Puff 'n' Pedal

Three cheers for all involved in last weekend's inaugural "Puff 'n' Pedal" fundraising ride for the Mt Beauty Hospital and Kiewa Valley House Residential Facility!

I had the privilege of tagging along for the trip - but no puffing nor pedalling for me ... I got to take a few happy snaps along the way. It was a chance to not only marvel at the effort these folks put into organising and staging such a great fundraising event, but also to enjoy the fantastic scenery they rode through while doing it. Sometimes it's good to have an excuse to admire what we have on our back doorstep!

This event saw 18 cyclists, and their all important support crew, cover almost 400km in a day and a half, around our beautiful region. They left Mt Beauty on Saturday morning and were in Wangaratta by 5pm that afternoon. That's a pretty good effort when you consider they took a challenging but very scenic route that saw them cycle down the Kiewa Valley, across to Sandy Creek, over Lockhart's Gap, along the Mitta Valley, up and over Granya Gap, back along the Murray River Road to cross briefly into NSW near Bellbridge, followed by a series of mostly quiet country roads to take them through Bonegilla, Wodonga, Barnawartha, Chiltern and finally to Wangaratta. Saturday's total ride distance was 270 km, and though it was designed as a team relay, most riders chose to ride a majority of the legs. There were never less than seven cyclists on the road at any one time and frequently more than half the team were cycling.

Photos: big smiles, the view from Lockhart's Gap and arriving in Wang at the end of day one.

Sunday involved pedalling their way from Wangaratta back to the Kiewa Valley, including along some of the Murray to Mountains rail trail. All 18 riders rode the whole way. That was another hundred kilometres. It included a pretty decent climb over Rosewhite Gap. And they got rained on a bit. All after the previous day's efforts in the saddle. But none of that was a problem for this crew!

Photo: along the rail trail near Everton

Previously the Mt Beauty hospital fundraisers have participated in the Murray to Moyne cycle relay, along with thousands of other participants. This year, they decided to create their own event, to bring the challenge closer to home. The group also hosted a fundraising dinner and auction prior to the ride. They hope to use funds from this year's efforts to buy a vaccine and blood storage fridge and lifting equipment to help elderly residents. Over the past ten years of fundraising this group have raised more than $80,000.

For those who like stats, you may be interested to know that between the 18 cyclists, the total distance ridden for the weekend exceeded 4,500 kilometres. The route contained over 2,500 metres of climbing (that is, height gained, not the distance on the road!). And even dealing with five punctures during the weekend's proceedings didn't slow them down for long. Ceccanti Wines hosted the end of event lunch, and I'm confident it went a long way towards replenishing the energy burnt during the ride and meeting the coffee requirements that seem to go hand in hand with cycling.

If you would like to help out, donations will be gratefully received at the Mt Beauty hospital or online at http://www.mycause.com.au/page/mtbeautyhospitalpuffnpedal. Many thanks to all who helped make the event happen and contributed to its success. That is, the organisers, cyclists, the support crew, sponsors, friends and family, and everyone who has donated and/or contributed in other ways.

Meanwhile, the plans to do it all again next year are already being discussed!