GEELONG, AUSTRALIA during the Elite Men's Road Race at the 2016 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 31, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images for 2016 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road)
Elite cyclists from all over the globe descended on Melbourne and Geelong to compete in Towards Zero Race Melbourne (26 January, 2017) and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (26 – 29 January, 2017).
Tour de France winner Chris Froome – along with some of the world’s best male and female cyclists – raced around Melbourne’s Australian Formula 1™ Grand Prix track at Albert Park in Victoria’s newest major cycling event Towards Zero Race Melbourne. As well as showcasing some of the world’s best cycling action up close, Towards Zero Race Melbourne included a range of family activities that encouraged active living and a love of cycling.
Following the fast pace of the Melbourne race, lycra-lovers then headed to Geelong’s waterfront for the weekend to watch or participate in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Taking place across the weekend, the event included the Men’s and Women’s Elite races, a People’s Ride that will enable amateurs to tackle 65km or 111km of the course alongside Cadel Evans himself, and a Family Ride.
Whether keen to spectate or sweat it out themselves, there are many ways competitive or casual cyclists can experience Victoria on two wheels. Be it participating in races, watching friends compete or hitting a trail for a casual weekend ride, the state’s cycling events, tracks and trails are world-class.
Upcoming cycling events
From off-road competitions on rugged bush trails to urban night rides in support of charity, these upcoming cycling events offer something for everyone – from competitive cyclists to casual peddlers and avid armchair fans who would rather spectate than sweat:
RACV Great Ocean and Otway Classic Ride (18 March, 2017) is one of Australia’s premier cycling events. The 145km ride features more than 80km of road closures through the picturesque farmlands of the Otway ranges to Lorne and then back along the famous Great Ocean Road to Torquay. With distance options ranging from 30km – 200km, riders of varying fitness and experience levels can enjoy one of the most beautiful drives in the world, on two wheels.
After 30 years, the Murray to Moyne (1 – 2 April, 2017) event continues to bring people together to raise funds for hospitals and health services throughout Victoria. As a team relay, this event is a great way for groups of friends, workmates, or family members to get together and ride from the Murray River south to the Moyne River in Port Fairy in support of a great cause.
A Bicycle Network initiative to get more women on bikes, The Ascent (23 April, 2017) is a ride through Victoria’s picturesque Yarra Ranges. With varying route options ranging from 40km – 100km, cyclists can ride comfortably at their competency, fitness and enthusiasm levels.
Known as Australia’s ultimate alpine ascent challenge, the Seven Peaks Ride (14 October, 2016 – 31 March, 2017) is an at-your-own pace cycling challenge for experienced mountain bikers unafraid of a physical challenge. With some of Victoria’s most infamous peaks on the challenge list (including Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Lake Mountain), participants are given a little over five months to tick off the peaks they climb in their official Seven Peaks Passport.
Great Cycling Trails
Outside of these events, Victoria’s riding tracks and trails give cyclists of all abilities a chance to experience the great outdoors from the saddle. From the spectacular vistas of the High Country to the coastal charms of the Bellarine Peninsula, these trails are among Victoria’s best:
A favourite with foodies and wine lovers, the vineyards, orchards and groves of the High Country provide a picturesque backdrop for a cycling jaunt in nature. With gentle, short rides ideal for people new to cycling, and longer rides for the more ambitious, the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is made up of a range of rides from 5km – 24km long. Whether cyclists stop for a picnic in a meadow or ride right into a microbrewery for lunch, this corner of Victoria has every food, wine and beer base covered.
The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is a well-maintained 40km trail perfect for recreational cyclists and weekend riders. Riding past farmland and forest, cyclists also encounter restored bridges, small townships and historic stock yards on this iconic trail. Ideal for everyone from nature lovers to birdwatchers, cyclists can stop for a picnic in a wildflower-filled pasture, scout out a sausage roll at a local bakery or enjoy a sit-down lunch at a cafe. Either way, this trail is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace.
The Great Southern Rail Trail gives cyclists a chance to be immersed in nature. This 72km trail located in South Gippsland, provides plenty of opportunities for bird watching and native animal spotting. From impressive tree ferns to iconic gumtree glades, the trail is also home to a wide range of botanical life. While a long ride, it can be broken up into smaller sections, making the trail more manageable for children or beginners.
Spanning from South Geelong to Queenscliff, the Bellarine Rail Trail is a 32.5km gravel trail showcasing the very best of the Bellarine Peninsula. A favourite with locals and a popular weekend destination for Melburnians, this part of Victoria is home to wineries, beaches and beautiful landscapes – all visible from the trail itself. From families with young children to lycra-clad veterans, all types of bike riders can be found enjoying this popular trail.
The Goldfield’s Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail is 53km long with a gentle gradient that follows the old rail line that has been resurfaced and upgraded for cyclists, walkers and runners. With farmland, bushland, rest stops and small, heritage-filled towns dotted along the way, cyclists of all experience levels can take their time on the trail, going at a pace that suits them, stopping where and when they like. With plenty of accommodation and dining options along the way, it’s ideal for a multi-day cycling adventure.