Cycling accolades for Victoria
While Cadel made his mark on the global cycling stage with his win of the 2011 Tour de France last month, Melbourne and Victoria have likewise taken their place on top of the cycling podium.
Melbourne has been acknowledged as one of the world’s top cycling cities, securing the title of ‘Bike City’ from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) -the international governing body for sports cycling – to become only the second city after Copenhagen to receive the prestigious designation. Criteria for the label include the international standing of the city and its active commitment to develop cycling, such as organisation of cycling events across various disciplines, provision of cycle tracks and other quality facilities.
The announcement coincided with the launch of Victoria’s Cycle Tourism Action Plan 2011-2015 by the Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Louise Asher. The first of its kind in Australia, the plan draws on Victoria’s natural strengths to position Melbourne and Victoria as the premier cycle tourism destination in Australia.
Melbourne is, as the ‘Bike City’ label suggests, a bike-friendly city: it offers a Metropolitan Trail Network spanning 1,200 kilometres (existing and proposed trails), an extensive network of bike paths, a bike hire scheme and a growing number of cycling tours. The city’s major events calendar also regularly boasts both national and international cycling events with UCI Track Cycling Championships to be held in Melbourne 4-8 April 2012.
Beyond the city, Victoria’s natural landscapes, varied terrain and climate provide for an almost endless array of cycling options from mountain biking and road cycling to leisurely rail trails, bike paths and cycling events. What’s more, the heady concentration of regional food and wine offerings, quality accommodation and villages scatted throughout the state, mean that you’re never far from a well-brewed coffee, fabulous regional fare or a convivial place to rest up.
Some of the most popular cycling trails include the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail (Wangaratta to Bright); Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail (from outer Melbourne to the Yarra Valley region); Great Southern Rail Trail (Leongatha to Foster), and the Bellarine Peninsula Rail Trail (South Geelong to Queenscliff) - each attracts visitors from near and far to cycle through spectacular scenery dispersed with tempting gourmet delights along the way.
Home turf for the region’s official ambassador, Cadel Evens, the Bellarine Peninsula Geelong and Great Ocean Road offer not only delightful rail trails but also road cycling on Victoria’s most iconic coastal drive, challenging mountain biking in the Great Otway National Park with 40km of purpose-built tracks at Forrest; and numerous popular cycling events. More heart-pumping mountain bike action is to be had at Lysterfield Mountain Bike Park (Yarra Valley) and on the new Goldfields Track.
Victoria hosts a variety of major cycling events that attract local, interstate and international participants, including: the 3 Peaks Challenge, a European-style road cycling event in Victoria’s stunning alpine region – arguably one of the most challenging and rewarding cycling experiences in Australia; the Audax Alpine Classic; the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Australia’s oldest stage race and the Great Victorian Bike Ride.