With more than one hundred cyclists and dozens of supporters, one could be forgiven for thinking they were watching the start of ‘le Tour’ at the front of the Civic Centre on Saturday.
Now the dust has settled on the tenth Irish Club Charity Border Ride, we can reveal the results.
Decked out in everything from T-shirts to tutus and leotards to lycra, some were there for the fun while others were out to set a personal best time for the 200km ride.
One thing in common for all was their prayers for a tailwind, which fortunately was favourable.
Ride patron, Tony McGrady, and part-time ‘directeur sportif’, Brett Peterson, led the bunch out to the First and Last where the flag was dropped and the ride began in earnest.
Within a few kilometres, the group had spread out with the guns averaging around 40km plus.
In a clash of wheels Tony Sweeney and John Barturen came down, resulting in broken bones, lost skin, and a display of guts by both of them. While Sweeney continued on with a fractured wrist and a cut needing stitches, Barturen had to come back to hospital with a broken shoulder.
Wayne Sanchez was the first rider to reach the Northern Territory border, in the impressive time of 5 hours, 14 minutes.
Sanchez flies to France in two weeks to compete in the world championships.
He was closely followed by a trio of ex-Mount Isa cyclists; Matt Jenkin (Gladstone), Gary Cassidy (Darwin), and Chris Carson (Brisbane), with Dan Walker (Cloncurry) also in the bunch.
The first woman to cross the finish line was Kiri Bunker, who has just returned from riding the Alps in the wake of the Tour de France.
Annual visitor, ride ambassador, and paraplegic, Glen ‘Hightower’ McMurtrie, completed more than 100km in his hand cycle, as usual.
Another woman worth a special mention is Linda French, who has completed the full distance for all ten Border Rides, and is the only person to have done so.
This year the “Lantern Rouge” went to Ed O’Connor from Redland Bay.
This trophy goes to the last rider to complete the entire distance and was initially introduced for the Tour de France. It signified a “lantern to light the way” as the last rider often finished in the dark.
The Border Ride has its own version of this trophy which is a miner’s helmet with a cap lamp attached.
This year Roy Pattison, in an endeavour to improve on his previous times, amassed quite a formidable team to work for him.
Unfortunately Roy could not keep up with them and once again returned a dismal time. For the third year running he also fell off his bike thereby reclaiming the ‘Roy Pattison 6 P’s’ trophy (Prior Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance).
It was great to see riders attending from all over the state and even further afield, with large contingents from Alice Springs and Redland Bay and others from Brisbane, Townsville, Gladstone, Cloncurry and Darwin.
Ted Larsen and Andrew Crowe were so keen to do the ride, they actually cycled all the way from Townsville to Mount Isa and then on to the NT border. Ted was heard to boast that he had ridden from one side of our state to the other in eight days.
One of the great things about the Border Ride is it attracts people from all walks of life and all levels of fitness. Riders enjoy the camaraderie and support each other on the journey, and it has been described as “a wonderful sporting community of like-minded participants”.
The big plus is that, in addition to having fun, the cyclists and supporters are helping to raise money for local people who have fallen on hard times due to injury or illness in the family.
There are always some special stories which emerge on the day, and this year was particularly inspiring.
We saw Tracey Tweedie make her debut on her adult tricycle after battling Leukaemia for the last few years.
Sam Richmond has not allowed Multiple Schlerosis to beat her and managed to ride over 70 km while another gentleman rode with a prosthetic leg.
The Border Ride enables anyone and everyone to have a go.