More than 8,000 bike riders have braved a mixture of warm but windy conditions to complete the 27th United Energy Around the Bay today.
When the 300km ride, the first of nine separate ride options, set off from the event village at Albert Park at 5:15am a stiff north-westerly wind was blowing, giving hope of a tail wind as they rode to Geelong and Quenscliff.
However, seasoned cyclists will tell you it’s never that simple and, sure enough, the wind was unpredictable and sometimes coming head-on. It teased participants of all the long-distance rides.
As the sun rose and the 50km and 20km rides departed Albert Park the wind was still blowing, but it didn’t stop families and first-time riders from having the best day on the bike. Spirits were high and rest stops at Williamstown and Elwood were pumping.
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When 300km, 250km and 210km riders boarded ferries at Queenscliff with sandwiches in hand they were pleased to be able to have a rest, knowing that the weather was about to get warmer, and not knowing what the wind was going to do.
The weather was worth it though, with beautiful coastal riding around Arthurs Seat, Flinders and Mount Martha rewarding wearying legs.
— Bicycle Network (@bicycle_network) October 6, 2019
Back at the Albert Park event village children showed that big bike rides are not enough to tire them out by doing endless laps of the Ride2School obstacle course and begging for sky-high rides in the United Energy cherry pickers.
Parents might be pleased that there will be little trouble getting to sleep on the last night of school holidays.
The Clubhouse and Spokes Bar were buzzing as riders rehydrated with Albert Park lake and the city skyline sparkling in the background. Live music and a DJ added extra entertainment.
Bicycle Network spokesperson Anthea Hargreaves said it was amazing to see to so many riders of different ages and abilities come together to celebrate bike riding.
“Some riders were going around for the 27th year in a row and others for the first time before they’ve even started school, but the testing weather didn’t stop anyone from having a brilliant day out,” said Ms Hargreaves.
“The spirit of the Around the Bay shone through all day, from individual riders helping each other out to teams enjoying a laugh after a tough ride.”
The teams award was again won by Toyota TACT for having the most members of any team, led by captain Carlo D'Angelo.
Riding for a reason
Official event charity partner The Smith Family were not forgotten about, with many teams and individuals riding to raise money for disadvantaged young Australians.
United Energy Around the Bay aims to raise $600,000 for The Smith Family in 2019 and donations were made at the event village and are still available online.
The Smith Family’s Victorian general manager Anton Leschen said money raised by riders would assist in providing school books, uniforms and shoes, and access to out-of-school learning and mentoring programs.
Donations can still be made at aroundthebayfundraising.com.au.
— The Smith Family (@SmithFamily_org) October 6, 2019
Thank you to those who make it happen
Bicycle Network would like to make a very special mention to the people who make United Energy Around the Bay possible: the fantastic 400-strong team of volunteers.
Whether it's preparing gear for weeks before, setting up the village, marshalling or handing out lunch and snacks, we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you from the team and event participants.
Thank you also goes to event sponsors and partners United Energy, Winners and Moon Dog Brewing.