Ride to Conference Report

Rotary District 9820 600km Ride to Conference 2018

This year the annual event was held from Saturday 10th to Friday 16th February with 30 riders and well over 10 support crew. It was an amazing ride including a diversity of members including Youth Exchange students, Rotarians, Inner Wheel members both couples and  singles. An outstanding team effort with the funds raised to be $52,000.00. For such a small group this effort was fantastic.

The ride had highlights and low lights, at times too. The countryside we rode through was quite picturesque within the boundaries of the Latrobe Valley. There was much farming, mining, power generation and timber industry to observe. We could see multiple power stations as we rode along, some of which included the Yallourn, Hazelwood (now closed) and Loy A and B Stations. While the Rotary conference was to be held in Sale on the following weekend the ride commenced at Traralgon where we stayed for six nights at the very comfortable Park Lane Big 4 Holiday Park. A multipurpose living and dining area with a great kitchen were a huge benefit to the support team and riders. There was also a swimming pool too.

The first day of riding was huge, covering just on 107 kilometres in total. We rode through Glengarry, Toongabbie and had lunch at a lovely park in the centre of Heyfield. For anyone who may remember the Bear’s Bikes shop in Pakenham we were able to catch up with Craig (Bear) Thatcher who helped on the ride as the Bike Mechanic for many years before moving to Heyfield. A glorious ride was ended when we turned for home as we then realised we were riding straight into the wind almost all the way.

The second day was heading in the opposite direction to Gormandale for morning tea, up many hills to arrive here. And then on to Rosedale for lunch, another lovely park in the centre of town. One of the highlights of this day was an excellent talk given by Charlie Spiers (Past District Governor) about the Loy Yang Open Cut mine, where he worked as an engineer and then as a people manager for many years. Another highlight was the Life Education visit to the Rosedale Primary School where Harold the giraffe, on the back of the tandem bike, met and enjoyed time with the children there while finding out about the bike ride and the funds being raised.

On the third day we were off in another direction again, heading for Churchill where we rode through a campus of the Federation University, past the Hazelwood Pondage, no longer warm and on to Yinnar for lunch. The highlight today was a visit to Centenary House in Traralgon, only a short distance from our accommodation. We had a very informative tour and were thanked in glowing terms for the monies raised over many years by the bike ride. Todays ride covered 79 kilometres.

The fourth day was a disaster with an extreme weather change within the first hour of riding so once we reached Yallourn North, 17kms away, we sheltered outside the local cricket club and had an early morning tea. The Committee called the ride off for the day and no one was allowed to ride again. Into the bus and cars we went and back to camp for a rest day. While we understood the gravity of the weather it was great to have a day to catch our breath and all the meals were supplied as usual. Some riders took advantage of a Yoga Instructor who was also a bike rider, who provided stretching sessions at the end of each day for a few minutes. A larger group spent over an hour on this day learning and practising yoga in a supportive environment.  A school visit was held for Life Education although Harold had to walk, not ride the tandem bike into the school.

Luckily the wind had abated to light conditions for day 5 when we again set off for Yallourn North but with the aim of visiting Tanjil South, Willow Grove and then to Trafalgar for lunch. The route home was through Moe and Newborough and we covered 97 kilometres on this ride.

The Thursday evening is always a pizza night with awards and an hilarious fines session to raise funds, of course. Visitors attending the conference sometimes attend this evening. Kathy and John Dunscombe attended, they are the parents of Jared, who rode on the ride and tragically died 5 years ago while participating at Geelong. A memorial award has been provided by Kathy and John and is given to a member of the bike ride who has shown strength in overcoming adversity and who is an encouraging and hardworking team person. This year the Committee presented the award to our very own Alwyn Williams for all her tireless efforts to provide support, assistance and much delicious food for all throughout each day of the bike ride, including 6 morning teas, 6 lunches and 6 afternoon teas!!! A very well deserved award and there was no one more surprised than Alwyn when her name was announced. Of course, Alwyn assumed the award would only be given to a bike rider! Committee Chairman Colin Byatt (photo below) made a great speech to thank Alwyn for all her wonderful efforts for the bike ride over many years and her ability to continue this on through recent adverse health issues. Great effort!!

On the last day which was the Friday, we needed to pack up and take out bikes to Sale in our cars to ride the final day of 56 kilometres to Cobains for lunch and then back to Sale for a welcome by the District Governor Don Ripper to the District Rotary conference. It was the end of Ride no. 17 and although the wind was still blowing there were many happy faces who had completed the journey safely. Well done to all, especially Helen, who with husband Peter has completed all 17 rides and Joy who returned as a rider after recovering from two major back surgeries in the past 18 months.

Thank you to all Inner Wheel members for your support of this great activity, for the Club’s sponsorship, personal sponsors and those who provided cake, biscuits or slices for the riders morning and afternoon teas.  Your efforts were once again much appreciated.