Ready to ride

A FLOOD of lycra will pour through Gippsland in November when more than 4000 cyclists saturate the region as part of this year’s Great Victorian Bike Ride, the world’s biggest fully supported week-long bike ride.

The 2012 edition of the ride will act as a family holiday for Mark, Anne and Ainsley Verhagen, who will tackle the nine day, 591 kilometre adventure together for the first time, after Mark and Anne completed the event in 2010.

Seventeen year-old Ainsley said she was excited to embark on her maiden GVBR, which this year will tour the Grand Ridge Road, snake through the Strzelecki Ranges and coastline, and climax with a Phillip Island finale.

“I’m really looking forward to it; I can’t wait to be riding alongside the beaches and Phillip Island will be really nice,” Ainsley said.

“I’ve only ever heard really good things about it and people have always said that it’s been a really good experience and I like a challenge so I thought that I should give it a go, I’ve got nothing to lose.”

The Hernes Oak family have upgraded to racing bikes since 2010 and have been sporadically training for the event together, with rides to Narracan, Yallourn North and Trafalgar to date, perpetuating an occasional Verhagen tradition.

“Growing up we would always go on bike rides so it’s always been there,” Ainsley said.

Mark and Ainsley said they were motivated by fun and fitness for the event, but Anne has another reason to ride after missing out on a similar cycling trip as a Navy cadet in her youth.

“For me it was something I always wanted to do, it was sort of on the bucket list,” Anne said.

“I can’t wait to get back into the atmosphere of it; everyone is so friendly on the ride and it’s supported with the WARBYs (We Are Right Behind You) along the way so if you have any problems there is always help.”

Mark, who is considering tackling the 120km challenge day, said while the event caters to all levels of cyclists, preparation was essential.

“You need to be fit but you don’t need to be a marathon runner to do the ride,” he said.

“You have to train; anyone who doesn’t train for this ride will be in trouble.

“You just need to be bike fit; you have to be used to having your bum in the seat and pedaling for a number of hours on end.”

Among the Verhagen tips for first timers was to get accustomed to camping before the event, an often overlooked element of the ride according to Mark.

“The whole tenting this is completely different, you have be aware that you will get dirty and you’ll possibly get wet at night.”

The GVBR starts in Lakes Entrance on 24 November with overnight stops planned for Bruthen, Briagolong, Rosedale, Traralgon (for two nights 27 and 28 November), Yarragon, Mirboo North and San Remo with a finish on Phillip Island.

For more information on the GVBR visit or phone 1800 616 600.