It takes a few days for riders to get into the swing of things, but by day five, the system’s pretty much sorted; bags packed, tents folded, and on the road. After a big day in the saddle yesterday, our riders were eager to get underway to Bendigo, where the tantalising prospect of a rest day awaited.
After a few spatters of rain overnight, the skies were again clear for the morning start, making for a brisk beginning. Just out of Inglewood, the route passed through Bridgewater-on-Loddon, a small town with an excellent bakery that was doing a roaring trade. Then it was north through a lovely little vineyard, and east along a straight, long gravel-verged road, with farms to either side.
With a gusty crosswind, it was at times tough going, but just as they’re getting the hang of camping, our riders are also learning about riding in a bunch, and were working together well for maximum aerodynamic efficiency.
This skill was put to even greater use when, soon after the first rest stop, we turned into a headwind that would slow our progress all the rest of the way to Bendigo. The behaviour of the riders has been exemplary this year, and today was a fine demonstration of the bike control and courtesy that has typified the 2015 RACV Great Vic.
Lunch was outside a tiny hall tucked among some gum trees, another little piece of the community to be invigorated by the passage of the event. The ride continued past four-legged spectators of the bovine and equine variety, with horses running along fence lines keeping pace with the riders.
From lunch, the road tilted almost imperceptibly upward, which meant some much appreciated, shorter but steeper descents on the outskirts of Bendigo. It’s been amazing seeing the way that the towns get behind the RACV Great Vic; coming into town, riders were greeted by a class of primary school students waving and cheering in welcome.
We’re camping for the next two nights on the local footy oval, and have much to look forward to over our time in Bendigo. After Avoca, Dunolly and Inglewood, it feels enormous – and, in fact, as the fourth largest inland city in Australia, it’s pretty sizeable full stop. For our five-day riders, this is where we say goodbye, after 322km. For our three-day riders, this is where we say hello. And for our nine-day riders, there’s the opportunity to explore the city’s arts district, historic architecture, parklands and food scene. It’s bound to be a relaxing and enjoyable visit, with happy memories to add to the enjoyable time in the saddle so far.
For pictures of the day, see Flickr.
Follow the ride live on Twitter: @bicycle_network #GreatVic