GALLERY: Hundreds gear up for Mackay’s River2Reef Ride
IN A year when charity fundraisers have been cancelled or dramatically wound back, trust the cycling community to notch it up a gear.
That's what the more than 700 riders in the 2020 River2Reef Ride did, raising more than $75,000 for three Mackay charities with the support of sponsors.
Organiser Evan Corry said the Hand Heart Pocket River2Reef Ride may have been delayed a couple of months but with a new course and COVID plan in place, it was a big success.
"Obviously we had to change things up to comply with our COVID plan but we're really proud to be able to pull the event off this year," he said.
"We've raised a great amount of money thanks to all the riders and thanks to our sponsors.
"We've raised over $75,000 for our three local charities who are Sporting Wheelies, CQ Rescue and SelectAbility."
While a far cry from the record 1600 riders who usually sign on, Mr Corry said the 700 or so who set out early on the ride had soaked up the atmosphere and the spirit of the event.
"(We were) quite uncertain leading into the event and whether it would even happen or not so to be honest, we're overwhelmed and hugely happy with 700 (riders)," he said.
"When we decided to do the event two months ago, which is much later than we usually do, we sort of thought if we get 50 to 100 people we would be happy so to pull 700 off is great."
And it was not all an easy ride with strong winds of about 30 to 35 knots adding a degree of difficulty to the picturesque cycle.
"Plenty of people are coming back looking a bit more fatigued than they probably planned to," he said.
"But it's all in the name of charity; it's a challenge but it's not a race at all.
"All in all, people have had fun despite the wind today.
"We're probably one of the few events that has been able to pull something off this year as far as events go, and the atmosphere is fantastic."
Among the riders was Noel Ghea, from Rockhampton who, at 76, may have been one of the oldest on the track but certainly one of the happiest.
Mr Ghea and his Rockhampton cycling mates made the trip to Mackay just for the ride, and said it was great to be together again with his teammates.
It was a similar occasion for the Whitsunday Triathlon Club members who travelled to Mackay Friday night to make the early morning start on Saturday.