The GDT400 is a bike packing event which takes in the whole of the Great Dividing Trail Network. Starting in Bendigo, the route follows the Goldfields Track to Castlemaine, Daylesford, Creswick and Ballarat. It then follows back roads from Ballarat to Bacchus Marsh and continues along the Lerderderg Track to Daylesford. The event finishes at the Castlemaine Railway Station.
Riders follow a defined route using GPS devices and their progress can be monitored on a website, bikepacking.com.
The event is an “unsupported” ride meaning that participants must carry all of their own food and equipment or find resources along the way. Riders are not allowed a support vehicle, for example.
Originally scheduled to start on October 31, the event was delayed for a fortnight because of travel restrictions for people living in greater Melbourne. On the mornings of November 14 and 15, cyclists started in staggered waves of 10 leaving every 30 minutes from Bendigo Railway station. Seventy riders started the event.
Of the 45 who finished, Connor Sens from Bendigo was the first to reach Castlemaine railway station in 21 hours and 17 minutes, a new race record by more than an hour. Although a few riders were close on Connor’s tail, other riders adopted a more leisurely approach, finishing in two or three days. Some others succumbed to the gruelling 383km ride and abandoned the event part way. Conditions were challenging with gusty winds, an overnight thunderstorm on Sunday night wet track in places. And in the lead up to the event, limitations on outdoor exercise time and travel range for those living in Melbourne no doubt took their toll on fitness and endurance for all of the participants.
Riders commented on the spectacular scenery and the challenging route. Event organiser and former course record holder, Lewis Ciddor, didn’t ride this year but he was on the road assisting other riders.
“Overall I was blown away by such a big turnout,” Lewis said. I think it just goes to show how important infrastructure like the Great Dividing Trail is to bikepackers and mountain bikers. It was a long, hard lockdown for everyone, and on our first weekend of freedom there was nowhere we would rather be than on the trail! I hope too that it was a positive thing for the towns and communities along the trail to see cyclists coming back to their towns and spending money in their businesses! It’s been a hard year for everyone!”
This article is reproduced with permission from the GDTA POST.