“Rediscover the Goldfields” and discover you like bike riding!

The Great Victorian Bike Ride is a fantastic cycling and camping adventure, which I am fortunate to have recently shared with my eleven year old son, Luke. We had spent years talking about completing it, months planning and training however nothing could have prepared us for the experience of riding and camping with 3000 other cycling enthusiasts.

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Luke ready to hit the road

As we arrived on Day 1 in Ballarat, I was amazed by the number of people, bikes, tents and portable toilets at the campsite which was to be our home for the first night. Feeling a little overwhelmed, we unloaded our luggage, found a site for our tent and set up camp. Each campsite along the ride is located on local community recreation reserves and were set up daily to accommodate the riders. The camps have dedicated areas for camping, portable showers and toilets, drinking water, a large food/dining tent, a main stage for nightly entertainment, a big screen for movies and a street with various “shops”. It took no time at all to settle into our “home” for the week.

Each day started by being woken by the sounds of the first airbeds being deflated at 5.15am. We followed this trend and were usually dressed, with our tents packed up and in the line for breakfast by 6am. It was in these cues and sitting in the meals tent, that you met some wonderful people and heard some amazing stories. There were people of all different abilities on a wide variety of bikes completing the ride; each with a story to tell. These shared moments added to the atmosphere and strong camaraderie felt amongst the riders.

We were on the road by 7.30am daily after loading our luggage and tent on the transport trucks and preparing our bikes for the day ahead. The first section of the ride each day was always congested until the morning rest stop, which required a lot of concentration and communication to ensure safety on the road. We became confident in using and hearing calls such as ‘passing’, ‘slowing’ and ‘stopping’ which had been foreign to both of us before the ride. After the morning stop, the riders thinned out as you could settle into a comfortable pace, enjoy the scenery and have a chat with fellow riders. We usually arrived for an early lunch by 11am and the destination by 1.30pm in the afternoon.

On arriving at the new campsite in the heat of the day and after we had just finished riding 70+ km, we had to find our luggage and set up the tents and beds for the night. It was during these moments I found my patience had worn a little thin, however once this was done we would treat ourselves to a slushy from the camp street, head to the local pool and explore the sites of the town. The local towns did a marvelous job in showcasing their local products and tourist attractions. We visited many a market, tasted some wonderful local food and even enjoyed a local wine or two!

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The girls enjoying a well earned glass of wine at the end of the day

During the nine days, I found that both Luke and I became more confident and comfortable with the riding. We had undertaken many training rides however these were only in good weather and never in a group. The first few days of riding were on open roads with hot, head winds. I began to admire Luke’s determination during these days as he always had the end goal in mind and kept on peddling. Lots of lollies helped as well! The final few days of riding provided plenty of variety with some challenging hills. We really enjoyed these days and Luke certainly found his strength going up the hills and I found mine going down!

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Kicking back after a hard day riding

I am very fortunate to have shared this wonderful experience with Luke, and am very proud of his effort, determination and hard work during the week. I also want to thank Jo, Kylie, Jez, Isaac and Susan for showing us the ropes and sharing this adventure with us and Osteohealth for their expert knowledge, advice and support in all things cycling. I would recommend completing the Great Victorian Bike Ride for any cycling enthusiast and I can’t wait to enter again this year!

– Marnie Lowry