We had a great evening in Avoca, where we were treated to the best of the town’s hospitality—it may only be small in size, but it showed itself to be big in heart and community spirit.
There was plenty to enjoy on camp too, with a notable highlight being a visit from professional cyclist Simon Clarke, who entertained us at dinner with stories of his life and career. We like to claim Simon as one of our own, as he was ‘discovered’ as a primary school student on the RACV Great Vic, and has since gone on to a career including highlights such as holding the leaders jersey in the Giro d’Italia, winning the mountains classification of the Vuelta a Espana and much more.
As he did last year, Clarke was back again to spend a day riding with a school group. Sandringham College was the lucky party this year, enjoying an unforgettable day in the saddle with one of Australia’s most talented riders.
For the riders on the Great Vic, there was a fairly easy day’s riding of 68km from Avoca to Dunolly. However, the temperature slowly crept up during the course of the day on its way to a top of 34 degrees, adding a degree of difficulty and reinforcing the importance of adequate hydration and regularly-applied sunscreen.
Our journey took us through ironbark forests and olive groves, on flat or gently rolling roads, past curious horses and a farmer with a furry pig laconically watching the passing peloton. The lunch stop at Maryborough was a great demonstration of the economic benefit that this ride brings to communities along the route; in the air conditioned halls of the harness club, a local community group was doing a brisk trade in hot food and cold drinks.
After lunch, we were onto narrow gravel-verged roads through gum forests, proceeding on to Dunolly, our home for the night. It’s another small town of around a thousand inhabitants, but there’s a lot to do, with lawn bowls, a bush dance and live music. The town pool is doing a roaring trade, and hundreds of happy campers are checking out the town’s historic precinct with its museum, court house and town hall.
Tomorrow’s a big day, the longest of the event at 103km. But for now, that’s not a concern. Our canvas community is putting its feet up for the night, with heads full of happy memories and the enjoyment of the ride.
For pictures of the day, see Flickr.
Follow the ride live on Twitter: @bicycle_network #GreatVic