THOUSANDS of bike riders will descend on the North East and Murray regions for the start of the 35th annual Great Victorian Bike Ride today.
More than 3000 bike riders will cover some or part of the 541-kilometre journey from Bright to Benalla via Rutherglen over nine days.
Bicycle Network, Victoria Police, VicRoads and local councils have alerted road users to be aware of the extra bike traffic, changed traffic conditions and extended travel times.
Bicycle Network general manager – events, Rebecca Lane, said road users would notice the extra bike riders and asked them to be mindful on the roads.
“Bicycle Network is working with local authorities including councils and Victoria Police to implement a number of changes to traffic conditions to minimise the risks for all road users,” she said.
“With more than 3000 bike riders, including over 1200 school students taking part in the event we do ask other road users to plan ahead and allow extra time if they need to travel on the route.”
It has been four years since the ride last visited parts of the North East and Murray route.
“The bike riders range from toddlers being towed in trailers to over 80 years of age,” Ms Lane said.
“Some will be very experienced bike riders while others will be saddling up for their first Great Vic. They will stretch along the road for up to 50 kilometres each day.”
A Bicycle Network spokesman said riders spent between $20 and $40 a day, injecting about $90,000 into local communities daily.
“More than 60 per cent of riders say they will return to the region the event visits within the next 12 months, and almost 50 per cent of those said they would bring an additional guest with them,” he said.
Destination Rutherglen executive officer Alex Campbell said the community looked forward to showcasing Rutherglen to the riders during their rest day on Thursday.
“We will have a waterslide for the school groups in Apex Park, Apex is having grape stomp and Rotary and Lions are doing all-day barbecues,” she said.
There will be guided canoe trips finishing at St Leonards Winery, barefoot bowls at Rutherglen Bowling Club, Landcare tours, shuttle buses around wineries and yoga and massage at The Convent.
The ride ends at Benalla on December 2.