Family incentive for Great Vic Bike Ride

Kevin and Marg Fitzgibbon in their cycling gear with a bike

All in the family: Kevin and Marg Fizgibbon are raising money for diabetes research and support to help their young grandson.

Kevin and Marg Fitzgibbon had strong childhood memories of cycling to primary school, visiting friends and attending sporting activities in those days being the norm. Both in their 60’s have now re-gained the freedom experience that cycling gives. They bought bikes with “gears” about 5 years ago which they have since upgraded. They have come along in leaps and bounds to the point of deciding to take on their first Great Victorian Bike Ride this year a 9 day ride from Yarrawonga to Marysville.

When registering Marg & Kevin found that Diabetes was the charity partner of the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride, this made them more determined to do it, deciding that they would ride for their grandson, Tristan, who has Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. Their ride now has a real focus and special meaning, with Tristan being quite chuffed that Nanna and Poppy are doing this for him. They are hoping to raise at least $2,000 for research into Juvenile Diabetes so that families like Tristan’s receive more help and support and hope that in the future a cure will be found.

Tristan was first diagnosed in June 2003 when he was only 6 yrs old, in grade 1, and was about to celebrate his 7th birthday. Karen his Mum reflected, “We initially went to the doctor about a lump in his neck, but as an afterthought I mentioned how he was always thirsty, incredibly tired and had lost a lot of weight. (He had even wet the bed twice, which he hadn’t done since he was little). The doctor proceeded to test his blood sugar on a glucose monitor, which couldn’t read his blood sugar levels so he sent us straight to the Royal Children’s Hospital.”

Karen will never forget the fear of having to give Tristan her first injection after practicing on an orange so she wouldn’t hurt him. Overcoming her phobias seems so secondary now! In March 2005, Tristan was very fortunate to be given an insulin pump. This is a small device that is attached to his body by a cannula and a cord that delivers insulin regularly. Tristan is now 14 yrs old in Year 8, his interests in sporting activities has increased considerably since he was first diagnosed. He plays basketball all year round, cricket in summer and football in the winter.

Marg and Kevin have lived at Strathfieldsaye all their lives and since they started riding around the area have discovered roads and places they didn’t know existed. Both working part time now have been endeavouring to ride 4 days a week and have been slowly building up their stamina, Marg with a chuckle makes the comment that her stamina now allows her to do the house work when they return from a 60 – 70 km ride. They both have come to favour riding around the Bellarine Peninsula where they have a family retreat of an onsite caravan and around the Strathfieldsaye area both areas having a great mix of wind, hills and site seeing of interest.

While Marg & Kevin have not yet reached their target of the longest day on the road of the GVBR they hope very soon to manage this comfortably. They both have a very realistic approach with average speeds generally around the 20 km per hour and their longest ride so far around 80 l, which in real terms means they only have to be in the saddle another hour to reach their first 100 km ride.

The upgrade of their new bikes has certainly made a difference being set up better and gaining more insight into long distance cycling. When asked what encouragement they would like to give to others considering embarking cycling in the latter years, “just go for it”. They have found the low impact on their bodies refreshing and the ability to cover distances that walking or running does not give exciting and the increased fitness and health rewarding.

Marg and Kevin have a large hurdle yet to overcome, that being sharing the road with 4,000 other riders, but know this is but a small obstacle compared to what Tristan has come through. They are looking forward to their cycling and have set up a web page to assist in their fundraising contribution.  They would be very grateful for any donations received.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing


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