Ararat - Hot weather conditions didn't deter motorcycle enthusiasts taking part in the annual Grampians Ride to Remember.
Though numbers were down, 220 riders and pillions put on the protective gear, stocked up with plenty of water and took off from Ararat for the 200km ride that took in the Grampians National Park via Halls Gap and the Victoria Valley and surrounding smaller towns before heading back to Alexandra Gardens for the traditional post ride Ararat Lions Club barbecue.
Many of the riders this year were from Melbourne and took the opportunity of staying overnight and supporting the region and arrived fresh for the start of the Ride in Barkly Street outside the Ararat Performing Arts Centre.
The safety briefing this year was conducted by Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Robert Hill who emphasised strongly the responsibility of riders to have a safe ride which was followed by safety officer for the ride, Jenni Papst going through all safety aspects of the tour route.
Prior to the ride taking off the Assistant Commissioner lead a minute's silence to remember Victoria Police killed in the line of duty.
Leading up to the ride and the expected hot weather a contingency was put in place with the morning tea relocated to the Halls Gap Hotel and an extra water stop at Glenthompson, which was very much welcomed and praised by participants.
The Halls Gap morning tea organised through the Halls Gap Community Gardens Project Committee and community volunteers raised over $1200 including donations from the riders, and this will be donated to the Wartook and Laharum communities affected by the Grampians bushfires.
The ride through the spectacular Victoria Valley to Dunkeld was certainly the highlight and following the final water stop at Glenthompson the ride headed back to Ararat's Alexandra Gardens to be welcomed by Ararat Branch members .
The Alexandra Gardens post event this year saw an increase in the number of displays and riders took time to support everyone who had waited patiently in the heat for their return. The Blue Ribbon merchandising van reportedly did an excellent trade with all proceeds going into the fundraising kitty.
The 'Show N Shine' sponsored by Shannon's Insurance and the Wimmera Motorcycle Co, with prizes of over $1,000 on offer, was well supported with over 40 vehicles entering. Judge, David Coone chose the winners, which was not an easy task, and again the People's Choice proved popular with the prize being a motorcycle helmet donated by Brass Balls Motorcycles of Ararat.
Chairman of the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation Bill Noonan took the opportunity to launch a new project for the Ararat Branch called 'The Rover Dream' Project to be undertaken by the Coone Family in memory of Greg Coone who passed away in 2012, a well-known local motorcycle enthusiast and a strong supporter of the Grampians Ride.
The Grampians Ride to Remember proceeds will be donated towards vital facilities and equipment for the Ararat Hospital (East Grampians Health Service) and at this stage though no total figure is available it is expected that when finally tallied it will be approximately $7,000.
Ride to Remember sub committee chairperson Chris Lavery said he was pleased with the numbers that attended considering the hot day forecast.
"Everyone carried out their respective roles admirably right from the very start of the day," he said.
"Once the ride got underway the police and the marshals did a fantastic job with everything running very smooth and incident free.
"The morning tea at Halls Gap was very good and I noticed a number of riders putting money into the tins to assist those affected by the recent fires."
Mr Lavery also thanked all those who assisted with the organisation of the ride.
"There are so many people to thank for their contribution to making it a success, without all these very generous and willing people this event would not be the success it is and it really seems to be gathering very positive notoriety among riders," he said.
"Special thanks for the fantastic input and support from the police and other services, particularly during the lead up to the event."