Power riding for a good cause

Eddie Barkla | Bendigo Weekly | 17-Nov-2011 12.33PM

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DELIGHTED: Team manager Eddie is proud of his riders’ achievements. Photo: NEIL GLADMAN
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Can you cast your mind back to 2002 and what you may have been doing around this time of year?
For a small, very diverse, group of riders known as the Powercor Peddlers it was the time they combined with the Bendigo Special Development School to undertake their first Port to Port cycling tour.
The then-principal and vice principal, Russell Honey and Bill Burns, both keen cyclists who had previously been involved with the Powercor Peddlers at Kalianna, were keen to try this relatively new event.
The two-day bicycle ride starts in Mildura and runs through Swan Hill and on to Echuca.
Cyclists leave the Mildura riverfront bright and early on Saturday morning and head down the Calder Highway.
At Hattah, they turn and ride on to Wemen for a break and refreshments.
Then it is on to the Murray Valley Highway with the Murray River over their left shoulder.
After a food break at Boundary Bend, the riders head for Swan Hill and a well-earned overnight break.
Sunday morning the riders are back in the saddle and look forward to about a five or six hour ride to Echuca making a total of 400km.
Like most things, when you first take them on, there is an air of anticipation of what might be in front of you as a team.
Some had used the Bay in a Day option of 210km as a training ride to test the legs and ability to recover.
After putting the call out to the general cycling community a strong team was rallied and we set off north with a very lean budget for food and accommodation.
Seeking out local sponsors for products that would be suitable was encouraging to say the least and a 10-year partnership was formed with Pasta Master.
Powercor management at Bendigo and Mildura were most supportive of the idea of having a team that rode through the middle of the business area in broad daylight.
A Powercor vehicle, cycling kit and other sponsor material was supplied to all in the team as well as accommodation at both Mildura and Swan Hill depots, sleeping on the floor to keep costs affordable.
Most of the riders were all in uncharted territory after reaching the 210km mark in distance travelled in any one ride, let alone backing up the next day on the bike for another 150km.
Necessity becomes the mother of invention.
The team was very fortunate to have Rob and Chris Grant attend as a rider and support.
Chris is a native of the northern end of the state and had the right contacts to add some special touches to the weekend.
The heat off the road was something we had not contemplated.
The team had to be kept hydrated with cold water, and it was important to work out what distance was appropriate to cover before making a stop to regroup and refuel.
Memories are a powerful part of life.
One of the most memorable moments among many was reaching Nyah in extreme heat and close to exhaustion to be greeted by Billy Burns with a huge bundle of hot chips with extra salt.
It seemed bizarre but certainly added some inspiration to the perspiration to continue.
Over the 10 years some 60 riders have joined the Powercor Team, raising around $20,000 for special needs students.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing.

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