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Four Apex mates ride to conquer cancer

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Four mates take on The Ride to Conquer Cancer - 27 & 28 October 2012 to raise funds for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Peter Mac Bike Ride logo

On a wet and drizzly morning four Apex mates from Hoppers Crossing headed off on a weekend of riding pushbikes from Albert Park to Healesville to help raise much needed funds for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. The ride was real hard work - 100kms on Saturday, camp overnight in Healesville and then ride the 100kms back to Albert Park the next day.Not for the fient hearted!

Our adventure is about to begin!Our adventure is about to begin!A total of 1609 riders headed off in wet conditions with a common goal of personally challenging themselves and raising funds for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.  Peter Mac is the only public hospital solely dedicated to research and treatment of cancer patients. Statistics show that 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed or treated for some form of cancer in their lifetime.
Woody’s Warriors, comprising four mates being members or friends of Hoppers Crossing Apex Club, were current President Adrian Walker, past members Chris Smith and Peter Wood and the husband of another member, Adam Jordan.

Each rider had made the commitment to raising a minimum of $2,500 each. We had some very generous donations from Hoppers Crossing Apex Club, Hoppers Crossing Rotary Club, Norman Carriers and the Hoppers Crossing Sports Club as well as the fantastic support of family, friends and work colleagues. We also ran a couple of other fundraising events leading to  Woody’s Warriors being  able to contribute over $17,600 to the amazing total of over $6.2 million that was raised by the event. We had a successful Trivia Night (and auction) thanks to the tremendous efforts of Anne & Tony Long.  Vouchers and/or auction items were provided by WynCity Bowls, WorkSafe Victoria, Jack Daniels Racing (Kelly Brothers Racing.), Hoppers Crossing Club, Tiger’s Clubhouse, Good Guys – Hoppers Crossing, Wyndham Cultural Centre, H Leffler & Son, Bottle-O Williamstown, Hawthorn Football Club, Essendon Football Club, Bunnings & Sky Power Energy.

Volunteers did a fantastic job - Thanks Cath & TraceyVolunteers did a fantastic job - Thanks Cath & TraceyLaverton Point Cook Rotary assisted us in allowing us to auction a couple of items at their Sportsman Night.

We were also fortunate to receive some generous donations from Eureka Manufacturing, Jordan Consulting and Mimmo’s Refrigerated Transport.
For 6 months we had trained, spending many hours riding between Geelong and Hoppers Crossing, Werribee to Little River and back and following the Federation trail from end to end. From being very casual cyclists we had trained into weekend warriors – usually meeting at around 7.00am on Saturdays and Sundays to get the necessary training done to prepare us to ride the distance.

In our busy lives when rest and relaxation and recovery from work is important, as is family time, the team made significant sacrifices by spending up to 5 – 6 hrs per day in weekend training. Somewhere between 1,500 – 2,000kms would have been completed in our training over the months. And for those not accustomed to regular riding this came with its challenges.

Pit Stop on Day 1 (Still smiling!)Pit Stop on Day 1 (Still smiling!)

And then of course there is the lycra – not a bad sight on some but not so good for those middle aged blokes with a healthy appetite and an enjoyment of a frothy or two. So with our months of training behind us and our fundraising pledges locked in with Peter Mac we were ready for the ride.

We dropped our bikes off on site on the Friday night and the anticipation and excitement began to build. Arriving early Saturday morning prior to 6.00am the scene was set for our epic adventure to begin. The atmosphere was buzzing with expectation and anticipation of the 1,600 plus riders, as well as the volunteers, on the massive journey we were about to commence.

From the regular and more experienced riders to the amateurs such as ourselves – we gathered together for the formal opening ceremony. The confirmation that over $6.2 million had been raised drew a rousing applause from all riders. The inspirational address from recovering patients from Peter Mac set the scene for the ride to commence.

With our bike in hand, ready to mount, thoughts go through your mind: have we done enough training? Are we up for this challenge? Many people are relying on our sponsorship and donations – we can’t let these people down nor the people who have pledged their hard earned money.

