THE big names and big numbers turned out for last Saturday’s Bass Coast Cycle Challenge, the best ever with entries jumping from 400 to 700 on the back of a massive increase in cycling participation.
And among the record number of riders for the sixth edition of the challenge, starting and finishing at Inverloch, was Australian cycling legend, Phil Anderson, the first non-European to wear the maillot jaune, SBS commentator Dave McKenzie and Australia’s current hand cycle race and time trial champion for class H3, Alex Welsh.
“Over 700 riders took part in the four key rides, with hundreds pounding the pavement in the fun run and taking part in other festival activities run by the Lions Club, such as billy cart races, bike decorating and skate/BMX competitions,” said event director and founder of the Bass Coast Cycle Challenge and Festival, Gavin Slavin.
Delighted with the rise in participation levels, he said the event was also well received and well-supported by the local community.
“Our entrant numbers are increasing every year, attracting local and international participants, some from as far away as Canada.”
With proceeds from the cycling event funding in-school courses which arm the next generation with life-saving road and driver knowledge, Slavin believes this is a driving force behind the event’s success and ongoing support from the local community.
“Proceeds from the riding event provide the opportunity for school kids to receive a fantastic driver education cycling awareness program called RYDA (Rotary Youth Driver Awareness) run by a not-for-profit-organisation, Road Safety Education Australia.
“Support for this event over the past few years has enabled us to fund over 1500 secondary school students from the South Gippsland and Bass Coast areas, to take part in the RYDA Road Safety Education… where they learn knowledge and skills which they will retain for life, and pass onto others too.”
The RYDA program is one of the road safety initiatives in Victoria that have contributed to the number of young people killed in road crashes falling by 48% over the past decade.
Tour de France veteran, Phil Anderson praised the running of the event after crossing the line in the 121km event, also remarking on the beauty of the rural countryside and coast.
According to the first across the line for the longest ride of 121km, David Gafa of Traralgon, this is an event which the community can be proud.
“This is a great ride and event … I’m proud of the event that has been created …. Well done to all involved,” said Gafa, who crossed the line in a super-fast time of 3:42:59.
He was closely followed by Rob Lewis of St Kilda and Harry McLean of the Leongatha Cycling Club, at the head of a strong contingent from the Leongatha club including Ollie McLean, Leigh Stott, Kevin Feely and others.
Slavin said the event would not have been possible with the support of some key people and groups.
“The community really rally behind this event to make it a success, the Lions Club, our incredible volunteers, sponsors, local businesses, our local schools. It goes to show how important the road safety message is for our community.”
The 2017 Bass Coast Cycle Challenge will be held next November with more details to be found at www.basscoastcyclechallenge.com
Anderson applauds our cycling classic