Bikers boost RFDS coffers
The Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge provided a welcome 90th birthday present for the Royal Flying Doctor Service when organisers announced it would, once again, be the principal beneficiary of the annual ride.
This year’s 660km five-day trek from Derby to El Questro Station on the Gibb River Road had 277 riders representing 61 teams from across the country.
The challenge finished last Thursday, raising about $385,000 for the RFDS; with the figure likely to push towards $450,000 when counting is finalised.
The ride, which started in 2007, has raised more than $7 million for several charities.
Gibb Challenge founder Simon Rimmer said when making a decision about which charity would receive the money raised next year it could not go past the RFDS.
“It’s a brand and organisation that’s just too relevant,” he said.
“You hear people’s stories along the way and from the station managers who have strong links and understand the value of the services.”
This year’s top fundraisers were the Downer Eagles, a team of four who raised about $120,000.
About 70 per cent of this year’s riders were taking on the Gibb for the first time.
One of the new groups were the Fat Bottomed Girls from the MidWest who equipped themselves with some extra padding for the long ride.
The team, Kristen Warr, Cherie Smart, Heather Carson and Cath Cripps, who live and work on farms near Ogilvie and Binnu, raised about $33,000.
Smart said the women thought it would be a great adventure and challenge to ride the Gibb.
“We saw it was for the RFDS and we’ve all been touched by it,” she said. “We were only trying to raise $6000 and then it went off.”
Smart said the team had a great time but would probably skip next year’s event since it was a fairly stressful time with seeding taking place on their farms.
Mr Rimmer said the road had been great this year but weather conditions were tough with headwinds every day of the event.
“We normally get a breeze but these were forceful easterlies . . . we copped it for five days,” he said.
“I’ve never seen such courtesy given to us on the road — there were very few occasions where I had concerns about our safety because of traffic.
“The ambulance didn’t evacuate anybody, unlike our first campaign when we needed three medical extractions by the RFDS.”
Gibb River Road Challenge riders Heather Smith, Cass Wittwer, Sarah Blunt and Hilary Wilkins.
Ella Willians tumbles into the path of Akira White.