A 30-year romance born on the Great Vic Bike Ride

Taking the leap from commuting to long-distance touring can be a daunting proposition, but for strangers Viv and Mark it was one that would take them in some interesting new directions - on their bikes, and in life.

Viv had starting using a bike to get around having spent too much money maintaining "old bombs that were always breaking down".

Mark had starting using a bike to get around during the oil crisis of the 1970s and a desire to live without being "dependent on cars".

Both had friends taking on the 1991 Great Victorian Bike Ride and both decided to tag along, lured by the scale of the challenge and chance to try something new.

That year's event included a stopover in the coastal town of Port Fairy, where the Star of the West Hotel played host to a Rolling Stones cover band and a crowd of Great Vic riders with some energy to spare - Viv and Mark among them.

After taking a liking to their respective movements on the dance floor, the two became romantically involved and the rest is history.

"From there we hit it off, it was magic," says Viv.

The rest of the week was spent together riding and camping, before the pair returned home and launched into a new life bound by bikes.

Marriage and children followed but bicycles remained a focal point as the family grew and baby seats, trailers and tandems joined their home's array of transport solutions.

The bike adventures continued and came to involve family camping trips and more Great Vic bikes rides. Viv and Mark passed their penchant for pedalling onto their offspring.

"The kids always rode their bikes to school and they now ride everywhere," says Viv. "It's a real church of bikes. It's just our way of life."

More recently, this way of life led Viv and Mark on yet another adventure involving multi-day touring and some dancing - Bicycle Network's Great Outback Escape.


"I saw it in an email and it really captured my imagination because we'd never been to the outback before, and this was the perfect way for us to visit the Northern Territory and see Uluru," says Viv. "We just wouldn't have made it to this extraordinary place otherwise."

The pair took to the outback together on their bikes, enjoying the challenge of a multi-day riding holiday while revelling in the social atmosphere and "delighting in everybody's company."

Another highlight?

"We had a good dance at Kings Canyon, which was maybe a nice little flashback," says Mark.

They may be about 30 years older than that fateful night in Port Fairy, but there are still a couple of party animals in there somewhere.

"There was a container that had been converted into a bar and we were all up there having a drink and watching the sunset over the canyon and there was this one-man band, he was fantastic," says Viv.

"Everybody was on an absolute high, people were dancing and were just so happy, it was an amazing experience."

Viv and Mark now continue riding around inner Melbourne and beyond, where they marvel at the progress being made on the city's bike infrastructure and weigh up their next adventure.

"I know there are all these great rail trails out there, but I just need to get out there." says Viv.

Now in it's 39th year, the Great Vic Bike Ride heads to Gippsland in 2023 for a Snowy to Sea adventure riding (and camping) alongside the Snowy River before heading through Gippsland’s breathtaking regions to Wonthaggi. It's the perfect holiday for you and your loved ones, or perhaps, a new romance of your own awaits.

Great Vic Bike Ride 2023 early bird tickets are now open!

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