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Where To Bike Western and Northern Victoria

Posted February 27th, 2012

Craig Marshall and Sandra Lawrie, Authors of Where to Ride Western Victoria, have poured hundreds of hours into making it the regionsí definitive cycling guide.

Western Victoria provides a varied and fabulous environment for cyclists, from excellent beaches to spectacular mountains, from interesting towns to remote forests, and from easy to challenging riding. Featuring 75 great rides, including 25 kidsí rides, giving the youngest cyclists a chance to develop their skills in safe surroundings.

The book aims to introduce some of the many bike trails in and around the Grampians, Horsham, Murray River, Ballarat, the Central Highlands, Bendigo, Central Victoria, the Shipwreck and Surf Coasts, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula. The rides range from short rides, suitable for beginners or younger riders, to mountain bikes rides and longer bike trails that demand a reasonable degree of fitness and skill. Each of the rides described are rated to give a guide as to what to expect. There is also a location map and directions to help navigate you through the ride.

Compiling this guide to recreational rides in Western Victoria has been a thoroughly engaging experience for us. Itís not just the revisiting of rides we have done in the past or finding new rides that we think will be appealing. What we have come to realize is that this part of Australia has some truly wonderful places to ride a bike. The other thing that that we have found, which really shouldnít come as a surprise, is that plenty of other people think that to.

Cycling is becoming increasing popular and we have found riders of all ages, shapes and sizes out there on these fantastic roads, trails and paths. Local governments and other authorities are aware of this and the infrastructure being put in place to support cyclists in most of the towns we visited is very encouraging.

What is it about riding a bike?

Since the first rudimentary bicycle hit the road, cycling has had a special place in societies all around the world. At its most fundamental role, cycling was and still is a most efficient and affordable means of transport in many parts of the world. In Australia, this was the case up until 50 years ago, but even then cycling was so much more. It was romantic, it was for socialising, it was freedom it was exhilaration.

So has anything changed?

Well the bikes are high tech these days, but the riders are pretty much the same although we now choose to get out on the saddle. Unlike the cities, the countryside hasnít changed that much same although the roads are much better. There are of course far more cars everywhere you go except for the rail trails and paths, making them a haven for two wheels.

Importantly though, the same excitement about riding exists for everyone from the tiny tot on training wheels to the veteran using it so they donít loose it. Actually, when so much of the rest of our lives is sedentary, cycling is a great way to exercise in the fresh air with friends and families. And for those afraid of getting back on, it doesnít take too much effort to get from that initial sore backside and belief that youíre only good for 2 or 3 kilometres to doing that 50 fun ride and thinking about bigger things.
Cycling is just the best social way to exercise, which has been a fillip to our cafť society whose growth is as much about the popularity of cycling as it is about the addictive qualities of coffee.
Finally riding through the countryside, across ranges or out over the plains, you are constantly looking to where the sky meets the land. For some of us there grows a yearning to find out what is over that horizon; what inviting town, what bubbling stream, what tree-dotted valley. For some of us cycling brings out a sense of adventure and desire to explore.
Compiling this guide has reinvigorated that feeling in us and we have attempted to include rides that will do it for you, whether you are just starting or looking to go further.