‘Godfather’ of mountain biking honoured
IT BEGAN with 30 seconds of silence.
As up to 100 riders bowed their heads before the third round of the XC Series got under way, a pioneer of Mackay mountain bike riding was remembered and honoured for his dedication.
Jeff Rafferty lost his battle with brain cancer in September; his loss mourned by the Mad Mountain Bike Club he put so much heart into.
A memorial lap was done in Jeff's honour - led by his son Ryan, who rode on his father's own bike. Bikes were Jeff's passion, Ryan said, and it was a shared love of the sport that inspired many at the club.
"He battled for two years; he beat the odds - they gave him 10 to 14 months and he went two years. He got to spend a lot more time with his first grandchild," Ryan said.
"I started riding with him as soon as I could ride a bike and every weekend we were on the bike; from racing BMX to mountain bikes.
"He had a work car and still chose to work every day, so riding was his passion. It's just a sense of freedom; riding out there all the world's problems go away.
"We know he was loved, but this just helps prove how much he actually was loved."
When the competitive racing got under way, Cameron Mellifont took out the Raff's Run Award - with the trophy made in honour of the missed father and cyclist.
Mad Mountain Biking Mackay president Peter Lister called Jeff a 'godfather' of the sport in the region.
He said there was not enough that could ever be done to repay what he gave to the club, such was his old friend's contribution.
"Despite him being such a short guy, he was just full of life in stature. He knew so much about cycling and just loved it … and was a great advocate for the sport," he said.
"He was a humble guy as well and he didn't care if he got beaten in any race because it wasn't about that, it was just about having fun out there on the bike.
"That's the legacy he has left with a lot of the people in the club."