The Great Victorian Bike Ride has been held in late November / early December every year since 1984. It is easily Australia’s biggest one week cycling holiday. This year’s GVBR has attracted a sell out 5,000 cyclists and over 500 volunteers and supporting crew. Only once in the last 17 years has there been a bigger one week ride in Australia. Bicycle Victoria’s Development Director, Nikki Tyler said: “It is a great year to be a part of this legendary bike ride as we ride the Great Ocean Road”.
The cycling holiday starts on Saturday 28 November with the first day as a loop ride from Portland to Cape Bridgewater and back to Portland. The ride ends in Geelong at Eastern Park on Sunday 6 December after 547kms. This year three local riders all first timers have linked to support Diabetes Australia Vic who is the charity partner of this year’s ride with the extra chore of fundraising. Deirdre has a target of $1600.00, Peter and Jane $1500.00.
Deirdre Thorn works as a diabetes educator and appreciates the value of the initiatives of Diabetes Australia with the dream of one day seeing a cure. Deirdre a newly initiated cyclist has taken on cycling to reduce the risks of diabetes and increase her quality of life.
Yes this is her first GVBR and a long time out of the saddle from childhood experience. Deirdre has been diligently keeping a training diary on her blog everydayheropage which starts when she got her bike in June. It is a great journey and a huge learning curve, but has benefited meeting many awesome cyclists along the way.
Deirdre admits to never being at the front of the bunch (slow seems to be my speed she comments). Deirdre has been learning not only how to ride in a bunch but other complicated issues like gears….. (when to change them etc) cadence (still not mastered this could be the fact that maths was involved) and much more. For Deirdre her inspiration comes from the many individuals and families that face the challenges of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes every single day.
Learning to ride her bike, building fitness, overcoming fears of speed, falling off, camping and surviving Lavers Hill; all pale into insignificance compared to their perseverance and love of life. These in Deirdre’s book are the true hero’s. While cycling requires planning people with diabetes also require management plans to assist them gain the best possible quality of life.
Deirdre is also part of a St John of God Hospital Bendigo GVBR team which has eight riders and the hospital encourages this healthy imitative. Most of the other riders are accomplished riders so she will not actually ride with them but is confident they will look after her.
After deciding to embark on their first GVBR Peter and Jane Nicolson were pleased to discover the opportunity to support Diabetes Australia Vic, ten years ago their daughter Kelly was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes. Starting in Portland, the birth place of their two children, Jye and Kelly the ride overnights at Macarthur, Jane’s mother’s home town and where she first met Jane’s father. (They have been married now for 55yrs). The next stop is Port Fairy, where Peter’s family spent holidays, and of course who could resist the Great Ocean Road, and what a fantastic chance to ride a section of it closed off to other traffic.
Jane fears their training is running out of time!!! It could be however, after being bitten by the cycling bug and three bikes and several thousand kilometres later she is really on track and enjoying the whole experience and journey. Getting themselves reasonably fit was the first of their hurdles and now it is establishing endurance and time in the saddle. Peter and Jane are both a little concerned about Lavers Hill but see this as just another challenge to work on. Jane in particular has found cycling fun and enjoyable. Both are in their fifties and it has been an excellent experience for renewed energy and focus on their own health and well being and heightened sense of enjoyment, something they would recommend to all ages. (How quickly they have forgotten the aches and pains of falling off, the stray dogs chasing them, magpies swooping and now the snakes are out and about!!).
See you on the road soon God willing