Michael Hutchison and his Banyule Council cycling team are taking the Around the Bay by storm. This year they will enter 36 riders (the highest of any council teams) with around half taking on the 210km route, about half taking on the 100km, and the remaining four riders tackling the 50km route.
Two years ago a large number of their team completed the 50km and found they really liked it so the next year stepped it up to the 100km.
‘The council is now paying for people’s entry and apparel to encourage more riders along. Essentially, five years ago it was a handful of riders but now we have 36 riders.’
But the benefits extend beyond the team members getting their entry fee and apparel covered, the council benefits too. They are able to add value to their brand and cement themselves as an employer of choice.
‘We can get the brand out there. People know us. In some neighbourhoods we get a bit of a wave, especially in the local area.’
The idea was originally arranged by the Director, Scott Walker who put the package together. ‘We had to have goals if the council was going to pay for it. We needed a certain number of riders and we managed to get that. Where we used to pay for it ourselves they now help us. The target was ten riders, put together a team and get funding for it. So we reached that and then it sort of mushroomed from there and grew by itself. This year already we’ve raised about $4,500 for the Smith Family so we’re steaming ahead with a bit longer to go.’
Now in their fifth year of the Around the Bay, the Banyule Council team find organising group training a bit of an issue. A lot of people do get involved in individual training but the team members are dispersed over numerous offices and location so it can be difficult. They use a combination of emails and phone messages. ‘It’s hard to get groups together to ride. We send out emails but having three different distances and different skills levels we’re finding that some people may not feel comfortable coming out with other riders so we’re still trying to tackle that and how we actually get people to come out together, to ride together.’
On the actual day of the ride can prove tricky too with the team becoming separated, usually quite early on.
‘It’s good to see the numbers increasing over the years. 50 riders would be fantastic. We’re already the highest number of riders out of the council teams.’
‘I’d like to think that this sort of programme helps people to see cycling a form of transport and a recreational activity and then recognise riders as valued road users.’
To organise your team training, group rides and events download Bunchrides or contact us to learn more.
Learn more about Around the Bay at https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/around-the-bay/the-route