Strong men make it possible to go all the way

Twenty-five years ago from the humble beginnings between a group of women under the leadership of Hester Woodrup, (wife of Graham a well known marathon cyclist) they threw out the challenge to the Port Fairy Apex Club and another team of local Port Fairy identities to ride in relay from Mildura to Port Fairy within 24 hours. The basis of the ride was to raise money for a very important part of the local community their own Moyne Health Services.

Since this first humble event the same challenge reaches the hearts and minds of many new comers and those hooked on such an event of perseverance and endurance at the same time fund raising for their chosen health service. The event in 2009 saw the dream reach the heights of 1,435 riders representing 150 organisations raised over $1.25 million for hospitals and health related organisations in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

Rain hail and shine, the event has left three locations on the Murray River of Mildura, Swan Hill and Echuca each having a similar distance give or take a few kilometres of a total distance of 520 km. Many Bendigo teams have taken part in the iconic event over the past 25 events. It is a bit like checking an individual’s  cycling resume credentials, Murray to Moyne is one that rates as a must-do for the experience of camaraderie and creating team spirit at the same time add to the hundreds of thousands of dollars over the time in helping meet special needs in health services.

Thirteen cyclists in a Murray to Moyne team line up beside the Murray River

In the beginning: leaving the Murray River, teams tackle one of three 520 km routes over two days to finish at Port Fairy.

This was my first cycling event experience that heightened my desire to take a keen interest in community cycling hence forming some of the most precious friendships one can hold to. The first was for me was some 14 years ago, event conditions were so poor that the event organizers made a clear decision to take all teams off the road and send them to Hamilton for their night stop over. Heavy rain combined with a cold snap during the later part of the evening made conditions intolerable due to the risk of hyperthermia. These were certainly welcoming words that did not need to be spoken twice to convince us to drive the last 150 km of the proposed 430 km to the compulsory stopover at Hamilton.

The second day’s 100km made such an impact on me of the benefits of being in a well organised team and how much further this could extend your abilities and sustain your thinking of suffering.

I continued for many years after this first event to organise and manage cycling teams until enthusiasm dwindled and other commitments took precedence despite being asked to join other teams it did not take place until this year. After such a mammoth series of cycling events of long endurance last year and riding with a committed group of long suffering cyclist, something I had dreamed of one day undertaking might be a reality to ride the full distance of the Murray to Moyne.

I have an ethic that I hold reasonable fast to, that my cycling is not to impact my health and well being, family commitments and being able to fully honour my employer in work. I expect to be tired and weary after such a gruelling event, but I have no desire to be so depleted that life becomes a chore and not a privilege and joy. So the measure for me is that following the event I can still ride the next day and resume some reasonable normality of my life style.

Every ride has its highs and lows and memories of things said and done on a ride that stay on the ride. In reflection would have introduced more than 70 riders into the experience of this event and the uniqueness of riding through the night into the very early hours of the morning that not many other events but for Audax riding have. Night riding takes away the visual perceptions and indicators of gradient, wind direction and speed and can be quite eerie at times in the still of the darkness.

This last events holds many precious gold moments deepened even more the love of being around like minded group of men and women and support crew all battling the waves of pain and fears and doubts. I thank God for the provision of strong riders that made it possible under windy conditions to make it all the way, another milestone now a lasting precious memory.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing

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