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Mitchell Shire riders desperate for bike tracks

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

By Max Davies

THE need for cycling infrastructure in the Mitchell Shire was highlighted late last month at a ride day and meeting organised for the young cycling community, with more than 50 riders attending to show their support.

Arranged by Wheel House Bikes owner Sam Cummins with the help of Kilmore enduro racer Patrick Broughton, the meeting was originally planned as a day for young cyclists to get together and ride, however the recent removal of makeshift bike jumps on the Kilmore Racecourse Reserve prompted discussions about the needs of the shire’s cycling community.

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The jumps, built by a group of young bike riders, were removed last month as works on the Kilmore Racecourse Reserve walking track were nearing completion, sparking criticism from parents and riders.

Kilmore Racecourse and Recreation Reserve Trustees chairman Danny Laws said the removal of the jumps was necessary as a ‘safety precaution’.

“It’s a bit of a mountain out a molehill thing, there was only one large jump that was taken down and a couple of very small jumps that were close to the walking track,” he said.

“We need to be mindful that there could be some elderly people walking along the walking track or young kids, and we certainly don’t want anyone getting cleaned up by a bike so that was the whole reasoning behind it.”

Current options for bike riding in the Mitchell Shire at dedicated parks and tracks are limited, however there are various trails on Kilmore’s Monument Hill Reserve, as well as small BMX tracks in Broadford and Wallan and talks of a pump track at Ryans Creek Reserve in Kilmore.

Cycling is also encouraged on the racecourse reserve walking track, which includes some trails similar to those on Monument Hill.

More than 50 riders attended a ride day last month to show their support for more cycling infrastructure in the area.

Mr Laws said the trustees would support the construction of cycling infrastructure at the reserve, but it would be difficult to gain approvals and to have it completed within the next few years.

He also said Mitchell Shire Council was not to blame for the lack of action, but instead pointed the finger at government legislation that made it difficult to deliver large projects on short notice.

“We would love to see a portion of the reserve have a little BMX track, but we know the cold hard realities of doing that,” he said.

“There’s all the permits and approvals, you have to get ecology and heritage [reports], a few different groups have to agree so there could be negotiation or payment involved, you have to work with Mitchell Shire Council – nothing is easy anymore.

“You’d really need government to change [legislation] to make it easier for small communities like ours to get something happening for the people of today.”

Mr Broughton said an aim of the initial event was to encourage young people to ride bikes while also promoting safety and responsible behaviour.

“We’re just getting kids stoked on riding again, especially because there was a lot of heat off of those racecourse jumps,” he said.

“The biggest thing is just to get the kids to realise how to be safe on mountain bikes and we want to be represented in the community as respectable members of the public, just a collective group of mountain bikers getting outside, having fun and being respectful.”

While the ride day was an ideal opportunity to showcase the interest and passion young people have for biking, Mr Broughton said it would be a while before new infrastructure was built.

“I don’t expect it to be overnight of course, but at least from today I think we’ll get a mountain bike club going to try and make something more official to make these [rides] more regular,” he said.

“The kids are loving it, so it’d just be good to keep them coming back.

“We’ve got that Ryans Creek Reserve half off the ground with the potential of a pump track, obviously that’s years away, but it’s a good step in the right direction.”

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