Bendigo is undergoing a revolution.
Be it for fitness, commuting, or for the simple pleasure of experiencing our beautiful native forests, more of us are ditching the cars and motorbikes, and choosing to jump on bikes instead.
Take the recent growth of mountain biking – an outdoors recreational activity that is exploding in popularity all around the world.
Instead of cycling in the city, mountain biking is all about taking to the outdoors.
It’s about riding up hills, down hills, over roots and rocks, and flying along narrow ribbons of single track in the forest, feeling the rush of wind against your cheeks.
In the past, mountain biking has been seen from the periphery as only for the most hardcore of thrill-seekers.
The reality today though, is that there are as many different types of people who mountain bike as there are reasons why we all ride.
For many of us, it’s about spending time with family and socialising with friends.
For some, it’s about exploring new places while covering more ground than you can on foot.
For others, it’s about the simple pleasure of weaving through the trees like you’re in a speeder bike scene from Star Wars.
Whatever the reason though, the physical and mental wellbeing benefits that mountain biking offers can be enjoyed by anyone.
And, as more folks take to two wheels to ride the forests of Bendigo, this once niche sport is flourishing.
Nowhere is this popularity more evident than at the Spring Gully Trail Head – the main meeting point that attracts hundreds of riders every week.
Riders come from all different backgrounds, across all ages, genders, fitness and experience levels.
You’ll see mums and dads with kids in tow, shop crews, competitive young guns, women’s social groups, and new riders experiencing the trails for their very first time.
In just two weeks, the Spring Gully Trail Head will also serve as the event village for the upcoming Golden Triangle Epic.
The epic is the biggest event on the local Bendigo MTB Club’s calendar, with more than 500 riders expected to participate in this year’s race.
Competitors will travel from all over Australia to tackle race options from the 15 kilometre-long Pioneer, all the way up to the 150km Ultimate Enduro.
Though the epic attracts some of the fastest mountain bikers in the country each year, the emphasis for the Bendigo MTB Club is on creating a family-friendly atmosphere.
As well as kids races, there are beginner options too, including a new team relay event that will allow three mates to race as a team, with everyone crossing the finish line together.
Being one of the largest club-run events in Australia, all proceeds from the Epic go straight back into supporting the local riding community.
These vital funds help to support the ongoing maintenance of existing trails and infrastructure, as well as maintaining a fleet of mountain bikes that the club utilises for come-and-try days for new riders.
Thanks to the club’s efforts, it’s this grassroots commitment that ensures mountain biking continues to grow in Bendigo as the all-inclusive outdoors recreational activity it is. – Wil Barret