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Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride a family affair

It’s nearly time for the 250+ riders to make their 358km journey north for the Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride (TCBR) — an annual pilgrimage that has been rolling for 17 years to raise funds and awareness for Children’s Cancer Institute. It’s Rochelle King’s 10th year doing the ride and, over the years, she has managed to make it a family affair, roping in her son, daughter and husband for the three-day ride.

We caught up with Rochelle to find out why she keeps coming back each year, what she loves about riding, her top tips for newbies, and how you can get involved.

We’ll camp at each venue together (although she won’t sleep near me because, apparently, I snore!) and I get to cheer her in at the end of each day’s ride — I love that bit — so proud of her!”

What do you most enjoy about the TCBR? The challenge of riding 360km for three days. I also love the camaraderie of like-minded people, and I especially love knowing I’m maybe — just maybe — helping in a small way to help find a cure for childhood cancer.

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Rochelle King with daughter Kylie, husband Kenn and son Ben doing TCBR in 2013.

How did you all get involved in the ride initially? My first contact was when a wonderful couple, that had personally experienced the loss of a loved one to cancer, decided to ride and invited me to join them.

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The first year Kylie and Rochelle rode as mother and daughter.

This is your tenth year and your daughter Kylie is joining you again. How did Kylie and the rest of the family get involved? I rode the first couple of years with a couple of wonderful friends, then Kylie (now aged 31) decided to support me by being the rear driver for our group (Frogs) in 2008. Then, the following year, she couldn’t help herself — she was on her bike and riding with me.

Kylie missed a few years with uni and other commitments, but has now ridden the past four years either in the Frogs or the Goannas. My husband Kenn has joined me for the past three years, but is unable to ride this year. Kylie said, ‘Hey let’s do a mother and daughter team again’, and here we are. We will ride in our favourite groups — Kylie in the Goannas (20-25km/h) and me in the Eagles (25-30km/h). We’ll camp at each venue together (although she won’t sleep near me because, apparently, I snore!) and I get to cheer her in at the end of each day’s ride — I love that bit — so proud of her!

In 2013 we actually rode and fundraised as a whole family: me, Kenn, my son Ben (then 32) and Kylie (then 29), plus our family friend Conrad. It was very special to have everyone together.

Has cycling taken you to any other interesting places? We all travelled down to Adelaide in January for the Tour Down Under and rode many of the stages (or parts of) together. The photo on my fundraising page is of Kylie and I on top of one the mountains outside Adelaide, which was part of one of the stages. We had such a good time that we have all booked to go again next January! Recently we all rode the Great Brisbane Bike Ride, which was part of Bicycle Week — we planned on doing the 100km ride, but the rain and floods closed the longer course, so we all rode the 70km course. Kenn and I have plans to go to Europe on our 40th wedding anniversary next year and ride some of the Tour de France courses (and holiday of course).

“You can ride your bike for three days with others who love it as well, someone feeds you very well, and all the time you know you’re raising awareness and money for such a worthy cause”

What’s the most challenging aspect of the TCBR? One of the biggest challenges originally was learning to ride as part of a large group and learning the ‘riding etiquette’ — making sure you knew the correct calls, how far to ride behind the person in front, what not to do etc. Now one of my biggest challenges is trying to get my training in around work and rain [Rochelle and Kenn recently moved to the Sunshine Coast to be closer to family after 40 years in Townsville].

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Rochelle and son Ben in 2013 at the Rollingstone stop.

What are your top tips for newbies? Make use of the training rides organised by the committee — these rides get you used to riding in bigger groups and it’s very encouraging to train with others who have that spirit of the ride. Also, there are more experienced riders who can give you tips on everything from your bike, to what to wear on longer distance trips, to nutrition. The other tip is to communicate with the committee if you have questions about the ride — they are only too happy to help!

What would you say to others who are thinking about doing the ride next year? Just do it! You will never regret it. Honestly, you can ride your bike for three days with others who love it as well, someone feeds you very well, and all the time you know you’re raising awareness and money for such a worthy cause.

“Trust me, I’m not going to complain about a sore bum when I remember what these wonderful riders have overcome just to ride over the years”

Is it great to see people of all ages and abilities riding? This is one of the most wonderful things about this ride. Everyone, from all levels of fitness, can join in and ride with a group to suit their level of fitness. I’ve ridden alongside a wonderful blind lady who was on a tandem bike, and they lead the group on many stages of the ride. The eldest rider I can remember was in his late 70s and he did all his training on a wind trainer beside his wife’s bed as she was confined to bed due to illness. I’ve also ridden with a lady who suffered from a serious form of arthritis and had trouble walking, but she rode the whole way with no complaints. Trust me, I’m not going to complain about a sore bum when I remember what these wonderful riders have overcome just to ride over the years.

Are you proud to be able to raise funds and awareness for such a worthwhile cause? Yes, it gives me an immense sense of satisfaction. While it has not touched me personally, I’ve had a workmate who have lost a grandchild to this terrible cancer and I’ve ridden with others who have had a photo of a child taped to their handlebars. Last year I decided to take my commitment to this cause one step further and worked on the committee as the vehicle and volunteer coordinator — it was a crazy busy time, but I loved it and felt very privileged to work with other people just as committed to this worthy cause. And, yes, I feel very proud to be part of the TCBR.

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Townsville to Cairns riders getting ready to roll last year.


Get involved

The Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride is from July 23 to 25. Come and cheer the riders on who are leaving from the Mercure Inn on Woolcock Street at 7.15am on Thursday, July 23 and heading to the first stop at Ingham.

Any amount that you can donate to this very worthy cause is welcome. Either make your contribution on the general fundraising page here, or have a bit of fun and support long-term TCBR participant and sponsor Mike Prentice in his efforts.

After a bit of gentle persuasion, and in the name of charity, Mike has agreed to re-grow his 1980s porn star-esque moustache that he donned when he was dominating Ironman 30 years ago. He’s highly uncomfortable about the facial fur so we are supporting his embarrassment with a campaign to Bring Iron Mike’s Mo Back — and keep it alive for as long as possible. Find out how you can keep him (and everyone he meets) cringing right up to departure time here: http://2015townsvilletocairns.gofundraise.com.au/page/TopBrandCycles2015.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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