from the Mansfield Courier-Australia
MANSFIELD was invaded yet again by "bikies" last week. However, these were not the leather clad brigade, but a group of cyclists, riding their folding Bike Friday bikes. "Bike Friday" is a brand of folding bike made in Oregon, USA. that when folded is "small enough to fit in a suitcase". Australia boasts lhe only large scale gathering of Bike Friday owners in the world, a fact that makes the parent company very proud.
The Australian group have been meeting for the past 19 years in different parts of New South Wales. South Australia and Victoria.
From its inception, the annual get together has been organised by the club's founder, Margaret Day.
ln Mansfield, that gathering numbered 120 cyclists, who spent from Wednesday to Sunday seeing the sites from their bikes.
Riding the rail trail was high on the list of priorities. Especially the Cheviot Tunnel, Australia's longest rail trail tunnel.
They took a spin across Bonnie Doon Bridge, wheeled south to Jamieson (keeping an eye out for a world famous cyclist), crossed the Delatite at Merrijig and checked out some cool country wines.
Club members are passionate about their brand of bike, and members have travelled the world on them. One couple rode around the Baltic Sea, while others have ridden in Austria, France, Germany, New Zealand ard Holland.
Because of the uniqueness of the club gathering, they are routinely attended by a couple from Canada and a fan of a bike from Japan.
There is something else special about this group at the Mansfield gathering, there were two sight impaired riders who participate on tandem bikes with their guide in the lead.
At other gatherings there have been four sight impaired riders. This means there are guide dogs in the company, much loved by all the riders and the inspiration for the charity work that they do.
For the past 10 years, the riders have raised money for Guide Dogs Victoria, meaning that their social get togethers have a more significant purpose than just fun riding.
Their stay in Mansfield was topped off by a dinner at the Delatite on Saturday night, and founder Margaret Day was full of praise for the people of Mansfield. "Everyone has gone out of their way to be helpful and friendly here," she said.
She also reminded people that Guide Dogs Victoria were always in need of support and donations could be organised through www.guidedogsvictoria. com.au.