Bik­ers boost RFDS cof­fers

Broome Advertiser - - SPORT - Pe­ter de Krui­jff

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.

Pic­tures: Pe­ter de Krui­jff

Ella Wil­lians tum­bles into the path of Akira White.

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