can have a day of rest from all that pedalling.

Before you think that each day will be a leisure riding day, take note that it can be quite the opposite if you are not used to cycling up to 90km a day, which is often the longest distance you would be required to cover in any given day. But Tour de France it is not so don’t worry about not being physically fit enough to complete your ride. There are options to board a dedicated bus mid-way that will transport you and your bike to the campsite – though where is the fun in that, right? Otherwise, pedal away with your fellow cyclists and earn bragging rights when you reach the finish point. The ride is fully supported along the way so you don’t have to worry about being left alone or if you aren’t exactly the fastest rider; there will be volunteers and policemen who will make sure you are safe every step of the way so that you can cycle in ease.

The cycling is just part of the whole experience; living from campsite to campsite sums up the off-the-beaten road to this holiday. Some basic camping skills are necessary, as with sharing toilets and showers that will be part of your daily routine. But don’t worry – these “facilities” are cleaned every day. If anything, think of it as a chance to leave everything behind – work, technology, stress – as you enjoy cycling, camping and being surrounded by people who are like-minded and positive, too!

One thing is for sure – you won’t go hungry during your time at The Great Vic. Full meals are available, even if you have strict dietary requirements. And, you can always walk out to the towns to get yourself a taste of local cuisine as well as life in the Australian countryside, which can be very charming and endearing. With The Great Vic being such a popular event that passes by small towns that would have been normally unheard of, residents actually make it a point to make you feel welcome to their neighbourhood by throwing food festivals, discounts for cyclists and more.

Ready for the biggest cycling experience of your life? To The Great Vic it is then!

For more information, go to www.bicyclenetwork.com.au.

 Royal Brunei Airlines flies Melbourne daily.

 

 

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