The Daily Advertiser

Gears and Beers 2022Advertising Feature

Volunteers make it all possibleAdvertising Feature

Thousands of volunteer hours put in by more than 180 people make Gears and Beers not only possible but a huge success.

Event organisers, Wollundry Rotary, are supported by every Rotary Club in Wagga, a range of other clubs and organisations and the general public to run the event.

Rosters coordinator David Byfield has taken on the challenge of organising all the volunteers for the past few events. The first priority is ensuring the safety of cyclists.

"Mainly volunteers are needed where the riders come into contact with cars," David said.

A number of volunteers take on the job of leading riders and support vehicles for each event and marshals to organise the riders.

Members of the Coolamon Rotary club give almost 2000 riders a warm welcome as they pass through the town Sunday morning. Their ANZAC Biscuits have even become renowned in the cycling community.

The Mangoplah Football and Netball Club do heavy lifting in setting up the fencing and equipment at the Victory Memorial Gardens for the festival.

The police escort cyclists out of town for each event.

The Rural Fire Brigade assist with the Dirty130 event and even help riders cool off.

"The riders love it," David said.

"They wet down dry patches to make it exciting and give them a spray with the hoses."

Wollundry Rotary appreciates and thanks every volunteer who assists with the event.

This appreciation is also extended to event sponsors who are equally as important to the event.

From an idea to a major fundraiserAdvertising Feature

Giving back: All money raised during Gears & Beers is donated to local charities through the Wollundry Rotary club. Picture: Bob Barrett

What started as an idea between Phillip McIntosh and his son, Nathan, is now one of the largest cycle events of its kind in Australia.

The idea was to combine cycling, beers and a great atmosphere. This is where Gears & Beers was born.

The inaugural event was held in 2014. Since then, the event has grown and increased in popularity each year.

The 2019 attracted 2962 registrations and this year's event has more than 3000. The 2020 and 2021 events were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Touring: There are a number of different rides to choose from at Gears & Beers. All rides take in the sights of the region while challenging cyclists. Picture: Bob Barrett

While the event gives cyclists from across the country a great weekend of riding topped off with a festival atmosphere to mingle and relax afterwards, it's also a major fundraising event.

Wollundry Rotary runs the event and all proceeds raised go to charity. The 2014 event raised $37,295 and it's gone up from there with $95,640 in 2015, $160,437 in 2018 and $204,794 in 2019.

This year's event is expected to surpass that amount.

While money from the event is donated to various charities, money is also spent locally by people attending the event. The 2019 event attracted more than 3000 people from outside the area and injected an estimated $1,862,073 into the Wagga economy.

Traditionally, Gears & Beers is held on the October long weekend but after missing two years it was decided to run the event early with plans to return to the original date.

Back and bigger than everAdvertising Feature

Good times: Gears and Beers is back after being cancelled for the past two years due to the pandemic. The event is organised by the Rotary Club of Wollundry Wagga. Picture: Tim Bardsley-Smith

This year's Gears and Beers Festival has attracted record entries after being cancelled for the past two years.

With more than 3000 rider registrations it's one of the largest cycle events of its kind in Australia according to event chair Phillip McIntosh.

"Riders come from all parts of the country to participate, especially Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra," he said.

The Gears and Beers Festival is a combination of cycling events and the Craft Beer and Cider Festival runs on March 26 and 27.

This year sees the addition of a new cycling event on Saturday March 26 taking a loop of the Wiradjuri track.

"The aim of this ride is to showcase the whole city to the visiting cycling community," Phillip said.

"It will also allow cyclists to view the newly- completed cycle complex at Pomingalarna Reserve."

Cycling events on Sunday March 27 include the Dirty130, with 1300 riders participating, the filthy 50 kilometre takes in the dirt lanes north of Wagga as does the Dirty 130.

The 115 kilometre road ride takes riders through Coolamon and Marrar.

There's also a 30 kilometre road ride and 10 kilometre family fun ride.

All rides end at the Craft Beer and Cider Festival in the Victory Memorial Gardens.

"After completing the cycling course join in the festival where you'll find plenty of local produce to help you refuel," Phillip said.

"Our Craft Beer and Cider Festival will complement the cycle challenge, offering a range of hand-crafted beers and ciders, outstanding locally roasted coffee, and great local food.

"Craft brewers are a passionate bunch and we want you to come and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

"Meet the brewers, let them educate you about what you are drinking, why it tastes the way it does and how it's brewed."

Brewers attending include: Bent Spoke Brewers, Canberra, Bridge Road Brewers, Beechworth, Bright Brewery, Bright, Thirsty Crow, Wagga Wagga, King River Brewing, Tumut River Brewing Co, Tumut, The Apple Thief, Batlow, Capital Brewing, Canberra, CSU Winery, Borambola Wines, Modus Operandi, Bondi, Pioneer Brewing, Orange, Crafty Cider Batlow and Jervis Bay Brewing.

There will also be live music throughout the day to add to the atmosphere.

The Craft Beer and Cider Festival runs from 11am to 6pm on Sunday March 27 and is expected to attract more than 4000 people.

You don't have to be a rider to enjoy the festival, anyone can attend but entry is free for registered riders. For non-riders adult entry is $20 and children under 18-years-old cost $5.

Tickets are available at the gate on the day.