Hundreds of cyclists congregated in Tumut on Sunday for the 2017 Tumut Cycle Classic, raising funds for the Tumut Hospital and experiencing the beautiful backdrop the town and surrounds has to offer.
The event is into its third year, but this was the first time that organisers Dr Tarek Sari of Tumut Back Clinic and Dr Osman Darwiche of Tumut Hospital had made it an official event, liaising with local authorities and recruiting volunteers from Aus Relief in Sydney while partners Sydney Muslim Cyclists provided nearly 60 riders, continuing their great support of the event.
Dr Tarek and Dr Darwiche reflected on the event and are optimistic about the future of it, with plenty of positives to come out of it.
“It was a great day, a successful event, no one was injured, although a couple of people couldn’t complete their ride, but they asked for help and we took them to the finish line,” Dr Tarek said.
“We’ve been really overwhelmed by the generosity of the local businesses, and the local people. Yesterday one older lady stopped and said ‘are you Dr Darwiche?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am,’ and she gave me fifty dollars. You know, fifty dollars for a senior – that’s a lot of money. How generous is that! I nearly cried,” he said.
Dr Darwiche believes the event is great for the town, attracting visitors and bringing people together.
“It’s a big event, look at how many people came over from out of town. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but I came across a guy, his name is Greg McDermott, he’s the one who did the ride around Australia in 72 days, averaging 180 kms a day. He became a motivational coach, and it just so happened that one of his trainees lives in Batlow, so he invited him and I messaged him yesterday and he said he was really impressed with the event, he said ‘I know how much it takes to organise an event like that, it was really well organised.’ He loved the volunteers on the road, he said look mate, I loved it. I asked him, would you come again? He said mate, I’m coming next year with my crew, I’ll come for three days. How good is that for the town? He’s based in Canberra, and it’s just word of mouth. Men like that, he’s going to pass it on to somebody else,” he said.
With a target of $20,000 to be reached, it was well in sight by the time riders for the 75km and 100km lined up in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“By Sunday morning we had enough money for seven beds at the hospital, we haven’t actually tallied it all up at the moment, but we are quietly confident that we will hit the $20,000 target and get all eight beds for the Tumut Hospital,” Dr Tarek said, while also praising the tireless efforts of the Lions Club.
“The Lions Club have been off their feet working hard, manning the barbeuce and manning three of our rest stops which the riders have utilised, re-filling their water bottles and getting some bananas, and energy gels, so we are very thankful to them for all their hard work and professionalism,” he said.
Although into its third year of existence, this year’s event provided a learning experience for the organisers.
“We’ve learnt heaps today, everyone was happy with how it all went, but we want this event to grow,” Dr Tarek said.
“We have the support from Aus Relief in Sydney, giving us not only a big donation, but volunteers as well so we know how to utilise our volunteers, and we’ll know for next years what sports we needed a bit more water at, but overall it was great,” Dr Tarek said.
Mona Afchal, Aus Relief Volunteer Co-ordinator, explained how the Sydney-based company got involved in the event.
“One of our directors who looks after the local initiatives, and the Tumut Cycle Classic is a local initiative, knows Dr Tarek and most of the members of Sydney Muslim Cyclists, he thought this was a great cause, so he offered to be a sponsor,” he said.
“To see everybody happy, it also makes me happy, and to know we are on target to collect the $20,000.
“As Dr Darwiche, the vice-president and myself were saying, it’s it’s just a fantastic achievement because the ones that would benefit the most are the Tumut people, the doctors, the nurses and other hospital staff, so in essence it’s the Tumut people that would have an extra service, they are the ones that will benefit the most,” he said.
Rob Sokua of Aus relief explained their role on the day and said that, on a personal level, it was great to get out of Sydney and experience the beauty the town and its’ surrounds offers..
“Basically with respect to Aus Relief, we’er putting the ‘Aus’ back in Aus Relief, our focus has primarily been on overseas humanitarian work, and we thought we would focus on local issues,” he said.
“ It’s like an introduction to giving back to some local initiatives, and we thought it was a good way to ride on the back of the Sydney Muslim Cyclists and visit regional NSW, test the waters and see what’s happening.
“We can then go back and give some feedback, to the directors and see how we can inject ourselves into the community and see if it’s possible to be of benefit to community here,” he said.
“Primarily, our function is in regards to safety. In my discussions with Dr Tarek, he told us there was certain criteria that needed to be met in order for the event to take place and he asked us for some volunteers to man various points along the route.”
Mr Sokua had nothing but positive things to say about the locals and thoroughly enjoined the clean, country air.
“It’s fantastic, and for me personally, just getting out of the big smoke is great. It clears your head, smelling the clean air and this is so peaceful, tranquil and serene and the locals have been fantastic, I haven’t had any strange looks, you walk down the main street and say g’day to people and they g’day back, it’s fantastic.”