Benalla is more than car races and gliding and needs to do more to attract cyclists to the area.LIBBY PRICE July 4, 2014 4:00am
Benalla should be following the examples of Mansfield and Beechworth by welcoming cyclists to town to cash in on their largely unappreciated tourism dollars, a regional tourism agency says.
North East Tourism said despite the jokes about ‘mamils’ — middle-aged men in Lycra — the estimated value of cycle tourists was more than $26
That’s 9900 visitors spending an average of $250 with an overnight stay.
There are now nearly 400 ‘cycle friendly’ businesses around the north-east proudly bearing the sticker on the shop window which indicates the business does from as little as offering complimentary water to cyclists, to providing bike racks, basic repair kits and bike pumps, and even special cyclist packages.
The biggest attraction in the area is the Great Mountain Rail Trail from Mansfield to Tallarook, with 6500 riders taking the tough trip in December.
North East Tourism cycle development officer Stephen Plummer made a presentation to the Benalla Rural City Council last week, explaining the tourism value of several different types of cyclists.
‘‘The ‘soft cyclists’ should be the number one priority,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re family groups and good spenders and bring their own bikes. Benalla has everything they’re looking for with the lake ride, Winton Wetlands and for the ones that like dirty and dangerous, there’s Reef Hills.’’
The bike path from Benalla to the wetlands is under construction and due for completion in October.
‘‘While elite sport cyclists are not a priority, the ‘hard cyclist’ will come back again if they have a good experience,’’ Mr Plummer said.
‘‘They’ll spend up to $15
Then there are the non-cyclists who will give simple rides a go such as the Lake Benalla ride.
‘‘We need to offer them ‘Pedal 2 Produce’ packages including bike hire, lunches at a winery or cafe, and a bike map,’’ Mr Plummer said.
‘‘At Beechworth they even hire electric bikes for ‘soft cyclists’ who are a bit daunted by the hills; and in Bright they have a ‘bus-a-bike’ service if you don’t want to do the return journey.
‘‘We’re encouraging other towns like Benalla to offer a similar service. It’s not just about racing cars and gliders. It’s also about loving cyclists.’’
The plan was unanimously received by Benalla Rural City Council.
Great time had at this year's Barmah Muster.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The second annual Bonnie and Clyde Rods, Rats and Rides Festival fired up at Tatura Park at the weekend (April 11-12), drawing thousands of petrol heads and rockabilly music lovers to Tatura.
Friday’s annual primary inter-school cross country meet will see a broader variety of students taking part, as well as the introduction of a new finish line.
Lockington Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Rally is on for the 18th time this weekend and there is something for everyone.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Deniliquin bowler Dennis O'Keefe lost 25-19 in his bid for a quarter-final spot in the Victorian Singles Championships this week.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
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