What do you get when you mix the natural beauty of the Australian bush, pizza and about 2000 bicycle riders?
The annual Alpine Classic road cycling event, in the picturesque Mt Buffalo region of north-east Victoria.
The event started in 1986 as a 200km trek, today is an as an annual one-day event, attracting the road cycling fraternity of all levels.
With a variety of distances — 70km to 320km — it is not a race, more a chance for like-minded cycling enthusiasts to take on a mountain course, revel in their achievements while enjoying camaraderie and social interaction.
Cobram-based cyclist Rodney Kruz is no stranger to the event, having taken part in the 200km road ride through some of the most picturesque scenery in the Mt Buffalo and Mt Beauty region.
‘‘Coming downhill you don’t get a lot of opportunity to admire nature,’’ he said in reference to the speed at which some of the keener cyclists travel.
At 61, Kruz enjoys the social aspect of cycling as well as solo training rides.
‘‘It’s not hard to understand the enjoyment of cycling, it’s fun, you get the fresh air in your lungs and on top of that it’s a great opportunity to get some serious thinking done,’’ he said.
You will find Kruz on the back roads around Cobram area, on either his Cannondale or Malvern Star bicycle.
‘‘On an average weekend I might ride 200km on the road, however I do spend time on the trainer across the week,’’ he said.
The Great Ocean Road is among Kruz’s favourite spots he has ridden.
Many sporting and civic events rely on the services of volunteers to lighten the load for organisers and the Alpine Classic is no different with local service clubs and volunteer emergency services lending a hand.
Kruz saw this as a chance to volunteer in 2017.
‘‘I just wanted to give something back to an event that has given me so much,’’ he said.
‘‘I received my 10-year participation jersey in 2016.’’
As one might expect, when scaling mountains on a bicycle, riders require fuel, and it would appear the fuel of choice for a many cyclists, including Kruz, is pizza.
While not choosing on particular pizza over another, Kruz said the pizza shops in that area would have some of their biggest nights of the year with all the cyclists in town.
Kruz has been riding for 16 years and, while not a member of any local cycling organisations, rather preferring his own company at times, he said the local cycling community was in great shape.
Asked to describe the Cobram-Barooga district cycling family — ‘‘fantastic’’, was the reply.