Rutherglen made a fantastic impression on thousands of peddlers as the 524km Great Victorian Bike Ride drew to a close for another year.
This year the ride began in Bright and finished at Benalla, while Rutherglen was picked as the rest day which proved to be a massive benefit to the town.
It was the first time the bike ride visited Rutherglen since it started at the town in 2001.
Local community groups were well organised for the influx of riders, hosting and providing many activities for the riders to enjoy on their day off. Rutherglen was left with a fantastic reputation.
“There was a recognition that the town had made a real effort compared to what other towns have previously done on rest days in previous years,” Destination Rutherglen Executive Officer Alexandra Campbell told The Free Press.
“Community groups reported selling out of stock, Main Street businesses did excellent trade and wineries reported increased traffic at cellar doors.”
Indigo Shire Manager Tourism Susannah Doyle told The Free Press it was great to have so many visitors to Rutherglen at once, particularly from a major event.
“The rest day in Rutherglen provided the community and local businesses the opportunity to showcase a whole range of attractions and experiences, to relaxed riders with a whole day to spend exploring, indulging or just chilling out,” she said.
“The community and local community groups were well organised and provided a host of activities for the riders; water slide, swimming pool, canoes on the lake, walking tours, winery shuttles, bike hire, shopping, cafes, pubs and more.
“Local community groups and local retailers reported strong sales in the Main Street traders and pop up stalls at the show ground. The pop up Information Centre was flat out providing ‘what’s on’ information and lots of ‘return visit’ information.
“Local accommodation reported good bookings from riders enjoying a night or two of luxury and a break from camping.”
Ms Campbell said there was a great buzz around town.
“Rutherglen welcomed the cyclists with open arms and it was a very positive vibe in town,” she said.
“There were many reports on how friendly and appreciative the riders were too. The whole town really lifted.”
Ms Campbell said many riders gravitating to the shops provided Rutherglen with an obvious economic benefit. Rutherglen Kindergarten sold out of cakes, Lions and Rotary worked together on the BBQ and also sold out, scouts did well, Apex held their grape stomp and both the Landcare and canoeing tours completely booked out.
Seventy-four per cent of riders have in the past said they would return to a town they have visited during the bike ride, an attitude shared by many this year.
Alexander Miller, Bicycle Network Media Advisor, said Rutherglen would serve as a “great place for riders to relax and recharge after the first half of the ride and get into the local food and wine scene”.
Ms Campbell confirmed that Rutherglen would prove to be a great opportunity for riders.
“A rider reported saying that ‘Rutherglen is awesome!” she said.
Matt Drew, a rider in the group, and teacher from, Clifton Hill Primary School in Melbourne, said the school has been riding for 12 years in the Great Victorian Bike Ride. This year they had 29 students, four teachers and 10 parents as the only primary school involved in the full ride.
“It’s fantastic, has been a great experience,” Mr Drew said.
Rutherglen Police Sergeant Brian Curran was pleased with the behavior of everyone over the two days.
“There were no issues to report on, we’re very happy with everyone’s behavior, it was very busy but there were no issues at all,” he said.