Last year, Adolescent Medicine Paediatrician Mick Creati raised $17,000 riding across the Nullarbor. This year he took his twin passions for cycling and working with young people off-road, riding some 2,400 kilometres to raise more money for the Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) program.
“This ride was a lot more isolated,” said Mick. “There were Aboriginal communities along the way but no major towns. About 1000 kilometres were on an unsealed road which is graded every couple of months and I came off in the corrugations a couple of times.
“There were about 40 cars a day passing me on that section and people were stopping and winding their windows down to find out if I needed water or food. They’d take photos of this mad cyclist.”
Those corrugations really slowed Mick down. On his toughest day he rode just 90 kilometres while his fastest day on bitumen moved him 240 kilometres along. On average he spent about eight hours a day in the saddle, heading off as the sun came up with his support team catching up a few hours later.
“I posted a message on a cycling Facebook page to see if anyone wanted to do the ride with me,” continued Mick. “Libby and Martin are travelling around Australia in a campervan and said they wouldn’t ride with me but would be my support. That was wonderful. They carried about 250 litres of water and they’d cook and carry the food – mostly bread, pasta, rice, baked beans and Spam.
“There’s no quinoa out there.”
Mick would camp in his tent each night with temperatures overnight getting down to one degree and up to 28 degrees during the day. Sunburn was one of the hazards, as were cattle freely roaming on the track with some horses and a lot of camels also spotted.
His first sight of Uluru came at 3pm about 40 kilometres out, and the next day he rode around it; a spectacular ending to a great adventure.
Mick has his sights set on more fundraising for ChIPS next year with a Gulf to Gulf ride from Port Augusta to the Gulf of Carpentaria. He’s also keen to establish a perpetual ride to encourage mass participation and fundraising.
This year’s ride has so far raised about $10,000. The ChIPS trivia night this Friday 14 September is your chance to add further to those funds. Organised by the ChIPPERS, all money will fund further camps for young people with chronic illnesses.
“So many of the young people in ChIPS have missed schooling and social events because of their chronic illnesses and a lot of them have never been on a camp,” said Mick. “Each camp is attended by medical staff so every participant can get the most fun out of the whole experience.”
ChIPS Trivia Night, Friday 14 September at 6pm
Larwill Conference Room, ground floor near the hotel lobby
Special guest quiz master: Anthony Koutoufides, Carlton player until 2007
Tickets: $30 each or $200 for table of eight