Held on the March Labour Day long weekend, The Hotham Challenge Ride and Dinner Plain Festival of Cycling reached new highs and lows in its fifth year.
A mix of return and new riders from both Victoria and interstate¬†mingled at registration on Saturday morning, keen to get into the coaching clinic with the team from Ridewiser before testing their new skills on the road.
Most of the group warmed up their legs with a ride down to Hotham Airport, while the more adventurous signed up to a new ride and descended down to the Kosciuszko Lookout on the way to Omeo ‚Äď the lowest descent for the first day of the festival. A little cloud and cooler temperatures were the perfect conditions for riding. There were lots of tired but happy faces after this 73km ride, a new leg just introduced this year to the weekend program.
At Rundells Alpine Lodge on¬†Saturday night, the¬†official dinner welcomed all participants and Rob Crowe from Ridewiser, a former Olympic cyclist,¬†gave an inspirational talk on how not to ride ‚Äď outlining the most memorable crashes of his career.
Sunday morning looked promising as riders lined up at the start line. The riders were a vision of white with red spots in their official Hotham Challenge Ride kit - bibs, jersey and arm warmers.¬† In this event, everyone can be their own King of the Mountain.
The rain clouds of last year were nowhere to be seen so¬†off they went, descending to their chosen point of Buckland Gate, Harrietville¬†or Bright. As riders approached Hotham they could see an ominous fog lingering on the mountain and as they passed the Summit and continued down towards Bright, heavy rain conditions worsened and the ride was cancelled in the interests of¬†rider safety due to the volume of water on the road. So instead of an arduous climb, riders were able ride back up Hotham with fresher legs than normal, and spend the afternoon in the warmth of Rundells, enjoying a gourmet¬†BBQ and watching as the weather got worse and worse.
By Monday morning the skies had cleared and riders were eager to stretch their legs on the ride to the Blue Duck Inn. A fast pace was set and the group made it there in record time, rewarded with a well earned¬†lunch and¬†the pristine surrounds of the river at Anglers Rest.
Many are looking forward to completing the Hotham Challenge Ride next year and event organisers are already buttering up Mother Nature in the hope that next year she holds off the rain and gives us clear blue skies! Stay tuned for ride details, bigger, better, more ride options... bring on 2012!
Pic: Andrew McKendry from Brisbane, Will Fry from Sydney and Steve Brown from Melbourne all set to¬†ride to The Blue Duck Inn
16 March 2011