Big Canberra Bike Ride comes full cycle after COVID-19

Michael Weaver 18 February 2021
Three cyclists on bikes at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

Cyclists will be all smiles as they pedal in the Big Canberra Bike Ride on 21 March. Photo: File.

After being cancelled in 2020 due to smoke from the Black Summer bushfires, the annual Big Canberra Bike Ride has literally come full cycle to be given the all-clear to return in 2021.

The 22nd Big Canberra Bike Ride will be held on Sunday, 21 March, allowing many hundreds of cyclists to ride like the wind in the city’s largest bike riding event.

“While many of Canberra’s favourite events and activities have been curtailed to meet COVID-19 safety requirements, the Big Canberra Bike Ride will be back in 2021 better than ever,” said organiser and Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross.

“Pedal Power is calling all Canberra bike riders – whether they ride a little or a lot – to register for the event so they can experience the fun of riding with hundreds of other bike riders.”

The event includes four routes on closed roads or shared paths, and two longer routes that will use roads that wind into the countryside surrounding Canberra, where riders will be supported by police patrols.

“For the first time, riders will be able to cycle across the Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue bridges on closed roads,” said Mr Ross.

The routes include:

  • The 5km Big Family Ride along part of Lake Burley Griffin.
  • The 35km Big Lake Ride around Lake Burley Griffin.
  • The 65km Big Dam Ride out to Cotter Dam, with substantial hill sections before going around the front of Parliament House.
  • The 120km Big Tidbinbilla Ride which includes the Big Dam Ride, plus a detour to Tidbinbilla along Paddys River Road.
Policeman cyclist on bike with cyclists on Northbourne Avenue in Canberra.

Police will escort cyclists during parts of the Big Canberra Bike Ride in March. Photo: File.

The Big Canberra Bike Ride was first held on 15 March, 1999, to promote cycling in the nation’s capital, offering a single route through the city and Dickson. Two routes were offered in 2011, and in 2012 it expanded to four.

Mr Ross said the event is now Canberra’s most iconic cycling event with a range of routes to cater for riders of all skills, interests, abilities and bike types, although e-scooters are not recognised as a legitimate form of cycling.

“We have a diverse riding community in Canberra,” he said. “Some people ride for pleasure, some race, others commute by bike, and some people only ride on dirt tracks, but for one event each year we unite and ride as one.”


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Mr Ross is also hopeful this year’s event will attract many new riders who purchased bikes and started riding during 2020’s COVID-19 lockdown.

“We are holding this event to bring the bike riding community together, to ride in safety and have fun,” he said.

“We encourage all Big Canberra Bike Ride participants to help us achieve our aim of creating a safer cycling environment in the ACT and nationally by donating to the Amy Gillett Foundation, a charity that aims to reduce the incidence of death and injury of bike riders.

More information and registration details are on the Big Canberra Bike Ride website.


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