Ride for cause

By Simon Ruppert

A group of nearly 30 Benalla cyclists hit the road on Saturday to take part in Robbie’s Ride, a two-day cycling tour around North-East Victoria to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease.

Now in its third year the ride is in honour of Benalla resident Robbie Allen, a former Benalla footballer, keen cyclist and road safety advocate, who is in the early stages of the disease.

Robbie and his mates from the Benalla Cyclists, a social cycling group, set off on Saturday to ride a 270km-loop taking in Winton Wetlands, Wangaratta, Oxley Whitfield, Tolmie and Moyhu before returning to Benalla on Sunday.

The annual ride is organised by Benalla businessman and cyclist Robert Sherwill, a long-time friend of Robbie.

Mr Sherwill said the past two rides had been a great success in raising awareness about Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological condition for which there is no cure.

‘‘We raise money through an entry fee from the riders,’’ Mr Sherwill said.

‘‘This will be the third year we’ve run it and we’ve raised more than $10000 so far.’’

Mr Allen said despite being happy with the money raised, the priority of the ride was to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease.

‘‘My mates have been fantastic over the last two years, and the Benalla Community have been great in supporting the ride,’’ Mr Allen said.

‘‘We would like the ride to be an annual event, so we’ve made a couple of changes this year to make it easier for people to take part.

‘‘The first couple of years was a three-day event, but because of that some people had to take days off work, and a few couldn’t make it.

‘‘So we’ve made it a two-day weekend event and we’ve varied the course to make it a bit more interesting.’’

Mr Allen said the idea for the ride grew out of the fact that he, and his friends, were in a cycling club.

‘‘When I was diagnosed four years ago I was a keen cyclist and the specialist I was being treated by in Shepparton was a strong advocate for the benefits of cycling in regards to Parkinson’s disease,’’ he said.

‘‘It has various different strains and variations and it can lead to stiffening of the joints and muscles.

‘‘Cycling is a really good aerobic exercise for the whole body and it was recommended that I should use cycling as my main exercise for four to five days per week.

‘‘We all enjoy the challenge of the ride and it’s good do our little bit to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease.

‘‘We look forward to the challenge again this year.’’

The ride also aims to raise awareness of the importance of road safety for cyclists, which is another cause close to Mr Allen’s heart.

The ride is being supported by Parkinson’s Victoria, and all proceeds from it are being donated to the organisation.

●Donations can still be made by phoning Robert Sherwill on 0407500133.