RoadNats vibe loved by locals, visitors

January 20, 2022 BY

Prime position: The Elite Men’s Road Race gets underway on Warrenheip Street in Buninyong. Photo: MARCEL BERENS/ SPORTS MEDIA

ALTHOUGH spectator attendance was down on previous years, last weekend’s Federation University Road National Championships attracted lots of its long-time regulars.

A resident of Buninyong for 82 years, Wendy Furlong brought a couple of chairs out onto her Warrenheip Street nature strip to catch all the elite cycling action.

Living just one-hundred metres from the start-finish line of the road race, Ms Furlong and her granddaughter Ellen have annually soaked up the competition atmosphere in that spot since the RoadNats first came to town.

“Every each we sit out here, run back in and have a look on the telly, and then come back out,” she said.

“I think it’s wonderful for Buninyong. It puts us, a beautiful little country town, on the map. Some shopkeepers say its their best weekend for the year.”

Ellen Duffy and Wendy Furlong watch the cycling from their front yard each January. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Ms Furlong has family in Western Australia who watch the road races on SBS and are “proud” to see spectacular vision of Buninyong – the village where they grew up – on national television.

But not all regular spectators were locals. One group of friends from Sydney and greater Melbourne, including John Collins and Robyn Rosendale, have enjoyed attending the RoadNats annually for 11 years.

“We just love the cycling. We come as a group and take a house in Ballarat each year,” Mr Collins said.

Ms Rosendale said although Buninyong is growing, it’s always a “quaint” place for them to come to, and has a warm, welcoming feel.

“We have ‘our tree’ that we always sit under, really enjoy the social side of it, and there’s lots of places to eat,” she laughed.

“The cycling gets us out to look at areas we normally wouldn’t look at, and it’s a great family atmosphere.”

Located by the start-finish line, bike shop Dynamite Cycles reported seeing a lot of their RoadNats regular customers.

For more coverage on and off the road see pages 16, 17 and 30.