For many Victorians, cycling is a mindful way to unwind on the weekend with friends, or solo; for others it’s a practical – and environmentally friendly – mode of transport from work to home.
Recently, there’s been a slight shift in gear, with several tourism operators launching tantalising self-guided cycles and group tours that offer not just transport from A to B but a healthy way to rediscover and indulge in the best of regional Victoria.
Best for.. local produce
Relaunching in November, Follow My Wheel guided tours kick off at Bright, taking small groups of cyclists to various local producers for a series of tastings. While hordes of Victorians gravitate to High Country as the snow starts to fall, many don’t realise it’s also a haven for eating and drinking during the warmer months and this tour showcases just that, while also providing a workout. It’s a win-win.
Tour guide, Laura Rigby moved to Bright two years ago to follow a dream of starting up her own tour business, which unites her love for cycling and artisan goods. She has strong relationships with local farmers and is passionate about knowing where food comes from, which translates into a fun and educational day out.
Over 3-4 hours, guests cycle from producer to producer, meeting the talented winemakers, farmers, brewers and distillers of the region, as well as sampling their spoils. All tastings are included. Cyclists are required to bring their own bike.
For those who prefer to pedal at their own pace, Tour De Vines’ self-guided one day tour is an excellent way to enjoy the culinary highlights of Beechworth and Milawa. No need to bring a bike - these can be rented from the tour company, which will also provide itineraries (including detailed directions), lunch, tasting fees and even on-call support should visitors have any questions as they ride.
Produce lovers will delight with lunch and fromage tasting at the family-owned Milawa Cheese Factory, famed for its soft and washed-rind varieties. This indulgence is complemented by visits to an organic winery, olive oil farm, mustard-seed factory and more. At the end of the ride, cyclists will be collected and transported back to Beechworth, meaning there’s more time for indulging and enjoying the stunning Alpine scenery along the way.
For those with more time up their sleeves, Tour De Vines also operates the Tour de Grand Gourmet: a unique five-day/four-night cycle through North East Victoria that truly takes the cake from an indulgence perspective. It’s a surprisingly relaxing 100km cycle, with only one small uphill section on the second day, that covers the Murray to Mountains rail trail almost end-to-end. This all-inclusive tour includes accommodation, all meals, exclusive food/wine tastings, daily luggage transfers and a return transfer to Beechworth from Bright.
This half-day all-inclusive morning bike tour in Bright includes a Mexican-themed breakfast, wine tasting and electric or non-electric bike hire. Riders soak up the scenery on a bike ride along the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail from Bright to a Mexican themed breakfast at the Rail Trail Café in Porepunkah, followed by wine tasting at Ringer Reef Winery.
Visitors collect their bike from Bright Electric Bikes, and ride on out to Porepunkah where guests will be welcomed with a sparkling wine (or beer) on arrival and a choice of delicious breakfast options, including a coffee or tea. Round off a perfect morning taking in the views and tasting the range at Ringer Reef Winery cellar door – with a complimentary glass of wine included - before a ride back to Bright. Tours are held Thursday - Sunday, 9am-1:30pm. 2 Delany Ave, Bright, Victoria, 3741. (03) 5755 1309.
Coffee and cycling are a match made in heaven. Myrtleford Cycle Centre offer a range of half-day gastronomical tours which include a hands on food experience experience before discovering the region's food and wine secrets. The Coffee Bean Roast ’n’ Ride offers visitors the chance to see, hear and smell the intricacies of roasting coffee beans by acclaimed cafe, Coffee Chakra, before setting off to visit nearby food and wine producers to collect more local goodies.
Other tours include Rolling Gnocchi, which sees cyclists learn to make authentic Italian pasta with Roberto from Delize Cafe Deli before a ride to nearby farm gates or wineries while the feast is cooked. Moroccan Tagines & Tea tour, set in the exotic surrounds of Cafe Fez, reveals the secrets of mint tea, tagine and baclava followed by a short ride to other local food and wine producers, collecting items for a tagine feast back at Fez. 59A Clyde St, Myrtleford, Victoria, 3737. (03) 5752 1511.
Best for.. romance
Try a date day with a difference in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, where a romantic adventure for two awaits at Feathertop Winery. Famed for its traditional varieties such as Shiraz, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Prosecco, the winery welcomes self-guided exploration of its most secluded and picturesque locations by bicycle. Visitors will receive a vineyard map and can choose which of the Boynton family's favourite picnic locations they’d like to settle on for lunch. After exploring by pedal, cosy up with a pre-packed hamper made up of local produce, washed down with a bottle of wine. 6619 Great Alpine Rd, Porepunkah, Victoria, 3740. (03) 5756 2356.
Best for.. the whole family
Active families looking for a weekend adventure suitable for all ages should check out the Bellarine Rail Trail, which commences in South Geelong. Just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the trail is an easy ride, downhill almost the entire way to Queenscliff aside from a small climb out of Drysdale. For a casual re-fuel, Queenscliff’s Rolling Pin Pies and Cakes does tasty takeaway, which can be enjoyed onsite or at one of the picnic benches opposite the beach. The journey back creates an extra opportunity for sightseeing, as it can be enjoyed from the comfort of the Bellarine Peninsula Tourist Railway, which allows bikes on board.
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