BE UNDER no illusions – Ballarat’s elite cyclists say there is a strong bike culture in this town than most people realised. Most are out riding early or later in the day and you will tend to find them on quieter back roads about the region.
And most are willing to offer support and advice.
Professional cyclists Liam and Nick White, cyclist-turned commentator Pat Shaw and cycling technology expert Shane Miller say Ballarat Cycle Classic is a great chance to go for a ride and experience this culture.
All four are ambassadors for the event on Sunday and, while they are used to tackling the Mount Buninyong climb in competition, they say the Classic events are all about having a go.
“This is a great chance to get out with the kids and show this is a safe and acceptable mode of transport and a safe, acceptable way to be healthy,” Shaw said.
Ballarat Cycle Classic is the major fundraiser for the homegrown Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.
Miller, a multiple Australian masters time trial champion, said the focus was on participation and enjoying the atmosphere rather than pace. He stopped for a coffee break about halfway through the ride last year and took time to enjoy the spectacle of everyone riding past before rejoining them.
Marshals are out in force on course for support, there are roving bike mechanics and support cars carrying extra tubes.
Miller said there were always lots of people to talk to and those cheering you on along the way.
Cyclists can sign up for 50-kilometre, 60km, 85km and 100km road rides. All start and finish in the event village by Lake Wendouree and attack the Mount Buninyong nationals climb.
Casual riders or families can set out of the lake ride, taking in laps of the lake with 2.5 hours’ riding time.
Liam and Nick, the Australian under-23 road race champion, will be contesting the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic this weekend but hoped to see lots of rides on Ballarat streets helping to raise money for cancer research.
Shaw, who will emcee the event, said more than a decade of consistent Ballarat achievers and exciting talent, like the Whites, had helped to inspire a lot more people to get on their bikes. In turn he said this encouraged younger generations to take up riding more.
This was starting to show, particularly in events like Ballarat Cycle Classic.
Mountain biking, a pet-friendly walk and run, family activities and a vibrant village scene are also on offer on Sunday.
For details, or to register:ballaratcycleclassic.com.au.
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