Riding in the tracks of Oppy

Blessed with over 60 kilometres of bicycle tracks, Knox must have proved an ideal place to retire for Australia's most famous cyclist, the late Sir Hubert Opperman, OBE.

When he died in 1996, family and friends sought Council support to commemorate his brilliant career through the bike trails that traverse the City. Each year since, cycling enthusiasts with varying degrees of skill have gathered on the weekend preceding the Melbourne Cup for the 'Oppy Family Fun Ride'.

In addition several trails have been named after some of his more famous rides. These include the Trans Continental commemorating his ride from Fremantle to Sydney and the Land's End to John O'Groats ride in which Oppy cycled the length of Britain.

Interpretive panels and several concrete and bronze sculptures have also been placed along the trails. Unveiled in 1997, these enable riders to appreciate the spirit and achievements of Oppy's career.

Director Service Planning Ian Mann said the trails are very popular and the Family Fun Ride has attracted increasing numbers of participants every year. "In our first year we had 300 participants, last year we ran out of registration folders at 600 and this year we are expecting at least 800 riders," he said.

Ian Mann said there are three categories of trails catering to every skill level, varying from two kilometres to 16 kilometres. The event is well supervised with numerous marshals, St John's Ambulance, Police, the Outer Eastern Vietnam Veterans Association and others all assisting with the event.

"It is a very safe family event," Ian Mann said. "It is very much about using the bike tracks to provide healthy fun filled family activity." Local businesses also take part sponsoring various prizes for participants.

In addition to providing leisure activity, the trails are currently the subject of research to see if they might be further developed as commuter routes.

Local cyclists' views are being sought through a series of surveys including one for primary students and one for secondary students. A general questionnaire can also be accessed on the internet.

For further information, telephone (03) 9298 8000.