The Melbourne to Ballarat Classic has a long and proud history of over 100 races. It's an iconic race, but as a social ride it leaves a lot to be desired.
They ride uphill, against the prevailing wind, on a freeway, at the coldest and most miserable time of the year. They don't actually start in Melbourne, don't ride (or even start) together, and they don't stop at a single pub along the way.
The Ballarat to Melbourne Classic aims to right all of these wrongs.Ride Format
The ride will follow a specially planned  route from Ballarat railway station, leaving at 8:45 am on Saturday 23rd March. We will follow quiet country roads  to a secret destination in Melbourne, 140 km  and -435 vertical metres  later. Planned arrival in Melbourne is late afternoon, for a relaxed refuelling and rehydrating session before heading home.
This is a SOCIAL ride, regrouping at numerous points along the way. These regrouping points will be easily identified by their distinctive "HOTEL
" signage. If you think 140km sounds like a short ride, chances are you will have time to enjoy some refreshments at the regrouping points . If you think 140km sounds like a very long ride, and pace yourself accordingly, you might not get much of a break before we press on.
We will be riding to a relaxed and rubbery schedule, to ensure we get where we're going in a reasonable time. It's certainly not race pace, but we do have some distance to cover. If you can maintain 25 km/h on the flat you'll have time for a drink or two along the way. However, there are bail-out options if you find yourself struggling to keep up. The route follows the railway for much of the distance, and many of the designated regrouping points are located close to railway stations. Slower riders might choose to take advantage of these bail-out points, catch the next train, and re-join the group at the end of the ride (which is also relatively close to a railway station). This won't be enforced, but you might end up riding alone if you choose to continue and can't keep up.Logistics
The logistics of this ride will be a little tricky. Being a point-to-point ride, we obviously don't finish where we started from.
There's a train from Melbourne arriving at Ballarat at 0835 (leaving Southern Cross at 0708). There's room for at least 4 bikes in each of the bike compartments, and there's likely to be 2 or 3 bike compartments on the train. I can't force V-line to accommodate extra bikes on the day.
Catching a train from Melbourne the night before would allow participants to acclimatise, and to start the ride with a hangover. This is entirely appropriate. I can advise on accommodation options, from the most salubrious to the most seedy.
Driving to Ballarat presents the complication of getting your car back to Melbourne. Support drivers (partners, friends, children, parents) are most welcome. Car pooling is strongly recommended. Cyclists who aren't sure about riding the whole distance could share support car driving duties.
Anybody who wants to leave a car at my place, and catch the train back to Ballarat at the conclusion of the event, has the same options of accommodation (and hangovers), then any amount of local riding on the Sunday before driving home.Cost
This is a FREE ride - and for that price, you get all the care and hospitality you deserve.
I will have riders' packs
for sale, including maps and route notes, a hearty country pub lunch at one of the towns along the way, some token commemorative crap (tm), and a modest donation to the Pallister-Killian Syndrome Foundation of Australia (http://www.pks.org.au
). Price TBC (depending what token commemorative crap I can pull together
), but definitely <$50.
Further, less modest (tax deductible) donations to PKSFA
are welcome (and strongly encouraged).
If you don't want a riders' pack... no problem. Follow somebody who knows the way, and buy your own lunch. As I said, it's a free ride.
If you're vegan, celiac, kosher, breatharian or whatever, and want the pack without
the pub feed, let me know.RSVP
I need to know numbers so I can have lunch organised and ensure I have enough maps and merch organised.
See below for The List:
, but I'd also appreciate an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
to reserve your schwag.
 detailed planning is still in progress. Final route will be published closer to the date. May even change at very late notice due to weather forecast.
following quiet country roads, wherever possible. Busy roads and freeway have been kept to an absolute minimum, but can't be avoided completely. There is also some bike path once we get closer to Melbourne.
 probable route options vary from 135 km to 150 km.
 Don't be mistaken into thinking that this is a gentle roll down a hill. As an indication, the likely route includes 1095m climbing, 1521m descending (according to my route mapping website of choice). That's spread over 150km, so it's not going to be a suffer-fest, but it's not Beach Road either. Ballarat is at 435m ASL, and we pass through 650m ASL along the way.
 The Ballarat to Melbourne Classic encourages the responsible consumption of alcohol by all road users. If you plan on being a drunk idiot, please do a different ride.