Hundreds turned out at the Mt. Buninyong course to ride one final lap for Jason Lowndes, a professional rider just beginning to find his way into the upper echelons of the sport. Lowndes was hit from behind by a motorist on the 22 December during a regular ride near Bendigo, with inquiries still being conducted into the precise nature of the fatal crash.
Friends, teammates and fans turned out as the bunch numbered in the hundreds to pay their respects to their fallen counterpart. Police and marshals turned out to guide the massive group around the circuit, farewelled by an emotional Trudie and Graeme Lowndes, Jason's parents.
Thank you to everyone who came out to ride a Lap for Lowndesy in memory of Jason Lowndes and in the spirit of road safety. pic.twitter.com/bKaG6Bh1AX
— Cycling Australia (@CyclingAus) January 3, 2018
The news has hit the Australian cycling community as a whole, in a year that has seen an increase in cycling deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads (per the Australian Road Deaths Database). Bendigo is renowned for its development of cycling stars of the future but today it mourned the death of one of its young prodigies.
Graeme Pilcher was one of the first at the site of the crash and spoke after the lap about his experience and where cycling goes from here.
"I was on the scene not long after it happened," Pilcher said. "I helped direct traffic really until the police and ambulances came. It's been a huge personal impact for all that knew him.
"It's a terrible accident for both parties, a young life lost and a young girl (the driver) who'll have it affect her for the rest of her life. Hopefully, it can bring people together and make us more unified.
"This is what we showed today, it was a representation and testimony to who Jason was. Such a nice guy, an infectious sort of guy, a great smile... full of enthusiasm for life."
That sentiment has been echoed by many within the cycling fraternity, with the reflections on Lowndes and his open-hearted, generous and fun nature.
Many have focused on what can be done in the wake of the tragic loss with friend and fellow Bendigo local rider Charlie Fitzpatrick talking about the need for a collaborative approach to fix safety issues on the road.
"He was a really good mate of mine," Fitzpatrick said, "it was horrible to find out firstly via social media. What's clear is that there's a big culture gap between cyclists and motorists in general.
"We need to work together to establish that it's a shared road and cars don't have right of way and they don't take priority. We see it over and again that the car ends up a lot better than the poor guy on the bike."
Finding any single answer that solves all serious road incidents may be impossible, but it is hoped that shows of solidarity, like the 'Lap for Lowndesy' will bring attention to the issue and bring some solutions to lessen the toll on the roads.
"What it means for cyclists and motorists is that we need to be more conscious of each other on the roads," Pilcher said." Be a bit more understanding from both parties. It's a young life lost. It's a terrible accident, but you have to think that there was something that could be done, one way or the other, to avoid it."
A moment of silence will be held Sunday ahead of the elite men's and women's road race to commemorate the passing of Lowndes.