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It certainly has been a horror bushfire season around Australia including the Victorian High Country and sadly it’s had a very negative effect on local tourism which will have a knock-on effect on events like the High Country Women’s Cycling Festival (HCWCF) to be held in March 2020.
The good people of Bright where the HCWCF is held each year have a clear message – they are definitely open for business now the bushfire threat has been brought under control.
This year’s HCWCF will be held from 20 to 22 March 2020 centred on the picturesque town of Bright. It’s the third HCWCF and attracted around 150 riders which is pretty amazing considering that women are a huge minority when it comes to road cycling.
The organisers tell me that participants come from as far away as New Zealand and most states of Australia.
The festival aims to inspire, encourage and support more women to ride, and to experience the beauty of the High Country by bike.
Sadly I’m yet to attend a High Country Women’s Cycling Festival but it’s certainly on my list of weekends to enjoy.
Clare Holdsworth, spokesperson for HCWCF, explained that from its outset, Festival’s mission has been to make cycling in the mountains more accessible and more inclusive for all levels of cyclists.
“In 2020 we want to provide an opportunity for cyclists who are new to climbing and not up to riding the full ascent and descent of Mt Buffalo. Working with our cycle safety partner RoadSafe North East, we have introduced a ‘Ride to Rollasons’, as part of the Buffalo Women’s Ride (Saturday 21 March 2020). Experienced ride leaders will escort the riders to a halfway turnaround point, providing tips and building confidence to ensure a safe, enjoyable and rewarding ride,” Clare said.
Backed by Major Partner, Regional Roads Victoria, the Festival’s focus on safety is key for participants seeking a supportive cycling environment. As well as reduced speed limits and traffic management protocols, organisers will roll out a campaign with RoadSafe North East, to communicate important ‘Pass Cyclists Safely’ messaging, in the lead up to the Festival.
Festival organiser, Michelle Armstrong, explained that despite the organic growth in women’s cycling, in an alpine environment where road riding is more challenging, the gender imbalance is strongly evident.
“Many female riders consider hills and mountains beyond their capability. We will share our knowledge, build confidence, push boundaries and help women discover new ride destinations with new friends. The super fun weekend promises more than just cycling and includes a Lycra Lunch Party with ‘Fashions on the Field’; bike mechanics, riding skills clinics; Rail Trail produce rides; Yoga; Bike Fashion Pop-Ups, a Celebration Dinner and more.
“Much of the feedback from participants is about the support, friendship, and camaraderie amongst the women. Emotive scenes of jubilation and celebration of achievement, at the summit of Mt Buffalo are what HCWCF is all about,” Michelle said.
Past events have attracted riders ranging in age from 30 to 70+ years and many different levels of experience and ability so it caters to everyone.