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21 October 2016
Team RDWA, headed by GP Locum Dr Russell Richardson, has successfully completed the 1000k's 4 Kids ride, helping to raise $127,000 for Camp Quality.
1000k's 4 Kids is Camp Quality’s annual fundraiser and the RDWA team rode from Geelong to Glenelg over 10 days.
The ride was the culmination of a year-round training and fundraising effort by Dr Richardson and a team of hard-working people committed to creating a better life for kids living with cancer.
Dr Richardson was the captain of the RDWA team, which wore distinctive hot pink jerseys. The RDWA team included 14 year old Jessye, a blind rider who lost her sight as a young child due to Retinoblastoma.
Read more about Dr Richardson’s adventure, in his own words, below.
What would possess someone to choose to ride 1000 kilometres on a bicycle? Good Question!! However, I recently had the pleasure and privilege of doing just that, with the sponsorship and support of many wonderful people at RDWA.
So let’s break it down a bit…what were the motivations?
We started in Geelong on a cloudy Friday morning...20 enthusiastic riders and 12 support team. The cyclists were divided into 5 teams, each with a team captain and a recognisable colourful jersey. I had the honour of captaining the Pink RDWA team...which included Jessye a 14 year old blind rider who lost her sight as a young child due to Retinoblastoma...an aggressive malignant cancer in the back of the eye. She lost her first eye aged 1 and the other around 3 years of age. If ever you need inspiration spend some time with her. She rode on a tandem bike with her pilot Tristan. Her mother Trish was also riding in our team...she had never ridden a road bike until 6 months before the event...so 1000km was going to be a challenge and we would see if the hours of training and preparation would be sufficient. Trish certainly had significant doubts as to her ability to finish the task!
There were many of the riders and support staff that I had only met for the first time the night before...so riding the 95km as a group to our first stop at Apollo Bay gave opportunity to get to know each other better, and explore the various reasons why that person chose to be there. The support crew were responsible for protecting us on the road from traffic, with a lead car, rear car and back up car to assist with mechanical issues and punctures should they arise. Morning tea and lunch stops gave us an opportunity to all get together and thrive in the comradeship of the group.
In the evenings after dinner and discussion of the route and potential dangers of the next day, we would hand out prizes and fines from the day. The Joker jersey goes to a member of the riding group who has done something funny or stupid worthy of recognition. There were always honourable mentions, and those who did not win on the day had to make a gold coin donation for their efforts. The winner got to wear the colourful rainbow cycling top the next day…which reminded me of what a Minstrel/Village Idiot would wear in medieval times. There was also a Most Supportive Jersey given to the individual who made a special effort during the day to assist another rider. And also a King of The Mountain jersey, to celebrate someone who had overcome adversity during the day and battled on regardless. Each day there were new nominations and recipients. The support crew also had similar awards to recognise their special contributions.
We would also have one of the riders who would share their story as to why they had come along…and this was always a very powerful and emotional bonding experience for the group. We had 2 other childhood cancer survivors in the group. Special mention goes to Alex, a wonderful 22 year old man who was diagnosed with leukaemia aged 12 who now is an Ambassador for Camp Quality, a Board member, who I had the privilege of walking Kokoda with when he was 14 and he rode from Perth to Adelaide (2855km) when 16, both fundraising for charity. Kids who have been on the cancer journey certainly have a different level of maturity and views on life compared with their peers.
Thankfully the first few days’ weather was kind to us. The second and third days had some challenging mountain climbs through the Otways with some exhilarating descents. The Tandem bike flew past me at one point when I was travelling at 63kmph...imagine the trust that Jessye must have for Tristan rocketing along at that speed and not being able to see!!
If the distance wasn’t challenging enough, the middle 2 days of the ride from Warrnambool to Mt Gambier tested the mind and body. It rained heavily and we had gale force head winds…the same weather that smashed SA and wrecked the Wallaroo jetty and the Adelaide beaches. There is nowhere to hide from that on a bike, and it relies on everyone giving 100% to get to the group home safely.
We typically started riding at daybreak…trying to get most of the day’s distance licked before the winds picked up too much. We would arrive at our stopping point usually by early afternoon, so that gave everyone an opportunity to explore the area and towns before dinner. At a number of locations along the way we visited Primary Schools and watched the Camp Quality Puppet show, which educates children about cancer to help them understand and accept either other children at their school or adults close to them who are facing the challenges of living with cancer. After the show we would be available for the kids to ask us questions regarding our cycling journey, and as you can imagine there were many hilarious and unusual questions from the enthusiastic audience.
Our final day saw us riding from Milang on the banks of Lake Alexandrina to Glenelg through the Adelaide Hills. Thankfully the weather Gods were kind to us. We even had a motorcycle Police escort through the busy metropolitan streets (3 of the bike riders were senior Police...so they called in a few favours). There was a massive contingent of family and friends welcoming us home.
Despite a few challenging moments…with wild weather, mental fatigue, legs that weren’t sure whether they wanted to keep pushing the pedals and buttock bones that took some coaxing to get back in the saddle, the entire group managed to ride all 1000km. For Trish, this was particularly rewarding and it was with some significant relief and satisfaction that she crossed the finish line with a massive smile on her face!!
We managed to raise $127,000 for Charity.
Events like this are a wonderful shared experience. I would encourage anyone who would want to ride, or join the support staff to look at doing it. You won’t regret it, and it may well change your life!!