TUESDAY APR 11 / 2017 / by Andrew Talati

Giro Della Donna - 2 riders amongst the morning sunlight

It was borne from the team at Cycling Tips; they were always talking about having an event and the opportunity to physically connect with their readers.

The name - cheerful, playful and fun

Giro Della Donna - Bunch with Berwick Cycles and Audi riders

The thinking behind the name was to capture the event as being cheerful and playful and that somehow you are replicating the fun of a one day classic.

That 13km section of gravel

Giro Della Donna - Bunch on gravel

The initial discussions about the best possible course lead them to the Upper Yarra region and then to the Acheron Way being included so having a 13km section of gravel automatically gave it a hint of Italian heritage.

We forget that these roads are everywhere

Giro Della Donna - Gravel Grinding

With our pristine carbon road machines, it can be daunting to take our bikes on these type of roads, but the reality is that we sometimes we forget that this type of roads is everywhere.

Andy Van Bergen goes on to say that there is a stat that 85% of the world’s roads are unpaved.

Connecting to the heritage 

Giro Della Donna - Holden Racing Team

When you first hit the gravel roads you feel a connection to the heritage of the sport that you don't get from going for a spin on the tarmac on your local roads.

Borne from a passion and being massive enthusiasts

Giro Della Donna - Reefton Spur welcoming party

The event was borne from the crew at Cycling Tips being mad, keen cyclists. They are massive enthusiasts with most riding into and out of work every day and trying to get in lunch rides whenever they can. Plus, they are super passionate about the sport.

Wanted to hold an event that we love

Giro Della Donna - large bunch spread out with Drapac Rider

They just took all the best bits of what they love about riding and the stuff they always wanted to do and included that. And, Wade Wallace (Founder of Cycling Tips) originally did this loop, he does it with his mates; it's incredible and a few of the crew had ridden parts of it so this was the place it had to be.

Effectively doing Wade's favourite training loop

Giro Della Donna - Giant South Yarra Bunch

If you are doing the Giro Della Donna effectively, you are doing Wade's favourite training loop and you're getting a bit of Wade (laughing).

Potentially tweaking the 2017 course

Giro Della Donna - 4 riders on a climb

While they have been running the same course for the past 2 years, Andy said that, "They may tweak it a little bit and it want make it any easier that's for sure.

Keeping it interesting with a point of difference

Giro Della Donna - RCC Bunch

For Andy, he feels that they have hit a sweet spot with the distance (107km) and climbing (2700m) so with the descent off Donna Buang it rounds it off at 120kms.

Giro Della Donna a tough day - Hells 500

It's a testing day and certainly what they want to deliver to people; there are just different ways they can deliver that (laughing).

The riders have participated in a lot of other events

Giro Della Donna - Focused Ironman

The consensus is that a lot of the riders who participate in the Giro Della Donna have participated in a lot of other events previously so they're certainly enthusiasts like the Cycling Tips crew.

Everyone really gets kitted up

Giro Della Donna - start close up

One thing that Andy has noticed about the riders is how awesome they look. Everyone really gets kitted up for this and it’s quite fun as it’s a real showcase of the best cycling kit that's in Melbourne.

Having a really great time and connecting with the community

Giro Della Donna start, a sea of riders

It’s an amazing community that exists here in Melbourne plus all the people who come in for that. The have fun and the opportunity to connect with this community.

The course is visually stunning

Giro Della Donna - riders Gravel Grinding

The reason for choosing the course is that it’s visually stunning. There isn't 1km of road that isn't drop-dead gorgeous. 

Giro Della Donna - large bunch - James Darlington

The whole course is amazing so they have tried to remove any focus on racing to finish so, whoever crosses the line first doesn't receive anything.

After Reefton Spur the smiles come out

Giro Della Donna _Happy rider all smilesGiro Della Donna - 3 riders and flowers landscapeGiro Della Donna riders amongst the flowers - Black Sheep

They do award the best time up Reefton Spur which is 20kms into the ride but they like to think that once you have expended your energy then you can sit up and have a chat with your mates.

Giro Della Donna - Lone rider_ amongst the tall trees and shadows

This then leads into the Acheron Way which has some of the tallest timber gums in the whole of Victoria with the most stunning, pristine environment being quite amazing.

Anecdotally seen an increase in road riders in the area

The folk at Yarra Ranges marketing and CEDA (Community Economic Development Association), which is the trades association in Warburton, have anecdotally seen an increase in road riders in the area and commented that a lot more people tend to be riding Reefton now (which is the Cycling Tips favourite place to ride).

Taking the leap of faith

Giro Della Donna - Gravel Grinding - Giant South Yarra

For us roadies it is taking a leap of faith that a small amount of gravel is quite ok for the bike and this opens loops that are otherwise not accessible. If you didn't access the Acheron Way, there is no way you could take in those roads.

Numbers are restricted 

Giro Della Donna Yarra Valley in the distance

Due to the nature of the permit and the environment where the course is held, they are restricted with the numbers that can attend the event plus, the environment is quite pristine and special.

Giro Della Donna - Finish line in site - MAAP riderGiro Della Donna - MAAP - Focused while climbing

They are also trying to maintain a small vibe and grass-roots feel to the event. This is something they are quite protective of. They are happy to see a slight increase in numbers to make sure it’s sustainable and a very special event for those who come.

Intestate participation is growing

Giro Della Donna Canberra team - Tiffen and Co towards finishCanberra Team - Tiffen & Co

Interest in the Giro Della Donna is spreading outside the of the Melbourne community with many interstate riders entering the event and locking in their accommodation for the weekend.

Attention to detail and the small touches

Giro Della Donna - much needed banana and energy bars

The team pride themselves on the attention to detail and the small touches that brings the most amazing event they can organise to the Upper Yarra.

Bridge Road Brewers at Giro Della Donna

And 2017..

Giro Della Donna - 2 riders speeding past the forests

For further infomation: girodelladonna.floktu.com

Many thanks to Tim Bardsley-Smith for all of the mazing pics
www.tbsphotography.com.au @timbardsleysmith