Last week we wrapped up the 35th edition of the Great Vic Bike Ride after nine fabulous days of riding from the mountains to the Murray.
The journey started in lush and chilly Bright and traversed a scenic, breezy and hilly route through the very best riding conditions in Victoria's North East. We tackled the Mt Stanley climb on the first day, set up camp in Beechworth for two nights, listened to Opera in Millawa, indulged in cheese and wine at local wineries and breweries and were greeted with a street festival in Tallangatta.
We did all this and more before we made it to Rutherglen where a well-earned rest was waiting after a 102 kilometre day on the bike.
Things got a little wet upon arrival in Rutherglen when the heavens opened up (and the golf course sprinklers provided a rude awakening for some campers), but spirits were not dampened, and a sunny rest day was enjoyed by all at camp and in town the next day.
In true Great Vic fashion, the weather was a mixed bag from start to finish. We had freezing nights, foggy mornings, beaming sun and hail storms. We had a very hot, sunny and dusty day in Yarrawonga on Friday, but by Sunday the rain was back as we rolled into Benalla from Glenrowan.
Over the nine days, more than 3,000 riders travelled 541 kilometres, stayed at six different campsites and visited many more towns, wineries, shops, cafes, bakeries and pubs.
Of the 3,000+ riders that celebrated the 35th Great Vic, some were first timers and some were riding for the 35th time. Some rode for three days, some for five and some for nine. Some impressive children as young as 7 years old rode the whole nine days with their families, while some equally impressive 80-year-olds kept them on their toes.
Most people rode on 2-wheels..
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Some people used less conventional machines..
And one person rode on one wheel the entire way!
This is what makes the Great Vic so great.
Bicycle Network General Manager of Events Rebecca Lane was excited about another successful year where everyone was on a riding induced high.
“We have experienced challenging hills, stunning scenery as well as great weather with lots of sunny days, and we’ve done it all with 3,000 new and old friends”, said Bec.
“One highlight that needs to be experienced to be appreciated is the community spirit of thousands of people intent on having a good time,” said Ms Lane. “From toddlers to riders over 80 years of age it’s an amazing active holiday”.
“We thank the local North East and Murray River communities for their tremendous support, as well as the 300 volunteers and 150 support staff,” she added.
For those who haven’t experienced the Great Vic, it is hard to put in to words the feeling of festivity and camaraderie that quickly blankets the troop – most of whom are strangers at the start.
When several thousand bike riders get together for varying reasons – from health to fun, for tradition or on holiday – the event becomes a mobile city that rolls around the region, and the community spirit from participants and the townships that welcome them is something truly special.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the help of over 350 volunteers who help squeeze the mobile city into several semi-trailers early each morning and set up camp at a new location. From on route assistance, to catering and all other campsite facilities, we’re so lucky to have such an amazing team of volunteers carrying on the tradition which they started 35 years ago.
We hope everyone enjoyed the 2018 Great Vic Bike Ride as much as we did, and look forward to seeing everyone in 2019 when we travel from the Limestone Coast in SA to the Great Ocean Road on our greatest Great Vic yet!