My wife and I both grew up riding bikes, not competitively, but just as kids do. It was a great source of fun and independence.
It wasn’t however until the eldest of our three sons showed an interest in participating in the R.A.C.V. Energy Breakthrough at Maryborough that bikes once again became an important part of our lives. As he was required to complete a training diary of his riding and other exercises, we found ourselves at Harding’s bike shop on a regular basis.
That year we purchased three new bikes and the gear involved and my wife and I tried to convince our bodies that we still could ride after 30 years.
The next part of the journey occurred when we discovered the rail trails. Keen to help our son with his training and have some fun ourselves, we set off to Bright with four other families. Our optimistic goal was to complete the 91km ride to Wangaratta.
We enjoyed the beautiful scenery through the rolling plains of the Ovens Valley. The Gapstead cutting was a challenge with some of us having to walk up, but the roller coaster down the other side was so good that we had to load the bikes into the support vehicle, go back up and do it again.
Violent thunder storms at Everton stopped the ride for us that day as we sat in the support vehicles dripping wet. The kids still talk about that one.
Since then, son number two has also been involved at Maryborough, going on to Murray Bridge to become a member of the Australian Pedal Prix champions for their age group.
As a group of families, we have since ridden from Beechworth to Wangaratta (a ride we are going to repeat in late April); from Warburton to Mt Evelyn and back; Queenscliff to Drysdale return; and Dunolly to Moliagal and back.
The next adventure will be a suburban ride either on the Merri Creek or the Maribyrnong River. It goes without saying that at the end of each ride, a couple of drinks are had to celebrate our achievements and talk about the magnificent scenery this country has to offer especially along the old rail trails.
In some places, we were sure we could hear and smell the old steam trains that once plied these trails.
It is fantastic to see the bike paths around Bendigo improving. We have often ridden from Spring Gully to White Hills and back along the One Mile Creek and bike paths.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see the O’Keefe Trail upgraded and continued to Heathcote with a sealed surface and toilet facilities. Perhaps others would come to Bendigo as a bike riding adventure just as we do when we visit other parts of our state.