Tour De Rocks, group of riders

Tour De Rocks 2020, will you be there?

  Tour De Rocks is a 260km mountain bike ride from Armidale to South West Rocks, boasting team spirit, pure determination, dedication and a whole lot of heart from people of all ages, fitness levels and walks of life. The event has been running for an impressive 9 years now (10 if you count the original year it kicked off) with over 4,000+ passionate people from all over our regional community participating in one way or another.

This incredible annual event is held to raise money for cancer research, awareness and prevention programs, whilst building community spirit and hope – which is something we all need. Over the years Tour De Rocks has appropriated over $1,400,000 and has helped fund over 25 charities like Tour De Cure, Can Assist, The Wig Library and many others that help people in need, they also fund two special research projects – so watch this space!

This year, the event will journey through the same land, and on the same path, but we’re expecting it to look a little different… The drought and the bushfires have affected Australia and our region in ways we had never imagined. One place that holds a very special place in the TDR hearts is Willawarrin, it’s just one of the locations the event runs through that has been affected by fires and serious drought.

“The Board of Tour de Rocks has spoken to the local community and asked, ‘how can we help?’ and their response has been that they ‘need to rebuild their fences’. With all their fences destroyed they have no secure yards to store their stock. It is pretty simple – No Fences, No Stock, No Income.”

In true TDR style, they’ve set up Willawarrin Fence Aid Fundraiser to help rebuild some of the fences along the way and to help a community in need. If you’d like to donate, please check out this page.

So far, they’ve raised over $5,000 and one of TDR’s incredible supporters has offered invaluable time to help to rebuild these fences himself! #ProudMoments

We spent a few minutes with the lovely Kay Endres, one of the key people behind the scenes and a huge community player – we asked her about all things TDR – Check it out!

How did tour de rocks start?

It all started in 2010 with a man named Jonathan Wheeler, he was competing in the Duke of Edenborough Gold Award Program – basically, he had to plan an event, so he arranged for a group of 12 of us, with five adults and four kids, to set off on a 210km mountain bike, it was tough but so exciting, we bonded, camped in swags along the way and embraced our surroundings.

If I’m totally honest, the journey never really left our thoughts, so in 2012 we thought of trying to make the same ride into a charity event – thinking that if 50 people turned up, we’d be chuffed… But, we had over 400 riders and supporters – It was incredible, and so, Tour De Rocks was born.

Has the ride grown in participants since the first tour?

 Oh gosh, absolutely! 😁

There are now over 500 people participating in the event yearly, really, there could be more… however that requires a lot more manpower and stacks of safety planning and measures; like police, government bodies, councils, etc.

How easy is it to get involved?

So easy! In fact, you don’t even have to ride to be involved! Our riders require a range of support over the journey, so people can come along, cook, serve meals, set up infrastructure, drive trucks, offer positivity and cheer!

There’s also medical support with St Johns Ambulance, and we usually have 8 qualified Doctors that ride and offer their support and assistance where needed – which is so awesome!

If you can’t come along you can donate, sponsor a rider, OR you can join a team and ride with us! 🚴🏽‍♂️🚴🏼‍♀️

To put it simply, you don’t necessarily have to ride – it’s all about getting involved, in the way that you can. If you have a big heart and a can-do attitude, you’ll be a perfect fit!

 

Tour De Rocks team by the beach

Do you have any special highlights or fond memories from previous years?

So many… we really have some incredible people in our community!

Two people that really stand out are Kevin Hill and Moose Stephen.

Kevin is such a humble superhero! He is a local builder, 70ish years old, and over the past 3 years he has sold over $75,000 worth of tickets – he is fantastic, you’ve probably seen him collecting what he can from the local pubs and clubs, country music festival, caravan parks, you name it!

Moose, well, he is just so incredible at connecting us with the right people! Last year, at the snap of his fingers he organised a water truck for 500 people the day before the ride – needless to say, he is a bit of a legend… he and his family also recently lost his brother to cancer, so this is a cause that falls close to the heart – sending all of our wishes your way Moose!

We know about the support TRD is offering Willawarrin, how do you support the other communities you travel through?

This is the fun bit =) When we rock into each town we try and support the community in any way we can! We make sure that we stop at all the local shops, purchase from producers and local artisans, visit the smaller restaurants, we book out all the accommodation, especially in South West Rocks – basically we soak up each town!

Over the years, Willawarra has always gone above and beyond with their hospitality to our riders and support teams, in fact, when we journey through, it’s the biggest night of the year for them! So, we’re really happy to be able to help them in any way we can!

If someone is looking to ride this year, what tips would you give them?

Haha, start training now! Actually, it’s not a ridiculously hard ride, however, it’s a much easier and enjoyable ride with training. We stop about every 30kms, so if you can get that far in one stint, you’re set for the whole thing!

We think it’s achievable for anyone with all basic fitness levels. The whole team is there to support everyone along the way and it’s not a race, but about doing something powerful together. Completing the ride comfortably is very advisable!

There’s an absolutely incredible guy in his late 60’s, he is actually missing half of one of his legs and comes along every year – he is an inspiration!

How can riders train?

Get on your bike! Just get out and practice riding on the roads – you’ll start to notice lots of training groups riding around town, all kitted out, it’s great!

Mark Bullen from Armidale Bicycle Centre also does training rides at the traffic education centre which anyone can join in with!

Also, if you need any guidance Mark and I (Kay) are more than happy to talk to anyone that needs support or assistance with their biking questions!

Tour De Rocks team riding

How can people help raise awareness for TDR?

Get a team together, ride with us, come and support some of the riders, share this blog! Just do something – every little bit counts, so thank you!


SportUNE have a team joining TDR this year – if you’d like to join the team or get involved email Rhys at rporter9@une.edu.au

Follow TDR on Facebook and give them your support today #TDR2020