Rotarians bike around Australia
Riders and support crew for the first stage of the Great Australian Bike Ride take a group photo in Tasmania. Courtesy of the Great Australian Bike Ride
Australian Rotarians have embarked on the longest organized bike ride in their nation's history: a seven-month, 18,000-kilometer (11,200-mile) journey to raise awareness of Rotary, Australian Rotary Health, and the need to fund mental illness research.
The Great Australian Bike Ride is sponsored by Australian Rotary Health, an RI Board-approved, multidistrict project that raises money for and provides grants to medical and mental health research projects.
"Rotarians welcome any novel opportunity to get involved and to help the community," says Dick White, chair of the event.
Riders took off from Melbourne on 21 March, then took a boat to their first stop, Hobart, Tasmania, looping around the island before returning to the mainland. Over the next seven months, riders will circle the country counterclockwise, stopping in the capital cities of each of Australia's states and territories before ending in Melbourne on 10 October.
Over 100 participants, many of them Rotarians, plan to ride one or more of the nine stages of the course. Five of the riders expect to complete the entire route.
Rotarians helped plan the event by surveying portions of the course and volunteering to find housing for the riders, supply meals, and host fundraisers.
"We hope to have major fundraising events in the capital cities, and large attendances at these would ensure their success," says White.
Event officials welcome additional riders for the remaining stages of the journey and invite Australian Rotary clubs to organize community rides to coincide with the event. Clubs are also encouraged to hold fundraisers to support mental health research.