All the Oceania Cycling Championships in one place, a mass participation ride, a national track championships, a National Road Series event, a number of major roads shut down throughout a major city, and a festival hub all while coordinating with 134 affiliate events adds up to one of the most extensive festivals of cycling that has ever been seen in Australia.
The Brisbane Cycling Festival certainly does not lack ambition despite the setbacks that it has faced in recent years.
It has been a tough environment for events due to COVID in recent years, with the Brisbane Cycling Festival seeing their 2020 event canceled, the 2021 event postponed and then eventually run amidst COVID restrictions that severely limited interstate travel. Now, floods have assailed the city and the surrounding region, but event organizers aren’t lamenting the situation with only a few alterations on the agenda as they prepare for the biggest Brisbane Cycling Festival yet.
SBS Cycling Central spoke to General Manager of Major Events at Auscycling and State Manager for Queensland, Sean Muirabout the 2022 edition of the Brisbane Cycling Festival.
“On the Monday after the flood I jumped on a call with a number of other sports and the Minister of Tourism,” said Muir, “and he made it clear that sport was really important for getting Queensland back on its feet as soon as possible It’s a great chance to engage with people and take the harder times off their minds, even if it is just for a few hours or days.
“It’s a bit of a cliché, but in Brisbane we’re pretty tough. We’ve gone through these floods for the second time in 11 years and we’re pretty resilient. We’re used to it, and we’re a community that sticks together. ”
Scenes of roads flooded, houses and property damaged, and mountains of water-damaged goods by the roadside will be an ongoing difficulty for weeks and months for Brisbane and the region, with the hope that the event will cater for locals as well as attract interstate tourists to pour some money into the local economy at a time where it needs it.
Recent natural disasters have not deterred organizers from putting on the most ambitious program to date that hopes to reach cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
“Yes, we’re catering for cyclists, whether you’re a rider, racer, or spectator, but we’re also an event for families and kids, something that you can come to regardless of whether you regularly ride a bike or not , “said Muir. “Throughout the entire festival, there’s plenty of content that will engage everyone, regardless of age, size or shape.
“We had over 32,000 people involved last year, this year we’re hoping to have more and we’ll have a lot more events as well. In total, we have 134 affiliate events taking part across 22 suburbs of Brisbane. We have some really good partners and it’s really exciting to have an environment where it’s less restricted than previous years. “
The floods are expected to have minimal impact on the event plans, with the major change being the shift of the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships to the Commonwealth Games course in Nerang after landslides around the Mt Crosby MTB course prevented its use. There are also roads on the Tour de Brisbane course that may need to be diverted around, with assurances that it will not impact the quality of the event.
In the Australian cycling landscape, there has been little scope for large festivals of this kind in recent years, with the Tour Down Under at the start of 2020 the last example of a major cross-discipline event of this size being hosted, with the Santos Festival of Cycling a significantly smaller replacement.
This edition shapes as an important year for the Brisbane Cycling Festival, with the event in the third year of a three-year deal with the state government for financial and logistical support. With negotiations being held currently with the state government, a successful event in 2022 would strengthen the event organizer’s position, hence they are pulling out the stops in bringing a bumper program of feature racing events.
“The Oceania championships coming together all in the one place at the one time, that’s amazing,” said Muir when asked for his highlights of the 2022 Brisbane Cycling Festival. “For the track it’s the last opportunity Australia and New Zealand have to gain points ahead of the next World Cup, so they’re both sending full-strength squads.
“For the BMX, we have Logan Martin, world champion and Olympic BMX Freestyle gold medallist competing in our own backyard.
“The Tour de Brisbane is always a highlight. Where else can you go and experience riding around a city on closed roads, riding across the best-known bridges in Brisbane and be a part of something this big.
“The other aspect will be the festival village. There’s going to be so much cycling and non-cycling content down there for people to experience. From the Spokes and Jokes luncheon to the criteria, entertainment, DJs, food and wine trucks… it’s going to be a great place to be to experience the event as a whole. “
The Brisbane Cycling Festival runs from March 24-April 14 with the festival hub running from April 8-10 around the Tour de Brisbane, Color Ride, Family Fun Day and conclusion of the Oceania Cycling Road Championships. The Tour de Brisbane also aims to raise $ 200,000 for The Common Good charity in support of heart and lung transplant research at Prince Charles Hospital.