A while ago Irma put her hand up to try and make a difference for orphaned kids in Thailand impacted by the 2004 Tsunami. The decision to do the Hands Across the Water charity ride was the result of a combination of things:
1. Kids regardless of where they are – should have a right to be cared for.
On a visit to Thailand Irma witnessed first-hand the scars on the landscape the Tsunami wreaked almost a decade ago, and we can only imagine the scars that this event left on the people of Thailand, in particular young kids.
2. Irma knew my love of cycling, and how this would rekindle that – my bike had been gathering dust in the shed since we moved 5 years ago.
This also provided us the opportunity as a family to be together and share in something significant at the same time.
So. It was with that motivation that we committed to doing the 500km bike ride and raising $10’000 between the two of us. From the outset it was clear that this was going to be a challenge on both fronts, but we felt ready to take it on.
I pulled my bike out of the shed, pumped up the tyres, greased the chain, adjusted the brakes- and was ready to get into the saddle and start training. Despite the fact that our area didn’t seem that bike friendly – my friend Google advised me that I could ride to work and completely avoid the tangle of freeways that stand between me and my office. So began some tentative training rides – 37 km one way. I’ll admit readily that the first ride in was tough and my 50 year old legs were not happy with this new mode of transport.
Irma, on the other hand, was faced with a minor challenge – she didn’t have a bike!
Irma, ever the creative thinker, had an idea. Why not ask a local bike store to sponsor us? After visiting quite a few local stores, we finally found Peter Seal, a generous bike store owner who gave Irma a big discount on a shiny new hybrid bike and some essential bike gear too!
So we were ready to get on our bikes! Another consultation with my trusty friend revealed that Melbourne has an amazing network of bike trails. A new hidden world was opened to us!
First on our list was the Hallam trail – at 20km it’s a mere blip on the radar – but it gave Irma a chance to become accustomed with bicycle technology from this century. All those gears can get confusing! She also unintentionally demonstrated the benefits of a hybrid bike by riding through a muddy patch of grass with elegance and ease! Leaving me looking on with envy on my road bike.
The largest part of our challenge is raising the $10’000, something both Irma and I have never done before. We approached friends and colleagues, and many have been very generous in their support, for which we are both grateful.
We soon realized that we would need to find other ways to raise funds and promote the cause. Again, some creative thinking was needed. Irma touched base with a business colleague Pat who has a journalistic background and suggested a press release. So after a photo session at Sealy’s Bike Store, some interviews, and a bit of luck we made it to the local papers – complete with a link to our donation page.
Another idea is to organize an event – we’re fortunate to have a neighbour who has a Thai Restaurant in the local area and who is willing to provide his venue for free and the meal services at cost. So we are busy organizing a Thai banquet. In addition to the meal, there’ll be prizes up for grabs too – which will help us raise some more funds.
Since then we have been on a number of epic journeys – which I will be sharing with you as our journey unfolds.
It is never too late to set another cycling goal, or to dream a new cycling dream