Ararat’s Tim Day will continue a 14-year long tradition when he travels to Adelaide next week to take part in the Bupa Challenge participation ride at the Tour Down Under.
Day is an enthusiastic rider and has competed at the event since 2003 with an even longer involvement watching the event.
Day said he started watching the event in the mid 1990s, as one of the stages went past his house and took particular interest in then up-and-coming Australian cyclists Robbie McEwen and Stuart O’Grady.
“I started watching the tour around 1994 or 1995 then got involved in 2003 and started doing the participation ride,” he said.
“The first year we did it there was only 400 or 500 riders and since then it has grown to about 5000 people riding now which is a really significant increase and something that has been good to see.”
The Ararat resident has been a keen cyclist all his life and joined cycling clubs where ever he lived.
He said the social side of it was just as enjoyable as the competitive side of competing at club level.
“I have been a cyclist all my life, for a number of years I lived in Alice Springs and rode with the club up there and I will be riding with some members of the club at the tour this year,” he said.
“I still ride my bike multiple times each week and mostly ride just for recreational purposes now after having raced in masters races previously.”
Day said it was a great opportunity to get involved in such a prestigious race.
“It is a World Tour event, they are the top riders in the world and the ride is through the Adelaide Hills which is where I used to live,” he said.
“It is an opportunity to ride the same course as the professionals.
“There are not many world class events where the public can go and spectate, be so close to the action for that period of time and then afterwards you can go and meet and talk to the riders before and after each day.
“When you jump on your bike and you feel like you are part of the cycling culture.”
It is not just the prominent World Tour events that attracts Day’s attention with the avid cyclist also competing in Murray to Moyne events in the past, riding with the Stawell Sprockets in last year’s event.
The Tour Down Under has a connection to Ararat already with Lucas Hamilton having competed at the event.
Day said it was something he was aware of.
“I don’t know Lucas personally but I know his dad, Bruce, through my work and I was in Adelaide when he rode his first Tour Down Under,” he said. Despite getting on with age, Day said he still has a few more years left. “I have got a few good years left, I’ve not missed one since, so I try my hardest to keep that going,” he said.