IN NOVEMBER around 3,000 cyclists will be heading to Victoria’s High Country for Australia’s biggest multi-day bike riding festival.
The Great Victorian Bike Ride is an annual event that takes different routes around Victoria every year. Now in its 35th year, the 2018 route starts in Bright and finishes in Benalla covering almost 450km.
Cyclists opt for a three, five or nine-day ride as part of the rolling bike festival, which stops at different towns every night.
And as well as the thousands of pedal pushers who sign up for a two-wheeled adventure, every year there are hundreds of volunteers who work behind the scenes to support the riders.
Ascot Vale accounts assistant Andrea Burgess, 49, has been volunteering on the Great Victorian Bike Ride since 2010.
The long-standing volunteer has worked with catering team and also the ‘happy helpers’ – an information team that answers riders’ questions.
This year she is on the volunteer support team, helping provide lunches for up to 300 volunteers on the ride.
UK-born Andrea said the best part of being a volunteer on the ride is being thanked.
“It’s a bit selfish, but I like being thanked. People don’t say thanks enough in real life but they certainly do on the Great Vic,” she said.
“The camaraderie on the event is fantastic.”
Sharing the volunteering journey with her is friend Sandra Portlock. “I call her my Aussie Mum as we have done eight rides together and I met her when I picked her up en route to my first ride in 2010.”
She said one of the best things about taking part in the event – run by Australia’s biggest bike-riding organisation, Bicycle Network – is that there are plenty of people around to help.
People don’t say thanks enough in real life but they certainly do on the Great Vic. The camaraderie on the event is fantastic.
“My advice for volunteers and riders coming on the event for the first time is to be open to trying anything, anywhere,” she said.
“You’ll never be alone, there is always someone else who can help you”.
Bicycle Network general manager of events Rebecca Lane said the contribution volunteers make is essential to atmosphere and success of the event.
“We will have over 3000 people enjoying the North East and Murray regions this year but without our volunteers, the Great Victorian Bike Ride wouldn’t happen, it’s that simple,” she said.
“It’s no surprise that research has shown that volunteers live happier and healthier lives – many of ours say that they get as much satisfaction and enjoyment from volunteering as they do riding.”
“As we celebrate the 35th year of the ride it’s also a time to thank the original volunteers from 1984 who planned and delivered the first Great Vic. All these years later, we still couldn’t do it without them”.
This year, volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs from catering through to entertainment, campsite and cafe.
The 2018 Great Vic offers the opportunity to travel around Victoria on a nine-day volunteering adventure.
Volunteers are provided with free transport, meals and accommodation.
Each day the volunteers travel to a new town, set up camp and help out more than 3000 riders.
About the bike ride
After beginning in 1984, Victoria’s biggest annual regional ride is now 35 years old. A rolling bike festival, it moves from one town to another every day.
This year the ride travels through the High Country from the Mountains to the Murray as participants pedal from Bright to Benalla.
There are nine, five and three-day ride options available.
The nine-day ride covers 541km. Starting in Bright and finishing in Benalla, riders will see both the peaks of the Alps and the flats near the Murray River, and everything in between.
The five-day ride goes from Bright to Rutherglen via Beechworth and Tallangatta and covers 339km.
At 202km the three-day ride is the perfect taster, joining the event at Rutherglen and riding through to Yarrawonga, Glenrowan and Benalla, riding along the mighty Murray.
- The Great Victorian Bike Ride is on from Saturday 24 November to Sunday 2 December 2018. For more information about volunteering call 1800 639 634 or visit greatvic.com.au