PAGE 26 I THE GREAT ALPINE ROAD VISITOR GUIDE CYCLING Cycle the Great Alpine Road and experience views like no other. PHOTO: Visit Victoria Cycle for the pure thrill of it Summer is the time for High Country cycling with plenty of opportunities to get involved in major road cycling events or head off road with excellent mountain bike facilities. FRENCH CLASSICS Audax cycling is a sport in which participants attempt to cycle long distances within a pre-defined time limit. It is essentially a non-competitive sport with success in an event measured by its completion. Audax cycling rules were formalised in France in the early twen- tieth century. The rides attract cyclists from all levels of fitness and experience. While some of cycling’s elite have failed, many mid- dle aged and beyond with minimal experience have succeeded. Held in Bright in late January each year, the Audax Alpine Classic is Audax Australia Cycling Club’s flagship event and the world’s largest annual Audax cycling event. The Audax Alpine Classic is now catering to around 2000 riders over eight courses ranging from moderate to seriously challenging, all fabulously supported by a great team of volunteers. As this is not a race, there are no road closures. The difficulty of the Alpine Audax rides is not just due to the degree of climbing but also because of the variations of the alpine climate. Although the event is held at the height of summer, it is not uncommon for conditions at Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo to be freezing while in the valley stifling heat can await your return. On completing your ride, a celebration of personal achievement with family and friends is warranted. The Audax Classic is held as part of the Bonjour Bright Festival, and taking part in the festival is the perfect way to do just that. The festival is open to early finishers and non-cyclists at the start/finish in Howitt Park. It has been French themed to celebrate the association of the Audax Alpine Classic with Audax International, based in France. The 2019 Alpine Classic will be held on Sunday, January 27, with the Bonjour Bright Festival continuing right across the weekend. The free weekend festival includes open-air films, live music, food and locally produced French-inspired wine. A range of entertainment is on offer for the whole family throughout the weekend, all with free entry. THREE PEAKS On Sunday, March 10, 2019, cyclists participating in the Peaks Challenge have 12 hours to prove themselves. Recognised as one of the top 10 toughest one day cycling events in the world, the Peaks Challenge takes participants along a 235km course through some of the world’s most picturesque and challenging terrain. With over 4000 vertical metres of climbing over three major climbs, riders climb Tawonga Gap, Mount Hotham, and the beast that is the back of Falls Creek. The first riders leave at 7.15am and all riders must cross the finish line by 8.15pm to receive a finisher’s jersey. OFF ROAD RIDE For off-road adventures on two pedal powered wheels, hit one of the many trails of the region. The Dirty Dozen is a selection of 12 mountain bike trails, handpicked by local riders who have spent hours in the saddle, smashing and shredding trails all over Victoria’s High Country to choose the very best for riders. Tackle the thrills and spills of all-mountain trails or experience the freedom of riding along flowing single tracks. Mt Buller’s network of fresh trails will leave you spoilt for choice, while Falls Creek delivers some of Australia’s most inspirational bike riding country. Down in the valleys cruise the flowing single tracks in Bright, then get off the beaten track and into the bike parks at Beechworth and Mt Beauty.