There were allsorts around us – the regular riders – fit, able & ready for the task ahead, there were the weekend warriors/part-timers like us  – a little fitter for the months of training but is this beyond us? There were the cancer survivors with the strength and determination to take on and beat any challenge and of course there was the guy on the unicycle. (And the thought crosses your mind – if some guy can do this on one wheel then surely I can do it on 2!).

Lunch on Day 1 - LilydaleLunch on Day 1 - Lilydale

So off we head with the great support of volunteers, the well sign-posted circuit and the fabulous support of the Harley Davidson crew who directed riders along the route– Healesville here we come!

The organisers did a fantastic job of arranging pit stops and meal stops along the route which were a great opportunity for a little rest and a chance to replenish our energy levels with snacks, fruit and drinks.

All the volunteers were most accommodating, friendly and supportive and were welcome sights after long periods of riding.

One of the challenges was not necessarily the length of the course but rather the hilly terrain. Of course the downhills where we reached speeds in excess of 50kms per hour either came to a screeching halt at a T-intersection or we were facing an uphill battle that exceeded the magnitude of the hill we had just come down. Although our training had been quite extensive I am not sure that anything could have prepared us for this. So what option did we have, being in the middle of nowhere, so you just push on as far as you can and where necessary get off and push your bike up the hill. (Hence the name: push-bike!)       

So as mid afternoon approached and after several pit stops and a lunch break, we finally reached Healesville – but of course the camp site was at the local footy ground a couple of kilometres further out of town.

Tent City - HealesvilleTent City - HealesvilleTent city - 100’s of tents were pitched ready for the riders......now just to find where mine was located and collect my luggage that was brought up in the truck. The last thing you want to do after riding an exhausting 100kms is carry your suitcase across the oval and then prepare your bed.

The warm showers were welcoming and a chance to sooth the sore and weary muscles and joints.  Should I have a massage or head to the bar for a cold beer? The beer seemed the more attractive option at that stage and besides, the massage sessions had been booked out for the day. Some may say that a beer or two could be just as therapeutic as any physical treatment.

End of Day 1 at Healesville after a warm shower.End of Day 1 at Healesville after a warm shower.A massive marquee was the venue for the dinner with plenty of meat, chicken pie, vegies and salad for all. This was followed by some more formal announcements and a presentation from one of the Peter Mac researchers who detailed the impact that this massive fundraising total could achieve – Yes, this will make a difference. This money will be put to good use and some of their work and research would not have been possible without these wonderful donations and the efforts of all the riders and volunteers who worked hard to raise these funds.
A band provided entertainment for the night which enabled people to rest, relax, dance or just have a sing-a-long to many popular songs. The bar closed by 8.45pm to ensure everyone had a good nights sleep.

The Band!The Band!
Up early Sunday morning, time to pack up our things, take the luggage back to the trucks, enjoy a warm breakfast of bacon and eggs, a stretch of the weary muscles and a last minute check of our bikes to ensure they were ready for the journey home.
The course was open from 6.30am with all bikes to depart by 7.30am.

Melbourne here we come - only 100 kms to go!Melbourne here we come - only 100 kms to go!The return trip took a slightly different route for the first part, yet some of the hills were just as unforgiving as the day before. With many tired bodies it seemed that some were happy just to walk their bikes up the bigger hills.

One of the many hills.One of the many hills.Nonetheless the challenge remained to get over the line. Pit stop rest breaks were welcomed and these seemed more important on day 2.

Some riders who fell away due to fatigue or mechanical issues were assisted by the sweep vehicles that ran up and down the course to provide great support for the riders.

As we pass the 20km mark, then the 40km mark we continue to get closer to the finish line. Make no mistake this was not a race – it was just a battle to get back to Albert Park.

As we approached the city and headed through the streets of South Melbourne the end was in sight – people littered the edge of the circuit as we approached the finish line - a cheer from the crowd and a welcoming embrace and kiss from waiting family and friends who were there to greet us.

Yes, this was an epic adventure and a culmination of over 6 months of hard work in training and fundraising all in support of The Ride to Conquer Cancer – supporting the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.  Well done boys – I am extremely proud of our efforts.  WOODY.

The finish line....Hooray!The finish line....Hooray!

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