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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : April 22nd 2009
52 INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, April 23, 2009 MB TRAVEL The Great Victorian Bike Ride attracts 5000 cyclists riding 600km over nine days. Pictures: Fuse Photography Nine days on lycra trail XAVIER TOBY ON the shuttle bus to Ballarat a fellow cyclist commented: ''You'll get wet, sunburnt,cold and hot, but you'll meet some great people and have a fantastic time." Never have truer words been spoken about the fortunes of nearly 5000 cyclists who rode just under 600km over nine days. Every year the Great Victorian Bike Ride covers a different part of the state. This year it was western Victoria, starting and finishing in Ballarat. In 2007 it was Wilsons Promontory, while for 2009 it's the Great Ocean Rd, from Portland to Geelong. Day 1 was a relatively light - 53km into a slight headwind, stopping overnight in Rokewood. The small country town put on a market, art show and the Geelong Memorial Brass Band, among other activities for the riders. Although the same route is repeated every few years, the ride always stops at different towns along the route to share the benefits, and to give regular cyclists different towns and pubs to explore. Day 2 was the hardest of the trip and I battled strong headwinds and showers for 90km along with the other lycra-clad troopers. Those that couldn't make the distance were collected by the ''sag'' wagon, a mini-bus that transports those ''sagging'' behind to the next campsite. Riders of all shapes and abilities attempt the trek, from road cyclists who set a cracking pace, to families with toddlers in carriages or juniors on tandem bikes. There are several groups of friends on mountain bikes, school groups and this year there were even two lunatics who attempted the journey on unicycles. On Day 5 the headwinds abated, making for a comfortable ride into Halls Gap. Over the previous days the scenery had been dominated by yellow farmland and dry lakes, a constant reminder that the state was still in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record. Cycling through the Grampians was a visual highlight, while the other was the mass of cyclists - a spectacle many locals came out to appreciate. On Day 8 the ride stopped at Lake Bolac, where local Norm commented: ''It's probably not something I'll see again in my lifetime.'' In a cruel twist for Lake Bolac and thirsty riders, the pub's licence had been revoked only days beforehand, proving what Slim Dusty said about a pub with no beer. Lake Bolac was actually among the smallest towns on the trip. ''Only 140 inhabitants,'' Norm told me. ''Actually one dropped off overnight, so it's down to 139. Don't worry though, she was well past her use-by date.'' With so many riders, there were surprisingly few accidents apart from gentle collisions and slips at rest stops that were more embarrassing than anything. The safe trip no doubt due to careful route planning and assistance from marshals and police. The cost of the trip includes meals, and while the food was tasty and portions large enough, I couldn't get by without an extra meal every afternoon. The overall organisation of the ride was of a phenomenal standard with marquees, campsite and other services all set up at a different location by the early afternoon each day, thanks to the efforts of contractors and over 400 volunteers. The volunteers also helped out in many other areas including medical assistance, bike maintenance, route marshalling and luggage transportation. The 2009 Great Victorian Bike Ride will be from Saturday, November 28, to Sunday, December 6, over 546km along the Great Ocean Road. (www.greatvic.com.au) For those that can't wait though, the next ride is the 2009 Great Escapade in Western Australia from Saturday, March 28, to Sunday, April 5, over a 567km loop starting at Margaret River. 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April 15th 2009
April 29th 2009