By Sam Watson

IN NOVEMBER, two members of the Gippy Gourmet Cyclists, Jean O’Loughlin and Jen Neille, will be taking part in the Great Vic Bike Ride.

The two first met in November last year after Neille posted on a variety of local community Facebook groups to see if anyone was interested in doing some social bike riding.

When she first posted in the community groups, Neille, who had only been in Korumburra for around 18 months, got a massive response from locals keen to get on their bikes.

So, a planning committee, which included O’Loughlin, was formed and after their first meeting at the Middle Pub in Korumburra, the Gippy Gourmet Cyclists was born.

Since their formation, they’ve ridden along the Bass Coast and Grand Ridge Rail Trails, as well as rides between Meeniyan, Fish Creek, Leongatha and plenty of other locations.

And they always try to make sure there’s something to do along the way.

They often stop at local cafes or restaurants which O’Loughlin said always makes the ride a bit more enjoyable.

“We like to refer to it as a little bit of socialise, a little bit of exercise,” O’Loughlin said.

And there are real benefits with everything they do.

“Not only are we getting out and exercising and increasing our fitness, but we’re also getting to socialise and network with people in the local area.

“A lot of them are people that have moved to the area in the last 12 months to five years, so it’s a really nice networking opportunity.

“And at the same time, we get to explore all these amazing places that are just on our doorstep.

“We’ve got all these beautiful little pockets, we’re just so fortunate in the area that we live in.

“There’s so many amazing to explore and what better way to do it than on bike?”

Numbers in the Facebook group have ballooned to 75 since it was first created, and it features people from all over the South Gippsland and Bass Coast region.

They even held a maintenance workshop with John Kennedy at the Bicycle Fitting Store in Korumburra, which was received well by the group.

And they’re hoping to hold more of those down the track as well.

O’Loughlin, who lives in Inverloch, said her inclusion in the group is what spurred her on to have a crack at the Great Vic Bike Ride.

“Obviously, improving my fitness and getting out and riding a bit more made me think I could do the Great Vic Bike Ride, which has been on the bucket list for many years.”

O’Loughlin is hoping she’ll be in peak condition when the 37th annual Great Vic Bike Ride starts on Saturday, November 27.

“Hopefully, we can do a few more social rides with the group to increase the fitness level,” O’Loughlin said.

“But I’m prepared to give it a go and give it my best shot, and I’m sure I’ll have great support along the way as well.”

The bike ride, which spans over nine days, will start in Rainbow and will include stops at Brim, Horsham, Halls Hap, Dunkeld, Pomonal and finish at Great Western.

If all goes to plan, O’Loughlin and Neille will be two of around 3000 people from across Australia who will complete the 537km route.

Along the way they’ll witness unrivalled views of the Grampians National Park, including the beautiful art silos of Australia’s largest outdoor gallery.

To get through to the final day on Sunday, December 5, and to make sure it’s an enjoyable ride, O’Loughlin said she’ll definitely “ramp up” her preparation over the next few months.