Retirees Joan and Grant McKern are joining their grandson, year seven Deniliquin High School student Will McKern, in a 541 kilometre bike ride from Victoria’s mountains to the Murray Darling.
The great Victorian bike ride, known this year as the mountains to the Murray ride, will see the three McKerns as well as 15 students, three teachers and three parents from Deniliquin High School riding with over 3,000 cyclists.
The group will have eight days of solid riding and a single day for rest as they complete the route from Bright to Benalla via Beechworth, Mulwala, Tallangatta, Rutherglen, Yarrawonga and Glenrowan.
At age 68, Mr McKern said he is pleased to be riding with his grandson, having ridden in the Great Victorian Bike Ride with his son 20 years ago.
“Will’s pretty chuffed about it, he took off with the kids this morning and we kind of hang around at the back and look out for any kids who fall behind,” Mr McKern said.
“The longest day is 103 kilometres, tomorrow is 87 kilometres and yesterday was 67 kilometres so it’s about 70 kilometres a day.”
“Both Joan and I have done a lot of riding, the kids get tired at the end of it but each person rides to the best of their ability and they have done a lot of training with 100 kilometre rides over the past few weeks,” Mr McKern said.
Mr McKern has been an avid bike rider since he was a schoolboy, his wife however has only been riding for the past four years.
Nevertheless, in their time cycling together the dynamic grandparents have completed long stretches of road from Lyon in France to Denmark.
They have also ridden and from Lands End in England, to John O’Groats in Scotland.
“We’re 68 but just looking around this crowd were not old at all,” Mr McKern said.
“I’d like to get another 10 years of riding in, it varies according to your aging process, we don't race anymore we just do what our body tells us and enjoy it.”
“The more that you ride, the longer that you can do it for, it’s a good physical non-impact exercise, you’ve just got to avoid dying early by traffic, but that's a skill you have got to acquire,” Mr McKern said.
This is the first year Mr McKern and his wife have ridden with the school with Mr McKern said saying he has been especially impressed with the behavior and charming personalities of the teenagers from the Deniliquin school, and teacher Susan Laing who has been riding with the school for 16 years.
“It’s a good learning experience for them in understanding how to mix with people and getting discipline with their duties and looking after themselves.”
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